Archive for the ‘Museums’ Category

Wine Grab

April 30, 2012 Leave a comment

Gail and I attended the annual fundraiser for the Burke Museum of Natural History and Culture two nights ago. The evening was fun-filled, with behind-the-scenes visits to the museum’s research and storage spaces, a cocktail hour, dinner, a live auction, and much more.

Among the much more was a “wine grab,” in which participants donate a fixed amount of money to the museum, in return for which they get to choose a bottle of wine from a tableful. The bottles have their identities hidden in paper wrapping, lending a lottery-like feel to the enterprise. But every bottle retails for at least the donation amount, so that no one loses. Plus, of course, the museum raises some money.

This year, the wine grab had two tiers, $25 and $50. While I was talking to some of the guests at our table, Gail was off grabbing four $50 bottles. At the end of the evening, we received our bottles (still wrapped) in a wine-carrying tote bag. Once we got home and settled, we did the unveiling.

Here’s what we found.

1. One Burgundy: Morey-Saint-Denis 1er Cru “Mont-Luisants”, 2000, Jean-Paul Magnion.

2. One Washington wine: Leonetti Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon, 2006, from the Walla Walla Valley.

3. A Napa Valley wine: Sullivan Vineyards Estate James O’Neil Cabernet Sauvignon, 2008.

4. A second Napa wine: Cakebread Cellars Dancing Bear Ranch 2005 Cabernet Sauvignon/Cabernet Franc.

From what little research we’ve done, it appears that we made out well in terms of cost, though of course the point is to support the museum, cost aside.

As a bonus, we also happened to bid successfully during the auction for two-day wine-tasting tour in the Walla Walla Valley, featuring four winery visits each day. Joining us will be a wine guide, the museum director (a geo-archaeologist, and a good friend), and the director’s husband (a geologist and friend as well). Thus we will learn simultaneously about the region’s wine and geology, returning far wiser.

A successful evening.

Categories: Museums, Wine

An Afternoon at the Met

April 29, 2012 Leave a comment

[Metropolitan Museum]

We were in New York three weekends ago to visit family. The evening we arrived, I wrote about our dealings with TSA that morning in Seattle. A long series of posts followed about our time in North Carolina after the weekend, but I had nothing more to say about New York. Before I completely forget, let me say a little about our afternoon at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, three weeks ago today.

The context: following lunch with my parents, the three of us (Gail, Joel, and I) had several free hours in Manhattan before it would be time to drive over the Triborough Bridge in order to drop Joel at LaGuardia for his flight back to North Carolina. We would then drive farther out on the Island for dinner with my brother and his family. We had already decided that we would start at the Met, and had parked there in the morning in anticipation of this. Following lunch, we headed back.

A year earlier almost to the day, our same threesome had spent an afternoon at the Met, at which time we were able to get a preview of the Islamic Galleries. As I wrote at the time, it was “closed for renovation, expansion, and reinstallation, [but] we got a sneak peak of a small new room with wooden ceiling and walls being carved as we watched by Moroccan craftsmen. This will be a must-see when the space re-opens near the end of the year.”

They opened in November, under the official name New Galleries for the Art of the Arab Lands, Turkey, Iran, Central Asia, and Later South Asia. Here’s a description from the website:

More than one thousand works from the preeminent collection of the Museum’s Department of Islamic Art—one of the most comprehensive gatherings of this material in the world—have returned to view in a completely renovated, expanded, and reinstalled suite of fifteen galleries. The organization of the galleries by geographical area emphasizes the rich diversity of the Islamic world, over a span of thirteen hundred years, by underscoring the many distinct cultures within its fold.

This was my first priority.

Despite our having agreed to go here first, we momentarily split up for reasons I won’t go into. When Gail and I emerged at a space on the second floor from which several corridors emanate, while I was trying to orient myself and find the new Islamic galleries, Gail asked a guard where the Islamic art was. He pointed way down a corridor leading westward, a corridor I know well, well enough to realize this must be wrong. But Gail said let’s go, and only as we began to walk out did I see some wording on the wall suggesting that the corridor ninety degrees to the left was the very entrance to the desired space.

Following the guard’s directions, we found our way not to the Islamic permanent collection, but to Byzantium and Islam: Age of Transition, an extraordinary temporary show that I hadn’t even read about. The good news: we got to see an exhibition we probably would have otherwise missed. The bad news: where the heck was Joel?

No big deal, right? I could text him our location. But that’s when I discovered that our AT&T connection was all but dead. I texted texted texted texted. I called called called. I sent email. I re-sent and re-sent. Nothing would go through. Okay, maybe I could go outside if things got desperate, get a connection, and call. But if he stayed inside while I was outside, he might fare no better with his own AT&T phone. Gail kept telling me not to worry, he’ll find us. Well, yes, if we were in the agreed-upon Islamic space, which she believed we were, since the guard told us so. The more we explored the exhibition, however, the more certain I was that we weren’t where we were supposed to be.

I can’t exactly say I panicked. I mean, he’s not a child. He can get by. But, in the worst case scenario, what if three hours later we still hadn’t connected? How would he get to LaGuardia, with his bag in the car?

I know, I should have relaxed. But I didn’t, and the unexpected gem of a show that we had fallen into was not getting its due. Speaking of which, here’s a description:

As the seventh century began, vast territories extending from Syria to Egypt and across North Africa were ruled by the Byzantine Empire from its capital, Constantinople (modern Istanbul). Critical to the wealth and power of the empire, these southern provinces, long influenced by Greco-Roman traditions, were home to Orthodox, Coptic, and Syriac Christians, Jewish communities, and others. Great pilgrimage centers attracted the faithful from as far away as Yemen in the east and Scandinavia in the west. Major trade routes reached eastward down the Red Sea past Jordan to India in the south, bringing silks and ivories to the imperial territories. Major cities made wealthy by commerce extended along inland trade routes north to Constantinople and along the Mediterranean coastline. Commerce carried images and ideas freely throughout the region.

In the same century, the newly established faith of Islam emerged from Mecca and Medina along the Red Sea trade route and reached westward into the empire’s southern provinces. Political and religious authority was transferred from the long established Christian Byzantine Empire to the newly established Umayyad and later Abbasid Muslim dynasties. The new powers took advantage of existing traditions of the region in developing their compelling secular and religious visual identities. This exhibition follows the artistic traditions of the southern provinces of the Byzantine Empire from the seventh century to the ninth, as they were transformed from being central to the Byzantine tradition to being a critical part of the Islamic world.

