Archive for January, 2013

“The Origin of the World /\ The Force of the Source \/ The Cause of the Vigor” at Samson

Wednesday, January 30th, 2013

“The Origin of the World /\ The Force of the Source \/ The Cause of the Vigor” is a three parts brilliant, two parts non sequitur (or maybe it’s the other way around) group show at Samson gallery.

The subject: “The vagina as base of creativity and joy.” In practice this means, Kirsten Stoltmann’s glittery deadpan self-portrait photo “I Know You,” a giant close up of an amethyst (purple quartz) stuck in her vagina (pictured below). It’s like staring into the Bermuda Triangle — swallowing you up with bedazzling, intimate anatomy, humor, and just plain dumbfounding weirdness.

Read the rest here.

“The Origin of the World /\ The Force of the Source \/ The Cause of the Vigor,” Samson, 450 Harrison Ave, Boston :: Jan. 4 to March 30, 2013.

Pictured at top: Daniel Gordon. “July 8, 2010. 2010.” Chromogenic color print, 16 x 20″. Image courtesy the artist. © 2010 Daniel Gordon.

Kirsten Stoltmann’s “I Know You.”

Kelly Kleinschrodt’s “Triangulation (paternal object),” 2012.

Frank Gohlke

Wednesday, January 30th, 2013

We spoke with Frank Gohlke on the occasion of his recent show “Miles and Miles of Things I’ve Never Seen” at the UMass Dartmouth University Art Gallery in Massachusetts:

“When that show was created, as odd as it seems now, it was extremely controversial,” Frank Gohlke says of being featured in the landmark 1975 exhibit of deadpan photography, “New Topographics: Photographs of the Man-Altered Landscape” at New York’s George Eastman House.

“A lot of people just hated it,” says Gohlke, who lived in Boston from 1987 to 2007, and still often summers here. “It seemed as though it was going to be one of those ideas that had a moment . . . . It would just be a minor eddy in the stream of art history. But it didn’t turn out that way.” In fact, New Topographics remains probably the most prominent style of art photography today.

Read the rest here.

“Miles and Miles of Things I’ve Never Seen,” UMass Dartmouth University Art Gallery, 715 Purchase St, New Bedford, Massachusetts, Dec. 7, 2012, to Jan. 27, 2013.

Pictured at top: Gohlke’s “Ten Minutes in North Texas, No. 4,” 1995/2011. Image courtesy of Frank Gohlke and the Howard Greenberg Gallery, NYC.

Exhibition view.

“Ten Minutes in North Texas, No. 1,” 1995.

“Unpacked,” 2008-2011.

“Unpacked: Untitled #4,” 2008-2011.

Poor Yokelist’s Almanack: Upcoming Events

Monday, January 28th, 2013

Monday, Jan. 28. 2013.
Deadline for 2013 Massachusetts Cultural Council Artist Fellowship applications in Film, video and photography.

Wednesday, Jan. 30, 11:30 a.m.
Animator Jesse Schmal speaks at Montserrat College of Art, 23 Essex St., Beverly, Massachusetts. Free.

Saturday, Feb. 2, 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Urban Pond Procession holds a workshop at Renaissance Church, 77 Reservoir Ave., Providence, to introduce new artist, educators and interested community members to its arts-based environmental programming.

Saturday, Feb. 2, 4 p.m.
Artists Jon Sarkin, Paul Cary Goldberg and Ken Riaf speak about their show at Flatrocks Gallery, 77 Langsford St., Gloucester, Massachusetts.

Tuesday, Feb. 5, 11:30 a.m.
Artist Zsuzsanna Szegedi speaks at Montserrat College of Art, 23 Essex St., Beverly, Massachusetts. Free.

Bread and Puppet’s “Dead Man Rising” and “The Possibilitarians”

Saturday, January 26th, 2013

From our report on Bread and Puppet Theater’s performances of “Dead Man Rising” and “The Possibilitarians” at the Boston Center for the Arts:

“It’s not an antiwar piece,” Peter Schumann, founder of Bread and Puppet Theater, explained of the troupe’s opening performance at the Boston Center for the Arts Thursday night. “It’s an anti-American culture piece. And it’s an anti-noise piece. And it’s an anti-modern culture piece.”

In this introduction, Schumann listed the enduringly challenging themes of the Vermont-based experimental, political mask and puppet theater as it arrives in town at the start of the company’s 50th year.

For their annual Boston run, they’re offering a double bill at 7 each night through Jan. 27. The evening opens with a breathtaking fable, that “anti-modern culture piece,” Dead Man Rises. It’s a revival from 1967, when the company performed it for “students who occupied Columbia University in protest of Columbia University’s indirect participation in the war in Vietnam,” Schumann said.

