Saturday, March 18, 2017

More from Mass MoCA!

 Hello!  Splat!  Here I am, above, in front of one of the many Sol LeWitt wall drawings and paintings on display long-term in the museum.  Let me share a bit of what else is currently on exhibition.
Above, a sculpture outside of Mass MoCA, is an actual bolder split in  half.  There's also, right outside the entrance, an overhead group of upside down trees, but that's another story all together.  They are real trees, suspended in the air, growing upside down.  Currently they are bare, but I was hypothesizing that in autumn, when their leaves change, they should "fall" upward into the sky!  Both of these are, I believe, very long-term (or permanent) installations at the museum.

We spent some time in the part of the museum called Kidspace, and I thought it was amazing!  It's set up with creative spaces for kids to use, but it is also adult-friendly.  I'm glad we didn't skip it!  Federico Uribe re-purposed interesting materials for his sculptures that currently populate Kidspace, to give the viewer a lot of provocative food for thought - bullets were used to create various animals such as a lion, and the bunny sitting on the donkey above.  Leather sneakers, made from animal hides, were used to create new animals, army helmets became turtle shells, and so on.  Above is a donkey made out of leather valises!!  Don't you love his zipper eye (below)?
And here's a closeup of a gator made from sneakers...
I love this sheep (or is it a lamb?) made from tons of white scissors.  In the pic on the right, the pig is made from measuring tape, and I believe the man is a conglomeration of various pencils. 
Aren't these wasps made from sneakers just fabulous?

There was a multi-room exhibit called "Explode Every Day - An Inquiry into the Phenomena of Wonder", with work from various artists, each more boggling than the next.  These next three photos are blown glass pieces, by Chris Taylor.  I am NOT KIDDING.  These are blown glass.  The guard allowed us to touch them for proof!  Amazing!!
The guard actually told us where to find this blown glass piece below.  He said "Look for what looks like a pile of garbage on the floor in a back corner."  I had no idea glass to could look like this!  Even from inches away, there's no way you'd know it is glass.
I loved this painting, below, by Sharon Ellis, one of several on display in the gallery. 
The most provocative part of the exhibit was a room that looked like the lab of a mad scientist.  The work is called "Field Station" and is by Charles Lindsay.  There were things spinning and blinking and making noises and two giant tube thingies that were randomly, it seemed, broadcasting whale songs.  Below is a view into one of the tubes, one of the randomly spinning blinking whirring thingies, and.... something else.  I don't know what. 
Some of my favorite pieces in the exhibit were works by brothers Ryan and Trevor Oakes, particularly intricate drawings on curved surfaces. 
Below is one of the brothers working on the piece pictured above, of the Chicago "bean" sculpture, officially named the Cloud Gate. 
 This matchstick structure below is also by Ryan and Trevor Oakes. 

Also in the exhibition, this room below, filled with bottles and vases, with fossilized rocks and shells on top, I think.  I didn't understand the point, but I loved these bottles (they reminded me of great blue herons), and I also loved the light quality in the room.  They were wired up in some way to... oh, I don't know.  I couldn't figure it all out.  I admit it.  Some of them had humidifiers.  I'm stumped.

 There was a timeline of the universe, starting with the Big Bang, and ending in the future, with the demise of our planet.  Here's a couple of blips from the timeline, from the short period of time humans are on earth.
Below, a couple more pics from Kidspace.  This lion is made from bullets and shell casings, and the hair on the  heads in the  CD pond are keyboards. 

The pics below were shot in the Sol LeWitt exhibit.  I've seen this work before, but it is always fun to walk through it.  And, as I said before, the museum has incredible light quality .  
 I took this picture just before I dropped and broke my little camera, while trying to put it back in its case.  It was a handy-dandy little Sony camera, and I'm getting a used replacement from eBay.  I hope it works...

