Archive for July, 2010

“Boat Show” at Drive-By

Friday, July 30th, 2010

From our review of “The Boat Show” at Drive-By in Watertown, Massachusetts:

In April, Beth Kantrowitz of the now-defunct Allston Skirt Gallery and Kathleen O’Hara of the now-defunct OH+T Gallery opened Drive By, after some months of organizing one-time exhibits in building lobbies and such. It’s a small, storefront space, shared with a print shop in back, on a quiet, residential Watertown street.

Their new, five-person exhibit, “The Boat Show,” is a nautical-themed summer lark — fun, but lite. Celine McDonald of New York paints dinghies in deep green water, paying careful attention to how the boats’ triangular shapes meet the edges of her square panel. It’s all rendered with the breezy nonchalance of 1970s New Yorker covers.

Read the rest here.

“The Boat Show,” Drive-By, 81 Spring St., Watertown, Massachusetts, June 8 to August 28, 2010.

Pictured from top to bottom: Derek Aylward, “Three Boats”; Celine McDonald, “Toy Boats”; Caleb Neelon “Posse Shot” and Amze Emmons “Lost Pageant.”

“Crisis & Opportunity” at PRC

Thursday, July 29th, 2010

From our review of “Crisis and Opportunity: Documenting the Global Recession” at the Photographic Resource Center in Boston:

Listen carefully: is the Photographic Resource Center at Boston University throwing down the gauntlet? “I’m interested in bringing more documentary into the PRC,” says Glenn Ruga, who became executive director in February.

That might not sound like a battle cry, but in a quiet way it is, since documentary photography, which dominated art photography with the likes of Dorothea Lange, W. Eugene Smith, and Robert Frank between the 1930s and the ’60s, is nearly absent from the art world these days. What rules instead? Hollywood-ish posed fantasies (Cindy Sherman, Gregory Crewdson, and, locally, Triiibe and Caleb Cole). Snapshot slice-of-your-gang’s-life (Nan Goldin, Ryan McGinley). And, especially, deadpan posed portraiture and architectural photography (Thomas Struth, Alec Soth, and, locally, Laura McPhee and Clare Beckett).

Read the rest here.

“Crisis and Opportunity,” Photographic Resource Center, 832 Comm Ave, Boston, July 6 to Aug. 8, 2010.

Photos at top by Khaled Hasan.
Photo by Khaled Hasan.

Photo by Shiho Fukada.

Photo by Tomasz Tomaszewski.

Photo by Michael McElroy.

“Sleight of Hand” at Craftland

Wednesday, July 28th, 2010

From our review of “Sleight of Hand,” featuring Will Schaff, Samantha Cotterill, Michael Aaron McAllister, Leisa Rich and Richard Saja at Craftland in Providence:

“Sleight of Hand” at Craftland (235 Westminster Street, Providence, through July 31) rounds up five embroiderers as evidence that stitchery “has moved beyond silent monograms and flowers; it is a thread of conversation, and it will be heard.” Guest curator Rebecca Siemering of Providence Art Windows and new director of the Arts & Business Council of Rhode Island, is sharp to note the rise of embroidery, but the art isn’t as strong as the theme.

Traditional women’s handcrafts have increasingly moved onto center stage in the art world. RISD grad Kara Walker’s cut-out paper silhouettes might be the most prominent and striking example, but locally you can also see it in the crazy knitting and costume-making of Fort Thunder, Dave Cole’s giant American flags knit with construction cranes, Liz Collins’s tag-team Knitting Nation events, and Cristin Searles’s organisms stitched together from beads, organdy, and crinoline.

Read the rest here.

“Sleight of Hand,” Craftland, 235 Westminster St., Providence, July 1 to 31, 2010.

Pictured at top: Richard Saja’s “memo: HERO” with glow-in-the-dark embroidery.
Will Schaff “St. Rita of Cascia: The Patron Saint of Desperate Causes.”

Michael Aaron McAllister “Eugene O’Neill.”

