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Following The Wandering Veil

Thomas Huston is a 2013/2014  curatorial intern at  MASS MoCA.

Izhar Patkin:The Wandering Veil has been two years in the making. My part in the process, however, has been much briefer.

Wandering Veil Floor Plan

I joined the MASS MoCA curatorial department  last summer as an intern, and was first introduced to the The Wandering Veil via floor plans, lists of works, and the catalogue. I was confident that through these materials I had a decent grasp of what the end result would be.

With this confident conception of The Wandering Veil, I traveled with MASS MoCA Director of Exhibition Planning, Dante Birch, and my fellow Visual Arts intern, Josh Gutierrez, to Izhar’s East Village home to pack and load works for transport back to the museum.

As we  carefully de-installed and packed the works, I slowly realized that whatever ideas I had had about the final expression of the exhibition would be were, in fact, wrong.

Huston Patkin 1

The full breadth and depth of Izhar’s 30-year career ¬†began to sink in as we packed works such as ¬†Ghost Money,¬†a¬†mirrored Plexiglas vitrine¬†he produced with the Korean American artist, Nam June Paik (which can be seen in the first grouping of works in Building 5);¬†Before the Law Stands a Doorkeeper, a large recreation of a barn door with paintings incorporated into it (which we had to dismantle in New York only to reconstruct it back at MASS MoCA; see above); Palagonia¬†(which can be found on the mezzanine in Building 5); and his ethereal ‘Veils’ and landmark paintings on pleated neoprene. Each of the works was different, but each compelling and complex.

Huston Patkin 2

Before we had left for the city, I helped lay out the chalk lines, precisely marking where the ‚Äėrooms‚Äô were to be installed.

 	FOR INTERNAL USE ONLY (except with proper permissions)When we returned to MASS MoCA, the vast, open expanse that had been Building 5 just a few days earlier had become instead a small city, a labyrinth of rooms and hallways ripe for exploration.

 	FOR INTERNAL USE ONLY (except with proper permissions)

With fabrication complete, installation quickly began, and I was lucky enough to be involved with multiple facets of it –from¬†preparing veils, to assisting with the installation of ¬†Judenporcelain¬†and¬†Palagonia, and even lighting a few works on my own.

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Through these tasks I was able to work directly with Izhar, which was an incredible learning experience in its own right.

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I also learned how to operate a scissor lift, something which will no doubt come in handy in the future.

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All things considered, the installation of The Wandering Veil was a formative learning experience for me.  Not only did I pick up some incredibly useful skills, but I was able to watch an exhibition go from simple plans on pieces of paper to an incredible transformation of a space in ways that I could never have imagined.
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I was able to work directly with an artist whose work I have come to greatly admire, and build a working relationship with him that will continue to be important to me in the future.

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Interested in getting more of the story from behind the ‘Veils’? Catch Izhar in conversation with curator and writer David Ross¬†at MASS MoCA on Saturday, January 18 at 2pm. After the talk, join the artist and other guests for¬†a reception¬†in honor of The Wandering Veil¬†at¬†3pm.

Izhar Patkin:The Wandering Veil is on view  through September 1, 2014.

Posted January 13, 2014 by MASS MoCA
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MASS MoCA musicians making the list

We think the musicians who play at our festivals, in the Hunter Center and up in Club B-10 are pretty great, but don‚Äôt take our word for it ‚Äď check out the ¬†accolades some of our favorite artists are earning!

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Body/Head: Their debut album, Coming Apart, is #47 on SPIN’s 50 Best Albums of 2013. See them in our Hunter Center Saturday, March 15.

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David Lang: Death Speaks is one of NPR’s 50 Favorite Albums of 2013

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Del McCoury Band: Nominated for Best Blue Grass Album Grammy for The Streets of Baltimore

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Elephant Revival: Named one of NPR’s 10 Artists You Should have Known in 2013

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Foxygen: #46 on MOJO’s Top 50 Albums for We Are the 21st Century Ambassadors of Peace & Magic

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Jeff Tweedy: Nominated for Producer of the Year Grammy for One True Vine

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Josh Ritter: #28 on American Songwriter’s Top 50 Albums of 2013 for The Beast in Its Tracks

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Lake Street Dive: Named one of NPR’s 10 Artists You Should have Known in 2013

Laura Marling: #20 on Rolling Stone’s 50 Best Albums of 2013,  #33 on SPIN’s 50 Best Albums of 2013, #22 on MOJO’s Top 50 Albums  and #20 on American Songwriter’s Top 50 Albums of 2013  for Once I Was An Eagle

