Thursday, March 05, 2009

Gloucester monument to back MA quarter

Gloucester’s Fisherman’s Memorial has won the popular vote to be the site featured on the back of the next Massachusetts quarter, Governor Deval Patrick announced (on his Twitter feed) today.

The quarter program continues from the U.S. Mint’s decade old 50 state quarters project. Beginning in 2010, they’re going to produce a new series of state quarters featuring national parks and other national sites across the country based on recommendations from the governors of each state.

Patrick put it up to an online vote – and reports receiving 245,000 responses. The three runners up to the Gloucester memorial are the Lowell National Historic Park, the House of Seven Gables in Salem, and the U.S.S. Constitution. If the Mint decides that the Fisherman statue can’t fulfill its duties on the back of the coin one of the others may replace it – for real.

The Fisherman’s monument – sculpted by Leonard Craske and cast in Providence in 1925 – notably represents both Gloucester’s fishing and artistic history. As I’ve said in the past, it’s one of the most successful pieces of public art in the region – or anywhere. The sculpture itself is okay – a traditional realist monument depicting a fisherman at a ship’s wheel facing out to sea, with the inscription “They that go down to the sea in ships, 1623-1923.” But, located on the city's waterfront, it directs our gaze out to sea, we are on the ship with the man. It has come to serve as a place of public remembrance – where lives lost at sea are recalled, and annual community memorial events are held. Tourists come just to see it. And it has become a landmark and a symbol embodying Gloucester. A rare feat for any public art.

The new quarters are scheduled to be released beginning in 2010, approximately one every 10 weeks, in order of when each site was first deemed a “national site.”

Antique photos of the Fisherman’s Memorial (I’m not sure of the dates, but a note on the back of the bottom one puts it as May 12, 1948) generously gifted to The New England Journal of Aesthetic Research by the very kind Sara Favazza of Gloucester.

Court’s ruling on Gardner

The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court ruling giving approval to the Gardner museum’s renovation and expansion plans is a sweeping endorsement of Gardner leaders’ interpretation of Isabella Stewart Gardner’s will. (Read the entire 6-page judgment – pdf – here.)

The key issue at stake was whether the proposed changes to the main museum building – and demolition of other buildings on the grounds to make room for new construction – were in line with restrictions in her will on changes to the buildings and the display of the collection. Judge Francis X. Spina writes that the changes were reasonable.

But beyond that the decision is a repudiation of the claims of the Friends of Historic Mission Hill in their amicus brief opposing the museum’s plans. In particular, Spina disagrees with the Friends’ charge that the museum failed to consider alternatives – noting that submissions to and reviews by the Boston Landmarks Commission, the Boston Redevelopment Authority and Massachusetts Historical Commission included “consideration of alternatives.” And in each case, the judge states, the museum’s proposal was approved.

Spina concludes: “the plaintiff’s proposed project is a reasonable deviation from subordinate terms of the charitable gift in the Will of Isabella Stewart Gardner. It is driven by the primary purpose of the charitable gift. It is entirely consistent with the primary purpose. It is in the public interest because it will extend the life of the building, it will reduce the risk of harm to the art objects from the increased number of visitors to the museum, and it will make a visit to the museum more meaningful for viewing art by reducing congestion.”

Court oks Gardner expansion, demolition

The Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum reports that the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court issued a ruling Wednesday that the museum’s proposed restoration and expansion project is “entirely consistent with the primary purpose” of Gardner’s will. And so, the museum says, its building project may proceed.

It’s a major victory for the museum’s leaders. And a rejection of opponents – including the Friends of Historic Mission Hill – who have fought the plan’s call to demolish buildings on the site to make way for the expansion.

The project includes:
= Some restoration and preservation work in the museum.
= Cutting a hole through Gardner’s Italianate palazzo to create a new entrance.
= Demolishing an abutting carriage house, built during Gardner’s life, and “annex,” built after the great lady’s death, to make room for a new Renzo Piano-designed building. (Piano is scheduled to speak at Harvard Monday about his renovation of the Harvard Art Museum’s building.)
= Razing and replacing five or six green houses, built after Gardner’s death.