A week ago we got our new issue of the New York Review of Books, in which Peter Brown reviews the exhibition and its accompanying catalogue. If only we could go back. He explains that the exhibition

embraces the last century of the pre-Islamic Middle East and the first two centuries of Islam. To our surprise, we do not find ourselves in a world swept by a mighty wind. Instead, we enter a series of quiet rooms where time seems to stand still. Like a perfect late fall day, only the occasional rustle of a falling leaf startles us into realizing that the seasons are about to change. The few clear signs that Islam had, indeed, become politically dominant in the Middle East by the end of the seventh century strike us with almost ominous intensity. For there are so few of them.

And he concludes:

The exhibition is, frankly, about those who made it. The mosaics, the silverware, the parchment volumes, the ivories, and the textiles (even the poignant little shirts of those who died young) once gave confidence and joy to those who could afford them. This is an exhibition not only about what people worshiped, but also about what they loved and what they hoped for. Landowners, administrators, and clergymen, they were not necessarily saints, heroes, or heroines. But their mute remains take us back to centuries whose final outcome they themselves could not have imagined. They form a human—and, let us hope, a humane—link between our own times and a distant, major turning point in the history of the world.

When we had gotten about halfway through the exhibition, I decided we had to get back to the “real” Islamic exhibition space in hopes of finding Joel. Dragging Gail through the remaining rooms, I headed past the 19th century European paintings toward the entry space where we had been mis-directed, only for Gail to call ahead to me to stop, for in my rush I had walked right past Joel, coming toward us. He had, of course, been in the proper galleries. Having walked through them and failed to find us, he had struck off in our direction, why I still don’t know.

Now reunited and properly oriented, we returned to the new permanent Islamic galleries that Joel had just seen. I had waited a year for this. But I needed some time to regain my equanimity. Since I wasn’t absorbing much, let me turn once more to Peter Brown, who wrote about the newly opened space and the catalog last December.

The curators of the Islamic collection at the Metropolitan Museum of Art have faced a different and more challenging task: how to do justice to an entire galaxy of cultures touched by Islam, which spread from the Atlantic to South Asia and the borders of China, and which changed constantly over the course of a millennium. In this immense galaxy, the arts of late-medieval Iran and Mughal India, displayed in the Morgan Library, are no more than a single, incandescent cluster. The curators have displayed the changing galaxy with an intellectual determination and with a visual discretion that make their new installation a delight to the eye and their meticulous new catalog a thrill to the mind.

First of all, the galleries now bear a distinctive name. They are the New Galleries for the Art of the Arab Lands, Turkey, Iran, Central Asia, and Later South Asia. It is a mouthful. But behind the title lie decades of careful thought on the relation between the universal and the particular across a far-flung commonwealth of cultures. The notion of Islamic art as a single, uniform system that spread with monotonous insistence across the territories ruled by Muslims is effectively dismantled. The essays of the four editing curators, Maryam Ekhtiar, Priscilla Soucek, Sheila Canby, and Navina Najat Haidar (along with the other contributors), make this point clear. The galleries have been reinstalled with the express purpose of doing justice to the distinctive flavor of each region.

It is not often that an intellectual contention is turned into a work of beauty in itself. But this is what Michael Battista and his fellow installers and designers have done with the layout and décor of the new galleries. Their work has allied itself with the discreet, almost subliminal beauty that radiates from the objects themselves. Lattice screens, made for the purpose in Egypt, transform the light from the courtyard around which the galleries are placed. Their firm horizontal lines point the visitor forward from region to region. The floor itself seems to move. Each room, dedicated to one region, is paved with a different stone—from bright Egyptian marble, patterned with great sunbursts, stars, and cartouches in the entrance hall, all the way around to the gentle sandstone of India.

Alas, I didn’t allow myself to give full appreciation to what we were seeing. Next time.

Once outside, we agreed to split up for the next couple of hours. I recommended to Gail that we head to the American Wing, since I remembered reading about some new installations recently. I hadn’t remembered what, but here’s the explanation:

The Metropolitan Museum’s collection of American art, one of the finest and most comprehensive in the world, returned to view in expanded, reconceived, and dramatic new galleries on January 16, 2012, when the Museum inaugurated the New American Wing Galleries for Paintings, Sculpture, and Decorative Arts. The new installation provides visitors with a rich and captivating experience of the history of American art from the eighteenth through the early twentieth century. The suite of elegant new galleries encompasses 30,000 square feet for the display of the Museum’s superb collection.

This final phase of the American Wing renovation project is comprised of twenty-six renovated and enlarged galleries on the second floor. The new architectural design is a contemporary interpretation of nineteenth-century Beaux-Arts galleries, including coved ceilings and natural light flowing through new skylights. The redesign, which has added 3,300 square feet of gallery space, also allows for a chronological installation of the American paintings and sculpture, and improved pathways connecting to adjacent areas of the Museum.

On our way from the south end of the Met to the north, we zipped past any number of interesting works and exhibitions, stopping momentarily here or there. The entrance area to the Asian Wing. European paintings of the seventeenth century. Oh, look, there’s El Greco’s View of Toledo with some girl sitting on the floor staring intently at it.

[From Metropolitan website]

On we went, through doors leading to the balcony that overlooks the arms and armor exhibit of clothed riders, on past the historic instruments, into the big American wing central space, and through more doors into the new American wing galleries (only by chance). They are splendid. We chose well. And through the main axis, in the distance, always in view, was Leutze’s Washington Crossing the Delaware. He couldn’t be missed, patiently waiting for us to reach him, as you can see at the top.

From the paintings, we descended half a floor to a mezzanine that is wonderful in an entirely different way. It is open storage, showing object upon object from the American collection, with no explanation but with labels that allow you to go to one of the monitors spread throughout the space to look up what each object is. Like this:

And this:

Soon it was time to meet up with Joel, at the cafeteria, so he could get some food before going to the airport. We realized that once again we might fail to meet up, there being many eateries. Only one “cafeteria,” in the basement, but there was room for ambiguity. And the pity is, there was a wonderful cafe right where we were standing, at the American wing in the big open space, with an outlook onto Central Park. We tried once again to text and call him, suggesting he meet us there, but when nothing would go through, we dutifully headed to the cafeteria.

