Friday, April 22, 2011

Arts & the Economy study

 By Jim Ormond

In collaboration with Americans for the Arts, the nation’s leading nonprofit organization for advancing culture in this country, ArtsWestchester has just launched Arts & Economic Prosperity IV, an extensive economic study on the impact that nonprofit arts organizations have on Westchester’s economy. ArtsWestchester will assist in the gathering and assembly of detailed economic and event attendance data from nonprofit arts and cultural organizations located throughout Westchester County. The goal is to collect surveys from at least 800 arts and culture attendees in Westchester County during 2011.

The results of the Westchester economic impact study will be placed alongside statistics about the nonprofit arts industry nationally, which this year will include 200 similar nonprofit arts organizations from across the United States.

The study’s findings will include:
•    Total dollars spent by Westchester County’s nonprofit arts and culture organizations
•    Total dollars spent by audiences as a direct result of their attendance at arts and culture events in Westchester County
•    Number of full-time equivalent jobs supported by arts spending
•    Amount of resident, household income—including salaries and wages—generated by arts spending
•    Amount of local and state government tax revenues generated by arts spending

The 2011 Arts & Economic Prosperity IV is a continuation of a 10-year study (1995-2005) that included ArtsWestchester.  The previous study (2005) found that Westchester County arts organizations contributed $119.88 million in local economic activity, supported 3,779 full-time equivalent jobs, and delivered $17.6 million in local and state government revenue.

These studies are especially important  in times of recession, says Janet T. Langsam, CEO of  ArtsWestchester, the largest, private, nonprofit arts council in New York state:
“The results of the last study were a real eye-opener. We knew that the arts had an economic impact here in Westchester. But seeing hard data demonstrating that the arts bring nearly $120 million to the local economy and supported nearly 3,800 jobs demonstrated how vital the arts industry is. Especially during times of recession, having this kind of data can help public officials at all levels make informed decisions when they are deciding on budget priorities.”

Americans for the Arts retains independent professional economists to design and monitor the study. Americans for the Arts President and CEO Robert L. Lynch says that the study “will …evaluate the impact the recession has had on employment and government revenues that are generated by the nonprofit arts industry.”

Local nonprofit cultural organizations also envision Arts & Economic Prosperity IV as providing an accurate picture of the toll of the recent recession “We all have our own stories of how audience participation is down in the past three years,” says ArtsWestchester Deputy Director Joanne Mongelli.  However,  having a comprehensive overview  of the ways audiences are withdrawing, or still participating in the arts, can help us in terms of planning, guiding how we reach out to audiences, and how we allocate our resources. Several organizations are already participating, But we want to bring in new organizations so that we can make this survey as accurate as possible.”

Founded in 1965, ArtsWestchester funds and presents exhibits and other cultural programs, brings artists into schools and community centers and builds audiences through marketing initiatives. In 1998, ArtsWestchester purchased the nine-story neoclassical bank building at 31 Mamaroneck Avenue which has since been transformed into the Arts Exchange, a multi-use resource for artists, cultural organizations and the community.

As part of this process, ArtsWestchester is inviting Westchester County-based cultural organizations and residents to participate. Collecting and/or submitting data for the study is easy. Participants will fill out blind surveys about how much money they spend when visiting cultural events and attractions, and other significant  details about their event attendance.  Those wishing to participate in the study, or who would like more information, are encouraged to contact Eric Siegel, ArtsWestchester’s Program Associate for Cultural Organization Services, at  428-4220 , ext. 324 or

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Percolating Purchase

Trumpeter Ambrose Akinmusire
Purchase College lives up to its reputation as a conservatory college with not one but three student performance groups on display. First up it’s the Purchase Jazz Orchestra, which performs 7 p.m. April 20 at the college’s Performing Arts Center with Grammy Award-winning conductor Todd Coolman and trumpeter Ambrose Akinmusire.

Akinmusire is a Blue Note recording artist who has been named one of the Faces to Watch in 2011 by the Los Angeles Times.  He will perform “The Touch of Your Lips,” “Secret Heart,” “Isotope” and other selections.  His music, according to the Los Angeles Times, is “remarkably fluid, adventurous…and  hard-wired with the sound of something new.”

A professor of music and director of the Jazz Studies Program at the college, Coolman has recorded and performed with many of the greatest jazz artists and recorded three CDs as a leader.  He performed as bassist with the late James Moody for 26 years, including on the James Moody album “4B,” which won a Grammy this year for Best Jazz Instrumental Recording of the Year.

