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Events 12/17/2018

12/17/2018 (Monday)

Sol LeWitt: A Wall Drawing Retrospective

After nearly six months of intensive drafting and painting by a team of some sixty-five artists and art students, Sol LeWitt: A Wall Drawing Retrospective is fully installed. The historic exhibition opens to the public at MASS MoCA (Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art), in North Adams, Massachusetts, on November 16, 2008, and will remain on view for twenty-five years. Conceived by the Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven, Connecticut, in collaboration with the artist before his death in April 2007, the project has been undertaken by the Gallery, MASS MoCA, and the Williams College Museum of Art, Williamstown, Massachusetts.

Sol LeWitt: A Wall Drawing Retrospective comprises 105 of LeWitt’s large-scale wall drawings, spanning the artist’s career from 1969 to 2007. These occupy nearly an acre of specially built interior walls that have been installed—per LeWitt’s own specifications—over three stories of a historic mill building situated at the heart of MASS MoCA’s campus. The 27,000-square-foot structure, known as Building #7, has been fully restored for the exhibition by Bruner/Cott & Associates architects, which has closely integrated the building into the museum’s main circulation plan through a series of elevated walkways, a dramatic new vertical lightwell, and new stairways.

The works in the exhibition are on loan from numerous private and public collections worldwide, including the Yale University Art Gallery, to which LeWitt designated the gift of a major representation of his wall drawings, as well as his wall-drawing archive.

Jock Reynolds, the Henry J. Heinz II Director of the Yale University Art Gallery, states, “Watching this grand installation of Sol LeWitt’s wall drawings progress over the past six months has been nothing short of thrilling. In addition to providing an enduring exhibition of great beauty, this retrospective will enable visitors to behold for the first time the full trajectory of a major aspect of Sol’s artistic career. Until today, the only way to view multiple LeWitt wall drawings has been to travel far and wide, pursuing them individually in situ or in temporary museum exhibitions. Now, visitors will be able to return to MASS MoCA again and again to experience this visual feast of Sol’s wall drawings in a single location, doing so at their leisure over the next twenty-five years.”

LeWitt—who stressed the idea behind his work over its execution—is widely regarded as one of the leading exponents of Minimalism and Conceptual art, and is known primarily for his deceptively simple geometric structures and architecturally scaled wall drawings. His experiments with the latter commenced in 1968 and were considered radical, in part because this new form of drawing was purposely temporal and often executed not just by LeWitt but also by other artists and students whom he invited to assist him in the installation of his artworks.

Each wall drawing begins as a set of instructions or simple diagram to be followed in executing the work. As the exhibition makes clear, these straightforward instructions yield an astonishing—and stunningly beautiful—variety of work that is at once simple and highly complex, rigorous and sensual. The drawings in the exhibition range from layers of straight lines meticulously drawn in black graphite pencil lead, to rows of delicately rendered wavy lines in colored pencil; from bold black-and-white geometric forms, to bright planes in acrylic paint arranged like the panels of a folding screen; from sensuous drawings created by dozens of layers of transparent washes, to a tangle of vibratory orange lines on a green wall, and much more. Forms may appear to be flat, to recede in space, or to project into the viewer’s space, while others meld to the structure of the wall itself.

MASS MoCA Director Joseph C. Thompson comments, “With this exhibition, Sol LeWitt has left an amazing gift for us all. Great art draws upon previous artists, but also contradicts and contravenes. And the most essential art argues for new ways of seeing, even as it is almost immediately absorbed into the work that surrounds and supersedes it. As I believe will be evident in this landmark exhibition, LeWitt’s wall drawings rise to those highest of standards. We look forward to having this amazing collection of works on long-term view as a sort of proton at the center of our museum around which our program of changing exhibitions and performances will orbit with even more energy.”

Project History

The impetus for Sol LeWitt: A Wall Drawing Retrospective was a 2004 conversation between Reynolds and LeWitt. This evolved and resulted in a commitment by the artist to give a substantial number of his wall drawings and his entire wall-drawing archive to the Yale University Art Gallery, which already owned an extensive array of LeWitt’s art in multiple mediums. Realizing that the Gallery did not have enough space to install and maintain a large number of the artist’s wall drawings at any one time, Reynolds suggested to LeWitt that MASS MoCA, with its historic mill complex, growing audience, and history of realizing ambitious new works of art, might be able to accommodate an extended retrospective of the works.

Reynolds and LeWitt then met with Thompson, who introduced the artist to Building #7. The structure, situated at the center of MASS MoCA’s multi-building complex and featuring large banks of windows that open onto two flanking courtyards, appealed to LeWitt as an ideal site for a multi-floor installation of his work. In addition to the new interior walls, which he designed in consultation with Bruner/Cott & Associates, his specifications for the space included a plan that would leave nearly all of the existing exterior masonry walls and large windows intact, providing direct side lighting and offering beautiful views to surrounding courtyards and the Berkshire Hills beyond. Bruner/Cott integrated the galleries with MASS MoCA’s existing plan by re-activating existing elevated connector-bridges and adding new ones, and by creating a new three-story lightwell. The design thus links the building to MASS MoCA’s signature Building #5 and provides vertical circulation and handicapped access.

Retrospective Installation and Education Opportunities

“Detailed,” “painstaking,” and “strangely liberating” are terms that have been used to describe the experience of creating Sol LeWitt’s monumental wall drawings. The drawings at MASS MoCA were executed over a six-month period by a team comprising twenty-two of the senior and experienced assistants who worked with the artist over many years; thirty-three student interns from Yale University, Williams College, the Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts, and fourteen other colleges and universities; and thirteen local artists and recent graduates and post-graduates from many of the nation’s leading studio-art programs. MASS MoCA’s North Adams location, just five miles from Williams College, offers a unique educational opportunity for Williams’s undergraduates and those enrolled in its graduate art-history program at the Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute to participate in this special exhibition. Like Yale, Williams is among the primary training grounds for professionals in the field of art history, and the LeWitt collaboration, to be accompanied by a variety of educational programs, will offer students many opportunities to study the work of this important artist.

In conjunction with the project, the Williams College Museum of Art (WCMA) is creating a series of programs and shorter-term companion “teaching exhibitions” in a space at the entrance of Building #7 and at the WCMA. The first of these, The ABCDs of Sol LeWitt, opens at WCMA on November 14, 2008. It includes important works from LeWitt’s private collection that help elucidate the underlying grammar of the artist’s work and ideas.

WCMA Director Lisa Corrin says, “Our goal is to have Sol LeWitt: A Wall Drawing Retrospective serve as an extension of the Williams campus—a classroom of sorts for our students and those from other colleges and universities. LeWitt’s art offers challenging teaching opportunities for faculty from across academic disciplines. The WCMA staff will help professors craft curricula related to the exhibition. All three of the museums partnering in the retrospective play a major role in the training and support of many of the artworld’s future leaders, and this adventurous collaboration will offer a new generation of students unprecedented firsthand exposure to the work of a major artist of our time.”

Exhibition Publication

On the occasion of Sol LeWitt: A Wall Drawing Retrospective, MASS MoCA and Yale University Press are producing Sol LeWitt: 100 Views, a hardcover book with 100 new essays. Contributors are drawn from a wide array of expertise and fields of specialization. Authors include critics and scholars Lynne Cooke, Chrissie Iles, Lucy Lippard, Saul Ostrow, Ingrid Sischy, and Robert Storr, and visual and performing artists John Baldessari, Mel Bochner, Lucinda Childs, Chuck Close, Steve Reich, Matthew Ritchie, and Dorothea Rockburne, among many others. The publication, which includes 150 color plates, may be ordered through Hardware: The MASS MoCA Store.

