Our Year So Far

 

MARJORIE BARRICK MUSEUM_PLURAL1

The first part of our year has been so busy that we wanted to offer up a few thoughts before we move on to our next exhibition.

Art is not created in a void. If Las Vegas is going to become a city with a really robust fine art-going culture then it will help to have a sense of where we have been, what has been accomplished, and what might still need to be done in the future. We look at the 70 – 80 CCSD students who visit us almost every week as part of our Bus to the Barrick program and we want them to know that there are adults in their community who use the visual arts as an expressive vehicle for ideas about the culture they inhabit. We want them to know that this kind of communication is possible, and that it is available to them as Las Vegans. 

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 The Barrick collection is not a definitive statement about our region’s art, but it is, at least, a publicly-accessible group of works that can be shown, discussed, and studied for evidence of Southern Nevada’s ability to sustain a fine art culture. That culture doesn’t only come from people who live here now, but also from diasporans who have moved away, and from artists like Alexa Hoyer who travels regularly to Las Vegas from her home in New York because she has found something here that she doesn’t see anywhere else. Three months ago, as we were installing our Plural exhibition, we were glad to be able to put her Book, 2015, next to ceramic sculptures by Sean Russell, a local artist who has shaped his clay by exploiting forces from the same landscape Hoyer chooses to photograph. It seemed important to have multiple voices operating on the same piece of countryside at once, with different aims and different materials.

It was similarly valuable to be able to put two works that use text — Krystal Ramirez’s I Want To See, 2017, and Justin Favela’s Estardas 2010 — next to one another and talk about the divergent ways that artists can mould a basic strategy to fit their intentions. It says something about the complexity of the art that is possible here.

MARJORIE BARRICK MUSEUM_LANCE DRAWING

We are grateful to all the artists who made themselves available for workshops and talks, or who dropped in at short notice because they’d heard that a group of students were passing through who might be interested in their work (and they were, they always were …). It was wonderful to have Mary Corey March, the artist behind the Identity Tapestry installation, flying in to take part in a panel discussion about Creativity and Healing after October 1 alongside historians and trauma specialists. Housing the Las Vegas Zine Library with the help of its custodians Jeff Grindley and Stephanie Seiler opened up possibilities we are only beginning to explore. The Vessel exhibition curated by Paige Bockman gave us an opportunity to reach out to clay artists at Las Vegas Academy and ask for help creating hands-on models of the work for our visitors to touch. We expect to develop a few more clay projects as the exhibition continues through to 2019.

One of our aims, now that the Bus to the Barrick program has been successfully established, is to spend more of our time moving out of the museum and working with other organizations in the community. The transformation of the Clark County Winchester Community Center Skatepark by Andrew Schoultz, the painter who will be creating our next exhibition, was an example of the kind of project we have our eye on.

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Finally, it’s International Museum Day (and also the 9th Annual Art Museum Day) this Friday and the exhibit hall will be empty due to our current deinstallation, so we’re making it available for a free yoga class from 10 – 11 a.m., followed by a double bill of classic films in the auditorium — Carl Theodore Dreyer’s The Passion of Joan of Arc, 1928, and Jean-Luc Godard’s anarchic, brutal Weekend, 1967. Come along if you’d like to get out of the heat.

(We should add that this film screening, unlike almost everything else at the Barrick, is not suitable for children.)

MARJORIE BARRICK MUSEUM_TAPESTRY

Photographs 1, 2, 4,  and 5 were taken by Mikayla Whitmore. Photograph 3 was taken by Krystal Ramirez. From top to bottom they are:

1. (r – l) Diane Bush, Skin Deep, 2011; China Adams, Winter Garbage Chunks, 2008; Gig Depio, Breaking Armistice, 2014; Krystal Ramirez, I Want To See, 2017; Wendy Kveck, Lettuce-Eater (the devouration), 2007.

2. Works from Catherine Borgs’s Scouted: An Inadvertant Archive From the Search for a Cinematic Vegas series, 1994 – 2013, seen through Almond Zigmund’s Interruptions Repeated, 2013.

