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ANE Portfolio Posts

Nov 30, 2016
COMPUSLIVE PRACTICE: Documenting AIDS Activism and Awareness
Video stills from participating artists, from top left: Luna Luis Ortiz, Juanita Muhammed, Mark S. King, Southern AIDS Living Quilt, Ray Navarro, Nelson Sullivan, James Wentzy, Carol Leigh aka Scarlot Harlot, and Justin B. Terry-Smith. All photos courtesy Visual AIDS. 

By Olivia J. Kiers

December 1st is “Day With(out) Art,” a national day of action in response to the AIDS crisis, begun on December 1, 1989, and continued by Visual AIDS, an arts organization that raises awareness via exhibitions, public forums, publications and other means. Curators Jean Carlomusto, Alexandra Juhasz and Hugh Ryan have produced a documentary film, COMPULSIVE PRACTICE, composed of archival footage from nine video-makers and artists who are living with HIV/AIDS or are activists, or both. Including a range of clips from artist/activists Ray Navarro, Luna Luis Ortiz and Nelson...

Nov 22, 2016
An Evening of Entartete Musik with Cantata Singers
Cantata Singers Chamber Series in concert November 17, 2015. Photo: Martha Stewart 

By Olivia J. Kiers

On this Friday evening in mid-November, in Cambridge, MA, certain things are expected: night falling early after the end of Daylight Saving Time, the sound of dried leaves scattering across side streets, and students’ excitement about the upcoming Harvard vs. Yale game. Yet in the wake of presidential election results few predicted, there is a difference to the atmosphere here as everywhere, and in the cozy warmth of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences lecture hall tucked in a quiet space between Beacon and Irving streets, a poignant journey into the past occurred on November 18: the Cantata Singers’ Chamber Series concert devoted to “Entartete Musik.”

Entartete musik—music labeled “degenerate” under...

Nov 16, 2016
Robert Freeman's New Works
Robert Freeman, The Sundowners, triptych. Photo credit: David Leifer Photography.

By Olivia J. Kiers

Robert Freeman’s New Works at Adelson Galleries in Boston (through January 29, 2017) presents a world as exuberant and mythic as the painter’s process itself. A respected artist and former arts educator at Harvard University and Noble and Greenough School in Dedham, MA, Freeman has filled Adelson Galleries with his bold works. Earth tones harmonize with brilliant sky blues, reds, kelly greens and gold leaf. Out of it all, figures emerge, standing stately in evening attire, playing instruments, faces staring out at the viewer in dynamic compositions. Several works, like Ashanti Gold and The Sundowners, are life-size triptychs or diptychs.

Freeman’s subject matter follows his own background in middle-class African-American...

Oct 28, 2016
Exploring a Labyrinth: Fertile Solitude at the Mills Gallery
Megan and Murray McMillan, While She Waits for the Light, 2009. All photos courtesy Boston Center for the Arts.

By Olivia J. Kiers

Fertile Solitude at the Boston Center for the Arts’ Mills Gallery has as much to do with searching as it does with solitude. The show’s enchanting, chaotic organization (referred to as a “maze” in the exhibition literature) encourages the visitor to explore rather than simply view the art. “It forces a one-on-one experience with the art, but also offers a variety of paths. It’s a balance of parameters and freedom,” says curator Elizabeth Devlin. A refreshing rejection of the white gallery cube in favor of faux hedges, acute angles and enticing soundscapes, Fertile Solitude is also interactive, irreverent and full of introspective potential.

Physicality is one key to Fertile Solitude’s...

Oct 12, 2016
The SHE Project: Art Explores Manufactured Beauty
  Kristen M. Watson, Life in the cabinet (timeline of a woman's life), medicine cabinets, H&B products, digital print collage, vanity, vintage mirror. Photo credit: the artist

By Amy Lilly

The SHE Project, Part I, is a collaborative installation by Kristen M. Watson and Mary Admasian that grapples with the overwhelming pressure on women to look pretty in the era of social media, on view at the University of Vermont's Living/Learning Center in Burlington through October 28. Using hundreds of donated cosmetics, beauty aids, hair-dye cans and even locks of cut hair (colored and natural), the exhibit stages realistic scenes of women’s attempts to beautify themselves, mostly by Watson. Admasian’s works, often incorporating vintage mirrors, silk gauze and barbed wire,...

Oct 6, 2016
Matt Evald Johnson, Myth and Predicaments
Matt Evald Johnson. Medusa (detail). Steel sculpture. All photos courtesy Wood Library and Museum.

By Olivia J. Kiers

Easthampton, MA sculptor Matt Evald Johnson’s current exhibition, Myth and Predicaments: Carved in Steel at the Wood Library and Museum in South Windsor, CT, places an array of steel, figural sculptures in a book-filled environment, a highly fitting juxtaposition for Johnson, who draws inspiration from folklore and literature. Art New England discusses myth and process with the artist.

Art New England: Having traveled a lot, studying in Houston, TX and in New York City, what brought you to Easthampton, MA?

Matt Evald Johnson: After finishing graduate school at Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, NY in 1991, I hung about the New York City area for years, continuing to work in several different studios. At a certain point, I started to wish to do larger, outdoor...

