Open Studio with Jared Bowen

S10 E3 | FULL EPISODE

DATMA's "Water 2021," "The Tempest," and more

Design Art Technology Massachusetts, DATMA, new art programming, “Water 2021,” Commonwealth Shakespeare company returns to Boston Common with, “The Tempest” starring actor John Douglas Thompson, artist Raymond Jonson and his influence on the New Mexico art scene, and the “Glasstress” exhibit at the Boca Raton Museum of Art.

AIRED: July 16, 2021 | 0:26:46
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TRANSCRIPT

>> The call of the sea will not be denied.

New Bedford is a mermaid's promise of treasures.

>> BOWEN: I'm Jared Bowen, coming up onOpen Studio,

water made mesmerizing.

Then, there's a tempest brewing on Boston Common

as Free Shakespeare returns.

>> It's such a perfect play for now.

I feel like, you know, as we emerge from this pandemic

and this space of isolation, it really mirrors, in some ways,

Prospero's isolation on the island.

>> BOWEN: Plus a transformative figure in the 1930s-era

Transcendental Painting Group.

>> It's a lot of fun kind of decoding works.

And, and Jonson just kind of takes you out on this...

I don't know, when I look at them,

it's like they just make my eyes feel fun.

>> BOWEN: And the allure of glass.

>> By bringing contemporary artists who are not

glass artists to work in a new medium.

>> BOWEN: It's all now onOpen Studio.

First up, the art group DATMA is making a splash in New Bedford

with another summer of public art programming.

This year's theme is water-- a fitting subject for a city

whose identity is ingrained in the harbor it's built upon.

We recently visited the seaport city

and were welcomed with poetry.

>> We the people of New Bedford, Massachusetts.

Connected, blended, entwined.

We are said to have salt water coursing through our veins.

Salt water, our lifeblood.

>> BOWEN: In New Bedford, water has always been deeply tied

to the coastal city's economy, culture, and identity.

>> We hold seashells to our ears

and listen for the whispers of our ancestors.

>> BOWEN: To New Bedford poet laureate Patricia Gomes,

a lifelong resident, water has always been a prompt.

And it's the inspiration for her new poem titled "Buoyancy."

>> Awakened by the cries of congregating gulls

and the tart aroma of the sea at dawn,

we are lulled to rest at night by the tinkling of wind chimes

and the comforting bleat of distant foghorns.

New Bedford has always been home to painters and writers, always,

going back to Melville.

It's, it's all right here.

So I think we draw more creativity

from being around the water.

>> BOWEN: And it's water that is the subject of this year's

citywide arts initiative

from the Massachusetts Design, Art, and Technology Institute,

or DATMA.

The organization is bringing a wave of new public art

to New Bedford this summer, from the streets to the piers.

>> The call of the sea will not be denied.

New Bedford is a mermaid's promise of treasures

for those who are brave enough, strong enough,

adventurous enough to mend the nets and mine the waters.

(loud rumbling)

>> BOWEN: Lindsay, what just happened?

What was that?

>> Uh, that's what we call a rainstorm here in New Bedford.

The artist is Zimoun.

He's from Bern, Switzerland, and he's a sound artist.

So he would argue that it's not necessarily about these objects,

but the sound that is the art form.

>> BOWEN: Lindsay Mis is the executive director of DATMA,

and this year combed the globe for artists to compose

variations on a theme of water.

Here at the UMass Dartmouth art gallery,

this installation replicates a thunderous rainstorm

using cardboard boxes, mini motors, and cotton balls.

>> Very simple, but through the simplicity of the work,

you're able to appreciate the nuances and subtleties

of what these materials can offer.

And each object ends up having its own personality.

(rumbling continues)

>> BOWEN: This is the third year

of DATMA's summer arts programming

focusing on natural elements such as wind

and, in 2020, light.

This year highlights the maritime industries

that have been a boon for the city since it was first settled

in the 17th century.

