Friday, December 05, 2008

Anthony Greaney gallery opens

Anthony Greaney opened his namesake gallery at 460 Harrison Ave. in Boston tonight with an exhibit of small table-top sculptures by Alma Allen of California.

“I think it’s a great time for the Boston scene,” Greaney (pictured at left) told me last month. “I think there’s a lot of energy. I think the ICA is a great help. ... I think the new [contemporary art] wing at the MFA is only going to add to it.”

Greaney says he studied at Boston’s Museum School, then went to New York and LA, where he had stints on the staff of Ace Gallery and Post Gallery. For the past five years, he says, he’s done exhibition design and installation at Harvard’s Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology. Now he plans to present two-month long shows at his new gallery, while he continues to work part-time at Harvard.

“I was sort of glad to see the rah-rah years fade away and to open a gallery with a more stable situation going on,” Greaney said. “You have to be really interested in the business to go anywhere near it right now.”

Photos of tonight's opening reception by The New England Journal of Aesthetic Research.

Shapiro leaving Firehouse 13

Firehouse 13’s founding director Anna Shapiro is moving on at the end of December. Taking over as co-directors of the Providence art center are Anna Shea, who has been bar director there, and Jarrett McPhee, who as assistant director since June has helped oversee booking and the artist-in-residence program.

The center has been most successful as a performing arts venue, but there are inklings that the new leadership may increase the institution’s emphasis on visual art.

Firehouse 13 opened on Central Street in January 2007, featuring group exhibitions organized by people who rent out the space, as well as music, dance, and other events. The center’s December e-newsletter says, “Let's just say that after three years with Firehouse 13, our founding director, Anna Shapiro, is departing for new adventures in her studio.”

Shapiro will be celebrated as part of the Firehouse’s New Year’s Rockin Eve party on Dec. 21 (begins 8 p.m., $15). She’ll also be exhibiting her work in the Firehouse gallery in February.

Brutvan hired by Norton Museum

Cheryl Brutvan, the Boston Museum of Fine Arts' contemporary art curator since 1998, has been hired by the Norton Museum of Art in West Palm Beach, Florida. The New England Journal of Aesthetic Research broke the news of her departure in July, but questions about why she was leaving and where she might go went unanswered. Now the Norton Museum has announced that Brutvan will begin work in January as the museum’s first full-time curator of contemporary art.

Our July report.

The full Norton Museum press release:
The Norton Museum of Art is pleased to announce the appointment of Cheryl Brutvan to the position of Curator of Contemporary Art. This new position, launched with funding by the Theodore and Ruth Baum Foundation, reflects the Museum’s strategic commitment to growing its contemporary art collections, exhibitions, and related programming. In addition to the Baums’ generous gift, Ralph and Muriel Saltzman have also made a significant gift to advance contemporary art through innovative exhibitions, program and audience development efforts, and outreach.

Ms. Brutvan will begin at the Norton in January 2009 and will be responsible for the development of the Museum’s collection of works by artists born after 1960 as well as the implementation of special exhibitions and programs. Cheryl Brutvan brings to the Norton extensive education and experience in the realm of contemporary art.

She earned a Bachelor of Arts in Art History, with honors, from State University of New York at Buffalo and a Master of Arts in Art History from Williams College, Williamstown, Massachusetts. Ms. Brutvan has specialized in contemporary art at some of the nation’s leading institutions, including, most recently, 10 years as the Beal Curator of Contemporary Art and Head of the Department of Contemporary Art at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, Massachusetts, where she reinvigorated their contemporary art program through creative and appealing international exhibitions and acquisitions. Ms. Brutvan spent 13 years at the Albright Knox Art Gallery in Buffalo, New York, the last three years as the Senior Curator. She also worked as an Assistant Curator at the Contemporary Arts Museum in Houston, Texas. Ms. Brutvan has worked on an impressive survey of exhibitions and publications during her nearly 30 years of experience, including the recent and nationally acclaimed exhibition Rachel Whiteread, the premiere of a recent installation entitled Place (Village).

