What percentage of what you do is performance art?
I asked myself that question on December 15 as Art Basel Miami Beach 2019 was coming to a close. Earlier that morning, Artscope’s national correspondent Nancy Nesvet suddenly woke up around 4 a.m. realizing the reality behind the strange performance built around the global reaction to the sale of two — and eating of one — banana that composed Maurizio Cattelan’s “Comedian” installation on the wall of Galerie Perrotin’s booth at the Miami Beach Convention Center.
“Whether appropriation or inspiration, Samuel Beckett’s single-actor play, “Krapp’s Last Tape,” is clearly the motivation,” Nesvet wrote. “With representation of failed work and an illusion to repressed sexuality often cited as the theme of the Beckett play, the banana held and used for gesturing throughout the one act is a phallic shape resembling a microphone, a mouthpiece for announcing one’s opinions, a true symbol of our times.”
Shortly after Nesvet finished writing those observations, she sent them to me back in New England for review before I forwarded it to Olivia MacDonald, our intern from Lesley University in her final week, to post onto Artscope Online directly from our booth in the Magazines sector on the floor of the Miami Beach Convention Center. All before 11 a.m.!
I know many artists were upset by the attention given to Cattelan’s installation, although it’s hard to say which other offerings at Art Basel were denied the subsequent national and international coverage that followed. It’ll be interesting to see what Cattelan — and Galerie Perrotin — will do for an encore.
In this issue, Nesvet looks back at her favorite artists at this year’s fairs in Miami Beach, a year in which this year’s Art Basel Miami Beach — along with the other host sites of Miami Art Week — felt like “people’s fairs,” she writes.
As our week in Miami Beach came to a close, MacDonald would report on how our booth featured works by Paul Pedulla, Marilyn Kalish, and Andrew DeVries, as well as Nesvet, who exhibits her photographs in Washington, D.C. We look forward to learning how having their works introduced to an international audience benefits them in the long run.
Back in Boston, our editorial staff. was working hard to put together our first issue of 2020, reviewing several group shows — Flavia Cigliano at the Whistler House Museum, Kristin Nord at the Center for Contemporary Printmaking and Leah Hamilton French at Pine Manor College’s Hess Gallery, while in Brattleboro, a sudden snow storm made attending December’s Brattleboro Gallery Walk impossible for Elayne Clift, who retraced its steps the following day.
The season’s early cold and snow also tried to stop Marta Pauer-Tursi from sitting in with a group of artists from the residency program at the Vermont Studio Center; she persisted and her report will have many of you dreaming of spending time in Northern Vermont. When I first met photographer Peter Moriarty, after years of prodding by my now late mentor Francis “Tuck” Amory, I asked him, as I normally do when interested in a potential story, when his next exhibition was. Learning it was, at the time, still two years away, but taking place at the Cantor Gallery at the College of the Holy Cross, I put it into my plans for this issue. After discovering that his show would cover photographs of greenhouses from around the world, with an accompanying book, I told him my favorite place in the world to take photographs was the Palm House at Kew Botanical Gardens in London; Moriarty responded, “That’s my cover.” This was a story I couldn’t miss doing.
Several others articles in this issue are built around books: Elizabeth Michelman writes on Fran Bull’s new publication, “Choose Your Own Title,” in which Bull shares her poetry amongst three decades of her paintings, etchings and relief sculptures; J. Fatima Martins explores what makes Andrew Child’s “Cape Cod and the Islands: Light Beyond Visions” book different than other collections exploring New England’s summer paradise.
Artscope’s Cape Cod correspondent, Lee Roscoe, notes that 2020 commemorates the 400th year of English colonization of Massachusetts in Plymouth by English Separatists. “Through these centuries the Wampanoag people, or people of the east, have adapted to Settler culture, but have also preserved and honored their linked material and spiritual traditions. Nothing represents this more than the artisanship they still practice, keeping evolving traditions alive and taking them steps further,” wrote Roscoe, who takes an in-depth look at Emma Jo Mills Brennan, a Mashpee Wampanoag artist who is grounded in her tribe’s traditions.
Suzanne Volmer drew on her years of experience working in New York City galleries to review the “Photo Revolution: Andy Warhol to Cindy Sherman” exhibition at the Worcester Art Museum. Similarly, Beth Neville called on her longtime love of attending ballet performances in covering the “Emil Otto Hoppé: Photographs of the Ballets Rushes” collection at Museum of Russian Icons. The many facets and generations included in “School Photos and Their Afterlives,” now on view at the Hood Museum of Art at Dartmouth College, pulled Margie Serkin into the history of this sometimes overlooked artform that plays a major role in the documentation of our lives.
Don Wilkinson took in several exhibitions while visiting the New Bedford Art Museum/ ArtWorks!, Linda Chestney traveled to Amherst, New Hampshire, to see the “Marcia Blakeman: What Caught My Eye” exhibition at LaBelle Winery Art Gallery and James Foritano dropped by the Lesley University office of Eugene Dorgan to discuss his upcoming “Mindful Gaze” show at Milton Academy’s Nesto Gallery. Ron Fortier tracked down Stephen Quiller at his home studio in Colorado; the award-winning American Watercolor Society artist would be jurying entries for this year’s New England Watercolor Society exhibition at the Guild of Boston Artists just as this issue was hitting the streets and we wanted to provide insight his decision-making process.
Although unplanned, tradition ends up being a big part of this issue, the craziness of the past three years seemingly sending us into a need to return to warm familiar places, scenes and art styles. Perhaps it’s the cold of winter that causes us to repeatedly return to old friends, old buildings and old feelings. As we approach our 14th anniversary issue, all of us at Artscope Magazine thank you for continuing to make us part of your lives.