>> New Bedford is a pretty old historic city,

and wouldn't have been the melting pot that it was

without being on a coast.

We've got ships that have been docked there

for hundreds of years.

And so it was important for DATMA to pay homage

to this aspect of being in a coastal community,

and having this industry that's been tried and true

through many generations.

>> BOWEN: As evidenced in the hulking workhorse boats

that float cheek by jowl at the waterfront.

It's an industry as vibrant today as it was centuries ago,

as DATMA highlights in a series of installations

that can be viewed online or in person

on the streets of New Bedford.

LikeSea Scallops: Sentinels of the Deep,

which allows viewers to dive into scientific photography

of the ocean's seafloor.

>> We were working with scientists who were

doing research and involving technology and design

to capture important research on the coast,

but at the same time taking these elegant photos.

>> BOWEN: There is also Harvesters of the Deep,

large-scale portraits that highlight the impact of women

in the global fishing industry--

from the waterfront workers of New Bedford

to the herring lassies of the U.K.,

to the haenyeo divers of Korea's Jeju Island.

>> We're trying to highlight the unsung heroes in this show.

You often see that rough and gruff fisherman,

but what people don't realize is that women have made an impact

in the fishing industry for hundreds of years.

>> BOWEN: So tell me about the women that we're seeing here.

>> So back in 2008, I started going around and documenting

all the different people at their jobs.

>> BOWEN: One of those photographers is Phil Melo,

who has photographed fishermen and women

at every step of the job.

>> I just try to tell the story.

We have boats that come in from Point Judith,

and there's girls on it that fish,

and they offload the boats and everything else.

It's a whole organization of people,

not just men, that do the jobs down here.

>> BOWEN: Just another facet of a pool of programming

celebrating New Bedford's storied past, thriving present,

and promising future. (seagull squawks)

>> We know, as sure as the sun rises in the east,

we the people, having salt water coursing through our veins,

will again rise to the surface as one--

connected, blended, entwined.

>> BOWEN: After a one-year hiatus due to the pandemic,

Commonwealth Shakespeare Company is back in the park.

This year, its free production on Boston Common isThe Tempest,

starring John Douglas Thompson, fresh off his role

in the hit HBO crime drama Mare of Easttown,

alongside Kate Winslet.

>> They want a fresh set of eyes on this...

>> No, no, I don't need some county (no audio)

coming in on my case.

>> They're getting pressured, Mare.

>> Come on...

>> And because they're getting pressured,

I'm getting pressured.

>> BOWEN: Back on Boston Common, inTheTempest,

Thompson stars as Prospero, a character emerging from years

of isolation on an island.

And that's pretty relevant today

as we emerge from our own solitude.

I recently spoke with Thompson and director Steve Maler.

Steve Maler, John Douglas Thompson,

welcome back to the show, both of you.

John, hang in there just a moment.

I just want to get through some of the pandemic business

with Steve, where I'm going to talk to you

about the show and Kate Winslet.

But first, Steve, you will probably be one of the first

major productions, if not the first major production,

to open in Boston after the pandemic.

What can you tell people about how you're doing it

and how you're doing it safely?

>> Well, it's, it's a lot.

Obviously, for us at CSC, the safety of our artists,

our artisans, and our audience is the primary concern

that we have this summer.

We're going to tell a great story,

but we're also going to do it safely.

We are doing a streamlined version ofThe Tempest.

I keep saying feature-length.

So think about the, you know, as you go to a movie theater,

you sit down and you watch the movie from beginning to end

without getting up-- that's we're going to try to strive for

this year, so we don't have an intermission.

And we're also, again, very unique for us this year,

going to ask our guests to pre-register for the free access

to the show on the Boston Common this summer.

It's still free, of course, but we need to be able to know

who's there on a night-by-night basis for contact tracing.

>> BOWEN: All right, before I bring John in here,

what's your 20-second version of The Tempest

as you see it?

Because you always bring a very distinct lens

to your productions.

>> Well, you know, I think it's such a perfect play for now.

