reviews, artists, Bibliography

"THE EXPRESSIVE VOICE" for Artscope Magazine (Jan/Feb 2012)

"THE EXPRESSIVE VOICE" for Artscope Magazine (Jan/Feb 2012)

"THE EXPRESSIVE VOICE: SELECTIONS FROM THE PERMANENT COLLECTION"

The Danforth Museum of Art
123 Union Avenue
Framingham, Massachusetts
November 20, 2011 - February 26, 2012

by Meredith Cutler (for Artscope Magazine)

Article excerpt:

In the suburban margins of Boston, a modest museum sits patiently, its yellow brick façade betraying no hint of the legacy housed within its unique permanent collection. This is the Danforth Museum — and the secret is out.

Thanks to the persistence of museum director Katherine French, the Danforth is recognized as the go-to institution for the exhibition, housing and exploration of artworks related to Boston Expressionism, a sprawling movement itself thriving in the margins of 20th century American art history.

Preceding and informing the success of its better-known nemesis, Abstract Expressionism, the Boston school grew out of a deep respect for the work of Oskar Kokoschka (whose 1914 lithograph “Oskar Kokoschka” is currently on view), Max Beckmann and other Expressionist painters caught up in Europe’s perilous political landscape. Karl Zerbe, a German refugee painter who brought European Expressionism to Boston, hit a nerve with his protégées at The Museum School, many of them immigrants of the Jewish Baltic diaspora struggling to contextualize their secular identities in a modern America. 

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Image: Hyman Bloom, "Seascape II", 1974, oil on canvas, 55" x 72".

"INDUSTRIAL STRENGTH" for Artscope Magazine (July/Aug 2011)

"INDUSTRIAL STRENGTH" for Artscope Magazine (July/Aug 2011)

"INDUSTRIAL STRENGTH"

Fountain Street Fine Art
59 Fountain Street
Framingham, Massachusetts
June 17 - July 31, 2011

by Meredith Cutler (for Artscope Magazine)

Article excerpt:

A newcomer this year, the member co-op Fountain Street Fine Art gallery is a welcoming space that retains the gritty charm of its 19th century manufacturing roots in Framingham’s Bancroft Building, home to the largest collective of working artists in MetroWest Boston. 

The first half of summer offers up "Industrial Strength," an open-call juried show showcasing 65 works selected by Howard Yezerski, owner of Boston’s Yezerski Gallery, from 232 entries. The theme asks us to reflect on the history of the gallery space and to investigate the detritus, elbow grease and politics of industry.

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Image: AJ Grignaffini, "The Fish", 2011, repurposed metal sculpture, approx. 8.5 x 11".

"SWEET REVELATION" for GET Magazine (May 2011)

"SWEET REVELATION" for GET Magazine (May 2011)

"SWEET REVELATION: FIRSTWORKS UNVEILS AILEY'S MASTERPIECE IN PROVIDENCE"

for GET Magazine, May 2011 issue

Article by Meredith Cutler

Founded by legendary choreographer and dancer Alivn Ailey in 1958, Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater remains one of the most recognized names in dance today. Having performed for an estimated 23 million people worldwide, Ailey's namesake continues to dazzle audiences two decades after his death with riveting choreography, compelling scores, and the sheer grace and athleticism of the company's 30 gorgeous dancers.

On May 10, FirstWorks brings Ailey to Providence Performing Arts Center for the city's first full-company performance in the company's 52-year history. This tour also marks the final season for dance icon Judith Jamison, who spearheads Ailey's vision as Artistic Director since his untimely death in 1989. Poised to inherit Jamison's title on July 1st is choreographer Robert Battle, joining this tour as Artistic Director Designate. For the company, this moment marks a daring transition to a leadership who will have had no direct discourse with Ailey. A confident Jamison assures that Battle "is without question the creative force of the future."

This transformational tour also marks the 50th anniversary of Ailey's signature piece, Revelations, hailed by the New York Times as a "timeless tribute to humanity". Set as a suite of traditional African-American spirituals in three sections, Revelations breathes movement, color and brilliantly costumed life into Ailey's "blood memories" of growing up African American in Texas decades before the civil-rights movement.

"Alvin Ailey said that one of America's richest treasures was the cultural heritage of the African-American – 'sometimes sorrowful, sometimes jubilant, but always hopeful,'" recounted Jamison. "Revelations is a profound manifestation of how dance can celebrate the human spirit and impact our hearts and minds."

