Archive for November, 2010

Bruce Myren

Tuesday, November 30th, 2010

Our review of Bruce Myren‘s exhibit “Selections from the Fortieth Parallel” which was at Gallery Kayafas in Boston through Nov. 27:

Boston photographer Bruce Myren follows a conceptual bent inspired by ’70s New Topographics photography’s detached style of specimen collecting. He pursues self-assigned topics — monuments, places where he’s lived in Massachusetts, visits to the sites of childhood memories — that together mull the value we assign places as individuals, as communities, and how, say, a scrappy, muddy bit of woods might be more important for the conversation about sex he had with a girl there years ago than for, say, its beauty or mineral rights.

In his “Selections from the Fortieth Parallel,” he uses his 8×10 Deardorff camera — similar to the view cameras used in 19th-century government geological surveys of the West — to document crossings of the 40th-parallel latitude with each line of longitude across the country. The assignment is ultimately some 50 points. Here we get eight panoramic triptychs: dry brown farmland in Colorado, high-tension power-line towers standing sentinel in a parched Colorado plain, cornstalks in Kansas, tall dry scrub along the side of a Colorado road, blue dusk sky reflected in a pond (or is it a flood?) in Kansas.

But why does this particular cartographic line matter? Myren writes of the 40th Parallel’s connection to American colonization of the West, of exploring people’s need to lay systems over the landscape to ground themselves. But those ideas don’t radiate from the photos, which as a group feel kind of random. Perhaps that disconnect between how we define the land and what it actually looks like is the point, but it’s a somewhat unsatisfying one. Maybe it doesn’t matter, because in the wide flat vistas of the middle of the country, Myren finds a lovely lyricism.

Bruce Myren, “Selections from the Fortieth Parallel,” Gallery Kayafas, Oct. 22 to Nov. 27, 2010.

Pictured at top: Bruce Myren, “N 40° 00′ 00″ W 98° 00′ 00″ Webber, Kansas,” 2007. All photos are 16×60 inch panoramic archival inkjet prints, which don’t really come across in our narrow format. © Bruce Myren.

Bruce Myren, “N 40° 00′ 00″ W 104° 00′ 00″ Hoyt, Colorado,” 2008.

Bruce Myren, “N 40° 00′ 00″ W 95° 00′ 00″ Fillmore, Missouri,” 2007.

Bruce Myren, “N 40° 00′ 00″ W 97° 00′ 00″ Hollenberg, Kansas,” 2007.

Bruce Myren, “N 40° 00′ 00″ W 96° 00′ 00″ Bern, Kansas,” 2007.

Bruce Myren, “N 40° 00′ 00″ W 103° 00′ 00″ Otis, Colorado,” 2008.

Isn’t the MFA’s new da Vinci great?

Monday, November 29th, 2010

Remember about a year ago when The Washington Post published an exciting story headlined: “Rumors abound that new Leonardo da Vinci painting has been found in Boston”? The headline, the Post reported at the time, was based on “a tip from a source who wishes to remain anonymous that the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, has in its possession a painting believed to be by the Italian master, and is in the process of authenticating it.”

We were really hoping that the MFA would unveil the painting as part of its new Art of the Americas Wing. But the opening came and went on Nov. 20 with no mention of Leonardo. Perhaps this is because da Vinci is rumored not to be an American? Anticipating just such a mysterious turn of events, a few weeks back we sent an e-mail to The Washington Post inquiring about what happened to the da Vinci and if the paper continued to stand behind its rumors. A source who wishes to remain anonymous says we have not yet received a reply.

Another “Leonardo” in New England?
Wild Leonardo speculation.

Poor Yokelist’s Almanack: Upcoming Events

Monday, November 29th, 2010

Tuesday, Nov. 30, 12:30 p.m.
Michael Rees speaks at School of the Museum of Fine Arts, room B311, 230 The Fenway, Boston.

