February 2015: Madame Fromage, New Jersey Capital Philharmonic, and Charles Burwell

Madame Fromage

Art of Food — Produced by Monica Rogozinski

Art of Food pairs two of the most knowledgeable cheese experts in Philadelphia: blogger Madame Fromage and Di Bruno Brothers’ co-owner Emilio Mignucci. Together they put a show of cheese tasting, pairing, history and more… Tenaya Darlington takes us to her home, where she writes the popular blog Madame Fromage, then we visit Shellbark Hollow Farm to meet our area’s first goat cheese maker Pete Demchur. Lastly we land on the House of Cheese, Philadelphia’s oldest and largest cheese counter: Di Bruno Brothers. Emilio and Tenaya assemble the perfect cheese board filled with local and imported delicacies, paired with jams, chocolates, nuts and plenty of ideas to inspire any cheese lover to start aparty!

New Jersey Capital Philharmonic

Art of Life — Produced by Karen Smyles

The New Jersey Capital Philharmonic was founded by Music Director, Daniel Spalding in September 2013, with the mission of bringing symphonic music to the Trenton area. The organization is made up of over 70 professional musicians, mostly from Central New Jersey.

Home for the orchestra is the beautiful theater at the New Jersey Patriots War Memorial in Trenton. This historical treasure opened it’s doors in 1932 as a tribute to the soldiers and sailors of World War 1.

Art of Life visited with the orchestra back in October 2014 as they rehearsed for a concert featuring guest pianist, Awadagin Pratt. We get a behind-the-scenes look and listen at how this talented group of musicians is working hard to revitalize the arts in the Trenton area, and Daniel Spalding gives us a preview of what’s ahead for the orchestra.

The Abstract Art of Charles Burwell

Art — Produced by Michael O’Reilly

We pull up into a hidden lot behind the Liberty Market on Front St. As the Market Frankford Subway passes overhead, you can see – through the windows of the train – a tree, growing out of the roof of the abandoned bank on the other side of Front Street. Somewhere in this sprawling complex of interconnected studios, is Charles Burwell, hard at work on another painting.

Burwell has work included in major museums throughout the US and he shows at Bridgette Mayer Gallery. Ms Mayer, the owner of the gallery, says she has never met another artist who works like he does. Susan Isaacs, a professor of art and curator, describes “the immense amount of joy” she gets upon seeing his work. Joy because the abstract art he makes is larger than life – big, colorful canvases with all manner of textures and shapes – and he does it through a unique process.

Over more than 30 years, Burwell has amassed a library of shapes from which he can pull to make his art. And it is not an exaggeration to say that this library spans thousands of files gathered during the last 30 years. At first these shapes were cut out of cardboard or wood, but within the last 10 years, he has started digitizing these shapes intuit he computer, where he can more easily organize them. Sketching new ideas, compositing any number of layers is faster and easer as well.

Because it is this layering that is at the heart of Charles Burwell’s work. While he may “sketch” or “composite” shapes and colors and textures in the computer, he then will actually make a piece of art from that, meticulously painting each layer by hand. Some pieces of art he has produced recently can take him over a year to finish. That is what you are struck by: you don’t need to know anything about art to understand the hard work that went into these paintings, which only adds to the depth of what these images are trying to say.

Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

Help us get to 100% of our membership goal to support the reporters covering our region, the producers bringing you great local programs and the educators who teach all our children.