Tag Archive | museum

Exhibits By Julie Blackmon and Ellen von Unwerth at Fotografiska

30 Years of Photographing Women Ellen von Unwerth By Gail Worley
Image from Ellen von Unwerth’s Devotion! 30 Years of Photographing Women (All Photos By Gail)

If you live in the tri-state area and are on Instagram or FaceBook for even a few minutes a day, there is very little chance that you have not at least heard the name Fotografiska. Viral marketing ads for the NYC branch of this museum dedicated to modern photography were plastered all over social media for months prior to its opening to the public on December 14th, 2019. The cryptic ads featured dark, purple-shadowed images of the seven-story Gothic structure (built in 1892) housing the museum, which made it seem very mysterious and alluring. Everyone wanted to know: What the Hell is Fotografiska? Some people still can’t figure it out.

I finally had a chance to visit Fotografiska on March 5th, when I was invited to attend the opening reception for an exhibit by Julie Blackmon entitled Fever Dreams. One week after my visit, Fotografiska was forced to temporarily close its doors in compliance with New York State’s shelter-in-place order in response to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Elevator Image Fotografiska By Gail Worley
Image By Ellen von Unwerth Inside an Elevator at Fotografiska

My original plan had been to post a review of the Julie Blackmon exhibit in mid-March, to coincided with the celebration of National Women’s Month. But like so many of us on the planet, my life is completely different now than it was three or four weeks ago, so that did not happen. An up-side of being stuck in the house without the ability to visit an art gallery, or museum or cultural institution of any kind is that I get to bring you my take on Art in the Time of Covid right here on The Gig. Even though you cannot currently visit these exhibits in person, you can ‘Live Through Me’ and enjoy the photos vicariously. I hope this post will give you a sweet taste of what’s inside Fotografiska that will get you excited to check out the place once it reopens. Better late than never.

Julie Blackmon Fever Dreams Photo By Gail Worley

This was my first ‘exposure,’ so to speak, to Julie Blackmon’s work, but I immediately fell in love with her hyper-realist style. Fever Dreams is a collection of images that brim with fantasy and subtle satire, capturing a delicate balance between the darkness and charm of contemporary American life. It’s not unusual for a gallery to stage an exhibit in dim lighting, but this one is designed to be viewed almost completely in the dark, save for a bit of light bleeding in from an adjacent gallery, and dedicated spotlights focused on each work. While the lack of lighting presented a challenge in capturing decent images of the photos, it definitely set an important mood, which enhanced the viewing experience.

Dandelion Puff By Gail Worley

Adding to the surreal vibe of Fever Dreams was the wall-to-wall astroturf covering the gallery floors, which included this singular artificial Dandelion Puff. You will understand in a minute why it was helpful to feel like you were standing in someone’s backyard.

Backyard Trailer Photo By Gail Worley

The playfully artful and chaotic nature present in the photographs of Julie Blackmon (b. 1966)  are drawn from the everyday people and places that have shaped the artist’s life. These are the familiar and ordinary scenes of Blackmon’s daily routine in her hometown of Springfield, Missouri, which she describes as “the generic American town” in the middle of the United States.

Fever Dreams By Julie Blackmon Photograph By Gail Worley

Her scenes are often centered around children on their own in backyards, garages and neighborhoods where the absence of adults alludes to a looming potential for danger. Her photographs, otherwise innocuous domestic tableaux, are woven with fantasy and subtle satire that reflect a delicate balance between the darkness and charm of contemporary American life in suburbia.

Fever Dreams By Julie Blackmon Photo By Gail Worley

One my favorite photos in the collection is this scene of children watching a screening of The Sound Of Music in a backyard. To me, it has an almost post-apocalyptic feel. Blackmon carefully sets her scenes, and like film and theater directors, she is in pursuit of unscripted moments that provoke, disturb, and challenged the viewer. Some of the images reference paintings by Dutch Masters, French impressionist, and modernists such as Edward Hopper and Balthus, but they are updated with a satirical, penetrating eye and Blackmon’s belief that artful fiction can capture the truth more memorably than the truth itself.

Fever Dreams By Julie Blackmon Photo By Gail Worley

Speaking  of her work, Blackmon explains, “I suppose I could make a work where everything’s just perfect, where the sun is shining and mom is lying out in the grass and everything’s happening perfectly and the kids are happy . . . but that wouldn’t interest me — and it wouldn’t be truthful. My aim is to create a more nuanced, subtly humorous and satirical portrait of the way we live today.”

Fever Dreams By Julie Blackmon Photo By Gail Worley

Fever Dreams presents a selection of photographs from Blackmon’s Homegrown series as well as more recent works. It’s a fantastic exhibit and I hope its tenure at Fotografiska can be extended so that more people get to see it.

