Friday, January 28, 2011


The man who is known as  a "virtual United Nations of influences: Italian, Ukrainian, Appalachian, Sardinisn, Celtic" comes to the Emelin Theatre in Mamaroneck for the first time Jan. 29.

Beppe Gambetta is a composer, teacher, and researcher of traditional music and instruments. But he’s also known as an acoustic guitar flatpicker and fingerstylist. All the musical aspects of Beppe are sure to be on display for the 8 p.m. performance. Tickets are $40. The Emelin is on Library Lane. 698-0098,


By Georgette Gouveia

Long before there was Lady Gaga, there was Cindy Sherman – a key player in the thought-provoking “Deconstructive Impulse” exhibit at Purchase College’s Neuberger Museum of Art and subject of a show opening at the Bruce Museum  in Greenwich Jan. 29.

In the late 1970s and early ‘80s, the photographer and performance artist began taking images of herself as various female stereotypes – some might call them archetypes -- for her “Untitled Film Still” series, which critiqued the idea of woman as object of male desire.  There was Sherman as a kittenish librarian, a European sexpot, a noir moll, a flushed ingénue, an 18th-century royal mistress. Like Lady Gaga, you were never sure in what guise she might turn up. She was a woman of a thousand faces, none of them seemingly her own.

Unlike Gaga, however, Sherman wasn’t  trying to be herself – or a version of herself. Rather she belonged to a generation of photographers – Hitchcockian Purchase College grad Gregory Crewdson is another – mining the deep vein of the visual art form that has in some way eclipsed the photographic medium – film. Call Sherman a still actress, just as Crewdson is a still director. Seen today in a post-feminist light, Sherman is not merely the minx or the tough housewife or the brittle career woman on the verge of a nervous breakdown or any other cliché that actually casts a jaundiced eye on the way the male-driven media view women – one of the themes of the Neuberger show. She seems to be channeling specific actresses. There’s a lot of both Sandra Dee and Brigitte Bardot in her “Untitled Film Still #13” (1978), aka the kittenish librarian, at the Neuberger. There’s something of Lana Turner and Marilyn Monroe in “Untitled Film Still #54” (1980), the noir moll, the Neuberger again. And there’s a bit of Norma Shearer’s Marie Antoinette in “Untitled” (1989), at the Bruce exhibit, which considers Shermans in private area collections.

By harking back to movie stars of Hollywood’s Golden Age (the ’20 through the early ‘60s), Sherman isn’t merely or even primarily sending up stereotypes. She is plumbing both the artistic and the very American capacities for reinvention. And that’s where Gaga comes in. It’s fascinating that if both women walked into a room, nobody would recognize them. That’s not just the result of effective costuming. Though both ladies are attractive, neither is possessed of the idiosyncratic beauty of a Julia Roberts or the spectacular beauty of an Elizabeth Taylor. Rather Sherman and Gaga possess the kind of agreeable but mutable features of the chameleon. To paraphrase what Daniel Day-Lewis once said of his aquiline nose, they have the kind of faces you can hang costumes on.

In this, they are helped not only by the arts of makeup and fashion design. They are aided by the camera, with which they both have an ambivalent relationship. (Show me a woman as sex symbol, or a woman playing at sex symbol, who doesn’t.)

Sherman in particular seems to explore the love-hate affair with the lens. In “Untitled Film Still #7” (1989), at the Neuberger, she is brunet-bobbed Clara Bow/Anna Magnani/Elizabeth Taylor, with a glass of Champagne in one hand and a scowl for the camera that has caught her en dishabille at the sliding door of her boudoir. But note the way one hand lifts her slip to expose fleshy, stocking-ed thighs. Sherman understands that the camera reveals as much as it conceals, and she brilliantly exploits its twin abilities as voyeur and accomplice.

The desire and gift for reinvention is as old as art and as fresh as the American dream. Who doesn’t believe that with a little luck and a ton of try, we can start again? Who doesn’t love a comeback kid?

What Gaga and Sherman illustrate by way of dress-up is that F. Scott Fitzgerald was wrong when he said there are no second acts in American lives (although he should’ve known better since he wrote “The Great Gatsby.”)

Not only are there second acts, there are third, fourth and fifth acts, all of them starring the eternally protean self.

