Year in Review: Best in the arts 2011

By Alive staff and contributing writers
From the December 22, 2011 edition

PERFORMING ARTS

“Bolero!,” Columbus Symphony Orchestra, March

Pianist Katherine Chi’s crisp performance made Sergei Prokofiev’s first piano concerto sparkle, and the orchestra’s controlled energy built Maurice Ravel’s “Bolero” into an explosive finale. —Lauren Hutchison

“Dance Uptown,” OSU Department of Dance, May

Upending a dozen springs of “Dance Downtown” concerts, the OSU Department of Dance stayed on Campus for two revivals, Susan Hadley’s “Back, Jack” and Michael Kelly Bruce’s “Hummingbird,” and two new pieces. Olivier Tarpaga’s “L’Ombre du Silence” depicted life, interrupted, with joy and heartbreak. —Jay Weitz

“Underneath the Lintel,” New Players Theatre, May

Actor Mark Mann riveted attention as a character identified only as “The Librarian,” tracing a 2,000-year-old mystery sparked by the return of a book 113 years overdue. —Jay Weitz

David Lang concert, OSU students and faculty, May

Equally as exciting as seeing various OSU chamber groups perform the Pulitzer Prize-winning composer’s post-minimalist music was hearing the remarkably intelligent composer talk about his craft in a post-concert interview. —Heather Gross

“The Drowsy Chaperone,” Otterbein University Theatre, May

Before the lights had even gone up, the proverbial fourth wall had collapsed and the musical “The Drowsy Chaperone” was ingeniously sending up both musicals and those of us who love them. A pitch-perfect delight from start to finish. —Jay Weitz

“Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead,” Solstice Theatre Company, July

Two fiercely committed performances, Joe Dallacqua’s Guildenstern and Erin Fisher’s The Player, made this production of Stoppard’s mordant masterwork menacingly funny. —Jay Weitz

“What Does This Say About Me, What Does This Say About You?,” Noelle Chun and Yu Xiao, Feverhead, August

The two dancers circled each other in every sense of the word in this paean to friendship and collaboration. Lindsay Caddle LaPointe’s companion dance video, “Preserving Friendship,” took a different approach to related themes with clever multi-layered images within images. —Jay Weitz

“Titus Andronicus,” Shepherd Productions, September

Andy Batt formed Shepherd Productions to fulfill his dream of staging Shakespeare’s goriest tragedy. Avoiding easy sensationalism, he presented it with both subtlety and respect, prompting us to hope that he continues to shepherd Shepherd. —Jay Weitz

“Falsettos,” Available Light Theatre, September

Available Light poured passion and precision into “Falsettos,” meeting its emotional and musical challenges and making points about the diversity of the families we create based on love and friendship. —Jay Weitz

“The Rehearsal, Playing the Dane,” Pan Pan, Wexner Center, November

The Irish theatre company’s deconstruction of “Hamlet” was fascinating to watch, luscious to hear and provocative to contemplate. “The Rehearsal” also reminded us about the value of experiencing even the familiar with open, sharpened senses. —Jay Weitz

“Cedric Andrieux,” Jerome Bel, Wexner Center, November

Choreographer Bel and dancer Andrieux offered a look beyond the surface of dance to the headaches, heartaches and muscle aches of the art. —Jay Weitz

“Carmen,” BalletMet, November

Amedeo Amodio’s “Carmen” went off on an emotionally mystical tangent from Georges Bizet’s opera to a place all its own. The jailhouse duet in which guard Don Jose and prisoner Carmen trade roles brilliantly renewed the life of a familiar metaphor. —Jay Weitz

VISUAL ARTS

“Domestic Matters,” OSU Urban Arts Space, March

Local artists Mair Culbreth and Nicole Bauguss explored many themes in this exhibit: spirituality, southern identities, gender roles, memory, love. And they used many mediums to study them — installation, audio, video, quilting, dance — without being overwhelming. —Jackie Mantey

“Pipilotti Rist: The Tender Room,” Wexner Center, March-July

Rist’s installation of pink window filters, soothing video projections and an underwear-covered chandelier created a warm, beautiful light at the end of the tunnel connecting the Wex’s exhibition spaces, and an uplifting counterpoint to the intense sociopolitical and sexual content addressed by Nathalie Djurberg, Louise Bourgeois and Hans Bellmer in the preceding galleries. —Melissa Starker

“Ground Control,” Columbus Museum of Art, ongoing

With its new sound and video installation space in a previously decommissioned elevator, the museum has simultaneously addressed the challenge of presenting new media in an institutional setting and given riders an infinitely better alternative to Muzak. —Melissa Starker

“Rooms to Let,” Franklinton, June and October

In a clever spin on artists bringing new life to an economically challenged neighborhood, Melissa Vogley Woods turned two abandoned homes in Franklinton into spaces for cool, site-specific installations by local and national artists. —Melissa Starker

“Elliott Hundley: The Bacchae,” Wexner Center, September-December

Elliott Hundley’s work uses classical mythology to draw parallels to today’s socioeconomic problems. The exhibit’s collages and sculptures hammered viewers with detail after twisted detail. It was like riding on a pink Pegasus through a Hieronymus Bosch drunk dream only to get stuck in a web of pins and thread and eaten by someone’s grandma. Awesome. —Jackie Mantey

“Alexis Rockman: A Fable for Tomorrow,” Wexner Center, September-December

This mid-career retrospective featured enormous works that depict post-apocalyptic environments. Rockman’s explosions of color left us feeling excited about the future of painting and about changing things for a better future. —Jackie Mantey

“Vinchen: Art? Show,” The Invisible Gallery, October

It didn’t solve the mystery of his identity, but otherwise, the first gallery show for Columbus’ most politically charged street artist didn’t disappoint. Vinchen gets extra credit for putting his money where his anti-consumerist mouth is in a sculpture made largely of dollar bills. —Melissa Starker

Caravaggio’s “Ecce Homo (Behold the Man),” Columbus Museum of Art, October-February

Caravaggio’s works are rare, renowned and mostly kept in another country, so we were lucky to behold this 1606 work by the Italian master painter at the CMA. It was thrilling to inspect in person Caravaggio’s revolutionary realistic techniques. —Jackie Mantey