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Art, Drama, Music and Books
Art, drama, music & books

John Corry: Bigger and Better in the Berkshires; The New Clark Art Museum PDF Print Email

Aug. 27, 2014: Less than three hours from Bronxville is a beautifully expanded museum whose bucolic surroundings complement its lovely landscapes and other fine paintings.

In the late 1940s, Singer Sewing Machine heir Sterling Clark was determining how to dispose of his large art collection. His concern that it might be destroyed in a nuclear war led him to forsake his native Manhattan in favor of a more isolated setting. Persuaded by Williams College President Baxter and influenced by the fact that his grandfather and father had been college trustees, he chose Williamstown in the Berkshires of northwestern Massachusetts.

In 1955, a year before Clark's death, the Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute opened its doors to the public. On trips to visit our daughter at Middlebury, Emily and I would break our journeys to enjoy its collections of Impressionists (more than 20 Renoirs), Winslow Homers, and other paintings.

As the years passed, through purchases and bequests, the Clark expanded its collections. By 2000, it became clear that it needed to make major renovations. The next year, the trustees adopted a master plan that would substantially reconfigure the Clark's 140-acre campus.

Carried out in two phases, it involved a new visitors center with rooms for special exhibitions and a substantial renovation of the original museum building that added more than 2,200 square feet of gallery space. Also included is the expansion of a building added in 1973, it will reopen next year as the Manton Center and will house a collection of more than 200 English paintings, drawings, and prints, including many works by Constable and Turner, that was donated to the Clark in 2007.

The new complex's architects moved the museum's entrance, previously facing South Street, to its other end so that visitors approach it against an open background of green lawns, meadows, and wooded slopes. Thus, when the Clark reopened last month after being closed for three years, there was special acclaim for its setting. The Architectural Record called it "breathtaking" and a "seamless integration of indoor and outdoor space." The full page New York Times review carried the headline "A Place of Serene Excitement, Inside and Out."

Earlier this month, two friends and I drove to Williamstown. After lunch at the nearby Williams Inn and purchasing our tickets at the new visitors center, we walked the several-hundred-foot-long glass-enclosed passageway to the museum building.

Our first stop was a large gallery containing the Clark's large collection of paintings by Winslow Homer and a number of lovely landscapes by 19th-century American artist George Inness, most of which were given to the Clark only last year. (Another gallery shows paintings by Sargent and other late 19th-century artists).

We next visited the largest gallery, which displays the majority of the Clark's many Renoirs and eight Monets, including one of his series of Rheims Cathedral. The effect of seeing them all together in one room is, itself, impressive. Other paintings by Renoir, as well as by Pissarro and Manet, are in an adjoining gallery. Elsewhere are several works by Degas, including a statue of a young ballet dancer, and a charming pastel by Cassatt.

The Clark Museum owns a small but especially lovely group of paintings by Renaissance masters including Piero della Francesca, Ghirlandaio, and Perugino. Others of its twenty galleries contain works by such artists as Corot, Gainsborough, Gauguin, and Goya. Scattered among the rooms are pieces of sculpture, as well as items of porcelain, glassware, and silver.

The total effect of experiencing the new Clark is overwhelming. I do have one complaint: it appears that nowhere in the museum building is a spot to sit and enjoy a soft drink, coffee, or tea, or to get a cup of ice water. The closest location is on the lower level of the visitors center, and this small café will only be open from July 1 to October 13.

The problem will worsen next year after the opening of the Manton Center with its many English pictures and gallery space to show them. Since the Manton will be reachable via a bridge from museum gallery 18, providing a refreshment station there would ameliorate the problem. Otherwise visitors, many of whom appeared to be elderly, who would like to take a short break will continue to be forced to trek to and from the visitors center in order to spend a relaxed two or three hours enjoying the Clark's many treasures.

For art lovers who have more time, the Berkshires boast other treasures, including Edith Wharton's Lenox home, The Mount, Stockbridge's Norman Rockwell Museum, and the home and studio of Lincoln sculptor Daniel Chester French. But visiting the Clark alone is well worth the trip.

