Archive for October, 2012

Poor Yokelist’s Almanack: Upcoming Events

Monday, October 29th, 2012

Note: This week’s schedule is likely subject to change as the fill Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts is built on gets swept away by the hurricane storm surge, and whatnot, so please plan accordingly.

Tuesday, Oct. 30, 12:30 p.m.
Lucy Orta speaks at the Alfond Auditorium, Museum of Fine Arts, 465 Huntington Ave., Boston. Free.

Tuesday, Oct. 30, 5:30 p.m.
Hive Archive holds a meeting to plan its “Creative Feminisms: Art, Activism and Everyday Action” conference at Libertalia, 280 Broadway, room 200, Providence. Free.

Tuesday, Oct. 30, 5:30 p.m.
Roger Benjamin, Professor of Art History at the University of Sydney, Australia, speaks about “Monochromy, Photography and ‘Oriental’ Color: Kandinsky and Münter in Tunisia” at the Clark Art Institute, 225 South Street, Williamstown, Massachusetts. Free.

Wednesday, Oct. 31, 12:30 p.m.
John Brown speaks at the Alfond Auditorium, Museum of Fine Arts, 465 Huntington Ave., Boston. Free.

Thursday, Nov. 1, 12:30 p.m.
Artist Annette Lemieux speaks at the Alfond Auditorium, Museum of Fine Arts, 465 Huntington Ave., Boston. Free.

Thursday, Nov. 1, 5:30 p.m.
Furniture maker David Lamb and painter James Aponovich unveil and discuss their “White Mountain Breakfront” at the Currier Museum of Art, 150 Ash St., Manchester, New Hampshire.

Saturday, Nov. 3, noon
Photographer Harold Feinstein signs copies of “Harold Feinstein: A Retrospective” at Panopticon Gallery in the Hotel Commonwealth, 502c Commonwealth Ave., Boston, where an exhibition of his art is on view. Free.

Saturday, Nov. 3, 12:30 to 5 p.m.
“Mind the Gap,” Mass Humanities symposium on “increasing inequality in America,” at the Heights Roo, Corcoran Commons at Boston College, intersection of St. Thomas More Road and Commonwealth Avenue, Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts. Free.

Saturday, Nov. 3, 3 to 7 p.m.
“BeardFest” (pictured above) organized by the Somerville Arts Council at Arts at the Armory, 191 Highland Ave., Somerville, Massachusetts. “Contestants will vie for prizes in 5 categories: natural full beard, free-style full beard, free-style moustache, free-style partial beard, (which includes goatees, sideburns and any other creative combination of the above), and for follicle challenged, best fake beard.” $5.

Saturday, Nov. 3, 6 p.m.
The Institute for Infinitely Small Things hosts its participatory “Failure Support Group” at the exhibit “On/Sincerity” at Boston University’s 808 Gallery, 808 Commonwealth Ave., Boston. Come discuss your “failed processes and failed projects.” Free.

Sunday, Nov. 4, 1 to 5 p.m.
Art Technology New England Resource Fair offers introductions to Boston-area technology and arts organizations including community and industry groups, makerspaces, government agencies, and academic programs at Bocoup Loft, 355 Congress St., Boston. Free.

Sunday, Nov. 4, 2 p.m.
Alice Cooney Frelinghuysen, a curator of American decorative arts at New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art, speaks about “Louis Comfort Tiffany and Laurelton Hall: An Artist’s Country Estate” at D’Amour Museum of Fine Arts, 21 Edwards St., Springfield, Massachusetts.

Sunday, Nov. 4, 2 p.m.
Ronald J. Onorato, professor of art and architectural history, University of Rhode Island, moderates a discussion by artists in the exhibit “Recasting the Loving Cup: From Traditional Silver to Contemporary Media” at the Newport Art Museum, 76 Bellevue Ave., Newport, Rhode Island.

