23rd First Night overflowed with top talents

December 31 marked the 23rd  year for New Jersey’s biggest and brightest New Year’s Eve family-friendly, alcohol-free celebration of the arts – with over 200 artists, 89 events in 24+ venues – representing dance, theatre, music, world cultures, visual arts and children’s events.  For all 23 years, Morris Arts has served as First Night’s artistic programmer, securing topflight talents who attract thousands of people from throughout the state and beyond.  Once again, nearly 2/3 of the program featured new artists (or artists returning after several years), many of whom have performed at top venues (the White House, Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, Madison Square Garden), won international recognition, performed on national radio/TV, in major films and/or collaborated with superstars of performing arts. On that night, for a remarkably affordable price ($17.50-$25!), nearly 5,000 people experienced everything from classic rock ‘n roll to the Tuvan-style Throat Singing!

To see the full program, visit  www.firstnightmorris.com or click First Night Dec. 31 2014 final program


L-R: The British Invasion Tribute; The Frank Vignola Duo (Vinny Raniolo, Frank Vignola); Bucky Pizzarelli (photo by John Marelli).

On  the jazz/rock front, crowds jammed the Mayo Performing Arts Center to hear the note-perfect classic 60s rock from The Beatles to the Beach Boys offered by The British Invasion Tribute band (which opened for Ringo Starr) while others took in new country rock with the Tequila Rose Band.  Capacity crowds savored jazz guitar legends (the fabulous Frank Vignola  with special guests Bucky Pizzarelli and Gene Bertoncini, not to mention our own sizzling jazz pianist, Rio Clemente, the “Bishop of Jazz.”

On the blues, bluegrass and blends front,  Matuto’s unique Louisiana bluegrass/Brazilian mix had the audience dancing in the aisles. Others grooved with the Cobra Brothers (classic blues) and hot picking, rockin’ honk-tonk, roots, country and Western swing of the Silk City/Reckon So Mashup with ace fiddler Kenny Kosek (who played with Willie Nelson and others).







L-R: Silk City/Reckon So Mashup with fiddler Kenny Kosek and vocalist Mary Olive Smith; Conductor Leon Hyman with the New Jersey Festival Orchestra; Greg Giannascoli, marimba master; Svetlana Smolina, piano virtuoso;  Matuto (blending Brazilian and bluegrass).

Such select ensembles as Harmonium, The NJ Festival Orchestra, Solid Brass Lite, along with soloists like organist Gordon Turk, marimba master Greg Giannascoli, and award-winning piano virtuoso Svetlana Smolina  showcased classical music with their virtuosic, fiery, elegant and passionate repertoires.

For those who love world cultures…they were able to sample Chinese Theatre Works’ hand puppet show, learn tribal dances from around the country with Redhawk Native American dancers, or take an aural tour of China with Music from China’s exotic erhu (fiddle) and pipa (lute) performances. The Shubanjali dancers, in jeweled costumes,  performed classical and folk dances of India, while fiery songstress Michela Musolino and her trio shared passionate songs of Sicily and South Italy.  Those who love Eastern European, Balkan and Klezmer music,  delighted (and danced to) the amazing music of The Kleztraphobix or channeled the spirit of Bob Marley with Random Test Reggae’s Caribbean reggae. And, what better way to welcome the new year than by dancing to the hot salsa rhythms of Colombia’s Armando Son Jimenez y Orquestra Sabor ?!





L-R: Indian Classical dancer, Suba Parmar of Shubanjali; Redhawk Native American dancer; Colombian salsa band, Armando Son Jimenez  y Orquestra Sabor; Music From China Duo – Sun Li on pipa and Wang Gouwei on erhu;  Michela Musolina, Sicilian songstress; Random Test Reggae.

            On the historical front, Martha Washington held forth on First Ladies while Meet the Musicians introduced composer “Johannes Brahms” who shared his life and music with the audience .  Audiences met the Lord of Misrule and heard Renaissance 12th Night/ musical merrymaking on replica period instruments played by the costumed Early Music Players of NJ.


L-R: First Ladies according to Martha Washington; The Early Music Players; Galumpha dancers; Dennis Kobray as Brahms with Meet the Musicians .



Fans of Dance (or physics students) marvelled at  the amazing dancers of Galumpha, whose human “architecture” formations defied gravity and mixed muscle with merriment. And, caller Mary Moody had them swingin’ their partners, as she brought her own special brand of square dancing fun for the whole family.



