Archive for May, 2012

MFA and guards reach agreement

Thursday, May 31st, 2012

Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts announced that it has reached agreement with the union representing its security guards, and union members approved the new contract on Tuesday evening. Museum guards had been rallying in front of the museum in recent weeks to protest museum leaders’ proposal to outsource their jobs.

“The MFA security guards play a critical role in protecting the collection and providing service to our visitors,” MFA spokesperson Karen Franscona writes. “They are a key component of the Museum’s Visitor Experience team, and we look forward to working together more closely under the terms of this new contract.”

More on this soon.

Alex Lukas

Monday, May 28th, 2012

From our review of “Alex Lukas: Recent Works” at Steven Zevitas Gallery in Boston:

The skies are seared gray and scuffed by clouds that could be smoke from toxic fires along the horizon. Ripped and graffitied billboards, a railroad bridge, and broken stone arches spouting vines and trees stand in flat water. A junked car rusts under one arch. The whole world seems flooded and abandoned. There are no people as far as the eye can see, but in the foreground, the water is shallow, exposing patches of grass and tire tracks curving through mud.

This untitled scene from a 12-foot-wide drawing (pictured immediately below) in “Alex Lukas: Recent Works” at Steven Zevitas Gallery (450 Harrison Ave, Boston, through June 2) could be a tour-de-force matte background painting from a disaster flick about life after global warming, about the eerie calm at the end of the world.

“They’re not intended as clear narratives,” says Lukas, who was born in 1981, grew up in Cambridge, studied illustration at Rhode Island School of Design in Providence, and now resides in Philadelphia. “Saying exactly what’s happened isn’t as interesting to me as saying this is a depiction of a possible future.”

Read the rest here.

“Alex Lukas: Recent Works,” Steven Zevitas Gallery, 450 Harrison Ave, Boston, April 19 to June 2, 2012.

Poor Yokelist’s Almanack: Upcoming Events

Monday, May 28th, 2012

Thursday, May 31, noon
Artists in Context hosts artist Taiga Ermansons as she facilitates an 15-minute “emancipated collective dialogue” about a painting at the Smith College Museum of Art, followed by a group conversation about Ranciere’s essay “The Emancipated Spectator.” Meet in the Smith College Museum of Art lobby, Elm Street and Bedford Terrace, Northampton, Massachusetts. Free.

Friday, June 1, 9:15 a.m.
Williams College’s Graduate Program in the History of Art present its seventeenth annual, day-long Spring Symposium at the Clark Art Institute, 225 South Street, Williamstown, Massachusetts. Members of the Williams M.A. class of 2012 will present papers on various topics in the day-long symposium. Free.

Friday, June 1, 6 p.m.
Artists in Context hosts artists Holly Ewald and Erik Ruin as they present and discuss their collaborative work telling the story of the Urban Pond Procession in graphic form. At Liberty Elm Diner,
777 Elmwood Ave., Providence. Free.

Saturday and Sunday, June 2 and 3
Figment art festival presents various installations and creative activities on the Rose Kennedy Greenway, Boston. Saturday: 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Sunday: 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Free.

Saturday, June 2, noon to 6 p.m.
Cambridge River Festival on the banks of the Charles River, 344 Broadway, Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Saturday, June 2, 7:30 p.m.
Cartoonist Tony Millionaire (aka Scott Richardson) speaks about his work during a one-night exhibit of his drawings at the Harbor Room, 8 Norwood Court, Gloucester, Massachusetts. $10.

Saturday and Sunday, June 9 and 10, noon to 5 p.m.
Dragon Boat Festival celebrates Asian American traditions on the Charles River, along Memorial Drive And Dewolfe Street in Cambridge and Boston.

Curt Schilling’s 38 Studios collapses?

Friday, May 25th, 2012

Providence video game company 38 Studios laid off all its employees yesterday, according to reports. The financial troubles of the company, founded by former Red Sox ace Curt Schilling (at left), became public when it failed to make an annual $1.125 million payment on its $75 million loan guarantee from the state’s Economic Development Corporation on May 1. The apparent collapse of the company could leave taxpayers on the hook for the entire cost of bonds issued to back the loan guarantee, which with interest could total $112.6 million over the life of the loan.

The 2010 loan guarantee was initiated by then Republican Rhode Island Governor Donald Carcieri to lure the company from Maynard, Massachusetts, to Providence after Carcieri had a “chance meeting” (according to the Providence Journal) with Schilling, an outspokenly small government Republican, at a fund-raiser at Schilling’s Medfield, Massachusetts, house in March 2009. It was apparently part of Rhode Island’s corporate welfare program for Republican millionaires.