Tuesday and Wednesday, Nov. 30 to Dec. 1
Michael Dowling presents his 19th annual “Medicine Wheel” installation (pictured above) at the Boston Center for the Arts Cyclorama in commemoration of World AIDS Day on Dec. 1. Procession begins on the BCA plaza at 11:45 a.m. Nov. 30. Vigil of song, dance, ritual and prayer for 24 hours of Dec. 1.

Wednesday, Dec. 1, 11 a.m.
A roundtable discussion, “2011 Outlook: Challenges and Opportunities in the Coming Year,” featuring Van McLeod, commissioner of the New Hampshire Department of Cultural Resources, and members of the state’s cultural and heritage tourism industry,
at the MacDowell Colony, 100 High St., Peterborough, New Hampshire. RSVP to Shelly Angers, NH Department of Cultural Resources, (603) 271-3136, Free.

Wednesday, Dec. 1, 12:30 p.m.
Colby College Professor of Religious Studies Debra Campbell speaks about Colby College Museum of Art’s exhibit, “Little Elegies: The Art of Nineteenth-Century Mourning,” which is on view through April 3, at the museum, 5600 Mayflower Hill, Waterville, Maine. Complimentary lunch will be served at noon to the first 40 visitors.

Wednesday, Dec. 1, 2 p.m.
Cambridge Arts Council presents Americans for the Arts webinar “Contracts and Copyrights” at the CAC Gallery, 344 Broadway, second floor, Cambridge. RSVP at RSVP to Jeremy Gaucher at

Wednesday, Dec. 1, 7:30 p.m.
Fred Wilson speaks at Smith College’s Campus Center Carroll Room, near Elm Street at Bedford Terrace, Northampton, Massachusetts.

Wednesday, Dec. 1, 5:30 p.m.
The Hive presents “What It Takes: An Evening of Biographies,” a panel discussion by Amie Plante, Anna Shapiro and Julie Brigidi at Brown University’s Sarah Doyle Women’s Center, 26 Benevolent St., Providence, as part of the Hive’s ongoing a series of informal workshops for people who want to turn their creative work into a sustainable living. Free.

Friday, Dec. 3, 2:30 p.m.
Meet the models who inspired Norman Rockwell’s art as they share their personal stories at Norman Rockwell Museum, 9 Route 183, Stockbridge, Massachusetts.

Friday, Dec. 3, 6 p.m.
The Boston Society of Architects’ Public Art Initiative Committee teams with and meets at the Apple Store, 815 Boylston St., Boston, for a workshop, “Public Art in the Digital Age.” Twelve preselected teams of architects and artists will collaborate to explore opportunities for public art through mosaic art installations.

Saturday, Dec. 4, 3 p.m.
Art historian and Manship curator Rebecca Reynolds gives an illustrated talk entitled “A Generous Source: Butman’s Quarry as a Well of Inspiration for Generations” at the Cape Ann Museum, 27 Pleasant St., Gloucester, in conjunction with special exhibition “John Manship: Views of Butman’s Quarry.” Admission included in museum admission. Reservations are required.

Tuesday, Dec. 7, 7 to 10 p.m.
Jenny Holzer creates a new projection, “For Portland,” on the front of the Portland Museum of Art. This site-specific work will feature selections from the poetry of Nobel Prize-winner Wisława Szymborska. In conjunction with her projection, Holzer will give a free lecture at 6 that evening at the Holiday Inn By the Bay in Portland. A reception at the museum will follow the lecture.

Tuesday, Dec. 7
Caitlin Berrigan speaks as part of’s “Upgrade! Boston” lecture series at MIT Media Lab (E14), sixth floor, room 633, 75 Amherst St., Cambridge. Free.

Wednesday, Dec. 8, 2 p.m.
“Introduction to Finding Funders” at Boston Public Library’s Copley Plaza branch. “This webinar provides an introduction to one of the key online tools for finding funders, Foundation Directory Online Professional. Learn how to create customized searches, to develop lists of prospective foundation and corporate donors that will match your nonprofit organization’s funding needs. With Foundation Directory Online Professional you can search for foundations that support programs and organizations like yours, fund in your geographic area, and many other criteria.”

