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.

Visual Artists Direct Music Videos

By Elizabeth Carney, Assistant Curator

Music videos offer an incredible opportunity for pop culture and visual art to collide. Artists who we would typically see represented in museums or galleries often collaborate with musicians, lending their aesthetic as visual interpretation for their songs.

Besides often being quite fun, these crossover collaborations offer insights into the connections artists see between their work and music others are creating. And, as viewers, we get to see those connections and original interpretations. This is part of why I like Sam Taylor-Wood’s video for Elton John’s song “I Want Love,” and decided to include it in Staged, a photography/video exhibition on view at the Akron Art Museum through September 27.

First of all, the musician: Elton John. The song has all the makings for a good pop tune—drama, melodrama, sadness, angst, regret, self-deprecation, bared emotions, desire—and is tightly laced with the singer’s huge celebrity.

Next, the director: Sam Taylor-Wood (aka Sam Taylor-Johnson). Known for photograph and video work, Taylor-Wood has exhibited her art in at several museums. London’s National Portrait Gallery commissioned her portrait of David Beckham, a video in which the football star is depicted sleeping. John approached her for “I Want Love,” and she knew the video should be a single shot of someone (but not Elton) lip-syncing the words to the song.

Last but not least, the talent: Robert Downey, Jr. Elton John thought of Downey for this role, but wondered whether the actor would take the job. Downey had struggled for many years with drug addiction, and his wife had just left him and taken their son. John wondered if the song would hit too close to home, with lyrics such as “I want love, but it’s impossible / A man like me, so irresponsible / A man like me is dead in places / Other men feel liberated.” But Downey accepted.

A few more examples of music videos directed by primarily visual artists:

1. Yoshitomo Nara: “Banana Chips” by Shonen Knife

Shonen Knife is an all-women Japanese punk-pop band formed in the 1980s (“Shonen” translates to “boy,” by the way; “Boy Knife”). The song is so simple and fun, it makes me smile on its own, but the video makes me love it.

Yoshitomo Nara is an artist I’ve known for a long time. Also Japanese, he draws, paints and sculpts anime-like figures that are adorable at the same time they seem to be drowning in their own ennui. Hugely influenced by music, he’s a fan of the band. He designed the cover of their 1998 album Happy Hour and also created a 3D animated video for “Banana Chips.”

Not enough animated punk pop for you? Shonen Knife covered “Daydream Believer” by the Monkees—and Nara made the video.

2. Takashi Murakami: “Good Morning” by Kanye West

Mentioning Nara tends to bring up Murakami, another well-known contemporary Japanese artist whose work is infused with anime culture. Murakami collaborated with Kanye West to create this animated video. It is rather fun to see West portrayed as an adorable bear cartoon. Murakami also designed the cover for West’s Graduation album.

Kanye West has expressed his love of great anime films, so it’s no real surprise that his music reflects that interest—his single “Stronger” is accompanied by a video (by Hype Williams) inspired by the Japanese anime Akira.

3. Allison Schulnik: “Ready, Able” by Grizzly Bear (2009)

This is a recent find for me. I came across this video in an exhibition of animation art called Screen Play at the Albright-Knox Gallery in Buffalo, NY (open through September 13). Projected on a wall, the visuals were almost overwhelming at first—figures in clay melt and reform themselves in grotesque movements of color and ambiguous body parts. The song is very soothing, however, and I find myself endeared to the odd forest creatures that move about and sing forlornly.

Interestingly, this video was labeled differently when on view in the gallery exhibition. There, it was titled Forest.

Grizzly Bear is an indie-rock band from New York. Their other music videos are similarly compelling, sometimes grotesque, always of high production quality. Nice music, too.

4. Robert Longo: “Bizarre Love Triangle” by New Order (1986)

I must say, this is one of my favorite 80s songs, but I only recently watched the video and learned it had been directed by Robert Longo. The video features a falling man in a suit, a theme that Longo investigated in depth in his Men in the Cities series of photographs.

Longo directed a number of other music videos as well, including “The One I Love” by R.E.M., “Boy (Go)” by the Golden Palominos and “Peace Sells” by Megadeath.

New Order has made several other collaborative music videos, including “Blue Monday” directed by William Wegman and Robert Breer—yes, it includes Wegman’s iconic weimaraners.

5. Andy Warhol: “Hello Again” by The Cars (1984)

Andy Warhol absolutely loved celebrity and pop culture, and was deeply a part of it as a multimedia artist. His video work was fascinating. I wouldn’t by any means classify this music video for a song by The Cars as one of Warhol’s best, but it is interesting to see what he came up with for this TV-destined collaboration with one of the hot bands of the time. That is indeed Warhol playing the part of the bartender, by the way.

6. Damien Hirst: “See the Light” by The Hours

Slightly disturbing in content, just like much of Hirst’s artwork. Hirst was artistic director for this music video, which includes elements you might have found in the major exhibition of his work that circulated a few years ago. You may know him from his (in)famous 1991 sculpture, The Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living, a shark suspended in a formaldehyde tank. Other work involves medicine cabinet-like sculptures and various animal parts.

