Archive for December, 2012

Gregory Gillespie

Friday, December 14th, 2012

From our review of Gregory Gillespie at Gallery Naga in Boston:

The late Massachusetts painter Gregory Gillespie was one of those outliers that the art world never knows what to do with. He took up realism at the height of Abstract Expressionism, but a realism so charged with psychological intensity, personal symbolism and hallucinatory weirdness that to call it realism didn’t fit quite right either.

His 1996-99 oil painting “Lady with Skull Necklace” (pictured above) in the exhibit “Transfixed: Selected Works 1995 – 2000” at Gallery Naga shows what he was up to. It’s a head-on portrait of a woman with her skin precisely rendered via lots of little red brushstrokes against a vivid green background, recalling the backgrounds of the German Renaissance master Hans Holbein the Younger. But this painting vibrates with the feeling that something’s not right—maybe it’s because her shoulders seem too big for her head, or that her skin seems to crawl, or that she appraises us with a cool, reptilian, alien stare.

Read the rest here.

Gregory Gillespie, “Transfixed: Selected Works 1995 – 2000,” Gallery Naga, 67 Newbury St., Boston, Nov. 9 to Dec. 15, 2012.

Pictured at top: Gregory Gillespie, detail of “Lady with Skull Necklace,” 1996-1999.

Gregory Gillespie, “Self Portrait with Yellow Background,” 1998-1999

Gregory Gillespie, “Manger Scene,” 1999.

Abstract-Expressionist New England?

Thursday, December 13th, 2012

“American Vanguards” at the Addison Gallery tells how a tiny group of New York friends — Stuart Davis, John Graham (painting above), Arshile Gorky, Willem de Kooning “and their circle” — inspired by Picasso and Surrealism, exploded the last ties between Modernist painting and realism as they helped invent American Action Painting between the mid 1920s and mid ’40s.

The triumph of New York School Abstract Expressionism helped the Big Apple supplant Paris as the capital of Western art. But a wall in the exhibit of 1930s paintings of Gloucester, Massachusetts, by Davis and Adolph Gottlieb, hints at a little-noted fact. After New York, Massachusetts might be the most important crossroads in the development of American Modernism.

In the crucial years between 1940 and 1947, when Jackson Pollock made his first drip paintings, stars of the new New York abstraction — Pollock, Gottlieb, Mark Rothko, Franz Kline, Barnett Newman, Robert Motherwell, Aaron Siskind, Hans Hofmann, and Elaine de Kooning (with occasional visits from Willem) — summered in Gloucester or Provincetown…

Read the rest here.

“American Vanguards: Graham, Davis, Gorky, de Kooning, and Their Circle, 1927–1942,” Addison Gallery of American Art, 180 Main St., Andover, Massachusetts, Sept. 21 to Dec. 30, 2012.

Pictured at top: John Graham (1887–1961) “Table Top Still Life with Bird,” 1929 Oil on canvas 32 x 39 in. (81.3 x 99.1 cm) Collection of Tommy and Gill LiPuma, New York.

Helen Molesworth and the ICA step up to a new level

Wednesday, December 12th, 2012

When the Institute of Contemporary Art hired chief curator Helen Molesworth in 2010, the museum had put together a string of impressive exhibitions showcasing single artists (Anish Kapoor, Tara Donovan, Shepard Fairey, Charles LeDray), but it didn’t seem to have anyone who could put together a powerful Big Idea show.
Molesworth has begun to fulfill the ICA’s aim — described by director Jill Medvedow — to balance monographic shows with exhibitions of historical sweep that “put more historical context around contemporary art.” She started with last fall’s “Dance/Draw,” which traced the origins of today’s performance art in the intersection between dancing and drawing since the ’60s. Now Molesworth has upped the ante and signaled the ICA’s aspirations with “This Will Have Been: Art, Love & Politics in the 1980s,” which opened November 15. It re-examines the whole greed-is-good, pastel-preppy conservative decade through the lenses of feminism, AIDS, rapacious business, and queer culture.

