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This Week in Arts: Ariana Grande, Frederick Ashton and Winona Ryder

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This Week in Arts: Ariana Grande, Frederick Ashton and Winona Ryder

A pop star’s fourth album arrives; the Sarasota Ballet returns to the Joyce; and Winona Ryder is everywhere.

By The New York Times

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Ariana Grande performing earlier this year in Los Angeles.CreditRich Polk/Getty Images

Pop: Ariana Grande Looks Toward Timelessness

Aug. 17; itunes.apple.com

To go from Disney-bred teen idol to bona fide pop sensation is a tricky transition. Yet, three rich, varied albums in, Ariana Grande has little left to prove. She’s long shown that she has the vocal chops to swing for the musical fences in house jams and heartfelt ballads alike. Plus, Ms. Grande’s smart taste in collaborators — from Babyface to Max Martin to Pharrell Williams —has set her apart aesthetically from most of her peers in aspiring diva-dom.

“Sweetener,” her upcoming fourth studio album, is the product of lengthy sessions with Mr. Williams, though Mr. Martin also had a hand in several tracks. Ms. Grande herself took the lead on writing for the project. The first single, “No Tears Left to Cry,” is a tribute to resilience inspired by the lethal bombing at her 2017 Manchester Arena concert.

What the pop singer is looking for with this release, though, is the song that will elevate her from deft, creative pop singer to iconic diva. As her manager Scooter Braun put it in an interview with Variety late last year, “Ariana has big vocal moments; it’s time for her song.” Whether or not that song is on “Sweetener,” Ms. Grande has already established herself as one of pop’s must-listen artists. NATALIE WEINER

Film: Winona Ryder Is Everywhere

Aug. 17, 19, 25, 31

Just in time for “Destination Wedding” — a grown-up rom-com starring Keanu Reeves and Winona Ryder as thoroughly disagreeable guests who find affection despite themselves, debuting Aug. 31 — a couple of New York theaters are celebrating Ms. Ryder’s singular presence. Because what movie isn’t more interesting with her offbeat, ever vulnerable and always magnetic kind of cool?

“Utterly Winona,” starting Friday, Aug. 17, at the Quad Cinema in Manhattan, presents nine days brimming with her 1980s and ’90s hits, including Tim Burton’s “Beetlejuice” and “Edward Scissorhands,” Ben Stiller’s “Reality Bites,” James Mangold’s “Girl, Interrupted,” Michael Lehmann’s “Heathers,” Francis Ford Coppola’s “Bram Stoker’s Dracula,” with Mr. Reeves opposite her, and Gillian Armstrong’s “Little Women” and Martin Scorsese’s “The Age of Innocence,” for which she earned Oscar nominations.

“Winona Forever: A Winona Ryder Mystery Marathon,” on Saturday, Aug. 25, at the Alamo Drafthouse Cinema in Brooklyn, features four of her movies, kept secret until the lights go down and paired with themed drinks and promises of other surprises. “Winona Forever” will also screen at the Alamo South Lamar in Austin, Tex., on Saturday, Aug. 19. KATHRYN SHATTUCK

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From left, Ning Yu, Russell Greenberg, Laura Barger and Ian Antonio of Yarn/Wire performing in Ann Arbor, Mich., this year.CreditDaryl Marshke

Classical Music: Avant-Garde Rarities at Time Spans Festival

Aug. 14-18, timespans.org

Music festivals tend to proliferate outside of New York City in the summer, so it’s heartening to see a relative newcomer on the mid-August calendar in Manhattan. The Earle Brown Music Foundation, an organization whose efforts extend beyond the promotion of that underrated experimental composer to the support of a broader range of contemporary music, is presenting its fourth annual Time Spans festival at the DiMenna Center this week, featuring five concerts of avant-garde rarities. Each evening offers a top-notch ensemble, including the Bozzini Quartet, Alarm Will Sound, Talea Ensemble, Yarn/Wire, the JACK Quartet and the SWR Experimentalstudio Freiburg. And it’s hard to imagine missing any night of the festival, as nearly all the concerts offer local or world premieres of recent repertoire by composers such as Linda Catlin Smith, Zosha di Castri, Felipe Lara, Alex Mincek and Georg Friedrich Haas. WILLIAM ROBIN