Ten minutes past our meeting time, I got anxious and began to head up the stairs to look for him. Once again, we bumped into each other. He had indeed, looked for us initially elsewhere. We all agreed that the cafeteria was dismal and went back to the American wing cafe for a snack.

When we were done, there was still some time to explore. We took Joel back through the American open storage area for a look, coming out at a small baseball card exhibition, Breaking the Color Barrier in Major League Baseball.

In October 1945 Wesley Branch Rickey (1881–1965), general manager of the Brooklyn Dodgers, signed Jack Roosevelt Robinson (1919–1972) from the Negro League’s Kansas City Monarchs to the Dodgers organization, thus breaking the color barrier that had existed in professional baseball since 1889. On April 15, 1947, Robinson took the field for the first time as a Brooklyn Dodger, earning the title “Rookie of the Year” in the National League at the end of the season with twelve homers, twenty-nine steals, and a .297 batting average. Shortly after Robinson’s debut, Larry Doby was signed by the Cleveland Indians, who then brought over the Negro League’s star pitcher, Satchel Paige, to join Doby the following year. With these developments, baseball’s long-entrenched segregation began, slowly, to crumble; it took another twelve years for the Boston Red Sox—the last team to integrate—to hire Elijah “Pumpsie” Green, three years after Robinson retired from the game.

The selection of baseball cards illustrating some of the earliest and most illustrious players who moved from the Negro Leagues into the Majors is taken from the Jefferson R. Burdick Collection. The more than thirty thousand baseball cards collected by Burdick date from 1887 to 1959 and represent the most comprehensive collection outside of the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York.

Speaking of the Burdick Collection, Joel grew up with two posters from the Met on his wall, each showing an array of cards from the collection. Here are the two cards that end the exhibition, Branch Rickey and Jackie Robinson side by side.

It was time go to. We headed back to the south end of the museum, stopped at the museum store, headed out the back door into the garage, and off we went.

Regrets? We missed The Steins Collect: Matisse, Picasso, and the Parisian Avant-Garde. And Red and Black Chinese Lacquer, 13th–16th Century. But we were content. And Joel made his flight.

Categories: Art, Family, Museums

Gauguin in Seattle, 2

April 22, 2012 Leave a comment

Two months ago, I wrote about the new exhibition Gauguin & Polynesia: An Elusive Paradise that had just opened at the Seattle Art Museum. I quoted from the exhibition description at the website, which explained that the “show highlight[ed] the complex relationship between Paul Gauguin’s work and the art and culture of Polynesia” and “includes about 60 of Gauguin’s brilliantly hued paintings, sculptures and works on paper, which are displayed alongside 60 major examples of Polynesian sculpture that fueled his search for the exotic.”

Given the circumstances of the opening evening, we did not linger over the art. We had listened to a presentation by Chiyo Ishikawa, the Susan Brotman Deputy Director for Art and Curator of European Painting and Sculpture, and Pam McClusky, Curator of Art of Africa and Oceania and eaten hors d’oeuvres before entering the exhibition. I wrote at the time that

the distinctive feature of the exhibition is its juxtaposition of Gauguin’s paintings (presented chronologically) with Polynesian sculpture and artifacts. This is surprisingly effective, as one passes from a room of paintings to a few artifacts, more paintings, an entire room of Polynesian objects, a room of woodblock prints, and so on. I wasn’t entirely convinced that I would want to see a show of 60 Gauguins, but the alternation helps to keep one’s eyes fresh and one’s interest piqued. Plus, the opening lecture oriented us well. Many of the objects were already familiar, allowing us to examine the art without fussing with the signs or bothering with the accompanying audio headsets.

Of course, it was late, we were hungry (those hors d’ouevres not quite adding up to a complete dinner), and I didn’t want to be out too late. So we didn’t give the show its due. We got a pretty good overview, which had to do. We have until the end of April to return for a closer examination. And we will.

We found ourselves in danger of not returning for that closer examination, what with our trip two weeks ago and the show closing in another week. We were down to the final two weekends, during which the show will be mobbed. But, by chance, we learned at the beginning of last week that for museum members at a suitable level (like us), it was possible to write ahead and ask for special entry at 9:15 on a Tuesday or Thursday morning, before the 10:00 opening of the museum. I wasted no time requesting entry for this past Thursday. We got the okay and headed downtown first thing in the morning.

As instructed, we entered by the volunteer door, signed in with security, then waited for a museum staff member to meet us. She brought us up to the exhibit, walking us through part of it in order to get to the start. Along the way, we passed a whole class of students being led on a tour. They looked high school age, about thirty in all, and had a one-room head start on us. Other than them, we had the place to ourselves. The woman who brought us up also got us some audio guides to use if we wished.

We worked our way through the exhibit at a slow pace, always being sure to hang back from the tour group. Over time, a few other singles and pairs arrived, moving past us and beyond the group as well. We were content to take our time. As for the audio guides, they were painful to use. When a painting or object is marked as available on the guide, one presses the three-digit code, then a man comes on to state the obvious, and slowly. The painting’s name, year, size. What’s in it — a red figure left of center, a yellow field, on and on. There was no way to skip past this. Only when he was done would he offer to have you push the play button so you could hear a commentary. He returned to say a few words, then offer curator Pam McClusky for a few words of comment. After she was done, he would make more remarks, then give the stage to her again. Forget it.

The pity is, this was the rare occasion when we could plant ourselves in front of a painting, listen to the guide, and not be in anyone’s way. (Surely this is the worst feature of these guides — the natural tendency of the listener to stay put, listening perhaps without even looking, letting time pass, acting as a blocker to all others.) But so little information was forthcoming, all the more given the high quality of the explanations on the walls.

Well, no matter. It’s a wonderful show, and we were privileged to see it on our own. I did tire of that tour group, with the guide talking non-stop. She was loud, slow, and clear, a gem of a guide for those in the group. For me, it became an increasing nuisance, like trying to read a book when someone has a TV or radio on with non-stop talk.

Only when we got to the penultimate room, holding back while the tour group finished up in the last room — the guide talking about one final painting, then about Gauguin’s career as a whole, then taking questions — did I finally lose patience and join the group. And only then did I realize what should have been obvious all along: that the guide was none other than Pam McClusky. Not that it was our place to tag along, but we surely would have learned a lot if we had. Forget the audio guide, with occasional remarks by her. We could have had her non-stop, the very non-stop chatter that had been a distraction when I tried to ignore her, but could instead have been a joy.

