Archive for May, 2010

Memorial Day in Malden

Monday, May 31st, 2010

Memorial Day parade and ceremony in Malden, Massachusetts, as photographed by The New England Journal of Aesthetic Research.

Brandeis mulls money-making rentals of Rose art

Monday, May 31st, 2010

Brandeis University says it is considering ways to rent out art from the collection of its Rose Art Museum “in an effort to generate value from a portion of the collection while still maintaining ownership of the artwork.”

The Waltham, Massachusetts, school reports that it is in discussions with Sotheby’s art auction house “to solicit advice on non-sale partnerships, lending agreements and other creative solutions in the fundraising arena.”

University leaders proposed closing the museum and selling off its collection in January 2009 as the school faced financial difficulties. The school has, at least for the time being, stepped back from this plan.

“Ideally, we will continue to own the art but find an innovative way to get value from it. That’s our preference,” Brandeis President Jehuda Reinharz (above, pictured at the Rose) said in statement released by the school last Thursday. “Our goal is to support the mission of Brandeis and to benefit our students, faculty and the entire university community while retaining the collection.

“Brandeis is just beginning the process of exploring alternatives to sale, so it’s premature to say how it will work, how much we hope to realize, which pieces would be considered, and who might be interested,” Brandeis Senior Vice President for Communications Andrew Gully tells The New England Journal of Aesthetic Research. “We expect to finalize our agreement with Sotheby’s in the next month and, while there is no firm timetable, we hope to get a sense by fall of what the possibilities might be. Jehuda has been looking at non-sale options since the board vote in January 2009. Last June, Sotheby’s contacted Brandeis and there were discussions about those options during that period. At this point, Brandeis feels it’s worth going forward to determine if any non-sale alternatives will work.”

Photo by The New England Journal of Aesthetic Research.

RISD Thesis Show

Friday, May 28th, 2010

From our review of The Rhode Island School of Design’s “Annual Graduate Thesis Exhibition”:

The Rhode Island School of Design’s “Annual Graduate Thesis Exhibition” typically has too many people doing too many different things for any common themes to emerge. But prominent installations in this year’s showcase at the Rhode Island Convention Center of more than 170 students receiving graduate degrees give the shindig a carnival vibe. It’s a celebration of sensation.

Epitomizing this is Laura Alesci’s “TLC.” A sign on the wall says something about her installation containing a mix of pepper spray and tear gas. Opposite is a glass door revealing a glowing pink room. Walk in and mist (it made me cough, but I’m told it’s safe) holds the pink light and hides the room’s architecture preventing you from getting your bearings. As with 1960s Light and Space Art by James Turrell et al, there’s a wondrous disorientation. You feel like you’re existing in pinkness. And as your eyes readjust upon exiting, the rest of the world flashes green.

Another success — though of a purposely irritating sort — is Charlotte Potter’s “Between.” Sit in one of the six neat black chairs lining the walls of her dull little room and stare up at a TV on which some guy in a tie keeps almost saying something but never can get a word out. A clock on the wall is stuck ticking at 4:06. It’s a waiting room in Hell.

Read the rest here.

The Rhode Island School of Design’s “Annual Graduate Thesis Exhibition,” Rhode Island Convention Center, 1 Sabin Street, Providence, through June 5, 2010.

Pictured at top: Joshua Webb “Apathy for the Setting Sun.”

Above: Laura Alesci “TLC”

Kevin Arnold paintings, left to right, “Exit,” “Economy Folding Table Model No. H-232,” “Trible Braced and Quad Hinged Beige Metal Hercules Folding Chair,” “Packing/Storage Box Model No. S-4163″

Mary Burge “Two Lonely Hunters”

Jessica Cooper “Sprouting at the Bone”

Euri Huang “Visceral Voices”

Anders Johnson “Stay Pretty”

Jonggeon Lee “Bridge of Paradise”


Charlotte Potter “Between”

Brett Windham “Sleepwalking Circus”

Fonda Yoshimo-Garner “Fading. Grasping.”

Last opening at Rotenberg Gallery

Thursday, May 27th, 2010

Last night Judi Rotenberg Gallery held its last opening as it prepares to close for good on June 19, after four decades on Newbury Street in Boston.