But a couple weeks ago, Rhode Island Governor Lincoln Chafee and other state officials began holding crisis meetings with 38 Studios leaders after the company missed payment. By May 16, 38 Studios was asking the state for even more money to help it manage its cash crunch. Keith Stokes, the Economic Development Corporation’s executive director since 2010 and the architect of the loan guarantee, was forced to resign on May 16.

On May 17, 38 Studios failed to pay its employee payroll and hand delivered the state a check for $1.1 million, but warned that it did not have the money to cover it. The state returned the check uncashed. But on May 18, the company apparently did come up with the money. By Wednesday though, the company’s CEO and senior vice president of product development had changed their LinkedIn profiles to indicate that they were no longer with the company, the Boston Globe reported. On Thursday, everyone was gone.

Steven Rubin’s “Vacationland”

Thursday, May 24th, 2012

Beginning 1982, Steven Rubin hitchhiked into Maine’s poor, rural Somerset County to document folks there in the manner of classic black and white documentary photography. Now on view at Los Angeles’s Drkrm gallery, Rubin drives makes clear his take by sardonically naming the series after the motto on the state’s license plates: “Vacationland.”

At first glance, the intimate photos—primarily from the ‘80s and ‘90s, with some from the past decade—appear gritty and grim. Grimmer, I expect if you’re not familiar with rural Maine. But familiarity can also foster tolerance of lousy conditions, so it can be helpful to see things presented so starkly.

At times though Rubin, who’s work has appeared in The New York Times Magazine and National Geographic and is now an assistant professor at Penn State University, does seem to stack the deck. One photo seems a self-conscious update of Grant Wood’s “American Gothic.” And there’s sad, bleak humor in a photo of a baby in the backseat of a car drinking from a bottle next to his bristly bearded great uncle clutching his own bottle of Budweiser.

But there’s a flinty warmth here too amongst family members gathered around a kitchen table or a man cradling a Doberman puppy or a girl and her uncle (clutching a can of Budweiser) riding in the breezy back of a pickup to the summer swimming hole.

Steven Rubin “Vacationland,” Drkrm, 727 S. Spring St., Los Angeles, California, April 28 to May 26, 2012.

Pictured at top: “Grandma Rosie’s kitchen,” 1983.

“Donny’s girl in the kitchen,” 1982.
“Eyeing a chainsaw that won’t start,” 1982.
“Merton and Meryl and their Dobermans,” 1990.
“Ernie tinkering,” 1983.
“Sanford eyes his cousin’s deer,” 1982.
“Tracy and her cat,” 1991.
“Liza and Uncle Kendall on the way to the swimming hole,” 1990.
“Bubba and his Great-Uncle ‘Six-Pack’ Sammy” 1990.

Yes.Oui.Si gallery going on “hiatus”

Friday, May 18th, 2012

We’re sorry to hear that the scrappy Boston gallery Yes.Oui.Si has announced that it will be closing, at least temporarily, beginning in June. The gallery reports:

“We are writing you to share the news that YES.OUI.SI. on 19 Vancouver st. will be taking a hiatus over the summer starting in June. First of all we would like to thank all of the artists, musicians, promoters, collectives, volunteers and guests who have helped breath life and creativity in to a once derelict basement. Together we transformed YES.OUI.SI. in to a vibrant, eclectic and much needed nexus for art and culture in Boston. Since we opened our doors in November 2010 we have curated twelve exhibitions showcasing a wide variety of work by local emerging artists, we have also hosted over 200 bands, film makers, poets, designers & performers as well as providing an affordable venue for collectives, schools and event producers who needed a space to share their initiatives.

“YES.OUI.SI. was founded by a dedicated team of artists and musicians who have volunteered their talent, time and energy to keep the space running. Based off of pure devotion to the evolving art community in Boston, we have spent the past 2 years working tirelessly to develop a safe haven for emerging artists. The time has come for the founders to branch out and personally gain perspective and experience in order to continue doing a good job supporting our mission.

“The future of YES.OUI.SI. as a physical art space is uncertain. The decision to return in the fall is contingent on the support of Boston. It is clear how integral YES.OUI.SI. is to the creative eco-system in this city. It provides young talent an opportunity to showcase their work, collaborate, and engage in a creative community. In an effort to perpetuate the triple affirmative in Boston, we are asking for your help.

“Please let us know what you think. Is it important for spaces like YES.OUI.SI. to exist in this city? What do the arts do for you and what can you do for the arts? How do artists make your city a better place to live? Do you know of an available space we can use for free? Do you know someone who would like to sponsor YES.OUI.SI.?

“Your answers will be used to help us understand how we can make the most effective contribution.”

