What I Did On My Summer Vacation

When we were kids, the three months of summer seemed to last forever. Weeks of camp, adventures and freedom seemed endless. That was then.

How can it be September already? Here’s how:



College reunion time brought me, as trailing spouse, to the new and bar-setting Wellin Museum, at Hamilton College in Clinton, New York. Here process trumps results with the back of house moved to the central atrium, and the galleries tucked away, evidence of the museum’s commitment to teaching.

In New York City Jeff Koons filled the air, from Rockefeller Center, to billboards, to the Whitney galleries. What a robust last hurrah to Marcel Breuer’s Madison Avenue home. Besides being and spawning an industry, he surely is an artist as social commentator, ground firmly occupied by Andy Warhol.

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The dry intelligence of Beyond the Supersquare affirmed our broader and juicier approach in MetaModern, opening in January 2015 at Krannert Art Museum.

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The challenges of presenting fashion appeared to melt away in the lavish presentation of Charles James: Beyond Fashion at the Met. Diller Scofidio Renfrow’s installation brought yesterday right up to tomorrow.

At the New Museum, the hypnotic melody in the Ragnar Kjartannson: Me, My Mother, My Father and I held me captive in that dim gallery, where again and again we saw the looped film in which the artist’s parents starred, a scene as ludicrous as it was touching.

Spencer Finch’s take on Books of Hours bathed us in rainbows at The Morgan Library, while we took a break for a glass of Prosecco. The artist’s watercolors, tucked away in a stairwell, were the real stars in the presentation.

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Road trip time. The 2000 miles and 30 hours between Boston MA and Austin TX included a few stops beyond Taco Bells. Frank Lloyd Wright’s neighboring Fallingwater and Kentuck Knob were a contrast in scale and affluence, the former brimming with aha moves and moments, the later easy to imagine as home.

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We sped through St. Louis able to catch a glimpse of its Gateway Arch, designed by Eero Saarinen, monumental and magnificent.

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Next stop Arkansas, where Frank Lloyd Wright acolyte Fay Jones built Thorncrown Chapel, its scale determined by the surrounding forest, configured so that no equipment would destroy the hilly site.

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Somehow it made sense to see Jeff Koon’s monster Hanging Heart (Gold/Magenta), suspended over the enormous cafe at Crystal Bridges.

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The sited work, Roxy Paine’s blown tree, Yield, and Jenny Holzer’s Venice Installation: Gallery D (Second Antechamber), superseded the art we could peek at as the galleries dedicated to contemporary art were closed.

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The big surprise was Bentonville’s 21c Museum Hotel. Yes, a museum and a hotel. And a terrific restaurant. And not just easy art. Video installation, sculpture, some pretty challenging imagery. Can’t wait to get to Cincinnati when MetaModern opens there and to see that 21C.

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A quick day trip to New York for meetings on MetaModern and a bit of Coded_Couture research serendipitously included a stop at Galerie Perrotin where the long undervalued work of Kate Ericson and Mel Ziegler was presented in a manner worthy of any museum. To celebrate the centennial of the Wellesley College Museum, we commissioned them to make an installation that is featured in the big book, America Starts Here. To see so much, after such a long time, including strong drawings I hadn’t ever seen, affirmed my regard for their work, tragically cut short, too short, by Kate’s illness.

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Back home in Boston, the ICA seems to be hitting its stride programmatically, just when the search for a new chief curator has been announced. I’ll always follow the strains of Ragnar Kjartansson, from the brass band in the lagoon in Venice, to the guitars in the New Museum. And I won’t complain that the ICA just showed his work in 2012. More is more. Being a visitor to The Visitors, along with a gallery packed, interestingly enough, with an older set, was a treat.

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The power and poignance of Jim Hodge’s Give More Than You Can Take took me by surprise after reading the review in The Boston Globe. Heartbreakingly elegiac, it was often beautiful, sometimes teetering over the line into kitsch. But not often.

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The Cape Cod Modern House Trust tour that offered entry into several truly remarkable modernist houses on ponds in Wellfleet MA, was a welcome reminder of modesty and simplicity. These light, light-filled clean spaces inspire me to simplify, simplify.

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My first visit to Tadao Ando’s addition to The Clark in Williamstown MA was on a perfect day, where Ando’s genius of bringing natural site and architectural form harmoniously elegantly, together in surprising refreshing ways, shone. The care, detailing, attention to material were exquisite. To see this place in all the seasons will be fascinating – it was perfect in summer.

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And That’s What I Did On My Summer Vacation.


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