Story Continues, With More Photos, After the Jump! Continue reading

Upside Down Trees at Mass MoCA

Upside Down Trees
All Photos By Gail

“Hey, look at those upside down trees!” I shouted to my friends as we approached the entrance to Mass MoCA, the coolest contemporary art museum in the Universe. The trees turned out to be a work of art by Natalie Jeremijenko called Tree Logic (1999) in which six live trees are inverted and suspended from a truss made up of a metal armature, stainless steel planters, and telephone poles. In Tree Logic, the art of the piece is not found in its condition at any single point, but in the change of the trees over time.

Tree Logic

Upside Down Trees

Trees are dynamic natural systems, and Tree Logic reveals this dynamism. The familiar, almost iconic shape of the tree in nature is the result of the interplay between gravitropic and phototropic forces: the tree grows away from the earth and towards the sun. When inverted, the six trees in this experiment still grow away from the earth and towards the sun — so the natural predisposition of trees might well produce the most unnatural shapes over time, raising questions about what the nature of the natural is. I would love to be able to observe the trees as their foliage changes with seasons.

Upside Down Trees

A docent the museum told me that the trees are replaced and replanted in adjacent green areas every four to five years due to their tendency to “grow upwards.”

Mass MoCa is Located at 1040 MASS MoCA Way in  North Adams, MA 01247

Tree Logic

Pink Thing of The Day: Pink Medieval Child’s Dress

Pink Medieval Child Dress
All Photos By Gail

If you have a young daughter whose heart’s desire is to be a medieval fairy princess for Halloween, you can pick up this very lovely period costume in the gift shop at the Cloisters Museum in Upper Manhattan! Floral Headwreaths are sold separately!

Pink Medieval Child Dress

Bruce Nauman, Neon Hangman Game

Hangman 1
All Photos By Gail

On a recent, beautiful sunny Sunday, Geoffrey and I took a day trip on the Hudson River line via Metro North to Beacon, New York — about 90 minutes outside the city — to visit the Dia: Beacon Art Museum. This is one of the most fun things you can do to escape from Manhattan on a weekend day and you don’t even need a car! The Beacon train station is a 10 minute walk to the museum and they have signs pointing the way, so it is completely idiot proof. You can even buy your museum admission at Grand Central Station in what they call the Dia: Beacon Package, which includes round trip train fare and museum entry for $36.50 — what a bargain! I will be featuring more photos from our trip to the Dia: Beacon in future posts, but today I want to show you this crazy kinetic neon sculpture by Bruce Nauman called Hanged Man.

Hangman 2

Located in a lower level gallery dedicated exclusively the works by Bruce Nauman, Hanged Man (1985) is made up of a series of layered, multi-colored neon tubes that light up at sequenced intervals to simulate a game of Hang Man.

Hangman 3

As the game nears completion, a second figure appears. You can see why this piece may be a bit controversial, or not safe for small kids who might has a lot of questions.

Hangman 5

Hangman 6

Because that’s a big pink boner, right there.

Eye On Design: Moss Lamp By Gaetano Pesce

Moss Lamp
All Photos By Gail

This Moss Lamp (1999) exemplifies designer Gaetano Pesce’s use of industrial production techniques and materials to produce unique objects. Here, he pours silicone in thread-like trails to achieve a textured and translucent sphere that casts a soft glow through irregular gaps and varied thicknesses. The end result is dictated by the behavior of the material.

Moss Lamp Display

Eye On Design: Vermelha Chair By The Campana Brothers

Vermelha Chair
All Photos By Gail

For the famed furniture designers, brothers Fernando and Humberto Campana, startling materials are a hallmark of their design practice. Often evoking the rich street-market culture of their native Brazil, they utilize everyday elements in unexpected ways, such as this looped red cord for the opulent pile upholstery of this Vermelha (Red) chair (2007).

The Campana brothers are most celebrated for their design of the Vermelha chair — an iconic piece handmade from a huge length of rope, wrapped and woven to create the chair’s nest-like structure. “The Vermelha chair is an homage to chaos,” says Humberto. “It’s a portrait of Brazil, a melting pot of culture and races…and I try to manifest this idea into a kind of chair that is chaotic in its very construction.” The chair was the first piece of work exhibited by Brazilians at the Museum of Modern Art, New York. Their studio continues to produce and develop furniture made from ordinary everyday materials that have been discarded, such as rope, fabric, wood, cardboard, plastic tubes, and aluminum wire.

Photographed in the Cooper Hewitt Design Museum in NYC.

