Archive for the ‘Exhibitions’ Category
The final vote for You Like This, a crowdsourcing exhibition of the Museum’s permanent collection, came to a close last Tuesday, and our community curators met on Wednesday, August 3, and had the opportunity to discuss how that art should be hung in the gallery. The session began with presentations from Museum Director and CEO Colleen Sheehy and Director of Curatorial Affairs and Interpretation Megan Johnston. The two spoke on different creative exhibitions they had worked on and gave examples of how an art gallery doesn’t always need to be a traditional, static environment. They encouraged the community curators to think about intentionality, rhythm, juxtaposition, narratives, and even the use of colored walls to aid in delivering their message.
The next thing to decide was, “what exactly is our message?” We had originally planned to have three community curating sessions with the last one designated to the curatorial elements of the exhibition, but we had so many ideas it was difficult to focus them into a theme. Some curators wanted to take a step further and be more hands-on with the details of the installation, a request that Museum staff was happy to oblige. After that was settled, the curators had more time to brainstorm broad ideas.
One of our curators thought it would be best to go around the table so everyone could voice one idea they thought should be involved in the display. Here are a few examples the group generated:
o Highlight the crowdsourcing element and clue people into the process
o Have some walls white, and others a solid color
o Delineation; something unexpected like displaying works at different angles and on different surfaces
o Incorporate the community’s comments from the online survey into the exhibition
o Allow visitors to continue to vote (interactive)
o QR codes – sent to a discussion board and forum
o Different groupings of art using room dividers – “traditional” and moving to a funkier, more experimental area
o Using vinyl, stats and percentages in the display
Museum staff and some of the community curators will now use this information to organize and install the exhibition. Be sure to check out the exhibition October 6, 2011 – January 15, 2012 in Jane L. Stern Gallery and see what the Fargo-Moorhead community has generated through this crowdsourcing process.
Have you been following the You Like This process? Please leave your reactions and comments below.
(The following is a guest post by Loretta Cantieri, an artist and instructor at Minnesota State University Moorhead. Cantieri was guest curator for the exhibition Collectors Humble and Extraordinaire: The Herb and Dorothy Vogel Gift.)
“I do not like it, Sam I am, I do not like green eggs and ham.” – Dr. Seuss, Green Eggs and Ham
Questions have arisen in regards to some of the work in the exhibition, Collectors Humble and Extraordinaire: The Herb and Dorothy Vogel Gift. Some wonder if it is truly art and others believe it is art, but are puzzled.
Sometimes an artwork does not meet our individual standards of aesthetics or our idea of what artwork should be. This often happens with contemporary and abstract work, so do not sweat it, you have lots of company. The lack of recognizable imagery, the imagined lack of artistic skill or the use non-tradtional materials and methods have all been commented about in the Vogel guest book.
It might help to move backward to move forward.
Since the early Renaissance, traditions developed in Western art which have included accurately depicting recognizable images (such as gods, goddesses, saints, sinners, portraits, kings, dead rabbits, and dogs to name a few) and along with this was a narrative or a story to be understood in the painting or sculpture. Change has been a constant characteristic in artworks and so have disagreements. Painters have disagreed about the appropriate handling of the paint, how to make brushstrokes (visible or invisible), use of colors, and correct subject matter. Regardless, for about four hundred years viewers could recognize the subject matter. By year 500 (late 19th to early 20th century) dramatic changes happened. The Impressionists broke up the brushstroke, the Fauves turned faces blue and orange and the Constructivists sought purity by painting rectangles or squares.
What is a viewer to do? Where is constancy and tradition? Frankly, the 20th century was difficult for both artist and audience. Early on, abstraction became part of modern art’s vocabulary and by the ’60s, artists painted on found objects (cardboard or pipes), sculpted with peanut shells or wire, and eventually came to believe 500 notebook pages of gestural watercolor “drawings” were art. Concepts and non-tradtional materials became the new traditon. Also, drawing was no longer seen as a prepatory medium, but rather an essential process equal to painting. Why did they break the rules? Why should we look? How should we look?
