Friday, September 25, 2009

Brandeis president announces resignation

Brandeis University President Jehuda Reinharz yesterday announced that he will resign after leading the Waltham school sine 1994. Reinharz, who led the charge to shut down the school’s Rose Art Museum and sell off its collection, sent a letter to the school’s trustees on Aug. 31 announcing his intention. He is expected to serve out this school year and then leave either when a successor is selected or by June 20, 2010.

The school announced that trustees “in an unprecedented vote of support for President Reinharz, has requested that he continue working with the board and the university in the role as president emeritus, following the appointment of a new president.”

“I feel strongly that this is the right time for me personally to move on to a new challenge,” he wrote in the Aug. 31 letter. “Many of the goals that I set out for my presidency have been accomplished. I will leave the University in good condition with a strong foundation on which to build in the future. The Brandeis of today is significantly different than it was sixteen years ago. It is a stronger brand, with a national and international reputation for academic excellence.”

Reinharz formally announced his resignation in a note to the Brandeis community yesterday. “Following the completion of my term as President of Brandeis, I expect to be the president of a significant foundation, where I can address issues facing the Jewish community at the national and international level,” he wrote. “Serving Brandeis for nearly three decades has been a great honor, which I have enjoyed immensely. Ours is an active, engaged community; one that is both intellectually strong and fiercely passionate; it is one that has never failed to make me proud to be a part of Brandeis. I believe the future is very bright for the University and I am confident that my successor will take Brandeis to even greater heights.”

NH art fellows announced

Visual artists Ross Cisneros of Sanbornville and Denise Dumas of Wilton have been named 2010 artist fellows by the New Hampshire State Council on the Arts. Each will receive $5,000. The arts council describes the artists thusly:
“With a bachelor’s degree from the Cooper Union School of Art and a master’s from MIT, Cisneros is a multidisciplinary artist whose work includes videos and video installations, sculptures, film, live performance and musical compositions. He plans to use his fellowship award to help fund his participation in a fall exhibit in New York City. ‘My work is driven by a number of interests and experiences in the mediums of sound, sculpture, video projections, and multi-media,’ he writes in his artist’s statement.

“Dumas creates sculptures and videos that explore questions of boundaries and identity that were sparked by her move from Quebec to the United States. The fellowship award will help her create work for two upcoming solos shows, on in Lowell, Mass., and one in Montreal. ‘I live frugally so I may create my artwork. It’s like eating, breathing. I have to do it.’”

"4 Thieves" at Firehouse 13

From my review of "4 Thieves," featuring Providence artists Andrew Moon Bain, Monica Shinn, Anna Shapiro and Angel Quiñonez, at Firehouse 13 in Providence:
Around town lately, you may have noted the screenprint (above) that Andrew Moon Bain designed for the four-person exhibit “4 Thieves” at Firehouse 13. It shows the heads of the artists growing out of a tree amidst a dazzling storm of swirling lines. It looks like the poster for an amazing rock show. And it lured me back to the Firehouse, which has a track record of awesome musical events but disappointing art.

Bain, who splits his time between Providence and Brooklyn, doesn’t disappoint with his collaged paintings. In one picture, a soldier sleeps on hills, made from a pink fish scale pattern, under diamond-leaved trees next to a green lake filled with pink fish. Roses, blue clouds, and winged heads float in the yellow sky above. Another painting shows a cut-out brown bird pasted onto a green sky over a pattern of flat green mountains scarved with mist. They are cute, bright, graphic, patchwork dreamscapes.

But unfortunately, the rest of the show is more typical Firehouse visual fare.
Read the rest here.

“4 Thieves," Firehouse 13, 41 Central Street, Providence, Sept. 17 to 29, 2009.

Pictured from top to bottom: Andrew Moon Bain's poster for the show, two Bain collage-paintings, Monica Shinn cityscape, Anna Shapiro's "Romeo & Juliet," and Angel Quiñonez, "Espiritu."

Thursday, September 24, 2009

"Katrina, Katrina” at Brown University

From my review of "Katrina, Katrina” at various locations around Brown University:
Brown University marks the fourth anniversary of the devastation wreaked upon New Orleans by Hurricane Katrina and "heck of a job" government rescue and recovery efforts with "Katrina, Katrina," a series of talks, screenings, performances, and exhibits across campus through September 30. Hopefully the events aren't as halfassed and lame as the exhibits.

