From Rattles to Rothko: Art Babes at Akron Art Museum

by Dominic Caruso, Design, Marketing and Communications Coordinator

In a recent online article (“From pacifiers to Picassos: Museums cater to a younger clientele”) for the Washington Post, contributor Vicky Hallett wrote about the growing trend for museums of all kinds to offer programming and specially-designed spaces for children as young as newborns. While some institutions have been at it for some time (the Museum of Contemporary Art Australia has been running a baby-tour program since 2007), others have created programs relatively recently, for number of different reasons. I can tell you about the reasons behind the programs for babies and their caregivers at the Akron Art Museum.

Art Babes: Cardboard Crawl at the Akron Art Museum.

Art Babes: Cardboard Crawl at the Akron Art Museum.

Beyond school tours, which bring upwards of 7000 local students into the museum galleries every year, and programs for children ages 3 through 12, the endlessly creative, skilled educators at the Akron Art Museum have hosted kids from 0 – 18 months old and their grown-ups with a fun monthly program called Art Babes since September 2014. Art Babes is fun, for babies and caregivers. There’s no doubt that the program is beneficial for moms, dads, grandparents, nannies and other caregivers. They experience a fresh adventure with their little ones at each Art Babes. Visiting a space that is exciting, with innovative things to look at and do is exciting for grown-ups and babies alike. Many visitors have shared that witnessing the carefree, unscripted experiences of their children at the museum takes them back to their own childhood, helping them to unplug from the day’s frustrations, recharge and tune in to the present with their kids.

Helen Frankenthaler-inspired Art Babes at the Akron Art Museum

Helen Frankenthaler-inspired Art Babes at the Akron Art Museum.

The program also helps to build an important community between the adults, as they come to develop friendships, a greater sense of trust and a more global approach to their everyday lives. The personal connection with each other and with the museum keeps caregivers coming back. They become a part of the museum family. Like a family relationship, Art Babes has become a collaborative effort: parents are part of the process and what they bring to the group is valued.

You may wonder what the lasting effect a museum visit could have on a baby who likely won’t remember it.  We believe that art is for everyone, even babies—maybe especially babies—given that a child’s brain doubles in size during her/his first year. All that growth is the manifest destiny of being human. The kinds of experiences that caregivers can introduce into the course of that growth help to create their child’s means of processing information later on—the way that they, like all humans, creatively interact with the world. While they may not have a specific memory of Art Babes, babies are still building vital skills that will serve them later on.

Art Babes at the Akron Art Museum

Art Babes at the Akron Art Museum

Art Babes presents experiences for babies that engage a full range of sensory activities, including visually stimulating play with colors and shapes, as well as tactile play, sounds, tastes, even scents. It’s a welcoming environment for a unique learning (and bonding) experience between babies and their grown-ups.

Art Babes

Art Babes: Cardboard Crawl at the Akron Art Museum.

Art Babes is a component of several programs, which we refer to as Live Creative, for kids and families at the museum. These include: Tots Create, for 2 – 3 year-olds; Art Tales, for all ages; Creative Playdates, for 0 – 5 year olds; Kids Studio Classes, for 7 – 12 year olds; and Family Days. In the time that we’ve used Live Creative to refer to programming, we discovered that it grew beyond its use as a title or label. It became a reason for why we do what we do at the museum. To be human is to be creative, regardless of whether you are an artist, an auto mechanic, an accountant, or a months-old newborn. Art can help you to enhance the way you creatively interact with your world to live a more fulfilled life.

Live Creative at the Akron Art Museum.

Live Creative at the Akron Art Museum.

Check out upcoming programs, like Art Babes, for children and families at the Akron Art Museum.

Great Moments in Art & Ale

by Theresa Bembnister, Associate Curator

In anticipation of this Friday’s Art & Ale (get your tickets here), I’ve assembled this list of three instances where beer inspired artists to create remarkable works of art.

Jasper Johns, Painted Bronze/Ale Cans, 1960, oil on bronze, Museum Ludwig, Cologne

Jasper Johns, Painted Bronze/Ale Cans, 1960, oil on bronze, Museum Ludwig, Cologne

Jasper Johns casts beer cans in bronze to spite fellow artist
Title: Painted Bronze/Ale Cans
Medium: Oil on bronze
Year: 1960

According to the now legendary story, Willem de Kooning, a painter known for his large-scale, gestural canvases, badmouthed gallerist Leo Castelli, exclaiming the “son-of-a-bitch” could sell two beer cans as art. When word reached Jasper Johns, an artist represented by Castelli’s gallery, he cast two Ballantine Ale cans in bronze. Castelli sold them. Johns’ sculptural wisecrack now resides in the collection of the Museum Ludwig in Cologne, Germany. Works like Painted Bronze/Ale Cans, in which Johns depicted everyday objects, helped usher in the transition from Abstract Expressionism, a dominant style of the 1950s which focused on monumentally scaled works reflecting artist’s psyches, to Pop Art, a movement in which artists looked to imagery from popular culture as sources of inspiration.