In this video, a woman inserts herself into the showcases of a fashion store, which take on an eerie clinical quality. It seems a bit melodramatic at the same time it is serious, with heightened emotions and metaphors that typify many music videos—making it an excellent ending to this brief list.

Did I miss a favorite artist-directed music video? Tell us in a comment.

Inscribed Books at the Akron Art Museum

by Stefanie Hilles, Education Assistant

Imagine this. You visit the Akron Art Museum and fall in love under the “roof cloud” (the museum’s 327 foot long steel cantilever that joins the old 1899 post office building with the new 2007 Coop Himmelb(l)au structure). No, not with some beautiful stranger you exchange eye contact with across the museum’s lobby (although that would be pretty exciting too). Instead, you fall in love with a beautiful artwork. Maybe you’re a fan of American Impressionism and succumb to the charms of Abel G. Warshawsky’s pure color technique in The Seine at Andelys showing in the McDowell Galleries (and also installed as a reproduction at the International Institute in North Hill as part of the Inside|Out project). Perhaps you prefer your artists a bit more surrealistically inclined and become entranced by Art Green’s Delicate Situation in the Haslinger Galleries. Or possibly, landscape photography is more to your liking and you discover Robert Glenn Ketchum’s CVNRA #866 (from the Federal Lands Series), on view in the Arnstein Galleries as part of Proof: Photographs from the Collection.

Abel G. Warshawsky (Sharon, Pennsylvania, 1883 - 1962, Monterey, California) The Seine at Andelys, 1923 Oil on canvas 32 in. x 39 1/4 in. Collection of the Akron Art Museum. Gift of Miss Malvyn Wachner in memory of her brother, Charles B. Wachner.

Abel G. Warshawsky, The Seine at Andelys, 1923. Oil on canvas. 32 in. x 39 1/4 in. Collection of the Akron Art Museum. Gift of Miss Malvyn Wachner in memory of her brother, Charles B. Wachner.

Like the start of any epic love affair, you are captivated. You have to know more. So, you head in to the museum’s Martha Stecher Reed Library to do some research. The librarian hands you your desired books and you dive right in. Much to your delight, the books are autographed.  The Akron Art Museum is full of surprises.

Inscribed copy of Abel G. Warshawsky: Master-Painter, Humanist

Inscribed copy of Abel G. Warshawsky: Master-Painter, Humanist

Abel G. Warshawsky: Master-Painter, Humanist by Louis Gay Balsam came into the library’s collection in 1959 at the bequest of Mrs. Minna Wachner, whose generous gifts to the museum also include two oil paintings: Le Pont de la Cité, Martigues by Warsharsky and Landscape by William John Edmondson. The book, which is mostly dedicated to fifty black and white lithographs reproducing the artist’s work, was published by the Carmel Valley Art Gallery that, while no longer in existence, was once near to the artist’s Monterey, California home where he lived after his return from Paris in 1939. Dedicated to Billie Wachner, “Who is a dear sweet and wonderful friend [sic],” Abel signed with his nickname, Buck, as well as the longer A.G. Warshawsky.

Art Green, Delicate Situation,  1968

Art Green, Delicate Situation, 1968. Oil on canvas. 69 in. x 45 in. Collection of the Akron Art Museum. Gift of William and Deborah Struve.

Autographed copy of Art Green: Tell Tale Signs accompanied an exhibition of the same name at the Corbett vs. Dempsey Gallery in Chicago, held from December 9th 2011 through January 21st 2012.

Autographed copy of Art Green: Tell Tale Signs accompanied an exhibition of the same name at the Corbett vs. Dempsey Gallery in Chicago, held from December 9th 2011 through January 21st 2012.

Art Green: Tell Tale Signs accompanied an exhibition of the same name at the Corbett vs. Dempsey Gallery in Chicago, held from December 9th 2011 through January 21st 2012. While the exhibition focused on work created years after Delicate Situation, the interview at the beginning of the text explains some of Green’s recurring  images, namely, the ice-cream cone and the flame that are found in Delicate Situation. Green states, “The image of the ice cream cone interested me because it is so idealized, not because of any specific symbolism. I like opposition and the flame offers that here” (p. 5). Another autograph can be found in Art Green, published by the CUE Art Foundation in 2009 to accompany the first solo exhibition of the artist’s work in New York since 1981. This exhibition was curated by Jim Nutt, who, along with Green, was a member of the Chicago artist group, “The Hairy Who,” that consisted of five recent graduates from the Art Institute of Chicago known for their grotesque subject matter and carefully finished style.

Robert Glenn Ketchum, CVNRA #866, from the Federal Lands series, 1988 Cibachrome print 24 in. x 30 in. Collection of the Akron Art Museum. Purchased with funds from Kathleen and Gordon Ewers.

Robert Glenn Ketchum, CVNRA #866, from the Federal Lands series, 1988. Cibachrome print. 24 in. x 30 in. Collection of the Akron Art Museum. Purchased with funds from Kathleen and Gordon Ewers.

