August 2, 2012 —
I hit the ground running this week, with the lyrics to the classic Marvin Gaye anthem playing in my head: “Summer’s here and the time is right for dancin’ in the street.” They certainly fit at the Forestburgh Playhouse (www.fbplayhouse.org ) and the theatre’s third offering of the season, “West Side Story.” The show is (IMHO) brilliantly written, and I was truly impressed by the production. For my complete analysis of the company’s homage to dancing in the street (and on rooftops), visit the Arts & Leisure section at www.riverreporteronline.com .
Inclement weather (an understatement if ever there was one) did not deter, and as soon as there was a break in the clouds, I grabbed an umbrella and headed for Callicoon, joining the burgeoning crowd braving the storm to meander Main Street and sample summertime treats, while admiring the art filled booths that our street festivals attract. The shops and restaurants were humming and local vendors displayed their wares: antiques, tie-dyed garments, organic goodies and hand-crafted items for every taste and budget.
Kids splashed in puddles as neighbors visited, sharing stories of the storm (and tornado threat) that tore through the Upper Delaware valley, in some cases leaving a wake of destruction and power outages in its path. Without the tireless efforts of our local heroes, the streets would not have been so easy to dance in, and the men and women who work so hard deserve recognition. Clean-up crews are still working ‘round the clock to make the streets safe for dancing. Since Mother Nature packed a wallop this time—and my hat’s off to all who serve.
After a (far too brief) siesta, I eyed the clouds and made my way to picturesque Lake Huntington and Juan Rigal’s Nutshell Arts Center (www.nutshellarts.com ) overlooking the bay. The community events schedule at the center is packed, and affable host Rigal is always offering up something special. Between the café, concerts, shows and exhibits, the place is continuously bustling. How I’ve missed out on some of the gallery openings remains a mystery, but the “Summer of 2012” art exposition remained on my radar, and I was wowed by the vast array of artists represented.
More than 30 painters, sculptors and mixed media professionals’ work is on display at this impressive exhibit, and many of the artists were on hand at the opening to discuss their work. Peter Greene was in the crowd, and I found his self-portraits captivating. I spoke with Greene’s wife Hester (also a favorite subject of the painter), who has “no issues” with her husband “often exposing intimate portrayals of their life on canvas.”
I chatted with Nancy Lew Lee about her free-form bamboo sculpture, admitting that it made me slightly nervous. Puzzled (and amused) by my reaction, Lee shared that inspiration for the piece stemmed from a trip to China, Buddhism, and a village that is referred to by locals as “Shangri-La.” Delving further, she regaled me with visions of ancient traditions that include the “entire population emerging nightly to dance, in symbolic fashion, honoring life and nature in a beautiful tribute that touches the soul.” Lee put me at ease around her delicate, flowing creation before I moved on to an explosion of color adorning the walls.
Catskills weekender Cindy Schechter was also happy to share her inspiration, and described how the vivid acrylic paintings come to life. “The sheer beauty of this region feeds my soul,” she told me, “and I’m excited by color and the positive/negative space that light and shadow produce. Since it’s always changing, I try to capture the moment, because nature’s palette is ephemeral.” I had other conversations, with Carmine Santaniello, Richard Kreznar and Miriam Hernandez (to name a few) and left the gallery more than impressed. This show runs for another few weeks, and is well worth a visit.
n Sunday, I hied myself to the Tusten Theatre (along with TRR intern Lucy Jan-Turan) to catch more dancing and singing in the form of “Kiss Me Kate,” presented by the Delaware Valley Opera as part of their “Shakespeare Sings” summer tribute. Lucy had never read the play (“The Taming of the Shrew”) that the Cole Porter musical draws from, and expressed interest in writing her own review. Seeking a fresh perspective, I happily agreed and one can read all about it this week at TRR online.
Martha & the Vandellas still ringing in my ears, I review the past week and am reminded that “This is an invitation, across the nation, a chance for folks to meet.
There’ll be laughin’, singin’ and music swingin’ and dancin’ in the street.” It doesn’t matter what you wear, just as long as you are there.