Beyond NY: Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel Frescoes Up Close in Paramus, NJ

Beyond NY: Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel Frescoes Up Close in Paramus, NJ

View the pictures of Sistine Chapel frescoes at the ground level at the Westfield Garden State Plaza in Paramus, NJ

Up Close: Sistine Chapel ceiling by Michelangelo Paramus, NJ
Sistine Chapel, Vatican / photo by Patrick Landy (FSU Guy)

Michelangelo’s frescoes on the ceiling of Sistine Chapel in Vatican City are conveniently brought down to earth by the very modern means of digital photography. The show will go on display at the Westfield Garden State Plaza in Paramus, NJ after an exhibition in July at the Oculus of NYC World Trade Center Transportation Hub. The visitors have the ease of enlarged images to see all the details of historical paintings to follow the Creation story from the Book of Genesis at the spacious and well-lit hall housing the freestanding plinths with good labels . No hurrying up by the guards and neck craning necessary.

Sistine Chapel in Vatican was built in 1477-1480 by Pope Sixtus IV for whom the chapel is named. The Chapel is used for special ceremonies of the close circle of the Pope. It is also a place were the Papal Conclave of Cardinals meets to elect a new Pope. Interestingly the dimensions of the Chapel are the same as those of the Temple of Solomon as described in the Old Testament, the Book of Ezekiel, the first temple built by the Hebrews in 832 BCE under King Solomon, and destructed by Nebuchadnezzar II after the Siege of Jerusalem of 587 BCE.

Michelangelo painted the ceiling of the Chapel from 1508 to 1512 on a commission by Pope Julius II. Because at the time Michelangelo was preoccupied with sculptures and was reluctant to commit to such an enormous undertaking, Pope Julius granted him full freedom in selecting the scenes and figures to paint thus convincing him to take on the project. The resulting frescoes are considered to be the triumph of the artistic expression in Western civilization.  The ceiling is populated with more than 300 figures starting from the Christ ancestors including Adam and Eve, the scenes from the Garden of Eden and the Great Flood all the way to Christ followers, prophets and sibyls. Its a rich story with the myriad of secrets as explained in a well-written book by B. Blech and R. Doliner The Sistine Secrets: Michelangelo’s Forbidden Messages in the Heart of the Vatican.

Michelangelo’s mastery brings us the “faces of our time: anxiety masked by domesticity, women at work at household duties, men staring out blankly at an opaque fate” in the words of A.Gopnik in The New Yorker review of the exhibition.

Now that the viewers can comfortably see those faces and their expressions, the connection to the history and its meaning can be better understood and appreciated.

After staying in NJ till October 15, 2017, the exhibition will travel around the US. Check all the locations and dates here.

Venue: Westfield Garden State Plaza, Paramus, NJ       Dates: September 1 – October 15, 2017

Beyond NY: Jazz Music for Two Pianos with Fred Hersch and Sullivan Fortner

Beyond NY: Jazz Music for Two Pianos with Fred Hersch and Sullivan Fortner

Catskill Jazz Factory brings great music to Bard College 

This partnership of two great pianists is promising to make a delightful night full of fresh perspectives on contemporary jazz. Each musician brings a distinct style and artistic excellence while being true the roots of his style. Merging these two creative personalities playing the music of Fred Hersh, Thelonious Monk, Cole Porter and others is not an easy fit. But it will surely be refreshing and exciting. 

double piano jazz concert bard college ny October 2017
Fred Hersch / Photo credit Vincent Soyez

Fred Hersch is a celebrated figure on the international jazz scene. He came to fame in 1984 when he debuted with Horizons. His very elegant style of introspective and emotionally rich music is gaining in its depth with each appearance and recording. His trio with bassist John Hébert and drummer Eric McPherson enjoys a fruitful collaboration and maintains a demanding live performance and recording schedule. The New York Times review of the trio performance at the Vanguard back in 2012 described their style as “the incremental stretch toward an elusive ideal”.
double piano jazz concert bard college ny October 2017A celebrated pianist and a bandleader, Hersch is also a well-known composer and jazz educator. Being nominated for ten Grammy awards, the last two in 2017, and named a 2016 Doris Duke Artist puts Hersch at the top of the list of contemporary jazz musicians. His very personal story of near-death health crisis, a remarkable come-back and an openness about his experiences all contribute to his very distinct status among the musicians. A profile in the WallStreetJournal by Ted Gioia calls this return to life “a miracle” which brought Hersch music to the level “that doesn’t get any better than this”. Hirsch’s latest album Open Book was released in September 2017.

double piano jazz concert bard college ny October 2017
Sullivan Fortner / Image source

Sullivan Fortner, a 2015 Cole Porter Jazz Fellow with the American Pianists Association, brings in the vibe of his generation to this fascinating partnership. Also a leader of his own band, The Sullivan Fortner Trio, who are performing extensively, Fortner had played with vibraphonist Stefon Harris and the trumpeters Roy Hargrove and Etienne Charles and toured with major jazz collectives of today.
double piano jazz concert bard college ny October 2017Graduating from Oberlin Music Conservatory with bachelor’s degree in Jazz Studies and master’s from Manhattan School of Music, Fortner is recognized for his youthful energy mixed with the disciplined maturity.  A review in the New York Times of his “Aria” album release stresses that “his fundamentals as a player could hardly be stronger”.