We are caught in the “I-Don’t-Get-It Aesthetic,” an expression coined by art critic Jerry Saltz. What if art is not user friendly or it makes us feel agitated or uncomfortable? The late curator and founder of the New Museum, Marcia Tucker, said “If people gave art just the same amount of courtesy, respect, and time that they gave new people they meet, I suspect things would be a lot better.”
So to better enjoy life and your contemporary art experiences it is best not to rush to judgement. One would not tell a new acquaitance, “you are strange” or “you are not a real person.” The art may be enigmatic but be polite and allow the perceived uncertainites and inadequecies to enthrall you. This newly fueled curiosity may invoke learning about aesthetics, artists and society, or politics and history. Your journey may not be predictable or linear, but you could learn a lot about yourself, the visual world, and the complexity of relationships.
Some questions to consider:
- Can it only be Art if it is made to survive the next millennium?
- Does everyone have to understand it for it to be good?
- How does the iconography of contemporary art differ from the art of the Renaissance?
- What if an artist formally trained in different mediums and visual elements like proportion, volume, light and color does not use his or her training in an obvious way?
- Can your emotions or response be part of the piece?
- Can the ideas and processes an artist uses be art or visible in the artwork?
- How do uncertainty and unpredictability influence the artist?
Our crowdsourcing project and exhibition You Like This: A Democratic Approach to the Permanent Collection moved on into phase two during the month of June. After we compiled the results of an online survey from phase one, we brought in a group of “community curators” to analyze those results and offer their opinions on how to condense down our permanent collection into a manageable number for a final vote on the specific works of art that will comprise the final exhibition.
The community curator meetings were full of debate and enthusiasm. Aside from crunching the data from the survey, the curators were also asked to help define their own role in this process and discuss what they would like to see in the gallery at the end of this process. They had a number of fantastic ideas and things to consider once this project finally becomes an exhibition. Here’s an overview:
- The curators expressed concern that certain categories of art may not be represented in the final vote because of their low level of support in the initial survey.
- There was plenty of discussion around keeping gender balance in the selection of artworks.
- A couple curators wanted to see some “old friends,” works in our collection that haven’t been shown in a while. Others wanted “surprising” pieces, ones that may not have been shown often but would be exciting nonetheless.
- The majority of the discussion – and the most passionate – surrounded the opportunity the curators have in terms of the interpretation and presentation of the You Like This show and project. The curators discussed the use of innovative ways to allow viewers to comment on works of art, different approaches to arranging works on the wall, and the use of other local talent (musicians, writers, architects, etc.) in the interpretation of the exhibition. They stressed that they’d like to offer viewers the opportunity to view works in an unconventional way and lend the opportunity for viewers’ self exploration.
- Curators also recommended using comments from the You Like This process in some way in the exhibition, either through audio or text.
The second curator meeting was a little more straightforward. After listening to their recommendations, Museum Collections Director Mark Ryan pushed our collection database through a few search parameters and presented the curators with an overview of the resulting works of art. They voted on each work individually and also discussed the overall presentation of works for the final vote.
The result? Seventy-five works of art that will be voted on by the public, with the top vote getters making the cut for the exhibition. Voting is now open, so head over, vote, and be sure to leave your comments as well.
Artist Jon Offutt (above) puts the finishing touches on his new creation: a giant picnic table that will be part of our Big Country: FMVA Scale the Plains exhibition. Big Country, opening next week, is comprised entirely of large-scale works by 13 FMVA artists. Offutt, who usually spends his time creating blown-glass objects, jumped at the chance to create this picnic table and bring to fruition an idea he’s had for some time.
