Catch Some Cultcha: The 2006 Fall Arts Preview

Catch Some Cultcha: The 2006 Fall Arts Preview


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A complete guide to cultural performances, exhibits, and events right here in Westchester.


By Roberta Hershenson

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Summer’s over. Brush the sand out of your shoes and snap out of that tropical torpor. We’ve all enjoyed The Devil Wears Prada and Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest, but it’s time to flex a few intellectual muscles and engage in more “highbrow” activities. And we’re in luck. This fall, the Westchester arts calendar is jam-packed with new exhibits, theater, film, and more. While local groups are coping with the nationwide dip in support for the arts by joining forces or scaling back to stay afloat, the good news is that the familiar groups are alive and well and providing audiences with diverse ways to enjoy the arts—right here in our backyard.


The Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum in Ridgefield, Connecticut, explores a potent topic with No Reservations: Native American History and Culture in Contemporary Art, a show of video, sculpture, paintings, and installations by ten artists, five of whom are Native Americans. “The non-natives look at the history, colonization, and genocide through a contemporary lens, using history to inform the present day,” says the show’s curator,  Richard Klein. “The native artists come at the subject matter from all different directions.” The proximity of the Pequot tribe, which has rebounded from near extermination in the Aldrich’s own neighborhood, adds to the show’s resonance, Klein says. No Reservations, which opened on August 23, runs through February 25. A free public reception will take place October 15 from 3 to 6 pm (203-438-4519).


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Native Americans also are the subject of 50 Years of Powwow at the Castle Gallery of the College of New Rochelle. On view from September 10 to November 22, the show, conceived and organized by the American Indian Center of Chicago and developed by Chicago’s Field Museum, includes 50 color and black-and-white photographs of the traditional Indian powwow. The opening reception is September 24 from 2 to 4 pm (914-654-5423).


For its third year, the Peekskill Project returns  on four consecutive weekends from September 16 to 17 through October 6 to 7.  This citywide show, organized by the Peekskill-based Hudson Valley Center for Contemporary Art, will again feature more than 80 site-specific works. A free shuttle will be available to visitors  (914-788-7166).


September 15 marks the opening of the Trans-Hudson Project, a collaboration of the Pelham Art Center in Pelham, the Rye Arts Center in Rye, and the Rockland Center for the Arts in West Nyack. The groups decided to band together and “get more funding and media attention for art north of New York City than any one could get alone,” says Lisa Robb, director of the Pelham center. “So many times, you hear about museums north of the city whose resources just get overloaded.” The result is three shows reflecting the theme of “cultural landscapes.” The Object of Design is at the Pelham Art Center from September 15 through October 28 (914-738-2525); Life at Home in the Suburbs Today is at the Rye Arts Center from October 3 through November 18 (914-967-0700); and State of the Art is at the Rockland Center for the Arts from October 15 though November 28 (845-358-0877).  


Randolph A. Williams says it’s a myth that teaching great art and making it are mutually exclusive. “So many wonderful and proficient artists have been teachers, from Ben Shawn to Hans Hoffmann to Ad Reinhardt,” says the Manhattanville College art professor and artist, who curated the group show, Artist as Teacher, for The Studio: A Contemporary Space for Alternative Art in Armonk to prove the point. It runs from September 23 through November 19 (914-273-1452). 


Two shows open September 17 at the Neuberger Museum of Art at Purchase College: Transitional Objects: Contemporary Still Life, curated by Dede Young of the Neuberger; and Renee Green: Wavelinks, curated by Thom Collins, the museum’s director. Wavelinks presents poetic meditations on natural and artificial sound. Both shows run through January 21. The refurbished Roy R. Neuberger Collection galleries, which house the museum’s permanent collection, will also reopen to the public on September 17. Many familiar works remain on view, but others have been brought from storage to “tell a more complete story about key movements in twentieth-century art,” Collins says  (914-251-6100). 


The Hudson River Museum in Yonkers presents three new shows opening September 30: photographs by Guy Gillette, a Yonkers artist known for his 1950s to 1970s magazine photo essays and portraits of notables; monumental landscape paintings by Neil Welliver, a New England artist who died last year; and Sylvia Sleigh’s work in Sylvia Sleigh: Invitation to a Voyage, comprising 14 large individual canvases. The shows runs through January 7 (914-963-4550). 


Devoted solely to ceramics, the Clay Art Center in Port Chester is a place where potters go to work and show. The exhibition on view from September 1 through 25 is Hot Flashes, by Lily Schor, which the artist calls an exploration of hand-built boxes (914-937-2047). 


White Plains has grown up around Grace Church in the 18 years since Downtown Music at Grace began presenting a modest series of weekly classical concerts. Now, Downtown Music has its first executive director, Michael Chang, a former opera singer, director, and producer; a resident orchestra, Downtown Sinfonietta; and a burgeoning calendar.  Noonday Getaway Concerts resume with bagpiper Jonathan Henken on September 13 from 12:10 to 12:40 pm and continue each Wednesday at the same time through May (914-949-0384).


