All posts tagged: museums

Quilts and Color at the Boston MFA

You still have a couple weeks to get to the Boston Museum of Fine Arts to see the temporary exhibit, Quilts and Color.  It’s a total knockout, but not necessarily for the reasons why the MFA thinks it is.  Here’s how the museum describes the show: “Quilts and Color” celebrates the vibrant color palette and inventive design seen in the acclaimed Pilgrim/Roy Quilt Collection. The exhibition features nearly 60 distinctive quilts from the renowned collection and is the first to explore how, over five decades, trained artists Paul Pilgrim and Gerald Roy searched out and collected quilts with bold, eye-popping designs that echoed the work of mid-20th century Abstract Expressionist and Op Artists. “Quilts and Color,” as this summary describes, focuses on the quilt collection of a pair of artists, whose interest in color theory and Modern art led them to collect unappreciated and undervalued examples of mostly 19th century handmade American quilts, quilts with “eye-popping designs.”  This tight focus to the show led to two unusual and distinctive curatorial choices.  First: the quilts are …

The case for fourth places.

When I was two or three, my grandparents took me to a performance of Sleeping Beauty, a sprawling, three hour long, 19th century masterpiece, at the San Francisco Ballet (SFB).  To the surprise of everyone nearby, I sat, rapt, through the entire performance. From that first trip to the ballet, I felt like I belonged there.  The War Memorial Opera House in San Francisco is a gorgeous, late Beaux-Arts grandiosity, all marble and grand staircases, but even as a child, every time I went there I had this feeling of calm.  Of being part of something.  At the Opera House I would grow quiet, still, watching the adult visitors swishing and clattering across the long echoing hallways and staircases, in their coats, suits, and dresses. My grandfather was a trumpet player in the SFB’s orchestra, so my childhood was filled with last minute balcony tickets to weeknight ballets and trumpet solo rehearsals in the living room.  I knew every score by heart, and when I grew older, the name of every dancer and his/her trajectory …

putting the land in place.

If you’ve been following this blog for any length of time, you know that it started — four years ago! — as a space for me to write and think about the issues I was exploring in cities.  Specifically, how we learn about a city: its history, its people, and its traditions.  I’ve been interested in pop-up urbanism (or as i’ve called it, entropy) since my first post, and other issues like historic preservation, manufacturing and economic development came later, as I got to know neighborhoods and reflect on the stories that they tell about themselves.  I’ve always been thinking not just about cities but about the institutions in them, those third and fourth places where people share and learn memories, ideas, and information.  I got my start in those kinds of places, and think they’re an important part of our cities, whether they’re surrounded by granite and columns to tell us that learning is important, or they pop up in a public square to make it fun and surprising.  The themes have been learning, …

With Taste, Smell, and Imagination

This piece first appeared at History at the Table, as part of the NCPH Working Group on Public History and the Local Food Movement. * I’m standing in the basement of Bondir, the intimate, award-winning Cambridge restaurant, watching Chef Jason Bond dismantle a hindquarter of beef, removing fat from muscle and muscle from bone.  As he drops each chunk into its designated plastic tub, he explains to me what it will be used for.  Every bit of this 200 pounds of meat will be consumed.  The steaks will dry-age for some months; the fat, brightly yellow because the cow was grazing on bright green grass, will be rendered and used for daily cooking; the tough muscles will be stews, cooked with the stock made from the bones.  This one animal will feed hundreds of diners; it’s the only way for high-quality meat like this, Chef tells me, to be economic. But I don’t think it’s just economy that drives Bond’s pursuit of a “snout-to-tail” approach to beef, or his painstaking efforts to remove different kinds …

drawing in public.

The Cambridge Arts Council did a fabulous exhibition at their gallery this past month.  It suggests an interesting alternate understanding of the term “public art,” and was very good looking to boot.  Here are some photos. *note* I am a member of the CAC, but have no affiliation with curating the exhibitions.  Maybe someday!

Confront the Art.

I went to Dallas last month for a family event and was *blown away* by the Dallas Museum of Art.  In particular, it has this incredible Center for Creative Connections that takes a more innovative approach to helping visitors think about artworks and technique.  Close to my heart, the exhibition on view at the C3 galleries when I was there was called “Encountering Space.”  In the museum’s own language: the exhibition “presents works of art from the Museum collections and asks visitors to consider how space is used to invite engagement, raise questions, and create meaning. As viewers begin to encounter works of art this way, they are no longer passive observers but active participants.”  Awesome, right? Ok here are some pics.  The first is from the C3 exhibit, and the second is from the Nasher Sculpture Gallery, an independent sculpture garden and gallery across the street from the DMA in what the city has called its “cultural district”. This James Turrell is absolutely exquisite, it’s the first I’ve seen in real life. Last is a …