If you've never had an opportunity to go to Mass MoCA, the museum is a really cool space, with buildings linked by tunnels and such, resulting in interesting spaces like the one below.  One of the tunnels has interesting sounds coming from the walls, making it an immersive experience.  

I tried to close the post with a little video weirdness from one of those tube things that I told you about before, but it wasn't working.  I'll try to put it back soon, so come check back.  In the meantime, call me befuddled.......  

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Nick Cave's "Until", and more at Mass MoCA

My husband and I visited Mass MoCA yesterday (Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art, for those of you unfamiliar with the name).  A trip to Mass MoCA is always guaranteed to mystify, to wow, to confuse, to befuddle, to excite, and more.  On my last trip to Mass MoCA, I was especially smitten with two long-term exhibitions: wall paintings by Sol Lewitt, and my personal favorite, the installation All Utopias Fall by Michael Oatman.  They are both still there, but the Oatman installation is only open seasonally (it's basically in an Airstream suspended precariously and accessed by climbing stairways through a creepy boiler room out onto a catwalk). 
This trip there were several exhibits that intrigued me, most particularly a major installation by Nick Cave, in the photos posted above and below.
I took a ridiculous amount of photos of this and other exhibits, before, when removing my sweet point-and-shoot little camera from my arm to put it in its case, it slipped out of my grip and spun madly through the air landing on the hard wooden floor with a crash. I think it left a dent in the floor, and the camera appears to be irreparably damaged.  There was a blizzard today, so I couldn't get to the photo store (it was probably closed anyhow) to see if there's any hope to save it.  This trusty lightweight but versatile camera has been everywhere with me for a few years, especially traveling with me in my kayak on numerous occasions as I've stalked loons, eagles, herons, and turtles, and I am sad to think its journey with me has ended.
Speaking of the blizzard, we were actually planning to stay overnight near the museum, and go to a completely different museum today (with more of a focus on impressionism and other traditional works of art) but we hotfooted it home last evening to beat the storm.  Good thing we did!  We've probably got a foot and a half of fresh snow, and it was quite a doozy of a storm with high winds and total whiteout.
But back to the museum!  These draped caves were NOT made from colorful rope and fishing net, as they might look on first glance. 
Look carefully.  They are made entirely out of strands of beads, beaded into layers and layers of netting.  Colorful and beautiful!  And with images of rainbows, peace signs, a happy face, and more, all in the beading! 
 I was asking a guard a lot of questions, specifically about the installation of the installation.  (Does that make sense?) A lot she couldn't answer.  How many people hung all the spinny things?  Who decided which ones go where?  And who assembled the chandelier and all the "stuff" on top of it?  (She told me the chandelier arrived in boxes and boxes of crystals...).  And how about the beading?  Who actually did the physical work of stringing all the beads according to what pattern?  What part of all of this is actually done by the artist, and what part is done by technicians or what?  Who hunted yard sales and junk shops to find all the intriguing found objects incorporated in the chandelier?  I'm pretty blown away/befuddled by the scope of it all and the "who does what" and what role the artist has in the actual creation of the work of art.  I'd love your insight, readers!!
In the midst of all the dangly spinning things shown at the top of the post, there was a giant crystal chandelier (as you've seen in one of the pics above, plus below) with ladders to the top, where there was a huge collection of.... stuff.  Hard to describe.  All sorts of interesting found objects.
 Me in my happy place.

It all felt so joyous to me, so it was really intriguing, afterward, to read the literature about the installation, called "Until".  It's really a statement about confronting racism and violence head-on.  The exhibit included a room with an immersive video (below; it felt like the floors and walls were moving), that was very agitating, and the literature says the show ended with a "metaphoric cleansing amidst a Mylar waterfall".  I don't know how, but evidently we totally missed that final Mylar waterfall!

In a separate post, probably tomorrow, I'll share some of other intriguing artwork on exhibit at the museum.  Too much to put all in one post!!  Stay tuned, because it's awesome stuff!!