In honor of the opening of the Bus Stand on Main Street in North Adams, Â Kidspace sat down to chat with the artist, Victoria Palermo. Palermoâ€™s work will be installed in mid-June 2012… But make sure to check out the festivities and the ribbon cutting with Mayor Alcombright on June 28 at 6 PM.
Kidspace: You have exhibited in museums and galleries (including Kidspace!) in the past, but your Bus Stand is a public work of art designed to be a permanent installation on Main Street in North Adams. Do you approach a project differently depending on the different audiences? If so, how?
VP: In a public work of art, the artist has the chance to catch the viewer by surprise.Â Go to a museum, you expect to see art.Â Wait for a bus, expect transportation.Â In this case I hope to transport bus patrons in an additional wayâ€”as if they had entered a three-dimensional painting.Â Looking out from inside the shelter, familiar streetscapes will appear in blocks of color.
I love the idea that someone might have an aesthetic experience while engaging in a mundane necessity of lifeâ€”waiting for a bus.Â I think that color has a tremendous impact on state of mind.Â Â We are a secular society, but people used to spend more time in cathedrals, churches, and got a spiritual uplift from seeing the colored light streaming through stained glass windows.Â If sitting in the bus shelter gives someone an emotional lift, makes the day a little bit better, Iâ€™ll be happy.
Kidspace: Do you have a preference for which kind of project you would rather do?
VP: I think the idea of communicating to a large diverse audience is the most exciting, but also the most scary.Â I think of it as a reality check.Â Hopefully people will respond on a fundamental level.Â The work is about visual perception; appreciation requires eyes, not a knowledge of art theory.Â I love it when small children, in particular, respond positively to my work.
There are practical considerations to be considered in a project like this; I am very mindful that the shelter must function from a practical point of view.Â I hope that North Adams folks will see it as a gift that belongs to them; something to be taken care of and preserved.Â Within a museum or gallery, the artist has certain assurances that the work will be protected.Â In the case of a public work, all bets are off.
Kidspace: As I understand it, the inspiration for the Bus Stand project started with a residency you did with North Adams public school students in spring of 2010. How did working with these kids influence your decision to start this project, or the evolution of the project design itself?
VP: Kids respond in such a genuine way.Â Againâ€”terrifyingâ€”because they are savages and feel no compulsion to respond politely. Yet, they came to the project with open minds with no negative preconceptions.Â I had already been working with the idea of creating an â€śartâ€ť shelter that could have a practical application.Â Â I worked with several groups of junior high students during their last week of school.Â I was afraid that they would rather be playing outside, but they were great and made an array of structures that could function in a public arena.Â Their energy and responses were very confirming.
Kidspace: As a professional artist, what do you gain from doing a residency project in the schools?
VP: Itâ€™s good practice to learn to communicate ideas in the most directÂ (no bull—-) way.Â Students respond to authenticity.Â Theyâ€™re not worriedâ€”â€śis it art?â€ť, but react on a gut level.Â Thereâ€™s no tougher audience.Â Â Â This is my second residency project with Kidspace; both have been very energizing, confirming experiences.Â One could sayâ€”a blast.
Kidspace: How do you think artist residencies influence students?
VP: Hopefully, the students begin to see the experience of art as a part of life, not just an isolated experience. I think also that students come to realize that artists are not so very different from them, and that important work may be achieved through a sense of play.
Kidspace: Whatâ€™s next on the horizon for you, after the Bus Stand?
VP: Perhaps more public works in a similar vein?Â I have ideas and models.
More about Victoria Palermo:
Victoria Palermo, a sculptor residing in Queensbury, New York, holds a Bacehlor of Science degree in Art from Skidmore College, Saratoga Springs, New York, and a Master of Fine Arts degree from Bennington College, Bennington, Vermont. She is a Visiting Assistant Professor of Art at Skidmore College and previously was a scenic painter and art department director for Adirondack Scenic, Inc., in Glens Falls, New York. In addition to Kidspace at MASS MoCA in North Adams, Massachusetts, her work has been in solo and group shows in such galleries and museums as: Williams College Museum of Art, Williamstown, Massachusetts; The Arts Center in Troy, New York; The Tang Museum at Skidmore College, Saratoga Springs, New York; Pierogi 2000, Brooklyn, New York; ART/OMI Sculpture Park, Ghent, New York; and Galerie Du Tableau, Marseilles, France. She is represented by the John Davis Gallery, Hudson, New York.Â
We are really delighted to be able to highlight the work of area students with an annual art show. Its coming up next weekend — on view during regular gallery hours on Saturday and Sunday April 14 and 15.Â Hope you can stop by and see the amazing art our local students are making.Â Here’s our press release on the show.
(North Adams, MA) For the second year in a row, MASS MoCA is collaborating with high school art teachers and artists in the Â northern Berkshires to invite local students to submit artwork for a temporary exhibition at MASS MoCA. Cash prizes will be awarded to the best works submitted. MASS MoCA Director Joseph Thompson said: â€śThis event was a highlight of our spring last year, and we are delighted to be able to present this exhibition again. It is an honor for us to be a part of this celebration of the talents of the young people in our community. Athletic and academic achievements are frequently celebrated; this is a great opportunity to shine a bright light on the work of kids who excel in a completely different field.â€ť
While many of the students participating in this high school invitational art exhibition have also taken formal art classes in school, the invitation is extended broadly:Â the goal is to reach all students who are engaged by art and who have made excellent work, inside or outside the normal curriculum.Â The work will be judged by a panel of MASS MoCA staff, area artists and teachers. In addition to cash prizes, a special tuition credit is also offered as the grand prize by North Adamsâ€™ Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts (MCLA).
