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Must Visit: Ringling Museum of Art

Seeing that it's in the 40s and raining right now, I'm dreaming about my time in the Tampa and Sarasota area last week. I got to take in some rays (actually, too much of it) and see some incredible art while attending fun events surrounding Sarasota Film Festival with my friend Chris, owner of Johnsonese Brokerage. We alternated days at the beach and art-going and the art was unexpected for more reasons than one. 

After doing a quick whirl through St. Armand's Circle, which I found to be mostly commercial and not terribly challenging, I was pleased to visit Ringling Museum of Art, part of the grounds which were built by John and Mable Ringling (yes, that Ringling). From their luxurious waterfront home to the secret garden and numerous banyan trees, there were little treasures to be uncovered at every turn.

The front entrance of Ringling Museum of Art

The front entrance of Ringling Museum of Art

One of the many cool things about the property is that you can explore the grounds or have a guided tour. And there are doors that open right into the middle of the museum, (where normally rooms don't have exits to the outdoors for liability or issues with stealing). From the middle of the courtyard, we entered right into Re:Purposed, a contemporary exhibition of found objects, reused materials, refashioned with newfound life. A couple of Nick Cages and El Anatsuis were practical and imaginative but I discovered Daniel Rozin, who's "Trash Mirror" simply blew me away. In its simplicity and execution, I was already enamored. But the interactiveness of the "clack clack" of the motion-sensored garbage planes made it addicting to come back again and again. (Unfortunately, no photos were allowed in this area). 

In another gallery was the fascinating and haunting exhibit,  Beth Lipman: Precarious Possessions. I had seen her work before at Milwaukee Art Museum but this time the scale of her work was more monolithic with the a baby cradle, buffet and crib. 

The grounds of the Ringling are incredibly well-groomed and offer an exceptional visitors' experience. And on a side note, we coincidentally visited on a Monday when the art museum and grounds are free to roam. I recommend this landmark as a "must see" on your visit to the area. I'll let the photos persuade you. 

The tower of the Ca'd'Zan, or "House of John", the Ringlings' home. 

The tower of the Ca'd'Zan, or "House of John", the Ringlings' home. 

Mable's rose garden. 

Mable's rose garden. 

Romulus and Remus. 

Romulus and Remus. 

The main entry of the museum leads right into these larger-than-life works. They had to have been at least fifteen feet tall, truly sublime.

The main entry of the museum leads right into these larger-than-life works. They had to have been at least fifteen feet tall, truly sublime.

The dock of the Ringlings' home. 

The dock of the Ringlings' home. 

Walkways were dotted with sculptures and this one had become entangled. We almost missed it. 

Walkways were dotted with sculptures and this one had become entangled. We almost missed it. 

The Ringlings bought up thousands of paintings, sculptures, and objects in Etruscan, Asian, European and American art. 

The Ringlings bought up thousands of paintings, sculptures, and objects in Etruscan, Asian, European and American art. 

I was examining their installation like a hawk. Notice the color-coordinated rods and wall tags on the fabric wallpaper. Seamless!

I was examining their installation like a hawk. Notice the color-coordinated rods and wall tags on the fabric wallpaper. Seamless!

A view of the art museum courtyard filled with sculptures.

A view of the art museum courtyard filled with sculptures.

Wandering down the corridor, we popped into the door on the left and walked right into a Nick Cage. 

Wandering down the corridor, we popped into the door on the left and walked right into a Nick Cage. 


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An Exhibit We'd Like to See : David Bowie Is

N is a huge fan of David Bowie's. And for good reason. His name has been synonymous with imaginative thinking and music and art for over four decades.

dezeen_David-Bowie-is-at-the-V-and-A_1aAbove: album cover shoot for Aladdin Sane (1973) courtesy of Duffy Archive

tumblr_lgq06iLvAp1qdbfozo1_500A Bowie copycat for a children's campaign.

On March 23rd an incredible collection of memorabilia, costumery, photography, musical archives and objects will showcase the life and work of David Bowie at Victoria & Albert Museum in London. The show, titled simply "David Bowie Is" will have over 300 items and only cover a fraction of the pop icon's presence.

dezeen_David-Bowie-is-at-the-V-and-A_6Above: photo collage of manipulated film stills from The Man Who Fell to Earth (1975-6) courtesy of The David Bowie Archive and Studiocanal Films Ltd

dezeen_David-Bowie-is-at-the-V-and-A_3aAbove: striped bodysuit for Aladdin Sane tour designed by Kansai Yamamoto (1973), photograph by Masayoshi Sukita from The David Bowie Archive

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Original photography for the Earthling album cover, 1997 Union Jack coat designed by Alexander McQueen in collaboration with David Bowie Photograph by Frank W Ockenfels 3 © Frank W Ockenfels 3

 If we were closer, we would certainly be seeing this show. For now we'll just listen to tunes on the record player and check out his new song and album, "The Next Day". Tickets and full information can be found here.