Sol LeWitt Wall Drawings: A Catalogue Raisonné

In 2010, the Yale University Art Gallery and Yale University Press will co-publish Sol LeWitt Wall Drawings: A Catalogue Raisonné. The basic design for this three-volume scholarly resource, a project of the Gallery, was created by the artist during his lifetime. The book will contain descriptive texts, diagrams, installation photographs, and more for all of the 1,261 wall drawings that LeWitt realized from 1968 to 2007. A DVD illustrating both the proper uses of materials and drawing techniques to be employed in realizing LeWitt’s basic “families” of wall drawings will also be included, providing a helpful guide to their proper future installation, as well as to the drawings’ long-term care and conservation.

Conserving the Legacy of Sol LeWitt’s Wall Drawings

To additionally preserve the artistic legacy of Sol LeWitt’s wall drawings in perpetuity, the Yale University Art Gallery has endowed a position for a drawing conservator through the generosity of Yale alumnus Theodore P. Shen, b.a. 1966, and his wife, Mary Jo Shen. In time, this conservator will oversee the LeWitt wall-drawing archive and other works on paper at Yale and will train new assistants to install the artist’s wall-drawing collection at Yale as well as those owned by individuals and public institutions worldwide.

Spencer Finch Cosmic Latte

Spencer Finch, the subject of a major mid-career survey at MASS MoCA in 2007 titled What Time is it on the Sun?, returns to the museum in May 2017 with a long-term installation commissioned and designed in conjunction with MASS MoCA’s Phase III expansion. Bringing the starry night inside the museum, Finch’s light-based work, Cosmic Latte features over 150 specially fabricated LED fixtures that will be suspended from the ceiling over an expanse of the 80-foot long gallery. The constellation of LEDs will be arranged in the gently arching shape of the Milky Way as it is observed in the Northern Hemisphere in March. The work’s title, Cosmic Latte, refers to the name for the average color of the universe, which in 2009 was determined to be more beige than what has been traditionally thought of as blue. Two American astrophysicists studied the color of the light emitted by 200,000 galaxies and created a cosmic spectrum, which they then blended according to the light spectrum visible to human eyes. Finch represents that specific warm, yellowish-white shade of light with LED lights (designed to look like incandescent bulbs), which are then arranged in the shape of the molecular models of the pigments needed to create this “cosmic latte” color: titanium white, Mars yellow, chrome yellow, and a touch of cadmium red.

Dawn DeDeaux and Lonnie Holley Thumbs Up for the Mothership

Dawn DeDeaux and Lonnie Holley Thumbs Up for the Mothership

Marking the first exhibition in a series that is designed to give an extended public forum to artists who have participated in the Captiva studio residency program of the Robert Rauschenberg Foundation, Thumbs up for the Mothership features individual works as well as a collaborative installation by New Orleans conceptual artist Dawn DeDeaux and Alabamian self-taught sculptor and musician Lonnie Holley. Deeply influenced by their southern roots, both artists mine the landscapes around them for found objects (a nod to Rauschenberg’s “combines”) and engage in dialogues around issues of ecology and social justice. DeDeaux and Holley firmly believe that through art, they can address these issues and “help heal the mothership.” Both DeDeaux and Holley frequently experiment with mixed media and incorporate performance into their practice — ranging from totemic found objects and photography to experimental blues music and Afrofuturist philosophies. These artists share a deeply held sense of resoluteness and optimism that infuses their art. Holley states: “There are so many rocks and so many broken stones and so many nails and sticks and weeds and debris and garbage and trash. We have to plow and mine the worst things on this earth to make them better, and to make us better, so we can show the world: I can handle it. I can deal with it. I can live with it. I can go on.”

Mary Lum Assembly (Lorem Ipsum)

Artist Mary Lum, who lives in North Adams, works in a range of media, including wall drawing, painting, collage, photography, and artist books. Language plays an important role in her practice, with the artist drawing on texts from a diversity of sources, including literature, psychoanalysis, and the news. Lum has been included in three previous exhibitions at MASS MoCA in the past fifteen years; for the opening of Building 6 she was commissioned to create a large-scale wall work for the bike tunnel that transverses the ground floor of Building 6, piercing one of MASS MoCA’s biggest buildings to connect Adams-North Adams-Williamstown bike trails. Lum’s monumental painting, covering four walls, is inspired by Lorem ipsum, the meaningless text that graphic designers and typesetters use as mock filler content as placeholders for actual texts, and which was originally drawn from Cicero’s writings on ethics. The intricate work vibrates between writing, image, and pattern, and speaks to the fragmented way in which we acquire information and see language in today’s world. Mirrored interludes provide a vibrant backdrop to passing cyclists.

 

Laurie Anderson

Laurie Anderson is one of today’s premier multimedia artists, known for her achievements as a visual artist, composer, poet, photographer, filmmaker, vocalist, and instrumentalist, and her innate ability to meld her dynamic practices into new and vibrant forms. Her seemingly boundless oeuvre includes the creation of books, albums, and performances that incorporate film, slides, recorded audio, live music, and spoken word. Anderson has long been recognized as a groundbreaking leader in the use of technology in the arts and has developed new musical instruments, including the tape bow violin, in which the bow has been replaced with magnetic audiotape and the bridge with a reader. She was one of MASS MoCA’s first artists-in-residence and has returned to the museum many times to develop and discuss works-in-progress. In MASS MoCA’s Building 6, Anderson will create a multi-functional environment that will serve as a working studio, audio archive, and exhibition venue, highlighting both her creative process and some of her most unforgettable works.

Jenny Holzer

Jenny Holzer’s concise, often enigmatic, writings infiltrate public life and consciousness through everyday objects such as LED panels and stone benches, as well as her paintings and sculpture. She is best known for her light projections, begun when she illuminated the banks of the Arno River with her writings in 1996. In these projections, which have now appeared in over 40 cities in 20 countries, stark block lettering is thrown onto landscapes and architecture, creating ephemeral graffiti that links her early street-based practice to her long-standing engagement with media, and tactics common to news and advertising. Following her monumental installation in MASS MoCA’s Building 5 in 2007, which marked her first indoor projection in the U.S., Holzer returns with a campus-wide program, timed to the opening of Building 6 in May 2017. The program will include a large-scale outdoor projection on the side of Building 6, a series of her celebrated carved stone benches located throughout MASS MoCA’s sprawling campus, an exhibition of her early posters, and additional rotating exhibitions of her work in Building 6, spanning the breadth of her career.

Louise Bourgeois

Louise Bourgeois described her artistic practice as an attempt to work through whatever tumult plagued her — psychologically, personally, artistically — to find perfect harmony. Her work often references human anatomy and sexuality, in some instances overtly and in others more subtlely through organic and ambiguous forms. Her oeuvre encompassed drawings, paintings, textiles, embroidered works, sculpture, and installations ranging in scale from a few inches to fully immersive environments. Bourgeois began working with marble in the early 1960s while living in Avenza, Italy, and the medium proved particularly compelling for the artist — its resilience and difficulty pushing her creative boundaries. For Building 6, MASS MoCA, in partnership with the Louise Bourgeois Trust, will present a group of the artist’s marble sculptures, some of which have never been seen previously. The works fluctuate between the whimsical and the grotesque, the threatening and the nurturing, highlighting Bourgeois’ investigations of dualities and the pursuit of identity, individual and communal. The installation also speaks to the artist’s interest in monumental scale, with one sculpture weighing in at more than 10 tons. The design of the gallery that will house these works in Building 6 was constructed specifically to hold the weight of such works.

