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Rafael Ferrer @ El Museo del Barrio

Damien Hirst
Since its inception in the 1960s, El Museo del Barrio has exhibited and celebrated the art and culture of Harlem's Hispanic population. While initially focusing on the Puerto Rican diaspora in the US, over the past several decades, the community-based museum has expanded its exhibitions, programs and facilities to include a wide array of art from cultures, artists and places all over Latin America.

Currently, the museum is exhibiting about 200 pieces by 77-year old Puerto Rican artist Rafael Ferrer. The artist's first large museum survey, "Retro / Active: The Work of Rafael Ferrer," includes works spanning his  5+ decades-long career and includes works crafted in a large variety of media. Ferrer's use of bold color and multifarious materials evoke an immediate allure, drawing the viewer in.


"Retro / Active" displays the artist's transition over the years and documents how the multi-talented Ferrer went from creating markedly ephemeral "Process Art" installations during the 1960s and 70s to painting visually and emotionally fraught depictions of radiant, shadow-pocked scenes of makeshift tropical dwellings and their inhabitants during the 1980s. More current works include Ferrer's paper bag masks that reveal an exploration of the human face referencing cultural and emotional allusions, and his small, wood-framed slate tablets (from 2005 and 2006) that provide ideal surfaces for a series of appropriately grisaille paintings.


A recent review from the New York Times gives a perfect summary of Ferrer's art and career, stating,

"Mr. Ferrer is not a paragon of originality who has changed the history of art, but something almost as good, and maybe in the end more inspirational; an artist driven by curiosity, passion and instinct who has worked flat-out for more than half a century. The parting impression of this show is that Mr. Ferrer has used everything within him and also around him to the fullest. His art is a picture of efficiency that could not have been made by anyone else. That is no small achievement."


Check out the vibrant exhibition through August 22nd, and see what else is going on at Harlem's El Museo del Barrio

Boston's MFA: Lots to See and a New Wing!

Damien Hirst

Like most major art museums, the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston is known for its presentation of art from various cultures, international locations and artists, and from an array of time periods throughout history. Additionally, through its exhibitions, programs, research and publications, MFA, Boston documents and interprets its own collections, providing information and perspectives on art through time and throughout the world. In seeking to celebrate culture, the Museum strives to stimulate visitors to feel a sense of pleasure, pride and discovery. MFA prides itself on creating a learning experience in which visitors ultimately gain a greater cultural awareness and appreciation.


From lectures and courses, to special events, studio art classes, music and film presentations and dynamic exhibitions, there's always a lot to see and do at one of Boston's most extensive art museums. In addition to the museum's impressive and comprehensive collections, there are currently more than a dozen exhibitions on display - including "Bharat Ratna!: Jewels of Modern Indian Art" (through June 6th), "The Secrets of Tomb 10A: Egypt 2000 BC" (through June 27th), "Harry Callahan: American Photographer" (through July 5th) and "Object, Image, Collector: African and Oceanic Art in Focus" (through July 18th). Even in simply viewing the titles of these exhibitions, one can see how eclectic MFA's exhibitions are, truly providing something for everyone.


Perhaps the "biggest news" from MFA, Boston, however, is its plan to open a new Art of the Americas Wing in November 2010. The new wing will transform the way visitors encounter the art of the Americas and will include everything from ancient American gold paintings to several period rooms. Over 5,000 works produced in North, Central and South America throughout the past several thousand years will be on view, and art in all media will be chronologically arranged on four floors containing 53 new galleries.




Atlanta is for Art Lovers

Damien Hirst
Because my mother grew up in Atlanta, I've always had a special place in my heart for the southern city. Visits to see my grandparents included trips to the Coca-Cola Factory and CNN Center (once I was little older), which were always fun activities, and while I've been to the High Museum of Art a couple of times, I never considered Atlanta a great "art city."


Maybe living close to New York City most of my life has jaded me because I've always felt as one of the world's art mecca's (from its world-class museums to the hundreds of Chelsea / Soho / Uptown art galleries) who needs anything else? However, as I've gotten older, broadened my views, and begun to appreciate art (and other things) more and more and in different ways, I've come to realize that there are so many interesting art museums all over the country and world (as I hope this blog has proved).

While I haven't been to Atlanta in years (which may account for some of my mis-education about the city's art scene), over the past couple of years, I have realized how truly extensive Atlanta's art scene is, and a recent article from bignews.biz proves me right. As the article states, Atlanta attracts about 37 million tourists a year (one of the highest tourist rates in the US) - and this isn't just because visitors want to see the Coca-Cola factory!

