Archive for March, 2012

Mo Willems’s “The Duckling Gets a Cookie!?”

Thursday, March 29th, 2012

Caldecott Honor winning author and artist Mo Willems of Northampton, Massachusetts, isn’t necessarily a great drawer. What makes him one of the great children’s book creators today is his feel for character. Which is what you might expect from the Emmy winning former writer for “Sesame Street.”

“I don’t like the look of that title,” the Pigeon squawks at the start of Willems’s new picture book, “The Duckling Gets a Cookie!?” (Hyperion Books for Children). It’s a brief, witty tale about the cute little Duckling who gets a cookie because he politely asks for it and the jealous Pigeon, who never gets what he wants (see “Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus!” “Don’t Let the Pigeon Stay Up Late!”). It’s all about the relationship between the two birds. Imagine them as siblings, or the Pigeon as a sort of young, sputtering Daffy Duck and the Duckling as a cool, suave Bugs Bunny type. “It’s NOT fair,” the Pigeon grumps. “Ducklings get everything!”

Ultimately it’s a witty primer on manners and sharing—the Duckling gives the Pigeon his cookie, and then politely asks for another. The punchline is that the cunning Duckling gave up the first cookie not simply out of generosity, but because he didn’t like the flavor.

Willems presents “The Duckling Gets a Cookie!?” at Coolidge Corner Theatre, 290 Harvard St., Brookline, Massachusetts, at 10:30 a.m. Sunday, April 1, 2012, as a program of Brookline Booksmith. Free, but tickets required.

Mo Willems sculpture for Carle Museum.
Mo Willems’s pigeon is pissed.

Cesareo “Marco the Magi” Pelaez has died

Wednesday, March 28th, 2012

Cesareo R. Pelaez, popularly known as “Marco the Magi,” one of the stars and founding producer of long-running “Le Grand David and his own Spectacular Magic Company” in Beverly, Massachusetts, died March 24 at age 79. Fellow magicians pointed out that he passed on Houdini’s birthday.

There have been rumors for months that “Le Grand David” show was winding down, and in February the theater ceased productions without any public announcement. An inside source told us then that the show was done, but The Salem News subsequently reported that organizers hoped to relaunch the show in April. The theater’s website lists shows for April and May.

Pelaez’s role in the performances had been significantly curtailed since he had a stroke in 2005. “It takes a genius to put on a show like that,” said Raymond Goulet, who runs a magic museum and art studio in Watertown, told the Salem News this week. “Very few people can do everything, but Cesareo could. I considered him a miracle man. There hasn’t been a show in the history of magic that ran so long and had such a successful run.”

More: Information from the funeral home. A remembrance. An obituary.

The Crazy Hat Ladies of St. Peter’s Fiesta

Wednesday, March 28th, 2012

One of the newer traditions of the St. Peter’s Fiesta, the Catholic fishing festival in Gloucester, Massachusetts, each June, is the “Crazy Hat Ladies.” It began 18 years ago, Massachusetts state folklorist Maggie Holtzberg reports on her blog “Keepers of Tradition,” when sisters Robyn and Amy Clayton began constructing elaborate hats honoring the festival—Amy’s hats always depict the greasy pole, Robyn’s always feature the altar. You can’t miss them at the Fiesta.

“The old Italian women absolutely love these hats,” Robyn tells Holtzberg. “The Fiesta committee [which is made up of mostly men], they recognize us as the crazy fiesta hat girls. Here we come. By no means are we mocking the Fiesta; we love this tradition.”

Read Holtberg’s whole post here. She adds that she’s lined up the sisters to appear at the Lowell Folk Festival this July, “where they will join a variety of other hat and shoe makers in the folk craft area. They plan on bringing plenty of hats, some handouts, pictures of Fiesta over the years, and a huge cut-out of St. Peter for photo-taking opportunities. Their enthusiasm for hat making will be matched by their pride in representing Gloucester and St. Peter’s Fiesta. We’re honored to have them.”

Pictured above: The Clayton sisters at the 2011 St. Peter’s Fiesta, as photographed by The New England Journal of Aesthetic Research.

MIT invents camera that sees around corners

Wednesday, March 28th, 2012

MIT researchers have developed a camera that can see around corners, according to a paper published last week in the journal “Nature Communications.” Apparently it works something like active sonar, bouncing lasers off a wall opposite the doorway and measuring how quickly they bounce back. MIT reports: “The research could ultimately lead to imaging systems that allow emergency responders to evaluate dangerous environments or vehicle navigation systems that can negotiate blind turns, among other applications.” As with so many things at MIT, it’s probably best to read “other applications” as “war machines.”

Critic Hilton Kramer has died at age 84

Tuesday, March 27th, 2012

Art critic Hilton Kramer died today in an assisted living facility in Harpswell, Maine, near his home in Damariscotta, according to news reports. He was 84.

