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Takoma Park artist Clara Cornelius turns ruins into art

 

Local artist Clara Cornelius showcases her outdoor exhibit “Caesura Obscura” at the Pump House Pop-Up in Takoma Park.  PHOTO BY MATT HOOKELocal artist Clara Cornelius showcases her outdoor exhibit “Caesura Obscura” at the Pump House Pop-Up in Takoma Park. PHOTO BY MATT HOOKE  TAKOMA PARK — Local artist Clara Cornelius transformed the stone ruins of an old Takoma Park garage into a wonderland Sunday afternoon as she debuted her outdoor exhibit “Caesura Obscura,” a collection of cloth banners at the Pump House Pop-Up on Hilltop Road in Takoma Park. Children viewed the site with amazement, as they ran through the cloth tapestries with abandon while a drum circle played behind them.

The cloth featured bright shades of blue, green, and red to help the art standout in the beige ruin. Cornelius would take photos of everyday objects, like sidewalk cracks, leaves, and signposts, and create patterns out of them that she would transfer to the cloth banners. Cornelius also used digitized cut-paper shapes for some pieces.

A big inspiration for the Takoma Park resident is transient moments, like puddles in the sidewalk or raindrops on a windowsill, since those moments will never be experienced in the same way again.

Cornelius encouraged people to get involved in art, laying out an activity called “magic carpets.” In this activity, people cut out paper shapes and add them to a large banner, so they form a new piece of art at the end of the exhibition.

“I like for there to be an immersive element or an engagement, where they can be part of it or build into it or touch it or feel it, then have some way to have some self-expression so they can respond to the thing they have just seen,” Cornelius said.

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Victorian-era entertainment still resonates today

The title character (Robin Steitz) and the fake poet (Rick DuPuy) who courts her in Victorian Lyric Opera Company’s operetta “Patience.” COURTESY PHOTOThe title character (Robin Steitz) and the fake poet (Rick DuPuy) who courts her in Victorian Lyric Opera Company’s “Patience.” COURTESY PHOTO  Gilbert and Sullivan originally intended their operetta “Patience” to lampoon the church. Concerned about possible backlash, they poked fun of poets and the Aesthetic Movement instead.

The mid-19-century movement believed in art for art’s sake and the pursuit of beauty and self-expression over the moral strictness of the Victorians, who, in turn, mocked the movement.

“‘Patience’ is about people pretending to be poets and people pretending to love poets, and a dairy maid, who can’t understand people’s attachment to poetry,” said Felicity Ann Brown, who is directing the Victorian Lyric Opera Company production of the operetta. “She’s never been in love, and doesn’t understand why people want to be.”

“Patience” doesn’t get performed often, she added, “because it’s hard to explain to audiences – the language is so poetic, and it makes fun of a movement people are not familiar with. But the music is beautiful.”

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Sentinel reporter returns to his roots in fiction with new book

Sentinel reporter Peter Rouleau recently published "Masquerade Ball," a collection of short stories -- many set in Montgomery County.  COURTESY PHOTOSSentinel reporter Peter Rouleau recently published "Masquerade Ball," a collection of short stories -- many set in Montgomery County. COURTESY PHOTOS  ROCKVILLE — Silver Spring resident Peter Rouleau, 36, recently published the book “Masquerade Ball,” a collection of short stories, many of which are set in Montgomery County.

In it, Rouleau explores “deception of how little we know about people we see day to day.”

Rouleau said the inspiration for many of the stories comes from his five years working as a reporter for the Montgomery County Sentinel. Many of the stories are set within the county. One story takes place at the County Agricultural Fair, which the Sentinel has covered extensively.

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Artist and children’s book author chosen to participate in outdoor arts festival

Raya Salman, one of the juried artists at Rockville’s A-RTS festival, poses in front of her booth. COURTESY PHOTORaya Salman, one of the juried artists at Rockville’s A-RTS festival, poses in front of her booth. COURTESY PHOTO  For a time, despite her devotion to it and training at the prestigious Sorbonne University in Paris, Raya Salman “couldn’t afford to live on art.”

Still, Salman, who was born in Lebanon and later relocated to England with her three children before landing in Montgomery County in 1991 and remarrying, wasn’t ready to give up on a professional art career.

Now that her children are 35, 32, and 28 – she also has two grandchildren – she is making up for lost time.

“I paint religiously two times a week,” she said. “One day a week I devote to marketing and social media.”

Her efforts have been recognized. Salman is one of seven Montgomery County artists selected by a jury to participate in A-RTS, a free annual outdoor arts festival at Rockville Town Square, which took place earlier this month on May 5 and 6.

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Silhouettes are an outline of an ancient art form renewed

Partially three-dimensional maypole dance by a contemporary artist is a part of an exhibit on silhouettes currently featured at the National Portrait Gallery. COURTESY PHOTOPartially three-dimensional maypole dance by a contemporary artist is a part of an exhibit on silhouettes currently featured at the National Portrait Gallery. COURTESY PHOTO  Silhouettes have been around since ancient times – think of those shadowy figures on Grecian urns.

But it was in the 19th century that the art form of cut-paper profiles took on new life. “They were a hugely popular and democratizing form of portraiture, offering virtually instantaneous likenesses of everyone,” said Asma Naeem, curator of an exhibit at the National Portrait Gallery devoted to silhouettes.

“Black Out: Silhouettes Then and Now” reveals the complexities of an art form that was once ubiquitous but is little known today, Naeem added.

