Three Exhibitions Not to Be Missed in Boston

William Kentridge, Rumours & Impossibilities, 2010, Screenprint. Image: Boston University Art Gallery

There are three exhibitions I’d love for you to see and if you miss them, then you’re missing out on life.  The first one is at the Boston University Stone Art Gallery, 855 Commonwealth Avenue. Three Artists from The Caversham Press: Deborah Bell, Robert Hodgins, and William Kentridge ( February 8 – March 27, 2011). It features the works of three world renowned South African artists and their impact at The Caversham Press.

The second one is in conjunction with the wonderful Bell, Hodgins and Kentridge exhibit, and is at the 808 Art Gallery. The massive gallery is entirely devoted to South Africa: Artists, Prints, Community, Twenty Five Years at The Caversham Press, an expansive printmaking exhibition that traces the development of the Caversham Press through the incredibly diverse prints produced by the artists in residence at Caversham. If you go see both exhibits in one day (they are practically across the street from one another), allow sufficient time to see the works in the 808 Gallery, there are many, many prints on display.

If you MUST absolutely miss the other two exhibitions and only have time to see one, I would definitely recommend that you see Golden: Dutch and Flemish Masterworks from the Rose-Marie and Eijk van Otterloo Collection (February 26 – June 19, 2011) at the Peabody Essex Museum. I personally think this exhibition is very well done, refreshing, and so much fun! Bring a magnifying glass so that you can see all the breathtaking details in the paintings (the museum provides magnifying glasses, but there aren’t enough to go around).

Still Life with Glasses and Tobacco, 1633 Willem Claesz. Heda (1594-1680), Oil on panel, 20 x 29 ¾ inches (50.8 x 75.6 cm), The Rose-Marie and Eijk van Otterloo Collection, Image courtesy Peabody Essex Museum.

Can Twitter Save this House?

Copyright © Preservation Massachusetts. Used under the Creative Commons License.

UPDATE: This house has been demolished. We fought a good battle, unfortunately, we lost it. Read more here:

 

In the last few weeks and days, we’ve witnessed the power of Twitter and other social media outlets in spreading democracy to many parts of the world. I didn’t really believe much in Twitter because I didn’t understand how it worked, but now that I do, I believe that Twitter and those who use it have the power to influence people and make change happen.

How cool would it be to use Twitter to not only promote our cultural heritage, but to also save it. Could social media be the next most effective tool in preservation advocacy? Have you ever heard of the power of ten? That is, I get ten friends to give ten dollars towards a cause. Each of those ten friends then asks ten of their friends to give ten dollars towards the same cause. The cycle continues. If you subscribe to my blog could you forward this post to ten of your friends? Who knows, maybe we’ll find someone who is interested in preserving our cultural heritage by halting the demolition of this house:

The house is a 1780 Federal-style house in Dudley, Massachusetts and was home of Abiel “Priest” Williams, who was a minister in Dudley for 32 years. The house is historically and architecturally significant and was once considered “one of the most magnificent dwellings in Federalist Dudley” according to the Dudley Historical Commission. The current owners are willing to sell the house for $1 to anyone willing to relocate it, but if no one buys it, then it will fall to the wrecking ball and that would be really sad. Who do you know that may help save this house? The house was listed in 2010 as one of the Most Endangered Historic Resources in the state of Massachusetts by the statewide preservation organization; Preservation Massachusetts. That says a lot about this resource.

More information here and here and here.

Suffocating Boston’s Public Art

Source: generationsafterboston.org

The Boston Phoenix loves to frown upon EVERYTHING that is good. They blamed The Decemberists for the death of indie rock music and they referred the New England Holocaust Memorial as “a breathtaking banality.” Every year, the Phoenix publishes its “Best of Boston” issue, highlighting the best in everything that is OVERRATED in the city. With the help of Bostonians who vote for the best, I meant “most” (OVERRATED) burger joint, political blog, clothing store, favorite place to get a haircut for men and/or women and so on, Boston’s “alternative” newspaper is anything BUT alternative.

