Posts filed under ‘Art Trips’

Peter Held sends Yuletide Greetings from Stockholm!

My first full day in Stockholm was fast-paced, with new experiences abounding.

My first stop was to the studio of a collaborative group of nine artists, all past graduates of Konsfack, Stockholm’s design/craft school.  Above, on the left is Linus Errson and right, Jakob Robertsson. They showed a Powerpoint of six past projects, including one at PS 1 and the V & A. Bright group working in a variety of media.

Next stop down the street was the Bonniers Konsthall, a contemporary museum (below).

Then off to visit two premier craft galleries:  Konsthantverkarna and Blas & Knada, pictured below.  Work was generally functional with a twist and, like all global craftsmen worldwide, currently geared towards the gift-giving season.

Ended the day in the beautiful Gambla Stan neighborhood and after hours of being chilly outside, stopped by to visit my fair glogg barkeeps, below:

On the subway home the graffiti caught my eye.

Tomorrow off to Gustavsberg.

Happy Yuletide greetings from the great north!

–Peter Held, Curator of Ceramics

December 19, 2011 at 9:04 pm Leave a comment

Dispatches from Peter Held, curator abroad, cont’d…

I took the train today to Humlebaek, about 25 miles north of Copenhagen, to visit the Louisiana Museum. Was excited as they recently opened an Ai Wei Wei exhibition. Here are two photos of the primary installations with many video projects and interviews with the artist.  Also a great show of Klee and the CoBrA group.  And I saw the sun for the first time in three days!

December 7, 2011 at 6:44 pm

Dispatches from Peter Held, curator abroad

Peter Held, curator of ceramics for the ASU Art Museum Ceramics Research Center, is on a research trip through Scandinavia (funded by a generous grant for that purpose), and he’ll be sending us periodic updates from the road. Here’s his first, sent a few hours before he took off from New York for Denmark.

“So what do you do with a 2 hour layover in NY before leaving for Europe? As a native New Yorker you get a pastrami sandwich. Katz’s is no Carnegie Deli, no — but good enough to cross the ocean.”

And he even sent a photo of his sandwich:

We are now officially hungry. And a little bit envious.

December 6, 2011 at 10:18 pm

This terrible thing has happened, I will never be the same: “Securing a free state” — Jennifer Nelson

When this project was percolating last year, thinking choreographically I
initially approached it with a dumb pun about the right to bear arms. I was
thinking about the way the mind fills the fire-”arm” with its
intention, and the way this intention penetrates social space with its
imperative to stop an attack (I’m taking a good-faith approach that those who
are armed for self-defense do not wish to do harm beyond stopping an attacker).
On the other side, I was thinking about the body’s integrity being violated by
violence, and the psychic and social consequences of that. I imagined a person
missing an arm to violence. I was wondering about phantom sensations in
the missing limb, and about the experiences of someone trying to heal by making
the body whole again through the use of a prosthetic limb. Can mind inhabit the
inanimate? What relationship can a person claim to the now public place where
his or her limb should have been?

But as I thought further, it became clear that the project would go deeper. I
would shift away from “the right of the people to keep and bear arms”
to the heart of the Amendment: “the security of a free state.” What
is a securely free state? What does that mean intimately? How do we carry this
in our bodies? We live with mortal vulnerability, and with the possibility,
however statistically slight, of facing violent conflict. We look for ways to
live with this terror, particularly if we have already been wounded and our
trust has already been broken. The evolving project sets out on this deeper
quest. So when we approached Michael Pack, owner of Artificial Limb
Specialists, about a field trip to his site, I carried both my first intention
and the evolving question.

