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Art News

Inappropriate Biblical adorations

5/1/2024

Mary Kline Misol’s “Hilde tryptych”

Andrea Saltini’s controversial painting of Christ’s corpse being sexually violated was vandalized on the eve of Good Friday by a masked intruder in a now deconsecrated church outside Modena. The artist was attacked and hospitalized when he intervened. The exhibition of the painting sparked a petition for its closure signed by more than 30,000 locals as of April 1.

Des Moines Metropolitan Opera’s (DMMO) performances of Richard Strauss’ “Salome” this summer continue that opera’s long strange trip from infamy to Indianola. When the Metropolitan Opera (New York) staged its first performance outside Germany, it was banned after five shows due to moral outrage, particularly that of J.P. Morgan’s daughter. (Salome is executed after she passionately kisses the severed head of John the Baptist.) 

Some criticisms in 1907 called it: “moral stench,” “degeneracy,” “operatic offal,” and “a strange story of a feminine pervert and a man tormented by perpetual and undefined terrors.” Librettist Oscar Wilde was smiling ironically. 

Singing Salome’s role, Twin Cities native Sara Gartland comes from opera crazed Germany’s Oldenburgisches Staatstheater where she recently sang the female lead in “Die Tote Stadt.” That opera has been enjoying a big revival decades after being banned by the Nazis. As subject or object, this soprano thrives on characters dealing, or not, with unhealthy obsessions. She also debuted the role of Rose in DMMO’s “A Thousand Acres,” another difficult lady.

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Mary and “the pale blue dot”

When Mary Kline-Misol moves on, the rest of us should pay attention. A disciple of Joseph Cambell, MKM paints heroic histories, past and futuristic, transcendental and starkly realistic.  

Her series on Charles Lutwidge Dodgson and Alice Liddell, aka Lewis Carroll and Alice in Wonderland, was so comprehensive that the Lewis Carroll Society held its first-ever convention outside Europe, in Des Moines, where the Iowa Historical Museum hosted its exhibition. 

Then MKM moved on to legends of the American West, Transcendentalists, early feminists, puppets of Indonesia, street mimes of Galicia, the apotheosis of livestock breeds, wives of Henry VIII, personalities of chickens, the homeless of Des Moines, and the wildlife beyond her porch. Now it’s “the pale blue dot,” Carl Sagan’s phrase for our planet as seen from Voyager I. 

MKM is teaming with conservationist Christine A. Curry to exhibit their reflections on the debate over land and watersheds in Iowa. She promises it will feature Mississippi River, Cedar River, Squirrel Hollow, Floyd River, Keg Creek and Bloody Run watersheds. She hopes to have a major exhibition “before Voyager shuts down sometime in 2025.” 

 

200 years of the Joy

Des Moines Symphony Orchestra will conclude its 86th season May 11-12 in the rapture of the “Ode to Joy.” With 150 voices accompanying, the DMSO will celebrate the 200th anniversary of Beethoven’s Symphony 9 in D minor, his final completed symphony. Composed when the maestro was totally deaf, that symphony was first performed on May 9, 1824. Franz von Suppé’s “Queen of Spades” and Valerie Coleman’s “UMOJA” (Swahili for unity), will warm up the band.

The 1994 film “Immortal Beloved” investigates the identity of Beethoven’s muse, played by Isabel Rossellini because only immortal muse Ingrid Bergman’s daughter would do. That movie can be watched on Tubi – Free Movies, Prime Video, Fandango at Home, and Apple TV. 

 

The Caribbean weather news

Mark Twain complained that “everybody talks about the weather but nobody ever does anything about it.” Well, Des Moines Art Center is prepping for an entire exhibition about it — “Hurricane Season.” It premieres June 8. 

 

May attractions

Olson Larsen Gallery has “Another Side of the Story,” artworks containing untold narratives by Beth Bojarski, Joe Broghammer, Anne Burton, Chris Dahlquist, Doug Shelton, Jackson Taylor and Tilly Woodward. Through May 25… Moberg Gallery will host the first Des Moines show by Connecticut artist Linda Colletta, who paints “through the lenses of feminism, pop culture, and childhood nostalgia.” Opening May 10.

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Summer Stir - June 2024