Dr. Christina Orr-Cahall, Norton Museum Director, remarked, “The appointment of Cheryl Brutvan as the Curator of Contemporary Art is a milestone that demonstrates the Norton Museum’s strategic initiative for its contemporary collections, exhibitions and programs. The Theodore and Ruth Baum Foundation helped the Museum to fully realize this growth by launching this new position that we are fortunate to have the very experienced Cheryl Brutvan fill.”

Dr. Roger Ward, Chief Curator and Curator of European Art commented, “Throughout the extended search and interview process, Cheryl continuously impressed members of the Search Committee with her knowledge of the Contemporary art world. She knows the work of a remarkable array of artists from all over the world. The range of her network of fellow curators, collectors, and gallerists is both global and sophisticated. The Museum and its donors and collectors are ready to facilitate her efforts to engage the international community of contemporary art on behalf of the Norton and our community.”

Elizabeth King

From my review of Elizabeth King’s “The Sizes of Things in the Mind’s Eye” at Brown University’s Bell Gallery:
Visiting Elizabeth King's "The Sizes of Things In the Mind's Eye" at Brown University's Bell Gallery is a bit like visiting Dr. Frankenstein's lab — all glass eyes, artificial limbs, and automatons. And like a mad scientist, King concerns herself with the nature of life by focusing on the boundary between inanimate objects and living beings.

"Can I get you thinking about the inside of a small hollow thing in the shape of a head?" she has written of her lifelike, doll-like sculptures such as "Myself with Other Eyes," a pale porcelain self-portrait head with blue glass eyes. The back of the head is missing and inside it is hollow. "This is my subject: The mystery of what goes on in there. Somewhere in there is us. We are inside looking out."
Read the rest here.

Elizabeth King, “The Sizes of Things in the Mind’s Eye,” Brown University’s Bell Gallery, 64 College St., Providence, Nov. 8 to Dec. 21, 2008.

Pictured from top to bottom: Elizabeth King, installation view at Dartmouth College, 2008, photo by John Sherman; “Bartlett’s Hand,” 2005. Carved English boxwood, brass, stop-frame animation, dedicated computer and LCD monitor, collection of Robert and Karen Duncan, Lincoln, Nebraska, photo by Lynton Gardiner; and “untitled,” 1994-2004, porcelain, glass eyes, wood, metals, eye lashes, fiber optics, collection of Myron Kunin, Minneapolis, photo by Lynton Gardiner.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

The recession and Rhode Island art

From my report in this week’s Providence Phoenix on how Rhode Island's cultural scene – in particular its performing arts – is muddling through (or not) the lousy economy:
In July, Island Moving Company in Newport moved its annual summer dance series from Fort Adams, where it has performed outdoors for several years, to Great Friends Meeting House. "I thought ticket sales would be up" because of the switch indoors, says executive director Dominique Alfandre. But "ticket sales were not so great over the summer."

In retrospect, perhaps it was an early sign of international financial problems beginning to affect local theater box offices. For months, the sub-prime mortgage meltdown has been slowly poisoning the economy and building into a global financial crisis. It came to a head in September when market indexes crashed and the federal government came to the rescue of several major financial firms.

Alfandre says its performance of "Newport Nutcracker at Rosecliff," which runs though December 5, "was when we really noticed it — because that sells out right away, and it hasn't this year. But I think we'll reach our goal."

"Since the market crash," says Curt Columbus, artistic director of Trinity Repertory Company in Providence, "we've watched our ticket sales, which had been doing well, hit a wall. Almost like a cartoon animal — splat. Then we started pushing the discount ticket sales and things started to move again."
Read the rest here.

Pictured from top to bottom: Island Moving Co. in Miki Ohlsen’s “There’s A Party in My Mind,” photo by Thomas Palmer; Trinity Repertory Company performs “A Christmas Carol” at Trinity Repertory Company, photo by Mark Turek.

Andrew Neumann

From my review of Andrew Neumann’s “The Last Picture Show” at Axiom:
Bostonian Andrew Neumann mulls the nature of video and digital media in the 11 pieces — mostly small video screens ganged on wood panels — of "The Last Picture Show." Some are pretty, like the video "still-lifes" of spinning bouquets of flowers. Others are formal riffs: T.V. Control Panel (Color) considers the contrast, color, vertical hold, and brightness controls of televisions. The word "vertical" drifts down one screen. On another screen, the word "brightness" fades in and out of static. Neumann's concerns are so elementary, and cut-up footage and multi-screen effects are so familiar, that his subjects feel like old news. More promising is On the Corner, which shows video panning across a Boston street corner. …
Read the rest here (at the end).