Monday, Nov. 5, 4 p.m.
Dr. Isabel Taube, author of the upcoming book, “Impressions of Interiors: Gilded Age Paintings by Walter Gay,” talks about Walter and Matilda’s Gay’s close friendship with Edith Wharton, at Warton’s house, The Mount, 2 Plunkett St., Lenox, Massachusetts. $10.

Worcester Director: Actually we got $500K+ in public funding, but need more

Wednesday, October 24th, 2012

Worcester Art Museum Director Matthias Waschek has publicly responded to his erroneous statement to the Globe that the “The MFA doesn’t get a dime, nor do we, of public money.” The Massachusetts Cultural Council previously expressed disappointment to us with his comment–and argued that it could hinder efforts to increase public arts funding. Waschek now acknowledges that the state cultural council alone has given his museum $405,900 in public funding over the past two years, but explains that what he meant was that it’s not enough.

A Worcester museum spokeswoman forwards us the following statement from Waschek:

“In reference to your [the Globe's] question ‘Should museums be free to the public’ – I misspoke and apologize. I intended to put the issue in the context of museums in Europe where recurring unrestricted public funding is counted on as part of the institutional budget each year. Massachusetts is investing generously in WAM: in the past two years, the Massachusetts Cultural Council alone supported us with $405,900 both in restricted and unrestricted funds. On a national level, IMLS [Institute of Museum and Library Services, a federal agency] invested in the same time period $123,679 in restricted funds.

“This is of tremendous help for an annual budget of $9,000,000, and yet… For cultural institutions like us to fulfill our potential as an economic and social force in the community, more needs to be done at the state and federal levels. Every dollar directed towards culture is an investment in our future. Free access to culture for the general public is an ideal and something for all of us to work towards with the appropriate financial support.”

MA Cultural Council “disappointed” by Worcester claim of no public funding

Monday, October 22nd, 2012

MCC: “We can only make that case [for public arts funding] when our partners in the cultural community help us make it.”

The Massachusetts Cultural Council is responding with disappointment to Worcester Art Museum Director Matthias Waschek’s erroneous statement to the Globe that the “The MFA doesn’t get a dime, nor do we, of public money.” In fact, the Worcester museum received tens of thousands of dollars in public funding just this year.

“It’s disappointing to read that statement,” MCC spokesman Gregory Liakos writes to us. “We would never argue that the public’s investment in great institutions like WAM and the MFA is where it should be. It certainly falls far short of the kind of subsidy you see in some European countries—and the Smithsonian here in America—that allows for free general admission. That’s why we devote so much of our effort to conveying stories of the value of the nonprofit sector to the leadership on Beacon Hill and Capitol Hill. But we believe MCC’s general operating support and Cultural Facilities Fund grants play a vital role in helping our cultural organizations achieve their mission. And we can only make that case when our partners in the cultural community help us make it.”

Poor Yokelist’s Almanack: Upcoming Events

Monday, October 22nd, 2012

Monday, Oct. 22, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Annual “AltWheels Fleet Day” featuring panels and exhibits on “alternative transportation solutions” at Four Points by Sheraton, 1125 Route 1, Norwood, Massachusetts.

Monday, Oct. 22, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Sherri Wasserman leads a workshop of “Explorations in Large Scale Multimedia Installations” at the John Nicholas Brown Center for Public Humanities, 357 Benefit St., Providence. $30.

Monday, Oct. 22, 7 p.m.
Northeastern professor B.A. Shapiro speaks about her new novel “The Art Forger,” in which “struggling artist Claire Roth makes her living creating reproductions of famous paintings. But when a powerful gallery owner asks her to reproduce a Degas that was stolen from the Gardner Museum, she finds that there is more to the famous heist than meets the eye.” At Brookline Booksmith, 279 Harvard St., Brookline, Massachusetts. Free.