What I really wished is that we had chosen a day when there was no tour. But maybe the deal is that she has been leading tours of the exhibition every Tuesday and Thursday before opening hours, which is why the space is open and available to a limited number of members as well.

I suppose that’s about all I have to say. I would have wished to insert photos throughout the post of our favorite paintings and objects, but photography wasn’t permitted, and there’s nothing at the exhibition website either. If you’re in the area, be sure to see the show in the next week. Otherwise, consider getting a copy of the book, one of which we brought home with us.

Categories: Art, Museums

North Carolina Museum of Art

April 22, 2012 Leave a comment

North Carolina Museum of Art

Two Thursdays ago, the last full day of our trip to North Carolina, we spent the day in Raleigh. I have already written about our visits to the state capitol and the North Carolina Museum of History, which are across the street from each other downtown. After a late lunch at Pharoah’s Grill, we drove out to the North Carolina Museum of Art, about a six-mile drive to the northwest, which conveniently is on the way back to Chapel Hill.

In post after post, I have expressed my wonder at the museums of Durham, Greensboro, and Raleigh. The art museum is no different, and a testament to the cultural priorities of the state. One approaches it just off a highway, in a nondescript area past some state maintenance and motor pool facilities. There’s a parking lot just off the road, with the unpromising view ahead and down the hill of the building pictured above. Leaving the lot, one can choose a path into the woods, which is the start of the Museum Park. Or one can take a path down to a plaza, with the older east building on one side and the newer west building to the other. The signs indicate that the east building has temporary exhibitions and a membership desk, while the west has the permanent collection.

We chose to start in the west. A friendly woman gave us the visitor’s guide, with maps of the two buildings, plus a guide to the park. It was already past 3:00 PM when we got started, and we quickly realized that we would have to be content with a sampling of the collection.

The west building is all on one level. Whatever you may make of its appearance from the outside, it’s quite wonderful indoors. The walls and ceiling admit an enormous amount of natural light, all filtered by drapes. We learned later from a security guard who attached himself to us that the building opened just two years ago. When it was being built, passersby would think it was a warehouse. Our guard-turned-guide taught high school history in Maryland for 30 years, after undergraduate studies in art history. He and his wife moved down to the Raleigh area five years ago to be near their daughter and grandchildren. Now he gets to spend his days with art while his wife spends hers with the grandchildren.

The museum overview tells us a bit about the museum’s collection:

Since the initial acquisition in 1947 of 139 works of European and American art, purchased with a $1 million appropriation of state funds, the collection of the North Carolina Museum of Art has grown to include major holdings in European painting from the Renaissance to the 19th century (enhanced in 1960 by an extraordinary gift from the Samuel H. Kress Foundation of 75 works dating primarily from the Italian Renaissance and baroque periods), Egyptian funerary art, sculpture and vase painting from ancient Greece and Rome, American art of the 18th through 20th centuries, and international contemporary art. Other strengths include African, ancient American, pre-Columbian, and Oceanic art, and Jewish ceremonial objects. (The NCMA houses one of only two permanent displays of Jewish art in an American art museum.)

The Museum is actively building the collection with recent acquisitions, including a gift from the Iris and B. Gerald Cantor Foundation of 30 works by Auguste Rodin, making the NCMA the leading repository of this artist’s work in the southeastern United States. … The 164-acre Museum Park is home to more than a dozen monumental works of art, with artists actively involved in the restoration of the Park’s landscape and the integration of art into its natural systems.

We started our tour with the Renaissance paintings. The Kress Foundation gave gifts of European art to dozens of museums across the country, including our own Seattle Art Museum. It’s not my impression that we’ve built much on it here in Seattle, the SAM having pursued other areas in its acquisitions. But the NCMA has a stronger European painting collection than I anticipated, due as much to state purchases as the Kress gift.

One quirky addition to the collection is Devorah Sperber’s 2005 After the Mona Lisa 2, inadequately pictured below.

After the Mona Lisa 2, Devorah Sperber, 2005

It is described at Sperber’s website as “an enlarged rendering of The Mona Lisa’s face. When seen with the aid of viewing spheres, distorted views of The Mona Lisa’s smile mimic ‘low spatial frequencies’ usually seen only with peripheral vision. Unlike the original painting, in which the illusion of the smile is subtle, in my rendition The Mona Lisa’s elusive smile appears, changes, and disappears in a dramatic and humorous fashion.” Or, as explained at the Coats & Clark website:

The North Carolina Museum of Art has recently chosen an installation by contemporary New York-based artist Devorah Sperber titled “After The Mona Lisa 2.” This work comprises 5,184 spools of Coats Dual Duty thread as the “color palette” to re-create a detail from Leonardo da Vinci’s famous painting.

Sperber has transformed one of the most well-known works in the history of art by inverting and enlarging it over 200 times to 85 by 87 inches. Viewing the work through an acrylic sphere that is part of the installation mimics peripheral vision, turning the image right side up and shrinking it back to a recognizable size.

In her work Sperber explores the reproduction of images in the digital era, links between art and technology, and visual perception – how the eye and brain make sense of the visual world.

I suppose I’m giving this one work more attention than it deserves. But it was fun to see.

As for the Rodin collection, that took us by surprise. We might have thought we had turned a corner from Les Invalides and stumbled into the Musée Rodin. (We stayed just around the corner from it during the Paris portion of our honeymoon and returned in November 2009, it being a favorite of Gail’s.) But no, we were still in Raleigh. The high ceilings and natural light of the interior Rodin Court show the pieces off to good effect. Just beyond the court are doors opening onto the Rodin Garden, with sculptures arrayed on a lawn surrounding a pool. I have one photo of the garden in my coming attractions post. Here’s another:

(In case the Cantor name sounds familiar, you may be remembering the The Iris and B. Gerald Cantor Roof Garden at the Metropolitan Museum in New York. Or Cantor Fitzgerald.)

Next we explored the Judaic collection. The display space is limited, but filled with astonishing objects, but old and contemporary.

The gallery and its collection were founded by the late Dr. Abram Kanof, a physician and respected scholar of Jewish art and symbolism. It is one of only two galleries devoted to Judaica in an American art museum. Since opening in 1983, the gallery has attracted hundreds of thousands of visitors, the majority of whom are not Jewish and are largely unfamiliar with Judaism’s rich and diverse artistic heritage. Inspired by Dr. Kanof, the Museum has wholeheartedly embraced the role of the Judaic Art Gallery as a forum for religious and cultural understanding, acknowledging as well that ideas are often best communicated through memorable works of art.