So, why a big picnic table? Well, remember what it was like when you were, say, five or six years old and sitting at a table with your family? This is Jon’s attempt to recapture that feeling – your feet dangling over the edge, your eyes barely able to see the objects on the table, etc. The effect is convincing:
The results are in! Thanks to all who took the You Like This: A Democratic Approach to the Museum Collection initial survey last month. This survey was the first step in crowdsourcing a community exhibition of the Museum’s permanent collection. To learn more about the process, view this fun paper puppet video courtesy of our Museum staff.
The survey asked you to rank your interest pertaining to the art we will feature in the exhibition: types of objects, artists, and modes of art. The top responses for types of objects you’d like to see were paintings, with mixed media work in a close second. The popular responses for what you don’t want to see in this category were historical toys and West African objects. Note taken! Your votes also showed that you’re supportive of most artists’ work, but the favorites were focused on female and local artists. For modes of artwork, the popular vote was in modern/recent works, and the least popular was still life.
Detailed data from the survey and your specific comments will now shape the community curating sessions (phase two of the You Like This process), the first of which was held last week. Eight volunteer community members will meet over the summer months to discuss the survey data and work with Museum staff to learn just what exactly goes into curating an exhibition. Their job is to narrow down the 3,500 objects in the Museum’s collection down to a more manageable number. After that, we will post a final survey for you to handpick each piece of art to feature in the exhibition.
During these curating sessions, we’ll be recording video, audio, and snapping photos that will be posted online and actually using in the exhibition itself. Check out the You Like This discussion page on Facebook and keep an eye on the Museum Blog for a deeper look into the process, sneak peeks at the footage we gather, and join in on the conversation! All ideas are welcome. This is your exhibition for your community.
Last week, we opened Collectors Humble and Extraordinaire: The Herbert and Dorothy Vogel in Fred J. Donath Gallery. In it, we’re showing 50 works that were once part of the collection of contemporary art aficionados Herb and Dorothy Vogel, a husband and wife duo who spent most of their lives frequenting galleries and artist studios while amassing a collection of over 4,700 objects in the process (by comparison, here at the PAM our permanent collection numbers around 3,500 objects). This isn’t so out of the ordinary until you consider that the Vogels fit all of this art into a one-bedroom New York apartment and purchased all of it on modest incomes. The story then shifts from their impressive collection to the Vogels themselves, two acute observers who display a dedication to collecting that is a rare commodity in the often-cynical world of art.
Here are some resources to help you learn more about these extraordinary collectors.
- By far, the best document of the Vogels’ collecting life is the 2009 Megumi Sasaki documentary Herb and Dorothy. Sasaki explores how the Vogels see art – how intensely Herb views a painting, for example – and peeks into their personal life. A completely devoted and loving couple, their passion for each other shines through in this film at least as much as their passion for art. The film can be viewed in the Donath Gallery during the run of the Vogel exhibition. You can also view clips from the film at pbs.org or on YouTube. Herb and Dorothy also streams on Netflix.
- Visit vogel505o.org to learn about the Vogel 50×50 program instituted by the National Gallery of Art in 2008. The Vogels donated 2,500 works of art to the National Gallery which, in turn, were distributed to a museum in each state. The 50 works in Collectors Humble and Extraordinaire came to Plains Art Museum through this program.
- In their heyday, Herb and Dorothy weren’t just collecting art – they were influencing artists and institutions through their collecting. This 1975 article from New York Magazine is a record of that influence. Herb and Dorothy are also mentioned in this 1978 New York Magazine article documenting the tensions between New York artists and collectors in the late 70s.
- Herb and Dorothy Vogel have a Facebook page. It’s not incredibly active, but you can read warm regards from some of their fans and, of course, leave your own.
Phase one of the You Like This: A Democratic Approach to the Museum Collection, the initial survey, is well underway. As more votes come in, some trends in the results are being revealed, here’s a preview of the way things are looking so far:
- One thing is very clear—you are not interested in seeing historical toys or West African objects in this exhibition. Just under 40 percent of the votes say, “no way!”