Monday, Oct. 22, 7:30 p.m.
“Phosphorescence & Glow” spaghetti dinner featuring Avery Louie discussing experiments by DIYbio working with bioluminescent algae, a glow-in-the-dark “photo booth,” Brown University students experimenting with luminescent jewelry, and “A Police State Cabaret” puppet show by touring puppeteers Jason and Fede of The Flying Donkey Theater at Sprout, 339R Summer St., Somerville, Massachusetts. $10 suggested donation.

Tuesday, Oct. 23, 12:30 p.m.
Artist Lee Boroson (his sculpture “Canopy” is pictured above) speaks at the Alfond Auditorium, Museum of Fine Arts, 465 Huntington Ave., Boston. Free.

Tuesday, Oct. 23, 5:30 p.m.
Erika Naginski of the Harvard Graduate School of Design speaks about “Rococo Vision and the ‘Sonorous Body’ of Architecture” at the Clark Art Institute, 225 South Street, Williamstown, Massachusetts. Free.

Tuesday, Oct. 23, 6:30 p.m.
Photographers Laura McPhee and Deborah Bright speak about “Landscape Views: Reflections of Ourselves” at RISD Museum’s Metcalf Auditorium, 20 North Main St., Providence. Free.

Tuesday, Oct. 23, 6:30 p.m.
Painter Inka Essenhigh speak at MassArt’s Tower Auditorium, 621 Huntington Ave., Boston. Free.

Tuesday, Oct. 23, 7 p.m.
Scholar Julie Sissia speaks about “Two Germanies at the Paris Biennial, 1967–1982” at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, room B-311, 230 The Fenway, Boston. Free.

Wednesday, Oct. 24, 6 p.m.
University of Vermonth English professor Daniel Mark Fogel speaks about “Jamesian Illuminations of Sargent’s World” at the Fleming Museum of Art, 61 Colchester Ave, Burlington, Vermont.

Wednesday, Oct. 24, 6:30 p.m.
Photographer Ernesto Bazan speaks about his photos of Cuba at BU College of Arts & Sciences, Room 522, 705 Commonwealth Avenue, Boston. $10.

Wednesday, Oct. 24, 7:30 p.m.
Alexander Reben leads a salon on “The Inseparability of Art and Technology” at Boston Cyberarts Gallery, 141 Green St., Jamaica Plain, Boston. Free.

Thursday, Oct. 25, 5 p.m.
Liz Sevcenko speaks about the “Guantanamo Public Memory Project: Confronting Contested Histories through Collaboration” at Brown University’s Center for Public Humanities, 357 Benefit St., Providence.

Thursday, Oct. 25, 6:30 p.m.
Paula Lyons, Joyce Kulhawik, Lauren Beckham Falcone, and Jan Saragoni discuss “The Politics of Handsome,” a Ford Hall Forum discussion about Mitt Romney, Scott Brown and the Don Draper looks/style of prominent conservative politicians today, at Suffolk University’s Modern Theatre, 525 Washington St., Boston. Free.

Thursday, Oct. 25, 7 p.m.
Potrait photographer Elsa Dorfman talks about her book “Elsa’s Housebook: A Woman’s Photojournal” now being printed on the Harvard Book Store’s on-demand book-printing machine, at the Harvard Books Store, 1256 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, Massachusetts. Free.

Friday and Saturday, Oct. 26 and 27
“Agents of Change: Art as Activism” symposium at Montserrat College of Art, 23 Essex St., Beverly, Massachusetts.

Friday, Oct. 26, 11:30 a.m.
Photographer Rania Matar speaks about her exhibit at the Photographic Resource Center, 832 Commonwealth Ave., Boston.

Friday, Oct. 26, 7 p.m.
The Steel Yard and Iron Guild present the seventh annual Halloween Iron Pour at the Steel Yard, 27 Sims Ave., Providence. Doors open at 5 p.m. $10.