Tom Marioni, The Act of Drinking Beer with Friends Is the Highest Form of Art, 1970 – 2008, 1979 installation view at SFMOMA; © 2008 Tom Marioni; photo: Paul Hoffman

Tom Marioni, The Act of Drinking Beer with Friends Is the Highest Form of Art, 1970 – 2008, 1979 installation view at SFMOMA; © 2008 Tom Marioni; photo: Paul Hoffman

Tom Marioni drinks beer with friends, leaves the cans behind, calls it sculpture
Title: The Act of Drinking Beer With Friends is the Highest Form of Art
Medium: Beer, friends
Year: 1970-current

Curator George Neubert brought the beer and artist Tom Marioni brought the party for this after-hours artwork in the empty galleries of the Oakland Art Museum. Sixteen of the artist’s friends joined him for beer and conversation, leaving the empty bottles behind to serve as a record of the gathering. This project continued as a regular series of private social events on Wednesday evenings in Marioni’s San Francisco studio, which the artist hosted to help foster community in the local art scene. Marioni enacts a version of The Act of Drinking Beer… in museums today, although it’s evolved to include an artist-designed bar, fridge and shelves of beer. A pioneer of participatory art, a type of practice in which an artist conceives of a situation creating social engagement, Marioni helped pave the way for artists like Eric Steen, whose Beers Made By Walking is next on this list.

Homebrewers enjoy beer and conversation during the first Beers Made By Walking tasting session. Image courtesy of www.ericmsteen.com.

Homebrewers enjoy beer and conversation during the first Beers Made By Walking tasting session. Image courtesy of http://www.ericmsteen.com.

Eric Steen turns hikes into inspiration for tasty brews
Title: Beers Made By Walking
Medium: Beer
Year: 2011-current

In 2011, artist and beer aficionado Eric Steen invited homebrewers and naturalists to accompany him on a series of seven hikes around the Pikes Peak region of Colorado. His guests identified edible plants they used to flavor eight specially formulated beers which were then brewed at a local commercial brewery and sold at pubs in Colorado Springs. Steen considers the beers portraits of the hikes. Like Tom Marioni before him, he is interested in the ways in which beer brings people together, and as demonstrated by Beers Made By Walking, the ways in which the beverage might connect its drinkers to the landscape around them. The project continues to this day and has expanded to include such major breweries as Deschutes and New Belgium.

NEO Geo Studio Visits

By Theresa Bembnister, Associate Curator

If philosopher Alan Watts is right, and museums are the places art goes to die, then the artist’s studio must surely be the birthplace of a work of art.

For the record: I disagree with Watts. But I do relish the opportunity to see art in its native studio environment, before it’s displayed on the museum’s pristine walls. The context of an artist’s workspace offers clues as to how or why a particular artwork was made.

Studio visits made up a large part of the efforts required to organize NEO Geo. After scoping out an artist’s website, I would set up a studio visit to observe the work and ask questions. Not only did these observations and conversations guide my selections of works to include in the exhibition, but they were integral to gathering key information I could then convey to museum visitors through labels, tours, the brochure and this blog post.

NEO Geo artist Erik Neff

Pastel drawings on display in Erik Neff’s studio.

Pastel drawings on display in Erik Neff’s studio.

I visited Erik Neff’s studio in Newbury in rural Geauga County in early April and mid-May of last year. A prolific artist, Neff creates pastel drawings on paper in addition to the oil paintings and wooden sculptures selected for NEO Geo.

Small paintings stored in a flat file in Erik Neff’s studio.

Small paintings stored in a flat file in Erik Neff’s studio.

Neff’s studio serves a dual role of a place to make and store artwork. His flat file drawer holds examples of the modestly scaled paintings the artist made when his children were younger. Now that they spend their days at school, Neff has more time to devote to larger canvases like the ones you see in NEO Geo.

Erik Neff’s paintings in their natural habitat.

Erik Neff’s paintings in their natural habitat.

During my visits, Neff displayed his larger and mid-sized canvases propped up on aluminum cans, leaning against the wall. Neff’s painting Between, which is included in NEO Geo, is on the right of this photograph; the edge of Breakwater is barely visible on the far right.

The studio mascots in the studio.

The studio mascots in the studio.

Neff places his small wooden sculptures, or studio mascots, as he likes to call them, on a wooden bench. Here you see a set of Neff’s pastels in the background, and the wooden stove that heats his studio is visible on the far right. The wooden blocks Neff uses to construct his sculptures would have ended up in the stove if they hadn’t had a visual appeal to the artist, who sets them near his palette and brushes paint on their surfaces from time to time.