Highlighting everything that is overrated in Boston isn’t enough for The Boston Phoenix of course; they also invite anyone who doesn’t have a single clue about art and architecture to vote in the category for bad public art work. If a newspaper or magazine highlights the “Best of Boston” why not have a category for “Best Public Art Work?” and not the “Best of Bad Public Art?” Why not name the edition “Worst of Boston 2011” instead?

This year, the Best Bad Public Art Work category features, in the words of Chris Millis, works that exude “a breathtaking banality” like the boring, uninspiring and most literal representation of the Irish Famine memorials I have ever seen. The list also features Boston City Hall (a “brutalist” building as public art work, I think the listing instigates more hatred towards a building that is already much maligned among Bostonians) as well as other, once again, uninteresting public art works in Boston. Why not nominate EVERY single public work of art in the city (with the exception of the public art collection at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology which is truly spectacular)?

The New England Holocaust Memorial is Boston’s most eloquent and powerful monument. Regardless of one’s race, nationality or creed, one cannot deny all the emotions and thoughts this memorial allows us to experience. Designed by Stanley Saitowitz and dedicated in 1995, the memorial features a long black granite path with six glass towers, allowing visitors to pass through each tower. Each square tower represents the major Nazi concentration camps and six million numbers in total are etched on all four sides of the columns, one for every person killed in the concentration camps. If this wasn’t emotional enough, one walks through each tower surrounded by steam, yes, steam, to further emphasize the horrors of the gas chambers and incinerators during the Holocaust.

The Boston Globe’s architecture critic Robert Campbell considered the memorial a mix bag, “the good news is that the memorial is pretty successful urban design” but it was “…caught between a rock and a hard place:
the huge Boston City Hall on one side and the delicate old Blackstone Block –Boston’s last surviving chunk of 18th-century streetscape – on the other.” Overall, Campbell’s critique referred to the memorial as being over symbolic. This is true, but there are dozens of public art works in Boston that should be also on the list because let’s face it, why are we judging bad public art works in Boston when in the words of Mr. Campbell himself, “we lack a common visual language of public symbols”?

For as long as Boston continues to embrace its puritanical roots and ideals, its architecture and art will continue to suffocate.

Campbell’s quotes are taken from “A Matter of Design: Evaluating Boston’s Holocaust Memorial,” published on November 26, 1995 in The Boston Globe.

Photo Credit: Alice Chan, http://www.pbase.com/aichan/boston

Jennifer Steinkamp will make you smile

Have you ever gone to a museum or gallery and seen a work that just made you smile? I recently went to see a show that did just that, in fact, I was even smiling at strangers on the subway….in Boston (this never happens, EVER)!

Astatic|February 1 – March 05, 2011| Bakalar and Paine Gallery|MassArt highlights the role of animation in contemporary art practice. Lately, I’ve been falling in love with many things and artists, this time, I’ve fallen for Jennifer Steinkamp. Steinakamp’s works explore ideas about architectural space, motion, and perception. Dance Hall Girl 5-Daisy at MassArt is way cool! Check this show out if you’re in Boston!

See some cool examples of Jennifer Steinkamp’s works posted here. If I haven’t convinced you to see the show or even check out Jennifer’s website, do a Youtube search, tons of Steinkamp’s installation videos there.

This first video is an introduction to Steinkamp’s works, she makes an appearance as well.

Go See this: Women Pop Artists

Dorothy Iannone (American, born 1933) I Love to Beat You, 1969-70. Acrylic on linen mounted on canvas, Courtesy of the Anton Kern Gallery, New York, and Air de Paris, Paris

Seductive Subversion: Women Pop Artists 1958-1968 | Tufts University Art Gallery |January 27 – April 03, 2010

Rosalyn Drexler (American, born 1926) Love and Violence, 1963, Acryic, oil and paper on canvas, The Pace Gallery, New York

This is a much needed exhibition in the art world. One hears “Pop Art” and Andy Warhol, Roy Lichtenstein, Richard Hamilton and other men come to mind. What some of us may not know is that WOMEN were not only part of this movement, but were also highly influential. In the cannon of art history, women Pop Art artists have been ignored and forgotten until now. New scholarship by some of the nation’s leading art historians has brought the names and works of numerous women Pop Art artists to light. I found this exhibition thought provoking and enlightening because I was exposed to incredible artists of the Pop Art movement that I was not aware of for the most part.

