Swooning Over Street Art
The ICA soars to new heights for its 75th anniversary.
October 10, 2011
Since 1936 The Institute of Contemporary Art has brought thought-provoking works by artists from all around the globe right to our backyard, and Swoon’s Anthropocene Extinction does not disappoint. Curated by Pedro Alonzo, the sitespecific exhibition is the largest yet for the Sandra and Gerald Fineberg Art Wall. To mark the ICA’s 75th year, Brooklyn-based street artist Swoon has taken over the museum’s lobby, creating a striking portrait of a 90-year-old Australian woman known to be the last surviving aborigine to have lived as a nomad. The images of a Tibetan demon beneath her represent mankind’s dangerous consumption habits. As with many of Swoon’s works, Anthropocene Extinction takes a look at the lasting effects of industrialization on people and the environment around the world. Framing the portrait, intricately cut streams of paper draw visitors’ eyes upward to a never-before-seen installation that reaches 40 feet high and includes a bamboo sculpture suspended above the Fineberg Art Wall. A fitting scale for a milestone anniversary. Anthropocene Extinction is on view until December 30, 2012. 100 Northern Ave., 617-478-3100
photograph by john kennard
Fitness Retreat: The Bahamas
Treat your whole self to a jumpstart in the Bahamas.
September 19, 2011
Vacations to exotic islands have long helped us restore balance to our lives, brush away the tensions of work and reconnect with family, friends and self. In a new retreat, Boston Body Pilates combines that tradition of restoration with a boost for your exercise regimen: This October they’re offering a trip with the One & Only Ocean Club in the Bahamas (just a quick nonstop flight on JetBlue). Participants are treated to two hours of Pilates each morning on the resort’s beautiful deck overlooking the sea, then the rest of the day is free to explore the beaches, gardens and water sports—or just lounge by the pool. Private in-room instruction is also available for an added fee.
Dining at the property’s two main restaurants is four-star, with Dune headed by Jean-Georges Vongerichten (who also designed the menus at Market at the W Boston). Enjoy breakfast, lunch and dinner at this indoor/outdoor perch built into a cliff over the water. Healthy options—the grilled native grouper is a must—balance out the more decadent ones, so you can treat yourself while still being healthy. The more secluded Courtyard restaurant is Mediterranean in style and also top-notch.
Post-Pilates, enjoy coconut water fresh from the fruit on your way to the sand, where attendants will arrange your lounge chair and umbrella and fetch magazines, sunscreen and libations. Or sit by the pool, overlooking the splendor of the Versailles-inspired tiered gardens, where the only music is the many exotic birdcalls of the island.
The One & Only is the quiet, sophisticated sister to the sprawling Atlantis complex, so complimentary luxury SUVs can transport you to Atlantis for dinner, dancing and gambling or to the dolphin pool during the day. But you may never want to leave the One & Only—the resort completed a $4.5 million renovation at the end of last year. The new suites are done in a sumptuous French colonial décor. Every bath has a Jacuzzi and steam shower and most rooms in the new wings open onto a patio or balcony with an ocean view.
Of the resort’s 105 rooms, there are 10 beachfront suites, two garden cottages and three villas—getaways with private beach access and an infinity pool, hidden driveways and personal chefs. During the filming of Casino Royale, Daniel Craig even stayed in one. Other notables, like Oprah, Ryan Seacrest and the Shrivers, have also enjoyed the resort’s 34 acres of understated elegance. The next retreat will take place October 13 to 17. For package information, visit bostonbody.com.
Real Estate Watch: Penthouse Living
Enjoy the high life in a top-floor apartment.
