Fitchburg Pairs Historical with Contemporary
by Donna Dodson
“Land Ho!,” the impressive new show at the Fitchburg Art Museum (FAM), is a must-see. Mary M. Tinti’s sixth curatorial project is the result of nearly one year of extensive research on FAM’s permanent collection utilizing her keen eye for contemporary New England art. Koch Curatorial Fellow Emily M. Mazzola, whose knowledge of 19th and 20th century American Art brought to light the personal stories behind many of the treasures that FAM owned, assisted Tinti. The results are surprising and wide sweeping, pulling into focus the evolution of landscape painting, mark-making and myriad contemporary approaches to this genre.
The exhibition is installed in nearly all of the newly renovated galleries on the second floor and bridge of the museum. Nick Capasso joined FAM nearly three years ago, and with his appointment as director came some bold changes. Every single gallery has been renovated except for one, and going forward every rotating exhibit will be devoted to contemporary art.
ON A MISSION
“New England artists feel under- served by their local art institutions who have turned their sights to national and international artists,” Capasso said. Therefore, his mission is to feature them at FAM. “Land Ho!” is the second in an ongoing series of exhibitions pairing contemporary artists in conversation with the artwork in their collection (the first featured the still life genre two years ago, and a forthcoming show will focus on portraiture).
If the Fitchburg Art Museum had mounted a show of landscape paintings, drawn solely from its permanent collection, there would be obvious gaps. By hanging historical works in dialogue with works by contemporary artists, Tinti creates a conversation of art-historical importance. Images by Charles Burchfield, Edward Hopper, Charles Sheeler and Rockwell Kent are hung together, the show’s press release noted, “in a magnificently interspersed, intergenerational, multi- scaled mash-up of landscapes old and new, iconic and fantastic, universal and personal.”