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A still from the collaboration “Surveillance” at the Whitney.CreditEckhaus Latta and Alexa Karolinski

Art: ‘Eckhaus Latta: Possessed’ at the Whitney

Through Oct. 8; whitney.org

The young designers Mike Eckhaus and Zoe Latta charge over the already faltering lines that divide fashion from art and museums from retail with this new installation at the Whitney Museum of American Art. It’s an operating store, with light-box photos barely distinguishable from advertisements and fixtures designed by a dozen young artists including Amy Yao and Martine Syms.

Susan Cianciolo contributes both a “Textile Curtain for Dressing Room” and “Dress Mirror Frame.” The piece that tilts what would otherwise look like glossy cynicism into a moment of genuine artistic self-awareness, though, is “Surveillance,” the duo’s collaboration with the filmmaker Alexa Karolinski, in which innocent visitors find themselves confronted with a wall of screens playing live CCTV footage from dressing rooms in the designers’ Los Angeles store, as well as those of other retailers in London, Vancouver, Montreal and Tokyo. WILL HEINRICH

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From left, Ricardo Graziano, Victoria Hulland, and Ricardo Rhodes in Frederick Ashton’s “Monotones II.”CreditFrank Atura

Dance: Sarasota Ballet Celebrates Frederick Ashton

Aug. 14-19, joyce.org.

The importance of the British choreographer Frederick Ashton goes without question, so it’s with gratitude, oddly enough, to a Floridian ballet company that his repertory stays alive. This week, the Sarasota Ballet returns to the Joyce, armed with two mixed bills and an arsenal of works by Ashton.

Selections include “Monotones 1 & II,” his space-age pas de trois, as well as the pas de trois from “Les Patineurs,” which pays homage to ice skating. Programs also include works by Ricardo Graziano and Christopher Wheeldon.

And there’s a surprise in a guest dancer: Marcelo Gomes will appear in the final pas de deux from “The Two Pigeons,” opposite company member Victoria Hulland. Mr. Gomes left his post as principal dancer at American Ballet Theater after an allegation of sexual misconduct. As he was quoted in a recent New York Times interview: “I’m soaking up every minute I get to step onstage at this point in my life. Everything has a different meaning to me now.” GIA KOURLAS

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Alexandra Silber, left, and Adam Kantor in the 2015 Broadway revival of “Fiddler on the Roof.”CreditSara Krulwich/The New York Times

Theater: Hearing Echoes of ‘Fiddler on the Roof’

Aug. 13; ticketmaster.com, audible.com/afteranatevka

The actress turned novelist Alexandra Silber has spent a lot of time living in Anatevka, the fictional Russian village in “Fiddler on the Roof.” Maybe not as long as Tevye and Golde’s daughters, but she has played a couple of them — Hodel, in a British production, and later Tzeitel, in the 2015 Broadway revival. She also spent three years writing “After Anatevka,” her prose sequel to the musical, which has Hodel for a heroine and was published last year.

On Monday, Aug. 13, at Minetta Lane Theater in Greenwich Village, a live event will add another couple of layers to this creative mille-feuille. The audiobook company Audible, anticipating its own release of “After Anatevka,” will host an evening combining excerpts from the novel, read by Ms. Silber, with songs written for “Fiddler” (including “Dear Sweet Sewing Machine,” which was cut from the show) and new numbers inspired by “After Anatevka.” Performers are slated to include Samantha Massell, Matthew Scott and Patrick Page; the “Fiddler” lyricist Sheldon Harnick is expected to be on hand, too. Audible will, of course, be recording the program for its audiobook. LAURA COLLINS-HUGHES

TV: ‘Mr. Mercedes’ Returns for a Second Season

Aug. 22.