As the New York Sun recounted in 2006, “when Hilton was still chief art critic of The New York Times, he found himself seated next to Woody Allen, who asked him whether he felt embarrassed when he ran into people whose work he had attacked. ‘No,’ Hilton replied without missing a beat, ‘I expect them to be embarrassed for doing bad work.’”

Kramer was born in Gloucester, Massachusetts, and began publishing critiques of art in 1957. Over the years, he wrote for Commentary, The New Republic, National Review, The New York Review of Books, The Wall Street Journal, The Nation and so on. He joined the staff of The New York Times as an art news editor in 1965 and rose to become the paper’s chief art critic from 1973 to ’82, when he resigned to become founding editor of The New Criterion.

Kramer was smart and curmudgeonly and scathing and politically conservative and a wiseass. He pissed on Pop Art, Conceptual Art and Post Modernism. He had a point.

‘Dummy Big Air Competition’ at Sugarbush

Monday, March 26th, 2012

Also Costumed Pond Skimming

Sugarbush ski resort in Warren, Vermont, presented its 14th annual “Dummy Big Air Competition” (photos above and below) yesterday in which competitors build dummies, put them on skis or snowboards, and launch them off a “huge jump.” Among the creations that flew through the air and then crashed into the snow were Woody from “Toy Story” riding a horse, Winnie the Pooh, and Elmo piloting an X-wing fighter. Sugarbush says: “Competitors are judged on air, creativity, landing and spectator approval” with $500 for first place, $300 for second and $200 for third. “No Dummy over 100 pounds, no stuffing with candy, no propulsion and no pyrotechnics of any kind please.”

If that wasn’t enough, on Saturday, Sugarbush presented its “Annual Rite of Spring”: costumed pond skimming (video below). “The oldest continually running pond skimming event in the country,” Sugarbush proudly proclaims. Competitors costumed as Santa, Zorro, a nun, a dalmatian, a penguin, an angel,a firefighter, Scooby Do, Elvis, and a viking, plus various guys cross dressing surfed and flipped across the pool. Also a lot of crashing.Video and photos courtesy of Sugarbush. Photos by Sandy Macys.

Massachusetts designates cultural districts

Monday, March 26th, 2012

The Massachusetts Cultural Council officially named five communities across the state as the first state-designated “cultural districts” last week: the Fenway Cultural District in Boston, Gloucester’s Rocky Neck Cultural District, the Central Exchange Cultural District in Lynn, the Upstreet Cultural District in Pittsfield, and the Rockport Cultural District.

The MCC says its “Cultural Districts Initiative came out of an economic stimulus bill passed by the Massachusetts Legislature in 2010. It is designed to help communities attract artists and cultural enterprises, encourage business and job growth, expand tourism, preserve and reuse historic buildings, enhance property values, and foster local cultural development. Each district will have new signage, online profiles on the Mass. Office of Travel and Tourism and MCC websites, and other amenities. … Cultural Districts will help cities and towns identify, support, and promote their unique identity and sense of place. It also advances MCC’s long-term effort to harness the power of the nonprofit arts, humanities, and sciences to improve quality of life in Massachusetts cities and towns.”

More details here.

Poor Yokelist’s Almanack: Upcoming Events

Monday, March 26th, 2012

Monday, March 26, 7 p.m.
Sculptor Reno “Ray” Pisano shows a film about the creation of one of his large-scale works and talks about his career at the Beverly Public Library, 32 Essex St., Beverly, Massachusetts.

Tuesday, March 27, 2 p.m.
LyToya Ruby Frazier speaks at MassArt, 621 Huntington Ave, Boston.

Tuesday, March 27, 4 p.m.
The curatorial practices seminar at Simmons College a hands-on collage party and poetry project as part of “Wastepaper Theatre Archive,” an exhibit remembering the Rhode Island theater troupe Wastepaper Theatre, at the Boston University Art Gallery Annex, 855 Commonwealth Avenue, Boston, through March 31 2012.

Tuesday, March 27, 5:30 p.m.
Artists in the exhibit “Forms in Flux” speak at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts’ Grossman Gallery, 230 the Fenway, Boston. Includes Hisashi Kurachi, Nobuyuki Osaki, and Noriyoshi Shirakawa of Aichi Prefectural University of Fine Arts and Music, Nagoya, Japan, and Patte Loper, Michelle Samour, and Jennifer Schmidt of the Museum School. Free.

Tuesday, March 27, 6:30 p.m.
“Saturday Night Live” writer James Downey and actor Bill Murray discuss “Stategery: SNL’s Remarkable Influence Over Politics Through Satire” at the Ford Hall Forum at Suffolk University, 55 Temple St., Boston. Free.