Gunnar Schonbeck No Experience Required

Over a period of fifty years, Gunnar Schonbeck crafted an arsenal of more than 1,000 instruments, handmade from a diverse and unexpected range of materials. His unmistakable works include a 9-ft banjo, 8-ft tall marimba, drums made from aircraft fuselages, welded steel harps and countless steel drums, zithers, pan pipes, tubular chimes, and triangular cellos. His practice draws on a core philosophy: anyone can be a musician, and music can be made from the most ordinary of objects. Over the last five years, visiting musicians to MASS MoCA, including Bang on a Can’s Mark Stewart and Wilco’s Glenn Kotche, have drawn on Schonbeck’s instruments in their performances and projects. With the restoration and renovation of Building 6, MASS MoCA will bring Schonbeck’s distinct approach to music-making to a wide audience, encouraging visitors and artists to play and experiment. A gallery devoted to the musicologist will feel like a high school music room — outfitted with a selection of Schonbeck’s instruments available to visiting artists, MASS MoCA visitors, and local school groups.

James Turrell

In James Turrell’s hands, light is more than simply a source of illumination: it is a discrete, physical object. His sculptures and architectural interventions elevate our experience and perception of light and space. Squares of sky seem to float, suspended, in ceilings or walls; architecture disintegrates; and brilliant geometric shapes levitate in midair. Turrell began using light as a sculptural medium in 1966, painting the windows of his studio in Santa Monica to seal off the natural light and experimenting with projections. His practice has been shaped by the ongoing manipulation of architecture, framing and altering the way viewers engage with the environment. A pioneer in the Southern California Light and Space movement, MASS MoCA will present a multi-decade retrospective of Turrell’s work in Building 6 — with galleries designed and constructed specially to best accentuate his installations. This exhibition will feature a major work from each decade of the artist’s career.

Barbara Prey

Renowned watercolor artist Barbara Ernst Prey paints a monumental watercolor for MASS MoCA’s expansion. Prey’s work will be 8 feet tall by 15 feet wide and depicts the interior of Building 6 just prior to the start of construction.

Best known for her plein air paintings, Prey’s commission sets a new benchmark for the size and scale of watercolor works on paper, among the most unforgiving combination of any painterly media. Her piece will tackle the vast horizontal spread of Building 6’s second floor, which comprises a full acre of floor area, with some 400 columns, hundreds of windows, and layers and layers of paint. “This commission is a painter’s dream, an engaging subject combined with a breathtaking scale for this media,” says Prey. “I have long admired MASS MoCA’s commitment to breaking boundaries in commissioning and presenting new works, and am thrilled to have been asked to create a piece that celebrates the organization’s ongoing growth and success. The architecture, the light, the colors, and the different textures of the space in Building 6 are all compelling subjects, and this piece has pushed my boundaries as an artist, opening up new perspectives on watercolor painting.”

Prey’s paintings are included in some of the most important public and private collections around the world, including The White House (one of two living female artists), the National Endowment for the Arts, the Brooklyn Museum, the Smithsonian American Art Museum, the Kennedy Space Center, the Farnsworth Art Museum, Williams College Museum of Art, Hood Museum of Art Dartmouth College, the Taiwan Museum of Art, the New-York Historical Society, the Henry Luce Foundation, and the Bush Presidential Library and Center.

She has also been commissioned by NASA to document space history. Prey graduated from Williams College where she studied with Lane Faison as part of the Williams College Art History program and holds a master’s degree from Harvard University where she was able to continue her art history studies. She was awarded a Fulbright Scholarship and a Henry Luce Foundation grant that enabled her to travel, study, and exhibit extensively in Europe and Asia. She is an art blogger for The Huffington Post, a frequent lecturer, and an arts advocate, as well as an adjunct faculty member at Williams College. In 2008, she was appointed by the President of the United States to the National Council on the Arts, which is the advisory board of the National Endowment for the Arts. Members are chosen for their established record of distinguished service and achievement in the arts.

Micah Lexier A Coin in the Corner

A Coin in the Corner is an installation of 100 special-edition minted coins by Toronto-based artist Micah Lexier. Originally commissioned as part of MASS MoCA’s 2012 exhibition Oh, Canada, each coin contains a simple line drawing of a coin in a corner. Lexier’s work is a clever pun for bilingual Canada, for the word corner in French translates to coin. Lexier placed 100 coins in corners throughout the whole of MASS MoCA, in exhibition spaces, the café, offices, basements, bathrooms, and even areas not accessible to the public. So, thinking of both the coin’s placement and the French translation, Lexier’s work really becomes a coin in the corner where the corner is the coin. However, A Coin in the Corner is more than just a language pun; here at MASS MoCA, Lexier’s coins become architecture. One of the many things Lexier knows is that there is strength in numbers, as well as strength in discovery, and A Coin in the Corner exemplifies both ideas. The piece becomes a scavenger hunt of finding the micro within the macro, causing the museum’s visitors to seek out not only art but also architecture, proving once again that art can be found anywhere.

To accompany this project, an artist’s book was created that serves as the cheat sheet to the experience, with maps and photographs of each location. Museum visitors are encouraged to explore seeking out the coins on their own before consulting the maps and images to find elusive coins. The book is available in our store and can be purchased online

 

Joseph Beuys Lightning with Stag in Its Glare

The work of mid 20th-century European sculptor Joseph Beuys is grounded in a tradition of narrative sources often absent in American art of the same period. The historic symbolism of Northern Europe, Christianity, and an invocation of the spiritual power of animals and nature course throughout Beuys’ diverse activities, from performances and lectures to sculptures and drawings.

For Beuys, all these works share a common sociopolitical purpose: “the victory of socialist warmth and self-determination over materialist greed and alienation.” Beuys’ dramatic Lightning with Stag in its Glare (Blitzschlag mit Lichtschein auf Hirschem), 1958–85, is the only environment that the artist cast in bronze. An offspring of Beuys’ seminal Workshop exhibition at the Martin-Gropius-Bau in Berlin in 1982, the work is encrusted with layers of meaning. At its core, it enacts a dramatic moment in nature: A bolt of lightning (the large, suspended sculpture) strikes the ground, illuminating a stag (cast in reflective aluminum). Other animals are present, but are not so well illuminated. There is a goat (a metal cart with a pick resting on it) and worm-like primordial animals (the dark bronze fecal forms scattered on the floor). The final element present, the Boothia Felix, is a metal tripod with a cubic mass on top, and a small compass resting on top of that. This element is named for a strip of land in northern Canada that was the first established location of the North Magnetic Pole.

Beuys invokes the creative energy of nature with the forceful bolt of lightning in this work. In many other works, he incorporated conductive metals to symbolically draw energy from the universe, or blocks of lard to represent the stored caloric energy of fat. The Stag, illuminated by the lightning, has a special role in Beuys’ work and in Northern European mythologies. He repeatedly referred to it as a conductor of the soul, a Christ figure, whose shedding and regrowth of antlers symbolized resurrection and the possibility of redemption. According to Beuys, the Stag is a guardian for the Primordial Animals, which writhe on the floor without intelligence or direction. These simple creatures, like the dramatic Lightning, were cast from a pile of loam in the center of the Workshop exhibition and have small broken metal tools for heads. The humble Goat recalls an imaginary laborer, constantly and silently working in the background, a simple wheelbarrow.

 

 

Sol Lewitt Structures

A new adjunct to MASS MoCA’s long-running Sol LeWitt exhibition A Wall Drawing Retrospective , a concise selection of the artists’ three-dimensional sculptures is on view in B6: The Robert W. Wilson Building. The works illustrate the generative potential for LeWitt’s serial approach.