Saturday, Oct. 27
The Boston Book Festival offers discussions on visual culture. Including “Why Picture Books Matter” with Harry Bliss, Anna Dewdney, Kadir Nelson and Leonard Marcus at 2:15 p.m. at the Boston Common Hotel, Hancock Room, 40 Trinity Place, and “Graphic Novels: Drawing the Story” with Chris Ware, Charles Burns, Chip Kidd, Gabrielle Bell and Eugenia Williamson at 2:30 p.m. in the Old South Church sanctuary, 645 Boylston St.

Saturday, Oct. 27, 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m.
“Battle of the Red Horse Tavern,” Revolutionary War reenactment at Longfellow’s Wayside Inn, 27 Wayside Inn Road, Sudbury, Massachusetts.

Saturday, Oct. 27, 1 p.m.
Painter Richard Ryan speaks at Alpha Gallery, 37 Newbury St., Boston. Free.

Saturday, Oct. 27, 2:30 p.m.
Boston-based photographer Sharon Harper discusses her images in the “Starstruck” at Bates College Museum of Art, 75 Russell St., Lewiston, Maine.

Saturday, Oct. 27, 6 p.m.
“Hellbound III: Darkness” gallery show and Halloween costume party presented by Boston Comics Roundtable at Andromeda Gallery, 119 Braintree St., suite 320, Allston, Boston, Massachusetts. Free.

Sunday, Oct. 28, 2 p.m.
The Boston Art Dealers Association presents the panel “New Voices/ New Visions” featuring DeCordova curator Dina Deitsch, Davis Museum Director Lisa Fischman, MIT List Visual Arts Center Director Paul Ha, ICA curator Jenelle Porter, and Peabody Essex Museum curator Trevor Smith at the Institute of Contemporary Art, 100 Northern Ave., Boston.

What? Worcester Museum Director: We get no public money

Sunday, October 21st, 2012

What the heck is Worcester Art Museum Director Matthias Waschek (pictured below) talking about when he tells the Globe that “The MFA doesn’t get a dime, nor do we, of public money”? Can he not be aware that the Worcester museum and Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts both get thousands of dollars annually from the state of Massachusetts? Not to mention other public sources.

Just in the current fiscal year, the Massachusetts Cultural Council is giving the Worcester Art Museum $48,200 “to support the promotion of art and art education, the preservation and exhibition of works and objects of art, and the making and exhibiting of collections of such works; and to provide instruction in the industrial and fine arts for the benefit of all.”

And the museum got $20,000 from the National Endowment for the Arts for 2012 to “support Teen Artists @ WAM. The project consists of two elements: a non-competitive, sequential art class with students working with artist-mentors and the museum’s collection, and a competitive art-making event in which nominated students from throughout Massachusetts will work with professional artists to create large-scale installations during a two-day period.”

The museum is a partner with Worcester Youth Center Inc., which received $10,000 in state funds for “‘Proclaiming a Visual Voice’ for urban youth ages 16-20 to be trained in community assessment and visual arts in order to identify a community issue and express its existence and solution using visual arts.”

Also the Worcester museum received a $310,000 Massachusetts Cultural Council Cultural Facilities grant somewhere between 2007 and 2011 for “renovation of an existing studio into a 130-seat public lecture hall, construction of a new barrier-free entrance, and upgrades to the existing Museum Cafe.”

Not to mention, the public money the Worcester Art Museum gets from the Worcester Cultural Council. Or the tax breaks the museum receives as a nonprofit. What’s the museum’s real estate tax bill?

Boston MFA Director Malcolm Rogers also likes to go on about how little public money the MFA receives. To start, they got $50,000 in the current fiscal year from the state cultural council “to house and preserve preeminent collections and serve a wide variety of people through direct experiences with works of art; and to encourage inquiry and heighten appreciation of the visual world.” Plus some $1,112,500 in state cultural facilities funding since 2007. The MFA also received $88,000 from the National Endowment for the Arts for 2012 “to support the Korean Collection Access Initiative. The two-pronged project will include publication of a collection catalogue and the reinstallation of the museum’s world-class Korean collection in a new 1,200-square-foot gallery space.”

