Archive for June, 2011

Breaking: Rose settlement

Thursday, June 30th, 2011

Brandeis University is pledging not to sell art from its Rose Museum’s extraordinary collection of 20th century art in a settlement with four benefactors of the museum.

“From a legal point of view, they agree not to sell the art. They have no intention to sell the art,” says Jonathan Lee, who with Meryl Rose and Lois Foster sued the school in July 2009–Gerald Fineberg subsequently joined the plaintiffs–to halt Brandeis administrators’ plan, announced that January, to close the museum and sell its collection as the Waltham school faced financial problems.

“It is a statement saying we have no intention to sell the art,” says Frederick M. Lawrence, who began work as Brandeis’s president in January. He called it a “great day” for Brandeis and the Rose Museum.

“We do have a settlement,” Rose says. “It’s not a perfect agreement, but it basically says they’re not going to sell art. That’s the thing we were fighting for.”

Lee says the agreement goes beyond what they’d asked from Brandeis, which was just that it adhere to American museum standards for deaccessioning of art. And despite the 2009 threat from Brandeis leaders, the museum remains open (renovations are going on this summer) and the school says it didn’t end up selling any of the Rose collection between then and now.

“What made the change is a brand new [Brandeis] administration,” Lee says. “The other administration had dug into one course.” Since then Brandeis President Jehuda Reinharz announced plans to close the Rose and sell its collection in 2009, there has been an administrative exodus from the school, including Reinharz, Chief Operating Officer Peter French, Vice President of Financial Affairs Maureen Murphy, and Dean of Admissions Gil Villanueva. Provost Marty Kraus also stepped down, though after a sabbatical she is expected to continue to teach at Brandeis.

Lawrence says, “I think the major thing was a focus on the future, not on the past.” He also notes that “the economic circumstances of Brandeis–and the whole world–are much different” from early days of the Great Recession that began nearly three years ago. Brandeis’s endowment has returned close to its all time high and the school’s budget is, though not completely free of challenges, at least stable, he says.

After he became Brandeis president in January, Lawrence began having conversations with some of the plaintiffs that lead to the final agreement, which he says was accepted by the Suffolk Probate and Family Court in Boston yesterday. Lee says he was notified when Lawrence called him this morning. “Obviously I’m extremely happy,” Lee tells The New England Journal of Aesthetic Research. “We’ve managed to preserve this outstanding collection of modern art in New England for future generations.” Lee said the suit has helped bring international attention to the value of such historic collections: “These are longterm assets for society and you just don’t sell them off because you’ve got an operating problem.”

“Hopefully they’ll put money back into the museum, and hire good people, and take care of the art,” Rose says. “I think the new president has his heart in the right place and wants to do the right thing.”

Last September, Brandeis announced that it had launched a search for a new director for the Rose. The last director was Michael Rush, who was pushed out by Brandeis in June 2009. Since then, Roy Dawes has overseen the museum and organized exhibitions as director of museum operations. Lawrence says, “I never thought it would be impossible” to hire a director with the litigation ongoing, but “it would be vastly preferable” to have the case resolved. He hopes that with the lawsuit settled that “the search can really ramp into high gear.”

Lee said he was impressed when Lawrence “said to me, ‘If you don’t understand the aesthetic of modern art, you don’t understand Brandeis.’” Lawrence tells The New England Journal of Aesthetic Research that the identity and ethos of the school, which was founded in 1948 as a nonsectarian university under the sponsorship of the American Jewish community, comes out of post World War II modernism.

“We’ve got a guy who understands the role of this collection for Brandeis,” Lee says.

Update 12:15 p.m.
Brandeis just released the following statement:

Brandeis, plaintiffs settle Rose Art Museum lawsuit

Parties agree to focus on the future of the important cultural treasure

Brandeis University and four Rose Art Museum supporters who filed suit two years ago against the university over its handling of the museum during the financial crisis have settled the case and say they are now focused on the future of one of the region’s greatest cultural treasures.

