Monday, December 5, 2011

The 2012 deCordova Biennial Curators Dina Deitsch and Abigail Ross Goodman take on Art | Basel

Co-curators of The 2012 deCordova Biennial, Dina Deitsch and Abigail Ross Goodman, blogged about their experiences at Art Basel Miami over the weekend for Art New England. Learn more about what they saw, what they liked, and where they went.

Read more on Art New England's blog.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Hannah Visits the Tang

Fall Curatorial Intern, Hannah Mode, recently visited the Tang Museum at Skidmore College.  Here are some of her thoughts. To read more on this topic, please visit
Whiting Tennis
Washer/Dryer, 2010
Plywood and house paint
Each 40 ½ x 27 7/8 x 24 ¼ inches

A few weeks ago, I had the pleasure of returning to beautiful Saratoga Springs, NY, home to the Tang Museum at Skidmore College (where I spent four years studying as an undergrad). Like deCordova, the Tang boasts an innovative exhibition space and an exciting curatorial program that provides each viewer with a unique, thoughtful art experience. On this trip, I was especially looking forward to seeing the exhibition, Opener 22: Whiting Tennis.
Whiting Tennis
The New Green, 2007
Wood, paint, and Visqueen
56 1/8 x 20 x 33 7/8 inches

Opener 22 is Tennis’ first solo museum exhibition and features sculpture, painting, drawing, and collage from the past twelve years. The Seattle-based artist is heavily influenced by everyday structures in the Northwest and often includes recognizable visual clues in his work that point to familiar items, like sheds, bits of plywood, signs, even mailboxes. Tennis breathes new life into discarded, overlooked objects by fusing many materials into a single work of art.

Drawing is the base of Tennis’ practice, and he also creates woodblock prints that he cuts and collages together. I especially enjoyed the way the texture of the drawings and collages emphasizes the landscape of the Northwest, and creates relationships with similar surfaces of the sculptures. 

Whiting Tennis
Boogeyman, 2007
Plywood and hot melt tar
83 x 44 x 32 inches
Courtesy of Derek Eller Gallery, New York
Two outdoor sculptures - Boogeyman (a black structure about seven feet tall) coated in what looks like tar, stands outside the main entrance, while title, a smaller, shingled piece rests on the back patio in the same mysterious, yet familiar vein as the sculptures in the gallery. In addition, painted wood replicas of a washer and dryer are on display in a birch grove on the museum grounds and serve to round out the exhibition. I love the thought of coming across these two domestic objects in nature, like escaped housebound creatures.
Whiting Tennis
Washer/Dryer, 2010
Plywood and house paint
Each 40 ½ x 27 7/8 x 24 ¼ inches

Ian Berry, Malloy Curator of the Tang Museum, organized Opener 22 in collaboration with the artist.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Hard Work

If there is one thing on everyone’s minds these days, it’s jobs. Roughly 1 out of every 11 Americans is unemployed; Obama’s Jobs Bill just got voted down; the Occupy Wall Street movement has spread to squares and campuses across the nation; and news segments endlessly discuss potential economic plans for job creation. In her infinite wisdom, Curator Susan Cross has channeled this timely and contentious discourse (and its historical roots) into her show, The Workers, on view at MassMoCA through March 2012. In it, labor emerges as the dominant theme that is taken up in different contexts by the 25 international artists and filmmakers featured. Here, the artists talk about work while making work. Adrian Paci’s 2007 video of a mass of laborers stranded in the middle of an empty runway, poignantly addresses the plight of the migrant worker; Mary Lum’s billboard project of personally stamped brown paper bags (whose work will also be featured in The 2012 deCordova Biennial) elevates and personalizes the worker; while other projects like Sam Durant’s sculptural gallows remember a darker history of labor activism. More than just a timely reflection – The Workers showcases the variety of perspectives and thinking about industry, economy, and the jobscape today.

Adrian Paci, Centro di Permanenza Temporanea, 2007, video still

Mary Lum, Made with Pride by Terry Russell, 2011

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

PLATFORM 7 – now up!

Tory Fair just finished her sculptures on the Pollack Terrace. The installation, Testing a World View (Again) is the 7th iteration of our ongoing PLATFORM series and is the first to address this fantastic terrace space! The installation features four identical cast figures of the artist’s body in a nice pink resin with aluminum leafing. Placed on and around the terrace in surprising ways (note the wall…), Fair asks us to test our own world view with our bodies and minds!

