The Columbus-Portland-North Adams Triangle

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 Foley… visitors to MASS MoCA may remember Sean’s installation Ruse that was up in our Hunter Hallway for the last year (sadly just taken down). Sean and I go way back… 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 O’Rorke and Sage Lewis who were both Sean’s students in Maine and now are at OSU). Other than Sean’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 here 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 Jeni’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 Columbus’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 ‚Äď 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 Sean‚Äôs installation for the ‚ÄúWonder Room,‚ÄĚ part of the Museum‚Äôs 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 Snow’s video Solar Breath (Northern Caryatids) in their video room. 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 Mercil’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 Diversity’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.



Posted February 23, 2012 by MASS MoCA
Filed under BLOG, Museum Education, North Adams
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Goodnight Irene

Director Joe Thompson reports on how we coped with hurricane Irene:

We‚Äôve never, ever closed MASS MoCA for a weather event, but Irene was spooky and we decided to play it safe.¬† (During one of last winter‚Äôs 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 snow‚Ķwhich I confess took me aback.¬† I felt like I lived on a different planet.¬† 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 we‚Äôre really happy to host them). Read the rest of this entry »

Posted August 29, 2011 by MASS MoCA
Filed under Architecture, Berkshires, BLOG, North Adams, Weather
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The good, the amazing, the M.Ward fiasco… Summer 2011

On her last day our wonderful marketing intern Kathryn offers these reflections on her summer at MASS MoCA.

Family dinner


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 I‚Äôve experienced a ton of new things, seen some amazing art and performances, and best of all, I‚Äôve met some truly incredible people (especially my fellow Summer Interns of 2011: Porkshire Edition) Read the rest of this entry »

Posted August 25, 2011 by MASS MoCA
Filed under BLOG, Interns, Nari Ward: Sub Mirage Lignum, North Adams, Staff, Wilco Solid Sound Festival
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MASS Transit: MoCA Bike Rental

MASS MoCA is constantly seeking new ways to get our visitors around town while they’re here at MASS MoCA.  Enter MASS Transit, the museum’s newly introduced bike rental program. A helpful and environmentally friendly mode of transportation to reach downtown North Adams and neighboring towns, the program is being met with oodles of enthusiasm from museum visitors, visiting artists, staff and friends of the museum.

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Posted August 11, 2011 by MASS MoCA
Filed under Berkshires, BLOG, Hardware, North Adams

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Artist spotlight on Mary Lum

Workers curator Susan Cross provides this introduction to an interview that our intern Kathryn Amato did with Mary Lum.

Continuing our artist spotlight series, we are focusing on  the work of North Adams-based Mary Lum, who is featured in the current exhibition The Workers. A 2010 Guggenheim Fellowship recipient, Lum earned her M.F.A. at Rochester Institute of Technology. Represented by Joseph Carroll and Sons, Boston and Fredereicke Taylor, New York. she has exhibited both nationally and internationally. Lum has been faculty  at Bennington College since 2005.

Invited to create a new piece for The Workers Lum was inspired both by the history of the former manufacturing site and her own interest in labor, a theme which the artist has explored in a number of previous works.¬† Tinker Tailor Soldier Sailor features an assemblage of hand-torn paper bag fragments which the artist has been collecting for nearly two decades. Each of the pieces ‚Äď torn from a multitude of bag bottoms — is stamped ¬†with the name of the individual who made the bag or oversaw its production and quality on the assembly line. ¬†¬†A detail easy to miss, each name reminds us of the human element behind industrialized production and the objects we use on a daily basis.

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Posted August 3, 2011 by MASS MoCA
Filed under BLOG, Exhibitions, North Adams, The Workers

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‚ÄúThe Known Universe‚ÄĚ

Northampton-based artist Samuel Rowlett and a dynamic crew of 15 local high school students collaborated on The Known Universe at ‚ÄúTEENSPACE‚ÄĚ a project of Kidspace at MASS MoCA¬† in downtown North Adams as part of the annual DownStreet Art festival. Visit the space at 26 Holden Street to see the results.

Samuel Rowlet has written a guest blog for MASS MoCA, check out what he has been working on:

With sketchbooks filled after a month of meeting twice a week on the 3rd floor of MASS MoCA as part of my residency with the Teenspace crew, we finally saw the space for our installation this summer.  The site of the old Artery Lounge at 26 Holden Street was perfect!   With a patina of character and quirky architectural palimpsests it was just the raw space we needed to take the ethos of the sketchbook (the artist’s equivalent of a diary), blow it up large scale and make it environmental.  The process, based on my own studio practice of turning the unpolished immediacy of sketchbook drawings into wall drawings, certainly gave the project an uncertain future.  Especially having 16 sketchbooks to source from!  However, after seeing the sketches the Crew had made, I knew we had the makings of something great.

Perhaps the most pleasing part of the project (in addition to the rocking installation: a mash-up of social commentary, angst, honesty and satire, that somehow reminds me of a Nirvana music video) has been the camaraderie and sense of collaboration that has developed within the group throughout the installation process.¬† As we helped draw each other‚Äôs drawings, we got to know one another, to rely on one another, riffing off each other‚Äôs ideas, and (quite literally) drawing connections between our sketchbook worlds.¬† I had charged them with the task of mapping their own universes, however it has become less about individual paradigms and more about stewardship of the work as a whole and the conversation they have put into motion through the process of working together.¬† Which, primarily, is what I hope for them will be the real take-away from this experience.¬† One that they can repeat in the future in whatever their chosen field may be:¬† a sense of creative collaboration.¬† ‚ÄúThe Known Universe‚ÄĚ expands‚Ķ

Posted June 30, 2011 by MASS MoCA
Filed under BLOG, Exhibitions, Kidspace, North Adams, Work-in-progress
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