Caustic

James Montford, b. 1951
Holocaust Blankets with Smallpox, 2015
Cotton and wool blankets, vinyl lettering

Holocaust Blankets with Smallpox is part of a larger body of work focused on the notion of who “owns” the use of the word holocaust. . . . I see this as being part of a longstanding tradition in art of addressing inequality, injustice, and intolerance, reaching as far back as Goya’s time-honored painting The Third of May 1808. As a Black Indian, the oppression I have experienced is due, in part, to the ongoing power we subscribe to hate words. I created this work to present a multilayered approach to the demystification of racial, ethnic, and gender-based discrimination.

–James Montford

RISD Museum, Providence, RI

November 23rd, 2018

 

Politics are More Scary and Hideous than Ever

The artwork was created during President Obama’s re-election campaign [description below and on gloves (zoom to read)]. If ”politics were more scary and hideous than ever” then, which words would better describe the situation today?

Jessica Deane Rosner
The Election Gloves, 2011-2013

“You would think that worrying about who is going to lead our country would make all other concerns vanish or at least fade to a pale gray. But, for me, a huge crisis only piles on top of all my other worries. I find myself anxious about cleaning my home AND what happens if Roe v. Wade is overturned.” –Jessica Deane Rosner

Created during President Obama’s re-election campaign, Rosner’s dishwashing gloves recount her daily chores, creative challenges, and personal anxieties on one side. On the other, she outlines national and international headlines, sometimes critiquing political affairs. This text, initially written in detailed diary entries, was edited and rewritten on the gloves. The faded ink and rubber deterioration remind us that everything is ultimately ephemeral. The more permanent-looking flag, a bandana Rosner bought at the Army/Navy Surplus on Thayer Street, features simplified versions of the dishwashing gloves—a metanarrative on the interconnectedness of personal and political obligations.

Paired with:

Dr. Martens
Men’s Shoes with Flag
Pattern, ca. 1990

RISD Museum, Providence, RI

November 23rd, 2018

My Providence!

My Providence! What airy hosts
 Turn still thy gilded vanes;
What winds of elf that with grey ghosts
 People thine ancient lanes!

– from ”Providence”, a poem by H.P. Lovecraft

A fanlight’s gleam, a knocker’s blow,
     A glimpse of Georgian brick—
The sights and sounds of long ago
     Where fancies cluster thick.

From the ”Superman” Building to the Fleur-de-Lys that Lovecraft despised – and made sure to tell the world, when he wrote in ”The Call of Cthulu:

”Wilcox still lived alone in the Fleur-de-Lys Building in Thomas Street, a hideous Victorian imitation of seventeenth century Breton Architecture which flaunts its stuccoed front amidst the lovely colonial houses on the ancient hill, and under the very shadow of the finest Georgian steeple in America, I found him at work in his rooms, and at once conceded from the specimens scattered about that his genius is indeed profound and authentic.”

The spirit of H.P. Lovecraft is alive, in Providence.

November 23rd, 2018

Providence || The Rhode Island State House

Sitting atop Smith Hill, overlooking downtown Providence, a grant building of white George marble, in inverse proportion to the size of the State it was built to serve. Designed by the New York firm of McKim, Mead and White and constructed between 1895 and 1904, it is crowned with the fourth largest self supporting dome in the world, behind only that of St. Peter’s in Vatican City, the Minnesota State Capitol in St. Paul and the Taj Mahal in Agra, India.

The Senate Chamber, home to the 38 members of the Senate; it’s design was influenced by the Pantheon in Rome.

”Hope” is the official state motto of Rhode Island, inspired by the biblical phrase “hope we have as an anchor of the soul.” This little flag made it to the Moon and back.

Thomas Wilson Dorr, 1805-1854
”The People’s Governor”, thanks to whom Rhode Island adopted a state constitution.

This is the Gettysburg gun from the First R.I. Light Artillery, damaged during the battle of Gettysburg on July 3, 1863 with a cannonball still stuck in the barrel.

The Royal Charter of 1663 granted by King Charles II of England, on July 8, 1663, resides safely in a custom steel  vault. The Charter guaranteed Rhode Island settlers complete religious liberty, established a self-governing colony with local autonomy and strengthened Rhode Island’s territorial claims. The most liberal charter of any colony, it served as Rhode Island’s basic law until the adoption of the state’s first constitution, which came into effect on May 2, 1843.