It’s followed by a new companion piece, The Possibilitarians, an epic and raucous pageant addressing 17th century English radicals called the Diggers who planted parsnips, carrots and beans on common land as they sought to found a society of greater equality and without private land ownership. This was much to the displeasure of local manor lords, who harassed them and defeated them through courts and by force within a few years

“Quite meaningful even though not many concrete results come of it,” Schumann told the audience. But here the theater mulls parallels to the Occupy Wall Street movement, looking backward to consider ways to challenge inequity now.

Read the rest here.

Bread and Puppet Theater performs “Dead Man Rising” and “The Possibilitarians” at the Boston Center for the Arts, 539 Tremont St., Boston, at 7 p.m. Jan. 24 to 27, 2013. It also performs its “family-friendly” “Circus of the Possibilitarians” there at 2 p.m. Jan. 26 and 27.

Photos by The New England Journal of Aesthetic Research.

“Dead Man Rises.”

“The Possibilitarians,” above photo and following.

Bread and Puppet Theater founder Peter Schumann.

Guastavino shaped a new democratic architecture at Boston library

Tuesday, January 22nd, 2013

From our review of “Palaces for the People: Guastavino and America’s Great Public Spaces” at the Boston Public Library:

The old wing of the Boston Public Library’s Copley Square Branch, the 1895 McKim Building, represents one of the last great buildings of its breed. It arrived as construction of major buildings was shifting to steel. The metal allowed structures to span great distances under heavy loads, but to appear light and airy. So it became one of signature materials of modern architecture, birthing the towering skyscrapers and bridges of the past century and a half.

But the McKim Building rose at the turn of the 20th century, in an era of transition. Its designers signaled its cultural aspirations by looking back to old Europe for signature aspects of its design, particularly the dramatic vaulting seemingly woven out of ceramic tiles throughout the first floor.

This method and its maker are the focus of an illuminating architecture exhibit “Palaces for the People: Guastavino and America’s Great Public Spaces,” organized by John Ochsendorf, a professor of architecture and engineering at Massachusetts Institute of Technology. The building was Rafael Guastavino Sr.’s first major commission in the United States. Its success—the building is now a National Historic Landmark—powered the rest of his career.

Read the rest here.

“Palaces for the People: Guastavino and America’s Great Public Spaces,” Boston Public Library’s Copley Square Branch, 700 Boylston St., Boston, Sept. 28, 2012, to Feb. 24, 2013.

Pictured at top: Rafael Guastavino Sr. (right) stands atop a newly erected arch as the Boston Public Library’s McKim Building was being constructed in 1889. Below: The vaulted entrance hall built by Rafael Guastavino Sr. in the Boston Public Library’s McKim Building. (Photo by Michael Freeman/ Courtesy of the Boston Public Library.)

Poor Yokelist’s Almanack: Upcoming Events

Monday, January 21st, 2013

Wednesday, Jan. 23, 6:15 p.m.
Boston Sculptors Gallery presents a “Pecha-Kucha” style by ten of its 10 gallery members on “Sculpture That Works with Audience: Kinetic, Interactive, Installation and Public Art,” followed by discussion, at the gallery 500 Harrison Ave., Boston.

Thursday, Jan. 24, 11:30 a.m.
Photographer Jesse Burke speaks at Montserrat College of Art, 23 Essex St., Beverly, Massachusetts. Free.

Thursday, Jan. 24, 6:30 p.m.
Andrea Fraser performs “Men on the Line, KPFK, 1972” at the Institute of Contemporary Art, 100 Northern Ave., Boston. Followed by chat with artist Gregg Bordowitz, and curator Helen Molesworth.

Thursday, Jan. 24, 6 p.m.
Maya Lin, the designer of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in D.C., speaks at the Boston Public Library central branch’s Rabb Lecture Hall, 700 Boylston St., Boston. Free.

Thursday, Jan. 24, 6:30 p.m.
Free networking evening with the staff of “Art New England” at the Danforth Museum of Art, 123 Union Ave., Framingham, Mass.

Thursday to Sunday, Jan. 24 to 27, 7 p.m.
Bread and Puppet Theater performs “The Possibilitarians” and “Dead Man Rises” at the Boston Center for the Arts Cyclorama, 539 Tremont St., Boston, $12. The Vermont-based troupe also performs a “family-friendly” “The Circus of the Possibilitarians” there at 2 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, Jan. 26 and 27, $12.

Thursday, Jan. 24, 7 p.m.
Arthur K. Wheelock, Jr., curator of Northern Baroque painting at the National Gallery of Art, speaks about “Why the Funny Hats? Rembrandt and His Self-Portraits” at the Gardner Museum, 280 the Fenway, Boston.