Samantha Cotterill, “as he passed by.”

Linda Connor

Tuesday, July 27th, 2010

From our review of Linda Connor’s exhibit “Odyssey” at the RISD Museum in Providence:

In the late 1970s, Linda Connor began photographing sacred sites. She recorded the misty mountaintop ruins of Machu Picchu; stick figures painted on canyon wall in Utah; the doorway of a tomb carved out a cliff at the ancient desert city of Petra in Jordan; the feet of a Nepalese sculpture of a goddess dancing on the back of a turtle; a small chorten, a Buddhist reliquary, standing at the bend of a meandering Indian river below a massive bluff; a monumental stone head of Apollo, seemingly keeping some ancient watch over the ruins atop Mount Nemrut in Turkey.

Her exhibit “Odyssey” at the RISD Museum surveys some 70 photos that she made on her travels over the past three decades. “It is an attempt,” she says in the catalogue, “to point toward the unfathomable and the unutterable.”

Read the rest here.

“Odyssey: The Photographs of Linda Connor,” RISD Museum, 224 Benefit St., Providence, July 2 to Oct. 31, 2010. Note: The museum is closed in August.

Pictured from top to bottom: Linda Conner, “Prayer Flag and Chortens, Ladakh, India,” 1988; “Muhammad Ali Mosque, Cairo, Egypt,” 1989; “Moonrise, Clouds, and Star Trails, Lake Tsomoriri, Ladakh, India,” 1998; “O’hia, Hawaii,” 1997; and “Retreat, Lake Namtso, Tibet,” 1993. All ©2009 Linda Connor, courtesy of the artist and Haines Gallery, San Francisco.

Tristin Lowe

Monday, July 26th, 2010

From our review of “Tristin Lowe: Under the Influence” at the RISD Museum in Providence. He also has a large whale sculpture at Williams College Museum of Art:

Though your brain knows better, you can’t help getting the feeling that the moon sitting in the RISD Museum’s Farago Gallery has floated down from space. It has something to do with the convincing texture that Philadelphia sculptor Tristin Lowe has fashioned on the white felt surface — chalky-cakey and pocked with craters, like rippling rings on a pond, or wounds.

In fact, “Lunacy,” as it’s called, is a 12-and-a-half-foot white ball made from 14 sections of felt stitched together (you can see the seams) around an inflated vinyl ball (the better for moving and storage). In Lowe’s exhibit “Under the Influence” at the RISD Museum, it dwarfs us, snugly squeezed into the room. This moon has a purple aura emanating from “Visither 1,” Lowe’s neon sculpture hung in the air behind the fallen rock. It’s a series of neon tubes shaped something like the outlines of crosses, but all together might suggest a spaceship.

Read the rest here.

Tristin Lowe, “Under the Influence,” RISD Museum, 224 Benefit Street, Providence, May 28 to Oct. 24, 2010, museum closed in August. Lowe’s “Mocha Dick” is on view at the Williams College Museum of Art, 15 Lawrence Hall Drive, Williamstown, Massachusetts, March 13 to Aug. 8, 2010.

Pictured from top to bottom: Tristin Lowe, “Lunacy” (left) and “Visither 1″ at the RISD Museum and “Mocha Dick” at the Williams College Museum of Art.

Raimondi, Shadravan, Gaboriault at AS220

Friday, July 23rd, 2010

From our review of Jennifer Raimondi at AS220‘s Project Space and Holly Gaboriault and Bijan Shadravan at AS220′s Main Gallery in Providence:

Jen Raimondi’s “New Growth” exhibit turns AS220’s Project Space into something of a haunted house, with odd stuff sprouting from bouquets of dried flowers and silicone replicas of human bones.

“Bouquet for May” is a careful arrangement of dried poppies, ladybugs, moss, and mouse skulls on blue velvet in a round walnut frame. Mushrooms sprout long black hair; little white shelf mushrooms grow along the stump of a Christmas tree, which has a tiny drum set perched on the end. A little oddness can go a long way; with so many weird ingredients, Raimondi seems to be straining for the bizarre. Raimondi’s series of human bone sculptures is better.

