Renowned contemporary artist Kara Walker is known for elegant, provocative murals that employ hand-cut stencils to render the persistent legacy of slavery. She casts her silhouetted figures in violent or sexual scenes that evoke unfinished business in the arenas of race, gender and identity. Walker spoke at the Institute of Contemporary Art Boston last Thursday night, where one of her wall-sized installations is on display.
In the wake of our own bruising election, it seems worth noting that the word “political” means power in a public sphere. In her works, Salcedo counters the annihilating force of political violence, which often mutes its victims, by making loss visible and evoking empathy across time and place.
Saravejo-born artists and architectural historian Azra Aksamija explores Islam and its traditions coexisting in a multicultural society.
Often with humor, and almost always with beauty and style, Weems investigates and asserts power to those excluded from it on the home front, in the art world and in society at large.
Written by Seán O’Casey (1880-1964), a socialist and the first prominent Irish playwright to write about Dublin’s working-class people, “The Plough and the Stars” alternates between scenes of humor and anguish in its neighborhood-scale portrayal of the Easter Rising of 1916.
Wynton Marsalis plays Pulitzer prize celebration at Harvard’s Sanders Theatre
Introducing the event on Saturday night was Wynton Marsalis, managing and artistic director of Jazz at Lincoln Center and director of Jazz Studies at the Juilliard School in New York. In 1997 his oratorio “Blood on the Fields,” about a slave’s journey to freedom, became the first jazz composition to win the Pulitzer Prize for Music.
Aretha Franklin wows crowd at Blue Hills Bank Pavilion
Performing a career-spanning set of hits with power and joy, Aretha Franklin held her audience in thrall.
Renaissance Della Robbia sculptures on view at MFA through Dec. 4
“Della Robbia: Sculpting with Color in Renaissance Florence” is the first major U.S. offering dedicated to the story of the Florentine family’s glazed terracotta sculptures and includes major loans from Italy never before shown here.
Guitarist/vocalist Taj Mahal captivates Lexington audience
Sunny and soulful, the music of Taj Mahal has aged well, like the man himself. Friday night, the singer-songwriter, now 74, brought his infectious, blues-rooted songs to the Cary Memorial Building in Lexington.
Exhibit on scale features artists from some of world’s biggest urban centers
In Megacities Asia, supersized sculptures and wall-mounted installations suit the show’s theme: how artists living in some of the world’s biggest cities are responding to the ruptures and changes brought about as towering buildings replace human-scale communities and green space.
“The Woven Arc” features 36 contemporary and traditional works in a fascinating exhibition.
The paintings of Lawren Harris are on display through June 12 at MFA
The landscape paintings of Canadian artist Lawren Harris have captivated many, including comedian, actor, author and art collector Steven Martin. Martin guest curated “The Idea of North: The Paintings of Lawren Harris,” a riveting exhibition on view through June 12 in the Art of the Americas Wing of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston (MFA).
Like a wind sweeping down a plain, an exuberant production of the great Rodgers and Hammerstein musical “Oklahoma!” surges through the main stage of Trinity Reportory Company in Providence through June 5, lifting both the cast and audience aloft in its high spirits.
Boston holds its own version of Broadway’s Tony Awards on Monday May 23 at 7 pm, when the Boston Theater Critics Association hosts its annual celebration of Boston’s live theater scene.
'Everywhen: The Eternal Present in Indigenous Art from Australia' on display at Harvard Art Museums through Sept. 18
“Everywhen: The Eternal Present in Indigenous Art from Australia,” a compelling exhibition on display at the Harvard Art Museums exhibition through September 18, presents works of timeless immediacy by original inhabitants of Australia and their contemporary descendants.
The exhibit is on display through May 8 at the Ethelbert Cooper Gallery of African and African-American Art in Harvard Square
In the sensational, jam-packed show, “Art of Jazz: Form/Performance/Notes,” the captivating forms of the instruments themselves are celebrated in an installation by pianist Jason Moran. Many of the visual works stir the same feelings as the music: The excitement of brass, the consolation of the blues, the joy of swing, the gravity and warmth of lyrical improvisation.
Hubbard Street Dance Chicago performs at Citi Shubert Theatre
Hubbard Street Dance Chicago came to town last weekend, back for the first time since 2009, to perform three shows at Citi Shubert Theatre.
Italian man of theater Dario Fo celebrated his 90th birthday on March 24, and in Boston as well as in major cities throughout the world, fans held theater festivals and academic symposia in his honor. Boston’s celebration of Fo’s birthday featured a Poet’s Theatre production of five stories from his mime masterpiece, “Mistero Buffo (Comic Mystery),” at Suffolk University’s Modern Theatre.