NEO Geo artist Paul O’Keeffe

I visited Paul O’Keeffe’s studio, which was specifically designed and constructed for the backyard of his Cleveland Heights home, in mid-March and late June of last year. A beautiful natural light fills his workspace.

Paul O’Keeffe’s stash of acrylic.

Paul O’Keeffe’s stash of acrylic.

O’Keeffe purchases colored acrylic pieces that are rejects from improperly cut commercial orders. He layers the translucent sheets atop one another, creating new hues in the process.

The early stage of a distant silence XXX and XXI.

The early stage of a distant silence XXX and XXI.

When I visited O’Keeffe in June, he had begun work on his two newest sculptures in the exhibition, a distant silence XXX and XXXI. You can see the skeletons of those two works, which were constructed in part with materials from a botched job for a Victoria’s Secret store.

O’Keeffe’s method of combining individual components comes from an example set by sculptor David Smith. “Years ago, as a student, I came across photos of him laying out individual found metal elements on the floor prior to welding (and also composing with cardboard). My acrylic pieces are generated in a similar fashion although the sensibility is considerably different.”

NEO Geo artist Janice Lessman-Moss

I first visited Janice Lessman-Moss’ Kent studio in mid-March of last year, with a follow up visit at the end of May.

Sketches pinned to the wall in Janice Lessman-Moss’ studio.

Sketches pinned to the wall in Janice Lessman-Moss’ studio.

Pinned to the wall above her flat file are print-outs of digital sketches for the artist’s Random Walk series. The random walk theory, which is used to explain the unpredictability of the stock market’s rise and fall, serves as inspiration for the patterns that appear in works in this series, which Lessman-Moss weaves on a digital jacquard loom in her studio. None of the Random Walk weavings are on display in NEO Geo, but the work visible on the right in the above photograph, #420, is part of the series of tapestries created at the same industrial mill in North Carolina where the textiles in NEO Geo were woven.

Janice Lessman-Moss’ “crayon box.”

Janice Lessman-Moss’ “crayon box.”

On the opposite wall hangs what Lessman-Moss refers to as her “crayon box,” a tapestry that doubles as a palette for the colors the artist creates by instructing the industrial digital loom to weave threads in a particular order. She set up a corresponding digital palette in Photoshop, the program she uses to create her designs before transferring them into files for the digital loom using software called Pointcarre.

Janice Lessman-Moss sharing the "crayon-box" during her talk at the NEO Geo opening reception. Photo: Shane Wynn.

Janice Lessman-Moss sharing the “crayon box” during her talk at the NEO Geo opening reception. Photo: Shane Wynn.

Each of the many, many colors featured in the complex designs of the weavings on display in NEO Geo corresponds to a square on the crayon box. This tool, which hangs on the wall directly above the desk where the artist sits to design her tapestries, provides valuable insight into the work’s creation—insights best obtained through visits to the artist’s studio, the birthplace of the works of art.

Find out more about NEO Geo, on view at the Akron Art Museum through April 24, 2016. • View the NEO Geo exhibition catalog online.

Art in New York City, Part 2

by Janice Driesbach, Chief Curator

As with other members of our curatorial department, I regularly visit galleries and museums, attend artist talks, and meet with collectors, both as part of my job and pursuing my personal interests. In that regard, I spent several days in New York City in October to see some of the many exciting exhibitions on view at galleries and museums (including ones featuring a number of northeast Ohio artists) and to work on Intersections: Artists Master Line and Space, an exhibition I am organizing that will be on view at the museum in fall 2016. If you missed Part 1 of this post, you can find it here. 

Dana Schutz, Fight in an Elevator 2, 2015, Oil on canvas, 96 x 90 inches

Dana Schutz, Fight in an Elevator 2, 2015, Oil on canvas, 96 x 90 in.

By Saturday morning I realized I had pretty much only made my way through four or five blocks of Chelsea in several visits. So, I took another subway downtown, this time starting at 18th Street, where CIA grad Dana Schutz was exhibiting paintings and drawings in an exhibition titled Elevator Brawls and Basketball Trolls.

Dana Schutz, Lion and Tamer, 2015, Charcoal on paper, 44 x 30 inches

Dana Schutz, Lion and Tamer, 2015, Charcoal on paper, 44 x 30 in.

Wandering on, I perused Wolfgang Tillmans’s expansive installation, and a mini-retrospective for Squeak Carnwath, whose work I admired as a curator in Northern California.

