Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Times They Are A Changing

Anita Licis Ribak photograph opening night  Shedding Light
As I've been transitioning back to the studio while juggling care-giving, my time seems limited to pursue large productions like the Amherst Biennial.  So I'm stepping aside as Chair of the Amherst Public Arts Commission after almost 9 years at the helm of this town's commission. It's time to pass the baton onto new talent.

It has been a great ride and one that has helped me grow as an organizer, producer and artist. It all started with Shedding Light. Erika Zekos's created this huge ephemeral public art installation by lighting up a tobacco shed for Amherst's 250th anniversary. This site-specific installation on the Swartz Family Farm in 2009, opened the door for bigger public arts installations and exhibits. In 2009,  I produced & curated Pioneer Women which travelled from the Pioneer Valley to Tabla Rasa Gallery in New York City. City.
The following year looking to include the talented men in the valley and New York City artists I created Pioneer Women & Wonderland taking over a former warehouse at Paper City Studios in Holyoke, MA.
Mo Gareau Ringey, Detail from Mosaic  Frig

This was a warm-up for the Fall's big event, the first Amherst Biennial: Art in Expected and Unexpected Places.  <>  in 2010 which had fourteen sites ranging from storefronts, a decommissioned school, galleries and art in expected and unexpected places. This first Biennial brought "Art in the Park", Matt Johnson's welded sculpture The Portal to Kendrick Park, Amherst. This has been a dream of mine for years, to bring public art in Amherst's parks. (more on this later)

My goals for the second Amherst Biennial was to have all three colleges in Amherst participate, assemble more prestigious sites and continue promoting the quality of artwork created in the Pioneer Valley. This time around, we indeed had all three colleges (Amherst College, Hampshire College & UMASS) participating as well as the Directors/ Curators of the Mead Art Museum, Elizabeth Barker & Loretta Yarlow, University Museum of Contemporary Art as my co-curators. We also had five museums and four galleries for more than 20 sites this time around. This was done on a shoes-string budget and a small crew of volunteers. As some of you may know, who have produced huge productions such as this, it takes over your life and can take a toll on many areas of our lives. So I'm stepping back from these huge art productions for the time being to reassess my work and life and see how I can move forward.

Terry Rooney, Liberty with Snake Tatoo, 2013 (detail)

Presently, I'm looking a various options for future exhibitions for my work as well as possibly expanding this Biennial to include all of Western MA. especially the Berkshires. You can check for updates at this site in the future for further developments. <> . Also I will continue to list the accomplishments of the Amherst Biennial artists as time allows on this site.  So stay tuned to see what's the next chapter is... in my brilliant career!

Monday, August 5, 2013

Chesterwood - Contemporary Sculpture

The Housatonic, Rick Brown & Laura Brown at Chesterwood
While exploring the local arts scene in the Berkshires this Summer, I was pleasantly surprised to see two wonderful site specific sculptures at Chesterwood, summer estate of sculptor, Daniel Chester French who created the Lincoln Memorial in D.C.. Besides providing tours of this lovely estate and studio of French's, it also hosts contemporary sculptures all over the landscape and woodland trails. The first sculpture which caught my attention was created by a husband and wife team, Rick & Laura Brown. This dynamic duo ask Chesterwood to take down a dead pine tree, which they created this impressive sculpture on site within a week. They utilized the remains of the trunk and top of this tree as bookends to this "fanned" slices in the middle of the tree. Wow, this blew this away.

There were some other interesting sculptures down the woodland path at this sculpture park and the one that caught my eye was this parade of small painted flags by two artists, whose name escapes me at this moment that were like the flags that mark where utilities wires are but to me they were a miniature parade of munchkins in the woods. It was a delightful splash of color in the earth-tones of the forest floor.

These artworks gives me ideas for future Biennials.......WEMA Biennial  '15