In 1986, the Akron Art Museum commissioned Robert Glenn Ketchum to photograph the Cuyahoga Valley National Recreation Area (CVNRA). Many of these images, taken over the course of several years and throughout different seasons, were later published in Overlooked in America: Photographs by Robert Glenn Ketchum. Compared to the understated signatures contributed by Warshawsky and Green, Robert Glenn Ketchum’s autograph takes on an almost landscape-like quality, with sweeping, flowing organic lines. Ketchum’s book uses the CVNRA as an example of national parks in general, exploring how man and nature interact and how the government manages its federal lands. The CVNRA series can be read in conjunction with another museum commission. In 1979, Lee Friedlander (whose work is also included in Proof) was contracted to photograph the industrial landscape around the Akron/Cleveland area, popularly known as the rust belt. In comparison to Friedlander’s bleak emphasis on desolate factories and the urban landscape, Ketchum’s landscape photographs demonstrate the natural beauty of the Akron area.

autographed copy of Overlooked in America: Photographs by Robert Glenn Ketchum

autographed copy of Overlooked in America: Photographs by Robert Glenn Ketchum

What is it about an autograph that seems to impart some extra knowledge about a person? Sometimes it’s what the person says in an inscription, as in the case of Abel G. Warshaswsky, that gives some insight into the artist’s life. Other times, it’s the style of the handwriting. Whatever the case, it’s an interesting and delightful surprise to discover these autographed works because you seem to get just a bit more information about the artist, something more human than what is captured in the descriptions and analysis of their work.

How Inside|Out Was Made

By Roza Maille, Inside|Out Project Coordinator

Inside|Out is finally here! This April marks the launch of the two-year project and now everyone can enjoy the art in the streets and parks of Akron. This spring, there will be 30 art reproductions from the Akron Art Museum’s collection found at unexpected outdoor locations in Downtown Akron, North Hill, and along the Towpath Trail and Summit Metro Parks. Are you curious how we made this happen? Obviously there is no magic art duplicator, so we will let you in on the process.

Inside|Out poster. Inside|Out is funded by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation

Inside|Out poster. Inside|Out is funded by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation

First, we needed to narrow down more than 5,000 objects in our collection to a selection of only 30 artworks. This was not easy task but we selected a nice variety of visitor and staff favorites that fit with the goals of Inside|Out. We also had to ask some of the artists and their estates for permission to use their artwork in this project.

Joe Levack photographs John Sokol's Man Eating Trees for reproduction for Inside|Out

Joe Levack photographs John Sokol’s Man Eating Trees for reproduction for Inside|Out, with Collections Manager Arnold Tunstall.

The next step was to then make sure we had high-quality photos of each artwork in order to get the best reproduction possible. Some of the selected artworks needed to be re-photographed in order to get the appropriate resolution for the reproduction.

In the spirit of this community project, we wanted to use local businesses whenever possible to construct the frames, fabricate the reproductions and to provide professional installation services. The frames were custom made by Jon at Hazel Tree Interiors. We selected a style and color of molding to accompany the reproduction and from there each frame was constructed to the exact measurements of each artwork. All of the reproductions included in Inside|Out are made one-to-one scale of the original artwork. The frames were then sent off to be clear coated in order to protect them from the weather.

Jeff, from Central Graphics, with Roz, making last minute adjustments

Jeff, from Central Graphics, with Roza, making final adjustments prior to printing

William Merritt Chase, Girl in White, reproduction being printed at Central Graphics

William Merritt Chase, Girl in White, reproduction being printed at Central Graphics

The high-resolution images of the artworks were sent to Central Graphics where they were printed on large-format printers, weatherproofed, and mounted into the frames. We even got a sneak peek at a couple of the images during the printing process.

Bill and Denny of K-Lite Signs installing John Sokol's Man Eating Trees (reproduction)

Bill and Denny of K-Lite Signs installing John Sokol’s Man Eating Trees (reproduction)

After everything was assembled, we were able to start installing in the predesignated locations. Bill and Denny from K-Lite Signs did the installations for us. You will find both wall-mounted and free-standing installations around town. Here is our first installation in North Hill, The Artist and His Wife by Elmer Novotny with the owner of Giovanni’s Barber Shop.

Elmer Novotny, The Artist and His Wife (reproduction), installed at Giovanni's Barber Shop in North Hill

Elmer Novotny, The Artist and His Wife (reproduction), installed at Giovanni’s Barber Shop in North Hill

On the first installation day, the International Institute of Akron took one of their English classes outside to incorporate the artwork into their lessons. Here the teacher is using The Seine at Andelys by Abel Warshawsky to help his students learn names of colors.

Clients and an educator at the International Institute of Akron using Abel Warshawsky's The Seine at Adelys (reproduction) for an impromptu English lesson

Clients and an educator at the International Institute of Akron using Abel G. Warshawsky’s The Seine at Andelys (reproduction) for an impromptu English lesson

The art will find new homes during each season of Inside|Out. In the fall, look for the reproductions in three different neighborhoods: West Hill & Highland Square, The University of Akron & University Park, and Cuyahoga Falls.

Learn more about Inside|Out.

Share your Inside|Out discoveries and experiences on social media using the hashtag #InsideOutAkron.