3. Artist Lance Smith leading his Drawing & Memory workshop on March 10th 

4. The Clark County Winchester Cultural Center Skatepark being painted with the help of (r-l) Bomi Kang, AJ Datuin, Guerrero Gallery director Andres Guerrero, Allen Linnabary, and Lee Cannarozzo (headless).

5. Mary Corey March, Identity Tapestry, 2018 (detail)

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Sometimes the Best Art is Accidental

Plural (Feb. 2 - May 12, 2018)

Barrick volunteer Michael Freborg — the author of those earlier reflections on our Preservation exhibition — has been thinking about Plural. He writes —

There is something tranquil about the sound of footsteps on wooden floors. I am seated at the other end of the East Gallery today. Casual visitors come and go, wandering reverently through the new exhibit with only an occasional soft mutter. Paintings and artwork are mounted everywhere. Some of them look literally good enough to eat. Paint-sculpted pieces of “laffy taffy” in bright, delicious colors are lined up vertically on the wall of the center gallery. The textured swaths of blue, green, orange, and purple with their white middle layers remind me of frosted cake. These freshly-baked sweets for the soul bring a smile to my face each time I walk by. On a small white pedestal to the right of my desk, chips and breakfast cereal have been perfectly replicated in intricate Native American beadwork. The artist has woven something from her own cultural heritage into common household goods. Even those shimmering glass beads look like rock candy to me.

Whenever I am working on an artist’s biography, I see the artist’s style in other works on display in the gallery. Rita Deanin Abbey uses geometric shapes to emphasize movement, color, and form. Examples of artists using this style can be seen throughout the exhibit. Inside the center gallery, one artist has converted a song into vertical bars using an acrylic rainbow of colors. The painting is small, but contrasts sharply with both its white frame and the white wall surrounding it. Mounted to the south of my desk is an illustration that is far more psychedelic. As viewers shift their gaze, its meandering lines sway back and forth, producing a dizzying, trance-like effect. Beside the entrance to the Braunstein Gallery is an incredible three-dimensional display made of eight jagged pieces jutting from the wall like shards of glass. The six fragments on the top have a ghastly, tormented face drawn on each of them. Broken mirrors are painted on the bottom two. Its shades of black and grey set a morbid tone as the artist delves into the multifaceted identities of human beings. Like Abbey, the artist uses color and form to create a certain mood. The three-dimensional fragments give it a sense of motion. And just as the artist of the “laffy taffy” uses bright colored paint layers to stimulate taste buds, the drab colors of this display evoke feelings of melancholy.

The standout piece of the exhibit is a makeshift mermaid outfit made of turquoise, silver, and pink cloth. The flamboyantly-dressed mannequin with its golden sea-crown casts a horned silhouette on the wall behind it. The more I stare at the figure’s shadow, the more it resembles something mythical. Sometimes the best art is accidental. The current exhibit is more colorful than the last, but I find myself more intrigued by the shadows cast by the intense lighting in the gallery. It seems like these dark shapes are an exhibit of their own. One thing is for sure. Art is everywhere. Even when it’s unintentional.

MARJORIE BARRICK MUSEUM_GRAPE

Top photograph, from r – l: Mikayla Whitmore, Laurens Tan, Tom Pfennerstall, Brent Holmes, and Jacqueline Ehlis. Bottom photograph: detail of Jacqueline Ehlis, Laffy Taffy: Grape, 2004. Photography by Mikayla Whitmore.

The artists whose work Michael describes are Jacqueline Ehlis (“textured swaths of blue, green, orange, and purple”), Noelle Garcia (“chips and breakfast cereal”), Tim Bavington (“converted a song into vertical bars”),  Julie Oppermann (“a dizzying, trance-like effect”), Daniel Samaniego (“eight jagged pieces jutting from the wall”), and Aaron Sheppard (“a makeshift mermaid outfit made of turquoise, silver, and pink cloth”).

BARNRAZER

chris coy

Chris Coy’s BARNRAZER, 2012 joined the Barrick Collection last week. Navigating a series of reciprocated connections between Jean-Honoré Fragonard’s rococo masterwork, The Swing, 1767, and the suggestive movement of two monstrous characters through a landscape of horror movie tropes and contemporary digital modeling, this film approaches its ideas with a sense of audacity that excites us.