The Judaic Art Gallery features objects from the major Jewish traditions—Ashkenazic, Sephardic, and Oriental (or Mizrahi)—as well as from modern Israel. All objects are designed for use in synagogue worship, observance of the Sabbath and holidays, or ceremonial occasions honoring the life cycle and Jewish home. Highlights of the collection include a splendid pair of mid-18th-century silver and gilt Torah finials (rimmonim), originally part of the treasury of the Great Synagogue of Amsterdam; a large standing Hanukkah lamp, circa 1930, one of the masterpieces of the “Hebrew style” from Jerusalem’s celebrated Bezalel Workshop; a finely filigreed case for an Esther scroll from the Ottoman Empire; and an elegant pair of silver finals and matching Torah pointer (yad) dated 1783 from the Orthodox Synagogue in Plymouth, England. Important new objects continue to be added to the collection thanks to the generosity of the Friends of the Judaic Art Gallery. The long-term acquisition plan is directed toward broadening the survey of Judaica to include objects from all important Diaspora communities as well as Israel. Special consideration will be given to ritual objects of North Carolina and southern origin. In addition the plan calls for an ongoing program of commissions from leading American and international designers.

My photos of these objects didn’t come out too well. It was Passover while we were there, so let me focus on two examples of Passover Seder plates. The first is extraordinary, but my shot is hopelessly blurred. Below are three levels for the three pieces of matzoh. At top is the Seder plate itself, with separate figures each holding up a bowl to display the assorted traditional items — the bitter herbs, the charoset, the karpas, etc.

The second is a modern rendering of the same concept.

It was getting late, and we still wanted to explore the museum park. After a brief look at the museum store, we headed back up the hill and onto the walkway. We didn’t get far, only far enough to round the first big curve and see the first two pieces, Vollis Simpson’s Wind Machine

Wind Machine, Vollis Simpson, 2002

and Thomas Sayre’s Gyre (with pedestrians).

Gyre, Thomas Sayre, 1999

The complete loop walk is about two and a half miles. Next time we’ll plan better. But on this day, we had to head out, so we could be back in Chapel Hill for dinner with Joel.

What a fabulous museum!

Categories: Art, Museums

North Carolina Museum of History

April 18, 2012 Leave a comment

I’ve been writing a series of posts about our time in North Carolina last week. Thursday was Raleigh day, and I’ve already written about our visit to the State Capitol, built in 1840, as well as the state’s Legislative Building, which opened in 1963. The Legislative Building is two blocks north of the capitol building, with the North Carolina Museum of History, the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences, and Bicentennial Mall occupying the intermediate block. As I have mentioned in several posts, the natural sciences museum is currently closed for two weeks in preparation for the opening of a new wing this Friday. Following our tour of the capitol, we headed to the history museum, which you see above with the Legislative Building beyond.

We entered a well-lit atrium running the length of the lobby, with exhibits straight back and on the floors above. From my review of the website a couple of weeks ago, I was most eager to see an exhibit called The Story of North Carolina. We stopped at the information desk, where the helpful guide unfolded a museum map, pointed to it on the map and to its opening behind her, then warned us that we could get spend the whole day there. The second floor has museum offices only, and there are more exhibits on the third floor, plus the North Carolina Sports Hall of Fame.

We never did make it to the third floor. One definitely can spend the day in The Story of North Carolina. We contented ourself with two-and-a-half hours, cutting our time short since we had hopes of eating and getting to the North Carolina Museum of Art. Thus, the only part of the museum I can write about is that one exhibit.

Here are excerpts from the exhibit description at the website:

The Story of North Carolina, the largest exhibit ever produced at the N.C. Museum of History in Raleigh, opened to rave reviews in 2011. This permanent exhibit traces life in North Carolina from its earliest inhabitants through the 20th century. …

More than 14,000 years of the state’s history unfold through fascinating artifacts, multimedia presentations, dioramas, and hands-on interactive components. Additionally, two full-size historic houses and several re-created environments immerse museum visitors in places where North Carolinians have lived and worked. Yet the heart of The Story of North Carolina focuses on the people — both well-known and everyday citizens — who shaped the Tar Heel State.

Gilbert Waters’ 1903 Buggymobile (prototype automobile) is one of several objects in The Story of North Carolina that speak to the entrepreneurial spirit of Tar Heels.

Highlights in the first part of The Story of North Carolina include American Indian life, European settlement, piracy, the American Revolution and early 1800s farm life. The exhibit continues through the antebellum era, the Civil War, the rise of industry, the Great Depression, the two World Wars, and the Civil Rights movement.

As wonderful as the exhibit was — and it was — I have to say that there wasn’t much on the Civil Rights movement. Unless we missed a turn. Every so often as we made our way around, I would say to Gail that we’re only up to the Civil War, or 1900, and there’s still all of the Civil Rights movement to go through near the end. But then we got to the end and it wasn’t there. The exhibit ended with the Greensboro student sit-in at the Woolworth’s lunch counter.

No big deal, since we had gone to Greensboro two days earlier and seen the International Civil Rights Center & Museum , which fills that very Woolworth’s. And we really did need to eat and move on. Still, I was surprised.

As for what we did see, there were so many highlights. The houses you could walk through or look into were interesting, especially the slave house that was moved to the museum when a road was built that required its move. This was part of a whole section on the pre-Civil War North Carolina economy and slavery. There was good description of the tar and turpentine industry, making use of the local pine trees to serve the shipping industry. This included a tar spill and tar footprints leading off from it, across the main floor, with a sign explaining why North Carolinians are called tar heels. As for the slave house, several signs described the inhabitants and the lives they would have led.

I have failed to mention a key feature of the exhibit: classes and classes of school kids, coming in waves. They would race through, one group wearing red shirts, another some other identifying feature. Here’s a wave that must have a school assignment requiring photos, because every time you want to read a sign or examine an exhibit, another one cuts in front, holds up his or her cell phone, and takes a shot. Or a sequence of shots, panning the space. There’s a wave that has discovered how to trip the warning beepers in the houses. The slave house, for instance, can only be seen through two windows and a door. Put your arm far enough in through a window and you set off the alarm, which screams for 15 seconds. And then there are the families with the kids who use the signs as leaning posts: put both hands on the sign I’m trying to read, then lean way in to see the slave house better.