As a result, the claims of plaintiffs Meryl Rose, Jonathan Lee, Lois Foster and Gerald Fineberg have been dismissed in Suffolk Probate and Family Court in Boston. On June 20, the Massachusetts Office of the Attorney General terminated its review of Brandeis.

“This is a very good day for Brandeis and the Rose Art Museum and people who care deeply about both,” said President Fred Lawrence. “The Rose is and will remain an active and valued part of Brandeis. We are thrilled that this is behind us and we look forward to celebrating the museum’s 50th anniversary this fall.”

The settlement agreement, which brings to an end all claims concerning management of the Rose and the potential sale of artwork, states that the Rose is, and will remain a university art museum open to the public and that Brandeis has no plan to sell artwork.

The agreement reiterates the university’s policy, adopted by a vote of the board of trustees in March, 2010, that the Rose Art Museum will remain a university museum open to the public and that it will be better integrated into the educational mission of the university.

The origins of the dispute stretch back to January 2009, when the board of trustees, in the midst of a historic economic downturn, voted to authorize the sale of artwork if necessary – a move that sparked widespread and prolonged controversy. However, the university sold no artwork and 13 months ago Brandeis announced it would explore a range of alternatives to the sale of art as a means of realizing value from a portion of the collection while maintaining ownership of the artwork.

Malcolm L. Sherman, chairman of the Brandeis Board of Trustees, called the settlement “an outstanding resolution of a difficult community issue.”

The agreement notes that the settlement followed “a series of constructive and collegial conversations about the Rose Art Museum and its future,” between President Lawrence and the plaintiffs.

“We’re very pleased that the case has been settled,” said Roy Dawes, director of museum operations at the Rose Art Museum. “It is another important step forward for the Rose and we look forward to bringing new and vibrant contemporary art to the community.”

Allen Alter, former head of the Brandeis Alumni Association and a current university trustee, added: “This is great news for our alumni, who treasure the Rose and take pride in it as part of the Brandeis experience, for them and for future students.”

The agreement also reaffirms that Brandeis will continue its search for a new museum director. A search committee was named last year to fill that position, which will carry the title of the Henry and Lois Foster Director of the Rose Art Museum.

The museum, which houses New England’s preeminent collection of modern and contemporary American art, currently is undergoing extensive renovations, funded by Gerald and Sandra Fineberg, to enhance the appearance of the original building, to make it more energy efficient and to create a better physical environment for the collection. The work is scheduled to be completed this fall in time for the 50th anniversary exhibition.

MFA makes deal to retain Dutch painting with murky WWII past

Tuesday, June 28th, 2011

The Museum of Fine Arts has worked out a financial deal with the estate of a German Jewish art dealer killed at Auschwitz in 1943 that allows the Boston museum to retain ownership of a 17th century Dutch painting that the MFA believes the man likely was forced to part with due to persecution by Nazi Germany.

Walter Westfeld (1889–1945) ran an art gallery in Elberfeld (present-day Wuppertal) from 1920 until he was forced to close in May 1936, after he unsuccessfully appealed an order from the Reichs Chamber of Fine Arts forbidding him, as a Jewish person, from working as an art dealer.

The MFA reports that that very month an exhibition of art owned by Westfeld was held at the Galerie Kleucker in Düsseldorf, including a “Company Scene” by Dutch painter Eglon van der Neer (1634–1703), which the MFA believes “was almost certainly the MFA painting” now called “Portrait of a Man and Woman in an Interior” (1665–67). The MFA says after this the “the painting’s paper trail ends,” but Westfeld was forced to sell his gallery stock. “Whether the van der Neer painting was among the stock sold at this time, or was considered Westfeld’s private property and remained in his possession, is not known,” the MFA says.

