Hidden in Plain Site: Our Local Source for the Best in Art and Entertainment

Ask most Rye residents where the closest venue for hearing great symphonic music, enjoying world–renowned entertainers on stage, or seeing top-notch theater and they will probably say Manhattan. Similarly, challenge them to name the local museum with one of the nation’s finest collections of modern American masters and they are likely to struggle for the…

Published November 8, 2011 6:33 PM
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Ask most Rye residents where the closest venue for hearing great symphonic music, enjoying world–renowned entertainers on stage, or seeing top-notch theater and they will probably say Manhattan. Similarly, challenge them to name the local museum with one of the nation’s finest collections of modern American masters and they are likely to struggle for the answer.

By Walt Mardis

Ask most Rye residents where the closest venue for hearing great symphonic music, enjoying world–renowned entertainers on stage, or seeing top-notch theater and they will probably say Manhattan. Similarly, challenge them to name the local museum with one of the nation’s finest collections of modern American masters and they are likely to struggle for the answer.

 

Unbeknownst to many in the area, a major cultural and entertainment treasure exists just north of the Rye border in Purchase. The Performing Arts Center and the Neuberger Museum at Purchase College are both world-class artistic centers, offering Westchester residents outstanding cultural opportunities only a few miles away.

 

The Neuberger opened in the early 1970s, based initially on the donated collection of Roy Neuberger, founder of the Wall Street firm Neuberger Berman and lauded as the preeminent American art collector of the 20th century. Neuberger focused his acquisitions on promising American artists who came of age from 1920 to 1970. In the process of seeking to support talented but unrecognized painters and sculptors, he amassed a collection of thousands of pieces, including major works from Jackson Pollack, Edward Hopper, Wilhelm DeKooning, Milton Avery, Mark Rothko, and dozens of others.

 

When the State established Purchase College as the SUNY system’s center for art education, then-Governor Rockefeller asked Neuberger if he would donate some portion of his collection to a new museum. Neuberger responded by providing over 900 works of art, and continued his patronage until his death last year at the age of 107.

 

In addition to the permanent collection of modern American masterpieces, the Museum houses one of the nation’s foremost collections of African art. Over 100 examples of exquisite pieces in wood, metal, and fabric show the highly artistic skills of the peoples of sub-Saharan Africa. Intricately carved statues, masks, and totems combine beauty and power in both simple and complex forms that refute any notion that these artists lack sophistication.

 

Finally, the Museum provides temporary exhibits of prominent contemporary artists. Currently, there is a ten-year retrospective show of work of New York-based Dana Schutz, one of the leading members of the today’s art scene. No one who sees her highly imaginative and often startling paintings will ever forget them!

 

Next door to the museum is the Performing Arts Center, which consists of four separate stages, each designed to serve different types of events. The main theatre seats 1,300 and has the largest stage north of New York City. It hosts major orchestras and other large-scale events. The others range in size and style, including one suited to intimate productions of Shakespearean plays. Interestingly, the Center is often used as a backdrop for major film productions, including, most recently, “The Black Swan”. Virtually all of the backstage shots were filmed there.

 

The Center attracts some of the best-known names of the entertainment world each year to its multiple performance venues. If you like theater, productions range from Tom Stoppard’s “Rock ‘n Roll” to exciting children’s shows featuring Broadway entertainers, circus acts, and giant puppets. There are also exciting offerings by new playwrights throughout the year.  

 

If music is your pleasure, you can hear internationally acclaimed orchestras such as the Hamburg Symphony and the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra, as well as outstanding local groups such as the Westchester Philharmonic and the Purchase College Orchestra.  

 

Dance lovers can enjoy shows from the Paul Taylor Dance Company and the Martha Graham Company. Throughout the year, popular entertainers such as blues legend Buddy Guy or rock icon Elvis Costello fill in the schedule.  For children and adults this holiday season, there will be three performances of “The Nutcracker”.

 

The schedule of exhibits and programs at the Neuberger and performances at the Performing Arts Center can be found at purchase.edu. Enjoy!

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