Coy helped us celebrate the event by screening BARNRAZER in a public program that included Jon Rafman’s A Man Digging, 2013, and Ode to Seekers 2012, 2016 by Andrew Norman Wilson. Introducing the three films, he spoke about the connections he saw between them:

The thematic threads that wind through these works trace a type of collective anxiety; of shared non-historical traumas—whether it’s a man digging through the medium of memory in Max Payne video games, a pizza delivery intruder transgressing a family’s threshold, or a not-so-steadicam operator moving through an abandoned children’s wing of a New York psych ward there are implied negotiations of personal loss mapped onto a roving search for meaning (which sounds like such a tired existential trope – but one that we each have to work out ourselves with fear and trembling); A successful quest requires a necessary trespass… we become the very ghosts we fear. We dig (to borrow a phrase from the title to Jon Rafman’s piece).

“Stories”, like Rafman’s narrator suggests, become a type of shorthand, the scribbled map, a talisman held up to a universe that often feels indifferent to our existence. Like Keats, we write odes to Grecian urns as a way to explore the vibration of human moments frozen between life and not life; also known as ‘death’. John Keats’ poem, which was a reference for the work of Andrew Norman Wilson that we’re showing tonight, personifies the role of art in directing attention towards the power of intentional viewership. Our gaze, our ekphrastic expressions re-animate the cavorting figures of our respective urns and they fly from the shadows of their own automation like zombie mosquitos to suck the blood (and marrow) from our own meager tableaus. It reminds me of that now trite phrase/thought experiment : “if a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?” I think the answer could very well be, “It does. It is the sound of the universe.

 

#5WomenArtists

MARJORIE BARRICK MUSEUM_BLOG KRYSTAL

“Do you have any artwork by women?” a visitor asked us the other day, and something the National Museum of Women in the Arts wrote in 2016 leapt into our minds. “Did you know,” said the museum, “that even though women make up 51% of visual artists today, in the U.S. only 5% of work on museum walls is by women? It is no surprise that if you ask someone to name five artists, they will likely list prominent male artists.” They went on to offer a small means of redress, namely the #5womenartists hashtag.

We’ve been using #5womenartists throughout Women’s History Month to tag pictures from our Plural show. So, for those of you who haven’t been on our Instagram (@unlvmuseum) recently, we offer this as a reprise of the past thirty or so days …

 

MARJORIE BARRICK MUSEUM_BLAU BLOG

 

MARJORIE BARRICK MUSEUM_KU BLOG

 

MARJORIE BARRICK MUSEUM_WHITMORE BLOG

 

MARJORIE BARRICK MUSEUM_KVECK BLOG

 

MARJORIE BARRICK MUSEUM_HALLIGAN BLOG

 

MARJORIE BARRICK MUSEUM_DONAHUE

 

MARJORIE BARRICK MUSEUM_YOES BLOG

 

MARJORIE BARRICK MUSEUM_MARCH BLOG

 

MARJORIE BARRICK MUSEUM_BARCIO BLOG

 

MARJORIE BARRICK MUSEUM_WARNER BLOG

Header image: Krystal Ramirez, I Want to See, 2017 (detail) (Photo by UNLV Photo Services/Josh Hawkins)  *  Elizabeth Blau, Redlining, 2012  *  Fay Ku, Harpy, 2013  *  Mikayla Whitmore, Its Teeth Are Soft, 2017  *  Wendy KveckLettuce-Eater (the devouration), 2007  *  Maureen Halligan, Frame of Reference, 2014   *  Andreana Donahue, Dowsing Rod (Missing Person), 2014  * Amy Yoes, 15.17, 2017  *  Mary Corey March, Identity Tapestry, 2017 (Photo by UNLV Photo Services/Josh Hawkins)  *  Audrey Barcio, Marking Through Time, 2015 (detail, showing the pink flourescent stripe at the back of the beveled frame)  *  Mary Warner, Disco Garden Two, 2013