In violation of German law, Westfeld secretly continued to sell paintings to make a living—including smuggling paintings into France and the Amsterdam, where they were seized and sold after Germany invaded the Netherlands in May 1940. He was arrested for violating German foreign exchange laws in November 1938 and artworks found in his possession were auctioned in a “forced sale … from a non-Aryan collection” the following year.

Westfeld spent the rest of his life in German captivity—more than a year of pre-trial custody before he was found guilty of foreign exchange violations in January 1940, then time in a couple prisons before being deported in 1942 to the Theresienstadt concentration camp and in January 1943 to Auschwitz.

“The MFA’s van der Neer painting could have left Westfeld’s possession in a variety of ways. It may have been sold or traded in Germany, liquidated through the Galerie Kleucker, sold or otherwise left in the Netherlands or smuggled into France,” said Victoria Reed, the Museum’s Monica S. Sadler Curator for Provenance, who researched the painting. “Its exact provenance may never be known; however, it is difficult to imagine a scenario by which he sold the painting voluntarily, receiving proceeds over which he had free disposal.”

The MFA says it bought “Portrait of a Man and Woman in an Interior” from E. and A. Silberman Galleries in New York in 1941, where the dealer told MFA curator W. G. Constable that it was “brought to this country by a refugee some time ago, and I wish I were able to supply you with more information.” Silberman, which no longer exists, appears to have purchased the painting in the spring of 1941, the MFA reports, but it has not been ascertained from whom.

The MFA posted the painting to its website in 2000, as part of research into and transparency about paintings in its collection with murky pasts. Westfeld’s nephew, Fred Westfield, a retired economics professor in Tennessee, saw the painting there in 2004. The MFA says, “discussions about the painting’s provenance followed.” The MFA did not disclose the sum it paid to retain the painting, which is now on view in the museum’s European galleries.

Previously: MFA settles with heirs of Nazi-looted tapestries.

Hartford park plan would alter Carl Andre public art

Monday, June 27th, 2011

“Stone Field Sculpture,” an arrangement of 36 boulders by the preeminent Minimalist sculptor Carl Andre in downtown Hartford near the Wadsworth Atheneum, could be damaged as part of a major plan to expand Hartford’s Bushnell Park, Real Art Ways director Will K. Wilkins writes in the Hartford Courant. Wilkins reports that park designers “have made an early proposal to rearrange some of the stones, and run water through a portion of ‘Stone Field.’” Andre, who was born and grew up in Quincy, Massachusetts and studied at Phillips Academy in Andover, Massachusetts, created the public artwork in 1977.

Update July 2: The Hartford Courant editorial board argues: “Downtown Sculpture Too Valuable to Alter … The iQuilt [park renovation] plan is a fine idea with great potential; it doesn’t need to reconfigure a famous piece of public art to succeed. … Hartford has lost too much of its physical past, too many treasures. ‘Stone Field’ is unlike anything anywhere else, a sublime piece of artistic place-making, part of city history, a must-see in downtown. It stays, as is.”

St. Peter’s Fiesta Sunday

Monday, June 27th, 2011

The 2011 St. Peter’s Fiesta in Gloucester, Massachusetts, concluded yesterday with the procession of religious statues and icons through the downtown, the third round of the Greasy Pole contest, and at 11 p.m. the closing procession of the St. Peter statue through the Fort neighborhood and fireworks. Above the men carrying the Mother of Grace statue are showered with confetti on Prospect Street.

Previously:
2011 St. Peter’s Fiesta Saturday

2011 St. Peter’s Fiesta Tuesday and Friday.

All photos copyright The New England Journal of Aesthetic Research.
A Madonna statue is trucked to the start of Sunday’s procession in St. Peter’s Square.

Honoring the saint at the Mother of Grace Club on Washington Street.

Men carrying the Madonna of the Annunciation icon shout blessings at the Mother of Grace Club.

Men carry the Madonna del Soccorso up Washington Street.

All the statues and icons lined up in front of Our Lady of Good Voyage Church.