Sep 22, 2016
Anne Ayvaliotis: A Celebration of an Artist's Life
Anne Ayvaliotis, Judge and Jacob, oil on linen, 56 x 74". All images courtesy Yvette Torres Fine Art.

By Kay Tobler Liss

Anne Ayvaliotis is a name familiar in art circles in Maine. She was part of a well-regarded group of artists that came to Maine from New York City in the 1950s and 60s, a group that included Charles DuBack, Lois Dodd and Joe Fiore. She was known as a teacher of art at the Farnsworth Museum of Art in Rockland and at Round Top Center for the Arts in Damariscotta, and her work is in collections at the Farnsworth and the Portland Museum of Art. Ayvaliotis died in March at the age of 90. In her honor, Yvette Torres Fine Art in Rockland is holding an exhibition of her work, Celebration of an Artist’s Life. (Open September 9 through October 16, and over Thanksgiving weekend in November. Reception: Friday, September 9, 5 p.m.)

Ayvaliotis was a late-generation...

Sep 16, 2016
Gretna Campbell: Paintings from Great Cranberry Island
Gretna Campbell, Small Rosebush, 1981, oil on canvas, 42 x 48". All images courtesy Courthouse Gallery Fine Art.

By Carl Little

Painter Gretna Campbell (1922-1987) first came to Maine in the late 1940s not long after graduating from Cooper Union in New York City. She and her husband, artist Louis Finkelstein, bought a house on Great Cranberry Island off the southern end of Mount Desert Island in 1950. Over time, the island’s granite edges and deep woods became her principal muse, a place she returned to every summer. Gretna Campbell: Paintings from Great Cranberry Island at Courthouse Gallery Fine Art in Ellsworth, ME gathers a dozen oils dating from 1976 to 1985, all of them Great Cranberry subjects.

Seeking immediacy through immersion, Campbell transported her canvases, some of them as large as 50 by 50 inches,...

Sep 13, 2016
Paul Ramirez Jonas: Public Trust
Public Trust in Copley Square, Boston, MA. Photo: Olivia J. Kiers

By Olivia J. Kiers

Internationally acclaimed artist Paul Ramirez Jonas has returned to Boston this summer following his 2005 Cambridge-based project, Taylor Square. Taylor Square operated through public participation; Ramirez Jonas mailed 5,000 gate keys to residents living near the minuscule, enclosed-yet-public Taylor Square park and encouraged them to copy and share those keys, thus creating a real sense of public ownership for the park. Likewise, Public Trust exists through public engagement.

Elements of Ramirez Jonas’ new work are spectacular—in both senses of the word. A 16 x 16 foot marquee, installed in rotation in Dudley, Kendall and Copley squares (in Roxbury, Cambridge and Boston, respectively) for one week each, calls attention to selected...

Aug 24, 2016
Ruth Mordecai, an Interview with the Artist
Ruth Mordecai, No. 4, 2016, collage and acrylic on paper, 11 x 11". All images courtesy Trident Gallery.

By Olivia J. Kiers

Rocky Neck artist Ruth Mordecai’s current show at Trident Gallery in Gloucester, MA (Ruth Mordecai: Works on Paper, through September 5) reveals the wonder inherent in Mordecai’s highly tactile explorations of simple, abstracted symbols. Under Mordecai’s eye (and palette knife), even commonplace objects like a brown paper bag can take on a new, primal force. Art New England interviewed Mordecai for a few insights into her personal approach to abstraction.

Art New England: This show has a simple title: Ruth Mordecai: Works on Paper. Why have you chosen to work on paper? Why does this medium appeal to you?

Ruth Mordecai: I use a really heavy, 300 lb-weight British paper, and I like to work on the wall,...

Aug 3, 2016
Examining the Data: R. Luke DuBois at Bowdoin College Museum of Art
R. Luke DuBois, A More Perfect Union: Lonely, 2011, pigment-ink on photo rag, 18” x 24”. All images courtesy Bowdoin College Museum of Art.

By Olivia J. Kiers

In an age of dizzying social and political upheaval paired with information overload, R. Luke DuBois’ data-driven artworks feel right at home, pulling the viewer into an examination of complex (and often sprawling) issues with the ease of a quick Google search. A captivating mix of identity crisis and identity exposure, DuBois’ solo show at Bowdoin College Museum of Art (R. Luke DuBois—Now, through September 4) allows us to reconsider modern America through algorithms that paint portraits and musical compositions that warp time.

R....
Jul 27, 2016
Lights, Camera, Action!
New Haven 48HFP producer Trish Clark on awards night. Credit: Duc Nguyen.

By Olivia J. Kiers

Many wonder how a film is made, but here’s a trickier question: How would you make a film in only 48 hours? The 48 Hour Film Project (called the 48HFP or simply, “48”), the largest and oldest timed film competition in existence, challenges professional and amateur filmmakers alike to do just that in cities across the world.

The 48HFP arrived in New Haven, CT, thanks to Trish Clark, who had been on the project’s mailing list and was actively looking for producing opportunities in her hometown. When one newsletter mentioned that the 48HFP was expanding into Connecticut, Clark jumped at her chance and convinced the project to come to New Haven, which it did in 2011, with Clark as the city producer. New Haven’s 48 has been a great success, attracting participants from across Connecticut...