Read the rest here.

Jennifer Raimondi at AS220′s Project Space, 93 Mathewson St., Providence, and Holly Gaboriault and Bijan Shadravan at AS220′s Main Gallery, 115 Empire St., Providence, July 2 to 24, 2010.

Pictured at top: Jennifer Raimond, “Skull with Shelf Fungi.”
Jennifer Raimondi “Bouquet for May.”

Bijan Shadravan “Middle of Nowhere,” which is clearly inspired by Edward Hopper‘s 1929 painting “Railroad Sunset.”

Holly Gaboriault, from “The Gathering: African Mask Series.”

Update: Worst public art in Portland?

Thursday, July 22nd, 2010

In response to our request for nominations of the Worst Public Art in New England, critic Edgar Beem sends along the photos here to support his nomination of Shauna Gillies-Smith’s “Tracing the Fore,” which he previously described as”a landscape art installation that may have been a good idea but turned out badly. It takes the form of a wave undulation of grass in the middle of Boothby Square in Portland, Maine. The metal retainers are a public hazard and the grass has never grown in, making ‘Tracing the Fore’ the artistic equivalent of a vacant lot.”

Please e-mail us your nominations for Worst Public Art in New England. We’d love photos too. We’ll share the nominations here – and then organize a public campaign to remove the most terrible one.

Hatry’s benefit for Gulf birds

Wednesday, July 21st, 2010

Heide Hatry of New York and Brookline, Massachusetts, is organizing a July 22 “emergency benefit” art auction at Pierre Menard Gallery in Cambridge to support the Audubon Action Center’s Gulf wildlife-rescue efforts. As we wrote in last week’s Phoenix:

Hatry might not be the first person you’d think of to come out swinging in favor of all the pelicans and turtles screwed by British Petroleum’s ongoing sliming of the Gulf of Mexico, seeing as her last Boston show included a woman’s corpse sculpted from pig skin. And when a 2008 show she curated included another artist’s sculpture of a baby made from meat, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals complained: “Unless you’re Hannibal Lecter, there’s nothing ‘artistic’ or ‘joyful’ about meat.”

But Hatry insists, “I’m extremely upset by the oil spill, about the irresponsibility of these people. I just can’t believe in a situation like that they could be so uncareful. So I’m thinking every day about it.”

Read the rest here.

Heide Hatry, “Imagine It Thick in Your Own Hair,” Pierre Menard Gallery, 10 Arrow Street, Cambridge, July 16 to Aug. 1, 2010.

Pictured: Detail of one of Hatry’s works.

Bar Harbor gallery marks Obama visit

Wednesday, July 21st, 2010

With President Obama and family visiting Bar Harbor, Maine, last weekend, D’Alessio Gallery went out of its way to give them a warm welcome … while also raising money to help care for birds injured by the Gulf oil spill.

Artist and owner Russell D’Alessio tells us:

This all began a few weeks ago when three other Bar Harbor artists and myself formed a group Bar Harbor Artists Consortium to help clean the birds through our art. I had been selling six of my original art pieces with birds in them on posters for $20 each to kick off our campaign.

When I heard the President and his first family were coming to Bar Harbor I wanted to make sure the front of my gallery was welcoming. I created a banner to hang out front and then decided to make posters from that image to make avilable to the other merchants in town to hang in their windows.

Folks were stopping me on the street wanting posters as I was delivering when it occured to me we could offer them in the gallery for a donation to continue our project of helping to clean the birds in the Gulf of Mexico. Gulf of Maine to Gulf of Mexico, Gulf to Gulf.

It was a great success. We raised over $1,400 in two days. The donations will be going to the National Audubon Society and the International Bird Rescue Center.

