Archive for September, 2010

“Chromophilia” at Craftland

Thursday, September 30th, 2010

From our review of “Chromophilia” at Craftland in Providence:

The title of the “Chromophilia” exhibit focuses our attention on the bright colors of contemporary studio jewelry, which follows the 1980s revival — a la American Apparel — throughout fashion. But the bigger trend that curators Devienna Anggraini and Islay Taylor identify is a Post-Modern, catholic use of a wide variety of non-precious materials.

Read the rest here.

“Chromophilia,” Craftland, 235 Westminster St., Providence, Sept. 9 to Oct. 9, 2010.

Pictured above: “Imelda Marcos’ Ruby Necklace” by Mike & Maaike, a San Francisco studio led by Mike Simonian and Maaike Evers.

One of Emiko Oye’s Lego bracelets.

Mariana Acosta Contreras’s “Blossom Series Neckpiece.”

“The War of the Rose” in North Carolina

Thursday, September 30th, 2010

Michael Rush, the director of Brandeis’ Rose Art Museum who was ousted in June 2009 as university leaders tried to shutter the museum and pawn its collection, will be giving a public talk “The War of the Rose: A Cautionary Tale” at 7 p.m. Oct. 6 in the Turchin Center for the Visual Arts Lecture Hall at Appalachian State University in Boone, North Carolina. Get your bus tickets now.

Appalachian State University says:

The lecture will examine recent financial altercations concerning the museum and former administrative plans to close it and sell its well-established collection.

Rush was the director for the Rose Art Museum in 2009 when the Brandies University administration announced its plan to cease all museum functions and sell its collection valued at $350 million as a direct attempt to withstand the current economic financial crisis.

Although the museum was set to close on June 30 that year, Rush and other supporters fought the proposal, an effort that ultimately led to the discontinuation of Rush’s contract with the university. The situation, however, eventually earned international recognition, and the decision to close the museum and sell its renowned collection was overturned and the museum remains open. Rush’s lecture will highlight these issues, raise awareness about institutional support, and discuss the role that art collections play in museums and academic institutions.

The press release doesn’t make it clear, but remember that while the Rose remains open, Brandeis has not committed to maintaining the museum or its collection.

Wyckoff to leave Davis Museum

Thursday, September 30th, 2010

Elizabeth Wyckoff is leaving Wellesley College’s Davis Museum, where she has worked for six years, to become the curator of prints, drawings and photographs at the St. Louis Art Museum on Dec. 1. Wyckoff is currently the Davis’s assistant director for curatorial and education and curator of prints and drawings. Among the shows she curated was the Davis’s marvelous 2008 exhibit “Grand Scale: Monumental Prints in the Age of Durer and Titian.”

Highwater Books retrospective

Wednesday, September 29th, 2010

Highwater Books of Cambridge, from the time it was founded in 1997 until it went belly up in 2004, was one of the most influential (art) comics publishers in North America – and may have been Boston’s most widely influential art project of the past decade or so. But of course we’d say that since Greg Cook, The New England Journal of Aesthetic Research’s longtime intern, was part of the Highwater gang. So we invite you to find out for yourself by checking out the exhibit “Right Thing The Wrong Way: The Story of Highwater Books,” which opens at Fourth Wall Project in Boston from 6 to 9 p.m. Friday, Oct. 1.

T.D. Sidell, who interned with Highwater and is one of the co-organizers of the exhibit, offers the following introduction:

“For seven years (and one miscounted eighth anniversary party) Highwater Books was snobby, high-concept, iconoclastic, poorly-business modeled publishing company that ran itself into the ground. Highwater published books late, promised them and never published them at all and even withheld its books from distributors on principle. The company asked its artists to fold mini-comics and stand behind convention tables and sell their wares to a public that did not know what to make of them. It hatched plans, plots and schemes, and it may have been the most important comic publisher of the early part of the century. Over those seven or so years, Highwater elevated the concept of design in the comics world; It emphasized independent and DIY attitudes in an increasingly corporate society, and it published some of the most important artists in comics. In October, Fourth Wall Project celebrates Highwater and a selection of its artists with a group art exhibition: ‘Right Thing the Wrong Way: The Story of Highwater Books.’