Wednesday, Dec. 8 6 p.m.

Curator Dina Deitsch leads a tour of the exhibit “Hotlanta: Southern Exposure: Artadia Awardees 2009 Atlanta” at the Boston Center for the Arts, 539 Tremont St., Boston. Free.

Wednesday, Dec. 8, 6 p.m.
“Proposal Writing for Artists” at Boston Public Library’s Copley Plaza branch. Registration at 5:30. Preregistration is required at

Malden Parade of Holiday Traditions

Saturday, November 27th, 2010

The Parade of Holiday Traditions in Malden, Massachusetts, today, as photographed by The New England Journal of Aesthetic Research.
Malden High School band.

Aleppo Shriners of Wilmington Cape Cod Fire Brigade.

North Shore Assembly of God.

North Shore Assembly of God.

Wah Lum Kung Fu and Tai Chi Academy Dragon Dance.

Malden Tuney Tornado Band.

Thanksgiving at New Urban Arts

Saturday, November 27th, 2010

New Urban Arts, the Providence art center, celebrated Thanksgiving on Tuesday with “Artsgiving, an annual event where every person in the studio takes a name out of a hat and spends an hour making a gift for that person in the studio,” they reported. “Last night we had 65 youth, artists and even alums participate. At the end, we sit in a (very) big circle and everyone shares what they received and finds out who made their gift.” Rob Macinnis, a photography mentor at New Urban Arts, documented the event with the time-lapse video above.

Mark Bradford speaks

Friday, November 26th, 2010

Los Angeles artist Mark Bradford spoke with us on Nov. 16, 2010, at the Boston Institute of Contemporary Art, where his solo survey runs from Nov. 19, 2010, to March 13, 2011. Below are excerpts from the interview.

“The reason I use paper is because paper is so unforgiving. It’s opaque. It doesn’t give it up. We view paint through an art historical context anyway. I can make paint do a certain thing and it theoretically looks sensual or it theoretically, if you add a little more linseed oil, it can glow. Well paper is just hard. You’ve really got to struggle with it to lift it. And sometimes it doesn’t. And it demands its physicality. And it has a different use. I knew that I was going to be a painter and I know that I could not use paint. Not because I have a problem with paint, but the ideas I was interested in, I just knew that couldn’t use paint to talk about them. And struggle with it [paper]. Sometimes it will just not give it up.”

“I just think I created a site of two things, a sort of relationship with Abstract Expressionism and a social vocabulary, and I just kind of created them both in a third space, and something happened in that third space. My work has so much social fabric underneath. It has a lot to do with social, economic, cultural, racial, the body, the social condition that we all meet and bounce around in. It doesn’t all belong to that tenet, and it doesn’t all belong to art history. It bounces between the two, or those two conditions that exist at the same time. Like the Michael Jackson song, ‘I never can say goodbye.’ I can’t paint and forget about the body. And I can’t simply talk about the social conditions because I’m interested in the history, the art history.”

“I know my relationship to being 6’8”, but when I step out of my house, it’s just incredible what 6’8” means to so many people.”

“When you put together a show of the work of the last 10 years, you really see about one or two points over and over again. It’s not like I’m this person that has thousands of ideas. People, we just circulate around one or two things. We all do that. I just have these two tenets: I actually want to engage a social political conversation about the contemporary world that I live in or my relationship to it, and at the same time I do want to abstract it. The only way I can kind of abstract it, or what’s comfortable for me, is to do it through sort of alchemical things, to work in abstraction.”