Robert Rauschenberg A Quake in Paradise (Labyrinth)

Robert Rauschenberg’s A Quake in Paradise (Labyrinth) from 1994, invites viewers to move through — and become a part of — a maze-like installation of panels printed with the artist’s signature layers of mechanically reproduced imagery. It is shown in tandem with The Lurid Attack of the Monsters from the Postal News Aug 1875, a 1981 sculpture from Rauschenberg’s Kabal American Zephyr series incorporating antique saws and that is both threatening and playful.

Richard Nonas Cut Back Through (for Bjorn)

Richard Nonas Cut Back Through (for Bjorn)

“There is a language of place, and it is the most direct human language there is; the most basic way to impose human order and meaning on an outside, non-human world.” — Richard Nonas

Following his ambitious exhibition in Building 5, The Man in the Empty Space, Richard Nonas has created a long-term, outdoor installation in granite for the museum grounds. For five decades, he has made works that alter our sense of landscape and architecture — of place — using the simplest of means. His vocabulary includes pared-down forms and earthy and industrial materials that have a timeless, even totemic quality. Nonas has now reimagined the southeast corner of MASS MoCA’s campus with Cut Back Through (for Bjorn), a new arrangement of the three large granite chairs and five granite stools first seen in MASS MoCA’s galleries.

Nonas often changes already-existing works into new combinations, and thus new works. And like Cut Back Through (for Bjorn), many of his works are often arranged in pairs, series, or grids which create a dialogue and tension between the individual elements while creating a new whole from these parts. The grouping of granite sculptures functions as a cut into the landscape, but they also offer museum-goers a place to rest both their bodies and minds, allowing for — and indeed provoking — intuitive, visceral responses.

The granite used to make the chairs and stools was sourced in Sweden from a quarry owned by a long-time friend of the artist (the Bjorn of the title). Nonas used the materials with great efficiency; the stools are the remnants — or offcuts — left after the chair has been excised and split from the granite block. Confusing usual distinctions between art and function, the chairs confirm that for Nonas a compelling object is a compelling object, without distinction. And while Nonas’ works are familiar, they emanate powerfully and remain open and shifting — both visually as viewers walk around and through them and in meaning and association — balancing on the edge of one thing becoming another.

Sarah Crowner Wall (Hot Blue Terra Cotta)

Building #6

Sarah Crowner’s gorgeous 10 × 20 foot tile mural Wall (Hot Blue Terra Cotta) — fabricated for her recent MASS MoCA exhibition — now guides visitors in and out of the museum’s new gallery spaces. Known for her bold and graphic work in a variety of mediums spanning the fine and applied arts, Crowner finds the forms and patterns of abstraction in the everyday. Her monumental structure transforms painting into architecture (and vice versa), with the imperfections and eccentricities of the hand-glazed tiles functioning like a painter’s gestures.

 

Joe Wardwell Hello America: 40 Hits from the 50 States

Building #6

Boston-based artist Joe Wardwell’s Hello America: 40 Hits from the 50 States, a new wall drawing for MASS MoCA, takes inspiration from J.G. Ballard’s 1981 novel Hello America. The book begins after an energy crisis in the late 20th century that leaves America all but abandoned. A century later a group of European explorers finds a radically changed country, a desert landscape parched by the damming of the Bering Strait. The expedition starts in Manhattan and ends in Las Vegas where a tyrannical leader has named himself both Charles Manson and President of the United States. The moment that inspired Wardwell, and seemed like an all-too-eerie nod to our current political climate, comes when “President Manson” grabs the primary protagonist, who is filled with longing for a far-too-distant “American dream” and declares “together, Wayne, we will make America great again!”

 

The Metabolic Studio/Optics Division Hoosic: The Beyond Place

Building #6

In October 2016, artists Lauren Bon, Richard Nielsen, and Tristan Duke of the Optics Division of the Metabolic Studio spent a week at MASS MoCA using their Liminal Camera — a moveable, monumental camera built from a repurposed shipping container — to create a series of portraits of B6: The Robert W. Wilson Building. The team examined the adjacency of this repurposed industrial building to the industrialized Hoosic River. To make the prints on display, the Optics Division collected Hoosic water and poured it over the paper during printing, imbuing the image with ripples of river water.

Janice Kerbel - Slip

Building #6

At once poetic and darkly comedic, Janice Kerbel’s Slip uses graphic musical notation to imagine the trajectory of a body in mortal peril as it slips on a banana peel. Moving from very small to very large print along an upward curve before suddenly crashing downward, Slip unfolds across more than 100 running feet of wallspace in MASS MoCA’s newly renovated B6: The Robert W. Wilson Building. The work calls on the history of graphic notation, physical comedy, and concrete poetry to create a visual representation of a brief moment across both space and time. Situated just outside of the new galleries devoted to the musical instruments of Gunnar Schonbeck and works by experimental musician and artist Laurie Anderson, Slip conflates visual art and musical performance — cornerstones of MASS MoCA’s program — at a grand architectural scale.

 

The Presence of Absence: Medieval Art and Artifacts

In a post-human future, artwork will have needs and wants that are privileged over those of any potential audience. Although the societies and people that fashioned the works of art in this gallery are long gone, they’ve left a spectral presence in our present. The exhibition asks us to imagine such non-human things as weather, demons, or 14th-centruy Byzantine icons having agency equivalent to humans; or to consider what it means for a museum to dismiss the dichotomy of subject and object altogether.  The Presence of Absence is in a newly renovated gallery, one that was originally designed to evoke the Medieval era, and had been boarded up for a decade.

Sol LeWitt - “The idea becomes a machine that makes the art.”

LeWitt’s wall drawings derive from a set of instructions, created by the artist but executed by others, just as a composer writes a musical score for an orchestra. Like a musical performance, the drawings are meant to be temporary and are adjusted to fit the context each time they are created.

Over the course of his prolific forty-year career, LeWitt created nearly 1,300 wall drawings, four of which have been executed on WCMA’s atrium wall. The conceptual power of LeWitt’s drawings rests in their ability to bring creative communities together. During the fall of 2015 Gabriel Hurier, a master draughtsman from the LeWitt Estate led a group of artists and Williams’ students in the installation of wall drawing #1089.  They worked in collaboration with Professor of Art History Charles W. Haxthausen.

The site was previously home to wall drawings: #559 in 1988 and #959 in 2001.

 

Not Set In Stone: Architectural Fragments from The Collections

Not Set in Stone brings together a range of architectural fragments from the museum’s collection. We have limited information about these objects and the many facets of their lives, from physical sites to varied interpretations. This exhibition provides an active research space for students and scholars, and opens the process of inquiry to the public as we share new discoveries.

 

Reading Room: People’s Library

In 1889, benefactor Eliza Field envisioned “a literary resort for students” in Lawrence Hall. She wished “to give a more homelike aspect” to the college library, now WCMA’s Rotunda. Two small reading room additions opened in 1890. Today, WCMA’s Reading Room reinvigorates its legacy as a site of social learning and a center for public intellectual life. It is a cozy, intimate space to linger and study, a gathering spot for meetings, and home to collaborative programs, projects, and conversations.

Natasha Bowdoin Maneater

Houston, TX-based artist Natasha Bowdoin builds wall-works with words. In her largest-ever cut paper and collage installation, she investigates the intersections of the visual, the experiential, and the literary, treating language and nature as kindred phenomena. Referencing such sources as Golden Age children’s book illustrations, 19th-century botanical drawings, floral textile patterns, lunar maps, and prints of underwater sea life, Bowdoin’s fragile, lush installations shift and change as viewers explore their surfaces.