Michael’s work, as a designer of custom prosthetic devices, is that of a
life-changer. He works with clients, most of whom have suffered a traumatic
injury from war or accident (rather than the #1 cause for limb loss: diabetes)
for months or even years to get the right prosthetic fit. It truly makes the
difference of whether a person can live a full and free life or not. Danny
Lujan, a client of many years who was present on our Thursday night field trip,
said that his psychological recovery from the loss of his lower leg only began
when the limb fit perfectly and he didn’t need to think about it anymore. We
spent the evening learning what it takes to design prosthesis to fit perfectly –
to become an extension of the body – and speaking with Danny about his emotional
relationship with both his lost leg and his prosthetic one. We also got a tour
of the workshop — a sculptor’s delight — for casting and shaping these amazing
devices. Michael’s clients compete in triathlons, scuba dive, rock climb, and
play with grandchildren. Danny was able to move forward literally and figuratively
after his accident. He got a degree, found his wife, and has a rewarding job.
But he says the first several years were really hard. His sense of personal
security changed. He feels more vulnerable. He still feels the lost leg,
sometimes it still hurts. Michael explains that a patient needs to bond with
their prosthetic leg to move forward, and for some people, life events make it
so difficult to take a forward-looking view of  loss: This terrible thing
has happened, I will never the be same.  How will this cause me to grow?

We’ll be examining that question in more detail on the field trip on Saturday,
October 29th to St. Luke’s Behavioral Health. Check it out – there are
participatory events for post-traumatic growth.

This Sunday at 11:00 a.m. we’ll eat pastries at a sniper training range while
discussing letting one’s guard down with sniper training instructor William
Graves. Please contact Lekha Hileman Waitoller if you would like to join us
(480-965-0497; lwaitoll@mainex1.asu.edu)

Jennifer Nelson, Social Studies artist

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All images by Sean Deckert.

October 20, 2011 at 10:04 pm 1 comment

Experiments with robots, machines and conditions: Juan Downey’s Invisible Architect

Last week at work, I had to find and compile images (and the necessary credit lines, of course) for an online slideshow presenting some of the works of Juan Downey. The cool part? Once I was done, I got to go look at the works in person.

In case it wasn’t already obvious, I work at the ASU Art Museum, which is currently exhibiting Juan Downey: The Invisible Architect, the first U.S. museum survey of Chilean artist Juan Downey’s work. There are three whole galleries worth of his work here, one on each floor, but unfortunately I only had time to properly appreciate two.

Now, I might not be someone exactly qualified to comment on art (I’m a marketing and economics major, very boring), but Downey’s work is awesome. The gallery on the first floor contained some of Downey’s more technical pieces, sketches and drafts of his experiments in performance art examining the interactions between man and machine. I was amazed by the depth of the contrast.  Downey documents his inquiries into invisible energies existing in human-machine communication in the crisp, precise detail of an architect’s draft, but done with such simple mediums, color pencil and graphite.

Downey’s projects are complex investigations and experiments with robots, machines, and conditions. Yet, such seemingly intricate, technical undertakings are juxtaposed against the simple, even humble, but loving detail he used to document them. His sketches, as I mentioned, are done on paper with pencil, and while devoid of much color and punctuated with Downey’s scribbles and annotations, still retain a perfect feel and respect for space and position, nothing random, everything with a purpose.

Three pieces by Juan Downey: "Inside the Robot," "Follows People and..." and "...and Breathes Stuffy Air on Them," all 1970, all colored pencil and graphite on paper, all courtesy of Marilys B. Downey.

While interactions between man and machine and invisible energies seem as though they could easily be boring, high-brow and scientific, they’re not. Downey’s innovative sense of whimsy avoids anything detached and pretentious. My personal favorite is Downey’s transcription of Pollution Robot, decomposed into three pieces: Inside the Robot, Follows People And….., And Breathes Stuffy Air On Them.

If the names of the works are amusing, then Downey’s performance of Pollution Robot must have been even more so. In Pollution Robot, Downey hid himself within a robot box, followed people, and breathed stuffy air on them. I loved it, the lack of pretention in the names and the act, that Downey himself was in the robot following people, and the fact that in the robot, Downey’s main purpose was, rather than anything else one could imagine, to follow people and breathe stuffy air on them. It makes the complexity of the themes explored in Downey’s performance accessible and entertaining.

Unfortunately, I am now out of time and space, and I didn’t even get to mention the exhibition in the second gallery featuring some of Downey’s more traditional (but still far from it) art. But hopefully, that’s another story for another day, or another blog post for another day at work.