I feel like, you know, as we emerge from this pandemic

and this space of isolation, it really mirrors, in some ways,

Prospero's isolation on the island

and his being cast out of his society.

So his brother deposed him.

And through Prospero's art and magic, he manages to bring

his brother back to the island with him for a very deep process

of atonement and forgiveness.

>> BOWEN: John, you are a man who has spent years

in Shakespeare.

So tell us what your take on this piece is.

>> You know, I've always looked

at Shakespeare as being a playwright of the moment,

albeit he is no longer with us,

and his plays are hundreds of years old,

but they seem to be of the moment.

The play kind of mirrors that in what Prospero goes through.

I look at the whole idea of Prospero being on this island

as Prospero being in some level of quarantine,

and wanting to leave that quarantine,

go back to the real world,

and hopefully it's a better place.

Hopefully he's a better person.

Hopefully he's learned something about himself

during this quarantine.

>> BOWEN: Well, that's interesting,

these comparisons to now, because, Steve, I know

this was planned a few years ago,

and this was to be the big 25th-anniversary,

and it still, of course, is the 25th-anniversary production,

of course sidelined by the pandemic.

So how is it to have this play meet this moment,

or did you have some insight about the pandemic

that none of us know about?

>> No, we, we certainly thought

it was a great piece to do for the 25th year of the company.

One of the core ideas of doing this play

was doing it with John.

He is, I truly think, the best classical actor

in our country right now,

in addition to being a film and TV star.

Part of my hope for this summer's production

is to rediscover my love for this art form

and to rediscover, for our audiences to rediscover

their love for this art form.

So what we're hoping to do is really tell this story

in a very simple, theatrical, beautiful way

with all the things that film and television can't do,

which is live, living, breathing artists in front of an audience.

And that intersection of audience and actor, again,

is what's most intriguing to me.

>> BOWEN: Well, John, on that theme of evolution,

I think one commonality among all of the actors

I've interviewed over the years is, is how, as they change

in their life, how they age in their life,

different circumstances-- becoming a parent,

for instance-- changes how they approach material

that had been familiar to them in a different way.

Do you think that you're a different actor

on the other side of this pandemic?

>> Going through the pandemic made me understand myself

in a different way and made me want to really get back

to the core of what it is that I do, which is live theater.

And everything that's gone on during this pandemic,

all the social justice reform that's come out of it

and hopefully gets put back into our society,

has really changed the kind of artist I am,

as far as what's important to me and what is not important to me,

and how I want to tell stories.

So, yeah, I'm very much a changed artist.

I feel blessed in the sense that I get to come back

to the world with Shakespeare.

I mean, there could be no better gift than to come back

into this new world that we've carved out for ourselves

with this incredible play.

>> BOWEN: And Steve, you sit here as both

the director of the play, but also the artistic director

of Commonwealth Shakespeare Company.

We've seen all of American theater have to grapple

with the second pandemic,

the racial reckoning that has happened over the last year.

How do you look at that going forward?

>> It's the most important work

for our companies going forward, all of our companies.

But for CSC, we've been deeply committed

to equitable representation on our stages for, for,

since 1996, when we started the company.

We still have a lot of work to do.

It's imperative that we change this.

It's imperative that we bring new audiences to the audience.

>> BOWEN: Well, John, is there something fundamental

about what you want to see change in the theater,

with so much conversation about people of color

saying they don't feel necessarily welcomed

into the theater?

You know, I'm talking about just going into the theater

as an audience member, let alone being on or backstage.

>> I certainly want, and I've been all about this

through my own career, is diversity on stage--

not just on the stage, but within a theater company,

from the board on down.

And also, I'd like to see that in the audience.

And I think that's totally doable.

It's not as if I haven't seen that.

It's just that you don't see it enough.

And I've been trying to, through my own works with Shakespeare,

my whole purpose was activism in the sense of saying,

"I am a Black and brown body doing this work on a high level

"so that other Black and brown bodies who were watching me,

"whether in the audience or they saw it on television,

can realize that they can do this work, as well."