Greasy Pole walkers ride out to the platform.

A walker climbs from the boat onto the Greasy Pole platform.

Alessandro D’Angelo grabs the flag (above and below).

Fireworks silhouette the St. Peter statue during the closing procession through the Fort Sunday night.

Poor Yokelist’s Almanack: Upcoming Events

Monday, June 27th, 2011

Tuesday, June 28, 7 p.m.
Thomas More College, 6 Manchester St., Merrimack, N.H., hosts a discussion “Beauty and the Renewal of Culture: An Evening with Catholic Artists” with portrait painter Henry Wingate, painter and architect David Mayernick, and Thomas More College iconographer David Clayton in the college library’s Helm Room. Free.

Thursday, June 30, 7 p.m.
Dylan Goettlich releases two new zines with a party at Amigos Publishing & Shop, 200 Allens Ave., studio 7f (second floor), Providence. Free.

Thursday, June 30, to Sunday, July 10
Brockton Fair in Brockton, Massachusetts, features a circus, live grizzly bear show, monster trucks, fireworks and demolitions derbies. $5

Saturday, July 2, 8:22 p.m.
WaterFire lights up 80 bonfires along the three rivers of downtown Providence.

Monday, July 4, 8 a.m.
Traditional satirical Independence Day Horribles Parade begins on Oak Street in Beverly Farms, Massachusetts.

Monday, July 4, 9 p.m.
Independence Day bonfire on Back Beach in Rockport, Massachusetts.

Monday, July 4, 10:30 p.m.
Fireworks on Boston’s Charles River Esplanade, accompanied by a free concert by the Boston Pops beginning at 8:30 p.m. Be one of the 800,000 to see it live. Or, you know, just watch it on TV.

St. Peter’s Fiesta Saturday

Sunday, June 26th, 2011

The 2011 St. Peter’s Fiesta in Gloucester, Massachusetts, continued Saturday with the second round of the Greasy Pole contest. Kraig Hill (pictured above) was carried up Pavilion Beach after he won.

Related: 2011 St. Peter’s Fiesta Tuesday and Friday.

2011 St. Peter’s Fiesta Sunday.

Photos copyright by The New England Journal of Aesthetic Research.
Greasy Pole walkers jump from the truck bringing them to the St. Peter’s Club on Rogers Street before the contest begins.

Walkers shout blessings to St. Peter on the Fiesta altar in St. Peter’s Square before the contest begins.

Friday 2011 Greasy Pole winner Joe Dasilva tries unsuccessfully to win again on Saturday.

Kraig Hill grabs the flag.

St. Peter’s Fiesta

Saturday, June 25th, 2011

The 2011 St. Peter’s Fiesta, the annual Italian, Catholic, fishing, drinking festival in Gloucester, Massachusetts, began this week. The statue of St. Peter was carried out of the Legion Hall (above), where it had stood for the Novena’s nine days of prayer, then carried down to Beach Court and back to the St. Peter’s Club on Rogers Street on Tuesday evening. Tonight the Fiesta began in earnest with the Friday Greasy Pole Contest and opening ceremonies. (Check out our Fiesta preview here.)

Related:
2011 St. Peter’s Fiesta Saturday

2011 St. Peter’s Fiesta Sunday.

All photos by The New England Journal of Aesthetic Research. We’re exhibiting highlights of our photography of the past three Fiestas in the front windows of Mystery Train in Gloucester until July 3.
The statue of St. Peter is carried up Beach Court after the last evening of the Novena, Tuesday.

The St. Peter statue is returned to the St. Peter Club Tuesday night to await the formal beginning of the Fiesta on Friday.

During today’s Greasy Pole Contest, one of the later walkers wraps his fingers around the flag as he falls, but is unable to pull it off the pole.

The next walker swipes at the flag–and misses–as he loses his balance and falls from the pole.

Joey Dasilva grabs the flag–and victory.