On Saturday, August 6th visitors are given an opportunity to listen and try out their own line of questioning. There is a Platform Discussion with Tory Fair and documentary filmmaker Robb Moss, where the two will chat about other strange interactions between the body and nature. There is also Yoga in the Park where visitors can use this opportunity to see how their bodies respond to only to the movement of the positions but the space of the sculpture park. 


Abby and Brian installing

Tory directing

Tory with her cast

View from the Terrace, photo by Tony Luong

Monday, July 11, 2011

Little Rhodie

This week I found myself in Wakefield, RI, visiting the historic Hera Gallery. A pioneer in alternative exhibition spaces and one of the earliest women’s cooperative galleries in the US, Hera is unusual in having been established in a non-urban setting – and just a stone’s throw from the water. You really couldn’t ask for a nicer locale!

Currently on view is a selection of works from member artists featuring this particularly excellent staged photograph of sculpted cake icing (as a fan of Ace of Cakes, I couldn’t help but love this) and some smart constructions by Michael Yefko.

En route back to Boston I dropped by the David Winton Bell Gallery at Brown in Providence where outgoing curator Maya Allison and AS220 director Neal Walsh curated a sharp round up of Providence painting. Shawn Gilheeney took the back wall and transformed it into a ghostly, layered mural of a decaying landscape while Lisa Perez takes paint into the sculptural with fantastic constructions that play off the wall with color and form. Local writer Greg Cook has a nice write up about it on his ever-fantastic blog.

And finally, you can’t leave Brown’s art building without stopping in at the stairwell (which you’ll need to do anyhow if you need the bathroom), which Brown art and art history students have been tagging for years. A wise and fun take on the hallowed halls of academia…

-         Dina Deitsch

Botanical Take-Over: deCordova on the Greenway – part II

A prevailing theme in contemporary outdoor sculpture is the relationship between nature and culture. Urban Garden, deCordova’s latest off-site public art exhibition is located in the heart of downtown Boston on the Rose Kennedy Greenway between Pearl and Congress Streets, nestled between city, park, and water, and the perfect location for just such an exploration. James Surls’ Walking Flower Times the Power of Five (2010), Tom OtternessTree of Knowledge (1997), and John Ruppert’s Pumpkin Series (1996) transform this green-scape into a fantastical garden. The monumental gourds and towering flowers appear as large and unyielding as the steel and glass buildings that surround them. Urban Garden is organized by Nick Capasso, deCordova’s Deputy Director for Curatorial Affairs, and will be up from June 2011 to October 2012.

--Jenny Gerow
James Surls, Walking Flower Times the Power of Five, 2010

John Ruppert, Pumpkin Series, 1996

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

NATURE SPECIAL - deCordova on the Greenway, Part I

Opening crowd at Boston Harbor Islands Pavilion

July 16th was a day of spectacles. Along with the Stanley Cup touring through Boston streets and bars came another exciting unveiling in Boston—Nature Special, a video installation in the brand new Boston Harbor Islands Pavilion on the Rose Kennedy Greenway. Curated by associate curator Dina Deitsch, Nature Special features five videos about our mediated relationship to the great outdoors by artists Jim Campbell, Sam Easterson, William Lamson, and Suara Welitoff. The installation inaugurates a guest-curated video program, a fantastic way to expose audiences to new ways of interacting with public art and a program that we hope continues well into the future. Shown on two 8 x 10 foot low-resolution LED screens, the installation is housed in the structurally and ecologically beautiful new Pavilion designed by the architectural and design firm Utile that transforms the greenway into compelling destination to welcome visitors to the Boston Harbor Islands national park area. 

Boston Harbor Islands Pavilion

Don’t miss Sam Easterson’s video of the burrowing owl peering out of its little home. The footage was created by a micro-video camera and like many Easterson videos places us within the viewpoint of the animal. Visitors to the Pavilion will be mesmerized late into the night by this little bird!

Nature Special will be on view in the Boston Harbor Islands Pavilion each evening from 7pm-11pm, Jun 16, 2011 - Oct 31, 2011.   

Sam Easterson, Burrowing Owl, 2010

Jenny Gerow
Curatorial Intern

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Hudson Valley Expedition

Now that spring has actually arrived, I ventured forth to the Hudson Valley to make some visits that had been long-postponed by our recent terrible winter weather.