The Purchase Jazz Orchestra performs classics from the Big Band era, featuring musicians from the Jazz Studies Program of the Conservatory of Music, Purchase College School of the Arts. Tickets are $22.50.
Then at 7 p.m. April 21, David DeJesus leads the Purchase Latin Jazz Orchestra in dance music from the Caribbean, including salsa and the Cha-Cha-Cha. Students from the Conservatory of Music will perform works by Tito Puente, Tito Rodriguez and Jesus Alemany. 
Purchase Latin Jazz Orchestra

Orchestra director DeJesus is a saxophonist who is active in the New York City scene.  A regular member of the Grammy Award winning Arturo O’ Farrill Afro-Latin Jazz Alliance and the Grammy-nominated Bobby Sanabria Big Band, he has performed with such legends as Jimmy Heath, Ray Barretto, Dave Valentine, Candido,  Paquito D’Rivera, Larry Harlow, the Chico O’Farrill Afro-Cuban Orchestra, the Fort Apache Band, the Village Vanguard Jazz orchestra, and the Mingus Big Band.
Tickets for this concert are $22.50.

Purchase Repertory Theatre gets into the act April 26-May 1 with Bertolt Brecht’s “Mother Courage and Her Children,” directed by Dennis Reid.

In this adaption by Ntosake Shange, author of the play “For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When the Rainbow is Enuf,”  a black woman tries to profit from selling goods to both sides in the Civil War to protect her adult children from their own heroic impulses.

Director Reid is a writer, producer and educator. His most recent project was an adaptation of George Bernard Shaw’s “Pygmalion,” which he wrote and directed for the Vassar College’s Drama Department. He has performed at regional theaters throughout the country, developed a one-man show, “Mandingo of Manhattan,” and has directed at a variety of theaters. He is on the faculty at Vassar and has taught at Columbia University, Fordham University, and the New Jersey Shakespeare Festival.

The Purchase Repertory Theatre includes students from the School of the Arts Conservatory of Theater Arts at Purchase College, who perform classical and contemporary plays.  Stage design, lighting, costumes and technical support are all provided by students in the Conservatory’s Design/Technology program. Tickets are $20.

The college is on Anderson Hill Road between Purchase and King streets. 251-6200,

One-year anniversary of redesigned White Plains Hospital

By Caroline Lewittes
Sections of the new mural
that graces the Berk Family
Pediatic Waiting room in
White Plains Hospital.

White Plains Hospital is celebrating the one-year anniversary of its redesigned and enhanced Emergency Department with  a  new series of murals in the Berk Family Pediatric Waiting Room. The murals were commissioned by the hospital to create an inviting, relaxing, and intriguing environment for young patients and their caregivers.

Painted by Kristin Linder of khlstudio in Briarcliff Manor,  the playful scenes depicted on the mural panels provide a colorful distraction for young, sick or injured patients who are waiting to be treated in the pediatric wing of the emergency room. In addition to redirecting children’s attention, the murals offer educational opportunities for children to find hidden images, geometric shapes and various colors. A waiting family can even create its own “story” around the mural scenes.

“There is much research about art’s effects on patients undergoing medical care,” said Linder. “The opportunity to work with White Plains Hospital on this mural that will reduce anxiety and comfort so many children has been a gift for me and my studio.”

“We thank Kristin for donating her time and talent to enhancing White Plains Hospital’s pediatric waiting room,” said Jon B. Schandler, President and CEO, White Plains Hospital. “Our young patients will surely be kept occupied by the playful scenes depicted in the murals, thereby detracting their attention from their sickness or injury.”

The Berk Waiting Room at the Kylie and Louis R. Cappelli Pediatric Emergency Center is just one part of the enhanced Emergency Department opened last year that hospital officials dubbed, “the ER of the Future.” The 26,390-square-foot, two-level facility is double the size of the former Emergency Department and offers private patient rooms and bedside registration. 

Last year, the ED saw nearly 51,000 patient visits, up from 48,000 in 2009.

In October 2010, the hospital received recognition from the Studer Group for exceptional patient satisfaction scores. Ensuring patients’ comfort was one of the goals during the three years that went into planning and developing the Emergency Department.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Art op

The Greenburgh Nature Center is holding an April Vacation Nature Camp from 9:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. April 18-21 for kindergartners through third graders. Naturalists will engage children with animal study, nature crafts,  exploration and games.  A morning snack is included, but children must bring lunch.  The fee is $210. Pre-registration and pre-payment is required online only at

The Greenburgh Nature Center is a 33-acre woodland preserve with trails, pond, gardens, and outdoor animal exhibits, including a birds of prey aviary. Indoor exhibits include a live animal museum with over 100 specimens, exhibit areas focusing on nature and the environment, a greenhouse with botanical exhibits and a gift shop.

