Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Cleveland Museum of Art: Art Crawl II

Almost exactly two years ago, the Cleveland Museum of Art hosted it's first Art Crawl -- still one of the most interesting events I've attended.

Tonight, Art Crawl Mark II was hosted after hours at the Cleveland Museum of Art. Though the Museum closed at 5:00, the doors reopened at 6:00 for eighty invited guests at the Circles donor levels and above. Divided into intimate groups of about twenty, we had four stops, each lead by a curator or conservator and paired with creative h'dourves and wine.

All four stops were wonderful and really demonstrated both  the passion and personality of CMA's staff. While it's easy to be intimidated by the academic aspects of art but the passion and enthusiasim is contageous.

Stop 1, Reto Thuring, Associate Curator of Contemporary Art with Janet Cardiff's Forty Part Motet

Until a couple weeks ago I can say I honestly had no idea who Janet Cardiff was -- until I got stuck at O'Hare with her when United decided to let our flight to Cleveland leave despite knowing our (different) arriving flights were only slightly delayed and arriving at the gate while the aircraft was still there. (No I'm not bitter, United).  Hearing the artist describe her work I wasn't sure what to expect, and to be honest based on other AV installations I was a little skeptical. Before tonight I had not experienced the work.

Reto provided some background on the artist and the work standing outside the 1916 building in the Atrium -- while occasionally the parting doors would let gasps of choral voices escape. Introduction complete we entered the 1916 building to a chorus of voices -- and the combination of voices and the imagery of the art displayed in the gallery was a powerful, almost religious experience much as if walking into an active cathedral. If you find the right pace in the room it is as if you are in the middle of a choir.

I highly recommend visiting the work (in a 1916-building level 2 gallery) before it disappears in early June.

Stop 2, Sona Rhie Quintanilla, Curator of Indian and Southeast Asian Art with the late 1400s Mandala of Vajradakini

Another relatively new curator to the Museum, Ms. Quintanilla provided  great insight into the Mandala of Vajradakini, currently in Gallery One's focus area just off the main entrance to the museum. Extending beond the surface artistic elements of the work I thought the discussion on Tantra, Yoga reincarnation and Enlightenment -- to be very enlightening (pun not intended).

Stop 3, Louise W. Mackie, Curator of Textiles & Islamic Art with Afruz Amighi's His Lantern.

A piece that I've walked by several times since the Islamic galleries opened and thought was interesting, Ms. Mackie's explanation of the piece -- a hanging woven polyethylene piece with projected light creating shadows -- brought an entirely new level of understanding to the piece and the artist. Connecting the symbols in the art to classic counterparts, such as a nearby prayer niche as well as subtle but more modern political statement -- keys echoing those worn in a war brought new understandings to the piece. Ms. Mackie's enthusiasm for the piece and her description of meeting the artist and artist's execution (hand cut with a hot metal knife) was also infectious.

Stop 4, Moyna Stanton, Conservator of Paper with Antonio del Pollaiuolo's Battle of the Nudes

The last stop was certainly not least -- and I'm not only saying that because paper conservation is an area of particular interest for Rachel -- Ms. Stanton's wonderfully in depth look at the history of Battle of the Nudes was a crash course in print making, differences between "states" in prints, the technique Antonio del Pollaiuolo's work, and the history of repairs to the piece and what has been filled in.

Like a good television drama she was really getting rolling and while I was on the edge of my seat (looking forward to hearing more about the work, particularly the photomechnical infill in one corner) the time was up and we had to move on.

The evening concluded with a light reception and quick remarks from museum director David Franklin, a nice way to wind down and chat with other patrons.

I can't wait for the next one -- and I really hope it will be less than two years this time.


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