Saturday, March 27, 2010

ICA repairs storm damaged roof

Boston's Institute of Contemporary Art closed some galleries Thursday as it repaired damage to its roof caused by the recent storms, according to an ICA spokeswoman.

"As you know, we had an historic storm, and many buildings in the region were impacted," ICA director of marketing and communications Donna Desrochers told The New England Journal of Aesthetic Research on Friday. "It caused some water damage to the roof and as a precaution we closed a portion of the galleries so we could investigate and make any necessary repairs. Yesterday, only two galleries were closed to the public. The rest of the galleries were open to visitors. Repairs are now complete and all galleries are open."

One ICA visitor described the galleries that had been closed to The New England Journal of Aesthetic Research thusly: "The entrance to the Horn show was closed. A guard standing by directed visitors to enter the galleries on the opposite side. ... The closed galleries had plastic taped from floor to ceiling and tall temporary fabric walls obscured the views inside, and the lights were off."

Friday, March 26, 2010

“Pieced Together” at NH Historical Society

The New Hampshire Historical Society in Concord has just opened “Pieced Together: New Hampshire Quilts and Their Stories,” which showcases 15 quilts from the 18th to 20th centuries from the society’s collection. In addition, the exhibit highlights more than 50 antique quilt patterns, like the “Blazing Star” design (above), from the society’s extraordinary archive of patterns that Ellen Webster (1867-1950) recorded during travels across Massachusetts, New York, Illinois, South Dakota, Virginia and her native New Hampshire.

The quilts and Webster’s patterns are tangible connections to our past. Around 1931, Webster used cotton and cardboard to copy the “Double T” or “Boxed T” pattern (below) of a quilt owned by a Mrs. Smith of Hebron, New Hampshire. The Ts in the pattern represented the Woman’s Christian Temperance Union, founded in 1873 to fight the damage drinking did to families (think domestic violence and financial costs) and society. The group often sang and prayed in saloons, urging bar owners to stop selling alcohol. It was part of a widespread movement that lead to the passage of the 18th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which outlawed the manufacture, sale and transport of “intoxicating liquors” in the United States from 1919 to 1933.

“Pieced Together: New Hampshire Quilts and Their Stories,” New Hampshire Historical Society, 30 Park St., Concord, New Hampshire, March 23, 2010, to Jan. 10, 2011.

Pictured from top to bottom: Ellen E. Webster “Blazing Star” pattern, c. 1933; Nancy Simes Nutter Hoit Kaime (1793–1875) of Barnstead, “Appliqué Geometric Quilt,” c. 1860; Webster, “Double T” or “Boxed T” Pattern, c. 1931; Webster, "Pressed Quilt" pattern, c. 1933; Webster, “Peony” Pattern, c. 1933; Webster, “Oak Leaf” Pattern, c. 1933; and Webster, “Basket” Pattern, c. 1933.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

"Who Shot Rock & Roll" at Worcester Art Museum

From our review of "Who Shot Rock & Roll" at the Worcester Art Museum:
It is May 1966, in the Prelude Club in Harlem, an Atlantic Records release party. Wilson Pickett, who had released “In the Midnight Hour” the year before, appears super suave, with his hair slicked up and back, his pencil moustache, and his sharkskin suit and thin tie. He leans into a microphone and lets loose.

Behind him stand two guitarists, loose and laid back in contrast to Pickett’s hot-coal intensity. In William “PoPsie” Randolph’s photo of that moment — which is part of the Worcester Art Museum’s “Selections from Who Shot Rock & Roll: A Photographic History, 1955 to the Present” — you might recognize the guitarist on the right, in a neat suit and bow tie, as Jimi Hendrix. The only signs of the later psychedelic-guitar god, aside from that familiar smile, are his pompadour, ruffled shirt, and left-handed guitar.

In June the following year, Hendrix performs at the Monterey Pop Festival in California. He is transformed, now wearing a hippie vest, rings, an Afro, and an extravagantly ruffled shirt. Seventeen-year-old Ed Caraeff, who’s seated at the edge of the stage, has never seen or heard Hendrix before. It is still two months before his debut album, "Are You Experienced," will be released in the United States. But as Hendrix sets his guitar on the stage and squirts it with lighter fluid, Caraeff stands on his chair and clicks away with his camera.

Shown here are four shots: Hendrix spraying the guitar, Hendrix kneeling on the stage and lighting a match, Hendrix spraying more fluid onto the burning guitar, and Hendrix kneeling before the guitar as if in worship and fanning the flames. That last one, which became a holy icon of rock and roll, was the final frame on Caraeff’s roll of film.

Randolph’s photo of Pickett and Hendrix balances on the tipping point between one era and the next.
Read the rest here.

“Who Shot Rock & Roll: A Photographic History, 1955 to the Present," Worcester Art Museum, 55 Salisbury St, Worcester, Massachusetts, March 7 to May 30, 2010.

Related:Aug. 18, 2009: "Seeting Songs" at MFA.

Pictured from top to bottom: William "PoPsie" Randolph, "Jimi Hendrix and Wilson Pickett, Prelude Club, Atlantic Records release party," May 5, 1966; Shawn Motensen, "Courtney Love," December 1993; and Max Vadukul, "Amy Winehouse," May 18, 2007.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Pat Steir

From our review of "Pat Steir: Drawing Out of Line" at the RISD Museum:
The wreckage at the end of Modernist art's main thrust is the starting point for "Pat Steir: Drawing Out of Line," a four-decade retrospective of the New Yorker's drawings at the RISD Museum. Modernism's drive to break art down to its essential, atomic, abstract elements climaxed in the '60s with Minimalism's all-white paintings and giant steel cubes and then Conceptual art's dematerialization of art altogether. Steir is part of a generation of artists who, beginning in the '70s, struggled to pick up the pieces and reverse engineer art again.

Steir's early efforts are often awkward and at times tedious, but RISD curator Jan Howard — who helped organize Steir's last major drawing and print retrospective at the University of Kansas in 1983 — and independent curator Susan Harris assemble them into a sharp, scholarly show, one of the best of the year. And about two-thirds of the way through, it explodes into ravishing beauty.
Read the rest here.

"Pat Steir: Drawing Out of Line,"RISD Museum, 224 Benefit Street, Providence, Feb. 19 to July 3, 2010.

Pictured from top to bottom: Pat Steir, "The Austria Group. No. 2," 1991; "The Burial Mound at Stonehenge," 1973; Untitled, 1985; "February Series, II," 1991; "Drawing," 1991-92; and Untitled, 2008. All ©Pat Steir and courtesy of the artist. Some from the RISD Museum. One from the Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY, USA. Digital image ©The Museum of Modern Art/Licensed by SCALA/Art Resources, NY.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Health care and American creativity

“I'm signing this reform bill into law on behalf of my mother, who argued with insurance companies even as she battled cancer in her final days.” – President Barack Obama upon signing federal health care legislation into law today.
Artists and other creative folks will be among the big beneficiaries of the federal health care bill signed into law by President Barack Obama today.

The federal law resembles in many ways the health care reform passed in Massachusetts in 2006. And in Massachusetts, artists and writers and musicians and actors have significantly benefited from this change. Many of us in the arts just barely get by financially, meaning that many of us have qualified for fully- or partly-subsidized health care under the Massachusetts law.

Artists tend to be free agents, cobbling together incomes from multiple part-time gigs that all too often don’t provide health care. This law helps fill that gap – a gap that art folks like any independent entrepreneurs often face. In doing so it promotes creativity – in the arts, in business, in life in general – by allowing Americans to go out on their own with less fear that they’re risking their lives if they do.