Bowdoin’s affinity for the wilderness began at a young age, as she wandered the woods and waters of Maine. This wasn’t solely a physical act; she also used books to understand the landscape around her and to escape to unavailable landscapes. Primed with an empirical and a fictional experience of nature, filled with wonder and terror, Bowdoin’s work flickers between unsentimental Darwinism and embroidered reverie. Her journeys into the dark woods hark to a time when fairy tales and scientific illustrations were equally plausible explanations of nature’s mysteries: where Ernst Haeckel, Lewis Carroll, or the Brothers Grimm might all make suitable traveling companions.

For MASS MoCA’s first-floor Hunter Hallway, Bowdoin’s ambitious Maneater grows to consume the space like a fruiting vine or an invasive species. As in all her work, the installation draws from many references, here ranging from pop culture ideas of nature and femininity to arcane literary traditions. The title of the installation conjures the Hall & Oates’ Maneater (1982), a cautionary tale about a wild woman who will seduce you, then “chew you up.” Equally applicable is Neko Case’s People Got a Lotta Nerve (2009), which chides humans for underestimating nature — cuddly until the moment it, too, bites you back. Bowdoin is also interested in the 19th-century literary genre called “the language of flowers,” which used botanical arrangements as encrypted messages, a specific meaning assigned to each flower. These threads evoke a world in which language and nature are intertwined and potentially out to get us if we aren’t careful.

In the lush paper thicket coiling its way down the Hunter Hallway, we see larger-than-life floral forms whose tranquility is undercut by carnivorous plants creeping and crawling across the gallery wall and floor. Subverting the traditional meanings ascribed to flowers — beauty, sentiment, delicacy, and femininity — Bowdoin gives the flowers back their thorns, reintroducing wildness and an unstoppable proliferation; her garden is overgrown, possibly toxic, but still seductive in its danger. Bowdoin gives nature its teeth back, and the flower — beautiful but a little too abundant — becomes a feminist gesture of fight and resistance. In her interlaced references and layered forms, Bowdoin leads us into the dense, more savage precincts of the natural world, where our place in the food chain is less secure: a terrain of tooth and claw, thorn and root.

Rachel Howard Paintings of Violence (Why I am not a mere Christian)

Paintings of Violence (Why I am not a mere Christian) is a single installation comprised of ten paintings and one sculpture, in relationship to the sculptural assembly, Lighting with Stag in its Glare, by Joseph Beuys. In her work, Howard examines religion, mortality, and violence, specifically the more subtle kinds of “controlled violence” that are meticulously planned and calmly executed. The title is taken from two opposing polemics, Why I Am Not a Christian by Bertrand Russell and Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis. Over a period of five years, from 2011 to 2016, Howard methodically developed this suite of ten paintings, the dimensions of each mirroring the artist’s height and arm span. A T-square — its form reminiscent of a disproportioned crucifix — steadies the artist’s hand as rich blood-red paint is dragged downwards, staining the luminous pink surface dark crimson. This process is then repeated; placing, slicing, swiping, and wiping. Finally, towels used to clean the T-square are folded and placed on the plinth, as evidence of the aftermath. “The essence of this work,” as Thomas Krens of The Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation describes it, “is performance: painting as dance, movement, intellectual rigor, and extreme economy in the application of an intense, layered, disciplined, and infinite gestural difference.”

Howard has referred to acts of violence planned on a scale that overwhelms; these threats to the stability of everyday life she describes as “…not about a bacchanalian violence, but rather the acts of a steady calm hand on a greater scale: maximum damage, planned and calmly carried out; hence the slow slice through the alizarin crimson oil paint, exposing the fluorescent beneath, raw and defenseless, the repetition of canvas after canvas, the same but different.”

The Lure of the Dark Contemporary Painters Conjure the Night

Sex, death, romance, magic, terror, wonder, alienation, and freedom: the night invites a myriad of often contradictory associations. For centuries, painters have been drawn to the mysteries and marvels of the night and its perceptual and poetic possibilities. From Rembrandt and his Night Watch to Georges de la Tour’s candle-lit scenes of the seventeenth century, James McNeill Whistler’s woozy Nocturnes, Vincent van Gogh’s dizzying Starry Night, and Edward Hopper’s lonely Nighthawks, artists have sought to capture the mood of the night. Of course, an exhibition about the night is also about the light that illuminates the darkness, from the moon and the stars, to candles, cigarettes, and the glow of cell phones. Many of the artists in The Lure of the Dark look back to predecessors, such as the Impressionists and Monet and Pisarro, to study the night en plein air, completing a painting in a single sitting or night.

Featuring paintings — including new commissions — by a diverse group of over a dozen contemporary artists, including Patrick Bermingham, William Binnie, Cynthia Daignault, TM Davy, Jeronimo Elespe, Cy Gavin, Shara Hughes, Josephine Halvorson, Sam McKinniss, Wilhelm Neusser, Dana Powell, Kenny Rivero, and Alexandria Smith, The Lure of the Dark illustrates the ways in which the hours of darkness continue to provoke the contemporary imagination, providing apt metaphors for the diversity of human experience and the intersections of human experience along with the anxious tenor of the day.

Allison Janae Hamilton Pitch

Allison Janae Hamilton’s evocative work is influenced by the sights and sounds of the southern landscape. Her photographs, videos, sculptures, and installations feature environments familiar to the north Florida and Tennessee landscapes that are home to her family — boiling swamps and tall pines, vespid wasps and green anoles, wild horses, and white clapboard houses. Hamilton creates a sense of place that is both magical and menacing, with Spanish moss decorating the knotted trees, music filling the humid air, and alligators roaming the shallow waters.

But for Hamilton, this terrain and its inhabitants are not the stuff of fiction or gothic fantasy, but tangible matter of palpable consequence. The commanding, full-sized alligators that are a powerful symbol in her work draw both from the mythical ouroboros and from her experiences growing up in a family network of hunters. Sustainability and the future of this verdant, balmy environment — and the environment at large — are significant themes in her practice. (Hamilton works with friends and family to sustainably source the reptile carcasses.) Land is as important a character in Hamilton’s narratives as the family members who help populate and produce many of her performance-based works. A mix of personal realities and epic narratives, the artist’s rich vision of the rural landscape is a lens through which she explores the intersection of agricultural, environmental, and social histories that continue to inform the present.

At MASS MoCA — in her first solo museum exhibition — Hamilton will present an ensemble of old and new works, including a new installation that looks to the legacy of the turpentine industry. The exhibition’s title suggests not only the resin material of pine trees mined in the turpentine-making process, but also the myths and fables that take place in the pitch-black hours of the night, and an array of noises heard in the environment that inspires Hamilton, from the sounds of animals to those associated with labor and song.

Etel Adnan A yellow sun A green sun a yellow sun A red sun a blue sun

How does the experience of reading poetry differ from the experience of looking at a painting? What reveries can a poem evoke that a painting cannot, and vice versa? Presenting a selection of paintings in oil and ink by the prolific Arab-American artist Etel Adnan, alongside a small reading room with her written works, A yellow sun A green sun a yellow sun A red sun a blue sun focuses on the possibility of expression within and beyond the limits of communication. For Adnan, painting and poetry are two languages of many that she has mastered over a lifetime. Like a translator, she moves between them in pursuit of pure meaning.

