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Art Finds

Friday, January 16, 2015

Charlie Hebdo Cartoonists Also Remembered for Wine Labels

The three Charlie Hebdo cartoonists killed in Paris were not only known for their biting satire. According to Robert Camuto in his latest blog for Wine Spectator, those same cartoonists were also beloved in France for their imaginative wine labels. “Their spirit was to laugh at everything and expose the biggest bullshit in the world. And they were killed by the biggest act of bullshit,” Bordeaux winemaker Gérard Descrambe tells Camuto in the column. As we celbrate Martin Luther King this weekend, let’s all buy a bottle of Bordeaux and raise a toast to civility and tolerance. Then go out and watch Selma. I’ll be back on Tuesday. 


Posted by Steve Jermanok on 01/16/15 at 06:00 AM
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Thursday, December 04, 2014

Mass MOCA Announces Major Expansion

Located in North Adams, Massachusetts, just down the road from Williams College and the Clark Art Museum in Williamstown, Mass MOCA is comprised of 26 buildings that were once home to a thriving textile mill. With one building the length of a football field, the museum is in a unique position to house immense works, like the recreation of a 1950s amusement park or a 20-ton sand castle— pushing the boundaries of what most people consider art. One of the most popular offerings is the massive Sol LeWitt installation, where 107 wall drawings are on view until 2033. The long-term exhibition seems to be a hit, because Mass MOCA just announced that other artists will join LeWitt in creating giant spaces devoted to their work. Painter Robert Rauschenberg, sculptor Louise Bourgeois, light artist James Turrell, conceptual artist Jenny Holzer, multimedia artist Laurie Anderson, and instrument maker Gunnar Schonbeck were all chosen for the next round of expansion, set to be unveiled in 2017. Mass MOCA will double its size to 250,000 square feet of exhibition space, making it the largest contemporary art museum in the country. 


Posted by Steve Jermanok on 12/04/14 at 06:00 AM
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Thursday, November 13, 2014

Boston Needs to Take a Good Hard Look at Rotterdam’s New Food Market

Ten years in the making, the city of Rotterdam in the Netherlands (less than an hour drive from Amsterdam) has just unveiled a public market that will set the standard for design of food markets for years to come. On the base floor of a horseshoe-shaped tunnel, close to 100 food stalls will sell their mix of local cheeses, meats, produce, and flowers at the Markthal. The largest art piece in the Netherlands, Horn of Plenty by Arno Coenen and Iris Roskam, wraps the curving interior walls of the hall. Projected onto the individually placed screens are larger-than-life images of vibrantly colored fruits, grains, and vegetables. Arching high in the sky and surrounding the massive artwork are 228 apartments with sweeping views of this port city. The city of Boston should take a good look at this multi-use architectural marvel. Set to debut our own public market in 2015, it seems as if we’re settling for far less by just using space in the old Haymarket building. Why not set much loftier aspirations with an emphasis on the future, not the past? 


Posted by Steve Jermanok on 11/13/14 at 06:00 AM
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Tuesday, November 04, 2014

Don’t Miss the Goya Show at Museum of Fine Arts Boston

When we last saw the curatorial work of Frederick Ilchman, he was at the helm of the masterful MFA exhibition, “Titian, Tintoretto, Veronese: Rivals in Renaissance Venice,” on view in 2009. Ilchman showed his theatrical side by placing a Tintoretto work on the ceiling as the artist originally intended. Knowing his travels took him back and forth to his beloved Venice, I persuaded him to divulge some of his favorite restaurants and sights in the city for a Boston Globe story. The past five years, he’s been traveling back and forth to Madrid and the result is his impressive new show at the MFA on the Spanish artist Goya. Goya: Order and Disorder, is on view at the MFA through January 19, and you can read my review of the exhibition at Everett Potter’s Travel Report. The MFA is the only venue for the show and you’d be wise to get there or wait another five years for Ilchman’s next exhibition. Thankfully, Ilchman is here to stay, having recently been appointed Chair, Art of Europe at the MFA.
I’m off to Fort Lauderdale for the wedding of good friends, Fran Golden and David Molyneaux. Since they’re two of the top cruise writers in America, their wedding will take place on the new Regal Princess on a short voyage to the Bahamas Tomorrow, I’ll be at the naming ceremony with six of the original cast members of The Love Boat, including Gavin MacLeod (Captain Stubing), former Iowa congressman, Fred Grandy (Gopher), and my personal favorite, Bernie Kopell (Doc), who also played the villain Siegfried on “Get Smart.” I’ll be back next Tuesday. Have a great week!
Photo: Thirteenth Dutchess of Alba (1797, Hispanic Society of America, New York)