L-R: Dinoman with lifesize (young) Brontosaurus; Dominic Rizzo with frog;  Chinese Theatreworks hand puppets; Illusionist Anthony Salazar and assistant.

Kids of all ages delighted in Dinoman’s Dinosaurs (with lifesize inflatable dinosaurs!!), Rizzo’s live reptile show, illusionist Anthony Salazar’s comedy magic, Mr. Fish’s Phenomenal Physics and the Chinese Theatreworks’ hand puppet show. The early session for younger children included hula hooping for the whole familywith Whirled Revolution,  Art 4 Kids with fine artist Christine Wagner and Building Kidz:Imagination LEGO! (building with LEGOS) while The Children’s Fun Festival offered its lively mix of magic, juggling, balloon animals, facepainting and an organ grinder!

The more adventurous audiences heard Throat (Overtone) singer Alex Glenfield who has mastered the Tuvan Throat Singing style, and can sing more than one note simultaneously! It’s like NOTHING you’ve ever heard!! Or, experienced the “alien” music of Michael Durek on the theremin, the only instrument played without being touched! Audience members even had a chance to try their own hand at the instrument. And then there was  Alissa Dirato, the Living Statue, who remained immobile and marble-like until she moved!!


squared, Michael Durek, theremin 






L-R: Throat (overtone) singer Alex Glenfield; Thereminist Michael Durek;  Classical comedic pianists Nadia and Vladimir Zaitsev; Comedian John Fisch; “Living Statue,” Alissa Dirato.

Still others banished the winter blues and laughed their way into the New Year with Comedian Jon Fisch (hand-picked to open for Jerry Seinfeld and featured on Late Night With David Letterman) or giggled as the Piano Duo of Nadia and Vladimir Zaitsev performed music From Bach to Rock, blending  humor and pianistic skill. And then, there was street performer, George Esparza, whose Flying Flea Circus and Wahoo Medicine Show brought drama and flim-flam to a new level.  Three visual arts exhibits (displaying over 200 artworks) and two sets of fireworks topped off that magical evening known as First Night® Morris County. To check out the full lineup of artists, visit www.firstnightmorris.com.

Enjoy some VIDEOS of some of the First Night performances:

Hear a little of pianist Svetlana Smolina’s virtuoso performances HERE, HERE, HERE, HERE  – with some of her finale, the devilishly difficult Carmen Fantasy (Bizet/Horowitz) HERE, audience reaction HERE.

Catch a bit of the extraordinary, otherworldly sound of Alex Glenfield’s throat singing (with raga singing and trumpet interludes) accompanied by tabla master Shivalik Ghoshal HERE, HERE and HERE.

The Kleztraphobix inspired dancing, handclapping and appreciation with their passionate virtuosic rendering of Eastern European music, HERE and HERE.

The dancers of Galumpha defied gravity, creating human “insects”, balancing and lifting in ways most of us haven’t seen and generally using muscle and merriment to enchant audiences with their unique, inventive choreography, HERE , HERE and their striking finale HERE.

The Michela Musolino Trio performed passionate Sicilian and S. Italian songs to frame drum, tamborine, accordion and mandolin accompaniments HERE and HERE.

Silk City/Reckon So Mashup brought a taste of honky-tonk/bluegrass to the evening,  HERE.

To see all ages dancing to the Caribbean beats of Random Test Reggae, click HERE.

The refined sounds of a Renaissance 12th Night musical celebration were also heard HERE, courtesy of The Early Music Players of New Jersey.

Thereminist Michael Durek provided the public with a chance to try their hands at playing the unique instrument. Check out one person’s masterful effort HERE. 

It was a family affair as multiple generations tried their hands at hula hooping with Whirled Revolution, HERE.

And you thought it was just a marble statue…that is until Living Statue, Alissa Dirato, moved to pose for a photo with a member of the public…HERE.