Wolfgang Tillmans, PCR (installation detail), 2015

Wolfgang Tillmans, PCR (installation detail), 2015

 

Squeak Carnwath, Beautiful Ugly, 2008, Oil and alkyd on canvas over panel, 90 x 80 in

Squeak Carnwath, Beautiful Ugly, 2008, Oil and alkyd on canvas over panel, 90 x 80 in.

 

Rachel Rossin, Roses Re-topo, 2015, Oil on canvas, 52 x 37 in.

Rachel Rossin, Roses Re-topo, 2015, Oil on canvas, 52 x 37 in.

I also appreciated an introduction to Rachel Rossin’s work. Her painting exhibition was one of two I encountered this trip that was accompanied by a virtual reality component. Other exhibitions of interest included those featuring Ivan Morley (again new to me) and Louise Fishman, whose painting I have long respected.

 

Louise Fishman, IT IS GOOD TO KNOW CERTAIN THINGS, 2015, oil on linen, 70 x 88 in.

Louise Fishman, IT IS GOOD TO KNOW CERTAIN THINGS, 2015, oil on linen, 70 x 88 in.

From Chelsea, I made my way to Long Island City, encountering adventures with weekend subways running on other tracks or not at all. My impetus was a gallery exhibition featuring the human figure, which proved quite nice, and the sprawling Greater New York installation at MOMA PS1. It was surprising that PS1 included both new and older work, including interesting pieces by Lorna Simpson (an artist whose work is in the Akron Art Museum collection).

Lorna Simpson, on view in Greater New York, through March 7, 2016

Lorna Simpson, on view in Greater New York (MOMA PS1), through March 7, 2016

 

Donald Moffett, on view in Greater New York (MOMA PS1), through March 7, 2016

Donald Moffett, on view in Greater New York (MOMA PS1), through March 7, 2016

 

Lutz Bacher, Donald Moffett, on view in Greater New York (MOMA PS1), through March 7, 2016

Lutz Bacher, on view in Greater New York (MOMA PS1), through March 7, 2016

Another train took us close to the Brooklyn Academy of Music to spend a delightful evening experiencing a new opera/performance, Refuse the Hour, with the libretto by the amazing South African artist William Kentridge, also one of the featured performers.

Sunday mornings can be surprisingly quiet in Manhattan. At least that was my experience walking through Teresita Fernandez’s installation of reflective clouds in Madison Square Park.

Teresita Fernández, Fata Morgana, Madison Square Park public commission, on view through winter of 2016

Teresita Fernández, Fata Morgana, Madison Square Park public commission, on view through winter of 2016

From there I went to see an exhibition of Martin Puryear drawings at the Morgan Library.

Martin Puryear: Multiple Dimensions, on view through January 10, 2016

Martin Puryear: Multiple Dimensions, on view through January 10, 2016

I also ventured to the Ukrainian Museum to see an exhibition featuring Ukrainian women of the diaspora that included work by two friends from Troy, Ohio, Aka Pereyma (pictured, recently deceased) and her daughter Christina.

Aka Pereyma, featured in The Ukrainian Diaspora: Women Artists 1908–2015, Through February 14, 2016 at the Ukrainian Museum

Aka Pereyma, featured in The Ukrainian Diaspora: Women Artists 1908–2015, Through February 14, 2016 at the Ukrainian Museum

 

Christina Pereyma, featured in The Ukrainian Diaspora: Women Artists 1908–2015, Through February 14, 2016 at the Ukrainian Museum

Christina Pereyma, featured in The Ukrainian Diaspora: Women Artists 1908–2015, Through February 14, 2016 at the Ukrainian Museum

The Ukrainian Museum proved to be walking distance from the New Museum, where I rushed through a massive Jim Shaw retrospective (1st photo) as I was in transit to what has become my favorite Sunday afternoon activity: visiting galleries that have sprung up and are continuing to populate New York’s Lower East Side. New venues are arriving and others are moving at a pace that defies even my organizational skills, so I rely on maps, updating gallery locations each season. I particularly enjoyed my introduction to bitforms, a gallery whose roster includes artists engaged with technology, many exploring interactive art forms. You can find my subtle selfie in Rafael Lozano-Hemmer’s Dissipate, in which letters from the accompanying text begin moving upward to occupy the space cast by the viewer’s shadow.

Jim Shaw, Labyrinth: I Dreamt I was Taller than Jonathan Borofsky, 2009. Installation; acrylic on muslin canvas stretched over plywood panels, dimensions variable, on view at the New Museum through January 10, 2016.

Jim Shaw, Labyrinth: I Dreamt I was Taller than Jonathan Borofsky, 2009. Installation; acrylic on muslin canvas stretched over plywood panels, dimensions variable, on view at the New Museum through January 10, 2016.

