Quote of the Moment

"Stare. It is the way to educate your eye and more."

Walker Evans, American photographer.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Off The Wall Exhibit at the Danforth Museum

Yes, I know, I have lived in Framingham for 8 years and I had never been to the Danforth Museum! Well I remedied that on Thursday, June 24 when I went to see the Off the Wall & Community of Artists exhibits. The program for the exhibits states: " Each year our two concurrent juried exhibitions showcase artistic talent of emerging and established member artists. Off the Wall communicates the unique vision of our renowned guest jurors while Community of Artists provides a snapshot of some of the most exciting work done by artists living and working in New England." (The guest jurors this year were Jen Mergel, Senior Curator of Contemporary Art at the MFA Boston and Helen Molesworth, Chief Curator at the ICA Boston). All of the pieces by artists I know and the piece by an artist new to me that really got my attention are in the Community of Artists exhibit, so that exhibit is what is covered in this post.

I was prompted to visit this exhibit through an invitation from a friend, C-J Stevens, whose beautiful (and labor-intensive!) bead work pieces I last saw on display last fall at the Arsenal Center for the Arts in an exhibit called "Ten Thousand Hours". I've known C-J through another mutual friend for several years but had only seen some of her beaded jewelry work before (which is also fabulous), never the framed pieces. I was very impressed by the depth and beauty of her work. One of the pieces, titled Recession, is on view at the Danforth show. (Unfortunately, C-J doesn't have a website so I couldn't extract any examples of her work for the gallery on the Museums page. Someone needs to drag this girl into the digital age!)

I didn't realize until I got to the Danforth that there were several other artists in this show whose work I also know and admire. David Lang, who I know through C-J, has two of his kinetic sculptures on view, one of which is a favorite of mine that I had seen in his studio last fall. It's called The Day the Castinetti Sisters First Learned to Fly and it makes me smile every time I see it. It is similar to the example on the Museums gallery page but also has clam shells, which open and close to reveal pictures of women inside. The sculpture is motion-activated and it was fun to watch other people in the gallery who didn't know this start by being startled and then entranced by it. One family I saw spent several minutes at it, making sure they saw every aspect.

John Borchard has to be my favorite photographer and I was delighted to see a photograph of his in this exhibit as well. His work was introduced to me through an exhibit he did at the Wellesley Free Library a year or two ago. I signed the guestbook and included my email and subsequently learned that he and his wife, Marian Dioguardi, were having an opening in North Becket on the weekend I was in the Berkshires last summer. My intrepid friend Melinda and I searched out the North Becket Arts Center and had a chance to meet both artists and see their work. Nice people and wonderful art; I will be attending the SoWa First Friday event sometime this fall to see more. John's piece Island in the Fog, one of his smaller works, is at the Danforth (see Museums page for image). Marian is represented in the show by an oil entitled Simplicity: A Cup Study. I couldn't find that image on her webpage but did include an example of her work. I'm a big fan of Marian's paintings too; simple subjects rendered in brilliant colors that make you sit up and take notice.

I also "discovered" another artist whose work absolutely captivated me and I want to see more! Her name is Dido Diana Thayer and she paints in oil on Venetian plaster on panel. The piece in the Danforth show is called Listening Landscape and is done on two panels put together, one slightly larger than the other. (I couldn't find an image of this on her gallery's website (Soprafina Gallery) but I did find another example of her work to include). Her work shimmers and changes as you approach it, the way landscapes do on very hot or very foggy days - beautiful and intriguing.

Off the Wall & Community of Artists is definitely worth a trip to the Danforth; it runs until August 8th. The museum is closed for August and will reopen in September, when I intend to return to view the permanent collection (which goes into storage annually to make way for this exhibit). Don't forget to check out the adjacent Museums page for images. And yes, an ISG badge will get you into the Danforth.

Next up, a toddle to PEM..... !

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