Author Archive: Louise Levathes

Louise Levathes

Louise Levathes is a senior editor at The Berkshire Review and New York Arts and writes about art, theater, and public spaces. She lives in Washington, DC.

Click here to read her articles on Berkshire Review.

Kodachrome Memories – an Era Captured by National Geographic Photographer Nathan Benn

“I certainly feel lucky to have been working during this period,” said Nathan Benn, one of the masters of Kodachrome along with his older contemporaries William Eggleston (b. 1939) and Stephen Shore (b. 1947). Benn shot for National Geographic Magazine from 1972 ti 1991, documenting people and places around the globe. He recently collected 108 of his images from the period, photographs of the Northeast, Midwest and parts of the southern United States, in a stunning coffee-table book, “Kodachrome Memory, American Pictures 1972-1990” published this year by Powerhouse Books in Brooklyn, New York.

Detroit in Washington, at the Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company

Danny Gavigan and Tim Getman in Lisa D'Amour's Detroit at Woolly Mammoth. Photo Stan Barouh.

Detroit, a play by Lisa D’Amour, which opened last Sunday at Woolly Mammoth in Washington, DC, is not really about Detroit, except as a potent symbol of the fading of the America dream. The play is set in suburbia, any suburban area around any major America city, where the promise of the good life with picnics and Saturday night dances and well-scrubbed children is harder to achieve in the current economic malaise and intrusion of violence into quiet, middle class neighborhoods everywhere.

Max Hirshfeld’s Illuminaries…Illuminating Washington’s Art World

Max Hirshfeld, Septime Webre

Photographer Max Hirshfeld, who came to Washington, DC, in 1969 from a small, Southern town, has always been fascinated with “the other Washington,” as he calls it, the creative community in the city that has nothing to do with the federal government. This spring he began photographing key players in the DC art scene—poets, novelists, actors, directors, critics, dancers, architects and patrons—and the result is a stunning series of 33 portraits, called “Illuminaries,” now on display at Hemphill Fine Arts in downtown Washington through July 27th. It is part of the gallery’s larger exhibit on the Artist-Citizen.

Adaptation of Chekhov’s Seagull Lays Golden Egg for Woolly Mammoth in DC

Aaron Posner's Stupid Fucking Bird at the Mammoth Theater Company: (left to right) Katie DeBuys, Cody Nickell, Kate Norris, and Rick Foucheux

This is a bit of a sacrilege, but I have always found Anton Chekhov’s much beloved nineteenth-century play, The Seagull, bordering on a parody of itself. When Masha, the estate manager’s daughter, enters in the opening scene of the play dressed all in black and announces she “is in mourning for her life…” how can we possibly keep a straight face? Chekhov couldn’t have imagined how shamelessly French torch singer Edith Piaf would overuse the line in the 1930’s with her own infatuation with black clothing, making this an even more melodramatic line for today’s audiences. So, from my perspective, it does not take much to turn The Seagull from serious, revered Russian classic to clever, side-splitting spoof.

Dawning of a New Age of Digital Photography at AIPAD Show

And if I don’t get enough attention, 2002 by Elinor Carucci 17”x 22” $3,000

New York dealer Robert Burge, who specializes in 20th century photography, described this year’s three-day AIPAD fair, which concluded April 7 at the Park Avenue Armory in New York, as “more buoyant than previous years.”

“Contemporary photography is always a tougher sell than well-known vintage work,” he said, “but people were buying, writing checks. There was less talk about spousal approval…”

Now in its 33rd year, The Association of International Photography Art Dealers (AIPAD) annual exhibition attracted 82 dealers from around the country and a smattering of foreign cities, including London, Paris, Berlin, Buenos Aires, Sydney, Osaka, and Jerusalem. The show traditionally has strength in fine, museum-quality vintage prints, but the show-stoppers this year were primarily contemporary photographs, many the product of digital manipulation, which seems to have moved into a new phase with gimmickry giving way to photographs that more closely resemble fine art—and are stunningly beautiful. The images are fresh and original and, indeed, visitors responded with their wallets.

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