Jan. 28. 2013.
Deadline for 2013 Massachusetts Cultural Council Artist Fellowship applications in film, video and photography.

Architecture critic Ada Louise Huxtable has died

Wednesday, January 16th, 2013

Ada Louise Huxtable, a Pulitzer Prize winning architecture critic who championed the Brutalist design of Boston’s City Hall, died in New York on Jan. 7 at age 91. She split her time between the Big Apple and Marblehead, Massachusetts.

She was an assistant curator of architecture and design at the Museum of Modern Art from 1946 to 1950. She became the nation’s first full-time newspaper critic of architecture when she wrote for The New York Times in 1963 until 1982. A champion of historic preservation and thoughtful new development, she won the Pulitzer for her writing in 1970. More recently, she had written for the Wall Street Journal.

Welcome Ulysses….

Monday, January 14th, 2013

Friday, we welcomed Ulysses to The New England Journal of Aesthetic Research family. Hurray! He’s happy and healthy. But everyone else is exhausted. And, you know, healthy and happy, too.

Photo above by our executive director for these past three and a half years, Jasper.

Mickalene Thomas interview: The Seduction of Blackness

Monday, January 7th, 2013

“So much of the beauty that I really try to capture and emulate in my own work stems from my mother.”—Mickalene Thomas.

Over the past half decade, one of the hottest artists in New York has been Mickalene Thomas (pictured above). Her rhinestone-encrusted paintings of black women in boldly patterned interiors that evoke the 1960s and ‘70s are the subject of a five-painting exhibit at the Institute of Contemporary Art (100 Northern Ave., Boston, through April 7) and a larger traveling show now on view at the Brooklyn Museum (through Jan. 20). On Dec. 11 at the ICA, we spoke to her about her mom (a fashion model in her youth), everyday middle class African American women, and the intersection of black beauty and black power.

“Growing up, my mother [pictured above in Thomas's 2009 painting “Sandra: She’s a Beauty"] would walk into a room and her beauty was so powerful that she could get whatever she wanted from people—attention, conversation,” Thomas says. “People just wanted her energy. They wanted to be around her. No matter if she said something or not. I think beauty has a form of power. And then on top of a woman being beautiful that way, if she’s intelligent, then that’s a double. And that was my mother. And I always wanted to understand that. People didn’t look at me that way. I didn’t possess my mother’s beauty in that sense. She had that ideal beauty that you just wanted to know. You knew that woman when she was in the room. I’m just trying to understand the power of that beauty.”

Read the rest here.

Mickalene Thomas’s 2007 painting “Baby I Am Ready Now.”

Bernard Chaet’s far horizon

Friday, January 4th, 2013

From our review of Bernard Chaet “A Life in Art” at Boston’s Alpha Gallery:

When painter Bernard Chaet died on Oct. 16 at age 88, Alpha Gallery, which had been planning a solo show of his work for December turned it into a mini overview of his career. And the news from that exhibit, “A Life in Art,” is that in his last decade, focusing on the shore and sea of Cape Ann, Massachusetts, he painted the best canvases of his life.

Chaet (1924-2012) grew up in Boston’s Dorchester neighborhood and studied at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts and Tufts University. Early on he found inspiration in Boston Expressionism, a psychologically charged style of Modernist realist painting that emerged here in the 1930s and ‘40s.

In the 1950s, he experimented with abstraction. In the 1970s and ‘80s, he painted still-lifes and studio portraits in a stripped-down, flat realism. But again and again he returned to landscapes and seascapes painted with an expressionist realism.

His oil paintings tended to exhibit a sturdy competence, but undistinguished vision. His expressionist stylizations could be formulaic. Cows he painted grazing in hot hued fields—a signature motif over the years—tended to be caricatures, not animals carefully observed and fully felt. He was best known for teaching art at Yale University in Connecticut from 1951 to 1990 and authoring the influential 1970 book “The Art of Drawing.”

But as early as the 1960s, Chaet began summering at Cape Ann. After his retirement, he often split his years between Connecticut and there. Cape Ann’s rugged shore became a primary subject. He favored a few locations—particularly Bass Rocks in Gloucester and Pigeon Cove in Rockport—painting them again and again.

Read the rest here.

Bernard Chaet “A Life in Art,” Alpha Gallery, 37 Newbury St., Boston, Dec. 1, 2012, to Jan. 9, 2013.

Pictured at top: Chaet’s 2008 oil painting “Blue.”

Chaet’s 2004 to 2006 painting “Breaking Out.”

