Sert Gallery, 3rd floor
Carpenter Center for the Visual Arts
24 Quincy St, Cambridge, MA
Drinks and Dinner Provided
Boston-based artist Darren Foote and LA-based Ali Smith‘s current exhibition at RHYS Gallery is full of playful spacial observations. Smith’s vibrant explosions of oil and acrylic toy with dimensionality, while Foote’s poplar sculptures defining the reach of artificial light sources make the intangible tangible.
RHYS gallery will be relocating to Los Angeles soon, so be sure to stop into the Harrison Ave location while it is still on this coast.
Darren Foote + Ali Smith
April 03 – May 02, 2008
McPhee’s dramatic mountains and forests are hauntingly still landscapes captured with the precise eye of a photographer’s photographer. Pepe’s Angle of Repose series is an idea-based collection of staged photos of women in various household environments, creating a dark and moody narrative along the lines of Cindy Sherman’s art historical pieces.
You’ll want to bring a McPhee home with you, but you’ll still be thinking about Pepe the next day.
Laura McPhee, Two Years Later
Toni Pepe, Angle of Repose
Bernard Toale Gallery
450 Harrison Ave, Boston 02118
April 2 through May 10
Our friends J and D rank the Harvard Natural History Museum as one of their two favorite Boston destinations, along with the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum. Dinosaur and whale bones. A hummingbird collection. The world’s largest collection of Victorian glass flowers.
This Ivy League museum is the very definition of old school exhibition style: all the specimens are tightly grouped, even stacked, in front of bright monochrome backgrounds. Without any environmental context whatsoever, the viewer is free to think about the animals however they wish, which makes for a wonderfully poetic exploration. Contemporary museums go to extremes to recreate appropriate environments for their stuffed specimens and often avoid the relationships that are so interesting. It’s surprisingly refreshing to focus on just one thing, not the entire context.
Courtyard of the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum [source]
Why, oh why, did it take us six months of living here before we finally got ourselves over to the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum? Perhaps it’s because we were biased by so many American museums with pre-1945 collections that feel as sleepy and dusty as a great-aunt’s parlor (The Huntington and Norton-Simon spring to mind). Surely a museum bearing such a flowery gilded-age lady’s moniker, featuring her personal collection peppered with Singer Sargents, would be as fussy and yawn-inducing as museum’s come.
Please pass some humble pie — I deserve a full serving.
It’s rare that Murray and I truly linger in art museums, and even rarer that we meander back to see a gallery in a museum on the same trip, just to soak it up further. Yet we spent most of the afternoon wandering around the magical ISGM, pulling back the quaint velvet curtains covering the rickety wood and glass vitrines to see handwritten letters by Dante; opening cabinet doors covered in drawings, fascinated by the terse typed sign saying “STOLEN” where one of Degas’ drawings used to hang; comparing Giotto’s Christ child with Botticelli’s with Martini’s with da Rimini’s in the Long Gallery and Gothic rooms on the third floor.
And we lingered further, listening to the xylophonist of a contemporary sextet warming up before a concert in the Tapestry room, leaning over the balcony overlooking the courtyard, taking mental notes about the wall hangings curving around corners, the Italian bed-frames used as railings, the layering of patterns, textures, styles, periods.
Virtually unchanged since its origination under the careful and inventive hand of Mrs. Gardner, this museum reads more like a large-scale assemblage of art and objects than a clinical exhibition out of an art history text book. The museum invites the viewer into an intimate and homey place for contemplation, for wonder, for close observation, for shared transcendent experience. That’s about as cutting edge as museums get.
Hanging Drawings 1 (20 Successive Drawings, Unique and Unrehearsed), video still, 2007 [source]
“As part of the 20th Drawing Show/Drawing the Line currently on view at the Mills Gallery at The Boston Center for the Arts, Nancy Murphy Spicer is presenting her work Hanging Drawings 1 (20 Successive Drawings, Unique and Unrehearsed). The artist invites individuals to interact with her work by signing up to have their own drawing session in the gallery. No preparation is necessary and those signing up should allow approximately 30 minutes for the drawing session.
