Exhibitions - 2019
Some Assembly Required
April 28 - September 1
Donna Rhae Marder, The Burqa, 2006-13, silk pieces connected by free-motion sewing.
Everyone is an assembler. If you’ve cooked a meal that had more than one ingredient, you qualify. In the art
world, unless you are chipping away at a slab of limestone, or throwing a pot on a wheel you are most likely an
assembler as well. Painters assemble brush strokes, quilters assemble pieces of fabric, woodworkers assemble wood. The artists in this exhibition all assemble three dimensional work by putting together a variety of smaller parts, sometimes, a large variety.
Some use found materials, others create their own. Michael Ulman uses discarded, found pieces from
recognizable sources. His motorcycles, for instance, may contain the assorted flotsam and jetsam of vacuum
cleaners, bicycles and wood stoves. Any discarded metal part is fair game. Michael says, “Being a found-object
sculptor, I am in the unique position of finding my materials anywhere, such as junk yards, dumpsters, and trash
heaps. I look for objects that were destined to some mundane existence and give them new purpose through my
sculpture. Remnants of the Industrial Age are reincarnated as motorcycles, race cars, and speed boats. A
frying pan becomes a fender, a vacuum cleaner a sidecar, and a mailbox a hot rod.”
Donna Rhae Marder has been using domestic themes, materials and methods to create artwork for over
twenty years. All of her work uses a sewing machine as a sculptural tool and the debris of daily life as
the material of art. Marder refers to herself jokingly as an indigenous suburbanite trying to make use of
native materials. She says, “I’ve been taking items of little value and turning them into cherished ritual
objects. My husband and children have been supportive of my activity, if sometimes confused. My oldest
daughter recalls going away to college and stopping herself before she asked a family where they put their
used teabags. She recognized that not everyone saves their used teabags. At our house, they have been
kept (sometimes for years) to become Japanese teapots and little girl’s dresses. The matches my parents
saved became rya rugs and embellishment on moccasins. Later I accumulated my own matches to incorporate in
vessels made of dollar bills. My life and work are Siamese twins—too late to separate them now.”
Other participating artists include: Martin Ulman, Lisa Kokin, Yuri Tozuka, John McQueen, Michael Stasiuk,
Tom Deininger and Jee Hye Kwon. A special thank you goes to Libby and Jo Anne Cooper of Mobilia Gallery
in Cambridge, Massachusetts for their invaluable help in the assembly of this show.
Craig Bloodgood, Contemporary Curator
Highlights from the Permanent Collection
Working the Land
April 28 – September 1
Theodore Rousseau, France, 1812–1867, The Cherry Tree, plate 1855, cliché-glace print
For the summer segment in Rotations Gallery, visitors will be able to explore not only the subject of
people working the land, but also how the artist worked the landscape, responding to natural surroundings.
Some of these environs were new destinations for artists, visited for the purpose of being ensconced by
nature. They had the freedom to directly respond to it - with their artist’s supplies enhanced by the
invention of the portable tube of paint.
Ancient Greeks and Romans created wall paintings of landscapes, but after the fall of the Roman Empire, the
landscape declined as main subject matter, becoming merely the setting for religious and figural scenes
until the sixteenth century. The shift to the landscape as subject corresponded to growing curiosity about
the natural world and its workings, spurred by the Renaissance.
As Dutch artists developed landscape as a popular subject in sixteenth century painting, ‘landschap’
Dutch word for ‘region’ or ‘tract of land’, acquired the artistic connotation of ‘a picture of scenery on
land’. The rising Protestant middle class was increasingly in search of more worldly art for their homes.
Landscape art was one vigorous response to that need.
Italian artist Pierre-Henri de Valenciennes (1750-1819) argued that landscape painting had comparable
value to that of traditional historic or academic painting. He published a pioneering book on the subject,
Eléments de perspective practique
, in which he proclaimed the ideal historic landscape should be done from
a direct study of nature. The Academie des Beaux-Art
s was thereby persuaded, initiating acceptance to his
or plein air
painting. This method was subsequently embraced by Corot, in particular; Barbizon
artists as a group; and the forthcoming Impressionists.
The Barbizon School is documented as the first French generation of artists who rejected the
classical traditions of the Salon de Paris
, the official art exhibition of the Académie des Beaux-Arts
in Paris. 2 Among them were the first artists presenting a new style of landscape painting to also be
accepted by the Salon
. The acceptance of Corot’s painting, “Forest of Fontainebleau” in 1846 was a pivotal
event, due to the focus on the natural surroundings and not on the human subject within those surroundings.
