Thursday, May 26, 2016

Day Off

Trilliums in Brooktondale, New York

I kneel down to inspect the Trillium, blooming in the woods of Brooktondale, just outside of Ithaca, New York.  I have a day to revive myself after my classes are over for the semester at R.I.T. where I am a Professor, in the School of Art..  I have been teaching studio classes, and my Business Practices class for nearly 3 decades, and now I enjoy getting out into the woods just feeling the warm breeze as a welcome to summer, which is definitely on the horizon.

We visit the Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art on the Cornell University campus to see what they have in store.  In one of the main galleries there is a show of printed scrolls and two large installations by the artist Rikrit Tiravanija.  This work of art reveals itself slowly, with the aid of a large video screen which you are welcome to sit and admire      ( and ponder the meaning of this artwork ).

"The Fire is Gone, But We Have The Light"
Rikrit Tiravanija
with Korakrit Arunanondchai

There is always something to see, - and there is something for all tastes at the museum.  When I think of the installation by Rikrit Tiravanija, I can connect with the title of the piece "The Fire is Gone, But We Have the Light", and I view the scrolls unfurled on the wall as part of a diary kept by this artist who is always on the move and who has a penchant for making big statements.  In this instance the artist has the help of graduate students in printmaking to create the edition of large scrolls, and the videos of tourist spots in Thailand complete the project.  The message I get is about movement, choice, and in fact the scrolls are given the title " The map of the land of feeling".

In theory a large work of art such as this should give me some insight into the artist's state of mind, but in this case, I was left with questions regarding my own decisions and sense of direction.  Downstairs in the lower level galleries the art and photography on view did not leave me guessing.

Einstein by Antonio Frasconi

In one gallery we were given a window on personality, celebrity and social order, and this exhibit borrows something from Andy Warhol who said, "In the future, everyone will have their fifteen minutes of fame".  This show consists mostly of photographic images, but there was one very nice woodcut by Antonio Frasconi ( donated to the museum by Roz and John Goldman ) and it is a portrait of Einstein, there is also a screen print by Warhol of Jackie Kennedy titled: "Jackie lll.

Andy Warhol Jackie lll

The abstract murals downstairs on view at the Johnson Museum came to light when Cornell Tech started to develop the southern part of Roosevelt Island, along the East River in Manhattan.  The murals are being conserved and they had their origins during the era of the WPA    ( Worker's Progress Administration ) in the early 1940's.  Among the artists included in this show were abstractionists like Ilya Bolotowsky whose mural has been restored recently.

Ilya Bolotowsky
1941, WPA Mural at The Goldwater Hospital

I found some wonderful ceramics from the middle east, and the remarkable thing is how old they are, thought to be between 1200 and 900 B.C.  I wonder whether these are just routine works, or were they significant for some reason, especially the red boot.

Iran, ceramics 1200-900 B.C.

Of more recent vintage were three figurative sculptures of working men.  These guys were under a lot of pressure, they are compressed and distorted and they are the work of the artist Yi Hwan Kwon and they look as if they had all of their details correct except everything is under a different perspective or else it was created through a 3-D printer.

Yi Hwan Kwon

On the way out of the museum I was surprised by a really terrific creation made of nails hammered into wood in a centrifugal pattern and sanded down into an abstraction.  I don't think I had ever seen anything like it, and we left the museum with a real boost from this work by the Korean artist Lee Jaehyo.

Lee Jaehyo, Korean born in 1965

On the upper floors of the museum you get panoramic views of the surrounding town and country of the Finger Lakes and especially Lake Cayuga.  These stunning views are always lively, and if you walk around to the other side of the museum facing east you look out on the Arts Quad of Cornell University, and I can even see the windows of my old studio there.

Cornell University Arts Quad