Roth named Busch-Reisinger curator

Wednesday, July 21st, 2010

Lynette Roth has been named the Daimler-Benz associate curator for Harvard’s Busch-Reisinger Museum, the university announced today. She is expected to begin work on January 3, 2011.

Roth received a PhD in the history of art from Johns Hopkins University in 2009 and a BA in interdisciplinary studies and German languages and literature from the University of Michigan in 1998. She was a Fulbright scholar at the University of Cologne (1999–2000), a German Academic Exchange Service fellow (2004–5), and a Dedalus Foundation fellow (2005–6), and today the Mellon Post-Doctoral Fellow in Modern Art at the Saint Louis Art Museum.

New Brandeis president on Rose

Tuesday, July 20th, 2010

Incoming Brandeis University President Frederick M. Lawrence plans to maintain the status quo at the school’s Rose Art Museum, according to a micro interview we conducted via e-mail (and via the school’s department of media relations).

How do you see the Rose fitting into Brandeis? “The Rose is a vital part of Brandeis. The founders of the university strongly believed in the value of the creative arts, and that appreciation will continue. The Future of the Rose report addressed this point, saying the Rose should remain a university art museum open to the public and it should be more fully integrated into the mission of the university. The Board has endorsed those recommendations and the university has made two impressive hires at the Rose this year in support of those goals.”

Would you consider selling art from the Rose collection? “When President Reinharz announced the decision to work with Sotheby’s in late May, he said the university’s preference is – and has been – to maintain ownership of the Rose collection. I support that decision and I’m hopeful we can find a solution that will work for everyone involved.”

“Curious George Saves the Day” at Jewish Museum

Monday, July 19th, 2010

On the rainy morning of June 12, 1940, two days before the Nazis rolled into Paris, Margaret and H.A. Rey fled their home in the city. The husband and wife peddled out of town on bicycles, carrying illustrations Hans had made for children’s books, including one about a very curious monkey.

“We planned to ride a tandem [bike],” Hans later recalled. “The streets were empty because so many people had already left. And we practiced riding it on the Rue de la Paix. But it wasn’t right. So we got two bicycles in pieces and I mounted them and we biked most of the way to Spain.”

“Curious George Saves the Day: The Art of Margaret and H.A. Rey,” a modest two-room exhibition at New York’s Jewish Museum, offers drawings and production materials from numerous books by the couple, who spent their late years in Cambridge, as well as artifacts from their escape.

Margaret and Hans Rey were Jews born in Hamburg, who had lived together in Paris since 1936. Twice after the Nazi invasion of Poland in September 1939, the couple fled Paris, only to return because the war didn’t arrive. The initial draft of Curious George – then called Fifi – was drawn during their first evacuation to the south of France.

The exhibition presents these incredibly familiar – though a bit more dingy in person – “Curious George” drawings that Hans made in France in 1939 and ‘40. The watercolor, charcoal and colored pencil sketches depict George swinging from a vine eating a banana, spied on by the man with the yellow hat, disembarking a ship, asleep in bed, chased by firefighters, in jail, and floating over a traffic jam while clinging to a bunch of balloons.

That June 1940 morning, the Reys biked out of Paris for good. They spent four months traveling to Spain, Portugal, Brazil and then the United States. The exhibit includes Hans’s French identification cards, Brazilian passport, teeny calendar journals, and a June 26, 1940 letter to his British publisher: “After an adventurous flight from Paris on bicycle the day before the Nazis came in, we finally arrived in Lisbon where we intend to stay a few weeks. We had to leave all our belongings in Paris, but worse things happen nowadays.”

Within a month of taking up residence New York in October 1940, they had four children’s book manuscripts accepted for publication – including the “Fifi” book that would be renamed “Curious George.”

The exhibit presents Hans’s pencil sketches from the Paris zoo; greeting cards from the 1940s to ‘60s; pencil drawings of Curious George antics from the 1950s and ‘60s; dummy pencil and crayon illustrations for the 1952 book “Curious George Rides a Bike”; and pencil sketches in a lined spiral notebook for the 1957 book “Curious George Gets a Medal.” Hans was not a great draftsman. But he had a knack for dramatic gestures and strong, lively, charming compositions.