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 11/04/14 at 06:00 AM
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Tuesday, October 21, 2014

The Debut of Toronto’s Aga Khan Museum

Multiculturalism is the main reason why I return to Toronto as often as possible, a half-dozen times in the past decade. I love the diverse population—chatting to an Eritrean taxi driver about the struggles in her country, dining on sublime dim sum with a Hong Kong-born chef whose har gow (shrimp dumplings) arrives orange thanks to a mix of butternut squash (more on the restaurant Luckee later this week), to shopping for vintage clothing in Little India. So it came as no surprise to me that the Aga Khan Museum, the first North American museum devoted exclusively to Islamic Art, made its debut in mid-September in the northeastern part of Toronto. 

Aga Khan, the imam and prince of the Ismaili branch of Shia Muslims, who number some 15 million across 25 nations, spent more than $300 million to fund the museum. His renowned collection of art, over 1,000 pieces that span a millennium, has been on view at the Louvre in Paris and Hermitage in St. Petersburg, but now he has a permanent home worthy of the works. It took 18 years from conception to completion, but the debut of the Aga Khan Museum couldn’t have come a better time. With media constantly bombarding us with all the atrocities happening in the Muslim world, it’s downright therapeutic to walk into an exquisite setting bathed in natural light and be dazzled at the beauty of these objects. 
The collection is housed in a building created by the Pritzker Prize winning octogenarian, Fumihiko Maki. Artifacts are displayed on two floors, in high-ceilinged white rooms with teak floors. The galleries are centered around an open-air courtyard, which is open to the public free of charge if they simply want to relax and enjoy a cup of coffee and Turkish sweets. Before viewing the works, walk up the lapis-stone stairway into the auditorium, an explosion of teak wood already starting to garner attention for its excellent acoustics. 
New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art might have a larger collection of Islamic Art, now housed in its new wing, but the Aga Khan has a good eye for objects. The museum is designed chronologically and starts with a blue Koran from 9th century Iran, calligraphy written in gold. The geometric patterns, whether circles found on the 12th-century robe of a Mongol warrior or a 9-pointed star seen in the woodwork of a 14th-centurty Spanish squinch, are mind-boggling. A rare piece of Iznik ceramics from the Ottoman Empire shows how the color red suddenly appeared in the predominantly “blue and white” patterns of the day. My favorite part of the collection was the brilliantly illustrated pages of the Persian epic, Shah-Nameh, a colorful portrayal on each page, which will be turned every three months in order not to damage the manuscript. An easy 20-minute taxi ride from downtown, the Aga Khan Museum is a great addition to the Art Gallery of Ontario, the Ryerson Image Centre, and the other noteworthy art found in Toronto. 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 10/21/14 at 06:00 AM
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Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Lausanne’s Bounty of Museums