The center’s grounds are open daily dawn to dusk throughout the year. The center’s indoor exhibits are open daily except Fridays and a few holidays 9:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m. on weekdays and 10 a.m.-4:30 p.m. on weekends. The center is located at 99 Dromore Road, off Central Park Avenue. 723-3470,

Spring rites

Monica Bradbury’s paintings of baseball players and landscapes and Sondra Gold’s small sculptures signal the arrival of spring at the Upstream Gallery in Dobbs Ferry (through April 24).   __________________________________________________________________________

Sondra Gold's highly kinetic yet formal sculptures are energized by their relationship to the light around them. Says Gold: “The shadows these pieces cast are as important as the negative spaces that appear and disappear as the piece is viewed from different angles."

Bradbury's drawings offer a view into the language of her paintings, while being highly gestural in their own right. Of her work, she says:  "I am a landscape painter, constantly responding to and being challenged by what I see of the world around me.  Everything interests me, from water running over rocks in a river to the New York skyline. There is a whole universe of possibilities in every scene.”

The gallery is at 26 Main St. 591-7135,


Brandon Russo, student thespian,
trodding the boards at Stepinac.
...To Brandon Russo of Yonkers,  a senior at Archbishop Stepinac High School in  White Plains, who has won a $1,000 Bob Fitzsimmons Scholarship Award for excellence in theater arts.

Russo’s stage performances in Stepinac’s acclaimed Drama Club have included a range of notable character roles, most recently  the jovial gangster in the “Drowsy Chaperone” and Sydney in “Curtains,” which won critical praise at  the Edinburgh Fringe Festival two years ago.

In Stepinac’s 100th production, Disney’s “Beauty and the Beast”— which will be staged at the school’s Major Bowes Theater in May— he will play the role of LeFou, the sidekick to Gaston.

The award is named after the late Fitzsimmons, a graduate of Stepinac (’72), who was a gifted actor, producer, writer and a director of stage productions.

Founded in 1948, Archbishop Stepinac High School’s mission is to offer young men a highly competitive academic and extracurricular program that will prepare them for college and leadership roles. Thespian alumni include Alan Alda and Jon Voigt.

….And to the Purchase Jazz Orchestra, conducted by Grammy Award winner Todd Coolman – what a great name for a jazzman – which will perform April 11 at Dizzy’s Club Coca-Cola in Manhattan as part of Jazz at Lincoln Center. Saxophonist Eric Alexander is the special guest. (212) 258-9595,
After this, the student orchestra takes to the road. It will be at the college’s Performing Arts Center on April 20, the Blue Note in Manhattan on April 25 and The Falcon in Marlboro, N.Y. on May 6.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Spring brings a yen for Zen at the Hammond Museum

By Georgette Gouveia

One of the loveliest of spring rites in our area is the reopening of the Hammond Museum & Japanese Stroll Garden in North Salem.

With its calligraphic brushworks and sinuously spare landscape, the Hammond is an oasis of Zen amid the clamor that is New York. And its August moon-viewing – all those stringed instruments and saki under the stars – is one of the social events of the season.

August is a long way off at the moment. So why not content yourself with the trio of inaugural shows (April 16-June 18)?

First among equals is the annual “Brush With Nature,” a juried show of works by more than 20 artists that captures the tranquil art of Chinese landcape painting in concise but expressive brushstrokes. The exhibit is presented by the Oriental Brush Artists Guild, made up of more than 50 painters from the tri-state area.
 “Soyokaze” by Kiyoshi Otsuka features this Japanese artist’s abstract acrylics.

“Water is the elemental aspect/concept of my work,” says Otsuka, who was born in the mountains of Gumma prefecture in Japan. “Water provides nourishment through roots, and the intensity of roots’ energy is powerful. I aim to express this power through my paintings.”

In the third show, “The Notion of Home,” Shanna Fliegel draws on the Surrealistic dreams and memories of her childhood to create ceramics that explore threatened and forgotten species.

Opening day (noon to 4 p.m. April 16) includes a reception, from 1 to 3 p.m., and a brush painting demonstration by Frank Liao. Admission is free.

The museum is at 28 Deveau Road. 669-5033,

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Beyond Bridezilla

The dreamlike “The Dress”was made
by the Hester sister act of Kristen
(producer, production and costume designer)
and Jessica (writer, director, star).

In “The Dress,” sister-filmmakers Kristen and Jessica Hester draw on their experience growing up in Westchester  -- and Jessica’s 14 years as a wedding planner at historic Lyndhurst in Tarrytown -- to create a dreamlike film that transcends the bridezilla clichés of screens big and small.