 

Rafael Lozano-Hemmer, (Dissipate) Airborne 6: Thermodynamics of Irreversible Processes, 2015, flat screen, Kinect, computer, custom-made software, 85 in. screen, dimensions variable

Rafael Lozano-Hemmer, (Dissipate) Airborne 6: Thermodynamics of Irreversible Processes, 2015, flat screen, Kinect, computer, custom-made software, 85 in. screen, dimensions variable

Zach Harris was another artist whose work drew my attention as I proceeded through densely-packed streets.

Zach Harris, Linen Last Judgment, 2014-2015, water based paint, ink, linen, wood, 72 x 54 1/2 x 7/8 inches

Zach Harris, Linen Last Judgment, 2014-2015, water based paint, ink, linen, wood, 72 x 54 1/2 x 7/8 in.

 

Karen Kunc, (below) Vastness 2014-15 bookwork: woodcut, letterpress, collagraph 5.25" x 4.25" folded, 5.25" x 37" open

Karen Kunc, (below) Vastness 2014-15 bookwork: woodcut, letterpress, collagraph 5.25  x 4.25 in. folded, 5.25  x 37 in. open

The end of the day on Sunday found me looking at work by two artist friends—printmaker Karen Kunc from Lincoln, Nebraska, who has work on view at Central Booking and Akron artist Tony Mastromatteo, whose mural covers a wall of the restaurant Elan, on East 20th Street.

Anthony Mastromatteo, mural

Anthony Mastromatteo, mural, Elan, East 20th Street, NY

Monday morning found me at John Newman’s studio downtown, talking with the artist and looking at exciting new work he has been creating following his residency in Marfa last summer. He is one of the artists I am featuring in Intersections, so it was key to see his newest sculptures as I am in the process of finalizing my checklist. And John’s comments during our extended conversation provided me with additional insights on the ideas and techniques he is presently pursuing.

view of John Newman's studio by Janice Driesbach (October 2015)

view of John Newman’s studio by Janice Driesbach (October 2015)

 

view of John Newman's studio by Janice Driesbach (October 2015)

view of John Newman’s studio by Janice Driesbach (October 2015)

 

view of John Newman's studio by Janice Driesbach (October 2015)

view of John Newman’s studio by Janice Driesbach (October 2015)

I finished up in time to savor a couple of hours at the Museum of Modern Art, where I spent time in an impressive Picasso sculpture exhibition. I also enjoyed the work in a thematic exhibition from MoMA’s stellar collection that included Robert Rauschenberg’s Canyon, as well as wonderful examples by Jasper Johns, Dan Flavin, Yayoi Kusama and others.

Pablo Picasso, Head of a Woman, 1929-30

Pablo Picasso, Head of a Woman, 1929-30

 

Pablo Picasso, Bust of a Woman, 1930-32

Pablo Picasso, Bust of a Woman, 1930-32

 

Robert Rauschenberg, Canyon, 1959, Oil, pencil, paper, metal, photograph, fabric, wood, canvas, buttons, mirror, taxidermied eagle, cardboard, pillow, paint tube and other materials

Robert Rauschenberg, Canyon, 1959, Oil, pencil, paper, metal, photograph, fabric, wood, canvas, buttons, mirror, taxidermied eagle, cardboard, pillow, paint tube and other materials

Art in New York City, Part 1

by Janice Driesbach, Chief Curator

Given the Akron Art Museum’s commitment to modern and contemporary art, featuring the work of artists from our region and working internationally in our collections and exhibitions, taking advantage of opportunities to see artwork firsthand (so important) nearby and beyond is an important activity for me.  As with other members of our curatorial department, I regularly visit galleries and museums, attend artist talks, and meet with collectors, both as part of my job and pursuing my personal interests. In that regard, I spent several days in New York City in October to see some of the many exciting exhibitions on view at galleries and museums (including ones featuring a number of northeast Ohio artists) and to work on Intersections: Artists Master Line and Space, an exhibition I am organizing that will be on view at the museum in fall 2016.

My trip began with immersion in current New York geometric abstraction in the Stanley Whitney exhibition at the Studio Museum in Harlem featuring luminous oil paintings and watercolors.

Stanley Whitney, Dance the Orange

Stanley Whitney, Dance the Orange

Then I made a trip down to Chelsea. First stop: UA Professor Matt Kolodziej’s excellent installation at The Painting Center. [Read the exhibition catalog to Matthew Kolodziej: Lost on a Straight Line, which includes an interview with Janice Driesbach.]

Matthew Kolodziej, Lost on a Straight Line

Matthew Kolodziej, Lost on a Straight Line

I enjoyed encounters with works by artists from the Beauty Reigns exhibition the museum hosted earlier this year, Paul Henry Ramirez exhibiting beautiful individual paintings at Ryan Lee and Nancy Lorenz having an opening at Morgan Lehman.