Oh well. Patience. They don’t stay long.

From antebellum North Carolina, one enters a room with a video about the start of war. NC was slow to join the Confederacy. But once shots were fired at Fort Sumter and Lincoln wanted to send troops through to South Carolina, North Carolina seceded. Exiting the video room (which one class decided to enter 3/4ths through the movie), one comes to the Civil War exhibits.

Perhaps the most powerful exhibits had to do with Reconstruction and its aftermath.

One whole room is devoted to what amounted to a coup by the Democratic Party in Wilmington in 1898 — the Wilmington Insurrection. The signs and photos told the story well. The video was powerful.

Then, on to the development of the twentieth-century North Carolina economy, based on the triad of textiles, tobacco, and furniture.

Again, excellent displays. An underlying theme was the change in the agricultural economy after the Civil War, the lack of opportunities other than sharecropping (a virtual indentured servitude), and the resulting rush of whites to cities to take factory jobs. There’s a depiction of a factory town, the owners imagining that they are taking care of white people with the company school, church, stores, etc. We then jump to the 1920s and enter the textile mill below to learn how the story developed. Longer hours, declining wages, child labor, union busting, deafening roar, damaged hearing and lungs, no health care. From indentured servitude to hell.

The factory floor you see is enhanced by mirrors. It’s surprisingly realistic in its sense of space. And there’s a button to push that gives you about 45 seconds of noise and vibrating floor, recreating the conditions you read about.

Next up: World War I, the Depression, World War II. Oh, regarding WWII, there’s a big map showing the German U-boat attacks on ships off the coast of North Carolina and a button to push to hear the story.

Soon, we’re staring at a portion of the Greensboro Woolworth’s lunch counter, and then, in one final room, there’s a continuous loop video about the post-war state economy. From there, out to the blindingly bright lobby. For us, time to go.

We headed down a floor and out to Pharoah’s Grill, a semi-fast-food restaurant that is built into the museum building but accessible from the Bicentennial Mall. Not the greatest lunch, but an interesting menu, and maybe we didn’t choose well.

Next up: our visit to the North Carolina Museum of Art.

Categories: History, Museums

Coming Attractions (North Carolina)

April 17, 2012 Leave a comment

North Carolina Museum of History, Raleigh

In case you’re wondering, I’m not done yet with my posts on our trip to North Carolina last week. Still to come are a post on our visit to Raleigh’s North Carolina Museum of History last Thursday and another on our visit later in the day to the North Carolina Museum of Art. We wished we had much more time for both. North Carolina’s commitment to the two museums (and to the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences, which we didn’t get to visit because it is closed for two weeks in preparation for the opening of its new wing this Friday) is stunning, and exemplary.

More later in the week.

North Carolina Museum of Art, Raleigh

Categories: Museums

Weatherspoon Art Museum

April 15, 2012 1 comment

I’ve just written about our visit to the International Civil Rights Center & Museum in Greensboro, North Carolina, last Wednesday. We got to our car around 2:30 in the afternoon. Before driving back to Chapel Hill for dinner with Joel, I wanted to stop at the Weatherspoon Art Museum on the campus of the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. This took Gail by surprise. She might have been thinking a late lunch would be a welcome idea. I assured her that she wanted to see the museum and we agreed that I’d find her coffee and a snack instead.

On reaching the museum, we learned that they didn’t have a café, but were pointed in the direction of local hangout Coffeeology, just down the street. You can see the table where we sat, the two-top just right of center where the guy in the gray sweater is looking downwards.

On returning to the museum, we went upstairs to see the Trenton Doyle Hancock exhibition, WE DONE ALL WE COULD AND NONE OF IT’S GOOD. “Internationally acclaimed Texas-based artist Trenton Doyle Hancock is best known for his ongoing narrative and theatrical installations that thrust the viewer literally and figuratively into his personal, idiosyncratic, and, at times, heretical weave of words and images. This exhibition features new and selected works executed across a wide variety of media, including drawing, painting, collage, and sculpture.”

We didn’t spend long, moving on to Telling Tales: Narratives from the 1930s, a small but superb exhibit. From the website:

Artists who advocated both representational and abstract styles attempted to capture the spirit of their age—a time marked by the bleak reality of the Great Depression as well as the uplifting optimism linked with the machine age and its promise of progress. While works by Social Realist and Regionalist artists—the art market’s dominant styles at the time—abound, images by other artists whose concerns were more psychologically penetrating are also included.


We were two days too early for the opening of Matisse and the Decorative Impulse, being prepared in some additional second floor space. Back on the main floor, we looked at Richard Mosse: Falk Visiting Artist. As the title indicates, Mosse is visiting the university now, and in honor of the visit, the museum has a show of his recent work.

Photographer Richard Mosse has spent the last two years shooting a new series of work titled Infra in the eastern Congo. The artist is known for his restrained and highly aestheticized views of sites associated with violence and fear, such as his 2008 depictions of the war in Iraq, and his large-scale photographs of airplane crash sites and emergency drills. For his work in the Congo, Mosse used Kodak Aerochrome, an infrared film designed in connection with the United States military to detect camouflage in the 1940s. The film reveals a spectrum of light beyond what the human eye can perceive, turning the lush landscape of the Congo into a bubblegum pink. This hue contrasts dramatically with the severe environment within which the people of the eastern Congo live and draws our attention to the complex social and political dynamics of the country. Beginning in 1998, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (formerly Zaire) became the site of the widest interstate war in modern African history, which has claimed millions of lives. Although the conflict was thought to have subsided in 2006, with the first free elections, thousands continue to die as a result of the ongoing conflict, most due to hunger and disease.

Mosse’s technique, as described above, yields amazing results. The landscape colors are altered while other colors remain true, creating surprisingly powerful images. The one at the top is typical. Here’s one more.

On our way out, we took a quick look at the Sculpture Garden.

Who would have imagined that UNC Greensboro has such a good art museum? For that matter, who would have imagined that there are so many wonderful museums in Greensboro? We saw so much in our six hours.

Categories: Art, Museums

International Civil Rights Museum

April 15, 2012 Leave a comment

Historic Woolworth's, site of Greensboro's civil rights museum

[Photo by me]

I just wrote about the first stop of our visit to Greensboro, North Carolina, last Wednesday, the Greensboro Historical Museum. This was a warmup for our day’s principal destination, the International Civil Rights Center & Museum. It is on the site of the Woolworth’s where four North Carolina A&T students staged their historic lunch counter sit-in in 1960. As I explained in writing about the museum two months ago, we had seen a portion of the lunch counter two years ago at the National Museum of American History in Washington, D.C., and I was eager to see the rest.

