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SundayArts News 11/21/2010
Posted: November 22nd, 2010
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Abstract Expressionist New York
Abstract Expressionist New York” marks MoMA’s largest presentation of abstract expressionist art, covering the span from the 1940s to the 1960s. The section titled “The Big Picture,” on display on the entire fourth floor of the museum, is only one part of this complex and expansive exhibition. This selection of paintings, sculptures, drawings and other materials showcases the work of a wealth of now iconic artists, including: Jackson Pollock, with his signature technique of creating abstract compositions from paint that was dripped or poured directly onto canvas laid on the studio floor; for Willem de Kooning, the motif of the woman was a frequent subject that surfaced early on. The motif seemed to disappear in the late ‘40s, but reappeared in the ‘50s; and Mark Rothko, whose works fill an entire gallery. He painted these eight masterpieces over a 14-year period. Their format and compositional structure were the result of two decades of experimentation.

Coltrane’s Favorite Things
One of the world’s foremost dance companies presents three dances, including a world premiere, at Baryshnikov Arts Center. Lar Lubovitch Dance Company established its international reputation over the past 42 years. It is known for choreographic excellence and a rich repertoire of new dances, which have been performed before millions throughout the United States and in over 30 other countries. One of this season’s highlights is a new production of “Coltrane’s Favorite Things.” The vibrant choreography is set to a 1963 recording of John Coltrane’s interpretation of the classic Richard Rodgers song “My Favorite Things.”

Faith Ringgold at Purchase College
Faith Ringgold is an artist who achieved wide recognition in the 1970s for presenting the African-American experience through her story quilts — narrative paintings on fabric. Through December 19th, her impressive, political paintings from the 1960s are on view at the Neuberger Museum of Art at Purchase College. Ringgold’s two earliest series, “American People” and “Black Light” are featured together for the first time since the early ‘70s. These paintings are the result of the artist’s exploration of issues that marked her experience of racial conflict in the United States. Ringgold’s work offers clear insight into the social and political atmosphere of a period defined by the Civil Rights movement and the Vietnam War. It also gives a glimpse into the struggle of being an African-American woman making her way as an artist. “For the Women’s House” is Ringgold’s first feminist painting. It is on view as a loan from Riker’s island where it had been installed in 1971 in the women’s house of detention. For almost a decade it was thought to have gone missing, but was re-discovered under a glaze of white paint and restored in 1999. Now seen publicly for the first time outside of prison, this painting was originally intended to inspire female inmates to dream of better lives for themselves.

The Scottsboro Boys
The dream of a better life was what set a group of nine African-American men on the road in 1931. After they were unjustly accused of a terrible crime, the dream became a nightmare. Their dramatic story inspired the final collaboration of musical theatre giants John Kander and Fred Ebb. A spectacular and emotionally charged musical, “The Scottsboro Boys” parodies the minstrel show format – a tradition that began in the middle of the 19th Century – to tell this true story. This award-winning production, directed and choreographed by Susan Stroman, features an impressively talented cast. Some of the most memorable performances are those of Joshua Henry as Haywood Patterson, John Cullum as Interlocutor, and Jeremy Gumbs as Eugene Williams.

Mark Twain: A Skeptic’s Progress
This year marked a double anniversary for the famous writer Mark Twain: 175 years since his birth and a century since his death. A major exhibition organized by the Morgan Library & Museum and the New York Public Library celebrates Twain’s legacy. Titled “Mark Twain: A Skeptic’s Progress” the exhibition explores several recurring themes in this writer’s body of work. Over 120 manuscripts and rare books are on display, as well as letters, notebooks, photographs and drawings. The main focus is Twain’s critical attitude toward a rapidly modernizing America, enhanced by his skepticism about the possibility of human progress. In “Following the Equator” Twain uses savage sarcasm to express his outrage at the crimes perpetrated by western colonial powers on the native populations of Africa, Asia and Australia. “Life on the Mississippi” and the “Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” convey Twain’s nostalgia for the world of his youth. On view through January 2nd, this exhibition captures the essence of Mark Twain’s wit, humor and philosophical views.

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SundayArts is made possible in part by First Republic Bank and by the Rubin Museum of Art. Funding for SundayArts is also made possible by Rosalind P. Walter, The Paul and Irma Milstein Foundation, The Philip & Janice Levin Foundation, Elise Jaffe and Jeffrey Brown, Jody and John Arnhold, and The Lemberg Foundation. This program is supported, in part, by public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council. Additional funding provided by members of THIRTEEN.