Month: July 2014

Bard Graduate Center: Art and Design From Colombia



bardThe Bard Graduate Center: Decorative Arts, Design History, Material Culture, is a  research institute of Bard College on West 86th street that opened in New York City in 1993. Of particular interest to an art lover is the  gallery affiliated with the graduate center. Located down the block in a lovely brownstone, the gallery presents two exhibitions annually, curated by members of the faculty, staff, or curatorial consultants with specialized expertise.

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On view now is a visually exciting exhibition called, “Waterweavers: The River in Contemporary Colombian Visual and Material Culture.”  The exhibit, according to the Bard, ” uses the trope of the river as a conceptual device to explore the intricate ways in which culture and nature intertwine across disciplines.”  Seventeen artists, designers and craftspeople are represented with work ranging from the practical, like woven chairs and rugs, to the abstract, like an installation featuring papers and fibers dyed with natural pigments.

It was a bit challenging learning what each piece was because there are no descriptions posted on the walls. The Bard provides a very detailed brochure to read while viewing the pieces. Unfortunately the print was tiny and the lighting not conducive to reading. Nonetheless, there is plenty to take in visually without the background.

“Waterweavers” is on view until August 10th. Don’t miss it.

Peabody Essex Museum — An Art Find Outside of New York


The atrium lobby of the Peabody Essex Museum

Summer is a time for both “staycations” and vacations. When I’m on vacation I try to check out local museums and historical sites. Just recently, I spent the day in Salem, MA.  The reason for the visit was to see the House of the Seven Gables, that inspired the Nathaniel Hawthorne book of the same name. But while I was there, I had the surprising pleasure of getting to know a wonderful art museum, called the Peabody Essex Museum.

Putnam Family Cupboard, 1680

Putnam Family Cupboard, 1680

Founded in 1799, the Peabody Essex Museum  is one of the nation’s major museums for Asian art, including Japanese, Chinese, Korean and Indian art, along with a collection of Asian Export art extant and 19th-century Asian photography. It has the earliest collections of Native American and Oceanic art in the nation.  Their American Collection includes historic houses and gardens, and American decorative art and maritime art collections spanning 300 years of New England’s heritage.

JMW Turner, Venice: The Dogana and San Giorgio Maggiore

JMW Turner, Venice: The Dogana and San Giorgio Maggiore

In addition to the PEM permanent collection, they also have special exhibitions like the current one, Turner & the Sea, on view until September 1st. Throughout multiple gallery rooms, you see the breadth and depth of Joseph Mallord William Turner’s lifelong preoccupation with the sea. It includes his Academy paintings of the late 1790s and early 1800s, to the unfinished, experimental seascapes produced towards the end of his life.

If you are ever visiting Boston or traveling North of there, make a stop in Salem and visit the Peabody Essex Museum.

Museum of Biblical Art: A Contemporary Look at the Old

frontWhile the New York Times beat me to the story about their current exhibit, the Museum of Biblical Art, a free art museum known as MOBIA,  is still worth noting. Founded in 2005, MOBIA is located on Broadway and 61st Street in the same building as the American Bible Society. But it is an independent museum, i.e., not affiliated with a particular religious group. It’s mission is to “engage diverse audiences in the exploration of great works of art inspired by the Bible.”

MOBIA is relatively small, with no permanent collection, so the focus is on one special exhibition at a time. On view until September 28 is Back to Eden: Contemporary Artists Wander the Garden. The exhibition brings together work by a group of about 20 contemporary artists. All the pieces in the show were either directly or indirectly inspired by the story of the Garden of Eden. The art work — painting, sculpture, video, among others —  provide a broad view the relationship between humans and the natural world.

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There were two pieces that stood out for me. The first (above) was an HD video projection called “1000 Paths(To The Divine) . The piece is by Sean Capone, a projection artist based in New York City who presents simulated floral vistas, with a focus on pattern and decoration. 1000 Paths (To The Divine) “suggests a continuous cycle of growth, death, and rebirth by immersing the viewer in a morphing virtual garden.” Another piece I really liked (see below) was by Pop Artist, Jime Dine.

The Garden of Eden, Jim Dine (2003)

The Garden of Eden, Jim Dine (2003)


Last Week To See Alice Aycock’s “Park Ave Paper Chase”

Cyclone Twist

Cyclone Twist

They’ve been up since March along Park Avenue, from 52nd-66th Street, but I just recently had a chance to look at them close-up. I’m talking about a suite of seven huge sculptures in aluminum and fiberglass that were created by sculptor, Alice Aycock. The group of sculptures is called “Park Avenue Paper Chase,” and are said to be inspired by tornadoes, dance movements and drapery folds.

My favorite was Cyclone Twist which you can see on 57th Street. I found it most impressive when viewed close-up. But they are all worth seeing and they will only be on view until July 20th.

This exhibition, and others, are presented by The Sculpture Committee of The Fund for Park Avenue and the Public Art Program of the City of New York’s Department of Parks & Recreation. The Park Avenue Malls Sculpture Advisory Committee, under the auspices of The Fund for Park Avenue, was established in 2000 to identify and recommend artwork for temporary display on the Park Avenue Malls.

Stay tuned for future exhibitions.

National Academy Museum: “Redefining Tradition”


Located on Fifth Avenue, to the north of the Guggenheim and south of the Cooper Hewitt Museum, The National Academy (founded in 1825) is an association of artists and architects; a school; and surprisingly for many people, a museum.

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Each year the Academy Museum has an exhibit to promote the works of  a selection of their Academicians (over 300 prominent artists and architects). This year’s exhibit – Redefining Tradition – brings together multiple generations of National Academicians and “creates a constellation that illuminates affinities, connections, differences, and most importantly a relevant continuum of American art and architecture, ” according to the Academy. The exhibit includes paintings, drawings, sculpture, and architectural design from more than 60 artists and architects including Richard Serra and Carrie Mae Weems.  As a visitor, I really enjoyed the open  spaces of the exhibit areas, and the opportunity to get to know artists I was unfamiliar with, like Margaret Grimes, Barbara Grossman, and Charles Wells.

Over the year, The Academy Museum offers an eclectic selection of exhibitions. Among those on view this year was a retrospective of paintings by Swedish artist, Anders Zorn (1860-1920); “See It Loud,” seven post-war American painters whose art “grew out of abstract currents, but shifted toward representation;” and an exhibit showcasing prints from the Museum’s collection.

Redefining Traditions will be on view until September 14, 2014.