The scope and daring of the exhibit, attempting not just to pursue a Big Idea but also to redefine a whole decade, shows Molesworth — and the ICA — stepping up to a new level. It makes her one of the handful of curators in the country redefining the canon of art of the past half century. What we’re witnessing is someone becoming one of the most influential curators in the nation, and thereby, someone who can reshape the way we think about art and art history.

“It’s a very ambitious show,” says Los Angeles Times critic Christopher Knight, who reviewed it when it opened in Chicago. “It’s the kind of show that very few art museums even attempt…”

Read the rest here.

Peabody Essex hires American art curator

Monday, December 10th, 2012

Austen Barron Bailly, the head of the American art department at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, has been named the new curator of American art at the Peabody Essex Museum, the Salem institution has announced. She is expected to begin work here in January.

“Bailly will lead the development of a multi-faceted American art program focusing on exhibitions, new interpretation in the galleries, and expanding the museum’s collection which currently includes paintings, decorative arts, photographs, folk art, and textiles representing over 300 years of New England and American art and culture,” according to the Peabody Essex.

Read the rest here.

Poor Yokelist’s Almanack: Upcoming Events

Monday, December 10th, 2012


Monday, Dec. 10, 7:30 p.m.
Sprout Spaghetti Dinner on the theme of “voyages, vacations and death” at Sprout, 339R Summer St., Somerville, Massachusetts. Presentations include Beth Nixon with a suitcase show contemplating the death of her father and dentist, Sara Peattie performing a toy theater show entitled “Ithaca,” short, 3-slide travelogues by spaghetti dinner attendees, and the The Spaghetti Dinner Funeral Band! Suggested donation $10.

Saturday, Dec. 15, 4:30 to 9:15 p.m.
The Somerville Arts Council presents its annual “Illuminations” trolley tours of spectacular holiday displays around the city. Tours begin and end at City Hall, 93 Highland Ave., Somerville, Massachusetts. $10. (Pictured at top, photo by The New England Journal of Aesthetic Research.)

Bella Luna/Milky Way celebrate 19th birthday with costume party

Thursday, December 6th, 2012

Bella Luna Restaurant and the Milky Way Lounge in Boston celebrated their 19th birthday with a superhero costume party on Nov. 30. More photos (all courtesy of the restaurant/lounge) here.

Tannenbaum to leave RISD Museum

Wednesday, December 5th, 2012

Judith Tannenbaum is leaving her post as the Rhode Island School of Design Museum’s Curator of Contemporary Art, the Providence museum announced today. She’s “moving on to other things,” museum spokesperson Lani Stack says. Let’s call it kinda, sorta, basically, maybe retiring. Tannenbaum is expected to end full time work with the museum in February 2013, but remain affiliated with the museum as an adjunct curator through 2014. Tannenbaum is moving to Philadelphia where she plans to focus on her writing and other projects, Stack says.

Tannenbaum has organized numerous major shows for the museum, including “Wunderground: Providence, 1995 to the Present” (2006); “Beth Lipman: After You’re Gone” (2008); “Styrofoam” (2008); “Lynda Benglis” (2010); and “Painting Air: Spencer Finch” (2012). But she’s also the most prolific curator at the RISD Museum, having organized some 50 shows since joining the institution in 2000.

The museum plans to fill the position: “It is a position that is vital to the museum. We’re definitely having a job search,” Stack says.

MoMA begins collecting video games as art

Wednesday, December 5th, 2012

Two games developed at MIT on shortlist for next acquisitions

In a landmark move, New York’s Museum of Modern Art announced last week that it has begun acquiring video games for its collection.

“Are video games art?” writes Paola Antonelli, a senior curator in the museum’s department of architecture and design, at MoMA’s “Inside/Out” blog. “They sure are, but they are also design, and a design approach is what we chose for this new foray into this universe. The games are selected as outstanding examples of interaction design.”