Participating schools include Drury High School in North Adams; Berkshire Arts and Technology Charter School (BART) and Hoosac Valley High School, in Adams; Buxton School and Pine Cobble School, in Williamstown; and Mt. Greylock Regional High School in Williamstown, which includes students from Williamstown, Hancock, and Lanesborough.
The high school invitational exhibit will open at MASS MoCA on Friday, April 13, at 6 PM, with free admission. Awards will take place at 6:45 PM, with a reception to follow at 7:15 PM. The artworks will remain on view at MASS MoCA from 11 AM to 5 PM on Saturday, April 14, and Sunday, April 15 (gallery admission required). Â After the run at MASS MoCA the exhibition will move to the gallery at the Eclipse Mill on Route 2, in North Adams, thanks to the support and courtesy of the mill residents, many of whom are professional local artists, where it will be on view from noon to 5 PM on the weekends of April 21-22, April 28-29, and May 5-6. A reception at the Eclipse Mill Gallery will take place on Friday, April 27, from 6 PM to 9 PM.
Curator Denise Markonish blogs about her recent trip to Ohio.
Who knew there were so many connections between Columbus, OH, Portland, ME and North Adams, MA? This was proven to me last week when I went to Columbus on the invitation of the graduate painting department at Ohio State University. All roads in this weird atlas lead to Sean Foleyâ€¦ visitors to MASS MoCA may remember Seanâ€™s installation Ruse that was up in our Hunter Hallway for the last year (sadly just taken down). Sean and I go way backâ€¦ we met in 2001 when he was teaching at the Maine College of Art. He has since moved to Ohio and lured a good number of Mainers out there with him (including Patrick Oâ€™Rorke and Sage Lewis who were both Seanâ€™s students in Maine and now are at OSU). Other than Seanâ€™s connection to me and MASS MoCA, I also got to see Katie Bullock who assisted Sean on his installation and Ann Hamilton, who lives in Columbus, teaches at OSU and exhibited hereÂ at MASS MoCA in 2004. And last but not least, for those of you who remember The Bureau for Open Culture who resided at MASS MoCA last summer, well they started in Columbus as well!
I arrived in Columbus on February 8th, and was almost immediately taken to Jeniâ€™s Ice Cream, a Columbus institution with flavors like salty caramel, wild berry lavender and lime cardamom! I then got to hang out with Sean and his wife Cindy (who is the head of education at the Columbus Museum of Art) and their two awesome kids Emmett and Adie.
On Thursday I started the day doing a studio visit with artist MJ Bole. MJ has done many hilarious installations on sanitation systems and toilet history, and is currently working on a project for Columbusâ€™s bicentennial celebration. MJ is looking at depictions of Christopher Columbus used to market the city over the years as well as delving into the history of the city as a test market for products (see more about his history here). After some studio visits with the graduate students in painting, MJ took Sean, Katie, Emmett and me to the State of Ohio Asylum for the Insane Cemetery, an off-the-beaten-path cemetery from the late 1800s in which prisoners are buried (they also carved the grave stones).
Friday was filled with studio visits â€“ the students (in painting but also glass, sculpture and photography) are addressing ideas of perception, wonder and materiality. At a break before lunch I visited the Columbus Museum of Art and there I got to see Seanâ€™s installation for the â€śWonder Room,â€ť part of the Museumâ€™s new education center.
After lunch I headed over to the Wexner Center for the Arts, where I would give a lecture that afternoon. Check out this great lecture poster that Sage Lewis made for the event:
I visited the Tony Smith exhibition and was please to see Michael Snowâ€™s video Solar Breath (Northern Caryatids) in their video room.Â This same piece will be in the upcoming Oh, Canada exhibition opening at MASS MoCA in May of 2012. After my talk it was off to dinner at Ann Hamilton and Michael Mercilâ€™s studio, a potluck prepared by the graduate students. It was an elegant evening full of good food and great conversation!
My last day in Columbus began with breakfast with Wexner curator Bill Horrigan, and from there Katie and I went to the Museum of Biological Diversityâ€™s open house. There we got to see all sorts of species native to Ohio and even got to hold some bugs.
This field trip tugged at the natural history nerd inside of me.
And finally before heading to the airport I did a studio visit with painter Laura Lisbon. We had a great conversation of about invisibility and the painterly tableau and then visited two shows, Bending the Mirror and Home, at the Columbus College of Art and Design. A perfect end to a trip filled with art, science, history, good food, terrific conversations and great friends.
Director Joe Thompson reports on how we coped with hurricane Irene:
Weâ€™ve never, ever closed MASS MoCA for a weather event, but Irene was spooky and we decided to play it safe.Â (During one of last winterâ€™s blizzards we proudly announced online that we would be open, and several people took me to task for requiring employees to trudge to work in the snowâ€¦which I confess took me aback.Â I felt like I lived on a different planet.Â It might have been a mistake to have employees make a long drive, but by and large, we actually like getting the museum open, and our tough-weather visitors are some of our best. They really want to be here, and so weâ€™re really happy to host them). Read the rest of this entry »
On her last day our wonderful marketing intern Kathryn offers these reflections on her summer at MASS MoCA.
The summer is coming to a close, and I cannot believe how fast my time at MASS MoCA came and went. I still feel like I just sat down at my desk for the first time, with a lovely note from the previous intern Marissa. Yet, in reality Iâ€™ve experienced a ton of new things, seen some amazing art and performances, and best of all, Iâ€™ve met some truly incredible people (especially my fellow Summer Interns of 2011: Porkshire Edition) Read the rest of this entry »