Westchester’s savvy movie-goers like to be the first to see the newest. They do it by joining a film club or by signing up for series like Harlan Jacobson’s Talk Cinema at The Performing Arts Center of Purchase College. Jacobson, a New York-based critic, selects foreign and independent films from festivals like Cannes, Sundance, and Toronto, and keeps each film a secret until the audience is in their seats. The series begins on September 26 at 7 pm and runs through May.


Westchester Community College’s Friday Night Film Series begins on September 8 at 8 pm on the Valhalla campus with Ushpizin, from Israel. Films from Japan, Belgium, France, and Germany follow through October 20  (914-606-6700).


In the inter-generational film Hiding and Seeking: Faith and Tolerance After the Holocaust, Menachem Daum explores the distrust toward the non-Jewish world displayed by his own two adult Orthodox sons. The event begins on Friday night at Congregation Anshe Sholom in New Rochelle (914-632-9220) with a communal Shabbat dinner. On Sunday, September 10, at 10 am, the film will be screened with a brunch and a question-and-answer period. Tickets must be secured by September 5.


Cadillac, by Barry Malawer, will kick off the season for the Blueberry Pond Theatre Ensemble in Ossining. The play, which offers a comic look at a suburban Jewish family after the marriage of the oldest son, runs from September 1 through 24 (914-923-3530).


It’s all things Latino, Hispanic, Caribbean American, and African at the Paramount Center for the Arts in Peekskill from September 13 though 18. The One World Arts and Culture Festival is supported by the Westchester Arts Council (914-739-2333).


Brancusi and Picasso were among the 20th-century artists inspired by prehistoric art from the Cyclades in the Aegean Sea. Stone objects from the Cycladic period of ancient Greek art are now the subject of a new exhibition organized by the Katonah Museum of Art, Ancient Art of the Cyclades, on view from October 1 through December 31 (914-232-9555). 


The Hammond Museum and Japanese Stroll Garden, a serene spot in North Salem, will show Origamic Architecture from October 14 through November 18. The museum will also offer origami demonstrations and children’s workshops  (914-669-5033).

The Clay Art Center will show large-scale figurative ceramic work by Heather Houston from October 7 through 29. The artist says the theme, Horses in Midstream, is a metaphor for the never-ending process of making art.


The Westchester Philharmonic has been a county fixture since 1983. This fully professional orchestra begins its 24th season of subscription concerts on October 14 at 8 pm and October 15 at 3 pm at The Performing Arts Center at Purchase College. The Best of Beethoven features Leila Josefowicz, who first performed with the orchestra when barely a teenager. Now a veritable grown-up star, she will play the Concerto for Violin and Orchestra in D Major (914-682-3707).


The Caramoor Center for Music and the Arts in Katonah opens its Music Room for a season of chamber music on October 7 at 8 pm, with a program featuring the Caramoor Virtuosi. The Great Artists in the Music Room and Caramoor Classics series can also be heard this month and next (914-232-1252).


Bard College in Annandale-on-Hudson presents The New German School and Musical Narrative on October 27 as part of the Bard Music Festival, starting with a talk at 7 pm and a concert devoted to the music of Liszt, Wagner and Berlioz at 8 pm. Bard will hold panel discussion on Liszt on October 28 at 10 am, followed by a day of talk and music on the subject “The War of the Romantics: Weimar and Leipzig” (845-758-7900).


Downtown Music’s family-friendly Headliner Series, which features Saint-Saens’s Carnival of the Animals and Seymour Barab’s The Selfish Giant, takes place on October 15 at 4 pm at Grace Church in White Plains. Downtown Sinfonietta, its resident orchestra which includes members of the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra, will play, and Robert Sherman of WQXR will narrate both pieces (914-949-0384).


In addition, Taconic Opera will stage Don Giovanni on October 21 at 8 pm and October 22 at 3 pm, at its new home, the Paramount Center for the Arts in Peekskill  (914-739-2333).


When a designer speaks of fractals and “land art” in describing an exhibition featuring 3,000 hand-carved pumpkins, something special is happening.  The Great Jack O’Lantern Blaze transforms Van Cortlandt Manor in Croton-on-Hudson for the second year on October 6 to 8, October 13 to 15, and October 20 to 22.  “It’s partly fun and partly scary,” says Michael Natiello, the artist in charge of this Historic Hudson Valley mega-event. Last year, 18,000 visitors found out why Natiello calls the blaze “a whole body experience” (914-631-8200).


France’s Lyon Opera Ballet is coming to town on October 6 at 8 pm and October 7 at 8 pm. The French troupe will make its only local appearance at The Performing Arts Center of Purchase College (914-251-6200).


The Jacob Burns Film Center in Pleasantville will screen retrospectives of two master filmmakers: Kenji Mizoguchi from September 29 through October 19, and Pedro Almódovar from October 20 through 31 (914-773-7663). 


Bard College’s weeklong festival devoted to Samuel Beckett’s centenary will include film versions of 19 dramatic texts. The screenings are from October 6 through 15 at the Richard B. Fisher Centre for the Performing Arts (845-758-7900).


The Beckett Centenary at Bard presents the Gate Theatre of Dublin in Waiting for Godot on October 7 at 2 pm and October 8 at 3 pm. The Gare St. Lazare Players perform seven other Beckett plays from October 9 through 14 (845-758-7900).