“‘Right Thing the Wrong Way’ will display new and archival works by the artists central to Highwater Books: Brian Ralph, Greg Cook, Jef Czekaj, Jordan Crane, Kurt Wolfgang, Marc Bell, Megan Kelso, and Ron Rege. Along with the artists work, there will be an installation celebrating the strange history of the company. The organizers (TD Sidell, Emily Arkin, Brooke Corey, Jef Czekaj, and Greg Cook) will construct a mini-museum within the gallery, displaying ephemera (both finished and unfinished), half formed concept pieces, and plain old junk that made Highwater special. In lieu of a traditional catalog the organizers, in conjunction with Bodega Distribution, have put together an oral history of the company that will manifest in a short-run publication (natch!) for the show. Compiled and edited by Highwater artist and Phoenix art critic Greg Cook, the oral history will act as a companion to the show with the artists and ‘employees’ of Highwater telling the story themselves.”

“Right Thing The Wrong Way: The Story of Highwater Books,” Fourth Wall Project, 132 Brookline Ave., Boston, Oct. 1 to 24, 2010. Opening reception from 6 to 9 p.m. Oct. 1.

Poster at top by Marc Bell.

Randy Regier

Monday, September 27th, 2010

Portland sculptor Randy Regier’s terrific new installation “Out of the Box” at Wentworth Institute of Technology presents us with a mystery, namely: what the heck happened?

The scene: a living room, perhaps from the ‘60s, with two tired orange easy chairs around a mod table holding an ashtray full of cigarettes. Boy toys are heaped at the right—a jet plane, a flying saucer, “The Christ of the American Road” driving an orange sports car, a series of rubber John Manshaft action figure playsets (“9:00 to 5:00 Action” or “Antarctica: Stranded Action”). A framed, lit portrait of Jesus flickers on the wall.

Fallen over in front of the left chair is a little “Shokor X-7” metal toy robot, plugged into a wall outlet. The green carpet is singed around the toy, and a lamp has fallen to the floor next to it. A box explains it’s a “shocking robot / common house current / electric powered / stands and falls down.” A red tag inside the box reads, “Heed warning: Plugged in toy can cause loss of life!”

Everything is so astonishingly, vividly realistic—from the found furniture to toys and packages that Regier carefully crafted to the peanuts littering the seat on the right—that it takes effort to remember that it’s not real. It’s a 3D story, a pulp detective tale like the “John Manshaft” paperback cracked open on the left chair, sometimes a bit too cute, but all put together with the skill and story spinning of Ilya Kabakov or Mike Kelley or Christoph Buchel or the Museum of Jurassic Technology or Chris Ware.

Regier refers to the chairs as mom’s and dad’s, suggesting a boy with a pile of toys who is terribly injured by the electric robot. But I keep imagining just two people, one for each chair. Maybe a divorced dad and his son, whom he tries to connect with by showering him with toys.

Or maybe just a lonely bachelor, collecting his fancy toys, with an extra chair for some hoped for guest who never comes. The Manshaft toys (slogan: “Do you know an average man”) speak of nostalgic spaceage guy American dreams overcome by gray flannel suit reality. The “9:00 to 5:00 Action” set includes a work punchcard and clock. Picture the bachelor, alone fiddling with his electric robot, trying to escape into his dreams, when tragedy strikes.

Randy Regier “Out of the Box: An Installation,” Casella Gallery, Wentworth Institute of Technology, 550 Parker St., Boston, Sept. 20 to Oct. 2, 2010.

Schilling’s game company ditches MA for Providence

Friday, September 24th, 2010

Millionaire former Red Sox pitcher Curt Schilling is moving his video game company 38 Studios to downtown Providence from Maynard, Massachusetts, thanks to a $75 million loan guarantee to the company from the state of Rhode Island. The firm, which was founded in 2006 and has yet to produce any products, announced yesterday that it had signed a lease on the six-story building at 1 Empire Plaza, opposite AS220.

The loan guarantee came about because Republican Rhode Island Governor Donald Carcieri had a “chance meeting” (according to the Providence Journal) with outspoken Republican Schilling at a fund-raiser at Schilling’s Medfield, Massachusetts, house last March. 38 Studios says it “expects to base 450 employees in Providence by 2012.”

Maybe the rest of the state needs to figure out ways to bump into Carcieri at parties. Because earlier this year, Rhode Island Citizens for the Arts successfully fought Carcieri’s plan to cut state arts funding. And the Providence Journal reported Sept. 1 that Carcieri plans to use $32.9 million in federal funds aimed at saving teaching jobs and protecting school program to instead plug an estimated $38 million deficit in this year’s Rhode Island budget.

AS220 artistic director Umberto Crenca says in the 38 Studios press release: “I am very excited about the commitment of 38 Studios to locate in downtown Providence. The clustering of creative and digital industries so close to internationally recognized schools such as RISD, Brown, JWU, and URI can be the trigger that propels Providence into its future. The city’s diversity, historic architecture and strong arts and culture have helped it to create a high quality of life that is attractive to creative types. Richard Florida’s predictions are coming to pass: Creative people are drawn to interesting, dynamic and diverse communities; creative industries are drawn to talent and a new economic model is born.”