The best display is "6 Months After," Brown undergrad Ian Sims's photos of New Orleans half a year after Katrina, on view at the Rockefeller Library (10 Prospect Street) and Hillel Gallery (80 Brown Street). But his shots of debris-strewn streets, soggy ruins, clean-up crews, protests, and parades are interesting primarily as records of data. Sims is still developing his technique (prints are blurry) and his eye. But by going to New Orleans, he demonstrates one of the keys to good photography: get yourself to the right place at the right time.
Read the rest here (halfway down).

”"Katrina, Katrina,” various locations around Brown University, Providence, Aug. 29 to Sept. 30, 2009.

Pictured: Ian Sims photo of the Lower 9th Ward, Downtown New Orleans, March 2006.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Springfield Museums announce $4.3M gift

The Springfield Museums have received a $4.3 million gift, the western Massachusetts collective of five museums announced today. The donor is expected to remain anonymous until spring 2010 when the new 40,000-square-foot Museum of Springfield History (architect's rendering at left), which is expected to open Oct. 10, will be named in the donor’s honor.

Sandra Allen

Sandra Allen of Hingham makes academic pencil drawings of trees that are so highly detailed as to seem photographic (she works from photos that she takes), but lent a gentleness and moodiness by the act of drawing.

In her show "Pencil on Paper" at Carroll and Sons gallery in Boston, she focuses close on trunks, cropping off spreading leafless branches, and ably deploying a full span of black to white to evoke the craggy textures of oaks and cottonwoods, conjuring their hefty volumes, and how long they took to grow. Your eyes get pleasurably lost in the currents of the bark and wander around the branches.

As you get close, though, they lose interest – which is most apparent in her large works. Here she fills a gallery wall with “Ballast,” an 18.5-feet-wide, 11-feet-tall close-up on the gnarly flank of a maple trunk, angling upward to the right. When you first enter the room, it’s an astonishing tour de force, this giant form seemingly manifest in the space. But with these monumental drawings, the realist illusion begins to dissolve into drawing when you’re still a dozen feet distant. The initial effect comes to seem more like a stunt and her mark-making, her hatching fuzzy and rote. It feels as if she’s hurrying to fill in all those black passages.

The best piece here is “Scion,” a portrait of a beech tree, because she escapes that effect. And it’s not just because it’s a smaller drawing (just under 6 feet tall). She takes advantage of the distinctive features of beeches. Their tendency to sprout branches close to the ground animates the pictorial space. And their smooth bark seems to focus Allen’s attention, with her lines following around the curves of the trunk like delicate caresses.

Sandra Allen “Pencil on Paper,” Carroll and Sons, 450 Harrison Ave., Boston, Sept. 7 to Oct. 17, 2009.

Pictured from top to bottom: Sandra Allen, “Ballast” as installed, “Scion,” “Conduit,” “Stalwart,” and “Ballast.” All 2009 except for “Stalwart,” which is 2005.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Brandeis committee: Keep Rose a public museum

Brandeis University should keep its Rose Art Museum a public museum, but better integrate it into the school’s educational mission, a Brandeis committee studying the situation recommends in its 27-page final report (pdf) dated Sept. 18, 2009.

“The Rose Art Museum [should] remain the Rose Art Museum. It should remain what it is and what it has been since its beginnings: a university art museum open to the public,” reports the Future of the Rose Committee, an 11-member advisory board made up of Brandeis faculty, administrators, two students, a Brandeis trustee, and Roy Dawes, director of operations at the Rose.

“The report will be discussed at the meeting of the Executive Committee of the Board of Trustees this week and at the meeting of the full Board of Trustees scheduled for October 28-29,” Brandeis Provost Marty Wyngaarden Krauss wrote in an email to the Brandeis community today. “Later this semester, I will look forward to announcing the university’s plans regarding specific recommendations of the report, in light of the administration’s review, the Board’s review and community comments.”

Additional committee recommendations for the Rose include:
  • Greater faculty and staff input into the operations of the museum.
  • Better showcase the Rose’s permanent collection.
  • Consider no longer focusing exclusively on Modern and contemporary art.
  • Present faculty and alumni exhibitions, and consider offering student shows.
  • Increase the Rose’s estimated 11,000 to 14,000 annual visitors.

Note: I’m just beginning to dig through the report. More to come.