The title — A yellow sun A green sun a yellow sun A red sun a blue sun — is borrowed from the opening line of one of Adnan’s best-known books, The Arab Apocalypse, which was published in French in 1980, before Adnan translated the work into English in 1989. Begun at the outset of the Lebanese Civil War (1975-1990), the epic poem is a disavowal of political, religious, and environmental violence. In it, the chaos and brutality of civil war exceed the written word — Adnan studded the work with hand-drawn symbols that interrupt sentences and float between lines. Where these small hieroglyphs overtake the text, language has opened up into possibility, though it also seems to have broken into incoherence.

Folding out to as long as fourteen feet in length, the leporellos (accordion-folded works on paper) in the exhibition show this fluid movement between writing and mark-making across their pages. Adnan merges multiple mediums and languages in these handmade books, filling some with poems and fragments copied in Arabic. In others, she covers the entire surface in continuous ink drawings, upending the linear structure of the book format.

The evocative first words from The Arab Apocalypse also describe the abstract landscapes in her oil paintings. These works are inspired by places that are dear to her, from the Lebanese seaside to Mount Tamalpais in northern California, where she lived intermittently beginning in 1955. Each canvas contains a harmonic composition of vivid hues applied confidently from the tube with a palette knife. Their small-scale makes each work deeply personal, but their iterative quality hints at the universal. When shown together, these paintings seem to articulate many facets of the same world.

 

The Art of Alexander Gassel

The Museum will be exhibiting the contemporary paintings of Russian-American artist and designer Alexander Gassel, May 20, 2018 – January 6, 2019. Blending the avant-garde with traditional Russian iconography, combining ancient symbols with contemporary subjects, Gassel creates surrealist works that reflect his cultural heritage alongside his experience of life in America.

Gassel’s painting style is derived as much from icon painting as it is from his discovery of the early 20th Russian painters such as Marc Chagall, Wassily Kandinsky, and Kazimir Malevich. During the Soviet period, Art Nouveau, Art Deco, and other stylistic European trends were suppressed. Gassel (1947), who was born and raised in Moscow, describes seeing the works of Chagall and Malevich surreptitiously in storage areas of Soviet museums. Additionally, it was forbidden in the Soviet Union to exhibit contemporary religious paintings.

In his work, Gassel uses ancient techniques employed in the creation of icon paintings. He paints with egg yolk tempera, making his color pigments by grinding natural stones and minerals, such as malachite, cinnabar, or lapis into powder, which he then mixes with egg yolk. The artist often applies gold or silver leaf on the paintings.

 

Taryn Simon A Cold Hole Assembled Audience

In an ambitious exhibition featuring two new installation-based commissions, artist Taryn Simon activates the rituals of applause and the cold water plunge, examining individuals’ campaigns for public admiration, the status of physical community spaces in the digital age, and our persistent desire for a quick fix.

Children learn to seek applause from an early age — an ambition for approval that continues to shape public performances. Clapping transmits contagiously: individuals clap to signal consensus, out of love, to join the crowd.

Cold water plunges — on holy days, as viral stunts, or as solitary strategies for personal reset — have a long history of notable participants. Apache leader Geronimo employed cold-water immersion to prepare boys for manhood and battle. Russian President Vladimir Putin observed the tradition of reenacting Christ’s baptism by plunging into cold water on Epiphany, instead of watching President Donald Trump’s inauguration.

Rooted in the artist’s longtime interest in the systems that support power structures, and building on her recent work with sound, thresholds, and sculpture, Simon’s uncompromising, timely exhibition examines how public performance collides with private intentions and experiences. Filling the museum’s expansive first-floor galleries, Simon’s exhibition features large-scale immersive works — Assembled Audience and A Cold Hole — as well as the first-ever major museum installation of the artist’s bookwork.

In the dark interior of Assembled Audience, visitors are consumed by a densely layered soundscape of percussive strikes — thousands of individually recorded claps, which Simon has composed to generate a new virtual crowd. In A Cold Hole, the gallery floor is replaced by an expanse of solid ice with a single square hole cut from its center. Both visitors and performers are intermittently invited to jump into the icy water below. Visitors can view A Cold Hole through a cinemascopic aperture from a darkened adjacent gallery.

Clapping and cold-water immersion have historically functioned as modes for public demonstration, proof of worship or praise, and as a means by which individuals seek reassurance and empowerment. In this exhibition, Simon isolates and inverts elements of each practice to reveal the intersection of physical action, communal spectacle, and the desire for personal fulfillment.

In addition to the two new installation works, the exhibition includes the first major museum installation of Simon’s bookwork. Since the inception of her earliest projects, bookmaking has played an integral role in her work. The technical, physical, and aesthetic realization of Simon’s bookwork — including graphic design, font choice, image organization, and the language itself — reflects the control and authority that are the very subject of her work. The installation will include all of Simon’s bookwork to date, from The Innocents (2003) through An Occupation of Loss (2018).

 

“The Field Is The World” Williams, Hawi’l, and Material Histories In The Making

“The Field Is The World” Williams, Hawi’l, and Material Histories In The Making

In August 1986, a box was discovered in the basement of a dormitory at Williams College. In it were 64 objects—rocks, weapons, footwear, and objects we have yet to identify—collected a century and a half earlier for the Williams College Lyceum of Natural History, a student-run museum on campus from 1835–1908. Among the objects was a Hawaiian kupeʻe niho ʻīlio, or ankle adornment made of dog teeth. The kupeʻe inspired an exhibition that surfaces two intertwined histories of Williams students in the nineteenth century: that of the Lyceum and its collecting practices, and that of the complex, underknown, and controversial relationship between Williams College and the kingdom of Hawaiʻi. Drawing on campus collections in the college archives, the biology department, and the museum, the exhibition offers a meditation on how practices of collecting and display have been wielded to impose intellectual, moral, or spiritual order upon the world. It poses questions not only about the lives of objects, but also about histories lying latent at Williams.

 

Anicka Yi: Our Love Is Bigger Than An Aids Quilt

On view for the first time at WCMA, this installation by Anicka Yi (American, b. South Korea, 1971) immerses visitors in a sensorial experience. At its center, a large, illuminated dish contains hair gel with hundreds of cosmetic contact lenses pinned into its undulating surface, as a mentholated scent pervades the room.

In her distinctive use of unconventional and often ephemeral materials, Yi’s work reorders the cultural forces that privilege containment over leakage, clarity over ambiguity, and ocularity above all other senses.

Collector and Benefactor: Kay Sage and James Thrall Soby

This focused selection of works from WCMA’s collection features that of Yves Tanguy (French, 1900–1955), Giorgio de Chirico (Italian, 1888–1978), Joan Miró (Spanish, 1893–1983), and Roberto Matta (Chilean, 1911–2002). Shortly after Kay Sage and Yves Tanguy wed in 1940, they relocated from New York City to Woodbury, Connecticut. The couple adorned the walls of their home with the six works included here.

In 1955, Tanguy’s unexpected death devastated Sage, eventually contributing to her suicide in 1963. In her will, Sage bequeathed her collection to “museums located in the United States.” Her executor, gallerist Pierre Matisse, sought the assistance of James Thrall Soby, a Williams College alumnus and friend of Sage. Soby facilitated the gift of a number of paintings and drawings go to WCMA, making it a significant repository of Sage’s estate.

 

Diana Al-Hadid: Delirious Matter

In her first major public art project,   Diana Al-Hadid (American, b. Aleppo, Syria 1981) combines aluminum, steel, fiberglass, concrete, polymer modified gypsum, and pigment in four sculptures installed across the Williams campus. Al-Hadid is best known for creating ghostly white sculptures that pivot among architectural ruin, figuration, and abstraction. Delirious Matter conjures architecture that evokes archaeological remains, human figures that seep into cascading form, and expanses that hover between interior and exterior. The sculptures are located accross the Williams College campus, in front of Berkshire Quad, Hopkins Hall, and the Sawyer Library Quad.