- The majority of voters prefer paintings and mixed media objects, but sculpture and photography are close behind within only a few votes
- The majority of votes for mode of art are in modern and recent works, while the least popular vote is for still life
- Over 60 percent of voters say they would like to focus on female artists in the exhibition, with a focus on local artists in second at 49 percent
- Eleven percent of you said you would prefer not to see work focused on male artists
We’ve also had some insightful comments to consider:
- You want to highlight local artists — focus on our community for our exhibition.
- Numerous comments mentioned “domestic” works and folk art like quilting, pottery, homemade books and woodcarvings.
- Many comments said you are excited to see works that are hidden away in the Museum vault and how interested you are to see more results from this process. We agree!
Don’t like what you see or want to solidify your favorites’ position? Keep voting! Remember, this is your exhibition of the Museum’s permanent collection. The survey will be live until June 1. After that, the advisory panel will meet for phase two of the exhibition process to analyze the votes and narrow down specific choices to vote on. Then, a final survey will be posted July 1 for the select pieces to be featured in the exhibition beginning October 6.
Thank you for your involvement so far. We are really pleased with the amount of voters participating. Your continued support is needed to make this exhibition a success!
You could say 100,000 heads are better than one.
That’s the aim, at least, of the crowdsourcing phenomenon, where large groups of people pool their tastes, talents and resources into a project. Examples include open design calls for a company’s new logo or calls for solutions to logistical problems although, if loosely defined, you can see the phenomenon everywhere. Crowdsourcing is especially popular in new media, where web platforms like Reddit and Digg use it to prioritize information that is the most meaningful to its users.
In this way, museums have begun utilizing the phenomenon to create crowd-curated exhibitions. In 2008, the Brooklyn Museum put this method to use with “Click!”, a photography exhibition that invited the museum’s visitors to participate in the selection process. Featured artworks were installed according to their relative ranking from the juried process.
With the success of this crowdsourced exhibition and many others like it, we thought, why not give it a try here at the Museum? The Museum’s permanent collection is made up of over 3,500 (and growing) pieces of art in all different shapes and sizes. We can’t display them all at once, so you’ll have the pick of the litter. The exhibition, titled You Like This: A Democratic Approach to the Permanent Collection, will be on display October 6 to January 15, but will be gathering your input about the exhibition beginning now.
Your feedback will be collected in a three-step process. We’ll start with a short survey you can fill out online or at the Museum that will have you rate your favorite types of art. From there, the Museum will select several voters to serve on an advisory panel to discuss the results and narrow down the choices. After that, you will be able to vote online and “like” the specific pieces that will be a part of the exhibition. We are looking for about 50 different pieces of art to display, so let’s get crowdsourcing!
Keep updated with the entire “You Like This” process by checking back to this blog, joining our Facebook discussion group, or volunteering for the advisory panel. Happy curating.
Popsicles are well and good, but under their slushy sweetness lies a unique treasure: the stick. Get a bunch of them together and you’ve got the makings of a fun project. Or, in this case, you’ve got the makings of a serious (but still mostly fun) project.
Hot off the heels of its striking Birdhouse Project we displayed a few weeks ago, the NDSU architecture department is displaying a class project of popsicle stick towers through April 12 in the Museum atrium. The students created these mini skyscrapers to be at least as tall as themselves, learning fundamentals of construction and design along the way. Lucky for us, we get to enjoy them as much as we would a tasty popsicle.
Click thumbnails for a larger picture.
Last fall, fourth and fifth graders from Ellen Hopkins Elementary School toured the Museum while studying the work of James Rosenquist. Taken with the idea that Rosenquist was once a billboard painter, they set to work with a plan to create a large-scale piece of their own. They used the National Art Education Association’s slogan “You gotta have ART,” and symbols representing North Dakota much like Rosenquist did for The North Dakota Mural.
The mural is comprised of 27 separate panels and, at about 18 feet long and eight feet high, it is the largest work currently hanging in the Museum aside from The North Dakota Mural. Each star was placed by a student who worked on the mural. It will hang on the south wall of the third floor during Sunday’s Youth Art Month reception.