Owner Abigail Ross Goodman (above right, with Andrea Shea of WBUR radio) says the gallery has been doing well financially, but she’s looking to step back from the business end of art to explore possibilities in public art, nonprofits, and teaching. “It’s been the most wonderful, wonderful experience,” Ross Goodman told us in April. “There’s nothing broken. It’s a question about the future. … Where will I be most successful? Not successful from a business standpoint, but successful with what I want to do with the arts.”

Meanwhile Rotenberg gallery director Kristen Dodge says she plans to open her own Dodge Gallery in New York in September, with Rotenberg gallery manager Patton Hindle continuing to work with her there.

Photos by The New England Journal of Aesthetic Research.

Above: Kristen Dodge in last night’s crowd. Facing her in the gray suit is Paul Bessire, deputy director for external relations at the Institute of Contemporary Art.

The Rotenberg Gallery family: Alison Ross, Abigail Ross Goodman, and their mother Judi Rotenberg Ross Zucker, who founded the gallery in 1970.

Patton Hindle gives a thumbs up.

New England Journal of Aesthetic Research Executive Director Jasper Percival Cook.

Andrea Shea, WBUR radio reporter, and Christian Holland, executive editor of Big Red & Shiny.

New management structure for RISD Museum

Wednesday, May 26th, 2010

The director of the RISD Museum will have somewhat greater independence from the Providence art school’s president, under a new museum management structure recently approved by the school and announced by RISD President John Maeda in an e-mail on Monday (text at bottom).

The changes come in the wake of the sudden and mysterious resignation of RISD Museum Director Hope Alswang on Aug. 3, 2009. (She is pictured above with Maeda.) Ann Woolsey has served as interim director since then. The school says it will now begin a search for a new director.

The museum director has reported to the school’s president. The new management structure, which was recommended by a RISD study group which has been meeting all this school year and was recently approved by the school’s board of trustees and the museum’s board of governors, would create a buffer between the president and museum director by having the director report to a new executive committee of the museum’s board of governors. The school president would serve as an ex officio member of that committee.

“This new governance structure will allow for increased collaboration between the board of trustees and the museum board of governors and will guide the museum director in his/her service to both the college and the community,” Maeda wrote in Monday e-mail to the RISD community.

Alswang and the school have spoken little publicly about their breakup. But in February, Alswang told the Palm Beach Daily News that she left Rhode Island School of Design because “there was a change in administration” – apparently referring to Maeda’s arrival at RISD in June 2008.

Alswang’s departure came after the school announced plans in May 2009 to cut staff by 15 to 20 and close its museum for the month of August because of a 33 percent decline in the school’s endowment. During that time, the Associated Press reported that Maeda “entertained a discussion on RISD’s internal blog about the museum selling off part of its collection to raise funds. Though he wrote that parting with art would be a ‘terrible thing to do,’ he also suggested a public forum on the topic.”

Alswang left with no new job lined up, but became director and chief executive officer of the Norton Museum of Art in Florida in April.

Below is the relevant section of RISD President John Maeda’s Monday e-mail:

To: Faculty, Staff, Students
From: John Maeda
Subject: May Board Meeting Recap
Date: May 24, 2010
Dear RISD Community,

Museum Study Group

I am pleased to report that the Board of Trustees and the Museum Board of Governors approved the recommendations of the study group, appointed by the RISD Board Chair, to examine the governance structure of the RISD Museum of Art. The study group was comprised of members of the RISD Board of Trustees and the Museum Board of Governors, and was co-chaired by RISD Trustee Stephen Key and Board of Governors Vice Chair and new RISD Trustee Dr. William Tsiaras. The group met over the course of this academic year. As president and an ex officio member of the Board, I also worked with this study group throughout their proceedings.

As a result of the study group’s recommendations, we are establishing an Executive Committee of the Board of Governors, comprised of RISD Trustees and Museum Governors, with Board of Trustees Chair Merrill Sherman and myself serving ex-officio. In considering the long-term vitality of the RISD Museum and of RISD as a whole, we came to the conclusion that RISD and the greater community would be best served by having the Museum Director report to this newly formed committee. This new governance structure will allow for increased collaboration between the Board of Trustees and the Museum Board of Governors and will guide the Museum Director in his/her service to both the College and the community.

Also, I am happy to announce that the Board approved the launch of a search for a Museum Director, and Board of Trustees Chair Merrill Sherman has appointed Dr. Tsiaras to chair the search committee. The search will begin this summer.