DeCordova’s Nick Capasso to lead Fitchburg Museum

Friday, October 19th, 2012

DeCordova’s Nicholas Capasso has been named the new director of the Fitchburg Art Museum in Massachusetts. He’s expected to begin work on Dec. 3, filling the shoes of Peter Timms, who has been director of the museum since 1973.

Capasso, the deputy director of curatorial affairs at the DeCordova Sculpture Park and Museum in Lincoln, Massachusetts, has worked there for more than 22 years. In recent years, Capasso has been involved in guiding DeCordova’s sculpture park collection and organized exhibitions of Rachel Perry Welty, Chakaia Booker, and others.

Capasso earned his bachelors degree in art history and geography from Clark University in Worcester, and his master’s and Ph.D. in art history from Rutgers University. He attended the Getty Museum Leadership Institute in 2011.

Bernard Chaet has died

Friday, October 19th, 2012

Bernard Chaet, the retired chair of the Yale Art Department and author of the influential 1970 book “The Art of Drawing,” died Tuesday, Oct. 16, at age 88.

He grew up in Boston’s Dorchester neighborhood and studied at the Museum School and Tufts University. He found inspiration in Boston Expressionism, which can be seen even in his recent oil paintings like “Yellow Sea” from 1998 to 2004 (pictured above). He is often cited locally for his memory of Willem de Kooning telling him that when de Kooning and Jackson Pollock discovered Boston Expressionist Hyman Bloom’s fiery kinetic paintings of chandeliers and Christmas trees at New York’s Museum of Modern Art in 1942, they thought him the first Abstract Expressionist.

Chaet began spending summers on Cape Ann, Massachusetts, in the early 1950s (he’s a relative of a close friend of mine there), and after his retirement from Yale in 1990, he often split his years between Connecticut and there, frequently painting its rugged shore.

Pictured above: Chaet’s “Yellow Sea,” 1998-2004, oil on canvas.

NEJAR’s Cook speaks on “Creativity and Contemporary Activism”

Thursday, October 18th, 2012

New England Journal of Aesthetic Research custodian Greg Cook will be moderating a panel on “Creativity and Contemporary Activism” at Montserrat College of Art, 23 Essex St., Beverly, Massachusetts, at 7 pm. this Friday, Oct. 19. Also participating are activist artists Maria Molteni, Kevin Clancy, and Lisa Gross (images of their work are below). The focus is “What role does creativity play in contemporary activism? How are artists redefining the activist landscape?” Cook teaches at Montserrat and the free discussion is part of the school’s “Contemporary Cocktail” series, evening events in which “our visiting artists are invited to join members of the Montserrat community and our student body for an open discussion on arts-related issues.”

Cook will also be speaking with Damian Cote and Daniel Heyman on an Oct. 26 panel on “Infiltrating The Homefront: Alternative Tactics for Making Art About War” at Montserrat’s “Agents of Change: Art as Activism” symposium.

Greg Cook has drawn comics based on his interviews of American veterans of the Iraq war as well as FBI reports on alleged American torture of Guantanamo Bay prisoners. The Onion’s A.V. Club called them “harrowing.” He was one of the authors of the 2008 “Iraq War Ends” fake New York Times produced by the Yes Men, Code Pink, Anne Elizabeth Moore and other activists. To mark the 10th anniversary of the Afghanistan war last fall, he organized a group exhibit of banners hung from highway overpasses across the Boston region (one of his own banners is pictured above) and curated screenings of YouTube films from Afghanistan.

Cook is also a leader in thinking and action on how to foster local creative communities via his Yokelist essays; his writing for The New England Journal of Aesthetic Research, Boston Phoenix, Providence Phoenix and Art New England; the annual New England Art Awards; the Worst Public Art Project; organizing 22 artists for a guerrilla exhibit in the Museum of Fine Arts bathrooms; and his research into creative community spectacles that happen outside the “art world.”