Paul Henry Ramirez, Eccentric Stimuli 10

Paul Henry Ramirez, Eccentric Stimuli 10

Nancy’s many works, all from this year,  are responses to drawings she made of each element in the periodic table when she had a Guggenheim Fellowship some time ago. Gallerist Sally Morgan shared that the installation of work in many media was arranged by type of elements, e.g., halogens and metalloids. Platinum is pictured below.

Nancy Lorenz, Platinum

Nancy Lorenz, Platinum

 

Nancy Lorenz Elements opening at Morgan Lehman Gallery

Nancy Lorenz Elements opening at Morgan Lehman Gallery

Numerous Thursday evening gallery receptions included one for Sheila Hicks, an amazing textile artist who studied with Joseph Albers long ago and, inspired by him, spent significant time as a young artist in Peru and Mexico, areas of the world that personally fascinate me.

Sheila Hicks, Hangzou Sunday, 2015

Sheila Hicks, Hangzou Sunday, 2015

 

Sheila Hicks, 2015

Sheila Hicks, 2015

On Friday morning I set out to visit galleries, armed with a list ordered by address that I have been compiling for some time. I continue to update the list based on previous experience, postcard and digital announcements that I receive, art magazine advertisements, internet and blog reviews and recommendations from friends and colleagues.

I decided to focus around 57th Street this morning, starting with another exhibition of work by Sheila Hicks, this time small textiles, on East 60th Street.

Sheila Hicks, Sivad Needle, 2015

Sheila Hicks, Sivad Needle, 2015

On way to the galleries clustered around Fifth Avenue I spied a wonderful El Anatsui in the lobby at the Bloomberg headquarters.

El Anatsui, Bloomberg Building, New York City

El Anatsui, Bloomberg Building, New York City

Intrigued by the beautiful work by the artist the Akron Art Museum has so prominently featured, I stepped in to view the composition more closely, discovering an impressive Ursula van Rydingsvard sculpture nearby.

Ursula van Rydingsvard, Bloomberg Building, New York City

Ursula van Rydingsvard, Bloomberg Building, New York City

Highlights on/near 57th Street included Lee Friedlander photographs alongside drawings by French painter Pierre Bonnard. I couldn’t help recalling that a critic had compared the complicated compositions in Friedlander’s Factory Landscape photographs in the Akron Art Museum collection to Jackson Pollock paintings.

Lee Friedlander, Arizona, 1999

Lee Friedlander, Arizona, 1999

That analogy seemed even more apt for the Arizona and Utah landscapes that were featured.

Andrew Masullo’s colorful paintings a few blocks away also captured my attention . . .

Andrew Massulo, 6052, 2014-15

Andrew Massulo, 6052, 2014-15

 

Andrew Massulo Recent Paintings, Tibor de Nagy Gallery through December 5, 2015

Andrew Massulo Recent Paintings, Tibor de Nagy Gallery through December 5, 2015

Rineke Dijkstra‘s three-channel video was as beautiful as the poses assumed by young students at the St. Petersburg Gymnastics School astonished.

Rineke Dijkstra, The Gymschool, St. Petersburg, 2014

Rineke Dijkstra, The Gymschool, St. Petersburg, 2014

After lunch, I made my way back to Chelsea, where I saw a two-channel video in Trevor Paglan’s exhibition addressing surveillance. The video is at once very beautiful and disturbing, a balance that I find intriguing.

Trevor Paglen, 2015

Trevor Paglen, 2015

I had meetings at two galleries regarding Intersections. Both were productive. and afterward I explored other exhibitions as time permitted. Among the highlights was work by Beatriz Milhazes (another artist in the Beauty Reigns exhibition), early Anne Truitt drawings and Ron Nagle ceramics.

Beatriz Milhazes, Maracujola, 2015

Beatriz Milhazes, Maracujola, 2015

 

Check back next week for Part 2 of Janice Driesbach’s New York trip.

 

 

Making Connections with Inside|Out

by Roza Maille, Inside|Out Coordinator

One of the most exciting things about working on the Akron Art Museum’s Inside|Out project is making connections between the art and the locations where it is installed. This fall we installed 30 high-quality reproductions of iconic works of art from our collection in outdoor spaces in Highland Square & West Hill, Cuyahoga Falls, and on The University of Akron’s campus and in parts of University Park.

One of my favorite (and rather direct) connections we made is the reproduction of Perkins Mansion by William L. Hawkins at the actual Perkins Stone Mansion in West Hill, home of the Summit County Historical Society. Hawkins was inspired to paint this work of art because of a postcard sent to him by one of the Akron Art Museum’s former docents in the 1980s. Using bright colors and broad, flat brushstrokes, Hawkins created an expressive representation of Akron’s historical and architectural landmark. While the building appears to be aflame, Hawkins’ turbulent sky is rather a result of his desire to explore color and reflects the nature of the thick enamel paint he used.

