Friday, December 05, 2014

PEM: Calder, Gould and Gifts

 A friend and fan of the arts accompanied me to the Alexander Calder show at the Peabody Essex Museum today.  While I really enjoyed the mobiles and stabiles, I think I enjoyed the comaraderie the most.

Because the art was on loan from LACMA, I couldn't take photographs of the actual exhibit pieces.  I did draw some fairly peculiar images, though.  The mobiles would move, and the stabiles were SO 3D and peculiarly shaped, that drawing them in any sort of representational way was pretty challenging.  The photographs of the actual pieces are from Google Images and are of the FULL SIZE pieces.  The all orange one, called La Grande Vitesse, is in Grand Rapids, Michigan.  The Black and Orange one, called Southern Cross is at the Storm King Art Center in upstate New York.  They will re-open April 1, 2015.  I want to go!
Calder believed that a big piece had to look good even when it was small, so he almost always made "maquettes" or miniatures of the big pieces, and those were primarily what fit in the museum gallery.  The pieces I drew (below right) were, I think, final size.  Note how they balance on a single point.  As good as Cirque du Soleil!  There were several batches of elementary aged school children present.  They seemed quite entranced with the mysterious physics, construction methods and just-plain differentness of these works.

Another special exhibit consisted of furniture now believed to have been made in the workshop of Nathaniel Gould.  The installation was particularly well thought out, with video showing a contemporary craftsman replicate significant elements by hand:  a carved scallop, chair leg, and Chippendale chair back.
 Many of the pieces were commissioned by Jeremiah Lee as wedding gifts (dowry?) for his daughter.  Must be nice to have custom made furniture! Tax rolls indicated he was the wealthiest man in Massachusetts (before the Revolutionary War).  He made his money as a merchant through shipping.  He was apparently good at smuggling arms and gunpowder to the colonies as well.  He died young as a consequences of events in Lexington in 1775.
 He was wealthy enough to have THE John Singleton Copley paint his portrait.  I think the painting is at least 12 feet high.
 The piece below is very much like a desk I inherited from my paternal grandmother.  Maybe I should ask the PEM to evaluate it rather than a local New Hampshire auction house!!  Allegedly, Gould made this as his "low end" model.
 Belos is the "high end" (fancy) model.
 Apparently a table and tea pot were essential for every woman so that she could entertain in style.  Tables with "pie crust edges" were more expensive than totally flat ones, but had the advantage of keeping precious chinaware from sliding off onto the floor.
 This "side table" was usually set against a wall to save space.  When the entire surface area was needed, there was a swiveling piece or gate leg that could swing out and prop up the dropped leaf.  Since New England homes of any age are usually small, this is a useful convenience.
 The artisan in the video is the director of  the Furniture Institute of Massachusetts, Phil Lowe. 
 There was a decorative arts display in another gallery.  Below  is one of the modern teapots.

As always, the PEM museum shop had lots of treasures.  I hope that I can persuade my husband to make some copies of these trees in the workshop before NEXT Christmas.
 Sometimes a fun painting is more about nerve than artistry.  I really like this simple six petaled flower.
 ... and this wooden tree shape from which to hang ornaments!
 If I wrote out 100 affirmations, quotes, or predictions and wrapped them in beautiful paper, they might be appreciated.  They could be picked randomly or shuffled or...
 Hoping you are on the lookout for art-on the move!

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