“The Deconstructive Impulse: Women Artists Reconfigure the Signs of Power, 1973-1991” is at Purchase College’s Neuberger Museum of Art through April 3. Hours are noon-5 p.m. Tues.-Sun. Admission is $5; $3 for senior citizens and students with ID. The college is off Anderson Hill Road between Purchase and King streets. 251-6100,

“Cindy Sherman: Works From Friends of the Bruce Museum” runs Jan. 29-April 23. Hours are noon-5 p.m. Tues.-Sat. and 1-5 p.m. Sun. Admission is $7; $6 for students and senior citizens; free to children under age 5 at all times and to all on Tuesdays. The museum is at 1 Museum Drive, Greenwich. 869-0376,


The Infinity Repertory Company presents Tennessee Williams’ “The Glass Menagerie,” at the new Main Street Arts Theatre in Bedford Hills Jan. 28-31.

Williams drew on events in his own life for this “memory play” – one of the most poetic and poignant in the author’s canon – about a faded but still steely Southern belle, living in genteel poverty,  determined to marry off the daughter who’s as fragile as the glass pieces she collects. The hybrid student-professional production plays with the ephemeral and refining qualities of memory by using projections, pantomime, live music and a minimal Expressionist set.  Guest director Joanne Hudson is at the helm of the production, which stars Gina Jarrin as the ambitious Amanda Wingfield and  Nathan Wright as her son, Tom – Williams himself – who yearns to break away from his shabby, troubled family to become a writer but cannot free himself of their memory. Student actors Lillianna Levonick is the delicate Laura and Jack Wedge The Gentleman Caller.  
Joanne Hudson, Director

Director Hudson is also a playwright whose work includes “Minotaur,” with Robert Vaughn, directed by Seth Barrish, Columbia Stages; “Unbidden,” for Iceland Fulbright; “Pop Art” at HERE Arts Center; and “Birdland” at the New York International Fringe Festival.  She has directed many of her own plays as well as the plays of others, most recently, Strindberg’s “Miss Julie” for the Salty Women Festival.  She is a Fulbright Scholar in creative writing and holds a master of fine arts degree in playwriting from Columbia University School of the Arts, where she was the recipient of the Brander Matthews Theatre Scholarship.  Hudson is also the author of many screen scripts for television and film.

MSACT’s mission is to nurture and develop the intellectual, artistic and personal development of children and youth through drama education, performing opportunities and live theater experiences.  The theater is led by executive director John Burton and by artistic director Paul Perez. For more than 20 years, he has spearheaded the Infinity Repertory Company , made up of teens who have completed the conservatory study program at MSACT.  This acclaimed group is run by the students with adult supervision. 
Performance by MSACT

 “The Glass Menagerie” will be performed 8 p.m. Jan. 28 and 29 and 1 p.m. Jan. 30 at MSACT 238 Route 117 in Bedford Hills.   Tickets are $12, and can be purchased by calling  864-1880 or by logging on to For more information on MSACT,  you can also visit


I hope arts lovers will permit me a personal indulgence here in remembering editor, columnist, teacher and friend of the arts Peggy Voight, who died Jan. 8 at her home in East Boothbay, Maine at age 82.

Peggy, who edited Gannett’s highly successful weekly Bronxville Review Press-Reporter from 1978 to 1990, was one of the best editors I ever worked for, I think in part because she also taught journalism, at Pace University. I don’t ever remember her raising her voice or uttering a cross word in all the years I knew her. She was always supportive of whatever you wrote, seeking only to show it in the best possible light. The results were more than 100 journalism awards from state and national journalism groups and a close-knit staff that would’ve run through brick walls for her and that still keeps in touch today, even though many of her reporters went on to far-flung careers. (Indeed, the gifts she prized most from her former students/employees were not any baubles but clips of their latest work.)

A hard-news woman down to her bones, Peggy nevertheless always found a place for the arts in her pages, partly because she knew a well-rounded reader was the foundation of good journalism and good citizenry but also because she knew the arts were my journalistic passion. I can honestly say that I never would’ve become a reporter without her.

What really made her special – and what made her so good at her job, ironically – is that she was never just about her work. In many ways, Peggy was a lot like Fezziwig in Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol.” She worked hard, but she played hard, too. I remember the Friday lunches at the Elks Club in White Plains and the parties at her Hartsdale home. Once we even drove up to Connecticut for a long lunch that turned into a foray to Sherwood Island – in March. I can still see us posing for a photograph on the beach, laughing and freezing as we looked out to sea.

I only wish Peggy knew how much she meant to each of us. I like to think she’s up there in heaven right now reading this with a smile – and a sharp pencil.