This genre was sustained throughout the Barbizon artists’ use of media whether it be painting, pastel,
drawing, etching or cliché-glace
The Forest of Fontainebleau in France is an immense and dense woods with a variety of inspiring features
including many stately tree specimens, on which Pierre Etienne Theodore Rousseau (1812-1867) became
quite fixated. He and fellow-artists ventured by train to those woods knowing lodging could be found at
the recently established inn, Auberge Ganne at the forest’s border in the village, Barbizon. 3
Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot, who was greatly influenced by Valenciennes, had discovered the village of
Barbizon in 1827. Although he did not settle there, he marked the beginning of its transformation into
a veritable artists’ colony. Other hamlets were subsequently populated with artists, most of whom would
return to their Paris studios for the winter – not Corot or Rousseau who continued working in any climate,
including winter’s freeze.
Rotations Gallery will present cliché-glace
prints from the time Rousseau and fellow-artists surrounded
themselves with the Forest
. The technique of cliché-glace
or cliché-verra is an image scratched through
an emulsion on glass and then transferred onto photographic paper with exposure to light. Similar prints
and etchings planned for exhibition were created by other master Barbizon painter-etchers: Charles
Francois Daubigny, Jean-Francois Millet and Charles-Emile Jacques.
Additional works linked to working the land which will be exhibited include sixteenth and
seventeenth-century Dutch prints; nineteenth and twentieth-century American paintings and prints;
and a selection of tools and crafts by several self-sufficient Shaker communities.
Maureen Wengler, Collections Manager
Printmakers of Cape Cod: Floating Worlds
May 19 – August 11
Leslie Kramer, The Red Canoe, 2017, collagraph/linocut monoprint
The Printmakers of Cape Cod was founded in 1976 by a group of five artists dedicated to the art
of creating original prints. The original group included Marcia Howe of Orleans, who was a driving force
among artists on the lower Cape, investigating new media and a variety of printmaking methods. Membership
has grown to more than fifty artists.
The purpose of the Printmakers of Cape Cod is to foster and expand knowledge of printmaking in its
members as well as in the general public. To that end, the group sponsors workshops, demonstrations and group exhibits which are open to the public. They offer social and educational opportunities for all interested in the production, enjoyment and acquisition of original prints. Current members practice traditional printmaking techniques, such as relief printing, intaglio, lithography and silkscreen. Many also incorporate innovative digital and photographic processes into their original prints and create unique prints, known as monotypes and monoprints.
The theme, “Floating Worlds,” might comprise water, air, emotion or other elements of nature or the
imagination. Members will express this theme through a variety of printmaking techniques.
Steve Novick: Approximation
August 18 - November 10
Steve Novick, Carrot and Stick, 2017, wood, paint
A number of artists exhibiting at the museum in 2019 create work from the assembly of many parts.
Steve Novick is an assembler of a few. The Somerville artist says of his work, “My process involves
assemblage of found objects and materials. Collecting these from thrift stores, yard sales, and flea
markets is an important facet of my work. In this phase, I often will undertake the use of a new item or
form, or realize the solution to a previously intractable problem.” “Although the physical resolution of
my sculptures may be quick”, he explains, “the ideas behind them tend to gestate slowly. Simple items,
and parts of more complex ones, are fitted together via a process of trial, error, and serendipity.
Cleaning, polishing and refinishing aside, virtually all objects and materials are used as-is.” His
influences — cartoons, folk art, Surrealism, Minimalism — are evident in the work’s straightforward
use of materials, simplicity of form, anthropomorphism, and sense of humor. Recent themes include the
construction of language and symbols (visual and otherwise), nature as interpreted through culture,
nostalgia, and obsolescence.
Draw the Line
September 15 – January 12, 2020
Michele Lauriat, untitled from the series, Spot Pond, 2014, mixed media on paper
Henri Matisse once said that drawing was “putting a line around an idea.” This exhibition is
full of ideas — and the lines around them. While the artists in the show each approach drawing from
their own directions, the common thread might be best described by participating artist Tim McDonald
who says, “The initiation of a mark is the ground of imagination, a primary point of contact, of clarity,
that is before language, before thought — a direct experience of mind operating along a wild edge. Whether
representation or abstraction, no matter the media used, be it charcoal, graphite, paint, or ink; paper or
fire, or ice, or tape; a photograph, a walk, a lost or found thing - it all comes back to drawing.
Drawing, offers me, as poet Gary Snyder has written, ‘an open space to move in with the whole body,
the whole mind.’” Artists in the exhibition include: Shona Macdonald, Shane Savage-Rumbaugh, Lesley Cohen,
Sandra Allen, John Roman, Michele Lauriat, Cobi Moules, Stephen Cipullo and Tim McDonald.
Highlights from the Permanent Collection
September 15 - January 12, 2020
Henri Eugene Le Sidaner, France, The Music Pavilion at Versailles, Moonlight, 1921, oil on canvas
As the new Collections Curator, I am delighted to be researching and writing about the collection in anticipation of
The Art Complex Museum’s Fiftieth Anniversary in 2021 and the celebratory exhibition. Assisting with the curation of Rotations
Gallery allowed me the opportunity to become familiar with works in the collection that will be part of the upcoming exhibition of
Nocturne painting was a term coined by James McNeill Whistler (American, 1834–1903) to describe a painting style that
depicted scenes evocative of the night or subjects as they appear in a veil of light, or at twilight. More broadly, the term has come to
refer to any painting of a nighttime scene. The phrase, associated with the Tonalist movement of the American Impressionists in the late
nineteenth century and early twentieth century, is “characterized by soft, diffused light, muted tones and hazy outlined objects, all of
which imbue the works with a strong sense of mood.” Along with winter scenes, nocturnes were a favorite Tonalist theme.