On his installation “HELP US” (pictured above), which featured the title painted atop Steve Turner Contemporary gallery in Los Angeles in 2008. It was seen by many as a response to 2005’s Hurricane Katrina: “I knew about the Hurricane Katrina thing and of course that was on one level. … But I was also kind of fascinated with this uber, uber market in the art world. Things were just tripling, and quadrupling, and it seemed like it was the art world on steroids. I just thought that something had to give. I think because I was an artist also navigating that space, I just felt that something was going to give, something was going to snap or break or crash or fall. This gallery asked me to do this work, yeah, it was partly this aerial view of looking down, this topography, but also I think internally I was struggling with trying to reconcile my own relationship to the market and reconcile my relationship to the art world is just on steroids. I said, ‘I don’t think this can really hold.’ And the housing market was on steroids. Everything was hyper, hyper. I just felt I’m not so sure. … It was New Orleans, but also at the same time it was on top of a small gallery. I always had these two tenants going on. But I always socially go to things that are very hot, because my history is very hot. I grew up in the ‘80s with the rise of AIDS, the rise of gangsta rap, the rise of crack cocaine, and the rise of the black faith church. Those were just really hot things. I was 18 years old right in 1980 and it was hot socially. So working in a hair salon I was sort of at ground zero with all that stuff socially. My mother was a hair stylist and I was a hair stylist. So for me socially the impact of that stuff was so great in the black community, and so personal, intimate for me. What I really understand now looking at the work, I think that it was too traumatic. I think that it was simply traumatic. I went to Europe for 10 years. I went to school. And just like with Abstract Expressionism, where many of them came from Europe after the war and they had to sort of deal with the trauma through abstraction, I think in some ways all the stuff I talk about socially was traumatizing for me. So I think I use the tenets of abstraction to actually point to things in the social condition. Like I can talk about the grid and propane, the infiniteness of the art historical grid where one place is no different than any other place and it multiplies, multiplies, multiplies. But if you take that piece and put it in the social and talk about what happened in New Orleans and what happened to individuals, it’s sad in a way. I guess it’s sad, but it’s necessary for me.”

“It’s micro and macro at the same time.”

“But I’m not a downer, I’m not a depressed person, but I don’t mind taking on hard issues. I’m comfortable putting that on the tale as well.”

On his 2005 video “Niagara,” which depicts a black man sashaying down a littered L.A. street: “When people understand or talk about Los Angeles, and if they particularly talk about South Central, unfortunately South Central through popular culture, the gaze has been so narrowed of what it means to people: hip hop. And then hip-hop conjures up all these imagery of a very particular type of masculinity, a very particular type of woman, a very particular type of community. It’s Snoop, and it’s a hyper, hyper aggressive angry female. When I grew up in the ‘70s, we never had a word like ‘Oh, she’s ghetto.’ I never even heard that word, that identifying pointing to her as other, to him as other. So I’m always interested in spaces that point to other conversations. And Melvin, he walks in front of my studio every day and I was just so fascinated by how he owns this public space, how he’s not afraid, how he is in his own subjectivity and how he is negotiating. But also he seems very vulnerable to me because the threat of violence is very, very present. So I just asked him could just put a camera right when he walked by. But at the same time I kind of wanted to protect him too. Or say, ‘Do you know where you’re walking?’ [He’d say] ‘Of course I know where I’m walking.’ And he would walk sometimes with a baseball bat. He had good cause. So I thought that how can you be black, be an artist, have your studio in South Central, and talk about abstraction? Like is it even possible when it’s so heavily figurative, heavily figurative? I can go to China and say so my studio’s in South Central, ‘Oh, South Central.’ Everybody has an idea of what South Central is. But it’s so romantic, and it’s been so hyper, hyper, hyper historicized in a particular way. So I thought, you know, the best way I can do it is just work through abstraction. But the social stuff is still there.”

“I don’t believe that abstraction just belongs to this art historical sublime, transcendence, a way of expressing some raw animal thing. No, I actually am just the opposite. I’m actually using abstraction to actually talk about social conditions, but using abstraction, the tenets, the tools of it. I don’t really believe in the sublime of abstraction. That’s why I use paper actually. I don’t believe in this esoteric sublime because if you keep pushing that thought back it goes to this godlike figure. And if you keep pushing it back, just keep going, keep going, what’s that god figure look like? It’s usually some big patriarchal dude sitting on a … no I’m not going there.” It’s also white. “It’s not a woman. So I just kind of stay out of that whole thing. The big truths I tend to kind of steer away from because I know where that conversation is going.”