In America, these talents brought the Reys success and security. They kept a summer home in Waterville Valley, New Hampshire, and moved to Cambridge in 1963. Hans died here in 1977; Margaret in 1996. But “Curious George Saves the Day” reminds us how much George’s numerous scrapes and escapes echo his authors’ wartime journey.

“Curious George Saves the Day: The Art of Margaret and H.A. Rey,” Jewish Museum, 1109 Fifth Ave., New York, March 14 to Aug. 1, 2010.

Pictured from top: H. A. Rey, unpublished drawing, c. 1950s–60s, pencil on paper; Margret and H. A. Rey at a book signing, United States, c. 1945; final illustration for “This is George. He lived in Africa,” published in “The Original Curious George” (1998), 1939–40, watercolor, charcoal, and color pencil on paper; and black color separation for “At breakfast George’s friend said,” for “Curious George Rides a Bike” (1952), watercolor and charcoal on paper.

The first appearance of George: final illustration for “George climbed up until he was in the sunshine again, high above the rain cloud” from “Raffy and the 9 Monkeys” (1939), later published as “Cecily G. and the 9 Monkeys” (1942), 1939, watercolor on paper.

Final illustration for “One day George saw a man. He had on a large yellow straw hat,” published in “The Original Curious George” (1998), 1939–40, watercolor, charcoal, and color pencil on paper.

Final illustration for “He crawled into bed and fell asleep at once,” published in “The Original Curious George” (1998), 1939–40, watercolor, charcoal, and color pencil on paper.

Black color separation for “Finally the show was on” from “Curious George Rides a Bike” (1952), watercolor and charcoal on paper.

H.A. Rey’s New Year Greeting Card for 1942, printed on paper.

All images from the H. A. & Margret Rey Papers, de Grummond Children’s Literature Collection, McCain Library and Archives, The University of Southern Mississippi. Curious George, and related characters, created by Margret and H. A. Rey, are copyrighted and trademarked by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. © 2010 by HMH.

Grease pole at Festival Betances

Sunday, July 18th, 2010

In the grease pole contest at Festival Betances in Boston’s South End, teams of people scurry up a greased pole and each other to try to grab a Puerto Rican flag 33 feet above the pavement. Above, Team W makes its attempt. The Latino cultural celebration is organized annually by the Villa Victoria Center for the Arts.

All photos by The New England Journal of Aesthetic Research.
Returning camps, Team Rican, above, begin their ascent.

Nelson Montas grabs the flag for Team Rican, winning the contest. They were the only team to reach the flag today, and took home the $500 prize.

The foundation of the women’s team – the first female group to compete in the event.

The women’s team climbs.

The under-18 Team New Generation.

Team New Generation just missed grabbing the flag.

The crowd.

The champs: Team Rican. From left to right, Jermaine Alleyne, Miguel LaCourt, Andre Lozano, Nelson Montas, Jose Rodriguez, and, in front, Angel Soto.

Jermaine Alleyne of Team Rican, covered with grease just after his climb.

Does law to protect minors hurt free speech?

Sunday, July 18th, 2010

The Photographic Resource Center, Harvard Book Store, Porter Square Books and the American Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts are part of a coalition suing Massachusetts over a new law meant to prevent lascivious messages from being sent to minors over the Internet, the ACLU announced.

The coalition says the law prohibiting the online dissemination of material “harmful to minors” is too broad, banning “constitutionally protected speech on the Internet for topics including contraception and pregnancy, sexual health, literature, and art.”

“The Internet is the new gallery, the new museum,” Glenn Ruga, executive director of the Photographic Resource Center at Boston University, said in a prepared statement. “This law infringes on our right to present images that we feel are vital to free expression and within bounds of socially acceptable imagery, yet someone with no particular legal authority may decide to be harmful for children.”