Karen Enters, PR and Marketing Intern

October 13, 2011 at 9:00 pm

Contemplating security from very different perspectives – Securing a free state: The Second Amendment Project

Thursday, October 13 marks the first field trip for Securing a free state: The Second Amendment Project, currently underway at ASU Art Museum. Jennifer Nelson’s Social Studies project, which focuses on security, takes us to two sites that will force us to contemplate security from very different perspectives.

On Thursday, we will visit Artificial Limb Specialists (2916 N. 3rd Street, Phoenix, AZ 85012) at 6:30 p.m. for a tour of the design facilities where custom prosthetics are made.

An individual who lost a limb  and uses a prosthetic will speak with us about how he inhabits his limb, what the prosthetic means for him emotionally, and his feelings of security or vulnerability with the limb.

On Sunday, October 23 at 11 a.m. we will visit a sniper training school that provides realistic training opportunities for individuals in law enforcement, military as well as civilians. We will observe a group of students as they go through their final exercises in sniper training and will discuss the topic of security from the perspective of someone who is prepared to encounter and deflect threats. The address for this field trip will be provided only to those who sign up to attend the tour. Car pools to the facility can be arranged.

Space for both fieldtrips is limited—for questions, or to sign up for either, please contact the project’s curator, Lekha Hileman Waitoller at lwaitoll@mainex1.asu.eduor 480-965-0497. Attendance to both field trips is suggested in order to more
fully understand the dialogue unfolding in Securing a free state.

–Lekha Hileman Waitoller, Interim Curator

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Photos by Jennifer Nelson.

October 12, 2011 at 9:12 pm

Opportunities to participate — Securing a free state: The Second Amendment Project – Jennifer Nelson, Social Studies 7

Photograph courtesy of Sean Deckert.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jennifer Nelson’s Social Studies residency at the ASU Art Museum has been going for about two weeks and we’ve already been to two shooting ranges, a sniper training school and a prosthetics design facility. As if this weren’t enough firsts for me, I also, in a trust-building exercise, allowed a SWAT team commander to lead me around a gallery with my eyes closed (although I cheated when I noted that I was being led into a dark corner). This project is shaping up to be a huge learning experience with nary a dull moment, and we have barely begun.

Securing a free state: The Second Amendment Project is the second in a nonconsecutive series of projects by Jennifer Nelson on the Bill of Rights. While the Second Amendment is commonly thought about only as “the right to bear arms,” Jennifer selected another clause as her starting point for the project: “the security of a free state.”

Throughout the residency, group conversations, field trips and a public panel will engender a dialogue about security—how individuals find it and how we, collectively, think of it. Contemplating private and public security gives rise to a host of complexities, which and can at times seem incompatible. This dynamic negotiation of rights between the public and the private is what this project considers; in fact, it is what Jennifer’s body of work usually considers. (Read about her collaborative project Limerick Cookbook for an example.)

Jennifer, her husband and collaborator, Dimitri, and I have been laying the ground work for this project, which has taken us to the sites mentioned above. This past Saturday and then again next Saturday (October 8 and 15) are the first public opportunities for community members to come to the Museum and take part in the project. From noon-1:30 next Saturday, as we did this past Saturday, we will think about security through activities and conversations that are facilitated by two martial artists, an NRA certified firearms instructor and a trauma therapist.

Check out the full calendar of events below, which will continue to grow as the project develops. (We’ll be updating this blog with new opportunities and events as they arise.)

Lekha Hileman Waitoller, Interim Curator

CALENDAR OF EVENTS:

SATURDAYS IN THE GALLERY: On Saturday, October 8 and 15, members of the public have the opportunity to work with Jennifer from noon-1:30 p.m. These times provide a chance to explore martial practices and therapeutic exercises as we examine strategies for achieving personal security, and ponder what that means in a collective context. Visitors will work in a small group with a martial artist, a shooter and a trauma therapist specializing in somatic treatments to develop choreographies of self-defense and recovery.