Jul 15, 2016
Three Centuries of Art and History at the Warner House
The Warner House. Photo credit Jack Bingham.

By Olivia J. Kiers

2016 is a landmark anniversary for the Warner House, a rare, 18th-century urban brick mansion in Portsmouth, NH, that is celebrating its 300th birthday with an array of special events. These events include a captivating exhibition, The Warner House at 300!, at Discover Portsmouth, the museum of the Portsmouth Historical Society. Co-curated by the Warner House’s 300th Celebration Committee member Robert Chase and Richard Candee, exhibitions chair at the Portsmouth Historical Society, the exhibition brings together a wealth of artifacts from the house’s long history, as well as artworks featuring the house from across the centuries.

Nehemiah Partridge, attrib....
Jul 7, 2016
Music, Meadows and Mountains: Stowe Performing Arts Turns 40
Vermont Symphony Orchestra plays during Music in the Meadow. Photo courtesy Stowe Performing Arts.

By Olivia J. Kiers

Celebrating its 40th anniversary season this year, Stowe Performing Arts is a non-profit community organization that brings live music to the mountain town of Stowe, VT. Best known for its outdoor, evening concert series, Music in the Meadow, which stages four events at the Trapp Family Lodge’s concert meadow every summer, Stowe Performing Arts draws crowds who wish to hear incredible music while enjoying the view as the sunset turns to a starry sky. No one knows this better than executive director Lynn Paparella. “These concerts are so enjoyable in part because of the scenery,” explains Paparella. “The backdrop of the Nebraska Valley is an incredible view. Somebody at a concert once showed me a photo of mountains on their phone from when they had just been...

Jun 23, 2016
Time Matters: A Conversation with the Artists
Installation view, Time Matters, 2016, The Cultural Center of Rocky Neck. Photo courtesy Kathleen Archer.

By Olivia J. Kiers

Time Matters: Three Explorations is a group show featuring North Shore artists Kathleen Gerdon Archer, Conny Goelz-Schmitt and Michèle Fandel Bonner at the Rocky Neck Cultural Center in Gloucester, MA (through July 4). Art New England spoke with the artists to learn how they constructed their show and how collaboration has impacted their individual art-making.

ANE: How did you meet, and when did you decide to exhibit together?

KGA: The Boston Arts and Business Council had a program called the “Artist’s Professional Toolbox” that they ran through Montserrat College of Art. That was in 2012/13. We were in a peer group together and found that we shared the same sensibility in art. We kept meeting even after the program was over,...

Jun 20, 2016
Film Preview: YARN

Title from YARN: The Movie. Compass Films.

By Olivia J. Kiers

Directed by Icelandic animator Una Lorenzen, YARN: The Movie is a deeply philosophical, surprisingly energetic documentary. While yarn is visually present on screen for most of the film, the real centerpiece is yarn-based creativity and how it serves basic human needs to speak out, interact, strive, play and ponder.

YARN is narrated by award-winning author Barbara Kingsolver, whose voice brings an insistent poetry to the overall feel of the film, a nice balance to Lorenzen’s stop motion interludes in which yarn snakes across the screen like an itch that won’t go away. These animated moments are a suitable framing device—like knitting or crocheting, they construct a film that is both cyclical and relentlessly forward-looking. YARN follows the endeavors of three different yarn artists and one yarn-based performance of a Swedish circus....

May 27, 2016
Life Writ Large: Ernest Hemingway at the JFK Library and Museum
Agnes von Kurowsky and Ernest Hemingway, Milan, 1918. The Ernest Hemingway Collection; John F. Kennedy Library. 

By Olivia J. Kiers

How do you distill three decades of intense activity by one of America’s most legendary writers into a single exhibition, without falling into the pitfall of oversimplifying on the one hand, or overwhelming on the other? It’s a tough task, but one that curator Stacey Bredhoff carries off to great success in the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum’s special exhibition, Ernest Hemingway: Between Two Wars (on view through December 31). The exhibition runs chronologically, but also falls into obvious geographic zones. Thus, visitors will not only follow an outline of world events as Ernest Hemingway lived them from World War I through World War II, but they...

May 11, 2016
A Hole Other World: Linda Leslie Brown's "More Holes"
View of "Linda Leslie Brown: More Holes." Photo: Ann Wessman.

By Olivia J. Kiers

As soon as you enter the Kingston Gallery, Linda Leslie Brown’s recent, whimsical mixed-media sculptures not only catch your eye, they seem to return your gaze. Ranged on a series of high benches that rise like bleachers from the middle of the gallery floor, Linda Leslie Brown: More Holes is an exhibition that confounds expectations. Part of the viewing experience is shaped by the unusual arrangement of the show. By eschewing the plinth as a support, More Holes organizes rather than presents its objects in a manner that is more evocative of the tiered vitrines of a natural history museum than a gallery show. Yet, these are unclassifiable objects, and organizational systems seem pointless when confronted with their mutable nature. Indeed, this is one exhibition that raises more questions than it answers, and that...

