Friday, August 27, 2010

Start of School

UMSL office chair. All images courtesy the author.

In addition to my duties at Laumeier Sculpture Park, I am the Aronson Endowed Professor of Modern and Contemporary Art at the University of Missouri-St. Louis.

This semester I am teaching a 4393 course, "Art Museum and Gallery Management", to an all-female class of art history, design and liberal arts majors.

Re-reading the readings.

I've taught a lot over the years, but never such a sustained, focused course as this. I have a lot of material in hand that has influenced me, but this has been an extraordinary chance to review why I am where I sit. (In orange, evidently.)

What most strikes me is that I never stop learning--I read constantly, I have a stack of eight books waiting for me (well, they are mostly summer reading, but still!). How do I get through all the things I want to read?

Luckily, the smart Aronsons (Judy and Adam) stipulated an endowment at UMSL that supports my work at both Laumeier and UMSL. I did a small book shopping spree on amazon yesterday to get the students more up-dated materials.

This is my dream: to be paid to think about art.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Continued aesthetics of the road

Inside the locked bathroom, trying to get out. All pictures courtesy the author.

After a rather funny start to the weekend (it was the modern lock not the old door that was the problem), Kevin and I had a trip road trip to Waupaca with pals Diane and John, Mary Louise and Ken.

It's not so often we adults take this kind of trip with friends, and despite the brief trip (two hours each way compared to four days one way when I moved to St. Louis with Mary Louise as the navigator), we still had a great time.

Navigational tools.

We had Google Map directions, several iphones and a gps, but the old-fashioned Gazeteer still ruled the day on the smaller country roads (where county road BB meets the KK, by the herd of black cattle.) Diane won the round!

Welcome to the inn.

Mary Louise booked us into a charming inn, which used to be an enormous working orchard, now with about seven acres of land and glorious river frontage.

Big old hollow, yet still producing, apple tree with a ladder supporting its tired arm.

We had dinner at Simpson's, a local supper club, and given the hour, we returned to the inn to yak and enjoy our time together (while avoiding an amazing gully washer of a storm).

Ken, John, Diane (with bug spray and camera) and Kevin walking down to the lovely Chrystal River.

Diane and I saw a huge heron taking off from its hiding place at the lagoon during our pre-breakfast walk (what a feast we were for mosquitoes), and later ran into a doe, whose path we were clearly blocking.

Diane at corn stand.

We stopped for corn and a few other vegetables--the corn was chewy, evidently, but it had integrity.

What a great set of visuals from yet another great trip down some back roads.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Poor Farm ahoy!

The Poor Farm, friends out front. All pictures by the author.

I spent the last weekend of my Milwaukee vacation with partner Kevin J. Miyazaki (see his blog post), friends Mary Louise Schumacher (her post) and Diane Bacha (her blog), Ken Hanson and John Koethe up in the Waupaca, Wisconsin area to attend the opening weekend of The Poor Farm, an art / educational laboratory by Chicago-based artists Michelle Grabner and Brad Killam.

The three floors (and several projects outside, which I didn't see because of the frightful mosquito quotient) featured a series of artist projects, poetic meditations and mini-surveys of the work of Moira Roth, a much-honored art historian who has chronicled and participated in the feverish events of the American avant garde since the 1960s.

Michelle Grabner and Moira Roth, with knitting chair by Modesto Covarrubias, The Knitter, 2007-2010, behind.

We were lucky to walk through the spaces with Moira to understand the conceptual rooms of her mind and career, seeing how the seemingly-disparate artist projects reflected a disciplined and curious art historian's work.

Poems by Moira Roth, pictures by Slobodan Dan Paich.

I had most recently read Moira's work when doing a project with Nancy Spero, but hers is a career that has influenced countless generations of artists and art historians looking to make sense of the world through art.

History room.

One of the recently cleaned-up upstairs rooms of the 8,000 square foot former farm for the indigent (then a retirement home) housed a set of overlapping, intertwined history that feminist historians like Roth brought to legitimacy in the arts.

Books and texts focused on the 80th birthday of African-American artist Faith Ringgold; documents by Mary Jane Jacob and Russell Lewis on the Women's Building in Chicago, 1893; 19th century African-American history ranging from the tale of escaped slave Caroline Quarlls (who took the underground railroad to Wisconsin, a free state) to W.E.B. Du Bois; to a scattering of documents on the history of Native Americans in Wisconsin.

Roth, Jacobs and Linda Nochlin (who wrote a lovely poem about not being able to make it to Waupaca), are pioneers in a multi-layered multiculturalism which is at the heart of my curatorial practice.

The quiet, meditative quality of the weekend was underscored by the pleasure of lounging around outside drinking Veuve Cliquot and talking with really smart artists, art historians, poets and designers. Wisconsin is a great laboratory these days.

Monday, August 2, 2010

On vacation.

photo by Kevin J. Miyazaki.

I'm on vacation this week--well, faux vacation, since I've got to finish my essay for the Ahmet Ogut show I'm organizing this October, and working on the 4000 level course I'm teaching at the University of Missouri-St. Louis starting at the end of the month.

still from Baraboo from inside Kathy & Duane's kitchen.

But still, I'm in Milwaukee with Kevin and pals and enjoying working at home in casual clothes. We've already had dinner outside at a friend's house and watched the movie Baraboo and attended the JACL (Japanese American Citizen's League) picnic (with bingo sharks in the group).

fruit tart for JACL picnic

This is a great time to reflect on all the changes of the past year--and to think about all the changes to come in my second year at Laumeier Sculpture Park.

Happy August to all you Leos in the crowd!