Filed under: Drawing, Fleeting thoughts..., painting, travel | Tags: art, berkshires
Yes, we’re bracing ourselves for hurricane Sandy. She’s a-comin’, and no one is looking forward to her arrival. How have I prepared? Umm…I bought a couple of cans of soup? It turns out there are no more D batteries for sale in the entire state. Considering that my 4 yr old son LOVES to play with our ONLY flashlight, we may be in for some lighting “challenges” here when we lose power. I’m also thinking of the general domestic challenge to be locked in the house all day with my 4 yr old. I may have to be like Odysseus and lash myself to the bannister outside the house just to get some “me” time in the midst of this “epic” storm. Did I mention that my son also has a raging cold? Ah yes…there’s a storm of viruses swirling around in the house from his hacking and sneezing. Blech. I can practically FEEL my white blood cells reeling from the onslaught of germs. I think that if there ever is “germ warfare” against our country, it will be the parents and teachers of preschoolers that have a chance of survival from our “special forces” immune system. My throat does feel scratchy. I’m not sure if that’s because I’m getting sick, or if it’s because I just ate a gross quantity of Trader Joe’s “pirate’s booty.” (puffed corn blobs covered with powdered white cheddar….YUMMY!) But I digress…actually, I haven’t really even gotten started yet. Sigh.
ANYHOO, this weekend…my husband and I took our yearly pilgrimage to the Berkshires to the Lodge where we were married. I love going there…it’s so laid back and idyllic. Did I mention that my mother watched my son for the weekend? Yes, we were kid-free for 48 hrs. Did I also mention that my son decided to sleep in until 8am this morning? His normal time to wake up is 5:30. WHY does he sleep in ONLY for Grandma??? But I digress, again.
Doesn’t that look peaceful and dreamy? I love the Berkshires.
One of the decadent things about going to the Berkshires is going to Mass MOCA. This is a large contemporary art museum in a renovated complex of factory buildings. I have to say, I really loved quite a bit of what I saw there on this visit. I’ve got photos of the highlights to share with you. The current exhibition is focused on Canadian contemporary art.
Bloodie is Born, and Born Again, 2009
Angel Trumpet Flower of Death, 2008
Wow. I LOVED these paintings. They are ink and gouache on paper, and they are GORGEOUS. I know that the imagery is disturbing, but I thought that her work was stunning. They have the look of historic book illustrations, but the scenes are bizarre. Her minimal use of color in the predominantly B&W paintings was amazing. I’m a big fan. (Hint. Hint. Just in case any of you have started your holiday shopping early!)
Joking, of course.
Etienne Zack, Silent Frames, 2011, Oil on Linen
This painting was over 8’x12′ in size. It was stunning. I really could have looked at it all day. I love the scene, the color palette, the space she creates, the odd moonlit feeling of it…so gorgeous. It’s hard to tell from this photo, but she also had elements like the wood posts with transparent reddish ghosts of the forms nearby, which almost made the image look like a manipulated photograph in a way. So incredibly brilliant.
Clay slab, 2007, watercolor on paper
Paper #2, 2007, watercolor on paper.
Yes, read that again. Those are WATERCOLORS… and they are BIG. Each one is around 3’x4′. I especially love “Clay Slab.” It’s gorgeous. You can almost feel the cold, wetness of the clay, right? These were outrageously stunning. His technical skill was also mind boggling. I love the limited palette and hyper-real quality. I’m telling you…GO. SEE. THIS. SHOW. NOW. Next:
Chris Millar, 370H55V, 2011, mixed media
This was fantastic. Here is a detail:
Chris Millar, 370H55V, 2011, mixed media (detail)
This was outrageous and amazing. I used to have a fascination with miniature things, and this sculpture was the EPITOME of the kind of miniscule things that I used to love. Here, though, it’s a freestanding agglomeration of childhood curiosities and total excess. I LOVED it. It’s hard for me to know what to say, but it seriously held both nostalgia and joy for me…as if I was stepping into some forgotten recess of my childhood. It’s made so much more perfect with that galaxy background that he created. Sheer genius. Here is another of his works:
Chris Millar, Uncharted Galvanized Hut, 2008, acrylic on canvas
This was also amazing. Again, I loved the density of it. The other thing was that it had almost a 3D/embossed look to it, where different elements were raised and layered upon other elements. It was almost like a painting decoupage. This artist just oozes brilliance.