Please wear loose-fitting clothes and athletic shoes, and because the gallery is chilly, some may want to bring an extra layer. Please arrive on time and plan to stay for 90 minutes.

PANEL DISCUSSION:
On Saturday, October 22 at 1:00 p.m. we will have a public panel with rotating moderators in the gallery for a discussion of the question: How do people find security? Come prepared to participate in what promises to be a lively discussion.

FIELD TRIPS:

A series of field trips will consider the link between the mind and its extension beyond the body. These include a visit to a prosthetics maker and fitter, which will be thought of as sites where sculpture is made and where one is driven by the need to feel physically whole after a violent interruption of their bodily integrity. The other is a trip to a sniper training facility, which will be considered a performative space where defensive security is practiced.

To sign up for the field trips, please contact Lekha Waitoller at 480-965-0497 or lwaitoll@mainex1.asu.edu

  • Thursday, October 13, 6:30 p.m.: a visit to Artificial Limb Specialists in Phoenix, where we will tour the prosthetics design facility and speak with an amputee who will share his experience about the physical transformation he has been through.
  • Sunday, October 23, 11:00 a.m.: a tour of GPS Defense Sniper School to understand the physical and psychological training for snipers.

This exhibition is supported by a grant from The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts.

The project was initiated by John D. Spiak and is curated by Lekha Hileman Waitoller.

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October 10, 2011 at 8:48 pm

Meet Diablo

Diablo the anaconda has finally arrived.

He wasn’t thrilled about being moved, and released an indescribable smell to express his displeasure, but he is now safely installed in his enclosure on the third floor, as part of an installation by Juan Downey titled “Anaconda Map of Chile.” It’s an important piece, and it’s never been shown in the U.S. the way the artist intended; because of Downey’s point about the Anaconda Copper Mining Company’s role in the downfall of Salvador Allende and the installation of dictator Augusto Pinochet, the piece was censored more than once.

Diablo, front and center. Photo by Anne Sullivan.

Diablo is a 6-foot Eunectes notaeus (Yellow Anaconda), on loan to the Museum from the Phoenix Herpetological Society, a non-profit reptile education and conservation group. He was rescued by his current owner, Russ Johnson, who is president of the Phoenix Herpetological Society, when he was just about year old. Diablo’s enclosure is heated, and is one-and-a-half times larger than his cage at the Society, giving him more room to stretch out, although he likes to spend most of his time coiled up. During his stay at the Museum, two staff members of the PHS will come regularly to care for him.

Native to tropical South America, anacondas are members of the boa constrictor family and are the largest of the snakes of the Americas. Yellow Anacondas live about 15 to 20 years and grow to be 8 to 12 feet long. Diablo is a young snake, probably 8 or 9 years old, and his diet consists of rats. In the wild, anacondas eat fish, alligators, birds, small deer and large rodents. The anaconda can unhinge its lower jaw, allowing it to swallow animals whole after squeezing them to death with its powerful body.

At the time of his rescue, Diablo belonged to a young man who had purchased him from a local pet store but didn’t know anything about anacondas. Diablo had grown very sick, so someone contacted Russ, who nursed Diablo back to health. It took almost two years. “It was a labor of love,” Russ says.

Now Diablo’s skin is the right color and is iridescent, as it should be. Russ notes that under normal circumstances, people should not own anacondas, but because Diablo was born in captivity, it is against international regulations to release him back into the wild. So Russ will always take care of him.

The museum is grateful to Russ and to the Phoenix Herpetological Society for helping us make sure that Diablo is well cared for during his stay at the ASU Art Museum.

Tonight at 6 p.m., Marilys Belt de Downey, director of the Juan Downey Foundation, will speak with Curator Valerie Smith about her late husband’s work, including “Anaconda Map of Chile,” followed by our Season Opening Reception from 7 to 9 p.m. We hope you’ll come visit Diablo during the course of the season, to see the significant role he plays in the Juan Downey retrospective here at the Museum. If you do, we ask only that you please refrain from touching or tapping on his enclosure. He won’t enjoy that. As a preschool teacher we know tells her students, “Touch with your eyes.”