Dec. 23: Rose freezes curator search
Jan. 26: Brandeis to close Rose
Jan. 27: Update: Brandeis to close Rose, sell art
Jan. 27: Brandeis president’s e-mail on Rose
Jan. 27: Brandeis’s money
Jan. 27: AG on Brandeis's plans
Jan. 29: Brandeis’s liquidator-in-chief
Jan. 29: The first painting Brandeis should pawn
Jan. 29: Question: Brandeis financial management?
Feb. 5: Brandeis won’t close Rose?
Feb. 5: Will defunct Rose replace defunct Safra Center plan?
Feb. 9: Open discussion at the Rose tomorrow
Feb. 11: How do you solve Brandeis’s budget crisis?
March 16: Rose family objects to closing Rose museum
March 16: What is the Rose family saying?
May 15: The end of the Rose?
May 20: Voices from the Rose.
May 20: Rose collection treasures.
July 27: Rose overseers sue to preserve museum, stop sale of art: If museum can’t be saved, they say give art to new Rose Preservation Fund.
July 31: Key weaknesses in the Rose suit.
Sept. 15: Brandeis seeks dismissal of Rose lawsuit.

Daniel Phillips

One of the religions of art is the Church of Process. It venerates the getting there over the destination. It asks you to believe, on faith, that the getting there – though you usually didn’t, couldn’t witness it – was wicked cool. Or at least wicked thought provoking. So praise be to it.

Often the process probably is pretty cool – if you’re the one doing the process. If you’re the one hearing afterward about how cool it was to rip down some wall and make a big pile of junk and then built some sort of giant transformer wall to replace it, well, then it may sound kind of tedious. Maybe you had to be there. Or maybe it was in fact tedious. And that’s one of nagging questions about Daniel Phillips’s exhibit “Tear Down These Walls” at Montserrat’s 301 Gallery.

Phillips, who lives in Jamaica Plain, tore out the wall at the front of the gallery, piled up rubble and garbage at the back of the gallery, jury-rigged a mobile wall that can open up into a kind of giant tool box, tacked up related notes and e-mails, stacked plasterboard against the wall, and documented it all in time-lapse videos.

The videos are multiple hours long, so I don’t expect you’re supposed to so much watch them as sample them for moments here and there. Some of the videos focus up close, luxuriating in the messy beauty of a man sawing wood, glue dripping, sawdust twitching. One of the videos, shown on a monitor laid in the pile of debris at the back of the gallery, provides time-lapse overviews – people buzzing around the gallery, cars blurring down the street out front at night, the rising sun illuminating the space.

At Rotenberg Gallery in May, Phillips exhibited time-lapse videos of himself making messes in his studio for expressionistic artistic effect. His MO here is the same, though he’s constructing moveable walls that – fingers crossed – will become part of the long-term gallery facility.

“Tear Down These Walls” can prompt thoughts about the nature of time, or whether construction sites can qualify as art installations (I’m open to the idea, but I prefer “real” construction sites). But none of its parts – sculpture, installation, performance, video – individually or together as a hybrid whole is beautiful enough or thought-provoking enough to silence the question: Why? Why does this stuff matter? I suspect it comes down to whether you have faith in the Church of Process. And I’m a skeptic.

Daniel Phillips, “Tear Down These Walls” 301 Gallery, Montserrat College of Art, 301 Cabot St., Beverly, Aug. 31 to Sept. 26, 2009.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Onne van der Wal

From my review of Jamestown, Rhode Island, photographer Onne van der Wal’s exhibit at the Moses Brown School in Providence:
In Onne van der Wal's sailing photos, it seems the weather is always balmy and the golden sun always setting. The Jamestown resident's exhibit at Moses Brown School's Krause Gallery depicts a world that's forever at its endless summer, can't-get-any-better-than-this peak.

A bird's-eye-view shows two Farr 40s flying their spinnakers as they race with the wind at their backs in blue waters off Miami. One shot gazes down the wooden deck of the contemporary luxury cruising schooner as waves blur by (due to an extended exposure) as it sails toward the hilly coast of the French Riviera at sunset. Six 12-meter boats race off Newport, beating with their sails trimmed tightly in. The yachts are so dramatically close together and neatly staggered that it could be a dance number.
Read the rest here.

Onne van der Wal, Moses Brown School's Krause Gallery, 250 Lloyd Avenue, Providence, Sept. 8 to Oct. 2, 2009.

Pictured from top to bottom: Onne van der Wal, “Grenada Splash,” “Swimming in Tonga,” “Velsheda Bow,” and “Yellowfin Tuna.” All copyright Mr. Van der Wal.