More on the court's ruling is here.

Photos of Gardner buildings slated for demolition.

Carnevale named director of RI Citizens for the Arts

Lisa Carnevale has been named the first staff executive director of Rhode Island Citizens for the Arts, the group : reports. She has served as the Pawtucket-based arts advocacy organization’s director on an independent contractor basis for the past six years. It’s nice that she’s been rewarded with this job.

Obalil named president of RI Citizens for the Arts; : Association seeking executive director.

Sadie Laska, Denise Kupferschmidt

From my review of Sadie Laska and Denise Kupferschmidt’s show “Coco Loco” at Stairwell:
Sadie Laska and Denise Kupferschmidt seem to be on to something, but still figuring that something out in their show "Coco Loco" at Stairwell Gallery.
Laska's “Castle Greyskull” (the title references the good guys' skull-faced castle from the 1980s He-Man toys and cartoons) is a punky, mucky abstract painting. A tempest of lines and flat swatches of color swirls around a skull stuck to what could be a tree stump.
Read the rest here.

Sadie Laska and Denise Kupferschmidt. “Coco Loco,” Stairwell, 504 Broadway, Providence, Feb. 7 to March 8, 2009.

Pictured from top to bottom: Sadie Laska’s “Untitled,” “Two Boots” and “Castle Greyskull”; and Denise Kupferschmidt’s untitled sculpture and newspapers.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

RISD Biennial Faculty Exhibition

From my review of the “RISD Biennial Faculty Exhibition 2009” at the RISD Museum:
The RISD Museum (224 Benefit Street, Providence), offers work by more than 175 staffers in its "RISD Biennial Faculty Exhibition 2009" (through March 15). It's a giant art buffet, the sort of exhibit designed for sampling.

There are two stars of the show. One is Liz Collins's slinky, knit Sock Monkey Suit. In traditional sock monkey dolls, the red heels of the socks become the monkey's lips and butt. Collins's full-body suit uses the motif at the elbows, knees, and breasts. The result is a combustive mix of child's toy and sex fetish, which Collins plays up by displaying it on a curvy lady mannequin.

The other standout is George Jenne's Tenderfoot, a life-sized sculpture of a naughty child in a Boy Scout uniform…
Read the rest here.

“RISD Biennial Faculty Exhibition 2009,” RISD Museum, 224 Benefit St.,Providence, Feb. 19 to March 15, 2009.

Pictured: George Jenne, “Tenderfoot.”

Monday, March 02, 2009

Hezekiah Anthony Dyer

From my review of Hezekiah Anthony Dyer at Bert Gallery:
Back in 1928, a Providence Journal headline dubbed painter Hezekiah Anthony Dyer a "militant anti-Modernist." Modern art was just about showing off, he said. It was fueled by the usual fad for whatever's new — and the money that can be made off it. He was a traditionalist. He wasn't impressed.

Dyer's thing was watercolors and gouaches of romantic fairy tale country cottages, snowy mountain lakes, and ruins of old stone arches and doorways, as demonstrated by 25 of his works in the exhibit "Old World Charm: Watercolors by H.A. Dyer" at Bert Gallery (540 South Water Street, Providence, through March 6).

You can understand why tradition would be his thing. Dyer (1872-1943) was born in Providence. His dad and granddad were Rhode Island governors. He studied at Brown and RISD and spent part of most of his years in Europe (Belgium, France, England, Switzerland, Italy) painting realist landscapes. He was president of the Providence Art Club from 1905 to 1914 and then president of the Republican Club of Rhode Island from 1916 to 1919.
Read the rest here.

“Old World Charm: Watercolors by H.A. Dyer (1872-1943),” Bert Gallery, 540 S. Water St., Providence, Jan. 6 to March 6, 2009.