“I’m trying to wrench the idea of the sublime out of this thing that has been part of modernity and say a sublime here, a very grounded sublime, a sublime that when you put bodies together something happens when people are together there is an energy that happens. That type of sublime or connection or relationship I’m fine with, but when it starts to go to the tenets of greatness, the hand of God, because you know I’ve got to be real careful with that stuff. I have an alternative lifestyle so if you bring that stuff into the conversation I already know where it’s going to go. I know it’s going to turn on me. I know where it’s all going, so I just try to stay out of that whole thing. I just ground it in my relationships.”

Photos of Bradford by The New England Journal of Aesthetic Research.

Mark Bradford

Thursday, November 25th, 2010

Below is our review of Los Angeles artist Mark Bradford’s (pictured above in front of his 2006 collage “Scorched Earth”) solo survey at Boston’s Institute of Contemporary Art. Also read our interview of Bradford here.

Mark Bradford is one of those lucky artists who has figured out how to do one thing terrifically well. The artworks in his great Institute of Contemporary Art survey resemble transcendent Abstract Expressionist paintings of the 1950s, but they’re actually elaborate, mural-sized collages built from pasted and battered and gouged layers of paper collected from billboards and posters that advertise movies, vodka, smartphones, cars, paternity testing.

His art looks and feels like an archæology of down-at-the-heel urban America. The compositions often resemble city maps; textures suggest urban decay. The advertisements are recycled from Los Angeles’s South Central neighborhood, where he spent his first 10 years and now has his studio.

Read the rest here.

Mark Bradford, ICA, 100 Northern Ave., Boston, Nov. 19, 2010, to March 13, 2011.

Photo of Bradford at top by The New England Journal of Aesthetic Research.
Bradford, “Strawberry,” 2002.

Bradford, “Untitled (Shoe),” 2003.

Bradford, “Smokey,” 2003.

Bradford, “Potable Water,” 2005.

Bradford, “Black Venus,” 2005.

Bradford, “Scorched Earth,” 2006.

Bradford, “Corner of Desire and Piety,” 2008.

Bradford, “You’re Nobody (Til Somebody Kills You),” 2009.

Bradford, “Taking Up the Cross,” 2009.

Hudson River School

Wednesday, November 24th, 2010

From our archives, a review of “American Splendor: Hudson River School Masterworks From the Wadsworth Atheneum Collection,” a fall 2006 exhibit at the Wadsworth Atheneum in Hartford, Connecticut, which featured works on view regularly as part of the museum’s permanent collection. This essay was originally published in The Boston Globe:

Returning from one of his invigorating rambles through the Catskills, the artist Thomas Cole declared: “The painter of American scenery has, indeed, privileges superior to any other. All nature here is new to art.”

The first European colonists found North America’s dark woods haunted by “savages” and witches, but for Cole and his 19th-century artist pals, who would become known as the Hudson River School, the wilderness offered, as Cole wrote, “prospects mighty and sublime.” And that, too, is a good way to describe “American Splendor: Hudson River School Masterworks From the Wadsworth Atheneum Collection,” at the Hartford museum.

Colonial American art had been dominated by portraits of bigwigs, but the Hudson River painters, fueled by cultural nationalism, created the nation’s first significant school of landscape painting. The school got its name from the Hudson River Valley in upstate New York, where they often spent their summers prospecting for sights to transform into ravishing canvases in Manhattan studios each winter. But they ranged through New England as well, and as far south as the Caribbean and Latin America. Others tagged along with government expeditions surveying the West. They were the sort of mutton-chopped romantics who found nothing more enchanting than being caught in a downpour.

In Cole’s 1827 “View in the White Mountains” (pictured at top) sun spotlights a pioneer with an ax over his shoulder walking up a dirt road puddled by the previous night’s rain. In the distance, a river snakes through a valley below shadowy peaks and snow-capped Mount Washington. Here Cole is pioneering the Hudson River look: precisely observed vast wildernesses, often amalgamations of various landscapes, carved out by deft use of light.