May 6, 2016
Flash Forward Festival Boston in SoWa
View of "The Fence," here featuring work by Nadine Boughton. Photo credit: Olivia J. Kiers

By Olivia J. Kiers

Taking art out to the streets—or, in this case, under the street—can be a daring move for a week-long arts festival. It demonstrates true dedication to bringing an open art experience to the average citizen; that person who finds himself intimidated by the white gallery walls might be more at ease strolling past and enjoying art installed on a fence. Yet the move out-of-doors puts any exhibition at the mercy of the weather, and springtime in New England is notoriously unpredictable.

As in the past, Flash Forward Festival Boston 2016 has mounted incredible photography exhibitions in a cluster of pop-up shipping container galleries. For the first time, they are located in Boston’s SoWa district in the South End, under a section of I-93 overpass along Albany Street, to be exact....

May 3, 2016
Flash Forward Festival Boston at the Griffin Museum of Photography
Gallery view of the series "Revisiting Beauty" in "Aline Smithson: Self & Others" at the Griffin Museum of Photography on May 1, 2016. Photo: Olivia J. Kiers

By Olivia J. Kiers

The greater Boston area celebrates photography this week with the Flash Forward Festival Boston, a spring-like blossoming of free photography events, from gallery openings to special discussions, created by the Magenta Foundation. Sunday, May 1, saw the start of the festival with closing receptions for two exceptional shows at the Griffin Museum of Photography in Winchester, MA: Aline Smithson: Self & Others and Undergraduate Photography Now IV.

Smithson’s work filled the Griffin’s Main Gallery with a colorful sense of nostalgia. A former fashion editor for Vogue Knitting and Vogue Patterns, Smithson imbues her photographic practice with an editorial eye. Each image is not only impeccably crafted,...

Apr 22, 2016
Counterforce in the World: Broadsided Press responds to the Flint, MI, water crisis
Tallying Up. Poem by Amy Young, art by Ira Joel Haber, a Responses feature from Broadsided Press.

By Susan Rand Brown

Poet and naturalist Elizabeth Bradfield has lived on the Outer Cape for several decades though her focus has long been global. She came of age aware of our interconnected eco-systems and opened doors through poems published with ink and paper and, for the past decade, through Broadsided Press—an innovative and public-spirited literary project that combines poems with visual art. A new edition, consisting of a single poem visually embedded in an artwork, is posted monthly, and editions from 2005 are archived on an easily navigated website.

While distribution is paperless and mostly achieved using crowd sourcing, readers are also encouraged to distribute content the old-fashioned way. (The term “broadside” was familiar in Shakespeare’s age, when...

Apr 7, 2016
"Strong As Glass": Goapele at the Gardner
Goapele performing at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, March 31. Photo credit: Bob Packert

By Olivia J. Kiers

Goapele’s voice soars to the top of Calderwood Hall. “Closer to my dreams,” she sings, “I’m going higher and higher, I can almost reach…” It is “Closer,” one of her best-known and loved songs, the one her fans have asked for as they stand from their seats in the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum’s intimate “sonic cube” at a sold-out performance on Thursday night, swaying in rhythm and clapping the beat. The Oakland, CA-based R&B artist exudes poise yet also warmth and humility as she sings about love and longing. The hall cheers as she says, towards the end of an energetic evening, “I think we have time for one more, don’t we?”

Later, in the green room, the 38-year-old...

Mar 29, 2016
Poetry Out Loud in New England

By Olivia J. Kiers

For the 11th consecutive year, high school student across the United States have been competing in Poetry Out Loud (POL), a competition that brings poetry to life through live recitation. March has been a month of state finals, and Art New England is happy to take a moment to congratulate the six state champions from the New England region. All state champions receive $200 and an all-expenses-paid trip to Washington, D.C., for nationals in May. The POL national champion will receive $20,000. ANE wishes the New England finalists the best of luck!

Emily Saunders. Photo courtesy Department of Economic and Community Development, Connecticut Office of the Arts

17-year-old senior Emily Saunders (Region Hebron, Andover and Marlborough High School) is the Connecticut state champion. She competed on March...

Mar 21, 2016
Closer to the Mountaintop: Lawren Harris at the MFA

Lawren Harris. Mountains in Snow: Rocky Mountain Paintings VII. About 1929. Oil on canvas. The Thomson Collection at the Art Gallery of Ontario. © Art Gallery of Ontario. © Family of Lawren Harris. Courtesy Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

By Elizabeth Fennell

The Idea of North: The Paintings of Lawren Harris, on view at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston through June 12, is the first major U.S. exhibition for the iconic Canadian artist, Lawren Harris. Chances are, you’ve never heard of Lawren Harris. If you’re Canadian, you might recognize him as a founding member of the revered Canadian Group of Seven—nationally renowned modern landscape painters and favorite sons whose paintings show up on Canadian postage stamps. Collector/comedian/banjo-playing/playwright/virtual arts...

Mar 8, 2016
Cultural Crossroads at the Silk Road Art Gallery

Karen Dow. Cross Section. 2016. Acrylic on canvas. 34 x 30". Courtesy Silk Road Art Gallery.