“Cook is a new kind of activist-critic (he recently coordinated a small, funny insurrection at the MFA),” our pal Thomas Garvey of the Hub Review wrote last fall, “as well as a self-confessed ‘yokelist,’ a reviewer of high art who’s almost more deeply concerned with popular cultural expression (he’s a dedicated and talented photographer of local festivals, parades and events).”

Above: Maria Molteni.
Kevin Clancy.
Lisa Gross of the Boston Tree Party.

MA cultural board names more “cultural districts”

Tuesday, October 16th, 2012

The Massachusetts Cultural Council board has approved four new “state-designated cultural districts”–Central Square Cultural District, Cambridge; Essex River Cultural District, Essex; Downtown Marlborough Cultural District, Marlborough; and Glass Town Cultural District, Sandwich.

For now, each of the 14 “cultural districts” that the state arts board has named since March get “signage, an online profile on the Massachusetts Office of Travel and Tourism and MCC websites, and other amenities.” But as MCC Executive Director Anita Walker said at a small meeting of arts and political leaders in Malden that we attended last Tuesday, the aim is for the designation eventually to attract/direct funding to the communities.

The MCC reports: “A cultural district is a compact, walkable area of a community with a concentration of cultural facilities, activities, and assets. MCC’s Cultural Districts Initiative grew out of an economic stimulus bill passed by the Massachusetts Legislature in 2010. It is designed to help communities attract artists and cultural enterprises, encourage business and job growth, expand tourism, preserve and reuse historic buildings, enhance property values, and foster local cultural development.”

Other previously approved cultural districts are: Shelburne Falls Cultural District, Natick Center Cultural District, Concord Center Cultural District, Lowell’s Canalway Cultural District, Boston’s Fenway Cultural District, Gloucester’s Rocky Neck Cultural District, Lynn’s Central Exchange Cultural District, the Upstreet Cultural District in Pittsfield, Hyannis’s HyArts Cultural District, and the Rockport Cultural District.

Poor Yokelist’s Almanack: Upcoming Events

Monday, October 15th, 2012

Monday, Oct. 15
Deadline for grant applications for grants from many local town Cultural Council grants across Massachusetts.

Monday, Oct. 15, 7 p.m.
Mark Siegel speaks about his graphic novel “Sailor Twain or The Mermaid in the Hudson” at Brookline Booksmith, 279 Harvard St., Brookline, Massachusetts. Free.

Tuesday, Oct. 16, 5:30 p.m.
Nicola Courtright, Professor in the Department of Art and the History of Art, Amherst College, speaks about “A New Place for Queens in the Art and Political Imagination of 17th-Century France” at the Clark Art Institute, 225 South Street, Williamstown, Massachusetts. Free.

Thursday, Oct. 18, 6 p.m.
Comedian Chris Elliott speaks with Rob Crean about “The Guy Under The Sheets: The Unauthorized Autobiography” at Brookline Booksmith, 279 Harvard St., Brookline, Massachusetts. Free.

Thursday, Oct. 18, 6:30 p.m.
Painter Dona Nelson speaks at Boston University’s Jacob Sleeper Auditorium, 871 Commonwealth Ave., Boston. Free.

Thursday, Oct. 18, 6:30 p.m.
Boston-area photographer Abelardo Morell speaks about his work at the Portland Museum of Art, 7 Congress Square, Portland, Maine. $25.

Saturday, Oct. 20, noon to 8:30 p.m.
Pumpkin Festival in Keene, New Hampshire. A giant showcase of jack-o-lanterns.

Saturday, Oct. 20
The Greater Lowell Indian Cultural Association holds its annual fall “Harvest Festival” on Indian Land, Totting Park Road, Tyngsboro, Massachusetts, where you can “participate in the Native American harvest and learn more about our culture and ceremonies.”