One can visit the civil rights museum by guided tour only. Three weeks ago, I called to reserve a 1:00 PM tour. It emerged that this was unnecessary. We arrived around 12:45 PM, went into the store, and stood in line behind a family of three and a man. They bought tickets for the tour, I announced that we had a reservation, the woman at the counter nodded her head, and sold us two tickets. A few minutes later, the six of us being the lone guests, our tour began.

The guide was a stern taskmaster. She lectured us on the house rules — no photographs, no touching, etc. — then led us down the escalator from the lobby to the basement. Over the next 75 minutes, she would take us into a sequence of spaces, all of which was designed to allow for unescorted study, but we had to glance quickly at any of the written explanations, for she would give us her version of the story and hurry us on. Not that she did a bad job. In fact, she was an excellent guide. The problem with this arrangement was simply that there was so much more to see and read about than we were given the time to do.

Here’s a brief rundown of the tour.

1. At the foot of the escalator is an orientation space. Our guide spoke about slavery and we could see, through the clear wall, a scene with shackles where slaves would be auctioned. On another wall was more orienting information, I can’t remember what. I tried to walk closer to one object, but was told to stand back or I would trigger the opening of the door to the next room.

2. We entered the Hall of Shame. Well, first, our guide told us we would enter it and warned us of graphic images. She looked sharply at the parents of the family of three, seemingly expecting them to offer to skip it, then she asked if they were prepared to enter. They said sure. It has graphic images indeed, from a black man burned in Nebraska some time in the 1800s to Emmitt Till. We stopped at a few, received the guide’s commentary, then moved on.

3. We took seats in the next space to watch a video enactment of the evening before the Woolworth’s sit-in, with the four young men in a dorm room discussing their plan. They go over the reasons for it, the risks they would be taking, then commit to proceeding. Three, we learn, were locals, with the fourth from New York. As the video ends, the wall on which it was projected fades away and we see into a re-creation of their room. The NCA&T dorm that they lived in was demolished, but first some furniture was salvaged and is on display in this exhibit. But before we could walk closer for a look, we were taken to a long hall, our guide explaining that as we walk it, we should imagine the walk the four students took from their dorm to the Woolworth’s.

4. The hall has large photos on the walls, the last ones being Gandhi on one side and Martin Luther King on the other. We stopped at the end as the guide recited the names of the photographed people, all from the US civil rights movement other than Gandhi.

5. From the hall, we took an escalator up, arriving at the Woolworth’s. Or rather, a large space that had been the Woolworth’s, with a long lunch counter running along two perpendicular walls. I don’t recall ever seeing such a huge lunch counter. The two runs of seats were each at least 25 seats long, perhaps 30. Re-created on the walls were prices of items, 5-cent Pepsis and 85-cent turkey club sandwiches. The seats alternated in color between green and orange. We were told that three sets of four seats had been removed, one in the Smithsonian, one in the North Carolina Museum of History in Raleigh, the third I didn’t catch where. But we saw no gaps. Had they been filled with seats from other Woolworth’s? Were these the original seats? It’s all a puzzle.

We watched a video on the wall behind the counter that told the sit-in story, with actors re-enacting the scene. The four students sitting down, being refused service, but staying put. An imaginary African-American waitress urging them to leave so they don’t make trouble for everyone. An imaginary white waitress being nasty. A white woman sitting amongst them who expresses support for what they’re doing. More students joining in subsequent days, bringing their books to study and staying all day, with men shown leaning in with unfriendly faces. The store manager studying his books and deciding this was bad for business. The decision to integrate.

I’ve skipped over some of the background. Everyone could shop in the store. It’s only sitting at the counter that was closed to blacks. They could order food at one location in the counter, receiving it and having to stand around in the store to eat it.

6. This was the highlight of the tour, and I thought the end, but through the next door lay a detailed exhibit on the Jim Crow south. There were sections on travel by bus and train, staying in hotels, schools, medical care, voting, … . Each had photos and signs, buttons to push for narratives. I think one could spend a good two hours going through it all. But once again we were raced around by our guide, who highlighted some of the photos and history from each section. For instance, we got to see the test that potential voters would have to pass to be allowed to vote, a hopeless test. I asked what about whites who failed, and the guide explained that children of voters had the right to vote, so they wouldn’t have to take the test. It’s new voters who had to pass, excluding many blacks and some whites.

7. Lastly, there was a room with photos of civil rights efforts worldwide. I entered it prematurely, setting off the video that plays along one wall. The guide made some closing remarks, then we came out to the lobby.

If only we had the leisure to wander on our own. But still, a great visit.

Categories: History, Museums

Greensboro Historical Museum

April 15, 2012 Leave a comment

I got off to a good start in blogging about our New York-North Carolina trip last week (for instance, writing about the Duke Homestead and Nasher Museum of Art), which we visited in Durham on Tuesday), but then stopped dead. Let me try to get Ron’s View re-started here.

On Wednesday, we drove the not-quite-fifty miles from Chapel Hill west to Greensboro, with the principal goal of visiting the International Civil Rights Center & Museum. We had reserved a 1:00 PM tour and arrived early so we could explore Greensboro ahead of time. As we drove around the downtown area, we passed the stadium of the Greensboro Grasshoppers minor league baseball team, the principal downtown office buildings, and then, rounding a corner, a grouping of log-cabin buildings in a small park.

That last item caught our eye. We parked in the first available spot on the street, walked back, and on reading the sign for a nineteenth-century home, realized that this collection was part of the Greensboro Historical Museum. Indeed, we had driven past the museum moments before spotting the house. It was the large brick building just behind us, and the park contained their collection of historic buildings.

In Mary Lynn Richardson Park, see sculpture and stroll the walkways around the Francis McNairy House, originally located near today’s Guilford Courthouse National Military Park. Inside, discover furnishings and decorative arts from the late 1700s and early 1800s. Built as a log house, it now looks much as it would have in the 1820s, when the family renovated their home and added clapboard siding.

The Hockett Blacksmith and Woodworking Shops were once part of a flourishing family farm south of Greensboro. Open for scheduled tours and during special events, the buildings serve up a helping of historic crafts that were essential to and every community.