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Low: #36 on MOJO’s Top 50 Albums for The Invisible Way

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Lucius: Wildewoman is one of NPR’s 50 Favorite Albums of 2013

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Mavis Staples: #21 on MOJO’s Top 50 Albums for One True Vine

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Neko Case: #34 on Rolling Stone’s 50 Best Albums of 2013,   #47 on SPIN’s 50 Best Albums of 2013, #8 on A.V. Club’s 23 Best Albums of 2013 and #27 on Pitchfork’s Top 50 Albums of 2013 for The Worse Things Get, the Harder I Fight, the Harder I Fight, the More I Love You

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Sarah Jarosz: Nominated for two Grammys ‚Äď Best American Roots Song (‚ÄúBuild Me Up From Bones‚ÄĚ) and Best Folk Album ‚Äď and #10 on American Songwriter‚Äôs Top 50 Albums of 2013 for Build Me Up From Bones

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Steve Earle: Nominated for Best American Roots Songs Grammy for ‚ÄúInvisible‚ÄĚ and #31 on American Songwriter‚Äôs Top 50 Albums of 2013 for The Low Highway

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Roomful of Teeth: Their self-titled album is nominated for three Grammys: Best Engineered Album, Classical, Best Chamber Music/Small Ensemble Performance and Best Contemporary Classical.

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Vampire Weekend: #1 on Pitchfork’s Top 50 Albums of 2013, #3 on Stereogrum’s 50 Best Albums of 2013, #12 on American Songwriter’s Top 50 Albums of 2013, #3 on SPIN’s 50 Best Albums of 2013, #8 on MOJO’s Top 50 Albums  and #5 on A.V. Club’s 23 Best Albums of 2013 for Modern Vampires in the City

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Yo La Tengo: #46 on Sterogum’s 50 Best Albums of 2013 for Fade

Congratulations to all of these wonderful performers ‚Äď we can‚Äôt wait to hear what they produce next!

Posted January 8, 2014 by MASS MoCA
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Dream Big Task Force

Hosted by MASS MoCA and the Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts (MCLA), Summit 4 Teens was a night for local teens in cooperation with MCLA students, to  envision future programs and spaces dedicated their creative practices.

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The night kicked off with participants picking a gesture to introduce themselves, and the group mimicking it back to greet them — think Katniss and District 11.

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We toured the galleries, before diving into some serious art making.

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Look for yarn bombed chairs in Kidspace.

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‚ÄúEveryone was really open to trying new things.”

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Body percussion!

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‚ÄúI see a growing community.‚ÄĚ – Teen Participant

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The night wrapped up with the Dream Big Task Force¬†session, where we brainstormed future programming and ideas for a teen-centric creative space.¬†As one teen voiced for the group, “We’ve got a great beginning.”

Interested in participating in future Dream Big Task Force brainstorming sessions or teen events? Contact Shannon Toye at stoye@massmoca.org or (413) 664-4481 x8154.

Posted December 4, 2013 by MASS MoCA
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Hall Art Foundation opens Anselm Kiefer at MASS MoCA

The Hall Art Foundation arrived at MASS MoCA by throwing a lively reception and dinner for Anselm Kiefer. The artists‚Äô work is the focus of a 15-year exhibition organized and loaned by the Foundation, installed within a dramatic, exquisitely re-purposed 1 million gallon concrete water tank.¬† The next day, MASS MoCA celebrated too, by opening the doors of the entire museum — including the¬†Hall Art Foundation | Anselm Kiefer¬†building — free to the public.¬† Here are a few pictures from the events.

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Hall Art Foundation at MASS MoCA.

 Andy Hall, Christine Hall, Anselm Kiefer

Andy and Christine Hall embrace Anselm Kiefer.

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Crowds gather for the Hall Art Foundation private viewing on Thursday, September 26.

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Emma Hall (l) and Maryse Brand, Director, Hall Art Foundation (r).

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 Stacy Cochran, Joseph C. Thompson

MASS MoCA Trustee Stacy Cochran (l) and museum director Joe Thompson (r).

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Raymond Learsy, Melva Bucksbaum, and Sir Norman Rosenthal, who presented Anselm Kiefer with a freshly foraged Berkshire bouquet.

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Mark Hall with The Women of the Revolution (Les Femmes de la Revolution) (1992 / 2013).

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MASS MoCA’s Special Events and Membership Director, Jennifer Trainer Thompson.

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Christine Hall, Thom Krens, and Daniel, the night’s youngest patron.

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Bruce Josephson, Andy Hall, and Carol LeWitt.

