“Matisse in the 1930s” is the latest potential blockbuster to open at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. If you missed signing up for Easton’s Academy Art Museum bus trip on Nov. 3, you have until Jan. 29, 2023 to see it on your own with more time to explore nearby art treasure troves, including the Barnes Foundation museum that played a pivotal role in Henri Matisse’s comeback from his late-’20s slump.
Back then, the fabled Barnes was located in a Philly suburb and Matisse was commissioned to decorate its main entrance gallery. What he produced was “The Dance” (1930-33), a giant mural that helped refuel his legendary career. The exhibit traces those changes in Matisse’s artistry on multiple levels, from easel painting familiar to those of us who know Matisse chiefly through the Cone sisters’ collection at the Baltimore Museum of Art, to decorative painting, sculpture, printmaking, drawings and his evolving depictions of female models, principally focused on his studio manager, Lydia Delectorskaya. She later assisted him in his post-surgery paralytic state to create his Blue Nudes “painting with scissors” cutout technique.
The Philadelphia Museum of Art, if you can manage its “Rocky”-famed monumental stairs, is within walking distance of the Rodin Museum, which is practically next door to The Barnes, site of the original “Dance” mural and its own blockbuster show, “Modigliani Up Close.” And if you’re staying overnight – don’t try to do all this in a single day – it’s just a transit ride from downtown to the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts where you can catch the narrative “Making of American Artists . . . 1776-1976” exhibit. (BTW: You can still get on a waiting list for the Academy Art Museum bus trip to Philadelphia should there be any cancellations.)
Baltimore Symphony Orchestra music director laureate Marin Alsop conducts a program of great depth and breadth celebrating Veterans Day and what she considers “the redemptive power of creativity.” From Beethoven’s and the world’s most famous symphony, The Fifth, to Shostakovich’s Violin Concerto, featuring soloist Augustin Hadelich, written on the occasion of the death of Stalin – another despotic Russian war criminal – the concert endeavors to see light amid darkness. The program’s opening piece, less familiar but no less relevant, is William Grant Still’s “In Memoriam: The Colored Soldiers Who Died for Democracy,” written for the composer’s fellow African-Americans whose sacrifices he felt were too often ignored. Two performances at the Meyerhoff Hall in Baltimore are Nov. 10 and Veterans Day, Nov. 11. Alsop is the first woman to lead a major American symphony orchestra as its music director.
Closer to home, Michael Repper, an Alsop protege, makes his Easton debut as the Mid-Atlantic Symphony Orchestra’s new music director following the season opener at Chesapeake College in September. The Nov. 10 program could be called “Eight Seasons” – “Four Seasons” of the Northern Hemisphere by Vivaldi of Austria and another “Four Seasons” of the Southern Hemisphere by Piazzolla of Argentina. The Easton Church of God concert is followed Nov. 12 and 13 by performances in Rehoboth Beach and Ocean Pines, respectively.
While the summertime Plein Air Festival Easton has gained international status, the Waterfowl Festival, a November tradition since 1971, remains Easton’s top-drawing cultural arts event. From diving-dog competitions to goose- and duck-calling contests, the festival has broadened its horizons from its decoy-carving origins – featuring skills directed at fooling waterfowl into flying within gunshot range – to collectors who shell out hundreds of dollars for aesthetically pleasing artworks too valuable to cast out in tidewater coves. Juried decoy and painting competitions produce blue ribbons and lots of bright red “sold” stickers. For many Easton residents, especially those who’ve been there/done that, these three days in November – this year the 11th through 13th – is a time to stay away from the influx of out-of-towners from near and far. But the Waterfowl Festival is good for business and the first among the annual events that have made Easton a destination. My personal favorite is the Raptor Demo. Falcons, hawks and owls fly over the terrain around the Easton High football field and return to a trainer who will give you an up-close view of them. https://waterfowlfestival.org/
washcoll.edu (click on “events”)
As for later in November, happy Thanksgiving.
Steve Parks is a retired New York arts writer and editor now living in Easton