September 30, 2011 at 10:55 pm 1 comment

Meeting Meredith

Meredith working on the upcoming photography show.

We first met Meredith Bonnett in the Introduction to Museum Education class taught in the Museum, around our exhibitions and programs, by me and Curator of Education Andrea Feller. Meredith returned the next semester as curatorial intern working with me on the curatorial concept for an exhibition of contemporary photographs where performance is a part of the creative process. The international artists use elaborate costumes, large groups of people, theatrical sets or cinematic techniques to tell enigmatic stories in a still image. Most of the works are drawn from the extensive photography collection of Stéphane Janssen, and Meredith, a double major in Art History and Museum Studies, has done the bulk of the organizational work behind the exhibition.

That hasn’t been her only project. She extended her internship into the summer and has helped research and plan our patron trip to London this fall. We have pored over maps and sent off scads of emails as we work on an itinerary that focuses on contemporary art galleries, museums and studios, and goes beyond the obvious to explore the international work being made and presented in this great city. What I didn’t know when I asked Meredith to work on this project was that she would be attending Sotheby’s Master’s of Art Business program in London this fall. So now she goes as an expert on the contemporary art scene AND she will join us on some of our appointments in London, including the Feast on the Bridge by artist Clare Patey. (Watch for a large and ambitious project with Clare at the ASU Art Museum in the future!)

Meredith just got her visa and has her travel plans set. Now she’s trying to find a flat. She has taken full advantage of the opportunities at the ASU Art Museum and has been a great member of our team. We will miss her but look forward to following her career in the field.

–Heather Sealy Lineberry
Senior Curator and Associate Director

August 11, 2011 at 5:39 pm

16+ AMAZING YEARS! – A THANK YOU FROM JOHN SPIAK

After 16+ years with the Arizona State University Art Museum I have announced my departure.  I have been fortunate to receive an offer to lead the vision of an institution in Southern California for which I cannot pass up.


(image: Grand Central Art Center)

My new role will be Director/Chief Curator of the California State University, Fullerton, Grand Central Art Center in Santa Ana, CA.  Located in the historic Grand Central Building (1924) of Downtown Santa Ana, the institution houses a large gallery space, a project gallery, retail space, an 85-seat theater and classrooms.  Another key attraction of the space is the second floor, which houses twenty-seven MFA student apartments with functioning artist studios for each resident on the main floor.  The institution also houses an artist-in-residence apartment and studio with an on-going international residency program.


(image: Grand Central Art Center, CSUF MFA Apartments, Santa Ana, CA)

If you are not yet familiar with the institution, here is a link with some details on the Grand Central Art Center:
http://www.grandcentralartcenter.com/aboutus.php

The added bonus to this venue is its location, in the heart of a very active and involved community with great diversity of culture, vision and influence, just five minutes from where I grew up.  It will allow me to hit the ground running, knowing the lay of the land, as well as local peer institutions and colleagues with which I am excited to collaborate.

And if that isn’t enough reason to visit, here is another…

Grand Central Art Center with present a solo exhibition with artist George Herms during the Pacific Standard Time exhibitions throughout Southern California:


Chaos’ Job…Restrain Order
September 3 – October 16, 2011
http://www.grandcentralartcenter.com/ArtGallery_gcartgallery.php?id=365

I will begin my new role on September 6th, so if you find yourself in the Southern California area, please let me know so we can connect and I can provide you a tour of the Grand Central Art Center.

My new contact information will be:

John D. Spiak
Director/Chief Curator
Grand Central Art Center
125 N. Broadway
Santa Ana, CA 92701
t. 714.567.7233

Thank you to everyone who has made this journey so wonderful – the artists, students, collectors, community leaders, docents, funders, friends and colleagues. I need to especially give my full gratitude and thanks to Marilyn A. Zeitlin, Heather Sealy Lineberry and Gordon Knox, who provided me with support, guidance and trust, allowing me to curate projects through my vision.

My very best to you,

John D. Spiak
Appointed Director/Chief Curator, CSUF’s Grand Central Art Center, Santa Ana, CA

August 4, 2011 at 11:06 pm

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