Tuesday, March 27, 7 p.m.
After a screening of a documentary about the “Boston Tree Party,” Artists in Contest presents a discussion by Boston Tree Party founder Lisa Gross, critic Nicole Caruth, and Rachel Black, professor of Gastronomy at Boston University with moderator Dina Deitsch of DeCordova. At Boston University

Tuesday, March 27, 7 p.m.
Poet Kevin Young (“Jelly Roll,” “For The Confederate Dead”) reads from his first work of nonfiction, “The Grey Album,” a “history of the African-American tradition of storytelling, telling tales, fibbing, improvising, and “jazzing” that shows African-American culture as American culture and art as the center of our daily lives.” At Brookline Booksmith, 279 Harvard St., Brookline, Massachusetts. Free.

Tuesday, March 27, 7:30 p.m.
A discussion on “Unstable Art [Art and the Occupy Movement]” at Sert Seminar Space, third floor, Carpenter Center, Harvard, 24 Quincy St., Cambridge Massachusetts. Free.

Wednesday, March 28, 5 p.m.
Radcliffe Bailey speaks about his exhibit at the Davis Museum, Wellesley College, 106 Central St., Wellesley, Massachusetts.

Thursday, March 29, 6:30 p.m.
Orly Genger gives the DeCordova Sculpture Park and Museum’s Rappaport Prize Lecture at MassArt’s Tower Building auditorium, 621 Huntington Ave., Boston. The New York sculptor is the 2011 winner of the museum’s annual $25,000 prize supposedly for “an artist with ties to New England.” Free.

Thursday, March 29, 7 p.m.
Magnum photojournalists Antoine D’Agata, Thomas Dworzak, and Susan Meiselas with moderator Alex Kershaw, author of “The Life and Times of Robert Capa,” speak at Washburn Auditorium, Lesley University, 10 Phillips Place, Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Saturday, March 31, 1 p.m.
Textile artist Rosemary Bawn speaks at “Fenway Centennial,” a show of quilts celebrating the Red Sox’s Fenway Park, at the New England Quilt Museum, 18 Shattuck St., Lowell, Massachusetts.

Sunday, April 1, 10:30 a.m.
Three-time Caldecott Honor winning author and illustrator Mo Willems of Massachusetts presets his new book “The Duckling Gets a Cookie!?” at Coolidge Corner Theatre, 290 Harvard St., Brookline, Massachusetts. A program of Brookline Booksmith. Free, but tickets required.

Sunday, April 1, 1 p.m.
Kadir Nelson, creator of the children’s book “We are the Ship: The Story of Negro League Baseball”; Sharon Robinson, Jackie Robinson’s daughter and the director of educational programming for Major League Baseball; and Scott Simon, author of “Jackie Robinson and the Integration of Baseball,” discuss the personal and professional life of the famed baseball player Jackie Robinson at Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art,” 125 West Bay Road, Amherst, Massachusetts.

Monday, April 2, 9 a.m.
The John Nicholas Brown Center presents “Collaborative Communities: Why We Need Them and How They Are Created” with Christina Bevilacqua of the Providence Athenaeum and Amy Greer of the Barrington Public Library at Nightingale Brown House, 357 Benefit St., Providence. $15, includes breakfast. Register by March 27.

Monday, April 2, 7 p.m.
Gloria Sutton of Northeastern University in Boston speaks about “Playback: Broadcast Experiments 1970 and Now” with MIT List curator João Ribas at MIT’s Art, Culture and Technology Cube, Wiesner Building, 20 Ames Street, Cambridge, Massachusetts. Part of MIt’s “Experiments in Thinking, Action and Form” lecture series.

Eat More Kale guy plans
video doc in trademark fight

Sunday, March 25th, 2012

Artist Bo Muller-Moore of Montpelier, Vermont, is raising funds on KickStarter to video a documentary about his fight against claims from the Chick-fil-A fast-food chain that his “Eat More Kale” T-shirts are hurtfully similar to its trademarked slogan “Eat Mor Chikin.”

“Their lawyers want to confiscate my website, my t-shirt biz and art. Chick-fil-A is also demanding that I ‘forever cease and desist.’ Cease and desist?? Like hell. I’ve decided to fight,” Muller-Moore writes. “Of course, I might not win — the odds are against me. All over the country ‘trademark bullies,’ large corporations that bully small businesses over alleged claims of trademark infringement, are legally harassing small businesses and wearing them down with repeated lawsuits and appeals. In the face of overwhelming legal bills, most small businesses just give up. This is more than just plain wrong: it’s un-American. By helping make this documentary I want to shine a light on this issue, my battle, and other trademark bullies, too. If I win, it’s a great story; if I lose, it’s a sad story. Either way, [filmmaker] Jim [Lantz] and I think it’s a story worth telling.”

Let freedom reign!

Previously: Vermont artist defends “Eat More Kale” slogan.