Realizing that we had stumbled on the history museum, we left the park and entered. A kindly older gentleman with a local accent gave us a museum map and oriented us a bit. There wasn’t much on the main floor. The lobby. Restrooms and offices. A century-old cadillac. We climbed the stairs, at the top of which was a display of the Metcalf-Cooke Silver Collection and an adjacent display of some clothing of Dolley Madison:

Before suffragettes and feminists revolutionized the American landscape, one local woman influenced the flavor of our nation.

Icon. Fashionista. Heroine. Guilford County native, and the only First Lady born in North Carolina, Dolley Madison is one of the area’s most celebrated native daughters. Wife of our 4th president, James Madison, Dolley led a life filled with love and acclaim, but also with hardship.

Let Dolley’s personal possessions, collected with care through the years, introduce you to the part of her life marked by privilege, parties and high tea. A calling card case and pair of silk slippers will transport you into the social swirl of her time as First Lady.

Then, discover why Dolley spent her final years in near-poverty and how her possessions, first sold at auction, were later donated to the Greensboro Historical Museum.

Beyond these is a large semi-circular space three historical rooms from North Carolina homes re-created on the outer semi-circle. I’m not seeing a link to them at the museum website. Two, a living room and dining room, were from a wealthy person’s home, circa 1850. The third was an all-purpose room from a home, circa 1800. They were well done, and I imagined them to be the museum highlight. Gail had drifted off to look at the pottery in the interior of the semi-circle. It was an exhibition of Jugtown Pottery:

In the Piedmont region of North Carolina, the words “Jugtown” and “pottery” are practically synonymous. Nearly 100 years ago a couple from New York City visited the nearby community of Seagrove, North Carolina, and stepped in to save what was then a dying tradition of handmade pottery. Then, almost 50 years later, local collectors Joanne and Arthur Bluethenthal visited Seagrove’s Jugtown Pottery and, with a discerning eye, began to purchase a range of beautifully handcrafted clay pieces. The decorative and functional designs illustrate the rich artistic heritage that is a source of pride for Greensboro, the entire state and the nation.

Oh, I didn’t mention Otto Zenke’s miniature rooms, wonderful furnished rooms made by the prominent interior designer back around the 1930s. I thought we’d seen everything on the floor after the pottery, so we headed to the stairway for the top floor and the Civil War collection, only to see a doorway leading to what turns out to be the museum’s centerpiece, the exhibition Voices of a City. We spent over an hour going through it, would happily have stayed longer.

“What would a city say if it could speak?” asked the writer O. Henry. Indeed, what would Greensboro’s generations have to say about the place, its people and events? Through Voices of a City: Greensboro North Carolina, you will discover new interpretations from more than 300 years of local history.

What may seem like ordinary objects tell extraordinary stories. An ornate shell necklace traded centuries ago by one tribe to another. An illuminated German Bible essential for worship by non-English speakers. A rifle fired during a 1781 battle for independence. A desk used by a newspaper editor who decried slavery publicly yet owned slaves through marriage. A loom that wove denim for apparel worn around the world. A seat from a civil rights sit-in that changed the nation. A flight attendant’s handbook that survived the crash of United Airlines Flight 93 on September 11, 2001.

The exhibit does a great job of laying out the human history of the region, from the Native Indian life to today. The wagon route down from Philadelphia through the Piedmont area of North Carolina to Augusta, Georgia, that brought settlers from 1800 onward; the principal settler groups — Quakers, Scots-Irish Presbyterians, Germans, and of course enslaved Africans; Civil War and reconstruction; the growth of the textile industry (denim overalls, Wrangler jeans); Vick’s Vaporub (invented in Greensboro); mills.

See the photos below (and at top) from the gallery photo tour.

There was so much to see, read, and learn. What a superb local history museum!

Categories: History, Museums

Nasher Museum of Art

April 10, 2012 Leave a comment

Jimmy Lee Sudduth, Rooster, 1991

In my previous post, I described our visit this morning to the Duke Homestead. From there, we drove a couple of miles to Duke University to visit its Nasher Museum of Art, arriving a little after noon. Just in time for lunch, which we happily had at the Museum Café. Gail and I shared a white bean and chicken soup, and both of us chose the curried chicken salad wrap with side salad. This was the most beautiful imaginable day, so we sat on the outside patio, but we hadn’t taken into account how windy it was. Our stuff kept blowing away. After the soup, we moved inside.

Two of the museum’s gallery rooms are devoted to a temporary exhibition, Alexander Calder and Contemporary Art: Form, Balance, Joy, which was organized by the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago. A third large space contained several exhibits from the permanent collection. One, Angels, Devils and the Electric Slide: Outsider Art from the Permanent Collection, was prepared specifically to complement the Calder show. We started here, without first reading the sign that explained its complementary role — use of found objects, etc. Perhaps the intent was for us to start with Calder.

No matter. We loved this exhibition. You can see my favorite, Jimmy Lee Sudduth‘s rooster, above. Below is the placard describing it.

There was also an exhibition put together by a Duke class of undergraduates and graduate students containing ancient objects from the permanent collection. And a selection from museum’s medieval collection, the core of which was acquired from the estate of Ernest Brummer in 1966. The museum says this is one of the finest medieval collection in a university museum. I’m guessing there’s not much competition for this honor, but in any case, the collection certainly contains some wonderful pieces.

As for the Calder show, it was a delight. Here’s the online description:

The Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University presents an exhibition that provides a fresh perspective on modern sculptor Alexander Calder (1898-1976) and his influence on a new generation of artists.

Alexander Calder and Contemporary Art pairs 32 master works by Calder with works by seven young artists: Martin Boyce, Nathan Carter, Abraham Cruzvillegas, Aaron Curry, Kristi Lippire, Jason Meadows and Jason Middlebrook. The Nasher Museum is the fourth and final venue for the exhibition, which will be on view from February 16 to June 17, 2012.

Visitors know and love Calder as the inventor of the mobile, and for his legacy as a modern sculptor. This is the first exhibition to explore Calder’s influence on an exciting new generation of artists. Visitors will have a rare chance to see their work side by side with that of Calder, to compare the creative use of materials to define space and explore form, balance, color and movement.

And here is one of the works:

Alexander Calder, Four Boomerangs, c. 1949. Painted sheet metal and steel wire, 39 x 63 inches diameter. Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago.

[Photo: Nathan Keay, © MCA Chicago]

Well worth a visit. And have lunch too.

Categories: Art, Museums