For a city of only 140,000, Lausanne is blessed with 22 museums. Actually 23 museums if you count the archaeologist I met yesterday who opened a one-room museum devoted to the history of shoes, including her recreation of a Neolithic shoe. Home to the International Olympic Committee or IOC, Lausanne’s best known museum is the Olympic Museum, now double in size after a two-year renovation. The three-floor display first looks at the pageantry of the Olympic Games, displaying every torch used since 1896 and showcasing the elaborate structures cities created to constantly up the ante, like the Bird’s Nest Stadium built for the Beijing games. The second floor was my favorite, showing memorabilia from the games, like Jesse Owens running shoes from the ‘36 Games in Berlin, Michael Phelps swimsuit, Sergey Bubka’s pole vault, goalie Jim Craig’s jersey from the 1980 “Miracle on Ice” game, Roger Federer’s racquet, Usain Bolt’s jersey, and Michael Johnson’s gold sneakers. The last floor, you can try your hand at shooting a gun in the biathlon, see the medals awarded at every Olympics (the Vancouver Winter Games medal were very stylish), and stand on the podium from the Sydney Games. 
There are two other museums in town that should not be missed. Collection de L’Art Brut is an art museum that rose to prominence from artist Jean Dubuffet’s wildly imaginative collection of art from outside the mainstream. Searching for purity in art, he collected naïve works, primitive works, and simply works by the insane or incarcerated. Many of the bios start the same way—said artist was abandoned by his father, raised in poverty by his mother, and ended up in a mental institution. The works are fascinating, like the whimsical paintings of the Lausanne-born artist, Aloïse, who imagined she was having an affair with an emperor. She would use rose petals, toothpaste, and crushed leaves to create her pairs of lovers. Pascal-Désir Maisonneuve would create masks entirely from shells. Other works are so detail oriented like the paintings of Augustin Lesage that it wasn’t much a stretch to think of the artist as mad. 
We were fortunate to be in Lausanne during their annual Night of Museums, when all the museums in town stay open until 1 am and folks crowd the streets strolling from museum to museum. We took advantage of the opportunity to visit the Fondation de l’Hermitage, a 19th-century estate on a hillside above town (not far from Coco Chanel’s and David Bowie’s former home) that specializes in 19th-century art. We toured the museum’s collection of European art, including works by Degas and Caillebotte, then entered a special exhibition on 19th-century American art, like the Hudson River School painters and the Luminists. Outside, the American theme continued as a DJ played old-school hip-hop like Grandmaster Flash and people danced. The museum was packed both inside and I was delighted to see numerous families checking out art until the wee hours of the morning. I would love my hometown of Boston to host a similar type of event! 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 09/30/14 at 04:00 AM
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Thursday, August 07, 2014

Lake George Week, A Landscape That Inspired Georgia O’Keeffe

In the mid-90s, I was hired by Art & Antiques Magazine to write a story on the period of time painter Georgia O’Keeffe and her husband, photographer Alfred Stieglitz, lived on the shores of Lake George. This was to coincide with a photography exhibition of Stieglitz’s work at New York’s Museum of Modern Art. I knew renowned abstract sculptor David Smith lived in Bolton Landing, but I honestly had no idea O’Keeffe lived in Lake George, since she’s far better known for her New Mexican motif. From 1918 to 1934, O’Keeffe would spend a good portion of her summer at the lake. She would return to Lake George for the last time in 1946 to spread Stieglitz’s ashes at the foot of a pine tree on the shores of the lake. Today, those ashes lie on the grounds of the Tahoe Motel. Next door, the house they lived in, Oaklawn, is still standing at The Quarters of the Four Seasons Inn. On a wall next to my desk, I have a poster of a dreamy mountain and lake landscape simply titled Lake George (1922). My brother, Jim, purchased this for me at the San Francisco Museum of Art, where the original O’Keeffe oil still hangs. 

O’Keeffe wasn’t the only artist inspired by the majestic Lake George landscape. In the 1860s, most of the noteworthy Hudson River School painters, including Thomas Cole and Jasper Cropsey, descended on the shores of the lake to put oil to canvas. Exquisite works by 19th-century American landscape painters like Albert Bierstadt and William Merritt Chase can be found at the Hyde Collection, a gem of a museum in nearby Glens Falls. I returned to the Italian Renaissance-style villa yesterday, only to be blown away once again by the bounty of impressive works that include paintings by Rembrandt, Botticelli, Raphael, El Greco, Rubens, Renoir, and Picasso.
A special treat was an exhibition on contemporary sculptor Larry Kagan. Kagan twists tubes of steel into abstract shapes that, when illuminated, project shadows on the wall into images of a bald eagle or a stilletto. I love the images that pay homage to artists Andy Warhol and Keith Herring. Bring the kids--this is an exhibition for all ages to enjoy. Much has been made about the reopening of the Clark Art Institute this summer in nearby Williamstown, Massachusetts. Art lovers should make one additional stop to tour the Hyde. You’ll be happy I sent you! 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 08/07/14 at 09:00 AM
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Friday, April 04, 2014