Pictured here: John A. Corry

Photo by N. Bower

Second Bronxville Pop-Up Art Exhibit to Showcase Work of Emerging Artists in Empty Storefront September 13 and 14 PDF Print Email

Aug. 13, 2014:   On September 13 and 14, a pop-up art show will transform an empty Bronxville storefront (66 Pondfield Road) into a pop-up art gallery with a free and open reception on Saturday, September 13, from 5:00 pm to 9:00 pm. 

The pop-up art show will showcase the work of nearly 25 New York-based emerging artists, representing photography, painting, drawing, mixed-media, and sculpture, who are exploring individual themes and concepts. 

The pop-up art show provides a unique opportunity for emerging artists to publicly exhibit their work while simultaneously bringing life and vibrancy to an underutilized space. The artist exhibition positively impacts a town by bringing new visitors to the area and stimulating local businesses. 

The art show is the second pop-up art show organized in Bronxville, with the first held in the summer of 2012. Pop-Up Art Show is a not-for-profit community event organized and curated by Cara Garcia-Bou, Bronxville native and graduate of Fieldston School (2009) and Bates College (2013).  Cara is currently the advertising and marketing associate at The Metropolitan Museum of Art. 

Susan Miele, executive director of the Bronxville Chamber of Commerce, said, "Consistent with our Rodin in Bronxville event of last year, the Chamber once again celebrates the interplay of art and community. This art show is another good example of how an art exhibition, businesses, and residents can benefit from one another--beyond the aesthetics." 

The pop-up art show is free and open to the community. The storefront space is generously donated by Admiral Real Estate Services Corp.

The exhibit is open from noon to 9:00 pm on Saturday, September 13, and from noon to 5:00 pm on Sunday, September 14. There will be a reception on Saturday from 5:00 pm to 9:00 pm, which is free, and all are welcome. 

For more information, email CLOAKING or visit us on Facebook at A contact list will be available for visitors who are interested in contacting the artists directly. 

Pictured here:  A composite of works by two artists:  Left: Maddy Talias, Nico, Inkjet Print, 2014; right: Katie Fisher, Untitled, Inkjet Print, 2014. 

Photos by Cara Garcia-Bou, Pop-Up Art Show Director, The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Al Mingrone Honored for 40 Years of Service as Conductor of Bronxville Pops Concert Band PDF Print Email

Aug. 6, 2014:  Al Mingrone has been conducting the Bronxville Pops Concert Band for 40 years, and on the evening of the last concert of this season, the Village of Bronxville officially honored him.

Jim Palmer, village administrator of Bronxville, described the brief ceremony as follows:  "On behalf of Mayor Marvin and the village board I presented Al with a certificate of appreciation, commemorative glass paperweight with the village seal, and a commemorative village pin recognizing him for 'sharing his passion of music with the Bronxville community by conducting the Bronxville Pops Concert Band for 40 years.' This was a fitting tribute for the last of the concerts for the 2014 summer season and it was a spectacular summer night with great attendance. It is clear Al loves music, and the village is blessed to have this level of culture in the center of the village for everyone to enjoy. He seemed touched by the recognition."

Forty balloons were distributed in commemoration of his 40 years of service, and at the end of the ceremony, just before the concert, they were released into the sky.

Pictured here (L to R):  Al Mingrone with Jim Palmer, village administrator of Bronxville.

Photo by R. H. Shaw Photography

Summer in Bronxville Means Live Outdoor Band Concerts on the School Lawn PDF Print Email

Jul. 23, 2014:  If it's a July Wednesday evening in Bronxville, it's time for a band concert on the front lawn of The Bronxville School. Continuing a popular long-standing tradition once prevalent throughout Westchester County, the Bronxville Pops Concert Band stages lively and informal concerts.

Wednesday, July 16, marked the second of four outdoor concerts to be offered by the band and its conductor, Al Mingrone, this season, and the lovely summer weather proved a perfect backdrop to a concert that ranged from traditional marches to show tunes to some time in the spotlight for the band's trombone section.

The band bookended the evening's program with rousing marches. The program opened with the march Under the Double Eagle and closed with familiar circus tunes woven into Barnum & Bailey Favorites. "Imagine a circus parade making its way along Pondfield Road," Mingrone suggested to the audience.