So I definitely want to see the diversity,

and not just racial diversity.

I want to see gender diversity.

I want to see LGBTQ diversity.

I want to see disability diversity,

because I really feel-- and I've always felt this way--

that Shakespeare can handle all of that.

>> BOWEN: Well, I look forward to seeing all of that happen,

but I cannot close this interview without asking you,

John, you are in a huge hit show,Mare of Easttown,

on HBO-- everybody is talking about it.

>> The Easttown Police Department

received a call reporting a dead body

in Creedham Creek.

>> We've decided to bring in a county detective

to assist with the case.

>> BOWEN: What's it like to be in a big hit show?

>> You know, it's, it's-- it's really fascinating.

I did not know that the show would take as much hold,

but then I saw theSNL farce calledMurdur Durdur.

>> (in Philadelphia accent): Oh, no.

I know her.

It's Owen's durdur. >> Durdur?

>> Did I sturrer? (audience laughter)

The durdur's been murdered.

>> They did a little spoof on Mare of Easttown.

And I said, "Oh, wow, we've hit...

We, we've-- we've hit the zeitgeist," you know?

"It's a really important show."

>> BOWEN: Well, congratulations on that.

John Douglas Thompson,

Steve Maler, we can't wait to be together on the Common.

Thanks so much.

>> Thank you so much, Jared, so great to be here.

>> Bye.

>> BOWEN: Some detective work and a return to Oz.

Both are on the bill in Arts This Week.

Sunday is your last chance to view

Art of the Garden: Double Bloom

at the Provincetown Art Association and Museum.

You'll find floral-themed sculptures and paintings

by artists Joan Snyder and Rebecca Hutchinson.

(orchestra playing Beethoven's Symphony No. 5.)

Wednesday marks the 80th anniversary

of BBC Radio's first airing of Beethoven's Fifth Symphony.

The piece, like this version, was a subversive symbol

of the Allied efforts during World War II for its metering,

which in Morse Code translated to V, for victory.

The spirit of Billie Holiday lives on at the Cape Playhouse.

Experience the music and musings of the vaunted singer

inLady Day at Emerson's Bar & Grill Monday.

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's world-renowned inspector

and Dr. Watson reunite in

Baskerville: A Sherlock Holmes Mystery.

The comedy caper continues its run Thursday

with Gloucester Stage Company.

The Wizard of Oz has returned.

There's no place like the Emerald City

in a new adaptation presented by Berkshire Theatre Group.

The play premieres Friday.

Next, a key figure in the New Mexico art scene,

artist Raymond Jonson, spent his life painting Modernist works.

And here we see and learn

how he kept the focus on the human spirit front and center.

>> It's a lot of fun kind of decoding works and,

and Jonson just kind of takes you out on this...

I don't know, when I look at them, it's like,

they just make my eyes feel fun.

Raymond Jonson really is my favorite painter.

These late-period pieces are really a question to me.

We're looking at him at the apex of his spiritual expression.

And we're looking at him as a mature adult

who's refined his techniques.

He's no longer really

experimenting with the technical aspect of art,

but really, what can he say?

We look at this and Raymond Jonson has just gone through

a tragedy in his life-- his wife has passed away--

and instead of responding in this negative, dark way,

he's really celebrating her life and life in general.

I mean, this color palette is, is looking upward,

it's looking into the skies of New Mexico

and it's expressing something different.

It's, it's no longer tethered to the Earth,

and we're really moving into a different spiritual expression

and a different dialogue with spirituality.

He is exploring the boundaries of the canvas more.

He has fully lifted the curtains,

and now the works move off the canvas,

it's off the picture plane.

As the viewer, when I approach one of these,

I'm immediately wondering, where does this line finish?

Where's the conclusion of this shape?

How does this color fade resolve itself?

And within the picture, it's complete.