Inside|Out reproduction of William L. Hawkins painting Perkins Mansion installed at Perkins Stone Mansion.

Inside|Out reproduction of William L. Hawkins’ painting Perkins Mansion installed at Perkins Stone Mansion.

On September 19, I had the chance to make connections to another artwork installed at the Thirsty Dog Brewing Co. by participating in the Crafty Mart Pop Up Market that was taking place at the brewery. Arrangement with Billboard by Harvey R. Griffiths is installed at the brewery entrance, so I wanted to provide an art activity inspired by this wonderful watercolor.

I chose this artwork for Thirsty Dog because of the large billboard reading, “Buy Ohio Apples.” Griffiths was commenting on the shrinking rural areas around Akron and also the importance of supporting local agriculture. It’s evidenced by the success of both Thirsty Dog and Crafty Mart that Akronites definitely love supporting local. Speaking of local, this artwork also happens to be narrated by local author David Giffels in our Inside|Out Tour App.

Inside|Out reproduction of Harvey R. Griffith's painting, Arrangement with Billboard installed at Thirsty Dog Brewing Company.

Inside|Out reproduction of Harvey R. Griffith’s painting, Arrangement with Billboard installed at Thirsty Dog Brewing Company.

Arrangement with Billboard was a perfect match for one of our local breweries. In addition, Crafty Mart supports hundreds of artists and makers who live in the area by giving them a venue in which to showcase and sell their products. Inspired by the artwork and the local artisans, I came up with an art activity that would encompass these ideas and take inspiration from the artwork.

Art activity table set up at Crafty Mart’s Pop Up Shop at Thirsty Dog Brewing Co.

Art activity table set up at Crafty Mart’s Pop Up Shop at Thirsty Dog Brewing Co.

Visitors had the chance to create printed designs for a greeting card, a paper shopping bag, or just experiment with paper using various printing techniques. Participants were able to use rubber stamps, hand-made Ohio stamps, and even apples to make their prints.

Colorful apples used for printing.

Colorful apples used for printing.

Greeting card made by a young artist by printing with bubble wrap and an apple.

Greeting card made by a young artist by printing with bubble wrap and an apple.

We also experimented with monoprinting on a gel printing block. This technique (which produces a monotype) is a great way to create a unique print while using drawing, painting, and printmaking techniques without a printing press. Monoprinting creates unique works of art that cannot be replicated, unlike other traditional methods of printmaking. For this activity, we used a brayer to spread the paint on the block and then used different objects to make marks and patterns in the paint. Once the paint was just right, we pressed a piece of paper over the block, making sure to rub over the whole design so everything transferred to the paper.

Gel printing block and mark-making tools for monoprinting.

Gel printing block and mark-making tools for monoprinting.

Monoprint made by a young artist at Crafty Mart.

Monotype made by a young artist at Crafty Mart.

Kids and adults had a great time creating their prints and learning more about Inside|Out. Events like these activate the artwork in the neighborhoods and inspire creativity among residents. The next Crafty Mart will take place on Nov. 28 and 29, 2015 at Musica, Summit Artspace, and the Akron Art Museum. Additionally, Summit Artspace will host one last trolley tour of Inside|Out art installations in Highland Square as part of the Trolley Tour for the Full Circle Exhibition at Summit Artspace. Pick up the trolley at Summit Artspace, then head to Highland Square for a tour of the Inside|Out works from the Akron Art Museum and end at Harris-Stanton Gallery in Pilgrim Square (W. Market & Sand Run)! Free, but you must make a reservation. The Full Circle Exhibit runs Oct. 16-Nov. 22, 2015 at Summit Artspace in collaboration with Harris-Stanton Gallery. To learn more about the Full Circle exhibit go to: http://summitartspace.org/galleries/summit-artspace-gallery/

Do you want your neighborhood or city to be a part of Inside|Out in 2016? The Akron Art Museum is currently seeking city representatives, downtown development authorities, and arts organizations from communities interested in being a part of the museum’s popular Inside|Out program to submit an application for 2016! Interested communities are asked to submit an application by Oct. 31. An application does not guarantee a place in next year’s schedule but will help the museum determine locations for 2016. Please fill out an application online or contact Roza Maille, Inside|Out Project Coordinator at rMaille@akronartmuseum.org for more information.

Choice: Contemporary Art from the Akron Art Museum at Transformer Station

By Janice Driesbach, Chief Curator

Presenting selections from the museum’s collection in Choice at the Transformer Station on Cleveland’s West Side has been great fun. Having experienced how artworks engage in different conversations when they are placed differently even within our own galleries, it has been a delight to see how they appear and relate to each other in Transformer’s combined historic and contemporary buildings.