Sunday, Oct. 21, 3 p.m.
Tom Butler and Kate Russo of Rockland, Kenny Cole of Monroe, Robin Mandel of Cushing, and Benjamin Potter of Belfast speak about their work in the Center for Maine Contemporary Art “Biennial” at the CMCA, 162 Russell Ave., Rockport, Maine. Free.

Monday, Oct. 22, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Sherri Wasserman leads a workshop of “Explorations in Large Scale Multimedia Installations” at the John Nicholas Brown Center for Public Humanities, 357 Benefit St., Providence. $30.

Monday, Oct. 22, 7 p.m.
Northeastern professor B.A. Shapiro speaks about her new novel “The Art Forger,” in which “struggling artist Claire Roth makes her living creating reproductions of famous paintings. But when a powerful gallery owner asks her to reproduce a Degas that was stolen from the Gardner Museum, she finds that there is more to the famous heist than meets the eye.” At Brookline Booksmith, 279 Harvard St., Brookline, Massachusetts. Free.

Tuesday, Oct. 23, 5:30 p.m.
Erika Naginski of the Harvard Graduate School of Design speaks about “Rococo Vision and the ‘Sonorous Body’ of Architecture” at the Clark Art Institute, 225 South Street, Williamstown, Massachusetts. Free.

Tuesday, Oct. 23, 6:30 p.m.
Photographers Laura McPhee and Deborah Bright speak about “Landscape Views: Reflections of Ourselves” at RISD Museum’s Metcalf Auditorium, 20 North Main St., Providence. Free.

Lucy Watson plays with dolls

Friday, October 12th, 2012

Lucy Watson’s toddler-sized Dora the Explora doll (above) stands in Anthony Greaney’s brilliantly white cube gallery with her familiar bright big eyes and friendly smile, but the Nickelodeon cartoon character looks like she’s waking up on the wrong side of a great night, dressed in a rumpled fuzzy sleeper and having a disheveled, shaggy hair day. On the floor in front of her is a disk colored with blue swirls—a strange non sequitur that adds to the sense that everything is off. The doll is life-sized. Out of the corner of your eye, your Spidey sense keeps registering that a real, little person is standing there. Maybe ET or that freaky girl from “The Exorcist.” And then you check it out again and it flickers back to being just a doll.

Tomorrow is the last chance to see “Dora” and Lucy Watson’s other creepy, sugary sweet doll sculptures in the two-person show “Instant Messaging” at Boston’s Anthony Greaney gallery, organized with help from Maggie Cavallo (who works at Montserrat, where we also work).

Most of pieces here by Watson, who splits her time between Boston and Providence, are actually surreal assemblages. The quite accurately titled “Big Brown Dog Looks Like a Cock” (above) is a plush brown doll that resembles a big fuzzy penis—with naked Barbie-type dolls, a rainbow, a cute anime kitten and so on stuck to it.

“Baby Girl” (above) presents a creepily realistic baby doll stuck to the back of an upside-down plush bear plus a rose-studded plastic princess mirror, a stuffed chick, Garfield, rabbits, an animated plastic flower, and so on. On the one hand, these assemblages are vividly hued pop, non sequitur abstractions. On the other hand, they channel the joy of fantasy play, memories of childhood, and the way kids pop culture is so relentlessly cheery while also promoting a lot of plastic junk—junky stuff and junky ideas.

If you’re into creepy doll art this is the show for you. You’ve probably seen variations on this sort of thing before (hello, Mike Kelley), but Watson does it well, deploying wiseassery and a sharp aesthetic eye to make everything cute and weird and creeptastic.

Also in the “Instant Messaging” show are Polaroids by Dead Art Star (a local photographer’s name d’art)—flash-blasted snapshots (above) of night crawlers partying, hanging out, wearing costumes, taking their clothes off. I trust the photographer and friends are having fun, but as photography or social diary there’s not much going on here.