I look forward to working with BOG Chair Dr. Peter Weiss, Dr. William Tsiaras and the newly appointed Executive Committee as we begin a new chapter in the Museum’s history.

John Maeda, president

Preview look at Addison construction

Tuesday, May 25th, 2010

Some photos provided by the Addison Gallery of American Art at Phillips Academy in Andover, Massachusetts, of its ongoing renovation and expansion. After being closed for two years of work, the museum is expected to reopen on Sept. 7, 2010.

The photos show the interior and exterior over the past few months. Above you can see the glassy modern three-level addition nested between the old red brick museum (at right) and an adjoining building to the left of institution’s main entrance.

Read more details about the project here.

New curator for Villa Victoria

Monday, May 24th, 2010

Anabel Vázquez-Rodríguez will become the new curator and gallery manager at the Villa Victoria Center for the Arts, the Latino community arts center in Boston’s South End neighborhood, as Evan Garza, who has been curator there since 2008, leaves in June to take on additional work at “New American Paintings,” an art journal published by Boston gallerist Steven Zevitas.

Garza writes:

“I’m leaving Villa Victoria Center for the Arts in late June to launch a new blog for “New American Paintings,” to focus more intensely on drawing up new editorial content as editor-at-large for the magazine, and to execute independent curatorial projects in Boston and across the country.

“The new curator and gallery manager for Villa Victoria Center for the Arts, Anabel Vázquez-Rodríguez, is an independent curator, artist, and community organizer that has been curating and promoting multi-media events in the Boston underground since 2002. A founder of the former Esprit De Corps Arts collective and most recently the curatorial collective DiscordiaFilms, she has programmed and produced events in Puerto Rico, South America, and Spain. As a native puertorriqueña, Anabel is honored and thrilled to be part of Villa Victoria Center for the Arts.”

Wake Up the Earth Festival

Monday, May 24th, 2010

The Wake Up the Earth Parade and Festival at the Southwest Corridor Park in Boston’s Jamaica Plain neighborhood on May 1, 2010, as photographed by The New England Journal of Aesthetic Research.

Addison Gallery plans to reopen on Sept. 7

Friday, May 21st, 2010

The Addison Gallery of American Art at Phillips Academy in Andover, Massachusetts, has announced plans to reopen on Sept. 7, 2010, after being closed for two years for renovation and expansion.

“The museum, on the outside, looks like it has been finished for months,” James Sousa, the Addison’s associate registrar for collections and archives, wrote Monday on the museum’s blog. “However, inside the building, a great deal of activity continues. The new climate control systems have been undergoing extensive testing to make sure the museum will provide a safe, stable environment for the collections when they return. The new security and fire detection systems are also undergoing rigorous testing and fine tuning. Our preparators have been busy installing the new lighting fixtures throughout all of the museum’s galleries so that we can actually see what we’re doing when the art returns.”

The project adds a glassy modern three-level addition nested between the old red brick museum and an adjoining building to the left of institution’s main entrance, the Elson Art Center. It is expected to create a bit – and just a bit – new gallery space in the old building by moving some offices (which were originally galleries) into the addition.

The addition is primarily focused on creating a new “learning center,” library, storage, offices, and art receiving and preparation spaces. New storage is expected to provide space to house the museum’s entire art collection – more than 16,000 objects – at the museum, rather than offsite as has increasingly been the case.

DNA testing of MFA mummy reveals…

Friday, May 21st, 2010

One of the exciting aspects of the Boston Museum of Fine Arts’ “The Secrets of Tomb 10A” exhibit is DNA testing being done to determine if the mummified head found in Tomb 10A (pictured above, and on view in the exhibit) was that of the ancient Egyptian Governor Djehutynakht or Lady Djehutynakht.

The MFA reported last fall that scholars “also would like to know the cause of death and how old he/she was at time of death. DNA tests are currently being conducted on a molar recently extracted from the head by doctors from Massachusetts General Hospital, who sent it to [New York] medical examiners in an attempt to solve this mystery.”

So what does the molar DNA tell us?

“The NYC medical examiner’s office couldn’t sequence enough viable DNA to resolve anything,” an MFA spokeswoman tells The New England Journal of Aesthetic Research. “Fabio Nunes, the MGH DNA expert who’s been working with us on this, got a few suggestions for other avenues. So we have no results just yet, but haven’t given up on it.”