By Olivia J. Kiers

In New Haven, CT, the Silk Road Art Gallery brings contemporary Chinese art and artists to New England, and works to bring art by the New England artists they represent to China. Art New England speaks with gallery owner Liwen Ma and director Dan Li about their mission.

ANE: What brought Silk Road Art Gallery to New England, generally, and why New Haven in particular?

Silk Road Art Gallery: When we were looking for where to set up an art gallery in the United States to extend our existing Chinese art-dealing brand, we were most interested in finding an environment that had a lot of art activity. New Haven proved to be an ideal location as it has a rich history, a lot of art events,...

Feb 26, 2016
Blue Notes and Whole-tones: Reviewing Jazz at the Cooper Gallery

Joseph Albers. "Provocative Percussion, Vol. 2." Enoch Light and the Light Brigade. 1960. Album. 12 x 12" Courtesy of The Hutchins Center, Harvard University.

By Olivia J. Kiers

This spring in Harvard Square, Cambridge, MA, the Ethelbert Cooper Gallery of African & African American Art is putting on a show-stopping performance with Art of Jazz: Form/Performance/Notes, an exhibition that delves as deep into jazz and art as it does into questions of jazz and black identity, jazz and myth, or jazz and place. While these juxtapositions exist in concert with each other, the Cooper Gallery offers less of an overriding statement as much as an intriguing series of questions.

The segmentation within Art of Jazz is to be expected from its subtitle: Form/Performance/Notes. This structuring follows...

Feb 8, 2016
Collaborating Across Culture: A Conversation with Mark Cooper
Installation view, Mark Cooper: YuYu China Blue, Yuan Art Museum, Beijing, China. Courtesy of Mark Cooper, Samsøñ, and the Yuan Art Museum

By Olivia J. Kiers

With the help of Boston’s Samsøñ Projects, artist Mark Cooper recently collaborated with artists in China to create a multimedia installation incorporating sculpture, ceramics, painting and video at the Yuan Museum in Beijing, titled YuYu China Blue (January 12–February 29). Cooper talks to ANE Portfolio about the exhibition.

ANE: How was YuYu China Blue born? When did you first begin working on it, and how was Samsøñ Projects involved?

Cooper: I went to China for the first time more than two years ago to make some ceramics for the exhibition New Blue and White at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. I did a lot of touring. The gardens in Shanghai were a big influence; its architectural portals and rock...

Jan 29, 2016
Discussing the International Sculpture Parks Union Conference
Andy Moerlein and Donna Dodson. Photo courtesy Donna Dodson.

By Olivia J. Kiers

Sculptors Donna Dodson and Andy Moerlein represented the Boston Sculptors Gallery at the International Sculpture Parks Union’s (ISPU) first plenary meeting in Changchun, China from January 10–12. While there, they joined fellow attendees in a tour of the Changchun World Sculpture Park, the largest of its kind in the world. ANE Portfolio discusses the conference with Dodson and Moerlein:

ANE: You both have a history of participating in residencies abroad; how has working internationally affected your practice? Was this your first time in China?

Dodson: Working internationally, whether…alongside artists from other countries in the U.S. or making work abroad, is a window into the personal experiences of other artists, in addition to the cultural...

Jan 22, 2016
A Conversation with Jocelyn Chemel

 

Jocelyn Chemel. School Girl. 2013. Digital photograph mounted on wood panel, resin. 12x12". The text in the photograph is Nelson Mandela's quote "Education is the most powerful weapon you can use to change the world".

By Olivia J. Kiers

Jocelyn Chemel is fixated by life’s contrasts, and now she can finally speak out about them. Growing up under apartheid in South Africa, Chemel remembers that “we were all prisoners of fear.” Unable to speak freely over the phone for constant fear of arrest, Chemel left South Africa when she was 20 and is now a mixed-media artist based out of Boston. Over the intervening years, she has returned to her native country on several trips and observed it post-apartheid, but her hopes for the future are still tinged with uncertainty. Barbed, Chemel’s exhibition currently on view in Boston City Hall, explores that duality of hope and anxiety.

Following...

Oct 30, 2015
Bringing a Legend to Life: Sculptor Stefanie Rocknak returns Poe to Boston
Poe Returning to Boston, seen at night. Photo credit: Derek Kouyoumjian, 2015.

 By Olivia J. Kiers

When the Edgar Allan Poe Foundation of Boston held a contest in 2012 to determine who would be awarded a commission to create a statue commemorating the Master of the Macabre’s Boston roots, they “didn’t want ‘Poe on a horse,’” explains sculptor Stefanie Rocknak. “Immediately it occurred to me that I had to do something dynamic and different.” Rocknak’s winning statue, called Poe Returning to Boston, is certainly that.

Poe’s relationship with his birthplace was turbulent, since his dark literary style was often criticized by the Boston elite, whom he ridiculed in turn. Yet, Rocknak says that Poe loved aspects of Boston, “namely, that he was born there and his mother had a fairly successful career as an actress there.” Rocknak’s winning design shows Poe running along at the intersection of Boylston and Charles streets near the Common,...