The movie is part of “A Night of Hesterhouse” – named for the siblings’ production company – which takes place April 15 at 8 p.m. at the Paramount Center for the Arts in Peekskill. The festivities include a red carpet; a performance of “Hudson River Blues,” one of the movie’s songs, by Dutchess Di of Dutchess Di and the Distractions; and screenings of four additional original works by the Hesters and other Westchester filmmakers.

Bob Conte, senior vice president, creative affairs, at HBO Films, viewed “The Dress” at a recent film festival and was impressed with the Hester sisters’ enthusiasm and their success at navigating the financial and logistical obstacles of first-time filmmakers.

 "A lot of people want to make movies, and a much smaller number actually make them," says Conte. "And a much smaller number than that make movies worth watching."

The Paramount is at 1008 Brown St. Tickets are $9; $7 for students with ID and senior citizens.   For more information, log onto or call 739-2333. For more information about HesterHouse Productions, log onto:

Sunday, April 10, 2011

As They Like It

The Sound Shore Shakespeare Festival is back, enveloping the city of New Rochelle and its environs. This time, the Bard buffs (aka the New Rochelle Council on the Arts) have joined forces with the New Rochelle Public Library, which has chosen “Romeo and Juliet” for its “One City, One Book” community read.  From the library’s April 7 presentation of the 1936 film version of “Romeo and Juliet,” with Leslie Howard and Norma Shearer way-too-old yet utterly spot-on as the star-crossed lovers, to the “Shakepeare’s Women” juried art show at the Museum of Arts & Culture, it’s a trove of goodies. For a complete schedule, log on to

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Lend me this tenor

Juan Diego Florez
Anthony Tommasini, chief music critic for The New York Times, may find him not to his taste. But the rest of the musical world is pretty much in love with Juan Diego Flórez, who has returned to The Metropolitan Opera this spring in the Casanova-ish title role of Rossini’s little-known, little-performed “Le Comte Ory.” Indeed, it’s fair to say Flórez is the reason The Met revived the comic opera, which is being simulcast in our area April 9.

I have always thought Flórez to be the embodiment of the four Ts it takes to make a great star – talent, training, technique and temperament. His is a naturally beautiful lyric tenor voice that while neither as huge as Luciano Pavarotti’s or as darkly colored as Placido Domingo’s, is nonetheless perfectly placed and thus perfectly suited to the bel canto operas of Rossini and Donizetti that require the singer both to spin long silvery phrases and toss off intricate coloratura runs and high Cs, even Ds, with aplomb. His background (his father is a folk singer in his native Peru) and his training (at the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia) have equipped Flórez with a technique so incomparable that it is possible to say his technique has technique.
None of this would matter if he didn’t have the temperament for opera. Onstage, he is funny, charismatic and charming, delivering performances that are all of a piece and that locate the humor and the pathos in the vocal line. This enabled him to steal the show in The Met’s revelatory production of “The Barber of Seville,”  even though his Count Almaviva was technically the third lead.

Not surprisingly, the director of that production, Bartlett Sher, is back in the driver’s seat for “Le Comte Ory,” which reunites Flórez with “Barber” co-stars Diana Damrau and Joyce DiDonato. Here, soprano Damrau is the love interest and mezzo DiDonato, in one of opera’s classic pants roles, is Ory’s rival for her affections. There is plenty of threesome action an dgender-bending here, as Ory disguises himself as a nun at one point to win the hand of his lady.

With Flórez’s muy caliente looks – those flashing eyes, that Cupid’s mouth saying “yes, yes, yes” – it’s an easy bet that for many viewers, the nunnery will be the last thing on their minds.

Now, for how to see the dynamic divo:   Go to and follow the prompts on the left-hand side of the page. Among the participating venues are Brandford 12, Danbury 16, Buckland Hills 18 IMAX, the Quick Center for the Arts at Fairfield University, The Ridgefield Playhouse, the Katharine Hepburn Cultural Arts Center in Old Saybrook, all in Connecticut; and  in New York, the New Roc Stadium 18 Plus IMAX in New Rochelle, City Center 15 Cinema DeLux in White Plains and Bardovan/UPAC in Poughkeepsie. At $20-$25 – a steal for an opera – this is one tough ticket. But if you can’t get into the 1 p.m. simulcast, generally you can get into the encore, which is scheduled for April 27 at 6:30 p.m. 