“The Secrets of Tomb 10A: Egypt 2000 BC,” Museum of Fine Arts, 465 Huntington Ave., Boston, Oct. 18, 2009, to June 27, 2010.

Oct. 18, 2009: Annals of MFA science.
Dec. 24, 2009: Is MFA’s Tomb 10A fine art?
April 1, 2010: King Tut threatens MFA with curse.

Photo by The New England Journal of Aesthetic Research.

“Modeling Devotion” at Gardner

Thursday, May 20th, 2010

“Modeling Devotion: Terracotta Sculpture of the Italian Renaissance” at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum is a small (11 works), lovely, scholarly show in which curator Alan Chong argues that Renaissance marbles have overshadowed the cool stuff people squeezed out of clay. Chong addresses notions propounded by Michelangelo et al. that marble was awesomer because it was more challenging to work with, and so the magnificent results were evidence of greater skill. And besides, we always seem to favor fancy rocks over mud and dirt.

None of the portrait busts, crucifixions, or other Christian sculptures here kicks Michelangelo’s ass, but Matteo Crivitali’s “Virgin and Christ Child” (pictured above), from about 1480, is astonishing in its delicate realism. The slightly-smaller-than-life-sized Virgin kneels as if praying to her little naked baby, who kneels in prayer right back at her. The wide-eyed boy seems ready to topple over — it’s almost as if he were playing. But the Virgin, in a rich red dress, blue cloak, and gold band holding in place her long wavy Italian hair, is a model of solemnity. Her eyes are half closed — it’s an inward gaze that along with her posture conveys an incredible motherly, holy tenderness.

“Modeling Devotion: Terracotta Sculpture of the Italian Renaissance,” Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, 280 The Fenway, Boston, Feb. 25 to May 23, 2010.

Pictured from top to bottom: Matteo Civitali, “Virgin and Christ Child,” ca. 1480; Giovanni de Fondulis, “Deposition of Christ and Carlotta of Lusignano,” ca. 1480; Giovanni della Robbia, “Lamentation of Christ,” ca. 1515; and Benedetto da Maiano, John the Baptist, ca. 1480.

MFA to open new wing Nov. 20

Thursday, May 20th, 2010

Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts has announced that it plans to open its new Americas Wing on Nov. 20, 2010, with free admission that day for everyone.

The MFA says its new wing is 121,307 square feet. Which, we note, is nearly double the size of the entire new 65,000-square-foot Boston Institute of Contemporary Art, which opened in 2006.

Alan Chong is leaving Gardner

Wednesday, May 19th, 2010

Alan Chong, the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum’s top curator since 1999, is leaving the Boston museum to become director of the Asian Civilizations Museum in Singapore. As the Gardner’s Curator of Collection, he has been most visible when organizing special exhibitions from the museum’s historic collections, like “Modeling Devotion: Terracotta Sculpture of the Italian Renaissance,” which is on view through May 23.

Chong said in a prepared statement that the Asian Civilizations Museum, which is planning an expansion, is “‘one of Singapore’s great cultural assets. Its combination of a significant collection of historic objects, with a strong identification with the communities of Singapore, sets it apart from other museums. The ACM and Peranakan Museum echo the multicultural nature of its home. I look forward to this opportunity, especially considering the blending of cultures that arise from trade and migration.”

Chong earned his Ph.D. from New York University, and previously worked at the Cleveland Museum of Art and the Art Gallery of Ontario.

MA Senate panel calls for MCC cuts

Wednesday, May 19th, 2010

The Massachusetts Cultural Council would face a 4.6 percent budget cut under a proposal recommended today by the state Senate’s Ways and Means Committee.

The Senate committee proposed an MCC budget of $9.25 million for the 2011 fiscal year, which begins July 1. This is less than Governor Deval Patrick’s proposed $9.4 million MCC budget for the next fiscal year. But it’s a bit more than the $9.1 million MCC budget the state House of Representatives approved last month. All of these proposals would be below the MCC’s current $9.7 million budget, which itself was a 23 percent reduction from the previous year.

The full Senate is expected to begin debating the state’s budget on May 24. The House and Senate must agree on a final spending plan before sending it back to the governor for final approval.

April 1, 2010: MA, RI subsidize millionaires, cut the arts.