Visual Art News - Criticism: September 2008 Archives

Wow. It's hard to get back into blogging after an unexpectedly long hiatus. But, since fall is a time of renewal (at least for me), I thought I'd jump back in. The first leaves are starting to turn red and gold here in the Great Lakes region and I'll admit it's hard to truly focus on the arts with the looming election and global economic crisis. But I'll give it a shot...

One of the biggest cultural happenings is the opening of a new George Segal exhibition at the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art (MMoCA). The show, organized by MMoCA, heads to Dallas, Kansas City, Mo., and West Palm Beach, Fla., after its run here ends in December. The show represents quite a coup for MMoCA in that a cast of "Depression Bread Line," which Segal did for the FDR Memorial in Washington, will head back to Madison and join the museum's permanent collection after the show is over. For preview coverage, see Isthmus, 77 Square or the Wisconsin State Journal. My review will appear in Isthmus later this week. I've been told the show will also be covered by the Wall Street Journal and Art in America, but I'm not sure when those articles will appear.

Madison's only professional theater company, Madison Repertory Theatre, opens its season this week with Becky Mode's "Fully Committed." The Chicago actress Amy J. Carle, who has performed with Madison Rep before, stars. I'm looking forward to seeing her again, since she was one of the best things about Madison Rep's production of "The Diary of Anne Frank" this past January. "Fully Committed" looks like fluffy fun, but we'll see.

This 40th anniversary year is an important one for Madison Rep. Former artistic director Richard Corley's contract was not renewed near the end of last season. While it sounds as though he and the board made a mutual decision to part ways, I can't help but wonder--and this is my own personal musing here--if he was blamed for not getting enough butts in seats. Which begs the question, who really is getting enough audience members in these tough economic times? And how will Madison Rep's direction change under its interim artistic director? The season's choices seem pretty safe (including well-known fare like "Bus Stop," "True West" and "My Fair Lady"), but of course the proof will be in the pudding.

Under Corley's tenure, I saw a few shows that I'd file in my "all-time most memorable" category, such as "I Am My Own Wife" starring David Adkins and "Permanent Collection" with a more local cast, including UW-Madison professor Patrick Sims.

About 45 minutes west of Madison in Spring Green, classical repertory theater American Players Theatre is winding down its season. I had a chance to catch a Sunday evening show of George Bernard Shaw's "Widowers' Houses," which didn't knock my socks off but was still enjoyable (as far as Shaw goes, I preferred APT's production of "Misalliance" two summers ago). APT is an outdoor theater in the woods and, when the weather cooperates, it's fabulous. Other times, it's, um, challenging--as it was Sunday. Light rain started almost as soon as the show did and got heavier throughout the play. Luckily, I had a tacky-but-useful plastic poncho so the rain didn't faze me too much, but it did halt the show temporarily at one point. That, coupled with two intermissions, broke up the flow of the play, but there was a sort of camaraderie between the audience members who stuck it out and the actors. In its own weird way, it was a fitting and fun end-of-summer experience--rain, swooping bats and all.
September 16, 2008 3:10 PM |

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This page is a archive of entries in the Visual Art News - Criticism category from September 2008.

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