Friday, August 21, 2009

Demolition derbies

From my report on the Brockton Fair’s demolition derby on July 10:
An air horn calls the demolition derby to a halt, as firefighters dash across the Brockton Fair's muddy track and shove an extinguisher under the hood of one of the banged-up cars. It's a small fire, quickly doused, and the action soon continues, but not for John Francis Jr., whose late '90s Mercury Sable wagon's back, front, and sides are already caved in by collisions. "I lost reverse, couldn't turn right," the 21 year old from Randolph says afterward as the Sable, with its left rear wheel bent at an uncomfortable angle, is winched onto the back of a tow truck. "Then I lost the starter and the battery. Everything went wrong all at once."

It's a warm July evening as people in T-shirts and shorts crowd the grandstands overlooking the dirt track, ringed with jersey barriers and wet down to prevent cars from getting too fast. Dangerously fast. Yes, the thrill of demolition derbies is the multi-car pile-ups and, especially, when a car gets up a head of steam crossing from one side of the track to the other and wallops another vehicle. But so much of this survival-of-the-fittest competition, in which the winner is the last vehicle moving, is about failure.

Perhaps that is why demolition derbies seem like the perfect metaphor for our times.
Read the rest here. A slideshow of photos by The New England Journal of Aesthetic Research is here.

Upcoming demolition derbies in the area:
Marshfield Fair, Route 3A, Marshfield. Demolition derby August 21, 27 and 28. Demolition derby figure 8, August 24 and 29.
Westfield Fair, Russellville Road, Westfield, Aug. 22.
Cummington Fair, 97 Fairgrounds Rd., Cummington, August 28.
Spencer Fair, Smithville Road., Spencer, September 4 and 7.
Three County Fair, Bridge Street, Northampton, September 4 and 6.
Franklin County Fair, 87 Wisdom Way, Greenfield, September 11 and 13,

Photo by The New England Journal of Aesthetic Research.

Michael Mazur dies at 73

“It is said that good writers have to be good listeners. Artists have to be good watchers. They have to watch their work instead of pre-planning it. I feel that way. Whenever you work with materials that are resistant, which is true of printmaking more than it is of drawing, but certainly true of painting, you have to listen in a certain way; you have to watch what the materials are doing for you. They may not be doing exactly what you wanted them to do. But they may be telling you something about what they can do.” – Michael Mazur, as quoted in 1993 to 1995 interview for the Smithsonian Archives of American Art.
We are sorry to hear that Michael Mazur, a Cambridge painter and printmaker who was a major presence in the local art scene for decades, died Tuesday, Aug. 18, at the age of 73. In lieu of flowers, remembrance donations are asked to be made in his memory to the Museum of Fine Arts, 465 Huntington Avenue, Boston, MA 02115, or the Fine Arts Work Center, 24 Pearl Street, Provincetown, MA 02657.

Pictured: Michael Mazur, “Shallows,” 2007, woodcut.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Frank Lloyd Wright's Zimmerman House

From my review of Frank Lloyd Wright's Zimmerman House in Manchester, New Hampshire:
The Currier Museum in Manchester, New Hampshire, offers tours of Wright's 1950 Zimmerman House, which was willed to the museum with its furnishings intact in the 1980s. (Tours begin at the Currier, April through December; advance reservations are required.) It's a striking example of Wright's vision, as the Zimmermans had him design everything inside and out and even consulted with him about dishes and art.

The long, low, single-story horizontal structure is typical of Wright's later work. The front is red brick topped by a bank of concrete-framed windows; it looks like a cross between a Japanese temple and a Modernist bunker. But his design opens up on the back side, which seems to be nearly all glass, with views of the lawn, plantings, and trees. The lot is smaller than an acre, but the trees suggest a deep wood while screening the interior from neighbors.
Read the rest here (about halfway down).

Zimmerman House, public tours begin at the Currier Museum of Art, 150 Ash St., Manchester, New Hampshire, annually April through December. Advance reservations are required.

All photos courtesy the Currier Museum of Art. The two interior shots are by Harkins Photography.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Maeda discussed selling some of RISD Museum collection

With RISD hurting financially, the Associated Press reported Aug. 18, RISD President John Maeda “entertained a discussion on RISD's internal blog about the museum selling off part of its collection to raise funds. Though he wrote that parting with art would be a ‘terrible thing to do,’ he also suggested a public forum on the topic.”

The Providence Journal reports today that “Maeda put to rest any discussion of selling part of the museum’s collection to raise money. ‘Think about the donors. That’s a public trust they put in us to take care of in perpetuity. It’s unthinkable.’"

Aug. 3, 2009: RISD Museum director resigns.

Also if you've got more information about this stuff, we're very interested. Please get in touch.

Greene and Greene at MFA

From my review of “New and Native Beauty: The Art and Craft of Greene & Greene” at Boston's Museum of Fine Arts:
Charles and Henry Greene came to Boston in 1888 to study architecture at Massachusetts Institute of Technology. The school was then in the Back Bay, and the brothers rented rooms nearby, close to Henry Hobson Richardson's landmark Arts and Crafts–style Trinity Church and the original Museum of Fine Arts, with its budding collection of Japanese art.