The Rhode Island State House, Providence

November 23rd, 2018

Portland Museum of Art || The McLellan House

Last, but not least:

A federal-style three-story mansion, completed in 1801 for Major Hugh McLellan, at a cost of $20,000. Purchased in 1880 by Lorenzo De Medici Sweat, it was bequeathed to the Portland Society of Art (now Portland Museum of Art), in 1908 by Margaret Jane Mussey Sweat, in memory of her late husband. It was completely restored to its original condition and its wonderful interior can be visited as part of the Portland Museum of Art.

Do not leave the Museum without seeing this splendid piece of history of Portland, Maine.

Art

Endless Column, 2013
Justin Richel (U.S., b. 1979)

Large Vase with Nude Women, 1950
Pablo Picasso

Garden Figure, 1935
Gaston Lachaise (U.S. (born France), 1882-1935)

Portland, ME

November 21st, 2018

Portland Museum of Art || Noguchi

Beyond the Pedestal: Isamu Noguchi and the Borders of Sculpture investigates Noguchi’s expansive artistic practice by exploring his efforts to enlarge and challenge conventional notions of sculptural boundaries.”Portland Museum of Art

This retrospective turned out to be our best chance to see Noguchi’s work to such an extend; we kept postponing a visit to the Noguchi Museum in New York, and now it is temporarily closed – as every Museum in the City, with no re-opening date announced yet.

Portland, ME

November 21st, 2018

The “Drop”

”The three members of a middle-class family – a pastor, his wife and their daughter – form a staid group in this painting of a well-decorated interior. The smooth finish of Harry Willson Watrous’ brushwork obscures the insidious reality of racism implied in the work’s title. The ”drop” refers to a pernicious American custom of treating anyone with even a drop of African-American blood as black and discriminating against them on that basis. Watrous’ carefully rendered painting of a mixed-race daughter and her parents suggests that beneath the veneer of egalitarianism and placid family togetherness (portrayed  in this scene), the treatment of African-Americans in the United States was still far from equal.” Portland Museum of Art

And, guess what… more than a century later, it is still isn’t.

However, had I not read the description I’d never have guessed the Artist’s reference. So captivated was I by the Mother’s silent despair and the Father’s quiet resignation at the Little Girl’s insistent demand, I missed that point completely.

Harry Willson Watrous (U.S., 1857-1940)
The Drop Sinister – What Shall We Do with It?, ca. 1913
Oil on canvas


Portland, ME

November 21st, 2018

The most eclectic way to warm up

Enter the Portland Museum of Art

Untitled (Hooking Buck Head Down), 2013
Marc Swanson (U.S., b. 1969)
Polyurethane foam, crystals, adhesive


Leopard, 19th century
Glazed earthenware


Candlesticks, ca. 1880
Bronze, marble, gilding
Unidentified Artist


Summer, 1927
Bronze
John Clements Gregory (U.S. (born England), 1879-1958)


Left Hand, 2007
Oil on linen
Jenny Holzer (U.S., b. 1950)


Frisbee, 1987
Oil on canvas
Will Barnet (U.S., 1911-2012)


Black Cat on Orange Background, 1958-59
Oil on masonite
Alex Katz (U.S., b. 1927)


Two Female Models Sitting with Legs Crossed and Kazak Rug, 2013
Oil on canvas
Philip Pearlstein (U.S., b. 1924)


Slab City Road, 1959
Oil on linen
Alex Katz (U.S., b. 1927)


Mother and Child, 1922
Mahogany
William Zorach (U.S. (born Lithuania), 1889-1966)


Diana of the Sea, 1940
Oil on canvas
Marguerite Thompson Zorach


A Midsummer Night’s Dream, 2016
Ink on latex saturated cellulose
Tim Rollins and K.O.S. (U.S., 1955-2017; U.S., established 1984)


New York-Paris No.2, 1931
Oil on canvas
Stuart Davis (U.S., 1892-1964)


Mrs. Henry St. John Smith (Ellen Archer Eveleth Smith), 1883
Oil on canvas
John Singer Sargent (U.S. (born Italy), 1856-1925


Dancer and Gazelles, 1912
Bronze
Paul Manship (U.S., 1885-1966)


Sideboard, ca. 1795-1800
Mahogany and other woods
John and Thomas Seymour (U.S. (born England), 1738-1818 & 1771-1849)

Portraits of Sally Stevens Lord and James Lord, ca. 1834
Oil on canvas
Attributed to Royal Brewster Smith (U.S., 1801-1855)


Eleanor Foster, 1755
Oil on canvas
Joseph Badger (U.S., 1708-1765)


The Dead Pearl Diver, 1858
Marble
Benjamin Paul Akers (U.S., 1825-1861)


Portland, ME

November 21st, 2018