A favorite subject was Niagara Falls. Though populated by tourist hotels by 1820, it epitomized the group’s reverence for the wonders of untamed nature. In Thomas Chambers’s “Niagara Falls,” c. 1835 (pictured above), a winning but uncharacteristically folksy Hudson River painting, a frontiersman perches on a boulder amid the cotton-ball mist at the foot of the torrent. Chambers simplifies the scene, reducing it to its distinctive elements, like a memory of the place.

Curator Elizabeth Mankin Kornhauser highlights the group’s affiliations with Atheneum founder Daniel Wadsworth and Hartford collector Elizabeth Hart Jarvis Colt. Wadsworth set up Hartford native Frederic Edwin Church as Cole’s apprentice. And according to Cole, “Church has the finest eye for drawing in the world.”

Church’s 4-foot-by-7-foot panorama “Vale of St. Thomas, Jamaica,” 1867 (pictured above), a commission from Colt, exemplifies the spectacles Hudson River painters created at the movement’s zenith. You look down an overgrown mountainside to a wide river meandering through a lush valley. Rain pours down at the left, obscuring the sun. A church on a hill in the distance seems the only sign of humanity. You can just look and look at the endless details, up and down the peaks, along the river, as if you’re hovering on the updrafts with the birds.

Some artists, inspired by Transcendentalism and chastened by the Civil War, adopted a more meditative tone. Sanford Robinson Gifford’s 1866 “A Passing Storm in the Adirondacks” (pictured above) shows cattle drinking from a lazy river in pastures at the foot of mountain peaks reaching toward clearing skies. He derived the calm composition from sketches he penciled during an 1863 trip, but the clearly focused center and blurry edges suggest the influence of photography, the new invention threatening to supplant the group’s realistic brand of painting.

Albert Bierstadt continued to produce stunning landscapes that rivaled Church’s work. A trio of California scenes (pictured above, “In the Mountains,” 1867) depicts wide slow rivers, sheer misty cliffs, snowy peaks, and tumbling waterfalls. “We are now here in the garden of Eden,” he proclaimed of an 1863 trip to Yosemite. It’s a sentiment that runs back to the Puritans and remains engrained in American responses to nature today. Ultimately the Hudson River School was an art of nostalgia, warning of the pure New World being lost in an increasingly urban and industrial nation.

Interest in the style waned as the 19th century wound down. American artists and patrons, released from the Civil War and still feeling culturally insecure, turned their attention to the Old World. In France, Edouard Manet and the Impressionists were leading an artistic revolution that celebrated busy city streets and bustling cafes, steaming trains and landscapes embroidered with bridges. It was the art of the future.

Nick Hollibaugh

Wednesday, November 24th, 2010

From our review of Nick Hollibaugh’s show at Cade Tompkins Projects, which closed on Nov. 14:

Nick Hollibaugh, whose exhibit “Witness,” at Cade Tompkins Projects (198 Hope Street, Providence, through November 14), mulls the architecture of farming. Harvest Temple is a miniature barn set atop three joined cylinders that resemble grain silos, painted three shades of rust red. One sculpture stretches a barn until it resembles a covered bridge and puts it under a gray cloud; another work forms a cross from simple barn shapes, with the arms bending forward to embrace you. Field is a shallow box with a barnlike peaked roof painted three shades of green in the pattern of an American flag.

The sculptures are ash wood — the framing covered with narrow strips that resemble the laths they used to nail to wall studs as a foundation for plaster before this method was supplanted by plasterboard. Sometimes his strips also resemble the furrows of farm fields. Hollibaugh carefully aligns or misaligns the strips to create vibrating rhythms. He does it all with the marvelous polished craftsmanship of studio furniture making, but also a bit of its homogenization. Which makes sense because he earned a master’s in furniture design from RISD in 2003. (He had a studio in Providence, before setting up his current shop in Douglas, Massachusetts.) The results are fresh, elegant, Shaker simplicity. But his barns, crosses, and American flags also feel a bit like stereotypes, or Rorschach tests onto which we can project whatever feelings we have about rural America.

