Rhonda’s friends from high school in Arizona visited New York from LA and Philadelphia in early August. We talked up the Museum of Arts and Design and the High Line as must-see sites and met them at the Museum and had a terrific time. We were all Otherworldly: Optical Delusions and Small Realities (through September 18, 2011), which features artists constructing small-scale hand-built depictions of artificial environments and alternative realities, either as sculpture or as subjects for photography and video. These are worlds of “magic realism” conceived and realized through intense engagement with materials, attention to detail, and concern for meaningful content.
There were also some remarkable pieces in A Bit of Clay on the Skin: New Ceramic Jewelry (through September 4, 2011). Flora and Fauna, MAD about Nature (through November 6, 2011), however, was less successful. There were individual works that we liked, including Steffen Dam’s Marine Forms, Wayne Higby’s Mesa Gap and Beth Katelman’s Folly and the works pictured here (two of which were sold to collectors by browngrotta arts, and the Gyöngy Laky work that lead us to contact her about representation back in the 90s). But by mixing works featuring motifs from Nature, like fish and flowers and butterflies, with works made of branches and bark and other natural materials, the curator has created a bit of a mashup — two exhibitions with very different sensibilities installed as one. Museum of Arts and Design, 2 Columbus Circle, New York, NY 10019, 212-299-7777, http://www.madmuseum.org/see.
We visited Monhegan Island inMaine http://www.monheganwelcome.com earlier this month in search of seafood and photos and some of Maine’s most beautiful coastline. The island has no paved roads — but miles of trails, that are easy to navigate thanks to Monhegan Associates’ trail maps available in stores and trailside boxes all over the island. Visitors are advised not to miss the shipwreck, lighthouse, museum, and the many
artists’ studios open to the public and to appreciate the abundant plant life and bird population. One of our favorite sites, however, was not listed in any of the literature. We were delighted when we stumbled upon an art colony of tiny structures populating Trail 11. Reminiscent of the World Beach Project http://arttextstyle.com/2010/05/14/eco-art-news-world-beach-project, in which beachgoers create sculptures of stones, visitors to Trail 11 have created small sculptures of sticks, bark, pinecones, leaves and shells. Some are more accomplished than others, but it was the sheer
volume that impressed us. We stopped counting at 100, but until then, we had great fun looking behind tree roots, around rocks, in branches and creeks to find as many as we could. And, we couldn’t leave without making a contribution; Carter, our budding artiste, created the word “ART” out of large sticks.
An installation at the University of Wyoming Art Museum in Laramie by British land artist Chris Drury has heated up the debate over coal in that state http://uwartmuseum.blogspot.com/2011/07/land-artist-chris-drury-begins.html. Carbon Sink: What Goes Around Comes Around, is 36 feet in diameter, took three weeks to create and at its center features logs from trees killed by beetles, surrounded by lumps of coal. Drury had learned from students and faculty in the fall of 2010 about mountain pine beetles that have infested and killed more than 100 million acres of forest in Wyoming and other mountain states in the last decade. Scientists attribute
the infestation to the warming of the planet, which has reduced the frequency of the well-below-zero temperatures that would otherwise kill the insects. Human-caused greenhouse gas emissions are a major cause of rising temperatures; a primary contributor to greenhouse gases is the burning of coal. Two state legislators from coal-centric Campbell County were not impressed by Drury’s work. According to the Green blog of The New York Times, Representatives Tom Lubnau and Gregg Blikre, Republicans from Gillette, wrote to the University of Wyoming to complain about the sculpture, Lubnau telling a local newspaper, “…every now and then you have to use these opportunities to educate some of the folks at the University of Wyoming about where their paychecks come from,” which includes, of course, tax revenues from coal and other energy industries. http://green.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/07/21/coal-themed-sculpture-annoys-lawmakers “I just wanted to make that
connection between the burning of coal and the dying of trees,” says Drury. “But I also wanted to make a very beautiful object that pulls you in, as it were.” The work “has certainly generated a big debate,” he says, “which is good.” To see Drury’s photos of the work and the West, visit his blog at http://chrisdrury.blogspot.com/2011/07/carbon-stink.html. “Art is free to speak its truth,” he writes there, “and in the case of Carbon Sink all I am trying to do is to make many and multiple complex connections in as striking and beautiful way as I am able.” Watch for an interview with Chris Drury, filmed by the museum it will eventually be posted on its You Tube page at http://www.youtube.com/user/uwartmuseum.
We traveled to Brockton, Massachusetts this weekend to see juried works by members of the National Basketry Organization at the Fuller Craft Museum http://www.fullercraft.org/exhibitions.html#Basketry.
Among the highlights in our view: Sunrise Artifact by Mary Giles; Woven Vessel by Jonathan Kline; Marked by a Sapsucker by Dorothy Gill Barnes; Tipped by Nancy Koenigsberg a Basket Book #5 by Arlene McGonagle (of course, we’re suckers for anything related to books). Most impressive, however, were works that appeared to be diptychs. First, was a pair of large works, Cave and Snag by Linda Bills, made a year apart, but seamlessly echoing each other in shape and offering an intriguing contrast in volume.
Second was a single piece, Wait, Weight by Jo Stealey, that seems to be two, interlocking basket/bowls of letters (yes, she had us at “A”). The show, which runs through December 11th, is worth seeing — with 85 pieces there is considerable variety in materials, technique and aesthetic. The exhibition would have benefited from more white space, however. The works are placed so close to one another it requires a second walkthrough to really focus on individual pieces.
If you can get there before Loom and Lathe: The Art of Kay Sekimachi and Bob Stocksdale closes on September 11, 2011, do. There are interesting works by Kay Sekimachi in this show that did not appear in previous exhibitions of these artists’ work. Although this exhibition also features a large number of pieces in a limited space, as a result of Stocksdale’s and Sekimachi’s minimalist aesthetic and muted color palette, the installation is more successful.
We missed Fold It: Deena Schnitman, an installation of cookbooks which is on view in the café because we didn’t know it was there. We didn’t miss the Flint Farm Stand, though, just down the road in Mansfield. Great fresh corn and ice cream that has people standing in line.
All Things Considered IV includes 12 artists whose work is represented by browngrotta arts. Click any image to see more examples of these artists’ work.
Fuller Craft Museum
455 Oak Street
Brockton, MA 02301