As the leaves turn, artists are opening their studios, and museums and galleries open new shows …
Angolan photographer Edson Chagas has created posters from his hometown. I see them up on Stone Hill at Clark Art Institute’s exhibit on the Venice Biennale. They show street scenes — a half-flat soccer ball against a weathered wall of blue paint and cement.
As you look at them you can imagine what it might be like to see a whole city turn into a museum. How does it feel when artists can turn any corner into their own work, even bus stations and old churches?
In the Berkshires, it feels familiar. Around here we paint crosswalks and overpasses. An old stone quarry plays spontaneous music at sunset and historic houses set up outdoor sculpture in the woods.
The Clark looks toward Modern and contemporary
For years, the Clark Art Institute has collected work from the Venice Biennale that vanishes every year — books, posters, maps and other things often designed by artists. These are to be transitory, but the exhibit also highlights artwork that has vanished … or hasn’t happened yet.
Down the hill, the Clark offers space to another artist who had almost vanished — Georgia O’keeffe’s sister, Ida. Ida O’keeffe was a Modernist painter and printmaker, and in her lifetime she was recognized as Georgia’s equal. The Cark brings in the first retrospective to her work, asking who she was and why she has left so little work to see.
Mass MoCA artists lift their voices
Young friends in Cameroon are looking for their own music. They find beauty and in a world that can be threatening, in Cauleen Smith’s ‘We Already Have What We Need,’ at Mass MoCA, a wide-ranging exhibit with film and banners and a library of well-loved books.
Smith is an internationally acclaimed artist, and she and artists in many of Mass MoCA’s shows this fall are celebrating who they are — even when they feel surrounded by forces that do not.
The same determination rises in sculpture and photographs in Suffering from Realness, and Mexican artist Erre’s tribute to the poet Langston Hughes — in Rafa Esparza’s murals on adobe walls and portraits of women in ‘Still I Rise,’ honoring the spirit of Maya Angelou.
Norman Rockwell sees the times changing
In the summer of 1969, Norman Rockwell told a reporter for the Associated Press that his work had changed. He wanted to paint an image “that would bring America back together again — promote understanding.” He wanted to paint the America he saw evolving in the 1960s, in the years of the Freedom movements and the moon landing, the Viet Nam war and the Beatles,
He had just finished a broad canvas textured with earth from the Southwest; a Dinee family, a Navajo mother, father and son look down from the ridge at the new cement wall of the Glen Canyon Dam, as it blocks the river and cuts off the water from them. This fall, the Norman Rockwell Museum looks back to that changing time in ‘Woodstock to the Moon: 1969 Illustrated’ — and in exhibits looking closely at Rockwell’s private life.
WCMA artists recall vanished times
The Williams College Museum of Art is re-opening its newly renovated space with Axis Mundo: Queer Networks in Chicano L.A. connects a group of queer Chicanx artists from the late 1960s to the early 1990s, WCMA says. For them too this was a changing time, from the Freedom movements and “the Chicano civil rights, women’s and gay liberation movements to the political activism around the AIDS epidemic.”
Reaching farther back and farther ahead, Chicago artist artist Michael Rakowitz has re-created a lost artifact — one of thousands. He has recalled a whole vanished room from the Palace at Nimrud. Western archaeologists have been excavating the palace near the Tigris river since the 1850s and sending relief sculptures and other artworks into the Western world, including the Assyrian guardian spirits here at Williams. Then in 2015, ISIS bulldozed the site. Rakowitz, an Iraqi-American Jewish artist, has drawn the palace into an ongoing project to remember what no one may ever wholly recover.