Viewers who breathed more easily at the end of Season 1 of “Mr. Mercedes,” the Audience Network’s adaptation of the 2014 Stephen King novel, clearly didn’t know the source material. (Those who haven’t seen it should beware: spoilers ahead.)

The first installment of this series from David E. Kelley and Jack Bender sent the retired detective Bill Hodges (Brendan Gleeson, terrifically malcontent) in chase of the killer behind the massacre he never solved: the deranged Brady Hartsfield (Harry Treadaway), a computer technician and ice cream truck man whose mother loved him inappropriately.

The second opens with Hodges getting on with life as a private investigator and Hartsfield vegetating in a hospital — where his brain is ripe for experimentation. And just maybe bringing back to consciousness, the better to control others in its altered state.

Watch — again, or for the first time — Season 1 of “Mr. Mercedes” on DirecTV’s Audience Network and its streaming services before tuning into Season 2 on Wednesday, Aug. 22. KATHRYN SHATTUCK

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Visual Arts – Aug. 16

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BAXTER

Chameleon Café

18196 Highway 371

Crosby artist Nora Novotny’s work is on display at the Baxter cafe and the Holy Yoga studio in Crosby.

BRAINERD

Brainerd Public Library

416 S. Fifth St.

Artist Gloria Leonard’s sketches and paintings on display through Oct. 31.

The Crossing Arts Alliance

711 Laurel St.

Featured August artist is Susan Manchester

“Lakes Area Music Festival Through the Lens of Dave Boran’ Exhibit” to be on display through Sept. 1 in TCAA gallery. For more information visit crossingarts.org.

LITTLE FALLS

Morrison County Govt. Center Gallery

213 First Ave. SE.

Local artists, weekdays, ongoing.

Great River Arts

122 SE. First St.

“Mississippi Icons” featuring Mary Solberg and Wesley Sod on display.

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Why arts journalism matters: because art matters

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Comments made in 1974 during an interview with the French writer Roger Errera and published in October 26, 1978 issue of The NewYork Review of Books Interview.

Today, hundreds of newspapers across the US are publishing editorials about President Donald Trump’s inflammatory rhetoric against the American press, which he regularly refers to as the “enemy of the people”. His vitriol is usually aimed at the news media, but even in the relatively sheltered niche of arts journalism, we can see the effects—and not just from the online comments and occasional angry phone calls we have received from those who do not like the unflattering light in which artists often paint the president. This matches Trump’s own apparent stance on culture; at best he seems to view the arts as a vehicle for self-aggrandisement, at worst a waste of tax-payers’ money.

If journalists are afraid, self-censorship begins to be practised before actual censorship, and it is just as dangerous to a healthy body politic. Like the rest of the press, the arts media must not be ignored or bullied into pulling its punches. The art world is full of powerful people who wield their influence widely, sometimes for public benefit, sometimes for personal profit, just as in the political sphere. There is plenty of overlap between the two motivations, and there are dark corners where bad actors can take advantage of a lack of government regulation or close public scrutiny.

Arts journalists are there to exercise that scrutiny, to give a platform to artists and draw connections between communities. For artists are in the vanguard of addressing the subjects that lead Trump to yell “Fake news”, such as climate change, racism and sexual exploitation. They are one of the most potent tools we have to speak truth to power (aside from voting, which everyone who can in the US should do in November). Arts journalists must feel themselves free to back up artists in their pursuit of truth and justice.

Helen Stoilas is the US editor of The Art Newspaper

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Without An Arts Education Coordinator For Massachusetts, Advocates Are Concerned

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As Massachusetts schools prepare to implement sweeping changes in arts education, the position of a key administer is currently empty and its fate remains uncertain.

Lurline Munoz-Bennett retired in June, leaving the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Schools (DESE) without an arts education and equity coordinator, a position she held for more than a dozen years. DESE’s hesitation to name a full-time replacement for the role has arts educators and advocates concerned that there will be little oversight for the implementation of a statewide initiative that started in 2017 to improve arts education and of a new arts curriculum expected to be finalized this year.