Beyond being home to many aspiring artists and art galleries, Atlanta also has some of the world's most impressive art institutes.  Check them out:

The High Museum of Art is Atlanta's best. With over 11,000 pieces of art - including artworks of silver, ornate pieces and European art, the museum is part of the Woodruff Arts Center complex. It also houses a large collection of paintings by famous American artists.

The Atlanta Institute of Arts
is part of the network of over 40 educational institutions throughout North America that offer degree, certificates, and diploma programs in all fields of art (including fashion, culinary arts, design, and media arts).

The award-winning Center for Puppetry Arts is the nation's largest museum and theater dedicated to the art form of puppetry. For over 30 years the Center has worked to serve the diverse populations of Atlanta, the state of Georgia, and the country at large. The Center reaches the community through its focus on core programming: performance, Museum and education.


The Museum of the Contemporary Art of Georgia, which is obviously dedicated to contemporary art, is FREE during regular museum hours and is a dynamic non-collecting arts institution that plays a vital role in the city's cultural landscape. The museum collects and archives significant, contemporary works by the artists of the state of Georgia. To place the artists in a global context, the museum's exhibitions include Georgia artists and artists from around the world.

See what's currently going on in Atlanta's Art Scene

Enjoy, Ya'll!


SoCal's "Lost" Art to be Displayed

Damien Hirst
The Getty Foundation is preparing for a series of exhibitions titled "Pacific Standard Time: Art in L.A. 1945 - 1980,"  which will display exhibits of once lost, disgarded or unknown art that has been found or brought to light. Beginning next fall, numerous exhibitions will take place at a variety of Southern California art museums and galleries.


Apparently, over the past few years there have been several scholarly discoveries leading to the founding of pieces from throughout California's art history (ranging from WWII to 1980). Deborah Marrow, the director of the Getty Foundation comments,

"Most people think of L.A. as a major art center beginning around 1980, but there was a lot happening here beforehand... [and a lot was in danger of being lost]. We were losing artists, losing people, losing historical records.”

This led to the idea for “Pacific Standard Time” and two rounds of financing, starting with research grants in 2008.

The grants have provided a unique opportunity for researchers and curators, as they now have the ability to dig deeper than usual and bring artworks long through lost or destroyed - or pieces that experts didn't even know existed - to light. Without the funding, they would have never had the luxury of doing such focused research and many of the works would probably remain hidden or lost.

Here's a sample of what the series will include:

"Phenomenal: California Light and Space" @ The Museum of Contemporary Art in San Diego will display a survey of art from artists like Robert Irwin and James Turrell (plus an undocumented Douglas Wheeler piece that marks the first time the artist combined neon light with a canvas).

The Pomona College Museum of Art will present an exhibition of artwork made or shown at the college from 1969 to 1973.

The Fowler Museum at UCLA's three exhibitions include one of the first Chicano murals created in LA (which was a collaboration by nearly a dozen artists that presided over the doorway to the Goez Art Gallery in East Los Angeles during the early 1970s).


The Santa Monica Museum of Art plans to exhibit diaries by legendary artist Beatrice Wood that were brought to light by Dada expert Francis Naumann.

It's almost like archaeology, art history, history and art itself have combined and that a truly enlightening series of exhibitions are going to take place. Click here to read more.
Damien Hirst
This Saturday the Chicago Cultural Center will open its exhibition "From Process to Print: Graphic Works by Romare Bearden," which includes over 75 lithographs, etchings, collagraphs, collagraph plates, screen prints, drypoints, monoprints and engravings created by the talented artist during his three decades long career.



Bearden, whose best known for his collages, often crafted and re-crafted his original images - painstakingly turning them into mesmorizing prints. The artist used various experimental techniques, sizes and colors and included various African-American cultural references and personal experiences into his bold works.


The exhibition is on display through June 27th and offers a unique opportunity for visitors to examine the artist's print making processes, learn about Bearden's collaborations with master printmakers, and understand how key themes and motifs (like trains, family life, rituals, urban scenes, jazz and mythology) allowed the artist to extend his imagination and create dynamic works in various mediums.


The Chicago Cultral Center is also exhibiting "Jon Fjortoft: Photographs" (through June 27th) and "Pride of Paper / Orgullo en Papel: Arte Papel Oaxaca and Kliff Slemmons" (through July 3rd).

