Friday, March 12, 2010

2010 DeCordova Biennial

From our review of the “2010 DeCordova Biennial" at the DeCordova Sculpture Park + Museum in Lincoln, Massachusetts:
Portland artist Randy Regier's work is just beginning to be known, but he may be one of the best sculptors in the country. In the "2010 DeCordova Biennial" at the DeCordova Sculpture Park + Museum, Regier has installed "Honorable Mention: H. Maxwell Fisher and the Space Race," a "life-size" spacecraft, spacesuit, and related ephemera. Your senses tell you this wondrous, crackpot 1950s Buck Rogers dream machine is real. And you — particularly if you're a certain kind of boy — may want to believe it's real. But your mind insists that it's fake. The result of this contradiction is a pleasurable mental short circuit.

The "Fisher Fire Fly" spacecraft is a ball-shaped capsule atop a cone-shaped thruster with three landing-gear legs. It's painted Wizard of Oz emerald green. The top of the capsule is scuffed and blistered, as if scorched during passage through the earth's atmosphere. Peer inside the open hatch and you find a metal-frame seat, wires, hoses, switches, and dials. Everything appears authentically old, right down to the musty industrial smell.

A vitrine displays an astronaut doll in a bell jar. "A Chance of a Lifetime!" a label explains. "Train at home for some of today's most spectacular opportunities." A vintage-looking magazine shows the rocket on the cover of "100 Projects of Steel." Postcards advertise the American Dream Technical Institute of Portland, Maine. The clues suggest a story of a man sending away to some correspondence school and building his own rocket ship in his garage.

Drawing on his background in auto-body work, Regier offers the amazing craftsmanship of a master Hollywood propmaker. Then the backstories he invents propose an alternative history of the past century, in which the future we were promised by sci-fi magazines and Popular Mechanics came true. And yet we still have "Leave It to Beaver" domestic peace and prosperity. In the end, it's a rumination on the difference between the post-WW2 American Dream and today's reality.

Regier is the star of this Biennial's strong line-up, which includes familiar names (Otto Piene, Paul Laffoley, William Pope.L, founder Mark Tribe) as well as emerging artists.
Read the rest here.

“2010 DeCordova Biennial," DeCordova Sculpture Park + Museum, 51 Sandy Pond Road, Lincoln, Massachusetts, Jan. 23 to April 11, 2010.

Pictured from top to bottom: Randy Regier, "Spacecraft," 2009; Karin Weiner, "Sink or Swim," 2007; Mark Tribe, "Dystopia Files," 2010; Laurel Sparks, "Archangel," 2008; Xander Marro, "Time's Mercenary Army," 2009; Georgie Friedman, "Dark Swell," 2009-10; Otto Piene, "Fleurs du Mal," 1969; Paul Laffoley, "The Tree of Sephiroth," 1998-99; Greta Bank, "Stumpy," 2008; Liz Nofziger, "feedback (stair)," 2010; Oscar Palacio, "Manzanar Observation Tower, CA," 2008; and William Pope.L "Small Cup," 2008

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Maya Allison after 5 Traverse

In the wake of the sad closing of 5 Traverse gallery in Providence last month, 5T co-director Maya Allison has launched her own venture, Maya Allison Projects. And her first project is "Art for Chile: A Silent Auction to Benefit the Quake & Tsunami Victims" from March 18 to 21 at 232 Westminster St., Providence.

The auction is organized by Allison, Chilean artist Magaly Ponce and photographer Frank Mullen. It features work donated by artists Umberto Crenca, Ellen Driscoll, Megan and Murray McMillan, Allison Paschke, Magaly Ponce, Lisa Perez, Jessica Deane Rosner, Andrew Sloan, Neal T. Walsh and numerous others.

Allison's site reports that she is also organizing a Lisa Perez exhibit in Miami in April, an Allison Owen show for this spring, a group show on the theme of games for this year, a Jamey Morrill exhibit this fall, and the Providence new media festival Pixilerations [v.7] this fall.

As we wrote previously in the Providence Phoenix, the closing of 5 Traverse...
coming right on the heels of the closing of Stairwell Gallery on Broadway, leaves Providence, home of one of the top art schools in the country, without any commercial galleries consistently and seriously engaged with the boundary-pushing art of today — the art addressing where art is now and where art is going.

With the memory of the closing of Gallery Agniel in late 2006 still fresh, it again raises the question of whether Providence is capable of supporting commercial venues for this sort of art. "There isn't a sense of the value of these galleries to the city's identity as a creative capital," 5 Traverse co-director Maya Allison says.

Jesse Smith, who opened 5 Traverse in a building he owns at 5 Traverse Street in April 2007, said he is closing the gallery because of "just random transitions that are in my life and Maya's life." He declined to be specific, but he said, "The gallery is financially strong. It covers a salary and overhead . . . That's not why we're closing . . . If we have anything to offer the community, it's a model that works."
Read the rest here.

Feb. 2, 2010: 5 Traverse is closing.
Jan. 21, 2010: Farewell to Stairwell and Yes.
Jan. 11, 2007: Goodbye, Gallery Agniel/Martina & Co.