Confetti flies into the air during the opening ceremonies at the outdoor altar in St. Peter’s Square.

Pulp Fiction Paintings” at Brooks School

Thursday, June 23rd, 2011


From our review of “Pulp Fiction Paintings: Selections from the Robert Lesser Collection,” which closed June 11 at the Robert Lehman Art Center at Brooks School (sorry, we didn’t post this sooner, uh, we’ve been busy):

A tank with a giant drill on the front erupts from under the street of a burning city. Marching behind it is an invading army in gas masks and armed with tommy guns. A woman flees. Secret Service Operator #5 — America’s Undercover Ace reaches for her. A blond guy in a neat white shirt with a black “#5″ armband, our pistol-packing hero leads a battered and bloody militia that’s making a last stand in this late-1930s nightmare pulp fiction.
“America’s greatest cities had been blown into bottomless pits by the terrible atomic bombs of the Yellow invaders,” the cover painted by Rafael De Soto exclaims, “and nowhere was there safety from the foe which struck from underground!”

The pulp magazines (named for the cheap paper they were printed on) manifested the common dreams of the Depression and the onset of World War II, when much had gone to hell and it often wasn’t clear who to blame or what should be done. As the Japanese were marching across China and the Nazis across Poland, Secret Service Operator #5 battled fictional Germans and Japanese invading America. The pulps — with their slam-bang cover art and prose — offered clarity and solace in stories of good guys protecting us from bad guys on the mean midnight streets.

“Pulp Fiction Paintings,” at the Robert Lehman Art Center at the Brooks School in North Andover, returns us to this seductively black-and-white moral landscape. The 37 deliciously lurid pulp paintings, each framed with one or more magazines in which they appeared, are a promised gift to the New Britain Museum of American Art in Connecticut. They’re drawn from nearly 200 pulp paintings from the 1930s and ’40s in the collection of Robert Lesser, a retired Manhattan electric-sign salesman who began buying them in 1972, when even those who had painted them still considered them junk. Many canvases wound up in the trash. The school says Lesser’s trove is “matched by no other pulp-fiction collector in the country.” That sounds about right. Decades later, Thrilling Wonder Stories, Famous Fantastic Mysteries, and Astounding Science-Fiction live up to the hype. It’s one of the best shows of the year.

Read the rest here.

“Pulp Fiction Paintings: Selections from the Robert Lesser Collection,” Robert Lehman Art Center at Brooks School, 1160 Great Pond Road, North Andover, April 7 to June 11, 2011.

Pictured at top: A. Drake, “Western Aces: The Squashbuckling Buckaroo,” oil on canvas, 1940s. All paintings from the Robert Lesser Collection, a promised gift to the New Britain Museum of American Art.

Paul Stahr “New Worlds” 1932

Frederick Blakeslee, “G-8 and His Battle Aces: Patrol of the Purple Clan,” 1936.

Dutch and Flemish masterworks at Peabody Essex

Thursday, June 23rd, 2011

From our review of “Golden: Dutch and Flemish Masterworks from the Rose-Marie and Eijk van Otterloo Collection,” which closed at the Peabody Essex Museum on June 19 (sorry, we didn’t post this sooner, uh, we’ve been busy):

Some years back, Rose-Marie and Eijk van Otterloo began collecting horse carriages, until they completely filled their New Hampshire barn. So they switched to horse and sporting prints, until about two decades ago, when Peter Sutton, then curator of European painting at Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts, encouraged them to get into Dutch and Flemish art. It seemed a natural fit for the Marblehead couple — she a native of Belgium, he a Dutch-born investor and developer who had co-founded the Boston investment firm Grantham, Mayo & Van Otterloo in 1977.