Vermelha Chair

Cool Video: KAWS Shows Off Newest Installation at Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts



Street Artist turned fine artist and designer KAWS (Brian Donnelly) is the subject of the above video feature created by Mass Appeal (a digital content channel platform). Kaws is ‘caus-ing” a bit of a commotion just recently with his design for the MTV Awards stage and a concurrent exhibit at Mary Boone Gallery in Manhattan, but this video focuses on what is his largest installation to date, now on exhibit at the historic Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts.

This exhibit at PAFA says so much about the evolution of street art to fine art, as KAWS, speaks about hosting the biggest exhibit of his career in one of the oldest museums in the US. At PAFA, his modern sculptures, paintings, and designs are displayed in installations around other famous artworks from the 18th and 19th centuries – creating a distinct view of how far art culture has come. In this fun video, KAWS discusses his approach to the installation, how the project came to be, how he worked with the space and the materials he used.

KAWS-@-PAFA-Pennsylvania-Academy-of-Fine-Arts
KAWS Installation View at PAFA (Image Source)

KAWS at PAFA will be on Exhibit Through January 5th, 2014, while his Sculpture at the Building’s Facade will be on Display Into August of 2014. Find Out More About the Exhibit, and Get Museum Hours and Information, at This Link.

Must See Attraction: Seattle’s Experience Music Project

EMP Building Exterior
All Photos By Gail

When I was planning a four-day stay in Seattle, one of the attractions I knew I couldn’t miss was the Experience Music Project pop culture Museum. I’ve been curious about visiting the EMP. since it was first in construction, which was about 15 years ago. Originally, it’s my understanding that the museum was being built and funded by Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen to house his extensive Jimi Hendrix memorabilia collection. But obviously, it’s expanded quite a bit since that original, rather narrow concept.

Space Needle Reflected in EMP Building Exterior
Space Needle Reflected in the Exterior of the EMP

Conveniently located in the Seattle Center, literally in the shadow of the Space Needle, and adjacent to several other top tourist attractions, the EMP is certainly one of the most unusual examples of modern architecture I’ve ever seen. When viewed from the top of the Space Needle, this Frank Gehry-designed structure looks like a Giant took a handful of various boxes of different shapes and colors, and stuck them all together. But this unique approach to modern design has created a fantastic space that provides exhibit halls for not only local music history and an extensive trip down memory lane with the Jimi Hendrix Experience in London, but separate wings for science fiction, fantasy film and literature, horror movies, and the current temporary exhibit highlighting Women Who Rock. Here are a few photos I took during my visit in July of 2013.

Hendrix Experience in London

Any Jimi Hendrix fan is going to be blown away by the Hendrix Experience Hits London section, which fills several ground floor galleries.

Hendrix Experience Costumes

Not only will you see vintage, authentic stage costumes worn by Jimi, Noel Redding and Mitch Mitchell, but the walls of the galleries are plastered with photographs, news clippings, magazine articles, vinyl albums and posters that telegraph the band’s rise to stardom after their initial visit to the UK. All I can say is, it must be nice to be Paul Allen.

Nirvana In Utero Prop

Around the corner from the Hendrix exhibit is an exhaustive documentation of the Nirvana’s impact on the Seattle grunge punk music scene during the 90s. You could easily spend a couple of hours in this section, just reading all about some of the best bands that came from this genre-defining region of the country such as Mudhoney, Soundgarden, Pearl Jam and many other Sub Pop signings as well as projects from legendary genre producers such as Jack Endino.

Kurt Cobain Green Sweater

In addition to extensive documentation, Photos, Personal Letters, CD covers, magazine articles, costumes and props, there’s also one of Dave Grohl’s drum kits and other one-of-a-kind memorabilia. Whoever created this part of the museum did so with a good deal of love.

David Bowie Costume from Labyrinth

Fantasy film enthusiasts will not want to miss the Fantasy: Worlds of Myth and Magic exhibit where I enjoyed seeing costumes such as those worn by David Bowie in the film Labyrinth as well as many other props and costumes from classic films such as The Hobbit, the Wizard of Oz and Clash of the Titans, to name but a few.

Wizard of Oz Guard Uniform

Captain Kirk Chair and Tribbles
Captain Kirk’s Enterprise Command Chair and Tribbles

On another floor there’s an exhibit dedicated to Icons of Science Fiction. Not only are there props and costumes from science-fiction films, but also there are small exhibits on popular books of the genre that laid the foundation for much of the visual media that came in their wake.

Dalek from Dr. Who
Dalek from Dr. Who

Lure of Horror Films Signage

Can’t Look Away: The Lure of Horror Film is also a very fun exhibit. Aside from the expected props and costumes, you can personalize your experience by participating in interactive exhibits including the Scream Booth and Philip Worthington’s interactive shadow monster installation – which is just insane.