38 Studios struggling financially?

Tuesday, May 15th, 2012

Government loan to video game company in jeopardy?

Financial concerns have arisen around millionaire former Red Sox pitcher Curt Schilling’s video game company 38 Studios in Providence after the company reached out to government officials for help, according to news reports.

“We’re doing everything possible, like I would for any Rhode Island company,” Rhode Island Governor Lincoln Chafee, who has met with company executives in recent days, told The Providence Journal, adding that the work at stake is “keeping 38 Studios solvent.” Asked by WPRI radio “whether he thinks 38 Studios can be stabilized, Chafee paused and said: ‘We’re working on it.’”

At stake is not just the jobs the company offers in Rhode Island, but a $75 million loan guarantee to the company from the state of Rhode Island in 2010 to lure the company from Maynard, Massachusetts, to Providence. The loan guarantee came about because then 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 in March 2009. It was apparently part of Rhode Island’s corporate welfare program for Republican millionaires.

When 38 Studios released its first game, “Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning,” this February, The New York Times called it “one of the finest action role-playing games yet made.”

Poor Yokelist’s Almanack: Upcoming Events

Monday, May 14th, 2012

Monday, May 14, 7:30 p.m.
Sprout holds a spaghetti dinner and discussion on the theme of “musical pedgogies” at 339R Summer St., Somerville, Massachusetts.

Tuesday, May 15, 5:30 p.m.
The Hive Archive and Urban Pond Procession host a “water vessel hat making” workshop at Viva Mexico Cantina Grill, 129 Washington St., Providence. Suggested $3 donation.

Friday, May 18, 5 p.m.
New Urban Arts, 705 Westminster St., Providence, celebrates its 15th anniversary with a party. Free.

Saturday, May 19, 10 to 5 p.m.
Nave Gallery, 155 Powderhouse Boulevard, Somerville, Massachusetts, hosts a community yarn swap to raise support for the Somerville Homeless Coalition. Free.

Saturday, May 19, 3:30 p.m.
Zombie March VIII begins at South Station in Boston.

Saturday, May 19, 8 p.m.
Papercut Zine Library celebrates its seventh birthday with a party (music and snacks) and the release of new zines at 1299 Cambridge St., Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Saturday and Sunday, May 19 and 20, noon to 6 p.m.
East Boston Open Studios at 80 Border St.; HarborArts, 256 Marginal St.; Future Lab[s], 175 McClellan Highway; and Zumix, 260 Summer St., East Boston.

Saturday and Sunday, May 19 and 20, noon to six p.m.
Cambridge Open Studios in north and west Cambridge, Massachusetts. Free.

Monday, May 21, 6 p.m.
The documentary film “O Brother Man: The Art and Life of Lynd Ward” will be screened at the Providence Public Library’s auditorium, 150 Empire St., Providence. Filmmaker Michael Maglaras of New Hampshire and Connecticut will introduce the film and a short discussion will follow the screening. Free.

Monday, May 21, 7 p.m.
Photographers Daniel Lovering, Mark Peterson and Lynn Whitney speak at Arsenal Center for the Arts, 321 Arsenal St., Watertown, Massachusetts. Free.

Duckling Day Parade

Sunday, May 13th, 2012

The annual Duckling Day Parade—inspired by Robert McCloskey’s book “Make Way for Ducklings”—hosted by the Friends of the Public Garden today from Boston Common to the Public Garden, as photographed by The New England Journal of Aesthetic Research.

Woody’s Tire Service

Tuesday, May 8th, 2012

The great hand-painted signs on Woody’s Tire Service in Everett, Massachusetts, as photographed by The New England Journal of Aesthetic Research.

MFA guards protest plan to outsource jobs

Monday, May 7th, 2012

Security guards at Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts are protesting museum leaders’ proposal to outsource 119 union guard jobs at the museum.

“Hey, Malcolm, you’ve got cash, why do you treat your workers like trash,” some 40 to 50 Museum Independent Security Union guards and supporters shouted as they picketed in front of the MFA’s Bank of America entrance on Huntington Avenue on April 28.

On several Saturdays over the past a month or so, guards have stood outside the museum protesting and handing out fliers urging people to sign their online petition and to call MFA Director Malcolm Rogers. The fliers charge that MFA leaders’ plan would require current guards to reapply for their jobs and “force” them to “accept lower wages and reduced benefits, while the museum has seen record attendance, increased revenues and surpluses.”

“The current contract has expired and the museum is threatening to outsource us and we don’t want to be outsourced,” says Jim Kowalski, an MFA guard for 22 years. “They’re really insisting on this idea and we think it’s a bad idea.”