Lucy Watson and Dead Art Star “Instant Messaging” Anthony Greaney, 450 Harrison Ave., Boston, Sept. 7 to Oct. 13, 2012.
“Be Mine,” assemblage, 70 x 32 inches, 2012

“Try Me,” assemblage, 38 x 14 inches, 2010

Nell Blaine’s Gloucester coast

Thursday, October 11th, 2012

“Enamored of nature and, as she says, ‘the light around things,’ Nell Blaine paints outdoor scenes and still lifes at her windows with the exuberant lines and warm tones of a bouquet,” Life magazine (detail below) wrote of Nell Blaine in May 1957 feature on five “Women Artists in Ascendence.”

That description remains pretty apt for the group of her paintings — mainly vivacious watercolors and pastels depicting still-lives, her garden and coastal scenes done at her summer home in Gloucester, Massachusetts, from 1963 on — at New York’s Tibor De Nagy Gallery through Oct. 13. The sky of her 1990 watercolor and pastel “Northern Sky with Island” (at top) seems positively ablaze.

Blane (1922-1996) grew up in Virginia and moved to New York in 1942, where she shifted from realism into abstraction and then back toward an expressionist realism. She was part of the circle of Larry Rivers, Rudy Burckhardt, Jane Freilicher and the New York School Poets Frank O’Hara, John Ashbery and Kenneth Koch, who were all trying to split the difference between the transcendent New York Abstract Expressionism of the era and a personal realism. In 1959, Blaine contracted polio, which left her wheelchair-bound and having to learn how to paint over again. She continued to travel, visiting Gloucester in the 1960s and eventually buying a home there in 1975. She spent winters in her Riverside Drive apartment in Manhattan, painting the view from her window, and her summers and autumns in Gloucester.

What she figured out how to do was a sort of calligraphy in which each brushstroke is charged with vivid color and freighted with emotion. Here mainly that emotion is awe. And joy.

Nell Blaine “A Glowing Order: Paintings and Watercolors,” Tibor De Nagy Gallery, 724 Fifth Ave., New York, Sept. 6 to Oct. 13, 2012.

“Autumn Morning Ledge,” 1983, watercolor and pastel on paper.
“November Fifth,” 1990, watercolor and pastel on paper.
“Rocks and Outer Harbor,” 1981, oil and canvas.
“Summer Interior with Open Book,” 1986, oil on canvas.
“View from Tarr and Wonsons, I,” 1980, watercolor.

Suara Welitoff wins DeCordova’s $25K Rappaport Prize

Thursday, October 11th, 2012

Cambridge video artist Suara Welitoff — who often slows down film and messes with its colors for charged, hypnotic effect — has been named the winner of this year’s $25,000 Rappaport Prize, which is awarded by the DeCordova Sculpture Park and Museum to a mid-career contemporary artist with New England ties.

Happily the award is actually going to an artist making work here after in recent years DeCordova has repeatedly somehow confused New England artists with New Yorkers.

Previously:
Our review of Welitoff’s 2008 show at Allston Skirt Gallery.
In “Shifting Terrain” at the Currier Museum in 2011.
In “Boston Does Boston IV” at Proof in 2011.

Pictured: Suara Welitoff, “Rorschak,” 2010.

Ed Osborn’s sound waves

Tuesday, October 9th, 2012

From our review of Ed Osborn’s exhibit at Wheeler School’s Chazan Gallery in Providence:

Brown University teacher, Ed Osborn, a professor of sound art, computing, and electronic media, is showing his musical-mechanical contraptions in “Standing Wave” at the Wheeler School’s Chazan Gallery (228 Angell St, Providence, through October 10). The installation consists of five metal poles, with speakers on top, slowly swaying in metal stands — picture robot sunflowers swaying in an acid breeze. Wires run from each one into an electronic box and eventually a Mac computer displaying a blue wave screensaver.

Read the rest here.

Ed Osborn “Standing Wave,” Wheeler School’s Chazan Gallery, 228 Angell St, Providence, Sept. 20 to Oct. 10, 2012.

Photo at top by The New England Journal of Aesthetic Research. Photo below by Osborn.