Sunday, January 23, 2011


Caleco Ballet Studio in North Salem, led by former New York City Ballet principals Maria Calegari and Bart Cook, has announced that it is now taking registration for the winter term, which runs Feb. 1 through June 11. Classes are available in creative movement and beginning and advanced ballet. Private and semi-private lessons are also available. For more information, call 845-519-8858 or write

Saturday, January 22, 2011


Joelle Sander always wanted to be a professional writer and accomplished just that over the course of 35 years. Published in newspapers, magazines and scholarly works, her book “Before Their Time: Four Generations of Teenage Mothers” won Best Adult Book About Children (1991-1992) from the Anti-Defamation League's Braun Center for Holocaust Studies. For 20 years (1989-2009),  she served as associate director of The Center for Continuing Education at Sarah Lawrence College in Yonkers, where she taught “Modern American Poetry” and “Reading and Writing the Essay.”  She continues to teach in the Writing Institute at the college, from which she graduated in 1963.

Along the way, however,  Sander has discovered another artistic talent – one for painting. Her second solo exhibit, “Color as Refuge,” at the college’s Esther Rauschenbush Library through March 9,  spotlights her oil paintings of the natural world. Drawn to large forms and patterns, Sander paints the semblance of sky, water and woods and abstracts images of petals, leaves, branches, flowers and birds. Sander uses a wide variety of tools in her paintings -- brushes, palette knives, rags, sponges and the sides of cardboard pieces she loads with paint and jabs against her canvas.  As a result, her textures range from translucence to heavy impasto.
The library is on Glen Washington Road, off Kimball Avenue in Yonkers. Information: 395-2470

Friday, January 21, 2011


Jazz lovers will also want to circle Jan. 29 on their calendars: That’s the day that the Westchester Jazz Orchestra performs its salute to pianist/composer Herbie Hancock at Irvington Town Hall Theater.

“The Music of Herbie Hancock Featuring the ‘Maiden Voyage Suite’” is inspired by Hancock’s 1965 album “Maiden Voyage.”

“This album is one of the most important recordings in jazz history,” says Mike Holober, WJO’s artistic director. “The performances absolutely excel, and four of the five tunes have become jazz standards. The whole record is beautiful and engrossing – inspiration for our writers as well as for the listener.”

Gary Walker, music director and morning show host at WBGO-FM, will be the host for the performance, which is at 8 p.m. There is a pre-concert talk by Holober at 7:15 p.m.

This is a busy time for the orchestra, which plays host to a children’s program at Greenwich Library on Jan. 23. WJO will also perform at the Emelin Theatre in Mamaroneck March 12 and again at Irvington Town Hall Theatre April 2 when the program’s theme is “Monk Meets Mulligan.”

Also in April, the orchestra will be recording the “Maiden Voyage Suite,” thanks to a $10,000 grant from the Aaron Copland Fund for Music.

Tickets for the Jan. 29 concert are $35; $30 for senior citizens and $10 for students. The snow date is Jan. 30, with a 2:15 p.m. talk followed by a 3 p.m. performance.  The Irvington Town Hall Theater is at 85 Main St. 591-6602, 861-9100,

Thursday, January 20, 2011


Vocalist Lynette Washington and pianist/composer Dennis Bell and his band bring their jazz stylings to ArtsWestchester’s Arts at the X series Jan. 22.

The multilingual Washington has moved audiences around the globe with her jazz, R & B and gospel renditions. She’s performed with U2 and Aretha Franklin, among others. Bell has had platinum and gold albums as a producer, pianist and composer.

The performance is at 8 p.m. Tickets are $25; $20 for students and senior citizens. ArtsWestchester is at 31 Mamaroneck Ave. in White Plains. 428-4220,


The Greenburgh Arts and Culture committee has announced the return of its monthly series on ekphrastic writing, which is writing, often poetry, inspired by the visual arts. Created by Brenda Connor-Bey, Greenburgh’s first poet laureate, “Learning to See” will be held at various Greenburgh venues in February, March and April. The free workshops, which are open to beginning and established writers alike, are sponsored by Poets and Writers Inc., the Friends of the Greenburgh Library and the Theodore D. Young Community Center. For more information, go to and click on “Learning to See.”
Ekphrasis has a long history dating from the ancient Greeks. (The word is Greek for “speak out.”) Among the earliest examples is Homer’s description of the Shield of Achilles in “The Iliad.” But perhaps my favorite is W.H. Auden’s “Musée des Beaux Arts,” a meditation on Pieter Bruegel’s “Landscape With the Fall of Icarus” and the way life goes on in the face of unspeakable tragedy:

“About suffering they were never wrong,
The Old Masters; how well, they understood
Its human position; how it takes place
While someone else is eating or opening a window or just walking dully along;
How, when the aged are reverently, passionately waiting
For the miraculous birth, there always must be
Children who did not specially want it to happen, skating
On a pond at the edge of the wood:
They never forgot
That even the dreadful martyrdom must run its course
Anyhow in a corner, some untidy spot
Where the dogs go on with their doggy life and the torturer's horse
Scratches its innocent behind on a tree.