September 12, 2011
776 BOYLSTON ST., PH2-D Live in the same building as the Mandarin Spa, Mizu salon and L’Espalier’s heavenly cuisine—and never worry about parking again, thanks to your own garage parking spot. Flooded with light from floor-to-ceiling windows, the two-bedroom space features soaring ceilings and built-in walnut cabinetry. Built in 2008, the 2,284-square-foot home has a fully equipped Poggen Pohl kitchen, breakfast bar, powder room and a master bedroom with walk-in closet. Entertain your guests in front of the gas fireplace or outside on the private rooftop terrace. Asking: $3,950,000 Contact: Beth Dickerson, Gibson Sotheby’s Boston Back Bay, 617-510-8565
347 COMMONWEALTH AVE., PH Expertly renovated by Payne/Bouchier, this three-bedroom, two-and-ahalf- bathroom penthouse on the sunny side of Commonwealth Avenue features the finest finishing touches. The skylit gourmet kitchen, cathedral ceilings in the living room and upper loft office make this 1,956-square-foot penthouse bright and airy. The large deck off the master suite is ideal for taking in the crisp fall air, and the Frank Lloyd Wright-inspired stone fireplace in the living room is ideal to curl up in front of as the weather cools. Asking: $3,150,000 Contact: Tracy Campion, Campion and Company, 617-236-0711
20 ROWES WHARF, PH07 A sophisticated, contemporary aesthetic marks this two-bedroom, two-bath penthouse overlooking Boston Harbor. Located in the luxurious Rowes Wharf building, this elegant home has sleek marble floors, lofted ceilings, two private balconies, a modern, state-of-the-art kitchen, a master bedroom with master bath, and a guest suite with a steam shower. A health club, spa, marina and room service, as well as two deeded garage spaces and valet parking, are among the amenities offered at this residence. Asking: $2,499,000 Contact: Carmela Laurella, CL Waterfront Properties, 617-624-9700
128 BEACON ST., UNIT L This 3,775-square-foot penthouse has four bedrooms, three and a half baths and a cook’s dream kitchen outfitted with a breakfast bar. Overlooking the city from the living and dining rooms, and the water from the family room, this apartment has the best of both vistas. A recent gut renovation created a spacious floor plan with direct elevator access and two cozy fireplaces. You’ll even get two parking spots in the building’s attached garage and one outdoors. But the biggest draw may just be the spectacular roof deck with panoramic Boston views. This Back Bay home will be hard to leave. Asking: $4,799,000; Contact: Tracy Campion, Campion and Company, 617-236-0711
Theatre Pick: Porgy and Bess
Porgy and Bess debuts at the American Repertory Theater before its Broadway run.
August 24, 2011
Women slipped into furs and draped themselves in jewels. It was an evening that demanded society’s finest: The nation’s most celebrated composer was premiering his hugely anticipated first opera not in New York, but in Boston at the Colonial Theatre. Admittedly it was an out-oftown tryout, but on September 30, 1935, George Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess burst from the stage on Boylston Street and immediately carved its place in theatrical history. Based on the book and play by DuBose Heyward, who also wrote the libretto, the opera centered on a disabled beggar’s attempts to rescue a young woman mired in the seedy underbelly of Catfish Row, a South Carolina slum. Three quarters of a century later, Porgy and Bess opens locally once more. This time the American Repertory Theater is debuting the show, in its new adaptation as a musical, before a confirmed Broadway run early next year.
Bringing the steamy conflicts of Catfish Row back to the stage is Diane Paulus. A Tony nominee for her revival of Hair, the A.R.T. artistic director was handpicked by the Gershwin and Heyward estates to direct the Porgy and Bess revival. She’s assembled a killer cast with four-time Tony winner Audra McDonald starring as Bess. Broadway veteran Norm Lewis stars as the titular Porgy; and film, television and stage star David Alan Grier plays the insidious Sporting Life. Here, Diane Paulus and David Alan Grier share their thoughts on the show’s history and its new step into the future.
BOSTON COMMON: IS THERE SOMETHING THAT MAKES PORGY AND BESS PARTICULARLY RESONANT FOR THESE TIMES AND PERSONALLY?
DAVID ALAN GRIER: My father was obsessed with Porgy and Bess. He contracted polio during the Korean conflict; they said he would never walk again, and he was confined to a wheelchair. Then he worked up to crutches, then to a leg brace and a cane.
DIANE PAULUS: Did you know that DuBose Heyward had polio?
DAG: That’s what I mean. So you can imagine, I get goose bumps—it resonates when Porgy says, “I’m gonna walk like a real man, like a natural man.”
DP: The story has these incredible people who are dealing with their demons. When you speak about contemporary resonance, there’s a hurricane in the show that decimates the community. There’s something in this show about the will to survive and what gets us through—love, or a dream of who you want to be, that picks you up every day.
DAG: And what’s that concept of love? Porgy and Bess is, at its core, two flawed people, unlovable. Yet they find love. So yes, it’s a love story: how, in impossible circumstances, these people find love.
