Fall Fun with Lights at Longwood, Jazz Portraits at the Michener, and Haute Couture at the Met
By Linda Arntzenius
Longwood Gardens is known for its son et lumiere fountain displays. Three years ago, it brought the light installations of British artist Bruce Munro to its visitors. It was the artist’s first large-scale solo exhibition this side of the pond and it drew huge crowds. (See Princeton Magazine, August, 2012) With Nightscape: A Light and Sound Experience by Klip Collective, the horticultural garden is set for another blockbuster.
Like Munro’s show, this new exhibition turns Longwood into a magical night garden, captivating children, grown-ups, garden enthusiasts, and photographers alike. It takes the artistic melding of light and landscape to a new level.
Founded by photographer Pier Nicola DʼAmico and video artist Ricardo Rivera in 2003, the Philadelphia-based Klip treat the park as a canvas for light and music at nine different sites throughout four acres of glass conservatory and over a thousand acres of formal gardens, natural woods, and meadows.
The show is “a chance to escape into your dreams, your imagination, and see something unexpected,” says Rivera. Visitors are encouraged to bring their cameras and capture the experience. The park has extended its hours from 9 to 11pm during the run of the show, which is best experienced at around 9:30pm.
In the Rose Arbor, the fan-like leaves of bismarckia palms are illuminated by a kaleidoscope of color with radial light magnifying and transforming the natural plant form. The flowerbeds, hedgerows and mature trees along the Flower Garden Drive become an undersea world as undulating waves of blue and green illuminate the path at the end of which, the park’s famed “Legacy Tree,” one of its oldest specimens, is awash from roots to magnificent canopy with deep blue and violet light.
A seat on the lawn offers the best view over the Large Lake, a centerpiece of the park and of the Nightscape show. Here, the music evokes a night forest and the changing seasons. From the lake, a winding path through an enchanted forest shimmers with thousands of lightpoints that seem to scatter like shy woodland creatures as visitors draw near.
The display in the Topiary Garden is a highlight. The plantings become “living sculptures” emerging from the earth. Their geometric shapes seem like formal chess pieces until, with Alice in Wonderland-like surrealism, they shrug off all constraint and erupt into a cacophonous symphony punctuated by percussion and horns. It’s like witnessing some secret world in which the toys in the toyshop come alive at night.
Similar excitements can be found in the East Conservatory where a reflecting pool adds to the spectacle. The Silver Garden’s arid landscape of cacti is transmuted by light alchemy and the Palm House is turned into a delicately carved jewel with myriad hues of light refracting among giant cycads and towering palms.
Since it was founded in 1906 as a weekend retreat by industrialist Pierre du Pont (1870-1954), Longwood has grown into a horticultural jewel.
Nightscape: A Light and Sound Experience by Klip Collective at Longwood Gardens, 1001 Longwood Road, Kennett Square, PA 19348, runs through October 31, Wednesdays through Saturdays. For tickets and information, call 610.388.1000, or visit: www. longwoodgardens.org/nightscape.
Explorations of color and light take a different form in the Michener’s Veils of Color: Juxtapositions and Recent Work by Elizabeth Osborne. Curated by Kirsten M. Jensen, the show demonstrates Osborne’s powerful command of both. Jensen juxtaposes newer and older work to reveal the arc of the prolific Pennsylvania-born artist’s nearly six-decade career.
Born in 1936, Osborne lives and works in Philadelphia, where she is represented by Locks Gallery. After graduating from the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts and the University of Pennsylvania, she studied in Paris as a Fulbright Scholar and subsequently became one of PAFA’s first women faculty members. She retired from teaching there in 2011.
While she began as a figurative painter, she moved on to bold, colordrenched landscapes and eventually abstractions. Her oeuvre has been described as “a subtle pas de deux between abstraction and realism, a duet that is both revealed and concealed by veils of color that wash across every canvas.” Osborne’s color-filled canvases at the Michener gently pulse in cool tones of blues and greens, or throb in waves of hot pink and orange.