Uncharted 4 (2011), Uncharted 2 (2011-12), Uncharted 1 (2011-12)
Uncharted 5 (2011-12), Uncharted 3 (2011-12), Uncharted 6 (2011-12)
All are acrylic on panel
Okay. I love her work. It’s SO architectural, but not stuffy or static. I’ve seen her works before at the DeCordova Museum, but this work is even better (IMHO). I love the collage-feel, the layering, and the enormous depth and dimensionality that she creates. These crazy constructs float in a field of color, like some kind of vignettes of part of a building or part of an experience. Gorgeous.
I included this photo just so that you can get a sense of the scale of some of the rooms at Mass MOCA. This room is enormous. See that blurry thing floating halfway up the wall at the end? This is what it is:
Hmm. No comment.
I must admit, I have been to Mass Moca many times, but there has only been one time when I truly loved what an artist did with that huge space. Ann Hamilton is an installation artist whose work was titled, Corpus. Here is the exhibition catalog. She truly made the space into a work of art. She had several tall reams of 8 1/2″ x 11″ paper up at the rafters in different locations. Then, a robot/machine would move along some tracks to a stack of paper, pick up the top paper with suction, then drive back over to a random point on the tracks and then with a “puff” sound…drop the paper to the ground. The entire floor was covered with the paper, and random pieces would be falling intermittently around you. In addition, she had a grid of megaphone shaped speakers which would descend in unison to the floor, then raise again. I can’t remember the sound coming from the speakers, but I remember the “puff” sound when the robot would release the paper. Oh yeah..the windows were all tinted pink. It was brilliant.
Mass MOCA has other amazing spaces:
This sliver of space separates is also amazing. Look at the brickwork! Crazy. The grand finale is, of course, Sol LeWitt.
His work is located on three floors, with the early works on the lowest floors, and then you progress upwards to more recent work. This man could do anything with geometry. I love that triangle wall.
While I loved the walls with the eye-pain inducing colors, I was really drawn to the walls of graphite drawing:
Yes, those are graphite drawings. On the walls. Closer:
Mindblowing, right? These drawings (or whatever I should call them) are stunning. Such beauty in their chaos and order! More:
I know that I’m obviously enamored with graphite, as it’s the medium that I’ve chosen to grapple with. These works really elevate graphite to stratospheric levels. It makes me want to grab a pencil and start scribbling on the walls (at home, of course.) But, as I can’t do that while telling my son that he’s not allowed to, I’ll just have to restrain myself. If you feel that this whole post has been a parade of superlatives, check out the last work that was in an alcove next to these LeWitt masterpieces:
I can’t remember if the title of this was, “Bucket and Mop, Alone at Last“, or “I Thought You Loved Me?“, or “Everything Filthy Must be Mine.” JUST KIDDING! This really was just a mop and bucket in the corner. Fooled ya, right? Just keeping you on your toes…seeing if you were paying attention or daydreaming about all of the better things that you could be doing with your time besides actually READING this blog.
I’m going to post this now before we lose power from raging SANDY. Feel free to send me care packages. I’m partial to cookies and pirate’s booty.
My husband and I went to the Berkshires this weekend…without the kids! Ahhhh…needless to say, we had a great time. We went back to the place where we were married…a rustic lodge with a babbling brook, hammocks, hot coffee, and peace. I keep thinking, “why can’t I be here ALL the time?”. Oh yeah…er…mortgage/kids/bills/reality. The kids are good though…I could happily forget the rest.