Whistler’s painting, Nocturne in Black and Gold: Falling Rocket
(1875), in the collection of the Detroit Museum of Art, was inspired by a fireworks display over
London’s Cremorne Gardens, and led to the artist’s coining of the painting style. Though the painting is admired by today’s viewers, when it was
first exhibited at a London Gallery in 1877, the public was insulted by the abstract quality of the work. Unknowingly, Whistler set the stage
for the acceptance of future work in the nocturne style (both realistic and abstract).
This exhibition will feature works by a variety of
artists living and working in different times including Lowell Birge Harrison (American, 1854–1929), contemporary artist Suzanne Hodes
(American, b. 1939), Kawase Hasui (Japanese, 1883–1957), George Inness (American, 1825–1894), Johan Barthold Jongkind (Dutch, 1819–1891) and
Martin Lewis (American, 1881–1962).
A highlight of the exhibit, The Music Pavilion at Versailles, Moonlight
, (1921), by Henri Eugene Le Sidaner
(French, 1862-1939), depicts the buildings of the Versailles palace, Versailles, France, cast in a mysterious, dream-like light. Le Sidaner
spent time at the French palace late in his career painting the scenery. This work is one of several that the artist painted in 1921, inspired
by the gardens and the architecture of the palace. The canvas entered the collection in 1980, from the estate of Maud Moon Weyerhaeuser
Sanborn of St. Paul Minnesota, the mother of Museum Cofounder Carl Weyerhaeuser. For a time, the name of the painting was a mystery, but
in 1992, former curator Nancy Grinnell confirmed the title of the canvas through contacts at the Maurice Sternberg Galleries in Chicago,
Though Henri Eugene Le Sidaner doesn’t appear on the short list of major Impressionist or Post-Impressionist artists, he was
deemed one of the most original and impressive of France’s young painters by an early art critic, referred to as D.C.P., “Sidaner shows
in his work the energy of a great artist, his is not the imitative work . . . he is not a mere follower of the convention of the masters
of Impressionism.” The artist chose subjects such as country villas, large gardens, rural by-ways and village streets along with the more
majestic views of Versailles and Paris cathedrals. He often painted at dusk, or the “alluring hour of twilight,” when the setting sun
enveloped these scenes in warm light and eerie shadows.
Le Sidaner began his early studies in the academic tradition, in Paris with Alexandre Cabanel (1823-1889), but soon gravitated toward the Impressionist
and symbolist movements. He began exhibiting at the Salon in 1887. His naturalistic figural groups were well received and won him trips to Italy and Holland in 1891. Later, he exhibited Impressionist
works inspired by Claude Monet (French, 1840-1926) at the less conservative Societe Nationale des Beaus-Arts. His work was shown widely and
became coveted among American collectors. After the turn of the century Le Sidaner continued to depict urban areas of London and Venice and
enjoyed continued favor and solo exhibitions in Paris, London, Brussels and the United States, until his death in 1897.
Julia Courtney, Collections Curator
George Herman: Found Paintings
November 17 - February 16, 2020
George Herman, North Brook, oil and mixed mediums on wood
George Herman, who paints out of a studio in the former school now called Artspace Maynard, talks about his work, “I find the subjects for my
paintings while either driving or walking, or somehow in transit. Going about my life. If I’m driving somewhere, I might see something by the
side of the road that catches my eye. I’ll either stop and take a picture, or photograph it while driving (not recommended). It might be a tree stump,
part of a house and backyard, a field with standing water. I’ve found subjects by walking behind a strip mall to find a small dam and the building that
controls the flow of water, or an abandoned house by the railroad tracks behind the place where we pick up a Greek salad with grilled chicken. I’ll
take pictures out the window of a moving train or bus, of an abandoned factory, or a barn, fading in the Spanish countryside. Walking in
the woods, I’ll find the edge of a vernal pool, where the water meets and merges with the foliage. Or the sticks that I walk on. Usually
things that are behind, to the side of, underneath, abandoned, often unseen.”
Herman finds his painting in the process of painting it. It
might begin as a reworked image from one of his photographs, or as a few washes of color. As the work develops, the water, the land and the sky
all ebb and flow, each using more or less space as the painting demands. Colors, light and shadow, shapes and textures are in a constant state of
flux. “The painting,” he explains, “changes over the course of days, weeks, months, years, as I search for the moment when it ‘feels right.’ When
the painting stops swirling and everything falls into place. When I’ve found what I didn’t know I was looking for.”
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