Aug 24, 2015
Morning Light

by Celina Colby

Eleanor Briggs is one of the few artists able to completely transport you from a gallery into an ethereal, picturesque landscape. A photographer for decades, Briggs has become skilled at creating not just an image, but another world. This is largely due to her extensive travel repertoire. Her landscapes range from the natural world around her home in Hancock, New Hampshire to exotic portraits of Vietnam, shot with a color 35mm. “I like to go someplace where I can look around and see no one who looks like me,” says Briggs.

In the exhibition Morning Light at the Fitchburg Art Museum, photographs from Briggs’ trips to Southeast Asia are juxtaposed with her series on Moose Brook, a quiet stream near her home. In a multi-year exploration, Briggs would kayak out into the stream at daybreak to photograph the natural majesty around her. “There is not one shred of human...

Aug 10, 2015
Project Beta
 

by Celina Colby

Calling all artists! A new residency has opened in Newport, Rhode Island. Arts in Bushwick (AiB) and the newly formed non-profit Newport Art House (NAH) have teamed up to introduce a northeast artist residency called Project Beta in the beautiful seaside city. The goal of the residency is to bring artists from New York and other thriving artropolises to the hallowed shores of New England. Here they can explore the rich natural beauty and cultural offerings of the historic city.

Three Bushwick, New York, based artists will break ground on the residency. Thomas Stevenson, a video and multimedia artist, Lucia Rollow, a photographer and Jeremy Kiracofe, a sculptor. Each artist will be paired with a local Rhode Island institution that works in their medium, Fab Lab for Stevenson, the Newport Photographer’s...

Aug 5, 2015
Blooms of Inspiration
 

by Anna Buckley

Would a rose by any other name smell as sweet? Would a rose in any other form appear as beautiful? Jean-Michel Othoniel has the answer.

Othoniel’s Secret Flower Sculptures, on view at the Hostetter Gallery of the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, captures the essence of ethereal blooms in glass and aluminum sculptures. The work aims to embody natural beauty within physical form.

The first of two sculptures, Peony, the Knot of Shame, depicts a massive peony made of blown glass orbs colored in mauves and fuchsias with a vibrant golden inner loop. The title draws from floriography in which the peony symbolizes shame and bashfulness due to the myth that mischievous nymphs would hide among pedals of the peony, yet Othoniel’s work evokes feelings of awe. The piece is taller than the artist himself, it suspends from the ceiling in a stark white room and it appears...

Aug 4, 2015
Chromatic Celebrations
 

by Anna Buckley

Methods of painting and printing collide in Emily Mason’s exhibit, Chromatic Celebrations, at Mitchell Giddings Fine Arts, on view now through August 16. The presentation is transitional, moving from technique to technique—thus hinting at Mason’s media repertoire. The common thread is color while the variable is process.

Four main labels describe the prints in the exhibit—GTW, LM, HG and JS.

The letters “GTW” denote the monotypes from the Garner Tullis Workshop that Mason attended in Santa Barbara in 1987. The artist used a top-down impression plate rather than rollers, preserving the extemporaneity of her original paintings within the reproduced prints.

Works marked “LM” sprang from an ongoing collaboration with painter Lisa Mackie. The pair experimented with chine collé...

Aug 3, 2015
Places for Spirit

by Jenny Miller Sechler

Places for the Spirit, documents photographer Vaughn Sills' exploration of the gardens in the deep South. For over twenty years, Sills traveled through small southern towns and countryside, drawn to personal gardens that are at once unique and traditional, reflective of an African American, southern aesthetic that is fading from the landscape. Sills’ photographs capture the poetic language of these gardens and their serene, protective and spiritual essence. As she says in an artist’s statement accompanying the exhibit: “Within a history that comes from Africa, through slavery, and into the present, I believe these gardens speak a certain language about the earth, about beauty, and about the spirit.”

Through September 30, the Lyman Plant House at Smith College is hosting an exhibition of Sills’ photographs along with accompanying materials about Sills’...

Jul 29, 2015
Learning the ABCs

by Christina Wheeler 

For 26 days, the city of Fitchburg, Massachusetts, will bring public art and civic engagement together in an innovative way: by making a letter of the English alphabet the central focus of its newspaper’s front page. The Fitchburg Art Museum, with the support of a National Endowment for the Arts ‘Our Town’ Grant, commissioned artist Anna Schuleit Haber to develop a project encouraging community involvement in the arts.

To achieve this goal, Schuleit Haber has partnered with 26 typographers from around the world and with a group of reporters that includes local high school and college students, writers, poets and citizens to create The Alphabet project, which is, according to Schuleit Haber, “a creative ‘take-over’ of the normal scope of the news.”

During The Alphabet’s run, which began July 13 and will conclude on August...

Jul 28, 2015
River Crossings: Contemporary Art Comes Home
 

by Bonita McBride

The Olana Partnership/Olana State Historic Site and the Thomas Cole National Historic Site are hosting a joint exhibition, River Crossings: Contemporary Art Comes Home, from now until November 1st. The exhibit features 28 contemporary artists against the backdrop of the beautiful and historically rich Hudson River Valley.