 Wolfgang Laib, Anselm Kiefer

Anselm Kiefer greets Wolfgang Laib.

 Jay Jopling, Andy Hall

Jay Jopling and Andy Hall.

 Daniel Zilkha, Jane Wilde

Williams College students, Daniel Zilkha and Jane Wilde.

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 Marty Margulies, Dinka Bojanova, Andy Hall

Marty Margulies, Dinka Bojanova, and Andy Hall

 	Stacey Jensen

 Christine Hall, Andy Hall, Emma Hall

Christine, Andy, and Emma Hall.

Posted October 8, 2013 by MASS MoCA
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Art is an Asset

Assets for Artists¬†‚ÄĒ ¬†founded in 2008 by then MASS MoCA Director of Real Estate and Community Development¬†Blair Benjamin ‚ÄĒ ¬†is a matched-savings and entrepreneurship-training program for low-income artists in all disciplines. If you are a Massachusetts-based artist, you are eligible to apply; Assets for Artists is accepting¬†applications through October 11, 2013.

The program helps artists access additional capital, grow their artistic ventures, and gain the financial stability that promotes creative freedom. This program, born from MASS MoCA’s commitment to community revitalization through the arts, was piloted at home in Berkshire County, enrolling nine local artists during its first year.

Today,¬†Assets for Artists¬†‚ÄĒ¬†administered by MASS MoCA in collaboration with ArtHome, the Midas Collaborative, and many local partners ‚ÄĒ¬†has expanded to serve over 100 artists across the state of Massachusetts and in New York City, Rhode Island, and Portland, Maine., including:

From now until October 11, Assets for Artists is accepting applications from low-income creative entrepreneurs throughout the state of Massachusetts. To learn more and to download the application, visit assetsforartists.org/apply.

Posted October 7, 2013 by MASS MoCA
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Teaching art in a contemporary art museum

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MCLA Art Labs at MASS MoCA

Painter and Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts (MCLA) Professor of Art Gregory Scheckler talks about his students’ experiences at MCLA‚Äôs temporary drawing and painting labs in MASS MoCA‚Äôs Building 13.


What is it like to teach college art classes at a contemporary art museum? This year, Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts teachers and students are finding out.

As a professor, the opportunity to teach at the museum is a welcome change. Teaching needs revision and refreshment, so why not do that at one of the world’s best contemporary art museums? The overall goals of making more and better art, and gaining critical knowledge, good practice, and technical skills, are, of course, the same as before. The museum environment changes the mood, amplifies it. The art practices are growing more serious, as well as more fun.

For example, I teach a visual arts composition course called Form and Composition. In the course, we review various approaches to understanding and composing imagery. When we reach mid-20th century approaches , we have the largest installation of Sol Lewitt wall drawings to inform the conversation, right outside our classroom door .

Nothing, and I mean nothing, brings art techniques and ideas into more clear focus than seeing work in real life.

Housing such immense projects means that MASS MoCA has a certain bold, sexy quality. It’s refreshing to be constantly reminded of our creative freedoms, to be in the thick of artistic ingenuity in all of its contemporary forms, witness to the great diversity that is the imagination of the arts at work.

Just what exactly will inspire us?

It’s hard to tell. I keep feeling drawn to the rusted-out buildings, which house Stephen Vitiello’s sound installation,  All Those Vanished Engines.

Photo Courtesy Gregory Scheckler

Students have their own favorites. MCLA Junior Ciara Genera, who has found that working at MASS MoCA makes her “feel like a real artist,”¬†discovered inspiration from¬†Xu Bing’s mammoth sculptures. As she put it,¬†¬†“Xu Bing‚Äôs¬†Phoenix¬†blew me away!‚ÄĚ

Photo credit: Keifer Gammel

Photo Courtesy Keifer Gammel

MCLA Senior Alberto Roman found technical insight in the “immense texture and roughness” of¬†Anselm Kiefer’s paintings.

Anselm Kiefer at MASS MoCA

Some students find the context of the museum to be a creative driver. MCLA senior Shelagh Conley notes that being “at the museum allows me to work without distractions.¬†We are surrounded by artwork. It is all that my mind is focused on.‚ÄĚ Similarly, senior Stephanie VanBramer finds that the experience has pushed her and her “artwork to the next level”.

The students are right, of course. On a regular college campus, when you leave a studio or art lab, you move into a world of  classrooms, and quads. At the museum, when we leave the art labs, we move through galleries. Our quad is the upside-down trees of Natalie Jeremijenko’s Tree Logic.

Posted October 7, 2013 by MASS MoCA
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