Best of 2012: Art made here

Friday, January 4th, 2013

Our roundup of the best art made in New England that we saw here in 2012:

Over the past decade, art museums and institutions around Boston have put more than $1 billion into renovations and expansions—from the Museum of Fine Arts’ Art of the Americas Wing to the new Institute of Contemporary Art building to the work ongoing at the Harvard Art Museums. Despite all this new infrastructure, it remains rare to find locally-made contemporary art in our local museums. For example, the MFA has perhaps three Boston area artists on view in its contemporary art wing, while the ICA seems to have just one local artist on view in the whole museum. But that doesn’t mean great art isn’t being produced here. Below is a sampler of the best art made in the region in 2012:

Antoniadis and Stone “Rough Shape” Samson, Dec. 16, 2011, to Jan. 28, 2012. The Boston duo’s sculptural installations (pictured at top) channel the essence of the crappy, generic architecture of strip malls and tired subway stations. Two concrete pillars toppled over, but remained neatly balanced on a third like an anti-triumphal arch. A pair of concrete stairs, turned upside-down and balanced foot-to-foot became an arch over a little paper bag crinkled in the shape of an absent beer bottle. It’s minimalist sculpture that evokes the monumental ruins of a dystopian future America.

Agata Michalowska “Dom” AS220 Project Space, Feb. 5 to 25, 2012. This rumination on home was so personal that many of the references were difficult to catch. But the Providence artist’s installation—including careful placement of cast-glass cups and table runners in a dining room-like installation—revealed a crisp sure vision.

Benjamin Benson Evans in “You Are Here!” at 17 Cox, April 25 to June 23, 2012. In his installation “TV Dinner” (pictured above), the Boston artist created a walk-in story. He transformed the space into a cramped, down-at-the-heels living room right out of 1990 (down to the copy of “People” magazine with “Most Wanted Woman” Paula Abdul on the cover). The clip of “Casablanca” screening on the television, the portraits of a man and woman hung on the wall were clues adding up to a story of love and loss. The attention to detail was astonishing—and signs of Evans’s growing talent.

Read the rest here.

Best of 2012: Seen in Providence

Thursday, January 3rd, 2013

Our roundup of the best art we saw around greater Providence in 2012:

The fall brought bad news — R.K. Projects closed as founding duo Sam Keller and Tabitha Piseno decamped for new adventures in New York (though they’ve since announced plans to do additional projects here). In an art scene as small as Rhode Island’s, any loss is a big blow, and to lose a venue as intriguing and trailblazing as RK is bruising. But the best art shows of the year exemplify how resilient the local art world is — as projects end, new venues like 186 Carpenter sprout.

• HOMELAND “Dom,” Providence artist Agata Michalowska’s starchy installation (pictured above) at AS220′s Project Space in February, was a meditation on her childhood in Poland and home in general. A miniature house, a pile of folded gray towels, and a table set with glasses and stained saucers created a meditative, sensual, cleansed, wistful mood.

• POWER COUPLE Pawtucket couple Megan and Murray McMillan, whose video installations are among the biggest, most ambitious art being made in the region, got a mini-retrospective at Brown University’s Granoff Center in May. It was one fantastic tableau after another: towers of lamps; a couple folding sheets in a dark, flooded room; a couple riding a boat over a sea of mirror-topped tables; a room flying over a dinner party so the woman on a hammock inside could rappel down a rope to join them.

Read the rest here.

Photo by The New England Journal of Aesthetic Research.

Best of 2012: Seen in Boston

Thursday, January 3rd, 2013

Our roundup of the best art we saw around greater Boston in 2012:

It was a year of bracing histories — ’60s assassinations, ’80s pandemics, and four decades of hubris in Iraq. But 2012′s best art wasn’t all bad news. Brandeis University revived its Rose Art Museum. And a sunny new mural became a beacon in the heart of the city — and a benchmark for what art in Boston can achieve.

OS GÊMEOS :: Was the technicolor giant that the Brazilian street-art twins Os Gêmeos painted at Dewey Square last summer (pictured at top) just your friendly neighborhood graffiti kid or, as Fox friends suggested, a terrorist? A little from column A and a little from column B. The cheekily ambiguous mural flooded the site of the 2011 Occupy encampment with sunny delight. It’s the best large-scale public art in Boston in decades. It has permission to be there for a year and a half. Email the mayor ( and demand it live forever.

“KENNEDY TO KENT STATE”:: This photo show at the Worcester Art Museum (through February 3) is a riveting blow-by-blow account of how utopian 1960s dreams came undone between the assassination of John F. Kennedy and the resignation of Richard Nixon.

Read the rest here.

Photo by The New England Journal of Aesthetic Research.