Be sure to check out the venue if you're in the Chicago area.

Click here to read more.
Damien Hirst
The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston prides itself on being a "dynamic cultural complex" with an "encyclopedic collection and an exciting schedule of international load exhibitions and award-winning programs." The massive museum is one of the largest art museums in the US. Located in the heart of Texas' largest city, the MFAH includes a main campus of five buildings as well as a two-building decorative arts center.

Over 2.5 million people visit the MFAH each year, and its community outreach programs provide education and information to over 670,000 people annually. The MFAH's collections - 60,000 artworks large - contain a huge variety of art, ranging in creation date from antiquity to the present from cultures, civilizations, locations and artists around the world.


Of course, the above information can only mean one thing: there's a TON to see at the MFAH. In fact, in addition to the permanent collections, Bayou Bend Collection and Gardens and Rienzi (which serve as the MFAH house museums for American and European decorative arts, respectively), new on-loan artworks, and various ongoing community outreach and educational programs (like "Eye on Third Ward" - an acclaimed program that includes an annual photography exhibit by local high school students), the museum is currently displaying 9 exhibitions (and one online exhibition).


The one that grasps my attention is Alice Neel's "Painted Truths," on display through June 13th (at the Caroline Weiss Law Building). This show is part of "An American Season," which includes four other exhibitions of work by Maurice Prendergast, John Singer Sargent and Charles M. Russell. The series of exhibitions seeks to represent a uniquely American gathering of paintings, drawings, sculptures and other art.


Back to Alice Neel, though. Maybe it's because her paintings remind me of my grandmother, a life-long New Yorker who often recalls stories of the Great Depression and other "tough-times" through which she lived and breathed in NYC, but Neel really does capture New York at its deepest and realest. Her "Painted Truths" displays portraits that the artist created from the 1920s - 1980s, in which her deep committment to creating portraiture in order to capture physical and psychological essences of her subjects is obvious. Neel painted neighbors in her gritty Manhattan district and members of the art-world elite, as well as her lovers, friends and children. The eclectic nature of her subjects is as diverse as NYC society itself.

Neel's "Painted Truths" is the first major museum exhibition of the artist's work in ten years (and the first to present her work in Europe - as the show travels to Whitechapel Gallery in London and Moderna Museet in Malmo). Neel's lesser-known cityscapes documenting tenement life from the inside are also on display.


MFAH curator of modern and contemporary art and curator of prints and drawings, Barry Walker, recently stated:

"Because so many exhibitions have plumbed Alice Neel´s engaging bohemian life to interpret her work, we have focused on the art rather than the biography in Painted Truths, examining it from both traditional and postmodern points of view. This is, to use a politically incorrect term, a ´masterpiece show,´ tracing the evolution of the artist´s work through what are, arguably, her very best paintings."

Check out all of the MFAH's current exhibitions

See what else is going on in Houston's bustling art scene

Two of Dublin's Finest Art Museums

Damien Hirst
In honor of tomorrow's St. Patrick's Day, I'm writing about Dublin's two best (and most popular) art museums. As much as I love art (and art museums for that matter), I'm pretty sure that if I were going to be in Dublin tomorrow, I'd be more likely to frequent a few pubs, drink green beer, and participate in other holiday festivities rather than visit a museum. While this is probably true for most who are venturing to Dublin for St. Patrick's Day (and those who already live there), it's worth noting that Dublin does have some fantastic art museums (and galleries)... and perhaps, after the chaos of the notoriously rowdy holiday dies down, Dublin-ers and tourists alike may want to take advantage of Dublin's art museums.

The Irish Museum of Modern Art is Ireland's leading national institution for the collection and presentation of modern and contemporary art. The museum seeks to foster an awareness, understanding and involvement in the visual arts through innovative and inclusive policies and programs.  Currently, the museum is exhibiting five diverse shows:

Between Metaphor and Object: Art of the 90s from the IMMA Collection (through April 4th) features a range of works from the IMMA Collection - primarily sculptures and installation works from the 1990s. This is a great way to start off your visit, as it's pretty broad and will give you a good idea of what to expect throughout the rest of the museum.


What happens next is a secret (through April 18th) is an experimental exhibition that explores and  addresses the question of what happens when artworks become part of a collection and are subsequently shown in several different contexts. This exhibition is unique in that the works are being changed regularly during the course of the exhibition (with the removal of artworks generating absences which seek call to mind gaps in our memory and point to the partially hidden nature of museum collections).