Read the end here.

Nick Hollibaugh, “Witness,” Cade Tompkins Projects, 198 Hope St., Providence, Sept. 24 to Nov. 14, 2010.

Pictured at top: Hollibaugh, “Harvest Temple.”
Hollibaugh, “Crossing Lines.”

Hollibaugh, “Oil House.”

Umberto Crenca

Tuesday, November 23rd, 2010

From our review of AS220 co-founder and artistic director Umberto Crenca’s exhibit “You Can’t Call Your Own Baby Ugly” at AS220 in Providence:

If you’ve been around the Providence art scene very long, you’ve surely heard the story. In the early 1980s, Umberto Crenca exhibited at the Antonio Dattorro Studio Gallery and the Providence Journal panned his art as shallow and simplistic. Crenca and his pals felt it demonstrated how the art establishment didn’t understand and excluded them. They responded with a 1982 manifesto, which laid out what became the founding principles of AS220, which Crenca and friends founded in 1985.
Now as AS220 is celebrating its 25th anniversary year, Crenca has filled the alternative space’s galleries with “You Can’t Call Your Own Baby Ugly,” a retrospective of his art of the past decade or so.

As AS220′s artistic director over the past generation, Crenca, who is now 60, has led a team of determined artistic rascals who have been central to the so-called Providence renaissance. The twin foundations of the local art scene are RISD, one of the best art schools in the world which attracts top talent to Providence, and AS220, the downtown center which reaches out to the city, while also providing a crossroads in its café, galleries, studios, apartments, and concert hall, where ideas get exchanged, composted, and electrified. Not to mention that AS220 has become the launching pad where so many local artists have gotten their first public showing.

Crenca is the ringmaster, the great man at the center of AS220′s great, generous, inspiring, welcoming carnival. But his own work is, well, another thing.

Read the rest here.

Crenca interviewed by AS220: “I think my whole life has been dedicated to getting people to liberate themselves from a lot of the crap and self-imposed baggage, both as artists and in the general community as people. That’s reflected in my work as well.”
Our 2010 oral history of AS220 at 25.
Our cranky brief on Crenca’s 2007 show at Firehouse 13.

Umberto Crenca, “You Can’t Call Your Own Baby Ugly,” As220 Main Gallery, 115 Empire St., and AS220 Project Space, 93 Mathewson St., Providence, Nov. 7 to 27, 2010.

Poor Yokelist’s Almanack: Upcoming Events

Monday, November 22nd, 2010

Thursday, Nov. 25, noon
United American Indians of New England hold their 41st annual “National Day of Mourning” (pictured above) at Coles Hill, Plymouth Massachusetts.

Tuesday, Nov. 30, 12:30 p.m.
Michael Rees speaks at School of the Museum of Fine Arts, room B311, 230 The Fenway, Boston. (Pictured above: Rees’s 2004 “Putto 4 over 4″ at DeCordova.)

Wednesday, Dec. 1, 7:30 p.m.
Fred Wilson speaks at Smith College’s Campus Center Carroll Room, near Elm Street at Bedford Terrace, Northampton, Massachusetts.

Wednesday, Dec. 1, 5:30 p.m.
The Hive presents “What It Takes: An Evening of Biographies,” a panel discussion by Amie Plante, Anna Shapiro and Julie Brigidi at Brown University’s Sarah Doyle Women’s Center, 26 Benevolent St., Providence, as part of the Hive’s ongoing a series of informal workshops for people who want to turn their creative work into a sustainable living. Free.

Anthony Quinn

Monday, November 22nd, 2010

Rhode Island College’s Bannister Gallery delves into the hidden side of local star in “Anthony Quinn: A Modernist Vision.” Quinn (1915-2001) is best known for his acting in films from La Strada to Zorba the Greek, but he was also a sculptor and, at the end of his life, a resident of Bristol, Rhode Island. Gallery director James Montford rounds up 24 drawings and 14 sculptures from the 1970s and ’80s that are deeply derivative of Picasso. One untitled drawing from the ’70s could be a Picasso portrait of his last wife Jacqueline. More interesting are a series of abstracted, streamlined marble heads that echo Picasso and Brancusi. They lack the soul of great art, but you can appreciate their polished craft.