The concert at Richard B. Fischer Center for Performing Arts at Bard College located on a picturesque campus in Annandale-on-Hudson, NY is organized by an innovative educational and performance art community the Catskill Jazz Factory. Bard College is well-known for its rigorous art education program and the best in class roster of music performances in upstate NY. Only two hours away from hustle and bustle of New York City, the campus is sufficiently insulated for full concentration and study, yet affords a convenience of being accessible via train connection to the city.

The Richard B. Fisher Center is an architectural jewel in itself being designed by Frank Gehry and hosting a multitude of adventurous programs at the world-class facilities.

Book the tickets  here.

Venue: Richard B. Fisher Center, Bard College, Annandale-on-Hudson, NY

Dates: October 7, 2017

Places to eat around Bard College.


Dance in NY: Pina Bausch Tanztheater Wuppertal at BAM in Brooklyn, NY

Dance in NY: Pina Bausch Tanztheater Wuppertal at BAM in Brooklyn, NY

Historic double bill of Café Müller/The Rite of Spring on September 14-24, 2017

Dance in NY: Pina Bausch Tanztheater Wuppertal at BAM Brooklyn NY
Pina Bausch, Photo Credit: J. Paolo Pimenta / Image courtesy of BAM

This year Tanztheater Wuppertal Pina Bausch brings to New York two extraordinary ballets Cafe Muller set to the music of Henry Purcell and Igor Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring.  The psychological complexity conveyed by the Bausch’s powerful choreography will without doubt touch the souls of everyone from the dance aficionados to the novices to the art of ballet. The performances are part of the Next Wave Festival at BAM which will run from  September 14 till December 16, 2017.

Pina Bausch and her theater Tanztheater Wuppertal had made a New York debut in 1984 and became highly anticipated guests on NY dance scene from that time on.

Bausch formal dance education started when at the age of 15 she was accepted to Folkgangschule of North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany to study under the direction of Kurt Jooss, a pioneer of dance-theater genre who connected the ballet with the theatrical drama. After graduating the Folkgangschule, Bausch studied at Juilliard School in New York in the early 60s and was part of the New York Ballet, Paul Taylor company and other groups. Returning to Germany in late 60s to continue her work with Jooss, she choreographed her first ballet Frangmente to the music of Bartok in 1968.

Dance in NY: Pina Bausch Tanztheater Wuppertal at BAM Brooklyn NY
From The Rite of Spring, Photo Credit:Ludovico Bastianini / Image courtesy of BAM

Assuming the role of artistic director for the Wuppertal Opera ballet in 1973, she continued to produce new ballets thus developing the style of tanztheater.

For the performances at BAM, Tanztheater Wuppertal will perform Cafe Muller and The Rite of Spring. Cafe Muller (1978) likely includes autobiographical elements, as Bausch family had also owned a café where Pina, still a child, had made her first dance performances entertaining the guests. In the ballet, the dancers make sleepwalking movements in a dark, deserted café interior acting out a tale about human emotions which are flaring up under the covers of night. Or it could be child’s interpretation of the complex and scary world of the grownups. The Guardian review of the piece for its 2008 performance at Sadler’s Wells, London,  notes that the characters are “trapped in an existential tape loop, they endlessly reprise their actions and interactions.” Amplifying the effect are the arias by Henry Purcell mixed with the moments of silence.  The repetitive movements seem to suggest that the characters are about to break themselves free but in the end are unable to do so.

Dance in NY: Pina Bausch Tanztheater Wuppertal at BAM Brooklyn NY
From The Rite of Spring, Photo Credit:Oliver Look / Image courtesy of BAM

The second part of the bill is The Rite of Spring (1975)  to the powerful score of Igor Stravinsky. In Bausch’s take of this ballet, which was originally written for Ballet Russes and choreographed by Vaslav Nijinsky, it at times seems that the dancers’  movements are making the music itself so close the choreography is in following the score. For this piece the stage is covered with dirt which plays a part in the performance. It is a character in the storyline along with the tribe and its rituals. The powerful and muscular movements of the male group are accentuated by the sensual and gentle actions of the female performers. This contrast between the sexes leads up to an emotional rite of the sacrificial selection by the tribe and its triumph over the individual expression and freedom. The ballet is so powerful that at time it feels like the composer and the choreographer were literally working together. Time is powerless to separate the geniuses of the music and choreography creators.