The result is “Golden,” a splendid exhibit presenting the couple’s entire collection of 67 Dutch and Flemish paintings from the 17th century, plus wooden chairs, tables, and cupboards decorated with carvings of lions, Biblical scenes, symbolic figures, and saints. It’s a knock-your-socks-off display of craftsmanship. Frederik Duparc, former director of the Mauritshuis museum in Holland, who put the show together with some help in Salem from the Peabody Essex’s Karina Corrigan, calls it, with good reason, “the most important and most beautiful collections of Dutch and Flemish art in the world brought together after World War II.”

Read the rest here.

“Golden: Dutch and Flemish Masterworks from the Rose-Marie and Eijk van Otterloo Collection” which closed at the Peabody Essex Museum, 1 East India Square, Salem, Massachusetts, Feb. 26 to June 19, 2011.

Pictured at top: Gerrit Dou (1613-1675) “Sleeping Dog,” 1650.
Rembrandt van Rijn (1606-1669) “Portrait of Aeltje Uylenburgh,” 1632.

Cook confesses all about MFA bathroom show

Thursday, June 23rd, 2011

Greg Cook, the custodian here at The New England Journal of Aesthetic Research, confesses all about the guerrilla “Best of Boston 40-ennial” exhibition presented in the Boston Museum of Fine Arts bathrooms on June 15, in honor of the 40th anniversary of the legendary “Flush with the Walls” exhibit in 1971:

“I arrived at the Museum of Fine Arts with jittery nerves and a bunch of art stuck down my pants. I suppose I should clarify. The drawings, photos, and prints were in a big manila envelope tucked into the top of my pants and under my suit coat. No art actually ever came in direct contact with my person.

It was Wednesday, June 15, a bit after 6 in the sunny evening. It was the exact 40th anniversary of the legendary exhibition ‘Flush with the Walls’ … I entered the museum without incident and wandered the galleries for a bit. I stopped in a bathroom and adjusted the manila envelope, the top of which was creasing my suit coat in a suspicious manner.”

Read all about the shenanigans here.

Note: The Boston Phoenix has posted a 1971 report (pictured above) from the newspaper Boston After Dark (which would later become the Phoenix) on the original “Flush with the Walls” here.

Previously:
Secret, crazy, historic, renegade art exhibition at major Boston museum …. shhhh.

Update: Secret, crazy, historic, renegade art exhibition at MFA.

Reports: Secret, crazy, historic, renegade art exhibition at MFA.

Greg Cook photo exhibit

Wednesday, June 22nd, 2011

Greg Cook, the custodian here at The New England Journal of Aesthetic Research, will exhibit his photos of Gloucester’s St. Peter’s Fiesta in the front window of Mystery Train, 21 Main St., Gloucester, Massachusetts, from June 23 to July 3, 2011. Cook will be present at a 30-minute exhibition reception that will be held in front of the store window a half hour after the conclusion of the greasy pole contest on Saturday, June 25. So somewhere around 7 or 7:30 Saturday night. And afterward he invites you to join him at the Fiesta carnival, which features kids rides and fried dough.

St. Peter’s Fiesta is Gloucester’s amazing annual Catholic, Italian, fishing and drinking festival. The festival, founded in 1927 and based on traditions brought over from Sicily, includes processions of religious statues and icons through the downtown, seine boat rowing races, a carnival, and the famous greasy pole contest, in which grown men in crazy costumes try to shuffle along a horizontal telephone slathered with grease to grab a flag from the end. Learn more about St. Peter’s Fiesta, which runs from June 22 to 22 this year, at stpetersfiesta.org.

Cook’s small exhibit, in the window where the St. Peter’s statue was displayed for many years, features Fiesta highlights from the past three years. Over 15 years of photographing the St. Peter’s Fiesta, Cook has taken his camera onto the greasy pole platform and into seine boats, followed greasy pole champions as they were carried up Pavilion Beach and stood next to Cardinal Sean O’Malley in Holy Family Church as he blessed the procession. He claims his photos of St. Peter’s Fiesta attempt to be a comprehensive and intimate account of Gloucester’s great summer ritual.