Photo: Courtesy of Transformer Station.

Installation view: El Anatsui, Dzesi II and Matthew Kolodziej, Good Neighbors, both collection of the Akron Art Museum. Photo: Courtesy of Transformer Station.

Matthew Kolodziej’s Good Neighbors and David Salle’s Poverty Is No Disgrace sing on the walls of the main gallery. These large canvases flank El Anatsui’s Dzesi II, a signature example of the Akron Art Museum’s prescience in collecting artists relatively early in their careers. It has been wonderful to observe how this glittering construction composed of aluminum liquor bottle caps and copper wire has captivated Transformer station volunteers, Cleveland arts leaders and members of our museums at recent events.

Anthony Caro, Veduggio Wash and

Anthony Caro, Veduggio Wash, Hiroshi Sugimoto (8 seascapes), Adam Fuss, From the series My Ghost [large smoke]. All: Collection of the Akron Art Museum. Photo: Courtesy of Transformer Station.

I am also very pleased that Fred Bidwell and I decided to feature works in black and white in the historic  building. Anthony Caro’s Veduggio Wash, composed from scrap metal the artist encountered while working at a factory in Italy, looks at home on the rough floor not far from the massive horizontal crane that also occupies the space. Lee Bontecou’s untitled sculpture, also assembled using discarded industrial materials, complements impressive large-scale images by Adam Fuss, Daido Moriyama and Lorna Simpson, which speak to the prominence of photography in the museum’s collection. The opportunity to cluster our eight Hiroshi Sugimoto views of seas allows for an appreciation for the vastness and subtleties of the subject, one that has occupied the artist for more than three decades.

Photo: Shane Wynn.

Installation view: Julian Stanczak, Dual Glare (background), George Segal, Girl Sitting Against a Wall II. Both: Collection of the Akron Art Museum. Photo: Shane Wynn.

In working on Choice and related programs, including a tour I am giving of our contemporary collection in Akron (October 11) and a panel I am moderating on our collection at Transformer Station (November 7), I have renewed appreciation for how the artwork that informs our decisions today was assembled, an accomplishment that reflects the sensibility of our community as well as the contributions of visionary directors and curators. The purchases of Julian Stanczak’s Dual Glare from the exhibition we organized in 1970 and El Anatsui’s Dzesi II prior to the acclaim the artist has received were prescient acquisitions that reflect the museum’s commitment to contemporary artists working nearby and afar. I have been reminded that George Segal’s Girl Sitting Against a Wall II came into the collection along with Andy Warhol’s Single Elvis and our outstanding early Donald Judd sculpture (both on view at home in Akron) in 1972, confirming the museum’s longstanding commitment to contemporary art.

Helen Frankenthaler, Wisdom, 1969, acrylic on canvas, 94 in. x 112 in. Collection of the Akron Art Museum. Gift of the Mary S. and Louis S. Myers Family Collection in honor of Mrs. Galen Roush.

Helen Frankenthaler, Wisdom, 1969, acrylic on canvas, 94 in. x 112 in. Collection of the Akron Art Museum. Gift of the Mary S. and Louis S. Myers Family Collection in honor of Mrs. Galen Roush.

Tony Feher (Albuquerque, New Mexico, 1956 - ) Untitled, 2013 Glass bottles with aluminum screw caps, water, and food dye on painted wood shelf with metal brackets 12 3/4  x 144  x 3 1/2 in. (32.39  x 365.76  x 8.89 cm) The Mary S. and Louis S. Myers Endowment Fund for Painting and Sculpture

Tony Feher, Untitled, 2013, glass bottles with aluminum screw caps, water, and food dye on painted wood shelf with metal brackets. 12 3/4 x 144 x 3 1/2 in. Collection of the Akron Art Musseum. The Mary S. and Louis S. Myers Endowment Fund for Painting and Sculpture.

The most surprising question I have been receiving, to me at least, is that if the Akron Art Museum has highlights at Transformer Station, what do we have on view in Akron? Briefly, highlights are filling the galleries dedicated to our collection.  Paintings by Helen Frankenthaler and Morris Louis welcome visitors when they arrive.  In addition to the Andy Warhol and Donald Judd mentioned above, longtime favorite paintings, including Chuck Close’s Linda and our amazing Philip Guston Opened Box are joined by new acquisitions, including an untitled Tony Feher and Yinka Shonibare’s Gentleman Walking a Tightrope. Louise Nevelson’s Fugue, also an impressive relief sculpture, occupies the spot vacated by the Lee Bontecou. All to say, there is outstanding Akron Art Museum artwork on view on the West Side of Cleveland and in Akron. Magnificent art in both locales provides all the more reason to plan outings in Cleveland and in Akron this fall.