 

Jorge Pardo
(through May 3rd) is the Cuban-American artist's first major solo exhibition in Ireland. Pardo uses and explores new media and the future of art within new technology in presenting an exhibition that is the forefront of today's art practices. Every aspect of this exhibition - including labels and wall texts - is incorporated into the wallpaper.


Anne Tallentire: This, and other Things 1999 - 2010 (through May 3rd) displays Irish artist Anne Tallentires most recent projects. Her works explore how the ordering and disordering of objects can signify cultural and social determinants of daily life.


Francis Alys: Le Temps du Sommeil (through May 23rd) includes creations from the Belgium artist's eclectic body of work. He works in various mediums: documentary film, photography, video, painting, and performance. His highly individual style reflects specific social and economic conditions (particularly political subjects like border disputes and economic crises)


Switching gears... Dublin's
National Gallery of Ireland houses the national collection of Irish and European fine art. It holds an impressive collection of art from the 14th to 20th centuries. Additionally, Irish painting is charted from its re-emergence in the 17th Century to Jack B. Yeats (Ireland's most important 20th century artist). The website's Picture Library consists of over 15,000 works of art from the collection. However, I advise visiting the museum to see its detailed and comprehensive collection and also to view its current exhibition:

Taking Stock (through July 25th) showcases a decade of the National Gallery's acquisitions that reflect the different areas of the collection. It includes works by Continental Masters from the mid-nineteenth to the early twentieth-century (such as van Gogh, Renoir, Caillebotte, Bonnard, Pechstein and Feininger) as well as works by the Old Masters: Cuyp, Maratti, Honthorst and Zoffany.


Happy St. Patrick's Day, Art Greetings and CHEERS!
 
 

SFMOMA Celebrates 75 Years

Damien Hirst

The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA), the West Coast’s first museum dedicated to modern and contemporary art, is currently celebrating its 75th anniversary. The museum has remained committed to its mission of exhibiting and collecting art from the foremost artists and designers of the contemporary world as well as continually expanding its range of cultural experiences, providing as many ways as possible to make art meaningful and accessible to all.

 

SFMOMA is currently exhibiting a wide array of exhibitions, and its “75 Years of Looking Forward” contains a series of exhibitions and events that illustrate the stories of the artists, collectors, cultural visionaries and community leaders responsible for founding, building and animating the museum. While the exhibitions and events included in the series all celebrate the museum’s milestone, the art of each varies in medium, artists, and size - as “The Anniversary Show,” on exhibit through January 2011, displays the SFMOMA’s evolution by presenting over 400 works from the collection, while “75 Years in the Dark: A Partial History of Film at SFMOMA" (on through April 1, 2010) explores film in the context of the history of modern visual arts.
 

 

There’s so much to do and see at the SFMOMA… it can be difficult to figure out which exhibits are really worth seeing and which can be skipped (or skimmed). Here’s some help: a recent review from the NY Times praises “The Brown Sisters” by Nicholas Nixon, claiming the exhibition captures the essence of SFMOMA’s 75th anniversary celebration.

 

The photography exhibit contains thirty-five portraits (made annually since 1975), of the artist’s wife and her three siblings standing in the same order. Nixon’s photographs fuse past and future, which uniquely parallels the ideas and themes that the museum is celebrating in its 75th year.

 
 

The review praises SFMOMA’s ability to balance the necessary elements for celebrating its major milestone (including its implementation of innovative programming, fundraising and outreach).

 

Click here to read the full NY Times article which reviews and details many of SFMOMA’s current exhibitions.

Vancouver

Damien Hirst
An exciting time for Vancouver, you'd have to be living under a rock not to know that the Canadian city is currently hosting the 2010 Winter Olympics. However, Vancouver is a dynamic city with lots of other stuff to do and see. If you're in Vancouver and need to take a break from the winter games, you should check out the Vancouver Art Gallery.

The museum is currently displaying five worth-while exhibitions, so leave the freezing arenas and snowy mountains for a few hours and go see what Vancouver's best art museum has to offer.