At the Emerson/Paramount Mainstage in Boston last week, ArtsEmerson presented “Not I/Footfalls/Rockaby,” a trilogy of three short plays by Samuel Beckett. This celebrated production envelops the audience into the same darkness that engulfs each play’s character, a lone woman performed by consummate actress and Beckett interpreter Lisa Dwan.
Dance troupe offers new and traditional works
Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater came to Boston last week, performing an array of traditional and new works in five shows at Citi Performing Arts Center Wang Theatre.
Maly Drama Theatre presents Chekhov’s ‘Three Sisters’
The grave and beautiful production of Anton Chekhov’s play “The Three Sisters,” by the Maly Drama Theatre of St. Petersburg, Russia, suited the Cutler Majestic Theatre in Boston, where ArtsEmerson hosted the company’s five performances last week.
Celebrating Fisk University’s 150th anniversary and the Fisk Jubilee Singers legacy in African-American music, Berklee College of Music presented a program of music and readings Sunday evening entitled “The Fisk Jubilee Singers at Symphony Hall: A Tribute by Berklee College of Music.”
Drama on stage through Feb. 7 at BU Theatre
Ayad Akhtar’s play “Disgraced” has had a strong run since its 2012 debut at American Theater Company in Chicago. A drama about a Wall Street lawyer who has rejected his Muslim heritage but then finds he cannot break free of his past, “Disgraced” won the 2013 Pulitzer Prize for drama and in 2014 premiered on Broadway. Among the 10 major theater companies staging the play this season are the Huntington Theatre Company and Long Wharf Theatre in New Haven. Their joint production is on stage through February 7 at the BU Theatre.
A gem of a show is on stage at the Boston Center for the Arts through February 6: The SpeakEasy Stage Company production of the musical “Violet.”Composed by Jeanine Tesori with lyrics and book by Brian Crawley, “Violet” is inspired by the short story “The Ugliest Pilgrim,” by North Carolina author Doris Betts (1932-2012).
Terrance Hayes turns life experiences into artwork
Page through any of the five poetry books by Terrance Hayes and it seems that when he puts a poem together, anything is possible.
The Millennium Gospel Choir performs its annual Christmas concert
Now in its ninth year, the annual Christmas concert of the New England Conservatory Millennium Gospel Choir at the Museum of Fine Arts Boston has become a cherished holiday tradition for both the audience and the choir. Friday night, at the first of two sold-out performances, the joy of the choir was apparent as they processed on stage. As they began to sing, their joy overflowed and enveloped the audience.
Kuumba Singers of Harvard College give annual Christmas Concert
The Kuumba Singers of Harvard College held its 45th Annual Allen S. Counter Christmas Concert, entitled “Praise His Name” at Harvard University’s Memorial Church.
Adapted by Jeffrey Hatcher, whose script incorporates plenty of dialogue from the novel, and directed by David Esbjornson, the production focuses on the characters and atmosphere conjured by Toole’s novel, set in the author’s hometown, New Orleans. The production evokes the carnival-like world of the novel, which holds up a funhouse mirror to life, starting with the hugely magnified figure of Ignatius.
Wynton Marsalis and Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra play John Coltrane
The power, variety and virtuosity of big-band jazz were on show Sunday evening at Symphony Hall. In a presentation of the Celebrity Series of Boston, the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra with Wynton Marsalis performed a two-hour concert of music composed or reinvented by saxophonist John Coltrane.
Nick Offerman to star in Huntington Theatre Company production
Adapted by Jeffrey Hatcher from the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel by John Kennedy Toole and directed by David Esbjornson, the production features Nick Offerman (Ron Swanson in NBC’s “Parks and Recreation”) in the lead role of Ignatius J. Reilly, a scholarly, overweight slacker who lives with his mother in 1960s New Orleans.
Maya Lin’s work will focus on climate change
Maya Lin, an award-winning architect and artist, is developing what she describes as her “last memorial.” Its goal: to reveal and reverse losses of species and habitats due to climate change.
“Corita Kent and the Language of Pop” comes to Cambridge
The power of Corita Kent’s art to stir the spirit as well as her stature as a leading figure in Pop Art are evident in the exhilarating exhibition, “Corita Kent and the Language of Pop,” on view through January 3, 2016, at the Harvard Art Museums in Cambridge. Harvard’s show is the first to present Kent and her work in the context of fellow pop artists.