The museum’s initial acquisitions—which MoMA plans to make available for play by visitors to the museum perhaps as soon as March 2013—are “Pac-Man” (1980)
, “Tetris” (1984), “Another World” (1991), “Myst” (1993)
, “SimCity 2000” (1994)
, “vib-ribbon” (1999)
, “The Sims” (2000)
, “Katamari Damacy,” (2004)
, “EVE Online” (2003)
, “Dwarf Fortress” (2006)
, “Portal” (2007)
, “flOw” (2006)
, “Passage” (2008)
, and “Canabalt” (2009).

Two games developed at Massachusetts Institute of Technology—“Spacewar!” (1962) and “Zork” (1979)—are on the short list of additional games the museum aims to acquire “over the next few years.”

Read the rest here.

The View From The Top Of The World: A New Book On Inuit Art

Tuesday, December 4th, 2012

From our report on Warwick, Rhode Island, author Maija Lutz’s new book, “Hunters, Carvers, and Collectors: The Chauncey C. Nash Collection of Inuit Art.” She speaks and sign copies of the book at Harvard University’s Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology, 11 Divinity Ave., Cambridge, Massachusetts, at 5 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 5:

The 1950s and ‘60s were a time of major change for the Inuit of the Canadian Arctic.

“People were more and more moving from their nomadic camp lifestyles into communities,” explains Maija Lutz.

“These communities had been established by the Canadian government in response to the need for education and health services and various kinds of things,” Lutz says. “So people were beginning to get away from living totally off the land to more of a cash economy. As people were getting more and more into a cash economy they needed money.”

But how to earn it?

A Canadian artist by the name of James Houston, during a painting trip to northern Ontario in 1948, was offered a free plane ride to an Inuit settlement at what is now called Nunavik in Arctic Quebec. He was wowed by new Inuit carvings—often spare, raw stone works depicting Inuit life and spirituality. He began bringing Inuit art back to southern Canada, to Montreal, to sell. By 1957, he was living at Kinngait (Cape Dorset) on Baffin Island, where he served as a community economic development officer, Lutz says. And he made it his mission to foster contemporary Inuit art, in part to foster Inuit communities.

Read the rest here.

Pictured at top: “The Return of the Sun,” Kenojuak Ashevak, Kinngait, 1961. Printed by Lukta Qiatsuq. (Artwork courtesy Dorset Fine Arts and the Inuit Art Foundation. Image copyright the President and Fellows of Harvard College.)

Michael Dowling’s “Medicine Wheel” AIDS shrine

Monday, December 3rd, 2012

Our photos of Boston artist Michael Dowling’s annual “Medicine Wheel” shrine to AIDS victims at the Boston Center for the Arts. A bit more here.

Previously: Medicine Wheel installation in 2010.


Poor Yokelist’s Almanack: Upcoming Events

Monday, December 3rd, 2012

Monday, Dec. 3, 4 p.m.
Ryuichi Abe, the Reischauer Institute Professor of Japanese Religions at Harvard University, speaks about “Buddhist Mandalas and Contemplation” at Colby College, Ostrove Auditorium, Diamond Building, Waterville, Maine.

Wednesday, Dec. 5, 5:30 p.m.
Conceptual artist Tom Friedman speaks at Brown University’s Martinos Auditorium in the Granoff Center, 154 Angell St., Providence, in celebration of the installation of his sculpture “Circle Dance 2010″ on the walk between Angell and Waterman streets.

Wednesday, Dec. 5, 6 p.m.
MIT architecture professor John Ochsendorf, who organized the exhibit “Places for the People: Guastavino and America’s Great Public Spaces” at the Boston Public Library, speaks at the library’s central branch’s Rabb Lecture Hall, 700 Boylston St., Boston. Free.

Thursday, Dec. 6, 7 p.m.
Photographer Wendy Ewald of Red Hook, New York, a senior research associate at Duke’s Center for International Studies and an artist-in-residence at Amherst, speaks about “the importance of looking and listening for the future of a global education” at Colby College, Ostrove Auditorium, Diamond Building, Waterville, Maine.