It gives you everything that you need

to feel a sense of finality in the work,

but it also then asks you

that question of, "Well, what, what's going on over here?"

So in that, the conversation has shifted.

He's zoomed in, but by zooming in,

he's allowing us to ask, "What else is there?"

And I do love that

it just challenges people's preconceptions

of what New Mexican art can be and what it was,

and, like, these pieces are contemporaneous

with all the cowboy and Indian stuff,

and this is as much New Mexican art as anything else.

He really never stopped making art,

and in that, these pieces are beautiful,

and they're a beautiful culmination, kind of conclusion

for his career as an artist, but what he left us in that

is the ability to look a little further.

It's the question of why.

I feel Raymond Jonson really still has a lot to teach us.

>> BOWEN: Venice is famed for its glass,

but you can experience it a little closer to home

in Florida, at the Boca Raton Museum of Art.

It's now featuring an exhibition

of more than 30 international artists

who worked with an historic studio in Murano, Italy,

to freshen the form.

>> Adriana Berengo wanted to start this project

where you make it relevant to the contemporary world again,

by bringing contemporary artists who are not glass artists

to work in a new medium.

You know, work with these maestros who have,

you know, they're generations of experts.

So, you know,

these people know everything there is to know about glass.

>> The artists,

as certainly we have seen this last year,

have responded to contemporary events.

Tim Tate's work, that is really about the pandemic.

>> This is his second

pandemic, because he's an HIV-positive artist.

He did go through, you know,

so many people dying of AIDS.

>> The whole idea ofGlasstress

is sort of endemic from the very beginning,

from the very concept, something that was

sort of born of fire and becomes

this amazing object that is at once fragile,

but also, there's sort of a durability about it.

There's a toughness about it.

I mean, I think of

the works like Nancy Burson's DNA Has No Color,

these block letters, which has a very strong message to it,

or behind me, you see Vik Muniz's large goblets.

That he takes a simple wine goblet

and, and makes it life-size.

>> You just associate Venice with those colors

and that imagery, and even in,

you see those goblets in paintings,

Venetian paintings, over the, you know, the centuries.

>> Oh, it's almost impossible to come to a glass workshop

and not to be fascinated with the material.

Glass is so flexible.

Glass can become almost anything you want.

It belongs already to the creative realm.

>> Each of these works are very different from one another,

just as each of the artists are different,

and that's what's so brilliant

about the Berengo studio-- he's inviting artists

of all sorts of persuasions,

and really tests the will of the maestros,

who are adept at turning this liquid form

into something that's provocative

and fragile,

and, as we see in this exhibition,

full of meaning.

>> A video artist could actually make something out of glass,

or an installation artist.

It's wide open, so, it's just for

the artist to come up with an idea

and for the maestros to figure out how to do it.

>> I was invited by the curator to participate inGlasstress.

And I thought this is a great opportunity

to try a new material.

I had never tried to work with glass before,

because I know that the technique is so difficult.

And I happen to be a sculptor

that likes to put the hands in the material.

So for me, glass was a fascination.

At the same time, I certainly had...

I had a certain sense of not being entirely with it.

>> Another one that's interesting

is the Renate Bertlmann.

She represented Austria in the Venice Biennale,

and you see the glass flowers,

but they did a field of over 200 red glass flowers--

Berengo Studio did-- for the Austrian pavilion.

Some artists take, you know, the traditional

and update it, like the piece behind you.

It's a traditional Murano glass mirror

from the 18th-century style,

but with this ghost image of a Bedouin woman.

>> I think this exhibition that is born out of Venice,

which has seen such difficulties last year, I think it

really underscores the resilience that art has.

>> BOWEN: And that is all for this edition ofOpen Studio.

Next week, a monument to the Kings.

And the new Massachusetts museum

showcasing a rare collection of armored vehicles.

Until then, I'm Jared Bowen-- thanks for joining us.

As always, you can visit us online at GBH.org/OpenStudio.

And you can follow us on Instagram and Twitter,

@OpenStudioGBH.

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