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A Life of Decadence | Fabergé: The Rise and Fall, The Collection of the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts

I had the chance to see the Fabergé exhibit at the Detroit Institute of Arts over the weekend and it was quite a stunning collection of objects from the early 20th century creator of luxury goods. Karl Fabergé took over his family's business as a jeweler but soon learned how to cater to the Russian aristocracy with exclusive, miniature objects. Specializing in eggs, animals and other keepsakes, he was able to build an empire with hundreds of workers and fabricators working under him until the workshop's abrupt ending in 1918.

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While it may not seem wholly relevant during a time that trinkets and candy dishes the size of a couple inches are unnecessary (above), it was a welcome reminder that craftsmanship of this kind existed at one time. I recommend this show if you have a chance to see it now through January 21st, 2013.

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dachshund-undated

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10 Questions About Art, Design and Photography That You Always Wanted to Ask but Never Thought You'd Get the Straight Answers To

1. Why does it cost so much? The answer depends on where you're looking at the piece you're considering. Are you in a gallery? Consider the industry practice of 50% that goes to the dealer, the cost of framing, installation that's sometimes taken out of the artist's cut, sometimes the dealer covers, marketing and advertising, overhead (electric, rent, phone bill, etc). Are you at an art fair? Consider the insurance premiums, travel, hotel cost, shipping materials, gas/airfare for the artist and the blood, sweat and tears. You're going to pay a premium but in this case, you may feel a personal connection to the artist and you have an opportunity to meet and learn about his or her work ethic, inspiration and vision. And that's priceless.

If you're buying a piece by a "known artist", which I personally define as someone that has an auction record, studied in academic realms and is being shown in museums, or represented by a reputable gallery, you're going to pay a premium because they're sought after no matter what the subject matter, even if they're considered a conceptual artist. Art prices driven into seven figures has to do with precedent set at auction and high end private transactions. Since auctions account for about a quarter of the art market, you can imagine how much it influences numbers.

If you're vacationing and in a tourist gallery, you're going to pay a premium whether the artist is known or unknown. Do not buy things based on what you're hearing or what returns the dealer tells you are possible in the future. If you go to Hawaii and buy a $5,000 painting of a dolphin jumping out of the water, you better love the hell outta that dolphin. For a long time.

Painting by Jeff Wilkie

2. Do you shoot Canon or Nikon or something else? And does it matter?

People almost always ask this. Since its origin photography continues to be made more accessible to consumers. Does this mean there are more photographers out there? No, just more people that can take pictures. Photography literally breaks down to "light writing" meaning the ability to control or work with light to capture a scene or moment. Those that feel what you shoot with makes a difference are the same that thought Dippin Dots revolutionized ice cream. Cameras cost different prices so that camera companies can establish multiple markets. Sure, some cameras generate much larger files and/or capture repeatedly much faster than others, and if you have that need then that's your answer, but realistically the entry level dSLR can achieve the same results, given the knowledge of controlling light.

3. Should I buy that painting?

If you love it/want to support the artist/know that you're buying it to enjoy yourself and not impress anyone, then yes.

4. Where should I hang it?

Measure the height of the piece and make a note of the midpoint. That mark should hang 60 inches up from the floor. This is general rule of thumb and widely practiced by professionals in the field. If it's larger than say, 20 inches in any direction, don't hang it in a hallway where you can't stand far away to get the full effect. Most people hang art too high and generally on a wall that's not proportional to the piece. An 8 x 10 inch frame will look awfully lonely on a large wall by itself. A piece that size is better housed on an accent wall, nook or with other pieces around it.

Also consider humidity, how much direct sun and the amount of air conditioning that is directed at the piece. Oil paintings are extremely delicate to extreme changes in temperature and photographs should never be hung in direct sun. If you have the opportunity to, work with a professional framer so they can advise you on what kind of glass each piece should be housed under.

5. Why does the one on top cost more than the one on the bottom?

In an era when upholstery was king in the household, husband and wife team Charles and Ray Eames's collaboration in answering a previous design flaw (from a competition that Charles had entered with architect and designer Eero Saarinen) resulted in the ubiquitous Eames Lounge Chair Wood or what is known in the industry as LCW. With two separate pieces and particular construction of separate molded wood and rubber mounts, the technology used to create this multi-layer chair was cutting edge at the time.