First I spent a whole day with artists Ken Landauer and Julianne Swartz, a married couple who share a custom-built home and studio in Kingston, NY. In addition to visiting their studios to see works-in-progress by both artists (and enjoying a delicious home-cooked lunch!), I also discussed the possible loan of Ken’s outdoor sculpture King, originally created in 2007 for the Socrates Sculpture Park in New York. This beautiful and poignant work involves a king-sized bed, fitted with extremely expensive and elegant Pratesi linens, set within a Plexiglas and steel architectural reliquary box. Later that day, we visited the Samuel Dorsky Museum of Art at SUNY New Paltz to see the exhibition Thick and Thin: Ken Landauer and Julianne Swartz, a sharp and beautiful juxtaposition of their work by curator Brian Wallace. Back in 1994, I had co-organized the group exhibition The Computer in the Studio with Brian, which was installed both at deCordova and at the now-defunct Boston Computer Museum. Julianne Swartz will soon install a major public art piece for the High Line in New York, and in the fall of 2012 deCordova will present her first large-scale museum solo exhibition, Julianne Swartz: How Deep is Your.

Jon Isherwood in his studio

On Day 2 I visited sculptor Jon Isherwood at his studio in Hudson, New York. Jon works primarily in stone, and I had seen his work exhibited extensively in galleries, museums, and sculpture parks both here in America and in England (he was born in England but is now an American citizen). I’d been meaning to meet up with him for quite a while. I was most impressed by his studio, and by the artwork that filled it. Jon and I are now in discussions about possible loans to the deCordova Sculpture Park. Jon runs the sculpture program at Bennington College in Vermont, and is also deeply involved with the Digital Stone Project in New Jersey, a non-profit atelier that offers cutting-edge resources for artists to learn and apply digital sculpture technologies in their work.

DeWitt Godfrey, Picker Sculpture, at The Fields

I then spent the afternoon strolling the landscape at The Fields Sculpture Park at the Omi International Arts Center in nearby Ghent, New York. The Fields exhibits works by both internationally-recognized and emerging sculptors on 60 acres of fields, forest, and wetlands. During my visit I saw spectacular sculptures by (among many others) Mel Kendrick, Tony Cragg, Bernar Venet, and Orly Genger. I also ran into some old friends, so to speak – sculptures by artists Philip Grausman, Mary Ann Unger, and Dove Bradshaw that had previously been exhibited at deCordova! And, I was particularly interested in seeing a major installation by DeWitt Godfrey, who will be creating a monumental work for our Sculpture Park in summer, 2012.

Philip Grausman, Leucantha, at The Fields

Mary Ann Unger, Misericordia, at The Fields

Bernar Venet, installation of Arcs, at the Fields

Nick Capasso
Deputy Director for Curatorial Affairs

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Western Ho!

I realize that driving 2 ½ hours west of Boston isn’t exactly reaching the great frontier but in the aptly titled Purple Valley, in the shadow of Mt Greylock, one could find a veritable world full of art treasures. North Adams alone could fill a week – with its vibrant studio scene, street front galleries, and of course, the largest contemporary art space in the US – Mass MoCA. And right down the road is the ever bucolic Williamstown, a theater-haven in the summer, and art haven all year round between the Clark and the Williams College Art Museum (WCMA). 

In a hurried, or as we like to say, efficient, trip, the Biennial team made a number of studio visits this month but also had a few moments to visit both Mass MoCA and WCMA where we were stunned by scale and brilliance in the first and smart art historical thinking in the second.

Michael Oatman: All Utopias Fell, 2010

With galleries scaled to the ginormous size of contemporary art (as well as old, unused New England factories) Mass MoCA is expanding its campus even further with a new installation by the Troy, NY-based Michael Oatman. Known for his collages and collection-savvy installations, Oatman goes 10 steps further in All Utopia Fell – an installation of epic proportions that begins with a precarious climb up a three-story catwalk and ends with an elaborate narrative of an Airstream trailer flying too close to the sun and now holding solar panels.