Drawing sessions can be scheduled for Saturday and Sunday, December 8 and 9 as well as Saturday, January 5, between 12-5. To sign up, please email (using the subject line: ‘drawing session’) with your choice of day and time (choose a time on the hour: noon, 1pm, 2pm etc.) and include your email and phone. The artist will contact you to confirm your session. Email: email@example.com.” [from the invitation]
The art museums at Harvard are better, in my opinion, than Boston’s august *Museum of Fine Arts… and a ticket to all three is half the $17 price-tag of the big museum. The last image is from the current show at the Sackler, Gods in Color: Painted Sculpture of Classical Antiquity, on view through January 20, 2008, which is the most comprehensive and educational grouping of painted reproductions of ancient sculpture I’ve seen.
* I’m holding out hope for the “new” MFA.
At the risk of sounding vague, the first thing to know about Heide Fasnacht is that she is an artist who understands the shape of things and places. In her newest show at Bernard Toale Gallery, she takes on those ubiquitous hieroglyphics of urban highway interchanges, so familiar to anyone who has seen them from the air. In a series of drawings and one wall installation, Fasnacht prises those shapes away from much of their context to reveal the graceful symmetry and patterns, so unintentionally aesthetic: a byproduct of designs intended to keep people moving fluidly and efficiently in different directions.
While Fasnacht’s drawings capture the iconic nature of these shapes, it is her installation that changes the work from bland observational urban landscape into something else entirely. Like the playful shimmer of a Bridget Riley, or the horizonless confusion of James Turrell, her optic-illusional installation makes the eye’s understanding of space cunningly flip-flop: now you see the lines of the gallery wall, now you see the lines of the architectural shape on that wall. The ultimate result is that the shape of the thing itself breaks free of all boundaries and holds court as a distinct presence, demanding the viewers’ full attention.
Fasnacht has made a career working at the interchange of forced perspective and real space, and her best works are the tape and contact paper wall installations which leap from corners into the viewer’s perceived field of vision. Confronted with such an intense created space, the viewer if left to meditate on the shape and meaning of the illusion.
Heide Fasnacht: In Transit
Bernard Toale Gallery
Oct 3 – Nov 10, 2007
Related: Heide Fasnacht at Kent Gallery in NYC is reviewed in this month’s Art in America.
Acconci Studio, Brooklyn, NY. A Skate Park that Glides over the Land and Drops into the Sea, San Jan, PR, 2006. [source]
Orlando Pita, New York, NY. Orlando Pita styling model Lily Donaldson, “Vogue,” January 2005. [source]
Design exhibitions are generally crowdpleasers, and the newly opened National Design Triennial at the Institute of Contemporary Art Boston — with its interactive virtual soldier, starchitect models and Submarine (yes, capitalized) that’s designed to swim with dolphins — is a design show that trumps the usual gadget-heavy, geewhiz factor of these sorts of exhibitions.
To be fair, this is not a groundbreaking show. Many included designs have already received much attention: Clear Blue Hawaii’s see-through kayak (so 90’s), the ubiquitous Apple iPod (why bother?), WowWee’s Robosapien humanoid toy robot (yawn) and a Santiago Calatrava bridge model (brilliant and inspiring but yesterday’s news all the same). There is something about the word triennial that increases expectations.
That said, there are many works that will stop you in your tracks: like the automatically unfolding tent, Kimono-inspired clothing and midcentury cum postmodern furniture. Together with an impressive exhibition strategy of tight hallways hosting surprises at multiple heights, this exhibition is provocative and playful and worth even the hefty $17 admission price. Be smart, though, and come on a free Thursday for a sublime afternoon.
Design Life Now: National Design Triennial
September 28 -January 6
The Institute of Contemporary Art Boston
Rhe people in Eva Navarro’s world are occupied with the unconscious movements of daily living, then isolated from the environment they inhabit and inserted into the geometry and colors of traditional hard-edge painting. Always seen from behind, the characters live and move.