The Purchase Repertory Theatre, made up of Purchase College conservatory students, stages a musical version of James Joyce’s The Dead from October 27 through November 4. The group performs Suddenly the Sky Turned Blood Red, based on the artwork of painter Edvard Munch, from October 6 to 14  (914-251-6200).


It’s acrobatic and a dance form, too.  The Chinese Golden Dragon Acrobats from Beijing bring their skills in ancient dance and derring-do to the stage of the Academic Arts Theatre at Westchester Community College on October 15 at 3 pm (914-606-6700). 

Marjane Satrapi, the Iranian-born comic artist and author of the new graphic memoir Chicken and Plums, will speak on October 16 at 7 pm in the Royal and Shirley Durst Chair Lecture Series at The Performing Arts Center (914-251-6200).


“LLet the Poets Speak” is an event that presents readings by winners and finalists in the 35th Annual Greenburgh Arts and Culture Committee Poetry Contest on October 22 at 2 pm in Greenburgh Town Hall (914-682-1574). 


Brian Regan, an award-winning stand-up comic seen often on late night television, brings his You Too Tour live to the Tarrytown Music Hall on October 7 at 8 pm (914-320-3257).


Cannes is the film-industry equivalent of the Paris or Milan fashion shows; it is where industry pros and critics spend a fortune to see new films. In case you didn’t make the trip, let’s take a look at a few of the notable titles as if you had been right there on the Croisette.


■ Volver

Spain’s leading director, Pedro Almodóvar won the Best Screenplay Award at Cannes for Volver, and his cast of Penelope Cruz, Carmen Maura, and four other actresses, took an ensemble Best Actress Award for what is essentially an appreciation of the things a Spanish mom will do for her niña.


Set in Madrid and La Mancha,  the film is an extended joke about a day that keeps taking the wrong turns for heroine Cruz, a hard-working mother who gets home from her office-cleaning job only to have to cope with her teenage daughter having stabbed her good-for-nothing husband to death. Before the day is done, Cruz has tidied up three generations of family mishigas; dealt with her crazy sister, aunt, and long-dead mother; peeled her daughter off the wall; and reopened and made a success of a failed next-door restaurant. After a series of dismal American films, Cruz was right to go home to Almodóvar. She’s at home in Pedro’s world—and he brings the cool comedy beneath her Iberian beauty to the surface.

(Release Date: Sony Pictures Classics will release Volver in November.)



Alejandro González Iñárritu’s Babel, which won the Best Director Award, features Cate Blanchett and Brad Pitt as American parents on a trip without their kids, trying to heal their marriage. The film consists of a round robin of interconnected failures of judgment that sets off a series of small-scale crises with a single gunshot in Morocco that reverberates around the world.


Iñárritu gets decent characterizations, especially from post-adolescent young men slouching toward adulthood—Brad Pitt, Gael Garcia Bernal, and the decidedly adult Koji Yakusho—as they tend the needs of their women wounded by other men. There’s so much connecting going on, you almost think something deep is happening. 

(Release Date: Paramount Vantage will release the film November 10.)


■ Borat

Britain’s Sacha Baron Cohen has inherited the Wild-and-Crazy-Guy job from Steve Martin and Dan Aykroyd and has pushed it further than either ever dreamed. In character as a vaguely middle-European journalist, Cohen took Borat, his first film, to Cannes completely under the official radar. The film takes Cohen’s TV character, Borat

Sagdiyev, a Kazakhi TV reporter, on a road trip across America.


Along the way, he turns America into a shambles wherever he lands and gets himself and his 300-pound traveling companion bounced out of hotels, a dinner party, an antiques store, and a mortgage brokers’ banquet where the pair burst in nude, screaming insults in Kazakhi at each other. The only place Cohen doesn’t turn into a shambles is a religious revival meeting—because they’re already speaking in tongues by the time he shows up. His kind of crowd. (Release Date: To be released by Fox November 3.)


■ Marie Antoinette

Sofia Coppola’s Marie Antoinette may be the only film in memory at Cannes that got booed and then set off a still-ongoing argument as to what kind of boos and who did the booing.


The $40-million film stars Kirsten Dunst as the last Queen of France, brought from Vienna at age 14 in a political marriage to Louis-Auguste, who would become the last King Louis XVI, here played by Jason Schwartzman. Coppola says she based her interpretation on Antonia Fraser’s 2002 biography, Marie Antoinette: The Journey, which accounts for the film being a revised understanding of Antoinette, not as history’s most fatuous glutton but rather more as a “story about teenagers in Versailles.”


The costly film makes clear there was a never-ending fountain of Champagne, chocolate, chantilly, silk, and shoes. There’s also a lot of rock music to keep things “feeling fresh,” according to Coppola—just in case you missed the part about teenagers in Versailles.

(Release date: Columbia Pictures has set an October 20 opening across the country.)


Harlan Jacobson, who can be heard reviewing films every Friday morning on WFUV, hosts Talk Cinema sneak preview-and-discussion series (www. at The Performing Arts Center in Purchase.

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