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

Edward Bannister, George Whitaker

Friday, September 24th, 2010

From our review of “Our Founders” at the Providence Art Club:

One of the landmark tales of Rhode Island art is the story of how Edward Bannister won the oil painting prize at the 1876 Philadelphia Centennial Exposition. When the African-American artist tried to collect his certificate, racist white organizers tried to rescind the award, but finally gave it to him under pressure from other competing artists. Bannister went on to be one of the 16 founders of the Providence Art Club in 1880, a trustee of the Rhode Island School of Design, and today one of his paintings is in the collection of the White House — though his work remains not well-known.

In “Our Founders,” at the Providence Art Club, you come face to face with that prize certificate, now freckled with age, and you can feel both the triumph and the insult of the episode. The show is a survey 105 paintings by Bannister (1828-1901) and fellow Art Club founder George Whitaker (1840-1916) from the 1860s to 1910s.

Read the rest here.

“Our Founders,” Providence Art Club, 11 Thomas St., Providence, Sept. 12 to Oct. 8, 2010.

Pictured at top: Edward Bannister, “Grazing Sheep,” 1881.
Bannister’s award certificate for winning the oil painting prize at the 1876 Philadelphia Centennial Exposition.

Bannister, “Hay Gatherers,” 1893, a rare occasion when the African-American painter depicts black people.

Bannister, “Providence River,” 1881.

Whitaker, “Forest,” 1893.

Worst Public Art: Bewitched in Salem

Wednesday, September 22nd, 2010

Painter and blogger Joanne Mattera of Salem, Massachusetts, and Manhattan, nominates the 2005 sculpture of Elizabeth Montgomery as Samantha Stephens from the 1960s TV show “Bewitched” for our Worst Public Art in New England project (submit your own nominations). The bronze, which was commissioned by TV Land cable network from StudioEIS in Brooklyn, New York, sits at the intersection of Washington and Essex streets in Salem, Massachusetts.

“I nominate the ‘Samantha’ statue in Salem, Mass., as the WORST public statue in New England or anywhere. Even worse than the ‘art’ itself is how it got to Salem. TV Land, the network, donated it. It’s an AD! TV Land, which shows reruns from the past several decades, has a history of donating ‘art’ in this way: Ralph Cramden is poised in perpetuity outside the Port Authority Bus Station in Manhattan; the Fonz is in Milwaukee; Andy Griffith is in Raleigh; and there’s a statue of Mary Richards tossing her hat up into the air somewhere in Minneapolis.”

Before the bronze was installed, one Salem resident complained that it disgraced the legacy of the innocent people people falsely convicted and executed as witches in 1692: “It’s like TV Land going to Auschwitz and proposing to erect a statue of Colonel Klink.”

A list of all the Worst Public Art nominees so far is here.

Photo by The New England Journal of Aesthetic Research.

Worst Public Art: Blame the ‘experts’?

Wednesday, September 22nd, 2010

Boston critic Thomas Garvey has posted a compelling take on our Worst Public Art in New England project:

“Nothing shows up critical folly like pondering the dreck of the past – because it always passed through some committee’s critical filter, and was often even on somebody’s “best of” list at the time! (Not so long ago, it seems critics thought wind sculptures were a good idea, for instance.) So it’s worth remembering that public art is so bad partly because art criticism has been so bad.”

It’s definitely worth reading it all, here.

A list of all the Worst Public Art nominees so far is here. Submit your own nominations.

Brandeis seeks new Rose director

Monday, September 20th, 2010

Brandeis University has begun a search for a new director for its Rose Art Museum, according to an e-mail outgoing school President Jehuda Reinharz sent to Brandeis folks on Thursday. The museum has been limping along since the Waltham, Massachusetts, school threatened to close it and sell off its collection in January 2009 and forced out then director Michael Rush that June. The museum had to cancel two shows for this fall after the artists involved backed out. Reinharz’s full text follows:

Date: Thu, 16 Sep 2010
Subject: Rose Art Museum Director Search

To members of the Brandeis community,

I am pleased to announce the formation of a search committee for the recruitment of the next Director of the Rose Art Museum. Roy Dawes has served with distinction as Director of Museum Operations for more than a year and will continue in that role until a new director is in place. The search for a new director follows two other important hires at the Rose. Brandeis has been fortunate in recent months to welcome Dabney Hailey, Director of Academic Programming, and Kristen Parker, Collections Manager and Registrar.