In addition to St. Peter’s Fiesta, Cook has spent years photographing community-building spectacles across the region—Chinese New Year Lion Dances in Boston, the Honk Parade of radical marching bands in Somerville, the Festival Betances greased pole climbing contest (vertical versus Gloucester’s horizontal one) in Boston, the monster costumes of the Mirabal Carnival Dancers in Lawrence, St. Patrick’s Day Parade in South Boston, and the Boston Caribbean Carnival. A selection of his photos of Bread and Puppet Theater in Vermont from the past three years appeared in the June 2011 issue of the national art magazine Juxtapoz.

All photos here copyright Greg Cook.

Reports: Secret, crazy, historic, renegade art exhibition at MFA

Tuesday, June 21st, 2011

Above: Peter Ryan’s video of the exhibition.

What folks are saying about the “Best of Boston 40-ennial” exhibition presented in the Boston Museum of Fine Arts bathrooms on June 15, in honor of the 40th anniversary of the legendary “Flush with the Walls” exhibit in 1971:

Geoff Edgers at Boston.com: “The bathrooms bordering the new Art of the Americas wing at the Museum of Arts have been taken over by a group of artists looking to commemorate the anniversary of ‘Flush the Walls,’ a protest-exhibit held exactly 40 years ago tonight.”

Andrea Shea of WBUR radio: “Last night a group of nearly two dozen Boston artists mounted an exhibition at the Museum of Fine Arts. Not in a gallery, though. Instead they snuck work into a pair of bathrooms for a ‘renegade’ exhibition. Yes, this means they installed art in a major institution without obtaining permission. But, no, they did not break in. And yes, they got caught — but not immediately. … The participants wanted to call attention to Boston’s lively, productive pool of contemporary artists. … The ‘Best of Boston’ exhibition may very well have had the shortest run of any show displayed at the MFA. It was only in the public’s eye for about 20 minutes. But [New England Journal of Aesthetic Research custodian] Greg Cook made sure to produce a fully illustrated historical commemorative catalog with the clever subtitle, ‘Bathroom Reading.’”

Above: Stefan Cooke’s video of the exhibition.

Geoff Edgers in The Boston Globe: “At about 7:03 last night, Chris Krohn, a tourist from Santa Cruz, Calif., did a double take as he entered a men’s room at the Museum of Fine Arts. There were crowds of people gathered outside, in the doorway and inside: men, women, some with cameras. ‘What bathroom is this?’ Krohn asked. A woman chuckled. She knew what was happening. A group of about 20 artists had sneaked into the MFA with their works, plastered them on the walls, and were holding an impromptu reception. The 19-minute exhibit — it was broken up by museum security after being discovered — drew close to 75 people to the temporary bathroom galleries. ‘At first, I was shocked,’ said Krohn. ‘Then someone told me, “It’s an exhibition.” That’s kind of cool.’”

Thomas Garvey at The Hub Review: “…in a matter of moments the MFA’s minions had invaded the bathrooms and begun to tear the art down from the walls – and none too carefully, either. I protested; sure, the crowd had to go, but couldn’t the art stay up? (The artists had thoughtfully NOT posted anything in the stalls, as they had in 1971; the art was confined to the sink counters and vestibule, for the protection of everyone’s privacy!) The guards just gave me that look that reads ‘Don’t make me be a jerk, okay?’”

Sarah Hwang at Berkshire Fine Arts: “The show officially began at 7pm and was busted at around 7.20pm. Somewhere around 50-100 people, including artists, family, and friends, attended (the Boston Globe reported about 75 in their article). There were visitors who were honestly trying to use the bathroom and were confused as to whether or not the large group of people was waiting in line for the toilets.”

Geoff Edgers at Boston.com introducing the video above: “I can promise that this is likely the first and last time the Boston Globe will be filming in a public bathroom. Here’s our video of Wednesday night’s prankster, art exhibit.”

