Posts Tagged ‘Installation’
SFMOMA, Cantor Arts Center, LACMA
This week, SFMOMA released additional renderings of its eminent expansion including new views of the interior. Snohetta (the chic, Norwegian architects) and SFMOMA haven’t been apologetic or really skirted the issue about plans to basically gut the entire existing building, keeping only Mario Botta’s postmodern façade. Climbing SFMOMA’s imposing stairs is literally my first memory of being in a museum. As a kid, I tried to recreate the alternating bands of polished and flame-finished black granite of these stairs with a set of sleek dominoes on my living room floor. A friend and I lamented the demise of Botta’s staircase the last time we visited SFMOMA and we brainstormed potential artist projects that might utilize the soon-to-be-dismantled stairs. (The SFMOMA expansion is going to be LEED Certified so maybe some of the black stone will be reclaimed.)
Alas, the released images show all of this will be eliminated in the expansion, sacrificed for the sake of greater street presence and improved openness to pedestrian traffic flow. (The $555 million expansion will also double the current amount of gallery space, so there is that.) New public space includes a multi-storied, glass-fronted gallery open to Howard Street. In the renderings, this gallery space is filled with a massive Richard Serra corten-steel sculpture. This isn’t just a filler “scalie” artwork; Serra’s Sequence (2006) will be installed in the new space when the Snohetta expansion opens in 2016. Sequence is part of the Fisher collection, the donors who generous donated many buckets of ducats for the expansion, and who are kinda-sorta donating their incomparable trove of contemporary art to the museum.
LACMA’s near acre of new exhibition space, the Resnick Pavilion, means LACMA has a lot of exhibitions to program. And they seem up to the task. After the three inaugural shows (Olmec, Fashion, and Eye for the Sensual), LACMA has managed to keep the Resnick Pavilion at full capacity. There are three shows currently in the space: David Smith: Cubes and Anarchy, Gifts of the Sultan: The Arts of Giving at the Islamic Courts, and LACMA’s ticketed blockbuster: Tim Burton. The shows keep with Michael Govan’s strategy for offering unrelated coinciding shows in the Resnick Pavilion.
Across from the Resnick Pavilion, is Renzo Piano’s other LACMA building, BCAM; it too has been kept full. The top floor is still stocked with Broadworks, the second floor is being deinstalled from the recent permanent collection show Human Nature, and the ground floor just had one of the massive Serra sculptures deinstalled, to make room for a new Burden work, which is going to be AWESOME.
Art Institute of Chicago
So I know, the holidays are over, and I missed this occasion slightly, but I still wanted to dish briefly, mostly to focus on the massive amounts of advertising the Art Institute did for this campaign. If you’ve walked in the Loop past a vacant storefront building, you’ve surely seen the massive ads about what’s going on at the Art Institute for the holidays. Or if you’ve been in a subway car recently you might have noticed. You know how sometimes a single advertiser will buy out all the ad space in an entire subway car? You could be in a car with only blackberry ads and find yourself really needing the ability to BBM. Well the Art institute did the same; one night I found myself overwhelmed with ads about something going on at the Art Institute called “Home for the Holidays”—there was even ads for it on the ceiling of the subway car.
The “Home for the Holidays” campaign was a concise (cost effective?) way of promoting several new things at the museum rolled into one campaign. Those things being: 1-the wreathing of the lions, 2 – the decorating of the Thorne Miniature rooms in holiday décor, 3 – the reinstallation of Chagall’s American Windows, and 4 – the installation of the museum collection of arms and amour. And although Chagall’s stained-glass windows aren’t so holiday themed, they sure reek of holiday spirit compared to suits of armor and battle axes.
The wreathing of the lions is a tradition now in its nineteenth year. Last year (2009) the Art Institute mixed tradition up a bit and had a design firm create contemporary wreaths for the lions. This year, the museum commissioned the Chicago-based firm Materious to design the lions’ holiday garb: giant cranberry wreathes. The rich pinks and reds are a strong punctuation on snow-filled Michigan Ave. (The wreaths also light up at night, and are solar-powered, oh hey!) The wreaths look a whole lot better than what they do to the lions when any local sports team wins a championship, and a whole lot better than the shoddy decorations over at the Field. Also notice how the wreaths match the graphics in the “Home for the Holidays” ad campaign.
Be prepared to be underwhelmed with the holiday decoration of the Thorne Rooms. (Full disclosure, I’ve always disliked the Thorne Rooms, but I know that a lot of people love them.) Only a measly six of the rooms were decorated this year; the museum says it’s going to make this a tradition so eventually maybe all the rooms will be dressed up. The decorations are tiny (duh) but also very hard to see, the English Victorian Era room has a Christmas tree, and someone decided the rich people who own the midcentury modern California room are Jewish.
The Chagall windows really did come “Home for the Holidays;” they haven’t been seen for five years during the construction of the Modern Wing. The museum also organized a small exhibition about the legacy of public art in Chicago with models and projects to accompany the windows’ return. The windows also went in for some heavy cleaning, shown in the video below.
