ELEVATED | Peter Pan, the Beatles and the Great Southwest
by Leslie Vreeland
May 09, 2013 | 1362 views | 0 0 comments | 10 10 recommendations | email to a friend | print
BEFORE THE RECITAL - Weehawken Arts' Artistic Director Natasha Pyeatte (seated, far right) scrutinized her students Tuesday evening at a final rehearsal for one of two upcoming spring programs. (Photo by Samantha Wright)
BEFORE THE RECITAL - Weehawken Arts' Artistic Director Natasha Pyeatte (seated, far right) scrutinized her students Tuesday evening at a final rehearsal for one of two upcoming spring programs. (Photo by Samantha Wright)
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WILSON PEAK – This painting, like most works by Stanton Englehart, is untitled, but the iconic image is easy to identify. The artist passed away in 2009; a new  exhibit of his work is curated by his daughter, Sharon Englehart. (Courtesy photo)
WILSON PEAK – This painting, like most works by Stanton Englehart, is untitled, but the iconic image is easy to identify. The artist passed away in 2009; a new exhibit of his work is curated by his daughter, Sharon Englehart. (Courtesy photo)
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Englehart Exhibit in Dolores

The paintings of Stanton Englehart go on exhibit at the Anasazi Heritage Center in Dolores this weekend. It is the fourth time the institution, which is managed by the BLM, has displayed the artist’s work.

You may be wondering what the work of Englehart – a beloved Fort Lewis College professor of 32 years, an acknowledged master of Southwestern art, but not a Native American – is doing hanging in a center devoted to “the Ancestral Puebloan (or Anasazi) culture and other Native cultures of the Four Corners region,” as the museum puts it. The answer is threefold. First, he was a Four Corners native; he grew up in Lewis, where his parents owned a dairy farm and grew pinto beans. He was also an educator, which the Heritage Center views as one of its key missions. Most importantly, the museum displays the cultural treasures of the Southwest – and his paintings belong along them.

Yet the irony is, Englehart’s work captures something that can’t be bottled or put on display in any museum: the expansiveness of earth, landscape and sky. His subjects were some of the biggest things on this planet  – yawning canyons, vast stretches of sandstone, and above it all, brilliant blue, or a blazing sunset – and he painted them on wide stretches of canvas, to make them look even bigger. One gargantuan work, composed of four panels, is 28 feet long.

Englehart passed away three years ago, and this exhibit was curated by his daughter, Sharon Englehart. She titled it Arches, not only for “the characteristic form in our local landscape,” she said, but also for the many curves she noticed in her father’s paintings. To her, the curves suggest “the internal, feminine form.” Her father took the analogy even further. “Look at all of the photographs that are taken of Antelope canyon, Monument Valley, Arches and Natural Bridges,” he remarked in an interview with his friend and former student, Sean Cridland. “Those sandstone canyons are so sensual, and not just from the female or male point of view. It’s not just the human body or mammalian structure. It’s the same force that Walt Whitman describes in his poetry. And that’s what life is.”

Arches aren’t obvious in every painting on display here, though you’ll find iconic examples of them. But “It’s really about the curves,” Sharon says. The curves, and the glowing colors, and above all, the vastness. Then again, Stanton Englehart also had a keen appreciation for the small. In his view, the gargantuan and the miniscule were inextricably connected. It was all the same, really. “I don’t think that you can get closer to the secret of human nature without looking into the secret of that which controls it all: the environment of the land, sky, cosmos, death, sexuality, spirit,” he said. “That’s all it is, whatever mystery it is that started it all. The big bang or the creation can both be found in the mystery of the pinto bean that my family and my neighbors and I grew up with.” The Anasazi Heritage Center is open daily from 9 a.m.-5 p.m.

Spring Dance from Weehawken

When the curtains close on Weehawken’s spring dance programs, the company’s talented artistic director and choreographer Natasha Pyeatte will breathe a huge sigh of relief. She must be so stressed out. Isn’t she? “I’m really not,” she laughed. “People ask me that all the time, but I’m really fine.”

They ask because Pyeatte is directing two spring programs this year instead of the dance school’s usual one. The first opens this weekend. It is Peter Pan. Next weekend, there is A Beatles Tribute: The Octopus’s Garden. Both productions are at the Wright Opera House.

Between the two shows, more than 120 dance students are involved, and except for three musical numbers in Octopus, Pyeatte has choreographed it all. She said breaking the spring program into pieces this year just made sense. The cast of Peter Pan are mostly ages 3-5, and little ones mostly “want to be a pirate or a fairy.” Teens, meanwhile, prefer the challenge of a starring role, something they also get in Peter Pan. That leaves the kids in between (ages 8-10, say) for Octopus, and “what they really want is a story.” They get more than that. “The Beatles’ songs each tell a story,” Pyeatte said. “They act out ‘Eleanor Rigby’ and ‘Yellow Submarine’ and ‘Lady Madonna.’” And “Octopus’s Garden,” of course. A number of dancers took the soundtrack home. “Parents come up to me and say, ‘This is so refreshing,’” she said. ‘Instead of Katy Perry or Taylor Swift, we’re listening to the Beatles!’” Weehawken Dance Presents Peter Pan this Saturday, May 11 at 6 p.m., and Sunday, May 12 at 3 p.m. Octopus’s Garden is the following weekend at the same times. For more information or tickets, call 970/318-0150 or visit weehawkenarts.org.

Second Sunday Cinema: Quartet

Dustin Hoffman’s directorial debut is showing in Montrose this Sunday at the Fox Theatre. Quartet concerns a group of opera singers residing together in a palatial home for retired musicians in the British countryside. Their annual tribute to Verdi is threatened when an opera diva (played by Maggie Smith) arrives on the scene. Mayhem, of a very mild, terribly gentile variety, ensues. This gentle film was not a favorite of New York Times critic A.O. Scott (his chief gripe seemed to be there wasn’t enough action), and in numerous comments following the review, Scott’s not-so-gentle readers bit back. “This is a character-driven script, not an action movie. So if that’s what you were expecting, oh well. Too bad for you,” sniped one. “Our screens are bombarded with blood, violence, boobs and utter nonsense,” another reasoned. “Let us celebrate a thing of beauty and joy.” Quartet screens at noon.

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