It was in the Hudson River Valley that the first American art movement, the Hudson River School, was born almost 200 years ago. Exploration and discovery were a part of the zeitgeist of the time and thus were important concepts within the school. Artists would venture out into nature to take in views of the surrounding pastoral landscape, ripe for painting. Some works depict majestic views of the Hudson River weaving between rolling hills covered in lush greens and vibrant yellows, reflecting the midday sun; others highlight immense mountains...

Jul 27, 2015
The Paper People
 

by Celina Colby

Hanging on the walls of galleries and public buildings all over New England are beautifully crafted works by the artists of 19 on Paper. Founded in Rhode Island in 1986, the organization is a member-based group of artists whose primary medium is paper. The name originates from the founding 19 members. The current members are painters, collage artists, bookmakers, printmakers and sculptors. Although the group often works independently, they also meeting regularly at a member’s studio for workshops and group critiques, and frequently join in outside functions and activities as a group. Their latest excursion included a group trip to The Paper Connection for a lecture/demonstration and participation in a wholesale paper purchase.

The...

Jul 13, 2015
Outside the Box Festival
 

Tomorrow the much-anticipated Outside the Box festival begins. Performances including Guster, New Politics, and contestants from The Voice are just the beginning. See dance performances, engage in lectures and participate in hands-on art activities. The best part? It's all free! The complete schedule is below. Click on the image to enlarge it. Fore more information visit the Outside the Box website

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Jul 2, 2015
Wind, Waves & Light

by Celina Colby

The Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens in Boothbay, ME, feature 248 acres including a mile of coastline. The grounds are lush with gardens, walking paths, and serene natural spaces. And until October 12, the gardens will also feature the sculptural work of George Sherwood.

Wind, Waves & Light couldn’t be a more accurate name for Sherwood’s solo exhibition. Not only does it reflect the hypnotizing kinetic sculptures Sherwood is known for, but also the rambling landscape and natural wonders the Gardens have to offer. Sherwood’s work is inspired by nature, reflecting the swooping motion of a flock of birds, the uniform weaving of a school of fish, and the shimmering reflection of light on water. He uses stainless steal to reflect color and light as the sculptures move. The exhibit includes five monumental pieces previously shown in the Hudson...

Jun 22, 2015
Gordon Parks: Escaping the “Mecca of Bigotry”

by Anna Buckley

At the age of fifteen, Gordon Parks left his hometown of Fort Scott, Kansas. When he returned 23 years later, to photograph the impact of school segregation for LIFE, all but one of his elementary school classmates remained. Thus began Parks’ journey to chart the 11 courses of his former friends’ lives, like veins of a river delta fanning out from the place which Parks called “the mecca of bigotry.”

Gordon Parks: Back to Fort Scott is showing at the Museum of Fine Arts until September 13. The images were largely unknown prior to curator Karen Haas’ efforts to create an exhibition. For reasons still unknown the images were never published.

When walking into the exhibit nestled within the Americas Wing, what strikes the viewer first is the intimacy: the closeness of the space, the familiarity created by the frontal, inquisitive angles Parks chose,...

Jun 18, 2015
Luxuria
 

by Celina Colby

Tara Sellios’s exhibition Luxuria at Gallery Kayafas is not for the faint of heart. The collection of watercolors, photographs, and installation cannot be simply viewed, it must be digested, experienced. At Art New England we’ve been following Tara since she debuted on the cover of our November/December 2011 issue. She was also named one of our seven photographers to watch. Four years later and we’re still watching.

Since graduating from the Art Institute of Boston in 2010, Sellios has been lauded for her complex and stirring juxtapositions of life and death. Working in large-format photography as well as watercolor, she stages elaborate still lives on the themes of excess and self indulgence, a play on the seven deadly sins. In her artist’s statement she says of her work, “Through these images, I aspire to make apparent...

Jun 11, 2015
CREATE Boston Keeps Getting Better

by Celina Colby

The line for CREATE Boston runs out the door and down the block. Hundreds of people are desperate to get in to the hottest collaborative event of the summer. Inside looks something like an urban gallery crossed with a gourmet restaurant. Six booths are set up around the concrete exhibition space. Each area features a collection of artwork and then food and drink inspired by the series. Guests float from table to table holding tiny mixed drinks and sampling fare. Artists talk to fans about their work while offering the best price on the displayed pieces. Light beats waft from the DJ booth. The result is an event so hip the building should be wearing aviators.

In one corner giant wooden buffalo heads by the !ND!V!DUALS are mounted on a wall. A group of chefs from Asta stand in front slicing up a pig’s...

May 1, 2015
Making a Splash
 

by Celina Colby

Beyond the brick lined streets of Providence is one of the premiere watercolor exhibits in the world. May 9 through June 14, the Rhode Island Watercolor Society will host the American Watercolor Society’s 148th Annual International Exhibition. Held in Pawtucket, the exhibition celebrates paintings from the top watercolorists around the world. Breaking the boundaries of what we know as watercolor, the event features everything from vibrant cityscapes and peaceful landscapes to intimate portraits.