Tyler Green at Modern Art Notes: “Historical art museums aren’t known for their commitment to contemporary art, but even by the low standards of the field, the MFA Boston’s long-time disinterest runs deep. Writer/artist Greg Cook led a band of merry artists into the MFAB to call attention to that issue.”

Huffington Post (pictured above): “[Greg] Cook came up with the idea of holding an homage to ‘Flush the Walls,’ which was an exhibit that expressed artists’ frustration with the MFA’s lack of commitment to the contemporary arts.”

Adam Gaffin at UniversalHub: “Artists briefly flush out MFA’s collection.”

Artinfo.com: “Wednesday night, a group of 20 local Bostonian artists installed their work in a men’s room of the Museum of Fine Arts in commemoration of the anniversary of “Flush With the Walls,” an exhibition organized 40 years ago by ‘six artists who were frustrated with the museum’s lack of commitment to contemporary and local art.’”

David Bonetti at Berkshire Fine Arts: “You can’t help but look at the event as a farce of sorts. … So what was the point of the Wednesday evening action? If it is a plea for inclusion of local artists in the museum, that is, I’m afraid, an old and tired song. In a globalized art world, there is no ‘local’ art.”

Mark Favermann commenting at Berkshire Fine Arts: “This Flush II was an example of less as much less.”

The Gloucester Daily Times: “So, on Wednesday — the 40th anniversary of the legendary ‘Flush with the Walls’ exhibit — Cook … joined with a band of brothers and sisters, including Gloucester photographer Ernie Morin and Gloucester sculptor Elizabeth Alexander, and again snuck into the MFA and placed their creations in and on two bathrooms.”

GoodMorningGloucester: “Ernie Morin and Liz Alexander Represent Gloucester At The Renegades Show MFA.”

Aol Weird News: “Bathroom turned into art gallery.”

Official response from the Museum of Fine Arts via MFA spokesperson Amelia Kantrovitz:

The works were removed from the bathroom walls and have been retained in the MFA’s Archives for historical purposes. Here is the MFA’s response.

Statement from Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, in response to impromptu exhibition at MFA

BOSTON, MA (June 16, 2011)—Last evening’s impromptu event underscores the MFA’s role as a place that inspires creativity. Contemporary art is an important part of our encyclopedic Museum. Currently on view are a number of exhibitions featuring contemporary artists, including glass installations by Dale Chihuly, photographs of Cuba in Violet Isle, as well as 20th-century works in the Art of the Americas Wing.

With the opening of the Linde Family Wing for Contemporary Art in September, the Museum will be able to showcase even more works by contemporary artists, including those from Boston and New England, as well as alumni from the School of the Museum of Fine Arts. The creation of this dedicated space reinforces the Museum’s commitment to being a premier destination for contemporary arts and culture.

Previously reported at The New England Journal of Aesthetic Research:
Secret, crazy, historic, renegade art exhibition at major Boston museum …. shhhh.

Update: Secret, crazy, historic, renegade art exhibition at MFA.

RI PrideFest

Monday, June 20th, 2011


RI PrideFest and 35th Anniversary Celebration at South Water Street in Providence on Saturday, June 18, as photographed by The New England Journal of Aesthetic Research.





John Rosenthal’s anti-gun-violence billboard

Monday, June 20th, 2011

One of the biggest and most striking pieces of public art in Boston is John Rosenthal‘s anti-gun-violence billboard on Route 90 behind Fenway Park. In May, the Newton man switched the 252-foot-long billboard from a message mocking gun shows to a new sign tallying the number of people shot and killed with guns in America each day, noting that 33 states don’t require background checks before gun sales, and charging that the National Rifle Association spent “$6.7 m[illion] to buy congress in 2010.” The billboard has long been one of the most affecting works of public art in the region, but because it’s a billboard, and a political advocacy one at that, it is often overlooked when people tally public art in Boston.

Photos by The New England Journal of Aesthetic Research.