The other things that came home (for the holidays) was a selection of the museum’s George F. Harding Jr. Arms and Armor Collection. The installation is complete with a fully-armed knight on horseback, massive tapestries, and cannon. While this installation has nothing to do with the holidays (come on, you know it doesn’t), the wall text gives a hint about to exciting things. It reads: “This temporary installation of arms and armor […] Plans are underway for a larger permanent installation […] This new gallery will be part of a series of galleries that feature the museum’s important collection of medieval and Renaissance Art.” Clearly some large-scale reinstallations are afoot at the Art Institute, ones that are probably going to affect large portions of its well-loved and loved-to-be-seen permanent collection of European art. I wonder how this will affect the museum in the coming years.
P.S. This story peeked my interest today. Starting in June, the Art Institute is getting rid of its free Thursday evening hours, quoting low attendance as a factor. Ahem, I have class on Thursday evenings across the street and know that the line to get in wraps around the building. Okay, I’ll be fair: the museum spokesperson said not enough Chicago residents were coming on those evenings and that it was mostly out-of-towners. AKA people the museum wants visiting during regular hours and paying full ticket price. “Taking free hours off the table was never an option,” said a spokeswoman—well legally you can’t (all museums in Chicago are required to offer 52 free days), so don’t pretend like you do this out of the goodness of your heart.
P.P.S I’m on break in LA, so expect a full report from the West Coast in upcoming posts.
When I first came to Chicago, I loved CTA, mostly because I have a U-Pass, which allows me to get myself about without worrying about paying for ride fare. Life was great and I was loving public transportation, reveling in it even (especially after LA Metro). And then something horrible happened. On the morning of Saturday the 16th, after a night of innocent fun (it may have been four in the morning…), I went to the Blue line to head home. What happened? The machine ate my U-Pass. Suddenly CTA was not so amazing. Having to pay $2.25 for each measly hop on a bus or train was miserable. Not as miserable as calling CTA Customer Service every day for five days straight trying to be polite as possible, culminating in a mad dash to CTA Headquarters in an attempt to pick up a well-deserved 7 day courtesy pass. But no, CTA added insult to injury. 4:31 is the exact time I reached the CTA Headquarters, one minute after 4:30, and the security guard (who takes his job WAAAY too seriously) wouldn’t let me up to the second floor to pick up my pass. After sharing some very appropriate words with Mr. Security Guard, I left, angry (in need of some retail therapy) and spent the rest of the weekend paying for each individual train and bus ride. On Monday I finally picked up my courtesy pass (still waiting on that new U-Pass). Thank god I have a blog where I can complain about this saga in such a public way. Okay but for real this does have to do with an art installation.
When I returned to the CTA Headquarters on Monday, I noticed an art installation in their lobby (I hadn’t noticed it the first time because I was too enraged). High above the lobby floor was what looked like an abstract mess of neon squiggels. This knot of neon lines is ingeniously titled Transit (2005), and was commissioned for the CTA lobby from artist John Bannon. It isn’t until you proceed to the second floor that the neon squiggles of Transit make sense. Looking out over the lobby, you come face to face with a quaint scene of a train rumbling down a subway tunnel (in neon lights no less). Oh yay! Some art to look at while you wait in this ridiculous customer service line!
Transit reminds me of the only thing I remember from my astronomy classes (yes, I’ve taken multiple). There is this thing called “parallax.” I don’t really know what it means but I remember the word, and remember how it was illustrated at the Griffith Observatory in a display called “A Familiar Star Pattern.” In the display is an arrangement of lights which visitors can walk around. The lights represent stars (duh) in a cluster. Only when you stand in one particular spot do you realize this arrangement of lights slash stars is the big dipper constellation. But if you view it from any other position you don’t see the big dipper.
Transit works like the big dipper display at Griffith Observatory. From below, all you see is a tangle of neon lights. When you stand directly in front of the installation, the neon strands magically arrange themselves into a scene with a train! How cool is that? It’s actually really cool. Then if you walk around (the parallax thing happens again) and the scene disappears. But if you go around and view the work from an angle 90 degrees from the frontal view, you see another scene in neon, this time with a bus in it! Well this is fun.
Accompanying Transit, in the hell that is CTA Headquarters, is one of those cows that are everywhere in Chicago. This bovine is painted, very proactively, like a bus. Chi-town was the first city to do this project, but now every city seems to have similar projects of painted animals (in San Francisco they have don’t have an animal, they have hearts, and in Palm Springs they have Bighorn sheep), my favorite is the town with beavers (this link is SO worth clicking).
I doubt anyone in the long-ass customer service line was looking at the artwork. But you know what?—In Chicago, that doesn’t matter, art is everywhere in this city. Public art is literally everywhere, and here is a brochure from the DCA to prove it. Chicagoans are force-fed public art every single day. Personally, I don’t mind the art feeding tube; I like seeing the Picasso everyday when I get off the blue line, and I’m not going lie; I love looking out over Millennium Park everyday at school.
One last and actually really awesome (sarcasm? Me? Never!) thing about the neon CTA art: So that random cluster of neon lights that you see looking up at Transit from the lobby—It’s actually a map of the train system! It’s parallax times three. I don’t think many people know how cool this work is (and it took me many minutes of googling to find anything about it). So now you know. But it’s not like I’m encouraging you to take the convenient green line down to CTA Headquarters to see it, screw CTA.