Celebrating Gershwin at Artis – Naples The Baker Museum

Steve Solomon

The Artis—Naples 2023-24 season is in full swing, with a variety of exhibitions at The Baker Museum, performances from the The Baker Museum, Lifelong
Learning opportunities and even touring Broadway productions. But this February stands out as Artis—Naples kicks off its season long celebration of George Gershwin as his iconic Rhapsody in Blue turns 100 years old on February 12. The genre-blending masterwork of classical and jazz has left a legacy in the music
world. And this season, Artis—Naples celebrates Gershwin not only as a composer, but also as a multidisciplinary artist whose practice and interests blurred the lines between the realms of visual and performing arts.

The festivities begin at The Baker Museum, where the first major museum exhibition dedicated to George Gershwin’s passion for the visual arts opens on February 10. The groundbreaking exhibition George Gershwin and Modern Art: A Rhapsody in Blue features paintings, drawings and photographs created by Gershwin himself, artworks from Gershwin’s extensive modern art collection and art by leading contemporary artists that were inspired by Gershwin and his music. The exhibition, curated by Olivia Mattis, Ph.D., and The Baker Museum Director and Chief Curator Courtney McNeil, is made possible through museum loans from around the world and private collections, including from various members of the Gershwin family. Even an original manuscript of Rhapsody in Blue is on display, lent from the Library of Congress. Visitors can see how Gershwin drew inspiration from visual art and the ways his work has continued to inspire generations of artists and musicians.

David Robertson.
Photo Credit:
Chris Lee

Orli Shaham.
Photo by Aleks Karjaka

The Naples Philharmonic continues the celebration with their Masterworks performance of Rhapsody in Blue February 15 to 17, featuring the masterpiece in both its original form for piano and jazz band and its well-known full symphony orchestra version. Guest conductor David Robertson makes his Naples Philharmonic debut, and piano virtuosa Orli Shaham joins the performance as a soloist. Other Naples Philharmonic highlights in February include a Sypert Salon performance of works by Beethoven and Mendelssohn on February 11 and 13, a Wang Chamber Music program on February 18 with romantic music by Brahms and Robert and Clara Schumann and Principal Pops Conductor Jack Everly’s She’s Got Soul Pops program from February 27 to March 2.

Michael Feinstein.
Photo Credit: Gilles Toucas.

This month also features a wide array of special guests, Celebrating Gershwin and beyond. The Ambassador of the Great American Songbook  Michael Feinstein returns to Hayes Hall for a revival of his beloved show A Tribute to George Gershwin on February 12. And on February 11, Feinstein is joined by McNeil for a moderated conversation on the George Gershwin and Modern Art exhibition, wherein Feinstein—who served as the archivist for George Gershwin’s brother, Ira Gershwin, for many years—discusses Gershwin and his legacy.

Jodie DeSalvo continues her Piano Talks series on February 29 with All Gershwin All the Time. Additional performing arts highlights include jazz vocalist Jane Monheit on February 5, Miami City Ballet’s first Artis—Naples performance of the season on February 6, hysterical comedian Steve Solomon on February 6 to 7 and the sold-out Broadway show Tina – The Tina Turner Musical from February 20 to 25.

FEaTURED PHOTO:  Jane Monheit

George Gershwin and Modern Art: A Rhapsody in Blue February 10 through June 16, 2024 The Baker Museum, 3rd Floor 

Artwork Inspired by George Gershwin Andy Warhol (American, 1928–1987). George Gershwin, from Ten Portraits of Jews in the Twentieth Century portfolio, 1980.
Screen print on Lenox Museum board, 40 x 32 in. (101.6 x 81.3 cm). The Jewish Museum/New York, NY/USA. Gift of Lorraine and Martin Beitler, 2006-64.6

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