ArtBeat

Photo by Mike Lovett
“Untied We Stand,” an exhibition featuring Joe Wardwell, assistant professor of painting, was on view this fall at the Heskin Gallery in New York. Wardwell discovered the title pun (it’s no typo) in a lyric from the Weedeater song “God Luck and Good Speed.” Reflecting on Sept 11, the Bush presidency, wars, the debt crisis and the rise of the Tea Party, the artist chose the phrase to describe the “massive historical crossroads” our nation is facing. He drives home his point by juxtaposing ironic catch phrases with idyllic-looking landscapes that on the surface suggest advertising art or patriotic propaganda. Wardwell’s work was also spotlighted in three recent Boston-area exhibitions, at Babson College’s Hollister Gallery in Wellesley, the New Art Center in Newtonville and Ningyo Editions in Watertown.

Renowned Canadian composer Gustav Ciamaga, M.F.A.’58, who founded the Brandeis Electro-Acoustic Music Studio (BEAMS), died of cancer on June 11 at age 81. Born in Ontario, Ciamaga attended the University of Western Ontario before doing further studies in composition at the University of Toronto and under Arthur Berger, Harold Shapero and Irving Fine at Brandeis. From 1963–1994, he served on the faculty at the University of Toronto, where he directed the electronic music studio, chaired the theory and composition department, and was principal of the Royal Conservatory of Music. Theater arts department chair Susan Dibble choreographed and performed an innovative dance work staged Nov. 5 at the Douglas Dunn & Dancers loft space in New York’s SoHo district. Titled “7 Polished Hearts,” the 50-minute piece also featured a group of performers who have worked for more than three decades with Dibble.

Tory Fair, assistant professor of sculpture, has an outdoor installation on view through April 2012 at the deCordova Sculpture Park and Museum in Lincoln, Mass. The work, “Testing a World View (Again),” is a site-specific work comprising four self portrait figures in fiberglass, aluminum and wax. Her art is also included in “Sculpture Today: New Forces, New Forms,” continuing through Dec. 31 at the Frederik Meijer Gardens and Sculpture Park in Grand Rapids, Mich., and in December she opens a solo exhibition at the Hermitage Museum and Gardens in Norfolk, Va.

The Hollywood Reporter, a leading chronicle of the entertainment industry, has named Scott Feinberg ’08 its chief awards season blogger and analyst. In announcing the appointment, the publication said, “The addition of Feinberg’s commentary and prognostication … strengthens THR’s in-depth awards season coverage.” Feinberg previously blogged about the Oscars for The Los Angeles Times and at his own popular site, ScottFeinberg.com.

Charles McClendon, professor of fine arts, teamed up with Boston College professor and museum director Nancy Netzer last spring to provide unusual exposure to antiquities. Students in his course “The Formation of Jewish, Christian and Islamic Art” made several visits to the McMullen Museum of Art at BC to view “Dura-Europos: Crossroads of Antiquity.” The exhibition, for which McClendon helped select objects from a collection housed at Yale University, focused on an ancient city on the Euphrates River that dates back to 300 B.C. Studying the artifacts — which included not only ritual items like an incense burner, but also objects as mundane as a sandal and children’s toys — helped students gain a more “direct and personal” understanding of the time, McClendon says.

Music professor Judith Eissenberg, a member of Brandeis’ Lydian String Quartet and founder of the MusicUnitesUS intercultural residency program, recently returned from a trip to South Korea, where she attended lectures and explored traditional musical forms that she hopes to incorporate into her teaching. During her visit as a participant of the International Gugak Workshop, she learned to play the janggu (an hourglass-shaped drum) and the danso (a vertical bamboo flute), attended folk-dance performances and witnessed religious rituals led by shamans. “Experiencing the beauty and depth of another tradition through the guidance of its practitioners is a gift,” she says. “Learning other perspectives, especially through the arts, shifts the way I see the world. I hope to share that with my students.”

During a yearlong sabbatical, award-winning faculty composer David Rakowski pursued his muse at artist communities all over the map, among them Yaddo in Saratoga Springs, N.Y.; the MacDowell Colony in Peterborough, N.H.; and the Camargo Foundation in France. He returned this fall with two and a half hours’ worth of new compositions, including the last five piano etudes in a series of 100 he began writing in 1988. While on leave he also created a mixed sextet for the New York group Cygnus and a piano concerto commissioned by the Jebediah Foundation for pianist Amy Briggs, along with other works. To honor the university’s new president, Frederick M. Lawrence, he composed a short work called “Fred” for Brandeis’ Lydian String Quartet.

Caldwell Titcomb, 84, president of the Boston Theater Critics Association and professor emeritus of theater criticism at Brandeis, died of leukemia in July. Though ailing, Titcomb made it to the Elliot Norton Awards ceremony in June to present the Norton Prize for Sustained Excellence to director Scott Edmiston, head of the Brandeis’ Office of the Arts. Titcomb wrote for New England Entertainment Digest, the Bay State Banner, TheArtsFuse.com, Playbill On-Line and Total Theater.com. He also contributed 50 articles to the two-volume Oxford Encyclopedia of Theatre and Performance.

Aida Yuen Wong, chair of the East Asian studies program and associate professor of art history, has contributed an essay to the catalog of “Chinese Art in an Age of Revolution: Fu Baoshi (1904–65),” an important modern Chinese art exhibition that opened at the Cleveland Museum of Art in October and will travel to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City next spring.
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