A couple of years after graduation, Charles lost his Boston job in a financial crisis, and they moved West. In 1894, in Pasadena, they launched their architectural firm Greene & Greene. The Museum of Fine Arts' splendid exhibit "New and Native Beauty: The Art and Craft of Greene & Greene" (through October 18) shows how they pioneered a West Coast design built on the inspirations they brought with them: the elegant minimalism of Asian design and the Arts and Crafts Movement's emphasis on handcraft and a what-you-see-is-what-you-get "honest" use of materials.
Read the rest here.

“New and Native Beauty: The Art and Craft of Greene & Greene,” Museum of Fine Arts, 465 Huntington Ave., Boston, July 14 to October 18, 2009.

Pictured from top to bottom: Greene Greene designs, entry hall bench for the Robert R. Blacker House, 1908–1909, courtesy of American Decorative Art 1900 Foundation, photograph: Gavin Ashworth, © American Decorative Art 1900 Foundation; living room table for the Charles M. Pratt House, 1912, private collection; living room armchair for the Robert R. Blacker House, 1908–1909, courtesy of Sotheby's; hall chair for the William T. Bolton House, 1907, courtesy of Guardian Stewardship, photograph Courtesy of Sotheby's, New York; exterior wall lantern for the Arthur A. Libby House, 1905, private collection, photograph © Ognen Borissov/Interfoto; entry hall window panel for the Jennie A. Reeve House, 1904, private collection, New York, photograph courtesy of Sotheby's, New York; hall lantern for the James Culbertson House, 1910, courtesy of Guardian Stewardship, photograph Courtesy of Sotheby's, New York. All courtesy of Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

“Seeing Songs” at MFA

From my review of “Contemporary Outlook: Seeing Songs” at Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts:
The centerpiece of the Museum of Fine Arts' "Contemporary Outlook: Seeing Songs" is Candice Breitz's 2005 “Queen (A Portrait of Madonna),” a wall of 30 televisions, each showing a different Madonna fan singing a cappella to her 1990 greatest-hits compilation, “The Immaculate Collection.” They wear headphones, bob their heads, sing aloud to music we can't hear. They become an angel choir singing "Live To Tell" or "Like a Prayer."

It's pretty delicious if, like me, you're a Madonna fan. But I'm not sure how much it's Beitz adding to Madonna's accomplishment and how much it's just that these songs are wired into my heart. Watching the fans sashay, swagger, and cheesily over-emote, you see how the songs are wired into their hearts too. Slick as the music is, it's still a route to some sort of emotional, spiritual ecstasy.

For much of its history, visual art has aimed to spark just this sort of ecstasy, but over the past century, Modernism moved away from this tradition as it broke art down to its atomic elements. Ascetic 1960s and '70s Minimalism and Conceptualism marked the end of the line; they were followed by the ironic detachment of Postmodern visual sampling. The contemporary works in "Seeing Songs" find artists looking to music as they wonder how to reconnect to that deep reservoir of feeling.
Read the rest here.

“Contemporary Outlook: Seeing Songs,” Museum of Fine Arts, 465 Huntington Ave., Boston, July 1 to February 21, 2010.

Pictured from top to bottom: Elsa Dorfman, “A Song for Hurricane Carter,” 1975; Candice Breitz, “Queen (A Portrait of Madonna,” 2005; Weegee (Arthur H. Fellig), Untitled from chapter “Saturday Night” in “Weegee’s People (Fans at a Big Band Concert,” 1940-46; Lisette Model, “A Singer at Sammy’s Bar,” 1940-42; Herb Greene, “Janis Joplin,” 1966; Nayland Blake, “The Seventies,” 1991; Stuart Davis, “Hot Still Scape for Six Colors – 7th Avenue Style,” 1940; Richard Avedon, “Ringo Starr,” 1967; Richard Avedon, “John Lennon,” 1967; and Herb Ritts, “David Bowie III,” 1987.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Call for Honkers

John Bell of the fabulous Honk! Festival is seeking participants for this year's event from Oct. 9 to 11 in and around Davis Square in Somerville, Massachusetts, including the fabulous Honk Parade from Somerville to Cambridge. (You can get in touch with him here.) He writes:
Some exciting aspects planned for this year's Honk! Festival include:
- Friday afternoon and evening honking by guest bands and local host bands, traveling by MBTA to East Cambridge, East Boston, Boston Common, and other communities in the metropolitan area.
- Guest artists from Rome (Titubanda) and New Orleans (the Pinettes, an all-woman brass band).
- A Sunday night concert with as many bands as possible, in the Somerville Theater on Davis Square.
- The Honk! Parade: Reclaim the Streets for Horns, Bikes, and Feet, a giant processional performance that will take place Sunday, October 11 from noon to 2 p.m., starting at Davis Square in Somerville and ending at Harvard Square.

Can you and your organization join us this year? We would love to have your participation! It would be great if you could
1. Let me know if you and/or your group are interested and available to help.
2. Help us get the word out to others: because we need
a) individuals to help with banners, giant puppets, signs, marshalling, etc.; and
b) would welcome the participation of other community groups, clubs, gangs, schools, etc. who might like to create cheap and fantastic big moving street images with us.
3. Let me know if you have any questions or suggestions.
Photos of last year's Honk Parade by The New England Journal of Aesthetic Research. More here.