Matryoshki in Winter

The mini-exhibition, Matryoshka in Winter, features a selection of nesting dolls from the Museum’s collection that celebrates Russian winter and the Christmas season. Some dolls in this exhibit tell the story of Grandfather Frost and the Snow Maiden who are said to bring joy and presents to children on New Year’s Eve. Other themes will include Santa Claus, nutcrackers, and the joyful activities of Russian winter.

The bright colors, distinctive shapes, and creative concepts of Russian nesting dolls have delighted children and adults alike for over a century. The toys are recognized around the world as the quintessential Russian souvenir. Contemporary independent matryoshka artists developed unique and creative styles, taking their work beyond traditional patterns and themes. Transcending the boundaries of conventional Matryoshka production, they elevated the medium from a craft to fine art.
Nesting dolls make an entertaining medium for storytelling and artists sometimes paint detailed pictures on each doll so that the story progresses as the matryoshka is opened, depicting elaborate stories from the daily lives of Russians to famous fairy tales.

 

Opulence Rediscovered: The Romanov Liturgical Silver

This extraordinary set of Orthodox silver liturgical implements were part of the Imperial dowry of Grand Duchess Maria Alexandrovna Romanova (1853-1920), daughter of the Russian Emperor Alexander II. She married Prince Alfred, Duke of Edinburgh in 1874, and used this set in her private chapel in a British royal residence in London.

Recently completed attribution attested the set’s Russian Imperial and British Royal family provenance, uncovered rich history of its creation, and reestablished its historical significance as an example of Russian Neo-Byzantine style.

Commissioned by the Cabinet to the Russian Imperial Court, the set was created by one of the leading purveyors, the Saint Petersburg firm of Nicholls & Plincke known as Magazin Anglais. Based on designs by the Imperial Court architect, Professor David Grimm, it was recognized by its contemporaries as distinguished by the subtlety and elegance of its artistic execution.

 

Leaves to Landscapes: Abstracts in Precious Metal Leaf

Amanda Quinby’s art takes its richness from the precious metal leaf she is attracted to: 6-24kt Golds, Silver, and Palladium are just some of the metals with which she gilds her art. The works glow softly in the muted tones of the natural metals, as if you are viewing fine jewelry for your walls. Simple designs add to the quiet beauty of these wall panels. In Quinby’s own words:

Nature is almost always the point of departure for my work. While I embrace a minimalist aesthetic, these works remain within the realm of the representational. The panels for this show are a study in form - the essential shapes that comprise a tree, a flower or a landscape. The unique qualities of the gilded surface, combined with color and the mercurial play of light, result in images that exemplify my response to nature as my subject.

My work has also evolved from my appreciation for the history and practice of the gilding craft and a desire to explore and expand on its traditions. I use materials and techniques that have not changed much since the Middle Ages but apply them in new and non-traditional ways. The images and textures in each piece are built up of multiple layers of gesso to create a bas-relief dimensionality.

One Size Fits All: Banners and Altered Cabinet Cards by Amy Johnquest

Salmon Falls Gallery is delighted to exhibit the art of Easthampton artist Amy Johnquest November 2 through the end of the year. Her art is unmistakably hers, amusing, odd and riveting in its blend of vintage images overlaid by completely current adjustments. Definitely a fun carnival ride that does not omit the sideshow.
By using found objects, vintage photos, and textiles as her base, Johnquest (AKA the BannerQueen) alters and paints over these materials creating transcendent atmospheres. Ranging from the sublime to cosmic jokes, Johnquest likes to consider the big picture (life and death) in a reverent yet playful way. Johnquest obtained the moniker of BannerQueen in 1999 when she began painting sideshow banner themed art with a pop culture twist. Much of her work continues to evoke a carnivalesque feel and it often advertises things that are not for sale or perhaps may not even exist.[
During this exhibition signed copies of her book “Altered Ancestors” along with some of the original art featured in the book will be available and on view as well.

Corncobs to Cosmonauts: Redefining the Holidays in the Soviet Era

The Museum of Russian Icons is presenting an exhibition of over 150 Soviet-era ornaments from November 9, 2018-January 27, 2019. Mostly donated by collector Frank Sciacca, the decorations come from the former USSR and will be displayed alongside various sizes of “New Year’s Trees” along with toys, books, and cards that will transform the Museum’s West Gallery into a winter wonderland.

Following the Russian revolution in 1917, the anti-religion Bolsheviks discouraged Christmas and New Year celebrations in the Soviet Union, the gift giving and extravagance that accompanied the holidays came to symbolize the greed and excess of the bourgeois. The tradition of celebrating Novy God (New Year) re-appeared in 1935 as a secular holiday that would symbolize Soviet children’s prosperity and happiness. The New Year’s tree, or yolka, was repurposed as the central symbol of the celebration but with all religious references removed.

The Red Army’s ruby star replaced the star of Bethlehem on top, and the tree was decorated with non-religious shaped ornaments such as animals, plants, Kremlin architecture, airplanes, and the hammer and sickle. After the Soviets launched Sputnik 1 in 1957, figures of cosmonauts, rockets, satellites, and planets became popular. Ornaments that celebrated the country’s achievements in agriculture, like peppers, grapes, and carrots, were sold during Nikita Khrushchev’s time–the most popular being corncobs because of Khrushchev’s “corn campaign.”

The Russian fairytale figure, Ded Moroz (Grandfather Frost) was said to travel in a horse-drawn sleigh with his beautiful granddaughter, Snegurochka (Snow Maiden), to deliver gifts to children across Russia. In the early years of the Soviet regime, the Ded Moroz was an unacceptable link to old Russia. In later years he became the symbol of Novy God a move taken by the government as a way to stop the advance of the western tradition of Santa Claus. Ornaments and statues of Ded Moroz, sometimes with Snergurochka, became favorite decorations for New Year’s trees and family rooms during winter festivities.

 

Extreme Nature!

Extreme Nature! explores how nature’s extremes—remote, fantastical, and unpredictable—permeated artistic imagery throughout the nineteenth century. Influenced by the rise of popular science, artists examined everything from volatile weather patterns and the stars to the Earth’s most cavernous depths. Documentary images of fires and floods enabled viewers to see nature’s destructive power from a distance, while other artists pushed beyond nature’s known boundaries to imagine its limitless possibilities. Featuring more than thirty-five prints, drawings, and photographs, this exhibition reveals how artists sought to mitigate nature’s dangers, transforming the hazardous and remote into awe-inspiring portrayals of natural phenomena.

 

Made by Hand Holiday Art Show

The 99cent show is now the Made by Hand Holiday Art Show - still featuring amazing works by local artists and makers, still all affordably priced under $100. Your chance to take home or gift the artwork of local and regional artists and includes sculpture, ceramics, watercolors, jewelry, paintings, cards, collages, fiber, book arts, photography and printings. All artwork can be taken from the gallery when it is purchased. The show is a combination of talented artisans, creative gift ideas and a wonderful warm inviting atmosphere to shop in, all the while supporting local and regional artists.

 

Turner and Constable: The Inhabited Landscape

Turner and Constable: The Inhabited Landscape features more than fifty landscapes by J. M. W. Turner and John Constable, artists who elevated the status of landscape painting in the nineteenth century. The exhibition includes oil paintings, watercolors, drawings, and prints that explore the importance of the built landscape and the human figure within it. Constable and Turner lived and worked during a period of great political, social, and industrial change for Great Britain. They were aware of modernizing farming practices, improvements in nautical safety, the rise of European tourism, and the urbanization of England. In this exhibition, Turner’s and Constable’s works are explored to reveal social, cultural, political, and personal significance of the subjects depicted.
 
