Plum Viewing

Maggie Fairs
4 min readFeb 5, 2021

Welcome to the latest edition of Plum Viewing, my weekly roundup of arts and culture to view online. Happy viewing!

Well, dear readers, for those of you coming off dry January, welcome back!! I’m sure your breakup was amicable and that you parted as friends. Who knows, you might stay in touch and meet up again from time to time, and that’s just fine. We won’t ask any questions. We promise.

But, we will celebrate your new life status with what else — a cocktail! But, not just any cocktail. Let’s do Cocktail with a Curator, courtesy of The Frick Collection (this is Plum Viewing after all!).

Every Friday, chief curator and deputy director Xavier F. Salomon walks through an exhibition at The Frick and recommends a cocktail in the theme of the art. In this week’s episode, we’ll explore Piero della Francesca’s St. John the Evangelist, one of the few major works by the Renaissance artist in the United States. And, our cocktail is, what else, The Saint. Cocktail hour is 5 pm ET today, so consider your weekend officially kicked off!

Okay, as long time readers, you know we are fans of Wynton Marsalis and the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra (JLCO) here in the Fairs house. So imagine my delight to find this little gem: JLCO Septet with Wynton Marsalis as part of NPR’s Tiny Desk Concert. (I have to tell you, it REALLY is the little things now!). Just under 20 minutes, it is heavenly. And, if you’re new to NPR’s Tiny Desk Concerts, please do check out Lizzo’s performance. She is so full of energy and talent and watching her is sheer pleasure!

Okay. True Confession: I have been doing a lot of ‘phantom shopping’ lately. I have online baskets full of beautiful clothes, from evening gowns to everyday dresses, and oh the shoes (I am looking at you Stella McCartney). I will of course not buy any of these clothes because WHERE AM I GOING? but it scratches my shopping itch and so we’ll leave it there.

If you too are a member of my club, this is for you. The good people at the Museum at FIT have been kind enough to put many of their past collections online and what a treasure trove it is! Let’s start first with an exhibition that took place in 2011 of Daphne Guinness, yes the Guinness heiress and fun fact, the inspiration for the first lady of Schitt’s Creek, Moira Rose. Next, we can enjoy the majestry that is Charles James. His creations are such beautiful works of art. And, we can finish with a tete-a tete with everyone’s favourite fashionista Tim Gunn with FIT’s curator, Dr. Valerie Steele. Our wallets will thank us for the well spent time (not money!)

Now that we have something to wear, let’s head to the theatre! As part of its Winter Festival Season, the Irish Rep Theatre has made nine of its previous productions available online for us to enjoy. I am particularly interested in this play, Molly Sweeney, starring the incredibly talented Geradline Hughes, who some readers might remember from the powerful one woman play which she wrote and starred in called Belfast Blues. (After that performance, I am a die-hard fan.) Here’s the synopsis of Molly Sweeney: “Having lost her sight at infancy, Molly (Hughes) agrees to an operation that could restore her fifth sense. But is it she who benefits most — or her hopeful husband, or her ambitious doctor.”

The Guardian described it as “a riveting exploration of triumph and loss,” and The New York Times was equally impressed, calling it as “astonishing, highly entertaining, deeply moving meditation on hope, change and despair.” This production is streaming free of charge (with a recommended donation) on the following dates: February 6, 13, and 18. You can reserve your ticket here.

Let’s stay at the theatre but move to musical theatre. Myths and Hymns was first performed in 1988 at The Public Theatre. Adapted from Greek mythology, the songs have an optimistic tone, with an overlying message of ‘take your blessings where you can get them’ (Ahem to that — and sorry but I really had to!). Well, fast forward to now and Ted Sperling, artistic director of MasterVoices has put his unique spin on this work, dividing it into a four-part stream series. Each takes the form of chapters and features some of Broadway’s most talented performers: Kelli O’Hara, Julia Bullock and Renee Fleming, to name just a few. Chapter One, Flight, runs for 30 minutes and is available to stream now. You can watch it here.

And, here’s something very special to enjoy this weekend as you’re reacquainting yourself with your old friend (the glass of wine that will follow your cocktail) Dezron Douglas and Brandee Younger are a double bass and harp duo, which let’s be honest, are not two instruments you think of as leading the show. But, wow, lead they do. Their new album is called Force Majeure and honestly, it is utterly captivating. You can discover for yourself here.

And, and ask: While we’re enjoying these wonderful performances, let’s remember that for the arts organizations producing this incredible content, this is their livelihood; not a hobby. If we can, now is our time to continue to support our incredible arts community!

And, if you’d like to receive Plum Viewing weekly, send me a note at maggiefairs@gmail.com and I will add you to my mailing list.

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