Andrew Neumann “The Last Picture Show,” Axiom, 141 Green St., Boston, Oct. 24 to Dec. 13.

Pictured from top to bottom: Andrew Neumann, Axiom installation shot and “Arc W/ Variations,” 2008.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

“Sustainable” (formerly) at AS220

From my review of “Sustainable,” which closed at AS220 in Providence on Nov. 30:
Sustainable living has, of course, long been a concern, but worries about global warming have pushed it to the forefront. And increasingly made it the subject of art.

For "Sustainable: Visions for a Living Planet" at AS220's Main Gallery, show organizer Meredith Stern, program director at AS220 and a member of the Just Seeds Visual Resistance Artists' Cooperative, wanted to see what sparks flashed when she rubbed the political bent of the Just Seeds printmakers against the Providence printmaking explosion experience (or whatever you like to call it). It's a nice pairing. Providence has created an international reputation as a center for awesome psychedelic rock concert posters over the past 15 years. But the fight over local real estate development (see in particular the razing of Fort Thunder in 2002) helped politicize the artwork.

Stern put out an open call this summer for an unjuried show. As you might expect, the prints here by some three dozen artists — mostly Rhode Islanders, but also a handful of Just Seeds folks — are a hit or miss community art hootenanny.
Read the rest here.

Some previous reports on art about global warming.

"Sustainable: Visions for a Living Planet," AS220, 115 Empire St, Providence, through November 30, 2008.

Pictured from top to bottom: Meredith Stern’s woodblock print poster for the show “Sustainable” (detail); Ben Fino-Radin’s water soluble ink on contact paper thing; and Victoria Lockard’s linocut “Baptism.”

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Beth Lipman

From my review of Beth Lipman’s “After You’re Gone” at the RISD Museum:
Wisconsin artist Beth Lipman’s installation “After You’re Gone” is ravishing. It includes a fragile-looking glass settee and a tour de force wooden table overflowing with shimmering glass dishes, apples, pears, pig’s feet, cheese, fish, birds, cake, oysters, and flowers. All of it is made of clear glass. Everything on the table seems to have tumbled over, the dinner ruined. It feels like a haunted fairy tale with a world turned to ice and on the verge of melting away.
“After You’re Gone: An Installation by Beth Lipman,” RISD Museum, 20 North Main St. Providence, Aug. 22, 2008, to Jan. 18, 2009.

Pictured: Beth Lipman’s “Laid Table (Still Life with Metal Pitcher.”

Monday, December 01, 2008

David Macaulay

From my review of Vermont illustrator David Macaulay’s exhibit “Building Books” at the RISD Museum:
“Building Books” (through February 1) features art by RISD alum (BArch 1969) and former teacher David Macaulay of Vermont. He’s the Caldecott Medal-winning author and illustrator of picture books, including “Black and White,” “The Way Things Work,” and the just-published “The Way We Work.” This strong exhibit could be titled “The Way Macaulay Works,” because it is stuffed with sketches, photos, and models, as well as the final paintings and drawings they lead to.

Early sketches for what became 1973’s “Cathedral” reveal that Macaulay originally intended the book to be about a boy’s adventures with animated gargoyles. An editor suggested he focus on the church building instead and so helped him find the basis of his career. Macaulay is an uneven artist, without much feel for color or rendering people. He’s sharpest with pen and ink, though his copious hatching can feel more workmanlike than dramatic. But what has wowed young readers for 35 years is a knack for clear explanations, dramatic angles, and romantic history.
Read the rest here.

“Building Books: The Art of David Macaulay,” RISD Museum, 20 North Main St. Providence, Sept. 27, 2008, to Feb 11, 2009.

Pictured from top to bottom: Page from David Macaulay’s 1973 book “Cathedral” and Macaulay in his studio.