Exploring spaces
Upon approaching the podium at Golden Auditorium in Little Hall, artist Michael Ashkin commented on the atmosphere of the lecture room, which was appropriate considering that his artwork explores spaces through various media.
    “This is one of the most formal settings I’ve ever lectured in; very high-tech,” said Ashkin, who is an assistant professor and director of graduate studies in the Department of Art at Cornell University.



Untitled (hiding places are many, escape only one), Michael Ashkin

    Ashkin went on to tell the audience about how he spent a decade working in the mortgage industry before switching gears to attend the School of the Art Institute in Chicago and focus his energies on art. Although he began as a painter and photographer, he quickly became interested in sculpture, working mainly with landscapes.
    Ashkin displayed images of his model landscapes, one of which was a 24-foot stretch of miniature power lines. He also provided the titles of his pieces, which sounded both elegant and poetic. “The reason I put titles on my pieces is to make additional space outside of the model itself so there are two different languages of description,” he said.
    After spending time creating miniature models of landscapes, Ashkin developed an interest in the Meadowlands area of New Jersey. He created a short video that was played on three different televisions and consisted of 12 video clips of old wartime bunkers from the area. Overall, he spent a year in the Meadowlands taking thousands of photographs for a commissioned project. “I wanted to reproduce the photographic viewing experience as the experience of aimlessly walking around,” he explained.
    After finishing that project, Ashkin began working with cardboard to develop his own Utopian cities, as well as to replicate aerial landscapes in various countries. This led him to his interest in aerial views of prisons.
    “Considering that Ashkin is motivated by romantic and Utopian ideals, the fact that he describes his work as ‘dystopic’ is interesting,” commented Kendra White ’11. “The tension makes his work very compelling.”
— Jessica Blank ’11


Helping reincarnate the Fab Four
“It’s the concert that never was,” said Steve Boulay ’83, producer and general manager of the Broadway hit Rain: a Tribute to The Beatles. Now playing at the Brooks Atkinson Theatre, Rain transports audience members back to the ’60s with many beloved songs that John, Paul, Ringo, and George never performed live. Because The Beatles stopped touring in 1966, their final three albums (Abbey Road, Let It Be, and The White Album) didn’t make it to the stage.

Steve Boulay ’83, near the billboard for the Broadway hit Rain: a Tribute to The Beatles, for which he is producer and general manager
    As COO of Salt Lake City–based MagicSpace Entertainment, Boulay presents touring concerts and shows around North America. When his company was approached by a Canadian producer who was looking for someone to expand Rain’s presence in the United States, Boulay and his team worked to find the group an agent, increase booking in major U.S. cities, and build the show on Broadway. Rain initially opened October 19, 2010, at the Neil Simon Theatre and ran until mid-January; it reopened at the Brooks Atkinson in February and, because of its popularity, has been extended through Christmas.
    Other productions that MagicSpace Entertainment has presented include Lord of the Dance, Donny and Marie: A Broadway Christmas, The Alexandrov Red Army Chorus, and The Magic of David Copperfield.
    A political science major at Colgate, Boulay got his start in the entertainment industry through a combination of his Russian studies and friendships with Russian professor Dick Sylvester and English professor Bob Blackmore.
    While studying in Russia following his senior year, “I got involved with a bunch of musicians, and [the next year] we started a record company,” Boulay explained. After graduation, he was also doing international tax work for Arthur Andersen LLP, but the changing dynamic between Russia and the United States led the young accountant to fully devote himself to music.
    A cultural exchange agreement between Mikhail Gorbachev and Ronald Reagan put a spotlight on American companies doing cultural business in Russia, and Boulay’s “dinky little record company” was brought into the public eye via a New York Times article. He developed relationships with concert producers wanting to work with large Russian attractions, and the business took off. Boulay’s company produced tours for entertainers such as Janet Jackson, Fleetwood Mac, and Barry Manilow.
    While theater is his main gig these days, Boulay’s love of music still comes into play with productions like Rain as well as a new project. He is working with another Canadian producer on a new show called Love Lies Bleeding, which tells the story of Elton John’s life through music and dance.

Regions of Unlikeness
Influenced by such varied elements as Islamic architecture, graffiti, crystal formations, music, and poetry, Celia Gerard ’95 recently mounted her show Regions of Unlikeness at the Sears-Peyton Gallery in New York City. The Manhattan-based artist’s first solo exhibition in New York received glowing reviews from national and local publications, and all of her black-and-white geometric mixed-media drawings sold. The variety of pieces was a culmination of four years’ of work.
    “Part of living in the city is that I’m surrounded by architecture and an influx of visual imagery, whether it’s graffiti or paintings in a museum,” Gerard said of her multiple influences.