"Celebrating Revelations at 50," a short film by Emmy Award-winning producer and director Judy Kinberg, will be screened as part of the program at each venue. 

The enduring beauty of Ailey's namesake is how it spreads the gospel of a much wider dance legacy. Accompanying Revelations (1960) is Suite Otis (1971), a tribute to the late Otis Redding by George W. Faison. The program also celebrates acclaimed young choreographers, including Robert Battle's The Hunt (2001) and Camille A. Brown's The Evolution of a Secured Feminine (2007); which, for the first time will feature a soloist other than Brown herself.

Set to the brazen beat of Les Tambours Du Bronx, The Hunt's bare-chested male dancers ripple and leap to a core-pounding rhythm. In perfect symmetry, Brown's 'Evolution celebrates the many shades of femininity to a score of rich vocals by Ella Fitzgerald, Betty Carter and Nancy Wilson.

This performance marks the finale of FirstWorks' Season of Celebrating Ailey: A Cultural Legend, spotlighting significant contributions of African American artists to our cultural heritage, and featuring performances and educational programs by Sweet Honey in the Rock, Ailey II (the junior company of Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre), and Nicky Mathis' Afrikan Amerikan Jazz Quartet. Closing FirstWorks' incredible season, Ailey promises to inspire, uplift and entertain. Tickets are available through the PPAC box office at 401-421-ARTS (2787) and online at first-works.org.

Image: Jamar Roberts of Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre. Photo by Andrew Eccles.

"CONCEPTS IN GLASS" for Artscope Magazine (May/June 2011)

"CONCEPTS IN GLASS" for Artscope Magazine (May/June 2011)

"CONCEPTS IN GLASS"

New Art Center
61 Washington Park
Newtonville, Massachusetts
April 11, 2011 - May 15, 2011

by Meredith Cutler (for Artscope Magazine)

Article excerpt:

The New Art Center in Newtonville, Mass. has a 33-year tradition of scheduling its main gallery with group exhibitions curated by an exhibiting artist or independent curator. Their spring exhibition, "Concepts in Glass," presents the work of four Boston-area glass artists exploring their seductive medium conceptually through sculpture.

Curated by glass artist Hillary Faccio, "Concepts in Glass" features her work alongside that of three current faculty members at her alma mater, the Massachusetts College of Art and Design: professor Alan Klein, assistant professor James McLeod and visiting professor Christopher G. Watts.

Aptly situated in the center's rehabbed 19th century church gallery with its arched, stained glass windows, the exhibit is mounted on both wall and pedestal.

Chris Watts claims the church's former alter for "Grave Dust," a large wall installation formed from cascading curtains of blown and slumped glass. According to the identification tag, the transparent glass is suffused with "granite dust obtained from the carving of deceased persons' names into grave markers." Making pointed use of found materials to address issues of race, class and perceived and agreed value, Watts' work is highly conceptual. His detailed material lists act as one entry point for the viewer.

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Image: James McLeod, "Memory Container 12", 2006, glass.

"SACHIKO AKIYAMA" for Artscope Magazine (Jan/Feb 2011)

"SACHIKO AKIYAMA" for Artscope Magazine (Jan/Feb 2011)

"SACHIKO AKIYAMA: THINGS UNSEEN"

Danforth Museum of Art
123 Union Avenue
Framingham, Massachusetts
November 14, 2010 - February 6, 2011

by Meredith Cutler (for Artscope Magazine)

Article excerpt:

Tucked into the rear gallery of the Danforth Museum, Boston-area sculptor Sachiko Akiyama's solo show, "Things Unseen," is subtly previewed by a simple, basswood bust planted in the farthest corner of the main hallway. Blink, and you might miss it as you wander in search of the exhibit. A self-portrait, "Reverie" invites the sharp-eyed visitor to pause and contemplate with the artist/subject, who gazes with a relaxed countenance toward an indistinct point.

It’s this in-between space, the focal point of the inward gaze, that pervades Akiyama’s work. Drawing from a controlled lexicon of dreams, memories and Japanese fairytales, Akiyama’s robust polychrome woodcarvings present familiar imagery with a deliberate evasiveness, leaving the viewer to construct his own meaning. In each sculpture, Akiyama casts herself or close family members as subjects, paired with simple iconography that hints at the wisdom and mystery of the natural world.

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Image: Sachiko Akyiama, "Shared Departures", 2008, polychromed wood.

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