Roni Horn

From our review of "Roni Horn AKA Roni Horn" at Boston's Institute of Contemporary Art:
"I've been told it's the largest single piece of glass in the world," Helen Molesworth, the Institute of Contemporary Art's new chief curator, said at a press preview last week. The object in question — Roni Horn's four-foot-tall, five-ton pink glass cube "Pink Tons" (2008) — is now sitting in the ICA's lobby as part of "Roni Horn aka Roni Horn," a show organized by New York's Whitney Museum and London's Tate Modern and representing the New Yorker's "first comprehensive" career survey.

"Pink Tons"' sides are frosty, with clear icy cracks at the corners. From certain angles, the cube looks as if it were filled with water, almost to overflowing. Look in the clear top and you can see a large wave seeming to ripple inside.

One way to define Modern Art is as a seven-decade project to break art down to its atomic elements — from Picasso's Cubism to Jackson Pollock's drips to Ad Reinhardt's all-black paintings. Arriving in the 1960s, near the end of this lineage, was Minimalism, which favored basic geometric forms, industrial materials, and repetition. Minimalism is best known for its sculptures — Carl Andre's grids of metal tiles displayed right on the gallery floor, Tony Smith's six-foot-tall steel cube "Die" from 1968. These works presented objects in it-is-what-it-is fashion, focusing on the space they share, and the subtle relationships among viewers. It was usually severe, hard-edged, macho, buttoned-up stuff predicated on the notion that if you concentrated on it hard enough and were worthy, you might attain transcendence.

More than four decades later, Minimalism remains one of the primary modes of operation in the art world. And over the past couple of years, the ICA's big solo-artist surveys have catalogued its permutations...
Read the rest here.

"Roni Horn AKA Roni Horn," Institute of Contemporary Art, 100 Northern Ave., Boston, Feb. 19 to June 12, 2010.

Pictured from top to bottom: Roni Horn, installation view of (foreground) "Paired Gold Mats, for Ross and Felix," 1994-1995, and (background) "Ant Farm," 1974/2007; "Pink Tons," 2008; "You are the Weather" (detail), 1995; "Dead Owl," 1998; "Ant Farm," 1974/2007; "a.k.a." (detail), 2008 - 2009; installation view of (foreground) "bird (detail)," 1998/2008, and (background)"This is Me, This is You" (detail), 1998-2000; installation view of (foreground) "Asphere X," 1988/2001, "White Dickinson, SCIENCE IS VERY NEAR US—I FOUND A MEGATHERIUM ON MY STRAWBERRY," 2006, and "White Dickinson, NATURE IS SO SUDDEN SHE MAKES US ALL ANTIQUE—," 2006/2007; "Untitled (Aretha)," 2002-2004; installation view of "Opposite of White, v. 1 (Large)," 2006-2007, and "Opposite of White, v. 2 (Large)," 2006-2007. Courtesy of the artist and Hauser & Wirth © Roni Horn. Most photos by John Kennard.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Parker named Rose registrar

Kristin Parker is leaving her post at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston to become registrar at Brandeis University's Rose Art Museum, the Waltham, Massachusetts, school has announced.

Her hiring brings the museum's staff to two (the other staffer is Director of Museum Operations Roy Dawes), still down from the six or seven Rose employees before the school threatened to shutter the museum and sell off its collection in January 2009, and pushed out two staffers, including director Michael Rush, the following June.

Parker will fill the shoes of Collections Manager Valerie Wright, who left around the start of the year to become registrar at the planned West Virginia University art museum. Parker has "worked since 1998 at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum as archivist and records manager, collection manager, and manager of contemporary art and public programs," Brandeis Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs Marty Wyngaarden Krauss announced to the school. She is expected to begin work at Brandeis on March 22.

A search committee is currently reviewing applicants for the position of education director at the Rose, the school reports.

Previously: Brandeis looks for new Rose staff.

Monday, March 08, 2010

Andrea Fraser

From our review of "Andrea Fraser: Boxed Set" at Harvard University's Carpenter Center:
Fraser is one of the leading lights of a type of postmodern art dubbed "institutional critique," which asks pesky questions about the traditional white, male hierarchy of Western art.

The five videos here, each running about a half an hour, begin with mock museum tours from 1989 and '91. "The museum's purpose is not just to develop an appreciation of art but an appreciation of values," Fraser says in 1989's "Museum Highlights: A Gallery Talk." But what values?

Fraser presents museums as monuments to wealthy patrons that were built and managed by the patrons' cronies. "They were always eager to do their best for their native city," she proclaims with the cheery blandness of a newscaster in "Welcome to the Wadsworth" (1991), a monologue she performed outside Hartford's Wadsworth Atheneum. Then she veers into rants: "Mankind would have been better off if they never left their farms. . . . We have a moral obligation to have beautiful homes. . . . A city is not intended to be a reservation for unproductive people."
Read the rest here (start halfway down).

"Andrea Fraser: Boxed Set," Harvard University's Carpenter Center, 24 Quincy St., Cambridge, Feb. 11 to April 4, 2010. Fraser speaks with Marjorie Garber and curator Helen Molesworth at the Thompson Room of Harvard's Barker Center, 12 Quincy St., Cambridge, at 6 p.m. March 24 as part of the school's "Church of What's Happening Now" lecture series.

Pictured: Andrea Fraser, "Museum Highlights: A Gallery Talk," 1989.