Katharina Grosse: One Floor Up More HIghly, 2001, installation view

But Mass MoCA’s ode to the epic and monumental begins much earlier on with an entrance piece by Federico Diaz – an abstracted deconstruction of the building’s fa├žade via thousands of computer-generated little spheres. Even more impressive is the Katarina Gross installation, One Floor Up More Highly, in Building 5, Mass MoCA’s famous football field-sized space devoted to single artist installations each year. In this round, Gross has seized the space with grit and boldness – quite literally. Her signature dirt piles spray painted with primary colors are punctuated by enormous styrofoam icebergs and the convenient bench, here and there. The space is converted into the stuff of painting – color and light – in a spectacular new way. Nari Ward’s show Sub Mirage Lignum has a similar effect on the 2nd floor. Connecting the rarely-associated locals of Ward’s native Jamaica and the very New England North Adams, the installation converges on thematics of the sea, tourism, migration, race and poverty with a simply amazing suspended fishing boat and a 30-foot fish trap. We are indeed all lost at sea…

Nari Ward, Nu Colossus, 2011

In the academic enclave of Williamstown, WCMA holds one of the best art collections of any American college. Over the past year, they wisely reinstalled their encyclopedic collection, which is especially strong in contemporary art, under educational themes such as Art about Art, or how an artwork is made and commissioned. In a contemplative space, they’ve even set up a single object – currently Janine Antoni’s timely Deficit, 1991 - for a focused look in a new series called Room for Reflection. There are some wonderful gems of American art from mainstays like Grant Wood, Maurice Prendergast and Edward Hopper that are nicely abutted with contemporary international work. If only we could take the week! But sadly – we rushed back down Route 2 the very next day.

Janine Antoni, Deficit, 1991

 ‘Till next time-

Friday, April 1, 2011


Portland, Maine is one of those cities that looks like it fell out of snow globe – kind of spherical, yes, but it’s graced with beautiful water views, a killer culinary scene, and of course, great art. On a recent trip to visit a handful of excellent Mainer artists, the Biennial team stopped in at two very tucked away but smart exhibitions. One was in the silent study room at the University of Southern Maine’s Glickman Family Library (a challenge for a chatty viewer like myself). The Storytellers, curated by Henry Wolyniec, features 8 Maine artists who address the form and content of narrative objects. Highlights included Greta Bank’s (2010 deCordova Biennial Artist) Cashmere Roadkill, a remarkable fusion of Grecian urn painting via meticulous hand-stitched leather-work which comes together in a semi-human figure that signals both the grotesque and beautiful side of humanity. “The piece is the perfect metaphor, the abused flesh fashioned into a statement about abuse” notes Wolyniec. Other notables included Adriane Herman’s Plunder the Influence project that sets out to document people’s bookshelves. The “stacks” site is a must-visit procrastination tool for anyone with a slight hint of intellectual voyeurism in them.

Cashmere Roadkill, detail, by Greta Bank.

The next stop was Portland’s gem – Space – a well-rounded arts space that manages to balance films, music, theater, and fantastic visual art shows making it perhaps one of the strongest alternative art spaces in not only Maine but New England. While we caught the last days of Cannonball Press’s impressive display of fun, cheap prints-for-all, stop in later this month to see The Sketchbook Project, a mobile library of over 10,000 artists’ sketchbooks. Imagine that…

- Dina Deitsch

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Colliding at RISD

Collision Installation View

Last week Dina and I had a full day of visits in Rhode Island, one of the highlights being a stop at the RISD museum to see Collisionorganized by curator Judith Tannenbaum and artist Jackie Saccoccio. The installation is an expansive, phantasmagoric cornucopia of visual delights, a result of an experimental exhibition-making concept. The seventeen invited visual artists submitted their work to an improvisational process in order to “break down physical limitations, encourage pairings and layering” and to explore ideas of “open-endedness.” This is a great example of new, smart collaborative projects and is a must-see if you’re in Rhode Island.

Collision Installation View

Collision Installation View

Collision Installation View

Collision Installation View

Abigail Ross Goodman
Co-Curator, 2012 Biennial

Tuesday, March 1, 2011


The Montserrat College of Art Galleries’ alternative display space, Frame 301, is currently exhibiting Corey Corcoran’s installation HYPERSLEEP, which reveals a mysterious human figure stratified with turf, peat, and moss. Corcoran’s blooming structure calls attention to the awe of nature’s uncertainty while investigating its constant regeneration. Corcoran’s first 3D site-specific installation, HYPERSLEEP, engulfs  Frame 301 with heaps of biomass, growth, and decay as a terrarium through creation. The window holds a cocooning figure saturated with earth, root systems, and endless unidentifiable matter. This obscure creation spans the entire length and depth of the window, enhancing every viewer’s looking experience. 

 Completely sculptural in nature, HYPERSLEEP refers to a science fiction term similar to hibernation when life processes are halted completely for some duration. It addresses the artist’s continuous ideas concerning the persistence of life, fluidity of time, and the simple strangeness of nature. Corey is a lending artist to deCordova’s Corporate Program where several of his 2D works have been installed at Corporate Member sites throughout Boston. HYPERSLEEP can be seen from February 7, 2011 through March 11, 2011 at 301 Cabot Street, Beverly, Massachusetts. Frame 301 is accesible to its viewers 24 hours a day, seven days a week.  