Undaunted by darkness or cold, street performer and ringmaster of the Flying Flea Circus, George Esparza captivated audiences with the antics of his flying fleas,  HERE

It was a truly magical night for all….The PHOTOS, courtesy of Morris Arts, the Daily Record, the Star-Ledger, J. Sovelove and MorristownGreen.com say it all

Special thanks go to all the media who helped us to spread the word for this spectacular event. Check out the extensive FIRST NIGHT articles online: 

From www.MorristownGreen.com
List of all MG articles at http://morristowngreen.com/tag/first-night-morris-2015/






From the night of the event:




**youtube video sampler of event (prominently featuring: Shivalik Ghoshal/Alex Glenfield) http://morristowngreen.com/tag/first-night-morris-2015/

Recorder Papers’ Out & About cover story on First Night:







































Additional coverage on First Night (previously collected):
Media coverage for First Night:













Dec. 2014 issue of The Morristown News had a nice article on p. 17

38th Annual Morristown CraftMarket on Oct. 17-19

The 38th annual Morristown CraftMarket, one of the top juried, longest running and most successful fine art and craft shows in the nation, will be held at the National Guard Armory, 430 Western Ave, Morristown, NJ on the following dates and times:

Friday, October 17, 5pm  – 9pm
Saturday, October 18, 10am – 6pm
Sunday, October 19, 10am – 5 pm

In a Special Citation, Morris Arts recognized the Morristown CraftMarket as a “nationally acclaimed fine art and craft show” and as “a major cultural and charitable event, attracting thousands of visitors each year in addition to gifted artists from over 25 states throughout the country.”

The CraftMarket is sponsored by the not-for-profit Kiwanis Club of Randolph Township and all proceeds from the show benefit local charities.

This year, the CraftMarket showcases extraordinary, one-of-a-kind and limited edition fine arts and crafts – all made in America by American hands. 160 artists will display and sell their original and magnificent creations in jewelry, leather, ceramics, metal, class, wood, furniture, mixed media , wearable fiber and more.

Above: Vase by Gail Markiewicz (CT).

“The American artists compete in a rigorous, nationwide selection process and the panel of judges, who are peer artists, choose the best in each fine art and craft category, ” said Geoffrey Price, Volunteer Show Director. “‘American Made’ – which is what the charitable show is all about – means exceptional quality that will last for generations.”












L-R: Dresser by Greg Stoner (PA); textile art by Jackson & Friedman (NY); Ring by Michael Alexander (NY).

A fall Plant Sale of elegant and unusual plants from expert horticulturist Ken Selody of rare-plant nursery Atlock Farm in Somerset, NJ will also be included in the show. Selody will bring his one-of-a-kind living sculptures, including precisely trimmed topiaries, along with cacti and other succulents, tropicals, perennials and more.

Specialty food items will also be featured in the show.

Big Brothers Big Sisters will be also collecting gently used clothing items throughout the show. Receipts will be issued for tax-deductible donations of clothing items accepted at the collection truck located near the parking lot.

A coupon for $2 off the $10 admission price is available online at www.morristowncraftmarket.org. A weekend pass may be purchased for $12. Children under 12 with an adult are free. There is free parking.


Atrium Gallery opened Fall/Winter Exhibit on September 19, 2014

Approximately 200 people joined Morris Arts on Friday, September 19, 2014,  at the free Opening Reception for the show at the Atrium Gallery, located on Floors 2-5 of the Morris County Administration and Records Building, 10 Court Street in Morristown.

Embracing a wide variety of subject matter (contemporary, cyperpunk, veteran experiences, African motifs, etc.) and media (oil, acrylic, cement, glass, crystals, electronic components, paper made from military uniforms, etc.), the  artworks highlight the creative energies of 36 artists whose 191 works are displayed on the four floors of the Gallery. Organically inspired, vividly colored paintings by Carlos Frias grace the fifth floor along with the powerfully dynamic impasto oils by Chris Kappmeier.  Highly varied and intricate contemporary works in multiple media by Seven X Seven (from the Power of Eleven Arts Collective, including artists Pauline Chernichaw, Penny Dell, Sandra Frech, Alice Harrison, Valerie Mankoff, Nancy Egol Nikkal, and Ruth Bauer Neustadteroccupy the fourth floor. The PO7/11 artists will also hold a participatory Q&A program at 7pm on the night of the opening, on the 4th floor.

Above: Carlos Frias’ work, Honeycomb.


L-R: Chris Kappmeier’s oil, C.P.Yangs, NYC Alice Harrison’s collage, Your Story 1; Ruth Bauer Neustadter’s multimedia work, Primus.