In Breughel's Icarus, for instance: how everything turns away
Quite leisurely from the disaster; the ploughman may
Have heard the splash, the forsaken cry,
But for him it was not an important failure; the sun shone
As it had to on the white legs disappearing into the green
Water; and the expensive delicate ship that must have seen
Something amazing, a boy falling out of the sky,
had somewhere to get to and sailed calmly on.”

Wednesday, January 19, 2011


The New Castle Historical Society launches its Seventh Annual Antiques Lecture and Appraisal Series Jan. 11 with James Levinson, a dealer in estate and fine jewelry, discussing “Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Gold and More.” He’s followed on Jan. 18 by costume expert Mimi Sherman, who’ll talk about vintage costumes and textiles. Then on Feb. 1, Ian Simmonds, a leading researcher and dealer in early American glass, will look at glass in this country from the mid-18th century to the Civil War.
All talks are from 10 a.m. to noon at the Chappaqua Library. Participants can bring two items per session for appraisal. Registration: 238-4779. Information: 238-4666.

Pitin's Peekskill Landing

What if you could marry Francis Bacon’s work to that of Edward Hopper?

It might look something like the haunting mixed-media canvases of Daniel Pitin, whose exhibit “Garrison Landing” is at the Hudson Valley Center for Contemporary Art in Peekskill through April 17. Like Hopper, Pitin has a great, theatrical sense of place. His “Psycho House” (2010), an oil, acrylic and paper on canvas, is reminiscent not only of the solitary structures in Hopper’s work but the houses that dominate George Stevens’ “Giant” and Alfred Hitchcock’s “Psycho.” There’s also Hopper’s inimitable play of light on the side of buildings, as in Pitin’s “Lost House.”

But Pitin’s works also make use of the kind of melting, distorted figures you find in Bacon’s paintings, as in “Bird House,” in which floating figures are suspended in backbends amid a deteriorating interior.
Daniel Pitin's "Bird House"

Of course, Pitin’s work may have nothing to do with these artistic influences. Or it may have been inspired by others: There’s a hint here of Robert Rauschenberg’s collage paintings and Anselm Kiefer’s monumental canvases. A Czech-born painter, Pitin created these works while he was artist-in-residence at the center for three months last year. So while we might assume a certain American or Western influence in the paintings – Garrison Landing is a real place in Garrison and home of the Garrison Art Center-- there’s no question that Pitin also brings to his dreamscapes his native Prague, where he studied classical painting and conceptual media at the Prague Academy of Fine Arts (1994-2001).

During his studies there, he twice received the prize for the best work of the year, was the recipient of the Henkel Art Award for artists from Central and Eastern Europe in 2004 and won the Mattoni Prize for the best new artist’s work at the Prague Biennale in 2007. He’s had solo shows at the Mihai Nicodim Gallery in Los Angeles and the Charim Gallery in Vienna.

Now he’s here. Let’s hope we see more of him.

Garrison Landing” coincides with the center’s big show “After the Fall” (through July),  which spotlights emerging contemporary artists from Eastern and Central Europe, who were educated there in the period between communism and democracy. The works in this show include the paintings “Tito’s Cadillac” (2010) by Zsolt Bodoni and “Black Sea Tan” (2009) by Marius Bercea and the photograph “Behaelter” by Matija Brumen.

The Gaze Unconsidered

Some years ago, a team of scientists at Harvard University – half of whom were women – decided to explore the neurological roots of dyslexia. As with some scientific studies, their research led them not to a greater understanding of the problem posed but to an unintended discovery that would have far-reaching consequences for our society:

They learned that men and women think differently.

This might come as no surprise to any sentient being that has spent even one minute listening to a husband and wife in conversation. I mean, the family dog knows this. But the findings sent shock waves through a post-feminist community that had been raised on the notion that the biological differences between men and women had nothing to do with their brains. What the Harvard study showed – in vivid imagery on the front page of The New York Times – was that thinking in the male brain was often confined to the left frontal lobe, the seat of verbal functions, so-called Broca’s brain. Whereas when women thought, both hemispheres of the brain lit up like a pinball machine. 