“The Museum of Fine Arts, Boston (MFA), is in contract negotiations with the Museum Independent Security Union (MISU). While both parties work toward a new contract, we are operating under an extension of the existing contract,” the museum responded in a prepared statement. “The MFA has not replaced any of the guards with contractors, and no decisions have been made regarding outsourcing. In an effort to reach an agreement, the Museum has put several proposals on the table, and we are awaiting the MISU’s response. The Museum will continue to negotiate in good faith with the MISU in the hopes of achieving an amicable resolution soon.”

“The museum wants to bring in the same rentacop firm that they brought in down the street at Symphony Hall and it was a fiasco,” says Michael Rayson, formerly a guard at the museum for 18 years, and an artist and writer. He argues that the outsourced symphony guards were distracting from the symphony experience because of their unfamiliarity with the concerts. “It’s the same here. They’re going to bring in people who have no idea what art is about.” Most of the MFA guards, Rayson says, are artists, musicians or writers. “They’re here because they’re knowledgeable about art and they care about art.”

In the interim, the guards’ fliers warn that the MFA has been “dangerously understaffing the galleries, which puts your art and the people in danger.” But MFA spokesperson Karen Frascona says, “The MFA treats the safety of its collection and its visitors’ experience with the utmost seriousness and has consistently maintained an appropriate level of staffing in our galleries.”

Is the MFA’s proposal to outsource the guards just a negotiating tactic? “I think they’re serious about it,” Rayson says.

“It’s really a way to diminish us, to make us second class employees, and to bust the union,” Kowalski says. “They don’t like having a group of employees who can stand up for themselves and advocate for benefits and wages.”

Photos of MFA guards protesting in front of the museum on April 28 by The New England Journal of Aesthetic Research, including images below of the guards’ “Punch and Judy” show about a “bad” guard that might work at the museum if union guards are outsourced.

Poor Yokelist’s Almanack: Upcoming Events

Monday, May 7th, 2012

Tuesday, May 8, 7 p.m.
Maine filmmaker Nancy Andrews screens new work and discusses delirium with with Michael Belkin, M.D., Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Division of Vascular Surgery and Samata Sharma, M.D., Clinical Fellow in Psychiatry, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center at Brattle Theater, 40 Brattle St., Cambridge, Massachusetts. Organized by Artists in Context.

Thursday, May 10, 6 p.m.
Fleming Museum of Art hosts PechaKucha Night, featuring presentations by local artists, at the museum at the University of Vermont, 61 Colchester Ave., Burlington, Vermonth. $5.

Friday to Sunday, May 11 to 13
Fort Point Arts Community open studios at 249 A Street, Boston on Friday from 4 to 7 p.m., Saturday and Sunday noon to 5 p.m. Free.

Saturday and Sunday, May 12 and 13
Third annual Watch City (Steampunk) Festival at Charles River Museum of Industry and Innovation, 154 Moody St., Waltham, Massachusetts, and other venues around the town.

Saturday and Sunday, May 12 and 13, noon to six p.m.
Cambridge Open Studios in east and central Cambridge, Massachusetts. Free.

Sunday, May 13, 8 a.m.
Mother’s Day Walk for Peace begins at Town Field Park, Fields Corner, Boston.

Sunday, May 13, noon
Duckling Day Parade—inspired by Robert McCloskey’s book “Make Way for Ducklings”—begins on Boston Common, across from the Massachusetts State House.

Holi festival of colors at Wheaton

Saturday, May 5th, 2012

“You’re throwing away the crud that accumulates in your heart and your mind over the winter,” Associate Dean Vereene Parnell explained to hundreds of students as they began Wheaton College’s seventh annual celebration of Holi yesterday afternoon. Holi is an annual Hindu religious festival marking the start of spring in which participants pray and hurl brightly colored powders at each other. In Wheaton’s version, she explained, “Throwing the Holi color is about throwing away our misconceptions and our stereotypes and our prejudices about each other.”

The first Holi at Norton, Massachusetts, college featured some 60 participants in 2006. It was founded by Shanita Gopi, a Hindu student in the class of 2007, when she returned inspired by studying in India during her junior year. Though traditionally celebrated by Hindus in February or March, Wheaton schedules its festivities for warmer local weather, on the last day of classes during the spring semester. It’s organized by the student Interfaith Alliance, but the emphasis is hurling colors. Most students begin at Chapel Field in white T-shirts and less than a half-hour later are covered with wild rainbows of powdered dyes and water. Many finish by splashing into the school’s Peacock Pond.

“There was space between people the first year. You could run away,” Parnell says. “Now there’s no escape.”

Photos by The New England Journal of Aesthetic Research.