The third floor atrium and elevator lobby areas features prints by Combat Paper, showcasing powerful artworks by 25 veterans ( from Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan) who express their combat experiences through various printmaking processes (lino-cuts, silkscreens, etc.) which print images onto “combat paper” (paper handmade from soldier/artists’ military uniforms). John Tetz’ inspired, O-themed “feather piece” mobile floats in the stairwell between third and fourth floors. The third floor hallway features the intensely colorful and vibrant, African-inspired works by partner artists Béatrice Lebreton (French) and Ibou Ndoye (Senegalese), including works from their Elementiks series (pictorially representing Air, Earth, Water and Fire) as well as Ndoye’s intricate, traditional/contemporary Senegalese reverse paintings on glass. The dramatic contemporary, cyberpunk oils on steel (with electronic components and crystals) paintings, drawings and paintings on canvas by Michael Hanna fill the second floor.








L-R: Jim Fallon’s silkscreen on combat paper, Orphan’s Opus ’68; Chris Arendt’s silkscreen on combat paper,  How to Make Combat Paper; Béatrice Lebreton’s painting, Earth I; Michael Hanna’s oil on steel, electronic components and crystals, Hydra Crane.

Morris Arts manages the Atrium Art Gallery, selecting artists and scheduling exhibits on behalf of the Morris County Board of Chosen Freeholders.  The Atrium Gallery is free and open to the public during business hours, from 8:30am –4:30pm on Mondays-Fridays. The exhibit will run through January 7, 2015.

Click HERE to see the catalogue for this show.

Click HERE  to see Ralph Bellantoni’s article on the exhibit from the Daily Record’s TGIF and HERE  for post-opening writeup from MorristownGreen.com. 

For additional information about the show, contact Dr. Lynn L. Siebert, Gallery Director, and Director of Arts Participation & Communication for Morris Arts, (973) 285-5115, ext. 10 or Lsiebert@morrisarts.org.

Most works are available for sale, with details and pricing provided in the free catalogues found in the elevator lobby areas on floors 2-5. The Atrium Art Gallery is free and open to the public during business hours, 8:30am-4:30pm on Mondays-Fridays and will be open from 7pm-midnight at First Night Morris County on New Year’s Eve. The exhibit remains in place until January 7, 2015.


docent led tours on W,Th,Sundays at Macculloch

During Wednesdays, Thursdays and Sundays in July, there will be docent-led tours from 1-4pm. Enjoy the period rooms, learn the history of the Macculloch family and of W. Parsons Todd, the philanthropist who transformed this family home into a museum with a superb collection of fine English and American decorative arts.


The Ladies of Cool

Starring national and international star Kathy Kosins, a multimedia concert that salutes the artistry of female jazz legends Anita O’Day, June Christy, Chris Carter and Julie London, including historical facts, stories and, of course, the songs themselves.

Museum of Early Trades & Crafts

A Nest of Tories:  The American vs. American Battle of Fort Lee, 1781

Exhibit Lecture, Sunday, July 13 at 2 PM  “A Nest of Tories”: The American vs. American Battle of Fort Lee, 1781 presented by Todd W. Braisted – the American Revolution was as much a civil war as anything else.  This lecture  focuses on Fort Lee and its strong Loyalist claims.  Admission $7,  for Non members, $5 for seniors and students & $3 for Members.  Advance registration recommended:  call 973-377-2982

wheelchair Accessible

Tot Tours: Music Machines and Living Dolls

Enjoy music in the Guinness Gallery and then make a noisemaker.  Tot tours is a fun and enriching program for children ages 2-5 and their caregivers.  Activities incude a nini gallery tour and an art project.  Preregistration is not required.  Tours last about 30 minutes and begin promptly at 10:00 am  The museum opens early exclusively for this program.

Tot Tours: Art Adventures

Look for different types of art throughout the museum and then make a watercolor painting.

Tot tou5rs is a fun and enriching program for children ages 2-5 and their caregivers.  Activities include a mini gallery tour and an art project.  Preregistration is not required.  Tours last about 30 minutes and begin promptly at 10:00am.
The museum opens early exclusively for this program.

On the Edge: Second Annual County College of Morris High School Photo Competition

Enjoy a one-day pop-up exhibition, organized by County College of Morris Photo Club, featuring the High School winners from Northern New Jersey (Essex, Hunterdon, Morris, Passaic, Union, somerset, Sussex, and Warren counties).  To enter your photos now through April 5 , 2014, please join the Facebook group “CCM PHOTO CLUB Competition”  and visit


Email hslovenc@ccm.edu             with any questions about how to enter your photos