The search committee includes:
Scott Edmiston, Director, Office of the Arts (Chair)
Dan Feldman, Vice President for Planning and Capital Projects
Susan Lichtman, Associate Professor of Fine Arts
John Lisman, Professor of Biology
Robin Miller, Professor of Russian Literature and Chair of GRALL
Steven Reiner, Chair, Rose Board of Overseers and member of the Brandeis Board of Trustees
Jonathan Unglaub, Associate Professor of Fine Arts

In addition, a Brandeis student and a museum professional will be invited to join the committee in the near future.

    The formation of the search committee comes as the Rose is preparing for two new fall exhibitions, “Waterways” and “Regarding Painting” that will open in early October. I encourage you to visit the museum and enjoy both of these exciting exhibits.


    Jehuda Reinharz

Just to be clear, Roy Dawes is expected to say on at the Rose after a new director is hired.

Bank of America gives $10M to MFA

Monday, September 20th, 2010

Bank of America has committed a $10 million donation to Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts, the museum reports. Which we’ll take as a sign that the bank – which received a $45 billion government bailout beginning in fall 2008, and repaid it December 2009 after grumbling about executive compensation limits under the deal – is healthy again. Thank goodness.

In thanks for Bank of America’s donations of some $15 million to the MFA in recent years, the MFA has renamed the plaza in front of its Huntington Avenue entrance the “Bank of America Plaza on the Avenue of the Arts.” (The MFA renamed its Fenway entrance the State Street Fenway Entrance two years ago for State Street Corporation after the business donated $10 million to the MFA.)

The MFA says the promised donation comprises $5 million in gifts of art – including a 1968 painting by Museum School alum Ellsworth Kelly – plus $5 million in funding for exhibitions, programs, operating expenses, capital improvements, as well as special events celebrating the November opening of the MFA’s new Art of the Americas wing and Ruth and Carl J. Shapiro Family Courtyard.

The Kelly 1968 oil painting is “Blue Green Yellow Orange Red” (pictured below). Additional works are expected to be selected for the MFA from the Bank of America Collection as part of the gift.

Pictured above: Museum of Fine Arts Director Malcolm Rogers and Anne Finucane, Global Strategy & Marketing Officer, President Northeast of Bank of America. Photograph © Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. Pictured below: Ellsworth Kelly, “Blue Green Yellow Orange Red,” 1968.

Space 242 to reopen

Monday, September 20th, 2010

Space 242, in the lobby of the Weekly Dig newspaper at 242 E. Berkely St. in Boston, plans to reopen in October after being closed since June because of break-ins and thefts in the building. No art went missing, but computer equipment from the newspaper did.

Gallery director Ami Bennitt writes, “Since the temporary close, there have been no more attempts at theft. A brand new motion alarm system has been installed.”

Space 242 plans to reopen with a reception and costume ball from 6 to 8 p.m. on Oct. 22 to launch the exhibit “Freeky Fright Nights: Halloween Ho-Downs,” which continues through Nov. 16, 2010. It’s expected to feature works by Mister Reusch, Amanda Clarke, Derek Ring, Alex Carlson, Shannon Orcutt, Walter Sickert, Felisia Sainz, and others.

Platform2′s “Climate Chorus”

Monday, September 20th, 2010

The Platform2 collective is meeting at Boston Common at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 23, to present “Climate Chorus,” and it’s looking for volunteer readers for the event. They’ll be reading out loud parts – not the whole thing – of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Fourth Assessment Report. It’s free and open to all. You can also just come and listen. Meet at the Park Street T Station.

Platform2 writes: “The report is a 600-page text that summarizes the research of thousands of scientists and attempts to grapple with the complexities of adaptation. The art of reading aloud takes this arcane scientific policy text and makes it part of the voices of our city and our lives. Bring life to data, breathe the language of science, and join together in voicing the vision of our future.” Also they note, “The reading will be followed by conversation and drinks.”

If you’d like to read – uh, no reading experience necessary – contact them here.