The first part of the exhibition addresses male fantasies about women as sex objects with Marjorie Strider’s Triptych II (Beach Girl), 1963 taking the prize for the most eye catching work.

The second part of the exhibition address imagery of political and sexual violence against women and how women Pop artists depicted and challenged the status quo. Dorothy Iannone’s I Love to Beat You, 1969-70 has been haunting me in my sleep since I saw the exhibition. I can’t get enough of it.

The third part of this exhibition addresses the male stereotypes and images of masculinity. It features among other works, Marisol’s fabulous John Wayne, 1963 and Mara McAfee Marvelous Modern Mechanical Men, 1963.

The next two sections explore Pop Art strategies and new materials and new combinations. I learned a great deal about the women represented in this exhibition and now I’ve fallen in love with Rosalyn Drexler, Chryssa, May Wilson, Idelle Weber, Martha Rosler (LOVE HER!!!), and Yayoi Kusama!

I guess I’ll be busy for the next few months learning more about the lives and works of these amazing women Pop Art artists. In the meantime, go see this show, you’ll love it. I’d love to know what you think of these images or of the show in particular. Go see the show and leave your comment or tweet me.

Martha Rosler (American, born 1943) First Lady (Pat Nixon), 1967-72, photomontage, collection of the artist, courtesy of Mitchell-Innes & Nash, New York

Get Pissed Off!

Contemporary art is hard to swallow. I’ll be honest with you, I’ve seen many works that have managed to piss me off and I’ve loved it. I loved it because the work was successful in stirring some sort of emotion out of me and for making me think out of the box. Roni Horn’s “Paired Gold Mats, for Ross and Felix,” 1994-95, pissed me off so much I didn’t even want to see the exhibition a second time. The more I read about the work, the more I understood what it meant and how powerful it was for Horn and those who experienced it. The next time you walk into a gallery and see gold sheets you can buy in an art store or a sales receipt from Target or H&M labeled as art, think twice before speaking and calling it a joke. I won’t tell you all the reasons why a sales receipt may be considered art, but it is because the artist has declared it so and because it has been re-contextualized and presented to us with a different meaning.

Gabriel Kuri: Nobody needs to know the price of your Saab (February 02 – July 4, 2011) at the Institute of Contemporary Art/Boston is a pretty good show. I haven’t been thrilled with the shows in the east gallery, but this one gives us more to talk about than tattoos and objectified women (Dr. Lakra). This is the kind of show that will piss someone off or have people asking the gallery guards “do you get this?” at the sight of plastic grocery bags hanging from the ceiling or grass growing on a stack of newspapers. I LOVE IT!

I laughed many times and I stopped to question what I was looking at. I laughed. And laughed again and again, so much that one of the gallery guards said to me “aren’t they fun?” pointing to “Thank You Clouds” hanging from the ceiling. They are fun and I get this stuff (of course, it took me a while to appreciate most contemporary art)!

The show is organized by Blaffer Art Museum at the University of Houston and is accompanied by a full exhibition catalog. Go see it and if you are one of those contemporary art skeptics, this may just piss you off, which is great because it will get you talking about it and we all LOVE to talk about art. Don’t we?

Go See This!

Every once in a while, you see an exhibition that sticks with you long after seeing it. In spite of being sick, I ventured out to First Fridays and came across a few shows that are worthy of being seen, including a show by one of my favorite video artists.

First up, this show ends soon, so soon that I didn’t really get to share it with people through the blog or on twitter, but I love Denise Marika’s works. I vividly remember an exhibition of hers at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum a few years back, it just gets better and better and better.

Denise Marika |January 7th – February 8th, 2011| Howard Yezerski Gallery

Effaced 1 2010 Video Still, © Denise Marika (Installation View)

Her work is gorgeous, powerful and breathtaking. I love video art and Denise Marika definitely stands out! Sometimes, I wish I’d become a video artist myself.

