Fall Preview: 5 Must-See Museum Exhibitions

Fall is one of Boston’s busiest times of year - back to school, September moving day, exciting local events like Hubweek and We-BOS week, and the end of baseball season (go Sox!). We always recommend taking a moment to slow down and enjoy the exhibitions on view at our local institutions. Here are five exhibitions you can’t miss seeing in person:

 Andy Graydon,  City Lights Orchestra , 2018, used street lamps, steel, airline cable, Courtesy of the artist, Photograph by Clements Photography and Design, Boston. Source: deCordova website.

Andy Graydon, City Lights Orchestra, 2018, used street lamps, steel, airline cable, Courtesy of the artist, Photograph by Clements Photography and Design, Boston. Source: deCordova website.

1. PLATFORM 23: Andy Graydon, City Lights Orchestra at deCordova Sculpture Park and Museum
August 23, 2018 – August 31, 2019
51 Sandy Pond Road Lincoln, Massachusetts 01773

Andy Graydon’s playful City Lights Orchestra on display at the deCordova invites visitors to explore sound through an installation of hollow, plastic lamps. Once used as beacons of light, these discarded Cambridge street lamps now serve as “sculptural instruments”, meant to make noise and be played by visitors and musicians alike. Try your hand as a drummer this fall!

2. Empresses of China’s Forbidden City at the Peabody Essex Museum
August 18, 2018 – February 10, 2019
East India Square, 161 Essex Street, Salem, MA

Empresses of China’s Forbidden City explores the influential role of imperial women during the Qing Dynasty, China’s last dynasty. To commemorate the 40th anniversary of the formation of U.S.-China diplomatic relations, nearly 200 precious objects are on loan from the Palace Museum in Beijing. This collaborative exhibition is the first to investigate the role of these powerful women in the dynasty, thus shining new light on this historical time period.

  Empress Dowager Cixi with foreign envoys’ wives in the Hall of Happiness and Longevity (Leshou tang) in the Garden of Nurturing Harmony (Yihe yuan).  Photographed by Yu Xunling (1874–1943), Guangxu period, 1903–05, print from glass-plate negative, Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery Archives, FSA A.13 SC-GR-249. Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC, purchase. Source: Peabody Essex Museum website.

Empress Dowager Cixi with foreign envoys’ wives in the Hall of Happiness and Longevity (Leshou tang) in the Garden of Nurturing Harmony (Yihe yuan). Photographed by Yu Xunling (1874–1943), Guangxu period, 1903–05, print from glass-plate negative, Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery Archives, FSA A.13 SC-GR-249. Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC, purchase. Source: Peabody Essex Museum website.

3. French Pastels: Treasures from the Vault at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
June 30, 2018 – January 6, 2019
Avenue of the Arts, 465 Huntington Avenue , Boston, Massachusetts 02115

If you’re a texture junkie, won’t want to miss this incredible collection of soft pastel pieces currently on display at the MFA. Over 40 works from the MFA vault and on loan from private collections are temporarily returned to the spotlight, providing visitors an exclusive tour of this delicate medium. Masterpieces from a variety of artists are featured, including Mary Cassatt, Edgar Degas, Edouard Manet, Jean-François Millet, Claude Monet, Camille Pissarro, Odilon Redon, and Pierre-Auguste Renoir.

 Edgar Degas,  Dancers Resting , 1881–85. Pastel on paper mounted on cardboard. Juliana Cheney Edwards Collection. Source: MFA website.

Edgar Degas, Dancers Resting, 1881–85. Pastel on paper mounted on cardboard. Juliana Cheney Edwards Collection. Source: MFA website.

4. Wangechi Mutu: A Promise to Communicate at the Institute of Contemporary Art
January 20, 2018 – December 31, 2018
25 Harbor Shore Drive, Boston MA 02210

Mutu uses coarse, gray rescue blankets from humanitarian aid crises to create a disorganized and deconstructed map of the world. Colored pencils hang from the ceiling on thin strings, allowing visitors to communicate freely with each other on the wall. As described in the press release, the installation encourages “visitors to explore ideas of public space, communication, and free speech, addressing the idea of a world that despite its increasing potential for collectivity struggles to communicate in a comprehensive way.”

 Wangechi Mutu, A Promise to Communicate, 2017. Installation view, the Institute of Contemporary Art/Boston, 2017. Photo by Charles Mayer Photography. Source: ICA website.

Wangechi Mutu, A Promise to Communicate, 2017. Installation view, the Institute of Contemporary Art/Boston, 2017. Photo by Charles Mayer Photography. Source: ICA website.

5. The Lure of the Dark: Contemporary Painters Conjure the Night at MASS MoCA
March 3, 2018 – December 31, 2018
1040 MASS MoCA Way, North Adams, MA 01247

 Wilhelm Neusser,  Nocturne/Doublemoon (1728) , 2017, Oil on Canvas, 57in. x 67in. on display at MASS MoCA. Source: Wilhelm Neusser Instagram (@wilhelmneusser).