The exhibit explores the historical roots of silhouettes and contemporary iterations.

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Bethesda-based art gallery celebrates 25th anniversary

Carol Leadbetter (left) and Grace Peterson, chair Waverly Street Gallery’s silver anniversary celebration.  COURTESY PHOTOCarol Leadbetter (left) and Grace Peterson, chair Waverly Street Gallery’s silver anniversary celebration. COURTESY PHOTO  Though she was always interested in taking pictures, Carol Leadbetter became a professional photographer later in life. That was after a formal course in photography motivated her to earn an associates’ degree at Montgomery College, specializing in portrait photography. Now she does a great deal of what’s called “photographic transfer,” or alternative printing.

“With transfer, each piece is done individually and looks different,” Leadbetter said. “It’s not making 100 copies of the same thing.”

Grace Peterson always loved art; first she became a self-taught oil painter and later worked in stained glass until arthritis kicked in. She then returned to oils, also obtaining a degree from Montgomery College.

Peterson exhibited and entered competitions, but felt the lack of an artist’s “home base.” After Strathmore sent her a list of area art galleries, she found Creative Partners, a precursor of the Waverly Street Gallery.

Leadbetter also found her home base at the Gallery.

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Diverse performances featured in Maryland Youth Ballet’s Spring Concert

Corps de Ballet achieves perfect synchronization in Maryland Youth Ballet’s “La Bayadere.”  COURTESY PHOTOCorps de Ballet achieves perfect synchronization in Maryland Youth Ballet’s “La Bayadere.” COURTESY PHOTO  Dancing a lead role in a classical ballet is something Elena Remez dreamed of ever since she was a girl. It’s also something she “worked up to” during her 12 years of study at Maryland Youth Ballet.

Now Remez is living the dream: she’s dancing the title role in “La Bayadere” (which translated from French means “The Temple Dancer”), one of the three pieces comprising the Spring Concert of the school. It’s only a portion of the long ballet – set in India, with music by Ludwig Minkus, and the 1877 original choreography by Marius Petipa – entitled “Kingdom of the Shades.”

“It’s an honor to dance the lead in ‘Bayadere,’” said Remez, a senior at Woodrow Wilson High School.

The ballet is also challenging. “The two leads come on and off constantly ... There’s not much of a break,” she said. “Usually as soon as I stop breathing heavily after one part, I have to go right back to another.”

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Finding adventure by traveling down the perfect Rabbit Hole

Alice in WonderlandBeloved characters come to life in Metropolitan Ballet Theatre’s production of “Alice in Wonderland.” COURTESY PHOTOAlthough dancers learn to smile onstage – other than during tragic moments in the plot of a ballet – Genevieve Pelletier was concerned she had perhaps overdone it in her last role. She was the lead in the Marzipan dance in Metropolitan Ballet Theatre and Academy’s production of “The Nutcracker.”

Then along came a role in which an oversize smile fits perfectly.

The 17-year-old Quince Orchard High School senior will be playing the Cheshire Cat.

“I love the Cheshire Cat, who smiles all the time,” she said. “It fits in with my personality.”

Every year Metropolitan Ballet Theatre presents a different full-length ballet during the spring. This year it’s “Alice in Wonderland.”

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Israeli Dance Festival attracts diverse performers and audiences

Ilana Preuss and children in 2016 Israeli Dance Festival DC. COURTESY PHOTOIlana Preuss and children in 2016 Israeli Dance Festival DC. COURTESY PHOTO  You don’t have to be Israeli – or even Jewish – to love Israeli dancing.

Margaret “Peggy” Antonisse, 66, is neither, but she attends Israeli dance sessions open to the public a few times a week. She also serves on the planning committee for the annual Israeli Dance Festival DC, which showcases Israeli dance performing groups of all ages in the area.

“It also cultivates an appreciation of the rich culture of Israeli dance and encourages participation of people from all backgrounds, ages and skill levels,” said Abby Kerbel, one of the co-chairs.

Israeli dance is diverse in and of itself – drawing on Arabic, Yemenite, Latino and Eastern European roots. It incorporates line and circle dances, and sometimes couples’ dances.

“I first developed an interest in Israeli dance as part of international dance in college,” Antonisse said. “It was great aerobic exercise and had a wonderful sense of community – when you hold hands in a circle and the group is moving as one in the same direction.”

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Latest Dance Exchange project zeroes in on LGBTQ+ community

Andy Torres, pictured in the foreground, is a collaborator in the Dance Exchange project “Growing Our Own Gardens.”  COURTESY PHOTOAndy Torres, pictured in the foreground, is a collaborator in the Dance Exchange project “Growing Our Own Gardens.” COURTESY PHOTODance involves not only movement and music but community involvement.

That’s the viewpoint of Dance Exchange, a Takoma Park-based, non-profit arts organization devoted to dance-making and creative practices that engage individuals and communities of all ages to cultivate a deeper understanding of one’s world.

“Dance Exchange collaborates across generations, disciplines, and communities to channel the power for performance as a means for dialogue, a source of critical reflection, and a creative engine for thought and action,” said Matthew Cumbie, associate artistic director.

One of the communities Dance Exchange is now exploring is the D.C. area’s queer community.

With the collective title of “Growing Our Own Gardens,” the organization has created an ongoing project that promotes “dialogue and action about issues faced by LGBTQ+ communities and centers the stories, lives, and questions of LGBTQ+ throughout history,” Cumbie said. “We’re looking at the history of these communities but bringing the conversation into the modern day.”

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