- Lydia Gordon
Corporate Program Assistant

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Looping it up in Providence

Holding the auspicious slot as the inaugural exhibiting artist, Julianne Swartz (deCordova, Fall 2012) opened up the new Cohen Gallery at Brown University with Loop on February 4th.  While I admittedly missed the Artist talk by greatly underestimating Boston-Providence Friday traffic, I did catch a glimpse of this beautiful and witty installation, curated by Jo-Ann Conklin and Natasha Khandekar.

Granoff Center

The Perry and Marty Granoff Center for the Creative Arts officially opened Thursday as Brown’s new interdisciplinary arts center. Designed by Diller Scofidio + Renfro, this striking, new tower is meant to encourage “faculty and students to create bold new directions for research, teaching, and production across the boundaries of individual arts disciplines and among artists, scientists, and scholars.” The beauty of this building is that its contents and uses (i.e. shows, courses, etc) will be juried by various committees each semester, allowing for unprecedented department collaboration across all fields. The building’s design reflects this blurring of boundaries with glass reveals between floors and walls that leave a visitor (well, this one at least) guessing exactly what floor she is on…

Julianne Swartz, Camera-Less-Video (2009): Stainless Steel, optical lenses, Plexiglas, hardware

Floor to Ceiling

Swartz’s work is a great first start for the new gallery space, as she is an artist who trades on the slippages in perception and space. The show includes three distinct works: Camera-Less-Video, that flips the view outdoors through a neat play of light and lenses; Floor to Ceiling, two thin metal rods suspended from the ceiling by magnetic force with a beautifully tense gap in between; and finally, the newest work Loop, a tapestry of wire and speakers that quietly and subtly whispers and hums. The result is magical, and the whispers of strangers add a quirky warmth to this shiny, stark building.

Julianne Swartz, Loop, 2011

Loop – on view until March 20th.

- Dina Deitsch

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Sculpture in New York

In late January, 2011, I traveled to New York to attend the preview party and celebration for the exhibition Ursula von Rydingsvard: Sculpture 1991-2009 at the Sculpture Center in Long Island City, near P.S. 1. This show runs through March 28, and the will appear at deCordova as our major summer sculpture exhibition, May 28 – August 28. I was especially eager to see Ursula’s newest work, Elegantka, an illuminated outdoor resin sculpture. Elegantka was commissioned by an anonymous deCordova patron especially for inclusion in Ursula’s retrospective. It will travel with the show to deCordova (where it will be installed on our Roof Terrace), and then to the Museum of Contemporary Art Clevelandand the Frost Art Museum in Miami. In late 2012, Elegantka will return to deCordova as part of our Permanent Collection.

Elegantka, Ursula von Rydingsvard

Here’s a link to the New York Times review of the exhibition:

While in New York I also took in several sculpture shows in Chelsea: Mika Tajima at Elizabeth Dee, Patrick Hill at Bortolami, Tony Smith at Matthew Marks, Tony Feher at Pace, Cornelia Parker at D’Amelio Terras, Ghada Amer at Cheim and Read, and a large group show at Marlborough Chelsea (including Ursula!).

Nick Capasso
Deputy Director for Curatorial Affairs

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Fashionably Loud

Over 40 of Nick Cave’s famously fantastic Soundsuits (so named for the noises they make when worn and performed in) are on display in the Norton Museum of Art in West Palm Beach, Florida in the exhibition Nick Cave: Meet Me in the Center of the Earth. Sequined, buttoned, crotched from doilies, or patched together from scavenged sweaters, socks, or human hair dyed in impossibly fluorescent colors, the Soundsuits are meticulously crafted by the artist who has been teaching fashion design at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago for nearly two decades. They are playful, showy, loud, and resemble fantastical Mardi Gras ensembles and elaborate African ceremonial costumes. Made to be worn and danced in, the suits were also accompanied by photographs of the artist wearing them as well as video clips of them in “action.” Definitely fun for all at the Norton. 

- Lexi Lee Sullivan 

Nick Cave, Soundsuits, mixed media, 2008-2009
Nick Cave, Soundsuits, mixed media, 2008-2009
Nick Cave, Soundsuits, mixed media, 2009-2009