Black Star, 2009–2010, mixed media on paper, Celia Gerard

    The artist’s love of the written word is also evident. The exhibition title is derived from a passage by Saint Augustine and is the title of a book by Jorie Graham, one of Gerard’s favorite poets. “There’s a sense of being in between places,” she said in explaining Regions of Unlikeness. “The spaces that are described in my work are the places that are both known and unknown.”
    In describing the exhibition, one of her mentors, Bruce Gagnier, expanded on that notion: “The space we travel through in these works is palpable in the drawing and resonant in our unconscious,” he said. “Looking at one of these works is a journey to an important place … a somewhere else … a place deep in space, but with no named presence, focused finally in ourselves.”
    In another review of Regions of Unlikeness, Tracy Cochran, editor of Parabola magazine, picked up on the common theme of “unfolding layers” — a concept first written about by Bohemian-Austrian poet Rainer Maria Rilke. “What is really uncanny about the works is that they unfold the viewer, waking up the energies in the body and opening the mind and heart,” wrote Cochran.
    Having majored in sculpture at Colgate, Gerard also creates in that medium. She teaches sculpture and drawing at Swarthmore College.



The sculptures Study 11.04, Study 1.17.06, and Study 1.23.06 by Professor DeWitt Godfrey were part of the Studio Art Faculty Exhibition in Clifford Gallery that was on display in February and March. “I am interested in the way things fit together, how their form (geometry) and qualities (plastic, metal) determine their relationships,” Godfrey explained. “I look at soap bubbles, cellular structures, and other natural geometries,” he added. Professors John Knecht, Cary Peppermint, Lynn Schwarzer, Lynette Stephenson, and Linn Underhill also exhibited work. (Photo by Andrew Daddio)

Dick Hyman headlines Gould Memorial Concert
Dick Hyman plays the piano with an ease that many of us display while brushing our teeth — assuming that routine dental care could inspire awe in an audience of 150 Colgate community members. The jazz legend did just that on March 5, when he played the Katharine Elizabeth Gould Memorial Concert at the Palace Theater.
    Hyman, a legend of the genre, started the evening’s journey on Tin Pan Alley with Fats Waller tunes like “Honeysuckle Rose.” He took a sharp turn onto Broadway with a few Cole Porter selections, then stopped off in the nightclubs of 1950s Manhattan to pull pages from Bill Evans’s portfolio. At the request of the concert’s sponsors, Harry Gould ’60 and Barbara Gould, Hyman also played four songs composed by the immortal Bix Beiderbecke.
    But jazz is improvisation, and Hyman demonstrated his impromptu talent when he combined two waltzes — “A Waltz for Debbie” and “Lotus Blossom” — into a single composition.
    “I figured out that they work together,” he said as a preface. “I just figured it out today, so I haven’t completely finished this arrangement.” That was news to the audience, who could only clap their hands and shake their heads at the seamlessness of his rendering.
    Hyman is the latest name on a growing list of world-class artists who have appeared for the Gould concert, which honors the memory of Harry and Barbara’s daughter Katharine.
    As comfortable in the studio as he is on stage, Hyman has recorded more than 100 albums while working on more than a dozen film scores. He also served two decades as the artistic director of the Jazz in July series at New York’s 92nd Street Y.
    Hyman brought more than skill to the stage; he stepped up with a scholar’s knowledge of his material, and, in a commanding but relaxed voice, provided context for his program, although one can be forgiven for forgetting the nuances of Cole Porter’s chord progressions when listening to Hyman’s entrancing rendition of “Begin the Beguine.”



Preview


(photo by Andrew Daddio)

Public Events at the Colgate Writers’ Conference
June 19–25, 2011

The public is invited to daily readings and talks by the award-winning novelists, essayists, poets, editors, and publishers who are conference instructors.

Sunday–Friday
Readings at 7:30 p.m.
Peter Balakian and Betsy Andrews, poets; Jennifer Brice, memoirist; novelists Brian Hall, Jennifer Vanderbes, Carrie Brown, and John Robert Lennon; young-adult novelist Jennifer Smith ’03; and others of a variety of genres.

Monday–Friday
Craft talks at 9 a.m.
Shop talks at 3:30 p.m.
Featuring agent Andrea Barzvi ’95 and editor Jennifer Pooley ’97, among others.

All public events in Meyerhoff Auditorium, 101 Ho Science Center

For details, visit http://cwc.colgate.edu