The work of another Pennsylvania native, the photographer Herman Leonard, is also currently on view at the Michener in Herman Leonard: Jazz Portraits. Originally organized by the Kennedy Museum of Art at Ohio University, where Leonard (1923–2010) studied photography under the master portraitist Yousuf Karsh, the show features images of jazz legends such as Miles Davis, Billie Holiday, and Duke Ellington. Leonard’s photographs of the New York Jazz scene from 1940 through 1960 comprise a unique record and are much sought after collector’s items.
More than a hundred of Leonard’s original prints are in the Smithsonian’s permanent collection and in the private collections of the likes of Sir Elton John, Bruce Bernard, His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej of Thailand and President Bill Clinton, as well.
He received the “Milt Hinton Award for Excellence in Jazz Photography” from the Jazz Photographer’s Association, the “Lifetime Achievement Award” from Downbeat Magazine in 2004, and “Excellence in Photography” award from the Jazz Journalists Association.
Herman Leonard: Jazz Portraits will be on view at the James A. Michener Art Museum in Doylestown through October 11 and Veils of Color: Juxtapositions and Recent Work by Elizabeth Osborne will continue through November 15. For more information, hours and admission, call 215.340.9800 or 800.595.4849, or visit: www.MichenerArtMuseum.org.
Because of its size and the number of visitors (350,000) it brought to The Metropolitan Museum of Art in the first two months after it opened in May, one other show deserves mention here. The Met has extended its popular China: Through the Looking Glass by three weeks through Labor Day, September 7.
The largest ever organized by the Museum’s Costume Institute and three times as large as the typical spring Costume Institute show, the exhibition explores China’s influence on Western fashion. It’s being extended because of its popularity not just with international visitors, mostly from China, but with native New Yorkers charmed by haute-couture gowns by the likes of Guo Pei. Organized in conjunction with the Museum’s department of Asian art, it’s on view in the Chinese and Egyptian galleries, as well as in the Anna Wintour Costume Center at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1000 Fifth Avenue (at 82nd Street), New York: For more information, call 212.535.7710, or visit: www.metmuseum.org.
Grounds for Sculpture, Hamilton: Jae Ko: Selections features the work of the Korean-born artist, Jae Ko, through February 7, 2016. For more information, hours and admission, visit: www.groundsforsculpture.org.
Morven Museum & Garden, 55 Stockton Street, Princeton: Of the Best Materials and Good Workmanship: 19th Century New Jersey Chairmaking, through October 18. For more information, hours and admission, call 609.924.8144 ext.106 or visit: www.morven.org.
Princeton University Art Museum: Collecting Contemporary, 1960–2015: Selections from the Schorr Collection features approximately twenty prints, paintings, drawings, and photographs acquired by Herbert Schorr, Graduate School Class of 1963, and Lenore Schorr over the last fifty-odd years. Created by such pioneering artists as Jean-Michel Basquiat, Justine Kurland, Nick Mauss, Elizabeth Murray, James Rosenquist, and Andy Warhol, these works serve as double portraits. The exhibition includes striking examples of Pop art, whose practitioners’ fascination with celebrities and commercial imagery defined much of the art of the 1960s. Other works exemplify a strong graphic impulse in contemporary art. Many of the latter were created during the heyday of the downtown art scene in New York, at a time when graffiti artists and painters collaborated with musicians and filmmakers. It runs through September 20 and will be followed by Cézanne and the Modern: Masterpieces of European Art from the Pearlman Collection on view from September 19 through January 3, 2016. This major exhibition presents Impressionist and Post-Impressionist masterpieces by artists who were transformative members of the avant-garde of their day. It is a rare opportunity to discover lesser-known masterworks from Edgar Dégas, édouard Manet, Vincent Van Gogh, and Amedeo Modigliani, as well as a collection of watercolors, oil paintings, and drawings by Cézanne. For more information, hours and admission, call 609.258.3788, or visit: http:// artmuseum.princeton.edu/exhibitions.
Philadelphia Museum of Art, 2600 Benjamin Franklin Parkway and 2524 Pennsylvania Avenue, Philadelphia: Discovering the Impressionists: Paul Durand-Ruel and the New Painting, through September 13; examines the role of the visionary Parisian art-dealer and includes famous works by Monet, Renoir, Manet, Pissarro and Degas. For more information, call 215.763.8100, or visit: www.philamuseum.org.