The independent venues don’t always adhere to the national schedule, however. The Ridgefield Playhouse, for instance, is presenting its encore at 6 p.m. April 9, the same day as the simulcast. It’s at (203) 438-5795, or

Friday, April 8, 2011

Concert for Japan

By Georgette Gouveia

It is no small irony that the arts – among the first to go in any economic crisis – are also among the first things we turn to in a global tragedy. So it is with the “Concert for Japan,” a 12-hour marathon of music and special activities that the Japan Society in Manhattan will present April 9.
All of the proceeds from the event, which takes place from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m., will go to the society’s Japan Earthquake Relief Fund, which has collected more than $1.5 million from 6,000-plus donations since March 21. 
Among those scheduled to perform are Philip Glass, Lou Reed, Laurie Anderson and the New York-based Japanese bands Echostream, Hard Nips, The Suzan and Me & Mars, all fronted by women.
Besides the music, “Concert for Japan” offers special activities for all ages over the course of the event:

  • Half-hour sessions led by the Toyota Language Center will teach participants common phrases to use when sending messages to Japan. Tickets will be available at 11 a.m. for classes running from 11:45 a.m. to 2:15 p.m. and at 2:15 p.m. for sessions scheduled 2:30-5:30 p.m.

  • Master calligrapher Masako Inkyo introduces the basics of shodo calligraphy, an art form using a brush and charcoal ink on paper, wood plaques and fabric.  Participants are invited to create messages of peace and hope to take home and also enjoy an exhibit of Inkyo’s calligraphic works. Tickets will be available at 11 a.m. for classes running from 11:45 a.m. to 2:15 p.m. and at 2:15 p.m. for sessions scheduled 2:30-5:30 p.m.

  • Origami USA volunteers will teach participants the Japanese art of transforming paper into flowers and cranes.  A selection of origami artwork will be on display.  Reservations are not required. Participation is on space-available basis 11 a.m.-6 p.m.

  • Kamishibai will transport children and families to a world of mythical creatures and folktale heroes.  From the Japanese for “paper drama,” Kamishibai is a form of storytelling that flourished in Japan from the 1920s to ’50s, and is now enjoying a renaissance in Japanese and American schools, libraries and cultural centers.  Lively stories combine visuals, song and movement and themes of cooperation and generosity.  Tickets will be available at 11 a.m. for classes running from 11:45 a.m. to 2:15 p.m. and at 2:15 p.m. for sessions scheduled 2:30-5:30 p.m.

  • You can take part in art.  Revel in a field of illuminated rice paper lanterns in the Japan Society’s  atrium, or create a lantern to add to the collaborative installation. Inspired by traditional Japanese lantern festivals, the project explores the use of light and shadow in Japanese architecture and celebrates the ephemeral nature of materials traditionally used in Japanese rituals and events. Architect Aki Ishida's students from the Rhode Island School of Design will offer instruction. Participation is on a space-available basis 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.

From 11 a.m. to 8 p.m., participants will also be able to see “Bye Bye Kitty!!! Between Heaven & Hell in Contemporary Art” (through June 12), which takes an iconoclastic view of Japanese culture’s – and for that matter, the world’s – obsession with cute products, including the signature Hello Kitty, she of the big kitten face and seemingly unlimited wardrobe and activity schedule. (Here, dear readers, I must confess to a certain fondness for beloved Hello Kitty, having as I do in my possession a Hello Kitty rhinestone bracelet, ice-cream cone alarm clock, diary and pink boom box.)

Nestled behind bamboo plants and an indoor waterfall, Japan Society's main floor reception room will become a j-LOUNGE  for guests to relax with food and beverage and watch a video feed of the concert. Throughout the day, visitors will also be able to explore the society’s landmark building, capturing images with a camera or phone to redeem for prizes from Gifu Prefecture or MUJI.

General admission is $5 cash at the door. Seating is first-come, first-served.

A $100 ticket entitles you to admission and two assigned seats to one of two gala blocks. The 1 p.m. gala block features performances by Philip Glass and Hal Willner, Lou Reed, Laurie Anderson and John Zorn. The 6 p.m. gala block spotlights soloist Ryuichi Sakamoto and Bill Laswell with gigi band, an Indonesian pop rock group. You can order these tickets at,  (212)  715-1258, or  333 E. 47th St. between First  and Second avenues.

Visit for the most up-to-date information.

In addition to donating the April 9 proceeds, the society will give half of all ticket and admission sales made through June 30, 2011 to the Japan Earthquake Relief Fund. Those wishing to donate directly to the fund can go to or mail a check to Japan Society, 333 E. 47th St., New York, N.Y. 10017, Attn: Japan Earthquake Relief Fund. Checks should be made payable to the Japan Society, indicating “Japan Earthquake Relief Fund” on the check. For additional information, email

 For general information, call (212) 832-1155 or visit