BC: WHAT DO YOU THINK ABOUT THE RACIAL COMPONENT OF PORGY AND BESS?
DAG: It was based on a real community and a real person, Sammy Smalls. Yet when Gershwin did it, it was so racially insensitive, racist in a lot of ways.
DP: There’s no Porgy and Bess without looking at the context in which it was done. There’s a lot to say about how it evolved, like what was radical in 1935.
DAG: It was radical, the concept that people of color could sing opera. That was one of the main criticisms, people saying, “We’re not going to seriously consider this an opera because these people—lesser people, black people— are not capable of understanding, singing and interpreting classical opera.”
DP: And it was George Gershwin who said, “No, Al Jolson, you cannot play this in blackface. I want an all African-American cast.”
DAG: Which was bold.
DP: It was also radical when the novel was written in 1925. We flash forward even a few years from then, and people think, This can’t be authentic.
DAG: Well, in 1935 African Americans’ literary and artistic voice was not what it is today. So to have white people say, “We’re going to tell your story,” immediately raised the hackles of black intellectuals and black theater goers and black people. But now it’s 2011, we have a black president, we have a different mind-set, and I think the pressure of that whole thing is different now.
DP: When the Gershwin estate came to me about the revival, they realized that if this piece is going to reach the next generation of audience, they needed a writer on board who can take it forward. To have someone like Suzan-Lori Parks [doing the adaptation], with Deidre Murray on the musical side, is so important. Deidre always says that she feels Gershwin wrote this as a love letter to black people.
BC: THE SHOW HAS RARELY BEEN PRESENTED AS A MUSICAL. HOW DO YOU ADAPT THE OPERA WHILE KEEPING ITS INTEGRITY?
DP: It’s a hybrid, and that was the genius of the piece. Gershwin was so far ahead of his time writing this in 1935.
DAG: When we began the process, I looked up the formal definition of opera: something that is totally sung. And in fact there is music for every line of dialogue. So, the first day of rehearsal, we were asking, “Can I sing this?” and then through the process going, “Well this doesn’t work, let’s speak this,” and then it all settled down.
BC: STEPHEN SONDHEIM SAID, “THERE’S PORGY AND BESS, AND THEN THERE’S EVERYTHING ELSE.” WHAT MAKES IT SO SINGULAR?
DP: It’s an incredible score. Don’t you think? You listen to this music and it’s iconic American. It has its own sound, and it just goes into you. It’s primal.
BC: DIANE, YOU’RE ESSENTIALLY CHARTING THE SAME COURSE AS GEORGE GERSHWIN HIMSELF—WORKSHOPPING THE SHOW IN NEW YORK, OPENING IT IN THE BOSTON AREA AND THEN DELIVERING IT TO BROADWAY. ARE YOU MINDFUL OF FOLLOWING IN HIS SHOES?
DP: It’s less about following in Gershwin’s footsteps. For me as director, and for Suzan-Lori and Deidre and all of the cast, we’re trying to get inside this house he built—to get in touch with the intention of George Gershwin and DuBose Heyward back in the 1920s and ’30s, and then find out what is not dated, but actually what’s timeless about the piece.
BC: IN THE GLEE ERA, DO YOU FEEL A RENEWED ENERGY AND MOMENTUM FOR MUSICAL THEATER?
DAG: To speak specifically to Glee, they’re really doing a different culture, and that is the culture of show choir. They’re not doing songs from Hello Dolly!, they’re doing Lady Gaga and Madonna. But in 2000 there were around 200 theater camps; 10 years later there are 2,000. There is interest among this new generation of young kids.
DP: I think musicals are American. We’re the American Repertory Theater. Musical theater can get a very bad rap as not serious theater, but to me it’s the muscle of American theater, and this opera is the uniquely American contribution—it’s the American 20th-century masterpiece.
Interior Pick: A Cozy Club Chair
When Hermès is involved, you know you're in for some luxe lounging.
August 23, 2011
A chair is just a chair—unless it’s handcrafted from the finest materials by Hermès’ skilled artisans. The renowned French fashion house recently re-released pieces from interior designer Jean-Michel Frank’s 1920s collection for its Maison line. The Parisian’s modern style and exquisite taste in home décor made him a forerunner of the minimalist movement and a natural collaborator for the luxury brand. The fashion house pays homage to the design genius by reissuing his furniture in his preferred understated colors and materials.
