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A Roadshow of Dutch Graphic Design

This exhibit is an attempt to represent the diversity of work produced by Dutch graphic designers over the last decade. Incorporating posters, brochures, catalogs, magazines and Web sites (though, with the Web sites, we’re not sure how), the works come from both the Netherlands’ public and private sectors. It is the contention of the curator that the exhibit will make it “evident that graphic design is well integrated in all forms of expression in Dutch companies, cultural institutions and government agencies.”

Apparently, graphic design is a Big Deal in the Netherlands, and graphic designers are allowed more freedom to express their creativity.

As graphic artist Peter Bilak explained in an article titled “Contemporary Dutch Graphic Design: An Insider/Outsider’s View” a few years back, “the position of a graphic designer in the Netherlands remains very different from other countries, even neighboring ones such as Germany or Belgium.” While most European countries were putting national heroes on their currency, for example, Bilak notes that the Dutch put birds and lighthouses and sunflowers on theirs.

It’s a Dutch thing—you got to understand.

A Roadshow of Dutch Graphic Design opens tomorrow (Friday, July 25) at Skidmore College’s Schick Art Gallery (815 N. Broadway, Saratoga Springs). The opening reception is from 6:30 to 7:30 PM. Regular summer gallery hours are weekdays 9 AM to 4 PM and Saturdays 1 to 4 PM. Admission is free. The gallery is closed from Aug. 2 through Sept. 1; regular hours resume Sept. 2. There will be a gallery talk with exhibition curator Toon Lauwen on Sept. 10 at 6 PM. For more information, call 580-5049.

Oliver Mtukudzi and the Black Spirits

In his native Zimbabwe, Oliver Mtukudzi—who will appear at Schenectady’s Central Park on Sunday—is a superstar. He’s won prestigious awards as an actor, as a writer and director, and as a composer of soundtracks. Impressive as his accomplishments in these fields are, though, they’re really just sidelines that bolster his fame. It is as a pop musician that he is most revered. So much so, in fact, that in Africa Mtukudzi’s nickname has become a generic label: “tuku” music. Over a career that spans two decades, Mtukudzi has found influence in African music “from Cape Town to Cairo,” weaving together disparate ethnic styles and sounds, imbuing them with an overtly political consciousness, and giving them (a distinctly gravelly) voice.

Sadly, most American listeners will miss out on the force of Mtukudzi’s lyrics (written, as they are in the Shona language of Zimbabwe). But by all knowledgeable reports, Mtukudzi’s combination of myth and folklore, his poetic use of spiritual tradition to address the many political and social ills of Africa, is powerfully evocative. The good news is that his equally forceful way with melody and his band’s dexterous employment of the katekwe drumming rhythms of Mtukudzi’s clan are considerably more likely to translate.

Oliver Mtukudzi and the Black Spirits will play the Music Haven stage (Central Park, Schenectady) on Sunday (July 27). Also on the bill will be Umoja African Dance and Drumming. The concert is free. For more information, call (866) 333-8191.

Bard SummerScape

Having built the stunning, Frank Gehry-designed Richard B. Fisher Center for the Performing Arts, Bard College has expanded one of its traditional events to make it commensurate with the grand scale of the new architecture. The 14th annual Bard Music Festival, which celebrates the music of Leos Janácek and the musical context in which he worked, has been folded into SummerScape, which focuses on the entire cultural world surrounding the Czech composer.

The grand-opening event of SummerScape is the American stage premiere of Janácek’s experimental 1904 opera Osud. Performed by the American Symphony Orchestra with conductor Leon Botstein, directed by JoAnne Akalaitis and featuring sets designed by architect Gehry, Osud tells the semi-autobiographical story of a composer on holiday who unexpectedly comes face-to-face with his past; it has been enthusiastically praised for its “glorious music.”

Other events include a Czech film festival; the world premiere of Don Juan in Prague, David Chambers’ adaptation of Mozart’s Don Giovanni; performances by Moscow New Generations Theatre; a puppet-theater production of Janácek’s The Cunning Little Vixen; and, of course, the Bard Music Festival. In addition to numerous examples of Janácek’s work—orchestral pieces, songs, religious works—the Bard Music Festival also will showcase music composed by his contemporaries and successors, including Josef Suk, Vitezslav Novák, Béla Bartók and many more.

Bard SummerScape begins with Janácek’s Osud in the Sosnoff Theater tomorrow (Friday, July 25) at 8 PM. Additional performances will be Sunday (July 27) at 4 PM; and Aug. 1 and 2 at 8 PM. The Czech Film Festival, also presented in the Sosnoff Theater, begins tonight (Thursday, July 24) at 8 PM with The Joke and runs through Aug. 3. The puppet-theater production of The Cunning Little Vixen, in the Drak Theater, runs from Aug. 13 through Aug. 17. The Bard Music Festival, with concerts and lectures in the Sosnoff Theater, Olin Hall and Theater Two, begins Aug. 8 and continues through Aug. 17. Tickets for the various events range from $65 to $10, and can be purchased by calling the box office at (845) 758-7900. Reservations and information can also be obtained at www.bard.edu/fishercenter.


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