What was believed to be the “fairer sex’s” scatterbrained nature was really an ability to process seemingly unrelated ideas simultaneously rather than in a linear, male fashion.

I was reminded of this while plunging into the catalog for “The Deconstructive Impulse: Women Artists Reconfigure the Signs of Power, 1973-1991,” which opens at Purchase College’s Neuberger Museum of Art Jan. 15.

Sarah Charlesworth
"Figures" from Objects of Desire I, 1983-84
Cibachrome with lacquered wood frame
The show debunks the idea that women and men in that feminist and post-feminist period had the same agenda when it came to deconstructing – or analyzing – the roles that the media and capitalism play in controlling visual culture and attaining and retaining power. Women had their own path to walk, one that had in a sense been forged for them not only by the media and the marketplace but by the prejudices of male power. By its very nature, the exhibit raises a question that has haunted me as it does some artists and visual arts critics: Do women see the way men see? In particular: Do they see their own and the opposite sex the way men do?

Clearly, these are questions that tantalize some of the 22 artists who’ve contributed 68 photographs, prints, paintings, videos and installations to “The Deconstructive Impulse.” Among these is Barbara Bloom, who’s represented by several fascinating Cibachrome prints from her 1980s series “The Gaze,” which deals with the viewer looking at people who are in turn looking at something else. And since we are seeing these images through the photographer’s lens, through Bloom’s perspective, we are in effect looking at her looking at them.
What does all this looking tell us? It suggests that women do indeed see things differently, particularly when it comes to the male or the female as sex object. The three sea nymphs in “Three Girls” (1987) – a photograph of a photograph – stand together looking out to the sea, their topless backs to the camera. The emphasis is not on their toplessness but their communality. The nude figure in “Tango (Male Nude Study)” (1985) – cropped and seen from the back – could be male or female. And anyway, it’s about the figure in relationship to a shadowy other party. In the ironic “Blue Dahlem Curtain,” (1986), the titular curtain is but a backdrop for a barely glimpsed marble sculpture whose dynamic drapery puts the curtain to shame. 

There’s a subtlety and focus on relationships here that you don’t necessarily get in male explorations of the nude. That’s apparent in Bloom’s “Ingres Girl Viewers” (1987), which captures three women contemplating a study for Ingres’ “Grand Odalisque.”  It’s one of art history’s most famous – and famously provocative – nudes, with the turbaned subject gazing matter-of-factly over the elongated back she presents to the viewer. And yet by Bloom snapping her living subjects off to one side, she makes it seem as if the woman in the painting is engaging them.

Not all of the reasons for the differences in men’s and women’s perspectives are biological, of course. They also have to do with centuries of conditioning. In her brilliant photomontage “Cleaning the Drapes” from her “Bringing the War Home: House Beautiful” (1967-72), Martha Rosler fuses themes of the gender and racial divide in an image of an Asian-looking woman vacuuming drapes that part to reveal the Vietnam War.
Here Rosler underscores both the notion that Vietnam was the first living-room war and the cultural/racial gulf between the Vietnamese and the Americans that proved key in that disastrous enterprise. But she’s also exploring the roles that have framed and frozen women and men. The modern, portable vacuum, with its shoulder strap and long attachments, is meant to be the female equivalent of the soldier’s rifles. The home is her battleground and boardroom in an era when other arenas were just opening up to her.

The women in “The Deconstructive Impulse” demonstrate that they were not about to be limited in the arena of the imagination, however. In “Before and Happily Ever After,” a 1991 oil and acrylic, Deborah Kass tweaks the fairy tale stereotype of the pert-nosed princess and the hooked-nosed crone who’s usually the villain – at least in male Hollywood. 

By making the princess the Before picture and the crone the After, what Kass is saying is that if a girl is lucky she’ll live to become the wise old crone.
In the gestalt of the female brain and gaze, they’re really one.

The Deconstructive Impulse:  Women Artists Reconfigure the Signs of Power, 1973-1991” is at Purchase College’s Neuberger Museum of Art Jan. 15- April 3 . Hours are noon-5 p.m. Tues.-Sun.. Admission is $5; $3 for senior citizens and students with ID. The college is off Anderson Hill Road between Purchase and King streets. 251-6100,