The Comfortable Club Armchair in natural sheepskin was (and still is) an iconic piece from Frank’s line for Hermès. Fully upholstered and padded club chairs first sprang into being for wealthy Victorians but didn’t gain their moniker until they became popular at gentlemen’s clubs in the 19th century. We can’t get enough of Frank’s cozy-chic club armchair in its original style, but Hermès has also reimagined it in velvet taurillon calfskin and gold and ivory goatskin (price on request, based on customization). Made with a natural beech frame and ceruse-finished solid oak legs with leather floor protector pads, the piece makes itself the focal point of any room. Pair with Frank for Hermès’ Inverted U Nesting Tables for the perfect blend of usable art and home design. 320 Boylston St., 617-482-8707; hermes.com
Derringer and Equinox team up to offer a stylish new eco-bike.
March 02, 2011
The shop at Equinox and Derringer Cycles have teamed up to offer the exclusive Derringer for Equinox Cycle ($2,300). Eco-friendly Bostonians will fall for its high style and functionality.
4 Spring Reads
Local authors offer a full curriculum of literary delights.
February 22, 2011
Alice Hoffman’s newest work of fiction, The Red Garden ($25; Crown), is structured as a series of linked stories that span more than 200 years in a small Massachusetts town. Magical realism tinges the stories, and historical characters like Johnny Appleseed and Emily Dickinson drop by. At the center of it all is the extraordinary garden where only red plants can grow.
Best known for his novel House of Sand and Fog, which became an Oscar-nominated movie, Andre Dubus III dissects his own life in Townie ($25.95; W. W. Norton & Company). The book follows the standard arc of memoir: from adversity (growing up in a Massachusetts mill town amid violence and drugs), through more adversity (boxing) to triumph (healing himself through writing). In the end, it delivers a brutally honest examination of the causes and consolations of violence. Dubus reads from Townie at Porter Square Books on April 5. For more info, visit andredubus.com.
“Bruce Springsteen is a rock star, you are not,” writes Steve Almond. That’s why he became a rock critic instead. He knows his place—among talentless, worshipful music geeks—and in Rock and Roll Will Save Your Life ($23; Random House), his rollicking, book-length love letter to music, it sounds like a heckuva place to be.
Stephen King has made a cottage industry of his twisted imagination. Full Dark, No Stars is touted as a collection of campfire stories, and the title describes the optimal reading conditions (if you dare!). King is famous for gore but revered for his insight, and in these tales the darkest horror lurks not in the spirit world but in the human psyche.
German films come to the Boston area at Coolidge Corner.
December 05, 2010
A scene from My Words, My Lies, My Love
The Coolidge Corner Theatre is one of the only non-profit independent movie houses in the Boston area. It is known for showing classics like Rear Windowwith Grace Kelly, cult favorites like Rocky Horror Picture Show, and the newest independent films. But the theater also transports movie-goers to Europe with showings of films from up-and-coming German directors on select Sundays. These movies are rarely seen outside of Europe.
My Words, My Lies - My Love (Lila Lila in Germany) on December 5 is a comedy based on the novel by Martin Suter. Directed by Alain Gsponer, this romantic comedy comes with a twist: A waiter becomes a literary sensation when he uses a manuscript he found at a flea market to impress a girl, but things change when the real author shows up at an autograph signing. My Words, My Lies, My Love is in German with English subtitles. 290 Harvard St., Brookline, 617.734.2500
Win a Trip
Travel to the glittering city of Versailles on France Guide Prestige’s tab.
December 03, 2010
Trianon Palace Hotel
The luxury travel experts at France Guide Prestige are offering readers a chance to win a three-night stay for two at the lavish Trianon Palace Hotel in Versailles, France. Two round-trip tickets to Paris via Air France, plus breakfasts and two tête-a-tête dinners at Gordon Ramsay's La Veranda are included in the package. Winners will also be invited to the prestigious L’Académie du spectacle équestre, a sort of ballet for the equestrian world, and the Château de Versailles. Visit franceguide.com to enter.
License to Thrill
Land Rover's off-road drivers ed.
October 06, 2010
Strap on your seatbelt and plow through 80 acres of terrain dedicated to the Land Rover Experience Driving School off-road course, available through Vermont’s Equinox Resort. equinoxresort.com