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

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.

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