Archive for Art

Feeling Sorry for Trump…

The universe works in mysterious ways… Last night, for the first time, I actually felt sorry for Donald Trump. It happened at a performance of Lin-Manuel Miranda’s In the Heights at the Seattle Repertory Theater. Miranda’s hip hop/rap/salsa/merengue musical chronicles the lives of a group of Latinx immigrants full of hope and aspiration in the Washington Heights neighborhood at the northern tip of Manhattan. Some are first generation, some second, but they found their way to the Heights from all over Latin America – Cuba, Mexico, Dominican Republic, Haiti, and Puerto Rico – in search of a better life. What they find there, in the tenements and steamy summer heat of Upper Manhattan, is community and a shared humanity. read more

Trump as Tragic Figure…

Ever since that theatrical moment when he and Melania – rode the escalator from their gilded palace in Trump Tower to the food court below – I’ve been trying to find a suitable metaphor, real or literary, to describe the unfolding drama of our times.

Before the inauguration I thought Donald Trump might be our Great Gatsby, and I even wrote an essay making the equation.  http://www.jackbernardstravels.com/djt-great-gatsby. Like Jay Gatsby, Trump is a larger than life character removed from the concerns of ordinary people. Both characters cultivate images as self-made empire builders with self-inflated biographies. Both crave acceptance by the elite they will never be a part of and surround themselves with leeches and hangers-on. Both love extravagant trappings and beautiful women, and Trump would no doubt be flattered by the comparison. Even if he doesn’t read or know the story, to see himself as a character portrayed by Robert Redford or Leonardo DiCaprio would stroke his unquenchable ego and delusional image as a handsome leading man of unimaginable wealth. read more

Escaping the Nightmare…

As a movie fan I’m often surprised to learn how long it takes to bring a film project to the screen. What seems like an of-the-moment performance may take years to find its way to a theater near you. That’s certainly true of the newest version of A Star is Born starring Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga. Like its earlier versions, this is the story of an older star who discovers a young talent, falls in love with her, but is ultimately destroyed by alcohol and jealousy as his protege’s star brightens while his own grows dimmer. read more

The Art of Politics…

The Middle East is a stewpot of millennia old resentments – tribal envy, ethnic animosity, and territorial covetousness – historic sites, beautiful people, extreme poverty, oil fortunes, and political intrigue with an underlying stench of greed and desperation.

The grisly, murder, dismemberment, and disposal of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi is the latest iteration of this ages old situation. It usually takes years to give us distance from real life events, like the Saudi murder, in order for them time to become the subject of artistic expression. Such is the case with a play now on stage at ACT Theatre in Seattle. The issue is still current, though the play is about a 1993 attempt to address the “Palestinian problem.” read more

The Biggest Art Heist…

Everyone loves the story of a daring art robbery with keystone cops, priceless paintings, a colorful cast of characters, a famous museum, an eccentric collector, and an unresolved ending–as mysterious as an M.C. Escher print.

In literature there are many examples of stories that deliver that mixture of art, crime and mystery – The Art Thief, The Raphael Affair, The Art Forger, and The Faustian Bargain. On the screen, it’s difficult to top Steve McQueen as the art collector and Faye Dunaway as the insurance investigator in Version I of The Thomas Crown Affair, or better yet Pierce Brosnan and Rene Russo in the updated Version II. Check ‘em out. They’re still cliff hangers. read more