Nothing beats seeing the live performance but Chantal Ackerman’s documentary One Day Pina Asked shows how the danztheater is being made.

Book your tickets here.

Venue: Peter Jay Sharp Theater, 30 Lafayette Avenue, Brooklyn, NY        Time: September 14 – 24, 2017

May 5 – September 24, 2017: Florine Stettheimer at the Jewish Museum

May 5 – September 24, 2017: Florine Stettheimer at the Jewish Museum

Painting Poetry 

An exhibition of paintings, theatrical costumes and poems of an American Modernist artist Florine Stettheimer (1871–1944) is on view at Jewish Museum through the summer. The collection presented here paints the world of Jazz Age New York as its experienced by high society of that time with witty satire and warm touch. The playful nature, light tones and elegant scenes were the reasons for relegating this artist to a decorative camp. However her talent is evident in everything she made and her oeuvre places her among the greatest artists of 20th century.

May - September, 2017: Florine Stettheimer at Jewish Museum
From the exhibition via

“Florine Stettheimer: Painting Poetry is the first major U.S. exhibition in over 20 years focused on artist Florine Stettheimer (1871-1944). The exhibition showcases over 50 paintings and drawings in addition to costume and theater designs, photographs, and ephemera, offering a timely reconsideration of this influential American artist with a sharp satirical wit, placing her centrally in the modern […]

via Florine Stettheimer: Painting Poetry at Jewish Museum, May 5 – September 24, 2017 — Arts Summary

Florine Stettheimer studied at the Arts Student League of New York from 1892 to 1895. She continued to refine her artistic style in pre-World War I Germany following Symbolist artists of the time. Another strong influence on Stettheimer work was made by the Ballets Russes. Upon returning to New York, she adapted her style to depict the life of her family and its circle of friends in her paintings and poetry. Continuing her connection to the world of ballet, she worked on costume and stage design incorporating new materials in her work. Because she didn’t depend on the sales of her works, she preferred to show her work only to her acquaintances and close friends and remained largely unknown to the public. After her death her close friend Marcel Duchamp organized a retrospective of her work at MOMA in 1946.

The history of the celebrated Ballets Russes is masterfully shown in The Ballets Russes by Zeitgeist Films.

Jewish Museum exhibition gives us a chance to understand this sensible artist. For museum hours click here.


Venue: Jewish Museum, 1109 5th Avenue, NY                 

Dates: May 5 – September 24, 2017 

Jazz in NYC: Norah Jones at Le Poisson Rouge in September, 2017

Jazz in NYC: Norah Jones at Le Poisson Rouge in September, 2017

Norah Jones with Brian Blade & Chris Thomas at LPG on September 10-14, 2017

Jazz in NYC Norah Jones at Le Poisson Rouge in September 2017
Norah Jones performs in 2010
Photo Credit: Larry Philpot,

Norah Jones will perform in the informal and cozy settings of (Le) Poisson Rouge in Greenwich Village, NYC on September 10-14, 2017. Her presence on the global music scene had been established overnight after she won 5 Grammys for the album “Come away with me” released in 2002 by the Blue Note Records label. In all she is a 9 times Grammy award winner.

Jones delicate singing is rightfully falling into jazz fusion category for her mixing of jazz, country and intelligent pop. The FT review of her performance at 2016 London Jazz Festival at the London Palladium points out that “her success in selling nearly 50m records over her career has been in spite of prevailing trends”. This falling in between of the pre-defined musical genres makes Jones style so distinct and precious to those looking for new sounds.

Jones grew up in Grapevine, Texas. Born to a family of American concert producer Sue Jones and Indian sitar maestro Pandit Ravi Shankar, she was singing in church and taking piano lessons from yearly on in her life. The music of such jazz masters as Billie Holiday and Bill Evans had particularly strong influence on her. So it was not a coincidence that she had graduated from University of North Texas majoring in jazz piano.

In the years that followed the release of “Come away with me”, she deviated from jazz into country and soul music accompanying herself on guitar. Her returning to jazz for the 2014 Newport Jazz festival on Rhode Island was very well received by the fans with tickets sales topping the charts.

Her latest album “Day Breaks” released in 2016 features Jones firmly following her jazz and piano roots. For this project she has teamed up with such prominent musicians as the saxophonist Wayne Shorter and the bassist John Patitucci. In the words of the New York Times review of her 2016 tours and album release “rather than making some sort of prodigal return, she was accessing her musical core”.

The performance at (Le) Poisson Rouge will be a delight for the music fans!

Book your tickets on Le Poisson Rouge website.

You can find more information about Norah Jones and her upcoming tours here.

Venue: (Le) Poisson Rouge, 158 Bleecker Street, NY                                     Dates: September 10-14, 2017