June 1, 2006
Meeting the Blanton
We enjoyed the opportunity to visit the new Blanton Museum of Art on the UT Austin campus yesterday. The Museum opened just about a month ago. We had the good fortune to visit on a Thursday, when they're open til 8 and the admission is free all day.
It's a beautiful building, spacious and full of light. Here are views of the skylights and the courtyard.
The main floor has their special, current exhibits; the second floor has their European galleries, The modern and contemporary galleries, and an e-lounge. The e-lounge is high tech and enticing. It's a round space with a number of computer terminals and electronic resources.
The collection is interesting and nicely curated. The audio guides for the exhibition feature not only the voices of the curators, but also various Austin personalities who might have insightful things to say about specific works - a different touch.
I wouldn't call the collection comprehensive. I suspect that it has grown over the years through the acquisition of private collections. So there's interesting depth in some narrow areas, but not a full range of art.
My favorite space was a room set up with an exhibit called "The Invisible Jump" by Daniel Joglar (2006). It's a room full of items suspended from the ceiling by invisible lines. You can walk among the items, blow on them and see them move, and take different perspectives on the "floating" objects - it's kind of like walking in the solar system.
It was fun to watch the playful mood that the exhibit put people in - adults at least as much as kids. (me too!)
We followed our tour with a nostalgic walk across campus. So many memories -- along the main mall, I could recall that I had a calculus class in Benedict Hall, experimental psychology in Mezes, German in Batts, abnormal psychology in Batts Auditorium (with 500 other students), English in Parlin (where we studied "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band" as poetry - a great class!, etc. etc. We passed the Academic Center (the "AC"), where we spent much of our courtship - studying together almost every night for 3 years. And of course, we walked across the main mall, which always reminds both of us of the Whitman shootings in August, 1966, just one month before we started college. We each knew people who were shot that day. It always gives me a bit of a shiver to cross that mall. But now that 40 years have passed since that day, this event has taken its place as one of the many, complex stories and locations that makes UT what it is today.
June 11, 2006
Minneapolis Institute of Art - Grand Reopening Today
Today is the grand re-opening of the Minneapolis Institute of Art -- congratulations to all involved, especially to staff, board, and donors. I love visiting the MIA - I just wish it were a little closer to where I live. But I have always found it accessible, inviting, and full of old friends and new surprises. I can't wait to go, but I think it won't be today along with the thundering hordes.
Today's re-opening features 113,000 square feet of new space, 49,000 square feet of renovated space, 34 new and renovated galleries, and a 40% increase in exhibition space (figures courtesy of Minneapolis StarTribune, pp. F8-F9).
A few things caught my eye in the Strib's coverage.
First, you may have read my blog post a few days ago of the new Blanton Art Gallery in Austin. I noted that it was not a comprehensive gallery, but did have considerable depth in some areas. The word used to describe the new MIA is "encyclopedic" - I'm not sure whether this is a "technical term" or just newspaper-speak, but it seems to fit well.
Second, the article featured an extended quote from Peter Marzio, director of the Museum of Arts in Houston. He called the MIA "easily one of the top 10 or 12 museums in the United States in its collection's quality and range." (yay!) He also noted that "its only flaw is that it's not as well-known as it should be outside of museum circles. It's like they've almost taken pride in understatement..." (emphasis mine) Now that's the Minnesota way, isn't it? That encapsulates the Minnesota - Texas contrast that I've written about several times (see especially entry for Aug. 9, 2005). Texas would NEVER take pride in understatement. Of course understatement can have its underbelly - when there's a contest of pride to see who can be more understated. Anyway, you get the idea. but I thought the descriptive statement (offered by a Texas resident, no less) was quite apt. And having an understated but fabulous art institute is certainly fine by me.
Finally, the Strib published a rather sour review of the building's architecture, written by Linda Mack. I don't know her or her credentials, but I thought it was bad taste to publish such a sour review alongside the news of the MIA's amazing revival. (If you want to read it, you can find it yourself - I don't want to link to it.) Now she does praise the interior spaces of the MIA and talk about how well they fit the art, but she definitely was unhappy with the exterior. If I were the editor, I would have saved this critique for a later day ... even tomorrow ... but why today??
I am really looking forward to my first look at the new MIA. Remember, admission is free!
(Other items on my list to visit and blog about this summer: the new Minneapolis Public Library - just opened a few weeks ago, and the "Body Worlds" exhibit at the Science Museum.)
July 26, 2006
Monet in Leiden - 2006
Claude Monet, French Impressionist and a favorite of mine, painted tulip fields near Leiden. As he got older and his vision deteriorated, his paintings provided evidence of the blurry way in which he must have seen the world at that time. I took this photo last night and immediately thought of Monet when I saw it. Yet another good memory of Leiden.
April 15, 2007
Still Present Pasts
Last night was the opening of the exhibit, Still Present Pasts, a multimedia exhibit exploring the legacies of the Korean War. Congratulations to the many people and funders who made it possible, and especially to my university colleague Rich Lee, who chaired the steering committee. Rich has been building excitement about the exhibit for several weeks now on his blog - Here's a link to the posts.
There's a lot to take in - poignant displays and first-person accounts about people who lived through the war and their families who came after. I want to return when it's quieter in the gallery to soak it all in. One of the most moving speeches at last night's opening was delivered by Dr. Ji Yeon Yuh, Associate Professor of History and Director of Asian American Studies at Northwestern University. She placed the Korean War in nested, yet broadening circles of human conflict - extending to today's global hatred and bitterness. She gave a moving plea for global understanding and placed responsibility for it squarely on each of our shoulders.
The opening program also featured readings of poetry and prose, and performances by the Chang Mi Korean Dance and Drum and by Shinparam, A Korean traditional drumming troupe. I was delighted to see that two students in my research methods class participate in Shinparam.
The exhibit is particularly important for people involved in any facet of adoption because of the large number of children adopted from Korea into the U.S. following the Korean War and continuing for many years. Several adoption-related events in conjunction with the exhibit should be noted:
Birthmother Panel -- "Korean immigrant mothers share their story of giving up their children for adoption as a result of the Korean War."
April 28, 10 a.m. - noon
Korean Presbyterian Church
Made in Korea
a film by In-Soo Radstake
April 28, 7:15 pm, St. Anthony Main Theatre
April 29, 2:30 pm, St. Anthony Main Theatre
Evening with Deann Borshay Liem
Screening and discussion of her film, "First Person Plural" and discussion of her current work
May 5, 7 - 9 pm,
Nicholson Hall 155, U of Minnesota, East Bank
Here: A Visual Portrait of Korean Adoptees Living in Minnesota
Book preview and reception
June 3, 3 - 6 pm, Weisman Art Gallery
Kim Dalros and Holly Hee Won Coughlin, project curators
For further information about these and other events, visit the Still Present Pasts website.
Congratulations and thanks to everyone involved in making these events possible.