The exhibit was juried by a panel of world renowned artists including Kathleen Conover, Leslie Frontz and Bill Rogers to name a few. The forty works selected for the show will be on view and for sale at the Rhode Island Watercolor Society’s gallery. A traveling show, the watercolors are coming to Rhode Island from New York where the Salmagundi Club displayed them.

To get the VIP experience, join the Rhode Island Watercolor Society for the exhibit’s...

Apr 10, 2015
Needles & Opium
by Celina Colby

Marc Labrèche stands suspended in the air 20 feet above Emerson’s Cutler Majestic stage. His face is illuminated from below casting an ominous shadow across his brow. A background of cosmic dust frames him. The mournful croons of Miles Davis’s trumpet echo through the theater. Labrèche opens his mouth and with a thick French accent transforms into the famous French poet Jean Cocteau: “New York is a city that never sits down and thinks. A city that never lays down and dreams.”

So sets the scene for the groundbreaking production of Needles and Opium, the brainchild of playwright and director Robert Lepage. Originally performed in the ‘90s, the production has been completely re-imagined for its contemporary revival. The hypnotic performance follows three intertwined story lines. In 1949 Miles Davis traveled to Paris where he met and fell...

Mar 2, 2015
Second Selves
  by Celina Colby

Walking down the street, three people scroll through their Facebook feeds. One of them is stalking her ex’s new girlfriend, and another is uploading a picture of the party he went to last night. On the train two friends tweet at each other from seats across the aisle and a teenage girl cries while reading a breakup text. Our technology has gone beyond being useful to being a part of us—a curated reflection of who we are. In the exhibit Second Selves at the Distillery Gallery, curator Alexis Anais Avedisian brings together six artists who are trying to reconcile their public and private selves.

The first thing that greets the viewer in the clean, white space is a bed. This is Avedisian’s own piece. The mattress is covered with white sheets and a lace blanket. It’s rumpled in an intimate way as though the owner just rolled out. On the bed there’s an iPhone. Avedisian encourages visitors to lie down on the bed and scroll through the phone. On it is a lengthy...

Feb 23, 2015
Nepal 1975-2011: Kevin Bubriski Photographs
 

by Bret Chenkin

One could argue that the age of ethnographic photography is over. That putative golden age when European explorers and adventurers went forth to unknown regions—risking life and limb in deserts, ice fields or jungles—seeking the strange and undiscovered peoples of these lands, and collecting their artifacts and images for both research and to share with a curious public back home. That is not to say that such adventurers do not still forge on into remote sectors of our ever shrinking planet and photograph elusive native groups, but this is a trickle compared to what happened a century or more ago. The death knell was not only political sensitivity, but the fact that many folk are now aware of and empowered with technology. Often, when they are snapped at, they snap back. However, as long as there are skilled photographers such as Kevin Bubriski,...

Feb 20, 2015
Yun-Fei Ji: Migrants, Ghosts and the Dam

by Jenny Miller Sechler

Chinese artist Yun-Fei Ji is at once traditional and transgressive. At first glance, his intimate, detailed paintings and scrolls are soft and peaceful, in the style of Chinese landscape paintings. However, the images in his work include monsters, starving animals, skeletons and flooded landscapes full of upturned cars and uprooted trees. The subjects challenge the viewer. Ji’s use of traditional art forms challenges his native country’s policies, which discarded its artistic traditions after the rise of Communism. “I was drawn to using this abandoned art form and working on the ruin as a subject,” says Ji. “They fit together somehow.”

Through March 8, the University of Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art, at Amherst, presents “Yun-Fei Ji: Migrants, Ghosts, and the Dam,” a small but satisfying...

Feb 5, 2015
Color & Brevity: Tracey Helgeson
 

by Anthony Merino

Brevity breeds meaning. In austere images, what details are included become significant. American landscape painters like William Merritt Chase, Edward Hopper and Richard Diebenkorn evoked complex emotional narratives with minimal details. Tracey Helgeson continues this tradition through her economic landscapes, displayed at Harrison Gallery in Williamstown, Massachusetts.

The artist exhibited two groups of landscapes; those with buildings and those without. Both trigger a sense of melancholia in the audience. An aura of isolation permeates the works with buildings. In a few pieces like Flat Road with Farm and Flash of Pink, the artist uses scale and placement to create a narrative of separation. Both works depict a small house on the periphery of the picture, which are overwhelmed by the vast landscapes that surround them....

Jan 30, 2015
Felix Lembersky: Soviet Form, Jewish Context
 

by Jenny Miller Sechler

On view now at the Yiddish Book Center, in Amherst, MA, is an exhibit Felix Lembersky: Soviet Form, Jewish Context, featuring paintings and drawings by the important but long-overlooked Soviet-era artist Felix Lembersky. The exhibit will be up through March 2015.

The Russian painter Felix Lembersky is an artist of survival. Born in 1913, his work documents war, genocide and repression, as well as an artistic vision that refused to follow the dictates of Soviet Russia. His work speaks to his direct experience: Lembersky was wounded in defensive operations outside Leningrad, presented his thesis during the Siege of Leningrad in 1941, and lost both parents to the Holocaust. The current exhibit of Lembersky’s work at the Yiddish Book Center in Hadley—Felix Lembersky: Soviet Form, Jewish Context—present...



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