It was eventually noticed by George Nelson at Herman Miller at continues to be manufactured to their specific material and design plans today. The reason the chair on the top costs so much is because it's a piece of art even though it's been replicated many times. It can be resold, although some versions of LCW may resell for more than others depending on demand, quantity of that particular model and condition of each piece. On top of the quality and materials, you're also paying a premium for the licensing namesake.

The chair on the bottom is a knock-off of the Eames LCW, looks about the same (although the variation in the plywood on the bottom is not nearly as marbled or visually interesting as the Eames), but the construction and design will not be of the same caliber. It will also not resell or appreciate over time.

6. How long should I linger at a piece when I'm at the museum?

Image via History Lines

There's no simple answer to this but generally, I believe that most people don't look long enough. Find the ones that speak to you and try to figure out why. What elements draw you to the piece. How do the colors make you feel? Will this stick with you after you leave? Are you intrigued to do some research about this artist after you leave? I hope these few questions may spark your viewing experience the next time you visit a museum.

7. When will it be worth more?

If you're buying a work by a "known artist" (see #1), generally a decade will yield some sort of return higher or at least slightly higher than what you bought it for. That is, unless you overpaid for it in the first place (again, refer to #1 for a definition of where you might over pay for something). If you've been given a certificate of authenticity or promised it's limited edition, I can sell you the chair I'm sitting in and give you certificate of authenticity for that too...

8. Why can't I shoot/design/make it myself?

You can! All the credit to you if you do and do it just as well as the professionals!

9. Can I try to negotiate a lower price?

Sometimes you can. But I ask that if you're at an art fair where you're dealing with the artist directly, please don't offend them. They work very hard to travel, create work, pay the booth fee, lug all their work there, sit/stand all day.  Maybe ask them to throw in a studio visit or deliver the piece if they're local. If the piece is less than $500, I urge you not to negotiate at all. A dealer, go for it. But keep in mind they may take the loss out on the artist's cut.

10. Who should I talk to if I want to buy art?

You should talk to us! We've dealt and handled everything from William Merritt Chase to Alexander Calder to Jen Stark. We'll do the research to make sure that you're buying what you can't live without from a reputable source.

Photo of brokered work by Jen Stark, courtesy Carol Jazzar Gallery

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Exploring: Ross Art Collection

The Stephen M. Ross School of Business at the University of Michigan (known as Ross) is an impressive institution for many reasons. In 2004, a $100 million contribution was made by Mr. Ross and included with the new building came the promise of an expansive art collection. Over 250 works line the halls including two larger-than-life metal horse sculptures by Deborah Butterfield in the lobby. We had walked by and peeked at the Butterfields many times but we finally made a concerted effort with our great friend, Chris Johnson, owner of Johnsonese Brokerage a couple weeks ago. We were engaged by the breadth of mediums from photography to sculpture to prints. Here are some highlights.*

Reserve at least two hours to find treasures on every floor. If you love visiting the UM Museum of Art, you'll certainly appreciate the contemporary collection at Ross.

*These were taken with a point + shoot.

-Y-

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Bye American

"I was born in ______ in the United States of America. My skin is ______ and I'm a ______, and believe in  ______. I work ______ and pay ______ and don't believe in ______. I exercise my right to ______ and appreciate the ______ of those before me. I eat ______ and am not scared of all of the ______. I feel that ______ should be free and that ______ is our choice. I'm not for ______ intervention, but feel that ______ is necessary. I know that ______ don't get paid enough, while ______ live lavish lifestyles. Each night I watch the ______ only to see ______ over and over again. To me, it's obvious this country has forgotten how to ______." -______

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Exhibit Overview | Face of Our Time: Jacob Aue Sobol, Jim Goldberg, Zanele Muholi, Daniel Schwartz, Richard Misrach

I visited the University of Michigan Museum of Art over the weekend and was blown away by the imagery I saw in their current exhibit, Face of Our Time: Jacob Aue Sobol, Jim Goldberg, Zanele Muholi, Daniel Schwartz, Richard Misrach. The show highlights over 100 works by five contemporary documentary-style photographers and is a powerful statement to the social climate and causes in different countries including the devastation in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina as captured by Richard Misrach. Today, as we reflect on and commemorate the work and progress of Martin Luther King, Jr. made, we should remember that there are still many in this world that live in a daily struggle, nowhere near the privilege that we enjoy.

UMMA is open everyday except Mondays and admission is always free. If you have a chance to visit the museum and see this show, I highly recommend it. Face of Our Time runs through February 5th, 2012.

-Y-

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