Turner and Constable celebrates the Manton Collection of British Art, created by Sir Edwin and Lady Manton and given to the Clark in 2007, by highlighting the works from that collection—such as Constable’s The Wheat Field (1816). Works collected by Sterling and Francine Clark, such as Turner’s Rockets and Blue Lights Close at Hand to Warn Steam Boats of Shoal Water (1840), acquired in 1932, are also included in the exhibition, as are targeted loans from other New England institutions.

Rococo: Celebrating 18th-Century Design and Decoration

Lobby, Flynt Center of Early New England Life.

This year marks the 300th anniversary of the birth of Thomas Chippendale (1718-1779), English furniture maker, author of The Gentleman and Cabinet-Maker’s Director (1754), and important disseminator of what is commonly known today as the Rococo style.  Since the 1840s, the term “Rococo” has been used to describe a variety of 18th-century decorative art forms that bear particular ornamental characteristics. Hallmarks of the style include asymmetrical and naturalistic forms, often achieved through the inclusion of “C” and “S” shape scrolls, and motifs such as foliage, rocks, and shells.  Rooted in France in the 1730s, the style quickly gained popularity in other countries, including England and America, where it was adopted to different degrees. The exhibition celebrates both Chippendale’s legacy and the iconic style he helped promote through a number of English and American Rococo decorative art forms from Historic Deerfield’s rich collection.

Celebrating the Fiber Arts: The Helen Geier Flynt Textile Gallery

Flynt Center of Early New England Life - Helen Geier Flynt Textile Gallery

The Helen Geier Flynt Textile Gallery showcases Historic Deerfield's important collection of fashion, needlework, and domestic textiles. The core of the collection was assembled through the efforts of one of the museum's founders, Helen Geier Flynt (1895-1986). Considered one of the finest collections in America, the collection contains items dating from the late 17th century through the mid-20th century.

Rotations and thematic displays every season are set against the backdrop of four main fibers that created most textiles before the 20th century; silk, wool, cotton, and linen. Together with the museum’s historic houses, the gallery displays a portion of the roughly 8,000 items in the fashion, needlework, and domestic textile collection. The gallery helps visitors consider the aesthetic and practical choices made and used by people in Deerfield, the Connecticut River Valley, New England, England, and Europe.  

This exhibition is made possible in part by a grant from The Coby Foundation, Ltd

Furniture Masterworks: Tradition and Innovation in Western Massachusetts

Wright House (hours vary; please inquire as to open days and times)

Seating and case furniture made in Massachusetts before the 1840s is as varied as the craftsmen and consumers who created it. From Beacon Hill to the Berkshires, the extremes test the richness of the whole region. Yet, the great variety in the Bay State’s furniture making traditions begs the question: Why is the furniture so different statewide in each period from the 17th into the 19th centuries when so many cultural, social, economic, and political traditions appear unified? There are at least two answers to that question, as we test why things look as they do. The first rests with the tribal power of family networks with its control of mores and standards, capitalization of tools and labor, and accepted beauty and functionality. The second lies in the natural power of the landscape in its ability to feed, sustain, transport, and protect.

The furniture-making traditions in Western Massachusetts are the perfect laboratory for exploring the impact of family and landscape on the appearance of manmade goods. While numerous mercantile ties were built by ambitious Connecticut Valley families in Boston, Newport, New York City, and later the China Trade, their extensive cousinage created a kind of corporate whole that improved business and forged identity. At the same time, the north-south flow of the Connecticut River—New England’s “great river”—was a far more powerful current than any east-west political or cultural ties to Boston.

Historic Deerfield’s exhibition opened on September 28, 2013 in the Wright House as a semi-permanent installation, explores the impact of family and landscape on craftsmanship and consumerism through 1) the famous “Hadley” chests of the late 17th century and the other early regional shop traditions that they obscured; 2) the emergence of the consumer revolution, through both local craftsmen and urban imports, on the shoulders of the Valley’s elite “river god” families who funded themselves through agricultural exports and munitions for the colonial wars; 3) the post-American Revolution rise of classicism that largely eclipsed the “river gods” with new consumers and craftsmen who manifest different standards of taste, education, and trading partners enhanced by the Connecticut River’s new canal system; and 4) the 19th-century rise in wealth from burgeoning industry and technology, largely through the metalworking trades, that created yet another wave of consumers and craftsmen anxious to express their newfound wealth in modern ways. These four chapters are deeply rooted in sense of place and together show the importance of reading cultural history through documented objects.

Furniture Masterworks: Tradition and Innovation in Western Massachusetts explores Western Massachusetts’ first 150 years of furniture-making with 58 objects drawn from Historic Deerfield’s collections that best exemplify the region’s signature contribution to American design history and emergence of national identity. The exhibition is a part of Four Centuries of Massachusetts Furniture. Four Centuries of Massachusetts Furniture is a collaborative project of Historic Deerfield and ten other institutions that features exhibitions, lectures, demonstrations and publications to celebrate the Bay State’s legacy of furniture-making. Visit fourcenturies.org

Into the Woods: Crafting Early American Furniture

Flynt Center of Early New England Life - Friary Gallery

Explore a dazzling array of masterworks by famous American cabinetmakers including Duncan Phyfe and Honoré Lannuier, Samuel McIntire, John and Thomas Seymour, and John Townsend.  Learn about antique furniture from the inside out, and gain a new understanding of the materials and craftsmanship that went into the creation of these spectacular objects through graphics, before-and-after views of conservation treatments, and innovative “exploded view” display techniques. Into the Woods also features a special changing section, which will feature the study of different elements. Included with general admission.

Into the Woods was made possible by a grant from The Americana Foundation  

 

Engraved Powder Horns from the French and Indian War and the American Revolution: The William H. Guthman Collection

Flynt Center of Early New England Life

One of the finest assemblages of this indigenous and unique American art form ever presented, these 75 powder horns offer a wealth of documentary information about the original owners and carvers who created them.

 

One Size Fits All: Banners and Altered Cabinet Cards by Amy Johnquest

One Size Fits All: Banners and Altered Cabinet Cards by Amy Johnquest
Salmon Falls Gallery is delighted to exhibit the art of Easthampton artist Amy Johnquest November 2 through the end of the year. Her art is unmistakably hers, amusing, odd and riveting in its blend of vintage images overlaid by completely current adjustments. Definitely a fun carnival ride that does not omit the sideshow.

By using found objects, vintage photos, and textiles as her base, Johnquest (AKA the BannerQueen) alters and paints over these materials creating transcendent atmospheres. Ranging from the sublime to cosmic jokes, Johnquest likes to consider the big picture (life and death) in a reverent yet playful way. Johnquest obtained the moniker of BannerQueen in 1999 when she began painting sideshow banner themed art with a pop culture twist. Much of her work continues to evoke a carnivalesque feel and it often advertises things that are not for sale or perhaps may not even exist. 

During this exhibition signed copies of her book “Altered Ancestors” along with some of the original art featured in the book will be available and on view as well.

Pajama Story Time at the North Adams Public Library

Pajama Story Time at the North Adams Public Library - On Monday, December 17th at 6:00 p.m., put on your pajamas and bring your favorite stuffed animal to hear a reading of Jan Brett's classic "The Mitten" as well as make a craft.  Best suited families with children ages 3-9, siblings welcome.  

Call the Youth Services Department at 413-662-3133, ext. 14 for more information.   

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