Worst Public Art nominations so far

Friday, September 17th, 2010

Below are the nominees so far for our Worst Public Art in New England project (as of November we are no longer accepting nominations):

= Robert Shure’s 1998 Boston Irish Famine Memorial (pictured above). Additional nominations: two, three, four, five, six (see comments), and seven (see comments).
= Buster Simpson’s granite seats at Downtown Crossing T stop form 1987.
= Bronze of Elizabeth Montgomery as Samantha Stephens from the 1960s TV show “Bewitched” in Salem, Massachusetts, 2005, which was commissioned by TV Land cable network from StudioEIS in Brooklyn.
= Mosaic sculptures in Newton Centre, Massachusetts.
= Charles Y. Harvey’s 1912 “Burnside Fountain” in Worcester.
= Stanley Saitowitz’s 1995 New England Holocaust Memorial in Boston.
= Bruce Papitto’s 2000 bronze sculpture “The Patriot” in Bedford, Massachusetts.
= Be Sargent’s 1999 “A Wall of Respect for Animals” mural along McGrath Highway in Cambridge.
= Anything made by children.
= Shelter at the North Main Street trolley tunnel in Providence.
= Kallmann McKinnell & Knowles’s 1969 Boston City Hall.
= James Tyler’s 1980 “Ten Figures,” cast cement, masked figures in Davis Square, Somerville. More here (see comments).
= Harold Connolly Memorial in Brighton, outside old Taft School, Boston.
= Toshihiro Katayama’s installation of boulders, black and white graphic panels, and so on at Porter Square, Cambridge.
= Laura Baring-Gould’s Clapp pear in Everett Square (Mass Ave and Columbia Road) in Boston’s Dorchester neighborhood.
= Shauna Gillies-Smith’s “Tracing the Fore” in Boothbay Square in Portland.
= Jaime Gili’s oil storage tanks in South Portland for the Maine Center of Creativity.
= Flight of birds for Martin Luther King Jr. at Boston University’s Marsh Chapel.
= Bela Pratt’s “Art” and “Science” allegorical figures in front of the Boston Public Library.
= Cyrus Dallin’s “Appeal to the Great Spirit” in front of Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts.
= Deborah Butterfield’s “Paint and Henry” horses outside Copley Mall entrance on Dartmouth Street in Boston.
= Andrzej P. Pitynski’s 1979 “Partisans” (aka “Polish Riders”) formerly on Boston Common.
= Donna Vayo’s Green Street Bridge mural in Worcester, Massachusetts.
= Robert Ellison’s 1998 “Time Wave” clock on Washington Street, Providence. A bit more.
= Maurice Harron’s Irish Famine Memorial (see bottom) on Cambridge Common.
= Mark di Suvero’s 1984 “Huru” at UMass Boston.
= Ralph Helmick’s praying hands (see comments) at Park Street T Station, Boston.
= Wayland’s Whale mural (see comments) off Route 93 in Boston’s South End.
= Luis Jimenez, “Legartos” (see comments) alligators at UMass Boston.
= Antonio Lopez Garcia’s 2008 “Day and Night” (see comments) baby heads outside Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.
= Mayor Patrick Collins Memorial (see comments) at Boston City Hall. More here.
= Checkerboard (see comments) in front of the gates of Boston’s Chinatown.
= Susumu Shingu’s 1983 “Gift of the Wind” (see comments) in Porter Square, Cambridge.
= Krzysztof Wodiczko’s 2010 LED light installation at the Cambridge Police Headquarters.
= Bronze nude in front of Prudential Center, Boston.
= Mags Harries’s 1984 “Glove Cycle” (see comments) at the Porter Square T station in Cambridge.
= Massachusetts Law Enforcement Memorial (see comments) from 2004 at Massachusetts State House. More here.
= Mico Kaufman’s 2006 “The Spirit of Marathon” statue (see comments) in Hopkinton, Massachusetts. More here
Fisherman statue (see comments) in Eastport, Maine. More here.
= “That ugly pile of junk next to the Kenedy Builing in government square” in Boston.
= Michael J. Saari’s giant pair of eyeglasses (see comments) in Southbridge, Massachusetts. More here.
= “Two polished steel ‘laptop computers’ (see comments) on the Boston Waterfront, located between the Aquarium and International place.”
= Sculpture at the entrance to BU (see comments) from Storrow drive (eastbound).
= “Every fiberglass decorated cow, moose, bear, codfish or what-have you” (see comments).
= “Sea Flower” (see comments) on the steps of the Federal Building in downtown New Bedford, Massachusetts.
The 2002 Leonard P. Zakim Bunker Hill Memorial Bridge (see comments) in Boston. More here.
= Louise Nevelson’s 1975 “Transparent Horizons” at MIT in Cambridge. More here.
= Beverly Pepper’s 1971 “Sudden Presence” at New Chardon and Congress streets in Boston. More here.

Disqualified nomination:
= Richard Serra’s 1981 “Tilted Arc” in New York.

Photo by The New England Journal of Aesthetic Research.