Munoz-Bennett’s job is currently being divided between existing positions, according to Jacqueline Reis, media coordinator for DESE. “The position involved responsibilities in two areas,” her statement reads. “The arts education work, which is substantial as we have just begun the process of collaborating with educators to revise the 1999 Arts Curriculum Framework, is being taken over by a different member of the Center for Instructional Support. The equity work, and specifically the job as serving as staff liaison to the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education’s Racial Imbalance Advisory Council, is being handled by the Center for Educational Options.”

Asked to clarify whether the role of arts education coordinator would be permanently folded into another job, DESE spokesperson Jessica Leitz responded that the fate of the position has not yet been decided. “It’s my understanding that hiring decisions will be able to get underway again now that the state budget is finalized,” she said via email. “DESE is fully committed to the Arts Curriculum Framework revision.”

This comes at a crucial time in arts education for Massachusetts: 2017-18 was the first school year that districts across the state operated under new state education guidelines written in response to Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), a bipartisan federal education law passed in 2015 that explicitly includes instruction in the arts in the definition of a “well-rounded education.” However, the implementation had been slow, in part because of the death last year of Commissioner of Elementary and Secondary Education Mitchell Chester.

Even before these changes, Munoz-Bennett’s job was never simple. “She has been the glue that has held a lot of disparate elements together,” said Charles Combs, president of the nonprofit arts advocacy group Arts Learning and the liberal arts chair emeritus at Berklee College of Music.

He describes Munoz-Bennett organizing curriculum sessions, where he and his colleagues would make presentations about arts integration and the arts curriculum. “These served as professional development opportunities for the teachers and administrators who were attending,” said Combs.

Beyond such formal gatherings, “she was a connector,” he said. “She was consistently engaged in trying to get the arts in the schools for the children because it was a crucial way of learning, a way of knowing and a way of communicating in another symbol system beyond language and numbers.”

Redefining her former position makes sense, Munoz-Bennett said. “The equity piece is not necessarily about the arts,” said the retired administrator, explaining that she had carried over that role from her earlier work in the department. Coordinating arts education, however, ”should be a full-time job,” she stressed, noting the many different facets of the new curriculum.

Any delay could work against the department’s forward momentum, say arts education advocates.

“We are developing a really robust set of standard in arts, music, media arts, etc., that’s going to be implemented next fall — a year from this fall — and if you don’t have a person with the arts expertise in place I think there’s going to be a lot of difficulty,” said Jonathan C. Rappaport, executive director of Arts Learning, which advocates for the arts to be seen as a core curriculum subject in Massachusetts schools. “I see this position as really coming at a critical point.”

“There’s going to be this new curriculum and new attention on the arts, but if there’s not the infrastructure then it’s going to die on the vine,” added Matt Wilson, executive director of MASSCreative, a statewide advocacy group for the arts and creative community.

Partially because of the new emphasis provided by ESSA, this summer, 70 arts educators have been working on new curricula in five areas (visual arts, media arts, performing arts, dance and music), and this year will begin the professional development and implementation.

“The timing now is so important to have the infrastructure,” said Wilson. “That there’s professional development and support for the teachers and it finds its place of importance in the department as a necessary piece.”

The appointment of Jeff Riley in January to replace Chester as the state education commissioner is reason for optimism, arts education advocates say. Rappaport said Riley met with the Arts For All coalition, a group of organizations that work on arts education policy. “The commissioner was very gracious and met with us, and he expressed very strong support for the arts,” Rappaport said. “I’m hopeful that if we work with him that this position will be reinstated.”

Wilson added, “This is an opportunity for the commissioner to follow through on the commitment to make arts an important part of the curriculum.”


Clea Simon is a Somerville-based novelist and longtime arts writer. She can be reached at www.CleaSimon.com.

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