Judge: Maine Gov okay to remove mural

Friday, March 23rd, 2012

Maine Governor Paul LePage lawfully removed a mural depicting the state’s labor history from the Maine Department of Labor office in Augusta in March 2011, a federal judge ruled today.

In dismissing a lawsuit seeking to have the mural returned, U.S. District Court Judge John Woodcock Jr. ruled that LePage’s decision was protected “government speech.”

“Having concluded that the state of Maine engaged in government speech when it commissioned and displayed the labor mural,” Woodcock wrote, “it follows that Governor LePage also engaged in government speech when he removed the mural. The governor’s message — whether verbal or in the form of the expressive act of removal — is government speech.”

“Despite the inspiration the plaintiffs have drawn from the mural, the court is doubtful that its removal is a sufficient ‘injury in fact’ to a member of the public to force the state to continue to display it — any more than a member of the public who enjoys a particular exhibit on display at the Maine Museum of Art would have standing to force the museum to make it permanent.”

LePage has said he ordered the mural removed because he founded it “one-sided,” namely too pro workers. His decisions sparked protests in Maine, and this lawsuit. Plaintiffs John Newton, Donald Berry, Jonathan Beal, Joan Braun, Natasha Mayers and Robert Shetterly are considering whether they might appeal the judge’s decision or file a lawsuit in state court.

Radcliffe Bailey

Tuesday, March 20th, 2012

Radcliffe Bailey, “Windward Coast.”From our review of Radcliffe Bailey “Memory as Medicine” at Wellesley College’s Davis Museum:

From a distance Radcliffe Bailey’s 2009 installation “Windward Coast” (detail pictured at top) looks like a rolling ocean of big, burned matches, or maybe straw. And at one end, lost at sea, bobs a man’s head, charcoal black and glittering like a starry midnight sky. The man’s eyes squint closed, as if in a stupor— or perhaps we’re witnessing his dream.

“Windward Coast” is far and away the best piece in Bailey’s 35-work survey “Memory as Medicine,” organized by Atlanta’s High Museum of Art and on view at the Davis Museum

Read the rest here

Radcliffe Bailey “Memory as Medicine,” Wellesley College’s Davis Museum, 106 Central Street, Wellesley, Massachusetts, to May 6, 2012.

Radcliffe Bailey, “Windward Coast,” 2009-2011 Piano keys, plaster bust, and glitter dimensions vary Courtesy of Jack Shainman Gallery, New York.

Radcliffe Bailey, “Windward Coast.”

Radcliffe Bailey, “Tricky,” 2006.

Radcliffe Bailey, “Notes from Elmina I,” 2011.

Radcliffe Bailey, “En Route,” 2006.

St. Patrick’s Day Parade in South Boston

Sunday, March 18th, 2012

Photos of the Allied War Veterans Council’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade (at top) and Veterans for Peace’s St. Patrick’s Peace Parade (at bottom) in South Boston today, as photographed by The New England Journal of Aesthetic Research.

Photos of Veterans for Peace’s St. Patrick’s Peace Parade are below:

Feast of St. Joseph home altars in Gloucester

Friday, March 16th, 2012

Women in Gloucester, Massachusetts, are marking the Roman Catholic feast of St. Joseph on March 19 by gathering to pray around home altars (like Marie Silva’s pictured above) decorated with flowers, candles, breads, fruits, and statues of saints. “The lemon is for the bitterness of the world,” one woman explained. “The orange is for sweetness. The bread is for the Holy Spirit of life. … My father taught me that.” Many of the women are continuing traditions begun here many decades ago by their mothers, who themselves brought the tradition over from their native Sicily.

Related:Dana Salvo photographed many St. Joseph home altars in Gloucester in the mid 1990s. And Father Matthew Green has been photographing many of the altars after blessing them this year.

Crocetta Gropo’s altar.

Crocetta Groppo (top center) leads the Rosary prayer in front of her home altar.

Women say the Rosary before Katie Fontana’s altar.

Father Matthew Green gives a blessing at the home of Katie Fontana (who stands behind him in a maroon sweater).

Katie Fontana’s home altar.

Nina Conti’s altar.

Father Matthew Green says a blessing at the home of Nina Conti (seated at right, at the end of the table).

Frances Ferrante and her daughter, State Rep. Ann-Margaret Ferrante, stand in front of their altar.

Frances Ferrante’s home altar.

Margherita Pelliccia’s home altar.

New Rose director to be announced soon?

Friday, March 16th, 2012

The next director of the Rose Art Museum “will soon be announced,” according to student newspaper Brandeis Hoot.

Update: Bill Burger, associate VP of Brandeis communications, tells us: “The search is progressing well and we have a number of very strong, interested candidates, some of whom have visited the campus. I can’t give you a timetable for a decision or an announcement at this point.”