Jack Schneider|post|February 4-March 19, 2011|Anthony Greaney

BELIEVE (Board), 2010, Watercolor on paper, enamel, push pins and wood panel, 46 x 16 1/2 inches

I can go 100 times to see this Jack Schneider exhibition at Anthony Greaney Gallery and not get bored! I love it and I wish there were more shows like this in Boston. We’re getting there, slowly, but surely, (I think)! Go see this, you have until March 19th, 2011.

Lastly, the other exhibition I thought was interesting is at Carroll and Sons Gallery.

Sheila Pepe|Common Sense and Other Things|January 5th – February 19th|Carroll and Sons

Common Sense in Boston, 2011, Installation View 2, Rope, shoelaces and crocheted yarn, Interactive: work completed by viewers unraveling and re- using. Photo Carroll and Sons Gallery

Sheila Pepe is an internationally known, self-identified feminist artist whose work is held in a number of private and public collections including The Rose Art Museum, The Harvard University Art Museums, and others. The cool thing about this installation at Carroll and Sons is that you as the viewer get to finish it, so if you are a decent knitter head over to the South End and enjoy this show. Well, you don’t even have to knit to see and participate in this installation.

more to come soon..

How to Build an Igloo

This winter we have more snow on the ground than we could possibly know what to do with it. The bad news is that it is only February, so I’m sure more snow is on the way.

With all this snow, and more on the way, I think we can all prepare ourselves by watching this short documentary on how to make an igloo. No joke, we may need these skills before Spring arrives considering that Mother Nature keeps covering us with her white blanket. A sense of humor is needed to get through this winter, so here are some videos I came across the other day.

The best thing about building an Igloo is that you don’t have to be an architect to build one.

You can watch the beautiful short film shot in 1949 by Douglas Wilkinson by clicking here: Sorry, somehow I can’t upload this to the post, but it is a classic film.

Since we have so much snow…

What about building the world’s largest igloo? We sure have a TON of snow for that!

I think we DEFINITELY can do this.

And this is cheating, unless he made those blocks from snow that was already on the ground which he then compacted in a box to from blocks.

I wish we could all quit you snow, please follow the link to Youtube! It’s worth it!

And tell me this didn’t make you smile:

When all else fails, just make a snowman or snow angels. I’m still trying to finf my snow angel photos, when I do, I’ll update this post.

 

Exploring the Museum of Fine Arts with Context Travel

On Wednesday February 26th, I had the opportunity of attending a walking tour organized by Context Travel at the Museum of Fine Arts. For Context Travel, the walking tours are no larger than five or six people and are led by local experts in urban planning, architecture, art history or other related fields. My experience at the Museum of Fine Arts was led by Tricia, a long time docent there.

Exploring a building, a work of art, or the city, in context to its surroundings or the time it was created is central to the mission of Context Travel. Context Travel doesn’t organize tours, instead it creates narrative participatory experiences in twelve cities around the world, including Athens, Florence, Naples, Paris, New York, Philadelphia and most recently, Boston.

Part of that mission, is to “connect curious travelers with that priceless local knowledge.” Context’s walking tours are usually three hours long and are offered on a variety of topics and themes. In Boston, explorations include Beacon Hill, North End, and the artist John Singer Sargent and many more. Context Travel crafts tours “designed to help the erudite traveler appreciate and defend the city without overrunning it,” the tours are engaging, informative, interesting and fun.

Being a docent at Trinity Church, one of the city’s most iconic landmarks, I can certainly relate to crafting an experience that will engage the visitor with the art work and architecture. I am very particular in making connections between art and architecture of Trinity Church in context to its surroundings and American history. This is an important detail that Context Travel emphasizes in all of its walks and seminars.

For the first two hours of the Museum of Fine Arts tour, the docent and attendees explored the new wing dedicated to American art. The last hour was dedicated to the European, Asian and Egyptian art galleries. Throughout the three hours, we stopped to discussed particular artworks and place them in context to other works in the museum, connected them to notable people as well as the city of Boston.

Exploring the museum for three hours with Context Travel proved to be a great experience primarily because I was exposed to works of arts that I either possessed very little knowledge of or have unintentionally overlooked because I was too engaged looking at other objects. I found the tour engaging and the docent was very approachable and welcoming.