Between marches, the band took the audience on a journey from Rome with a movement of Ottorino Respighi's Pines of Rome to Broadway with selections from Kismet and also to Spain with a medley from Man of La Mancha.

Trombonists Gerard Carelli, Christopher Ushay, and Mark Sedotti took center stage for Swinging Slides Trombone Trio, and later in the program Carelli played a solo, When Love is Young.

Mingrone welcomed his friend and fellow conductor Roc Polera to the podium for the program's second half. Formerly the conductor of the band in Pelham, no longer in existence, Polera offered a medley of Jerome Kern songs, including "The Way You Look Tonight" and "Lovely to Look At," as well as Serenata by noted composer and longtime arranger for the Boston Pops Leroy Anderson.

"I want to compliment Bronxville for coming up with the funds to sponsor a band," Polera told the audience. "We no longer have a community band in Pelham. Every town had a summer band and now we're down to two--Bronxville and Scarsdale. So you're to be commended for supporting concert band music in the summertime."

The Bronxville Pops Concert Band will play two more concerts this month, on July 23 and July 30. Concerts on the front lawn of The Bronxville School begin at 8:00 pm.

Pictured here (rotating):  Al Mingrone, conductor of the Bronxville Pops Concert Band, addressing the audience; the band before the concert.

Photos by Carol P. Bartold

Concordia Conservatory of Music & Art Presents Summer Festival on July 23 and 24 PDF Print Email

Jul. 23, 2014:  The Summer Festival 2014, a summer tradition at Concordia Conservatory of Music & Art, takes place on July 23 and 24 in the Sommer Center for Worship and the Performing Arts at Concordia College. Performances and an art exhibition by the conservatory's music and art camps will occur over the course of two days:

Wednesday, July 23
6:00:  Vocal arts concert
7:00:  Chamber music recital
8:00:  Band bash concert

Thursday, July 24
7:00:  Musical theater production: Flip the Switch
8:00:  Musical theater production: Gods and Goddesses, a Cabaret

Art Camp faculty include Amy Wickard with campers Gabrielle Bici, Benjamin Ewing, Adriana Mazzella, Julia Ognibene, Arthur Pevzner, and Sean Segrue.

The Vocal Arts Camp, led by faculty members Sheri Hammerstrom, Sun Young Chang, and Caroline Park, includes singers Noelle Butler, Nicole Ferrara, Skylar Hinds, Stefrances Martin, Lilly Slaughter, and Kellie Williams.

The Musical Theatre Camp is headed by Concordia Conservatory faculty members Matt Van Brink and Walker Lewis with counselors including Katie Suss, Guilia Mazzella, and Yasmeen Safaie. The campers of Flip the Switch include Stella DiStasio, Claire Elliott, Willa Gatzmer, William Giegerich, Catherine McCarthy, Katie Miller, Patrick Stronski, Carina Tarazi, and Annabelle Thurston. The Gods and Goddesses campers are Jamie Burke, Laney Bagwell, Rebecca, Brooks, Claire Giegerich, Samantha Ingram, Madeline LoBono, Kiera Mallinson, Giulia Mazzella, Alexis Pinto, Arielle Rothman, Katie Saluti, Emma Sanchez, Francesca Serraino, Katie Suss, and Emily Wang.

The Camp Band Bash is led by faculty member Bob Gingery and counselor Luke Gray. Campers include Coleman Breining, Daniel DeGenaro, Jazmyn Gyapong, Justin Laureano, JT Meyer, and Jack Ognobene.

The Chamber Music Camp faculty members are Keith Kreindler, Jee Sun Lee, Caroline Park, and Evelyn Wadkins and counselors Jillian Quigley and Gabby Hasselt, and the campers include instrumentalists and singers Grace Burkee, Noelle Butler, Malichi Dube, Grace Falci, Raymond Falci, Kiera Mallinson, Emely Martinez, Yoav Meron, Emma Sanchez, Francesca Serraino, Teddy Whitehead Rockas, and Kellie Williams.

On July 25, the culminating conservatory camp events include outreach performances of all the camps at The Wartburg in Mount Vernon.

Admission to the conservatory's Summer Festival 2014 is free and open to the public. For information, call 914-395-4507.

Photo courtesy Kathleen Suss, Executive Director, Concordia Conservatory of Music & Art

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