Art Lovers Will Savor The Alfond Inn, Winter Park

It’s not everyday that I turn around to peer at a piece of art hanging from the walls of a hotel. Usually it’s some commercial print of ocean and seabirds. But last week, while spending the night at the Alfond Inn in Winter Park, Florida, I found myself walking aimlessly through the hallways just to check out the art. When I found an ethereal print by Neeta Madahar, repped by one of my favorite galleries in Boston, Howard Yezerski (now Miller Yezerski), I had to dig a little deeper to see what’s up. I found out that the Alfond Inn, a 112-room boutique hotel debuted last August, thanks to a $12.5 million grant from the Harold Alfond Foundation. Profits from the inn will go directly to Winter Park’s Rollins College for a scholarship fund. Harold Alfond founded Dexter Shoe Company, and his son Ted and wife Barbara are both Rollins alumni. Barbara serves on the board of trustees at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston and the couple is recognized by ArtNews as two of the 200 most important art collectors in America. With the assistance of independent Boston-based curator Abigail Ross Goodman (who once ran the Judy Rotenberg gallery in Boston), the couple amassed a 100-piece contemporary art collection solely for The Alfond Inn. Not too shabby. 

I wish I could have spent more time in Winter Park, a great walking town of boutique shops and restaurants, just outside of Orlando. The Alfond Inn also houses a rooftop pool and a great Southern restaurant, Hamilton’s Kitchen, where I dined al fresco on chicken and grits that evening. I’d happily stay there again, just to walk the hallways. 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 04/04/14 at 10:00 AM
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Thursday, November 21, 2013

Thoreau’s Maine Woods, A New Exhibition at the Harvard Museum of Natural History

To commemorate the 150th anniversary of the publication of Henry David Thoreau’s “The Maine Woods,” the Harvard Museum of Natural History is showcasing the works of photographer Scot Miller. Miller has traversed the state of Maine for seven years retracing Thoreau’s epic exploration. The exhibition, on view through September 1, 2014, will also feature a snowshoe made for Thoreau by the Penobscot Indians and a beautiful new illustrated edition of Thoreau’s book. As an outdoors writer based in New England, I’ve also spent a good deal of time following in Thoreau’s footsteps. You can see my story in Sierra Magazine on paddling a similar route Thoreau used while writing “The Maine Woods.”

(Photograph by Scot Miller, courtesy of the Harvard Museum of Natural History) 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 11/21/13 at 11:00 AM
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Tuesday, September 17, 2013

The Eureka Art Scene

They say Eureka has more artists per capita than any other place in California. A walk around town Sunday introduced me to many of the impressive local wares. My first stop was the Morris Graves Museum of Art housed in the circa 1904 Carnegie Free Library. A jazz quartet was playing to a packed crowd in the atrium as I wandered over to the Humboldt Artists Gallery to see the inviting watercolors of poppies and hydrangeas by Karen Berman, photographs of the seascape by Jim Lowry like Camel Rock, a favorite surf spot in the region. In the upstairs gallery, Corey Drieth creates mesmerizing geometric shapes of gouache on wood. From Morris Graves, I walked down to the historic Old Town waterfront district of Eureka and stopped in at the First Street Gallery. Run by Humboldt State University, the fine arts gallery features the works of students, faculty, alumni, and visiting artists. Inside, Don Gregorio Anton’s 3D Lazergraph produced intriguing faces and mist etched in glass, while Teresa Stanley’s “The Waters No. 6” was an enticing play of color and geometric patterns, all created on yupo paper. 
That evening I wisely chose to spend the evening at The Hotel Carter, one of four Victorians that form the Carter House Inns near the shores of Humboldt Bay. The hallways are lined with contemporary art, a sign that owner Mark Carter is a longtime supporter of the local art scene. Carter is perhaps best known as a winemaker in Napa Valley. Paired with a sublime beef tenderloin, I had the pleasure of sampling his 2006 Carter Cellars Cabernet at Retaurant 301. A perfect way to end a perfect day. 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 09/17/13 at 10:00 AM
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photo of Steve Jermanok
Longtime Boston Globe travel writer, Steve Jermanok, dishes out his favorite travel locales and provides topical travel information that comes across his desk. is an Austin-Lehman Adventure's Top 125 Best Travel Blog Semi-Finalist

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