“Anthony Quinn: A Modernist Vision,” Rhode Island College’s Bannister Gallery, 600 Mount Pleasant Avenue, Providence, through Nov. 4 to 24, 2010.

Pictured above: Quinn, “The Kiss,” marble, 1985.
Quinn, “Alhambra,” marble, 1985.

Quinn, “The Kiss II,” marble, 1985.

MFA opens Art of Americas wing Nov. 20

Saturday, November 20th, 2010

Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts opens its new Art of the Americas wing with free admission today, Nov. 20, 2010.

The completion of the Museum of Fine Arts’ new 121,307-square-foot Art of the Americas Wing is an America-the-beautiful, knock-your-socks-off survey of great art. Many months will be needed to get a full sense of it all. And there are gaps. But it is at once the most significant and comprehensive collection of American art and American history in the region, enabling the museum to rival, though not best, its peers in New York and DC.

Greater Boston has seen a wealth of museum building over the past decade (new Institute of Contemporary Art, expanded Peabody Essex Museum in Salem, renovated Addison Gallery in Andover, Gardner Museum expanding, Harvard undergoing renovations), and that’s put our most significant art collections in storage. The MFA’s $345 million expansion and renovation, of which the new wing is just part, adds 49 sumptuous new galleries (plus four educational rooms) to display more than 5000 objects, twice the number of American works that the museum had had on view. … Suddenly, the Boston art world feels reset on a firm foundation that we may not have even realized we were missing.

Read the rest here.

Museum of Fine Arts opens its new Art of the Americas Wing, 465 Huntington Ave., Boston, Nov. 20, 2010.

Pictured at top: MFA Director Malcolm Rogers speaks at a Nov. 12 preview in the new courtyard, with the new wing behind him. All photos here by The New England Journal of Aesthetic Research. Additional photos are here.
The first floor showcases Philadelphia painter Thomas Sully’s sweeping, 17-foot-wide 1819 canvas of George Washington astride a white horse after crossing the Delaware.

Showstopper displays of ship models symbolize the international maritime trade that fueled Boston’s development.

Folk art, including the landmark 1890s appliqué quilt by freed slave Harriet Powers, was among the many amazing donations to the MFA from the Russian Jewish opera tenor Maxim Karolik and his millionairess Boston Brahmin wife, Martha. When the MFA looks for vision, it should ask itself: what would the Karoliks do?

The crowd filling the new courtyard during the museum’s Nov. 12 preview. The old exterior wall becomes an interior structure in the new design, with lights that shine up between the columns.

The interior of the large, sunny, but otherwise unremarkable glassed-in courtyard designed by London firm Foster + Partners.

The exterior resembles a bland Longwood Medical Area hospital — and looks as inviting.

C.W. Roelle

Thursday, November 18th, 2010

From our review of C.W. Roelle’s exhibit at Craftland in Providence, which closed on Nov. 13:

C.W. Roelle of Providence twists black wire into dazzling optical illusion magic tricks resembling pen drawings whose lines have wandered off pages and into the air. His show “Lamp Lit” is more evidence that he’s one of our most exciting artists.

Roelle’s sculpture “KBC” (pictured above) is a three-dimensional wire birdcage suspended from a two-dimensional wire rendering of a tree branch. Another flat branch runs through the cage. Cute, flat koalas climb on the branches, in and out of the cage. This alluringly surreal vision of a cage overrun by koalas (including a baby koala clinging to an adult’s back) echoes and amplifies Roelle’s strange, intriguing shifts between flat and three-dimensional space.

Read the rest here.

Roelle at AS220 in 2009.

C.W. Roelle, “Lamp Lit,” Craftland, 235 Westminster Street, Providence, Oct. 14 to Nov. 13, 2010.

Above: Roelle’s “Cozy.”