Forty-five of the artist’s works on display at the Clark Art Institute
“Van Gogh and Nature,” an enthralling exhibition at the Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute in Williamstown, MA, through September 13, explores the evolution of Van Gogh’s unique style as the distilled essence of his life-long relationship with nature.
Audra McDonald radiates vitality, whether she is holding an audience rapt at an evening-length Symphony Hall concert or performing in musicals, plays, operas, film and television. These roles include Bess in American Repertory Theater’s “The Gershwins’ Porgy and Bess,” which debuted here and then moved to Broadway in 2012, earning McDonald one of her record-breaking six Tony Awards.
‘King Lear’ will be performed through August 9
The Commonwealth Shakespeare Company opens its magnificent production of “King Lear,” on stage at the Boston Common through August 9.
Artist Arlene Shechet orchestrated the entire ICA exhibition piece by piece and room by room, a form of installation art that invites visitors to share her discoveries as she turns her materials—plaster, glass, porcelain, paper pulp and clay—into solid objects.
Circus troupe performed six shows at Agganis Arena
The Cirque du Soleil troupe restaged a 15-year-old production entitled “Varekai, Tales of the Forest” that is engineered to suit such a space, where seating for 7,200 accommodates a crowd almost threefold larger than an audience for big top shows. But bigger, as they say, is not always better.
An artist of his time, painter Thomas Hart Benton (1889-1975) chronicled what it meant to be an American in the 20th century, when the nation was a democracy on the rise. Artists of all kinds were exploring the American character, not only in visual arts, but in novels, music, plays, photography and the century’s new medium — movies.
Bringing together the dual powers of the African-American gospel music tradition and a full symphony orchestra, the annual Gospel Night at the Boston Pops injected Symphony Hall with jubilation and devotion.
Matthew Aucoin’s opera Crossing, about poet Walt Whitman, had its world premiere this weekend at Boston’s Citi Shubert Theatre, where it is on stage through June 6.
When the Stars Begin to Fall on view through May 10 at Institute of Contemporary Art Boston
When the Stars Begin to Fall: Imagination and the American South,” on view through May 10 at the Institute of Contemporary Art Boston, presents a sampling of works by 35 African-American artists inspired by a real or imagined American South.
Kirven Douthit-Boyd leaving Alvin Ailey
When the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater performs from March 26-29 at Citi Wang Theatre, its 45th visit with the Celebrity Series of Boston, Kirven Douthit-Boyd’s performances will mark his farewell hometown engagement with the company. He will perform in all five shows from Thursday through Sunday.
Delirious and at moments, devastating, the Huntington Theatre Company’s revival of “The Colored Museum,” by two-time Tony Award winner George C. Wolfe, would be worth seeing for the verve and finesse of the cast alone. But the production, on stage through April 5 at the Avenue of the Arts/BU Theatre, renders the wit, style and satire of this 1986 show with an up-to-the-minute edge.
‘Father Comes Home’ is first in three-play series
With her latest play, “Father Comes Home From the Wars (Parts 1, 2 & 3),” playwright Suzan-Lori Parks presents the first segment of a three-part epic based on the Civil War and the fortunes of a slave who comes to claim his freedom.
Last week, the Mark Morris Dance Group performed five nights in the intimate setting of the Institute of Contemporary Art’s 325-seat theater.
Common Wealth features 100 works
The Museum of Fine Arts Boston introduced its spectacular new book, “Common Wealth: Art by African Americans in the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.”
MFA Displays Gordon Parks photos for the first time
Aren Haas, curator of Photographs at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, has collaborated with the Gordon Parks Foundation to create an exhibition and catalog that juxtaposes the photographs Parks took during his trip to the Kansas town where he grew up with excerpts from the 1927 Plaza School Yearbook and passages from the seven pages of typed notes that Parks compiled during his road trip.
A new building now houses Harvard University’s Fogg, Busch-Reisinger and Arthur M. Sackler Museums under one roof in a complex that opened Nov. 16 after eight years of construction and renovation.
As delicate and strong as the actor in its lead role, Cicely Tyson, the wondrous Broadway production of Horton Foote’s classic American play, “Trip to Bountiful” is on stage through December 7 at the Emerson/Cutler Majestic Theatre in Boston.
Reanimation, a performance and film by renowned conceptual artist Joan Jonas, is an hour-long work of music, movement and video that conjures an actual phenomenon: an endangered Arctic, where loss of snow and ice from global warming threatens ancient habitats.