UC Davis Artists Honored for Opera, Book

composer Rohde
Professor Kurt Rohde, standing in center, during a performance of his opera "Death With Interruptions."

Composer Rohde gets opera grant; Manetti Shrem curator receives book award 

By Jeffrey Day, College of Letters and Science, and Laura Compton, Jan Shrem and Maria Manetti Shrem Museum of Art

Composer and UC Davis Professor Kurt Rohde and two artistic colleagues have received $50,000 to develop a “floating” opera in New York City. And a Manetti Shrem Museum curator has received a book award.

The financial award for Rohde and colleages is from the Creative Capital Foundation and will support “Newtown Odyssey” by Rohde, writer Dana Spiotta and performance and visual artist Marie Lorenz. It will be performed on waterway barges with audience members watching from moving boats.

The three artists have engaged only in preliminary discussions, so the exact form and content of the work to be staged in 2022 hasn’t been decided, said Rohde, a professor in the Department of Music in the College of Letters and Science.

“This is a completely unexpected show of support for this project,” Rohde said. “The entire team is extremely thrilled by the surprise of it all.”

Rohde and Spiotta met when both were living in Rome as recipients of the Rome Prize in 2009, and they have long been discussing a collaboration.

“It was a matter of timing and finding a project that would allow us to work together equally, in ways we never have before, and making it a collaborative project with other artists and the community,” Rohde said.

Rohde, also a violist, is a recipient of the Berlin Prize, a Guggenheim Fellowship, a Bogliasco Foundation fellowship, a Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Studies fellowship, the Lydian String Quartet Commission Prize, and an Arts and Letters Award in Music from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. He is co-founder of the Left Coast Chamber Ensemble and is artistic director of the Composers Conference. His operas “Death With Interruptions” and “Never was a knight...” were premiered in San Francisco in 2015 and 2017, respectively.

Full story on Rohde is here.

Nadel honored for book

Manetti Shrem Museum Curator-at-Large Dan Nadel, whose book “Peter Saul: Professional Artist Correspondence, 1945–1976” (Bad Dimension Press; 272 pages), was selected as one of the best art books of 2020 by New York Times co-chief art critic Roberta Smith. 

“Epistolary autobiographies are possible only if one writes letters often and well — like the maverick painter Peter Saul,” Smith writes. “This book contains over 100 letters from his correspondence with his parents and his first dealer, Allan Frumkin, whom he met in Paris in 1960. Both sets of letters are equally ‘professional, in that they are smart, heartfelt reports from the studio about his progress, his place in the art world and his desire for success.” 

Taken together, the letters in this book form not just an autobiography of the artist, but a memoir of American art history at a critical moment. The book is available at ArtbookBookshop.org and Amazon.com. Nadel curated “Kathy Butterly: ColorForm” and “Landscape Without Boundaries: Selections from the Manetti Shrem Museum of Art.”


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