A little bit about the exhibitions:

Michael Lin: A Modest veil (on through May 2nd): Taiwanese artist Michael Lin is best known for his monumental installations that reconfigure and redesign public spaces. For this solo exhibition, the artist has created an enormous hand-painted mural that covers the gallery's Georgia Street facade, bringing his artwork outside the traditional confines of the venue's space (see image, left)

CUE: Artists' Videos (on through March 21st): The museum presents an exhibition of video art (from over 70 international artists) displayed on the portico of the Robson Street facade. In transforming its exterior into a freely accessible, open-air exhibition space, the Vancouver Art Gallery has allowed the public to experience and view contemporary experimental film and video in novel ways. In fitting with the international nature of the Olympic Games, over 80 titles from countries around the world have been selected and arranged into seven thematic programs (see image, below)


Visions of British Columbia: A Landscape Manual (on through April 18th): This extensive two floor survey represents the variety and richness of artistic vision in British Columbia. The exhibition highlights dominant artistic styles and themes that have recorded, communicated and molded the public's perception of BC. Many pieces come from the museum's extensive permanent collection - along with some pieces on loan from collectors and other museums. Images include landscapes, cityscapes and portraits in a variety of media that represent the diversity of BC's people, history and culture.

Leonardo da Vinci: The Mechanics of Man (on through May 2nd): Leonardo da Vinci, one of the world's most famous and greatest artists of all time, investigated the human body for a planned treatise on anatomy. The current exhibition displays a group of drawings called the "Anatomical Manuscript A," which concentrate on the structures of the body and the movements of muscles. The drawings are being shown for the first time as a complete set at the Vancouver Art Gallery and encompass thirty-four of the artist's pen and ink anatomical drawings on eighteen sheets of paper, which da Vinci created during the winter of 1510 -1511 (see image, below).


Visceral Bodies (on through May 16th): Visceral Bodies includes the work of contemporary artists who seek to investigate the human form through tracing artistic responses to scientific and medical innovations. This display is presented in conjunction with da Vinci's exhibition. The artists whose work is shown in Visceral Bodies underscore how cultural perceptions of the human body have shifted from an anatomical fact to a perpetually evolving and increasingly artificial or fragmented form. Many of the works on display comment on issues of identity, pathology and normality.

Stay Warm (and go TEAM USA!!)
 
 

The Best of NYC

Damien Hirst
There are so many museums in NYC showing interesting art and unique exhibitions. Unless you have all the time (and money) in the world, it's doubtful you'll get to everything. Take a look at 5 of the most critically acclaimed exhibitions going on now!

Gabriel Orozco at the MoMA - Orozco's extensive exhibit, on through March 1st, displays the Mexican artist's varied work (from his industrially fabricated pieces to an entire room of boldly colored abstract paintings). The exhibition examines and displays the artist's creations of the past two decades, which are layered in duality (fluidity vs. industrial strength, ethereal meaning and value vs. material certainty and strict categorization, etc).
 
Tino Sehgal at the Guggenheim - The show, on display through March 10th, is anything but ordinary. Sehgal, who has an unconventional background in dance and economics, seeks to use the museum as a choreographed forum for interpersonal scenarios.  Typical of the illusive artist, Sehgal hasn't revealed any specifics about the exhibition (there's no catalogue, documentation, objects or any specific information). He has only stated that he will be creating "two ambiances for the main space - an 'arena for spectatorship' on the ground floor of the rotunda and a scenario involving 'direct verbal interaction between museum visitors and trained participants' on the spiral ramp." Hmmmm... sounds interesting (I think).

Alias Man Ray: The Art of Reinvention at the Jewish Museum - Man Ray's heterogeneous art, which includes photographs, paintings, drawings, sculptures, films and more, will be on display at the Jewish Museum through March 14th. This first US multimedia retrospective in over twenty years contains over 200 of Man Ray's pieces and reflects an ongoing concealment of the artist's Russian-Jewish roots.

"Leopards in the Temple" at the Sculpture Center - On display through March 30th, fifteen artists show-off their diverse works in this exhibition. The artists, mostly young Europeans, include Aleana Egan, Patrick Hill, Nina Canell, Joao Maria Gusmao, Pedro Paiva, Rosalind Nashashibi, and Lucy Skaer. The pieces, which range from screen shorts to light installations, are loosely connected by Franz Kafka's allegory about leopards who break into a temple, lap up the sacrificial wine, and become part of the ceremony.

"Tim Burton" at the MoMA - The much talked-about exhibition, on through April 26th, is a retrospective containing various movie screenings, early shorts, drawings, paintings, storyboards, maquettes, puppets, production ephemera, and more. The unique exhibition definitely sheds some light onto Burton's creatively creepy movies. My advice: don't go during the weekend... the exhibition rooms are pretty small (and it was almost uncomfortably crowded on a Friday afternoon).


Read more about the exhibitions listed above by visiting Art Forum.

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