By: Ellen Rudolph, Senior Curator
It was very exciting to see Gravity and Grace installed in Des Moines! Because the Des Moines Art Center has three distinctive buildings and the exhibition was disbursed throughout, the work took on a different character in each space. Our chief preparator and exhibition designer Joe Walton spent several days in advance of El’s arrival helping the Des Moines crew get up to speed with hanging and sculpting. El arrived the Monday before the opening and was more hands-on with the installation this time around, so it was great to see the works that he had a major hand in shaping (Drain Pipe, Gravity and Grace and Ozone Layer, which had fans behind it to make the hanging elements flutter).
The works in the I.M. Pei building looked amazing against the hammer-brushed concrete walls and with natural light filling the space. Other works are integrated with Des Moine’s collection, most stunningly Garden Wall, which hangs in the Richard Meier building in a niche that looks like it was created just for the piece. You can view it from above, which is perfect for highlighting the floor components. Near it hangs a gorgeous Morris Louis painting with similar acid-green coloring, along with a John Chamberlain sculpture whose crushed steel reminds us of the metal bottle tops.
Between Akron, Brooklyn and Des Moines, the architecture and gallery layouts have affected the appearance of the art as much as the different approaches to shaping and sculpting the work. Can’t wait to see what happens in Miami and San Diego!