Creature from Black Lagoon Mask

Rest your weary feet with time spent in a dozen video kiosks where you can sit in near darkness and watch horror film clips (commentary included) curated by directors Roger Corman, John Landis and Eli Roth. Super fun and also very educational!

Pretenders Kim Gordon EMP
Outfits Worn by Chrissie Hynde and Kim Gordon (Image Courtesy of the EMP)

The museum’s top floor is home to a large interactive studio recording exhibit, where you can actually play instruments and record your own music. It’s also where you’ll find the museums latest exhibit, Women Who Rock, which just opened in June. Women Who Rock does an ambitious job of documenting female artists from the 50s through to present including pioneers such as Brenda Lee, Leslie Gore, Loretta Lynn, Ronnie Specter and many of the girl groups through to the punk rock movement, groundbreaking all-female rock groups such as The Runaways and The GoGos and on to superstar solo artists from Madonna to Shakira and, of course Lady Gaga. Unfortunately, my camera battery ran out just as we were entering this particular exhibit, so the only photos I have are ones I pulled from EMP’s website.

Rihanna Awards Outfit EMP
Rihanna Music Awards Outfit (Image Courtesy of the EMP)

The Experience Music Project is a must-see destination for any music and film fan’s trip to the beautiful and vibrant city of Seattle. Exhibits change from time to time so make sure you consult the museum’s website to find out what they have in house during your planned visit.

If Six Was Nine Guitar Sculpture
If Six Was Nine Kinetic Guitar Sculpture

The EMP Museum is located at 325 5th Avenue N, Seattle Center, WA, convenient to the Seattle Center Monorail. Hours are 10:00 AM to 7:00 PM Daily. Visit This Link for additional exhibit schedule and admission information.

Claes Oldenburg: Mouse Museum/Ray Gun Wing at MOMA

Washington DC Souvenir Ashtray
A Souvenir Ash Tray from Washington DC is Part of Claes Oldenburg’s Mouse Museum (All Photos By Gail)

Claes Oldenburg, the legendary pop sculptor, has long been a collector of objects and  images. His studio shelves contain an immense variety of items that, since 1972, he has gathered during his daily travels, alongside experiments and prototypes for his sculptures. Mouse Museum and Ray Gun Wing — currently on exhibit at The Museum of Modern Art — evolved from the artist’s commitment to this practice of collection, storage and display.

Mouse Museum and Ray Gun Wing
Ray Gun Wing (Top) and Mouse Museum

Located in the MOMA’s center atrium area, the Mouse Museum is the structure in the above photo that is shaped like a Geometric Mouse (a recurring motif in Oldenburg’s drawings, prints and sculptures). The Ray Gun Wing, which was created in 1977, is shaped like a gun. I had a peek inside each of these tiny museums when I was at MOMA the other day, which was a treat.

The Ray Gun Wing, as you might’ve guessed, is filled with cases displaying various types of toy guns and pistols and various every day objects  — from soda can tabs to stones — shaped like guns and pistols. When I first walked into this wing, and saw all the different “prototypes” of toy guns, BB guns, ray guns, Nerf guns from the different eras – I instantly thought that my kid needs that nerf review, and snapped a few pictures for him on my phone. The  Mouse Museum is filled with little fantasy trinkets, toys, candles and small prototype models for some of Oldenburg’s sculptures. I didn’t take any pictures inside of the Ray Gun Wing, because  you weren’t really supposed to take any photos,  but I took quite a few inside the Mouse Museum, because, why not? I had just been to the Punk exhibit over at the Met and I was feeling a little rebellious.  Here are a few snaps of  some of the cool stuff I saw inside a tiny room shaped like a mouse head.

Baked Potato Salt & Pepper Shakers
Baked Potato Salt & Pepper Shakers

Leg Pen
Leg Pen

Spoon and Wax Lips
Silver Spoon and Wax Lips

Skull Glasses

Skull Glasses

Ham and Fire Hydrant

Plastic Ham, Fire Hydrant

Shower Sink Toilet Octopus

Miniature Bathroom Fixtures and Octopus

3D Cherry Pie Slice Ad

3D Cherry Pie

Cake Models and Small Purse

Prototypes for Stuffed Cake Slices, Small Purse

Miniature Play Food

Miniature Play Food

Small Chair and Carrot Dish

Small Chair with Woven Seat, Carrot-shaped Dish

Miniature Ice Cream Bars

Miniature Plastic Ice Cream Bars

The Mouse Museum and Ray Gun Wing by Claes Oldenburg will be on Display Through August 5th, 2013 at the Museum of Modern Art, Located at 11 West 53rd Street in NYC.

The Gaygenheim

Gaygenheim Poster

Poster by Tiggy Ticehurst, sold on 5th Avenue in front of the Guggenheim Museum for $20! What a bargain!