Wilhelm Neusser, Nocturne/Doublemoon (1728), 2017, Oil on Canvas, 57in. x 67in. on display at MASS MoCA. Source: Wilhelm Neusser Instagram (@wilhelmneusser).

The darkness of the night invites imagination to run wild. In The Lure of the Dark, our imagination comes to life through a collection of contemporary paintings exploring the mystery of the darkness. Over a dozen painters are featured in this group exhibition, including Patrick Bermingham, William Binnie, Cynthia Daignault, TM Davy, Jeronimo Elespe, Cy Gavin, Shara Hughes, Josephine Halvorson, Sam McKinniss, Wilhelm Neusser, Dana Powell, Kenny Rivero, and Alexandria Smith.

We’re particularly excited about this show because Wilhelm Neusser’s piece in the exhibition, Nocturne/Doublemoon (1728), is the sister piece to our Nocture/Doublemoon (1729) hanging on our wall in our October group exhibition. Be sure to stop by and see both pieces!














Press Release: Rena Detrixhe, Red Dirt Rug

Installation Preview Dates: August 28 – August 31, 2018 (Open to the public)
Opening Reception: Friday, September 7, 6-9 pm
Exhibition dates: September 5 - 30, 2018

Rena Detrixhe presses designs into a Red Dirt Rug installation. Photo by: Mark Andrus

Abigail Ogilvy Gallery is proud to introduce the site-specific installation, Red Dirt Rug by Rena Detrixhe. Self identified as a hunter-gatherer, Detrixhe explores and analyzes history and the effect of human impact on our soil. Originally from Kansas, the artist now lives and works in Tulsa, Oklahoma, an area of the country that has been rapidly altered in the past century. Detrixhe began developing this body of work in 2016, as a result of her residency with the Tulsa Artist Fellowship. Red Dirt Rug is created from soil collected in central Oklahoma. Once transported to her studio in Tulsa, the artist spends hours finely grinding and sifting the earth into a soft, red dust. Standing in front of Red Dirt Rug, visitors might find their perception changes. The differences between outside and indoors, past and present become blurred, or perhaps they even merge. According to Detrixhe, “Red dirt symbolizes grit, perseverance, sorrow, pain, spirit, resilience. While it is rooted here in Oklahoma, I believe it has national implications.”

Rena Detrixhe’s work is both meticulous and ephemeral. Detrixhe has intimate connections with her materials and she works to understand their properties through process and careful labor. Prior to working with red dirt, she has created drawings and objects from seeds, ice, dried crabapple fruits, resin droplets emulating water, and a variety of household objects. Red Dirt Rug is heavy with metaphors and historical significance. The work is both a meditation of our past and the frame for our future, prompting deeper thinking about our world. For Detrixhe, “Landscapes have memory, places have memory, the earth has memory. There is a reason we say something happened on our home soil. Soil has a memory, too.”

Detail of previous installation of Red Dirt Rug. Photo by: Mark Andrus 

The significance of Detrixhe’s Red Dirt Rug goes beyond the piece’s original location. The artist illuminates questions that can be asked about the histories and geographies of land in the United States at large. When reflecting on the meaning of the artwork, Detrixhe explains, “I’m not sure that a single work of art can adequately represent the multitude of complicated histories,” she said. “But if any material can hold all of those things in it, it would be soil, earth.” Iterations of Red Dirt Rug have been previously displayed in a number of states throughout the Midwest, in Virginia and now in Boston.

This installation is a unique artwork that will only be displayed for the duration of the exhibition, holding the harsh and powerful reality that it will inevitably be swept away. Detrixhe works the entirety of the four-day installation, with visitors welcomed to step into the gallery and view the slow, deliberate mark making through careful gestures. The artwork provides a distinct opportunity to allow for a more nuanced space of consideration between the person and the landscape, reminding us of the preciousness of the earth just below our feet. By bringing the dirt inside, the earth attempts to reclaim and reinforce its presence and importance.

While the implications of the artwork are environmental, Detrixhe allows the audience to come to their own conclusions in regard to meaning and impact. Red Dirt Rug encourages the viewer to consider the question: moving forward, is there an alternative to how we, as a culture, relate to our land and the histories it holds?

Detrixhe received her BFA from the University of Kansas in 2013. She has exhibited in museums and galleries across the United States and is the recipient of numerous awards including a scholarship to attend the prestigious art school at Hongik University in Seoul, South Korea and a two-year studio residency with Charlotte Street Foundation in Kansas City, Missouri. Recent exhibitions include Ephemera at the Nerman Museum of Contemporary Art in Overland Park, KS, and a solo exhibition at the Philbrook Museum in Tulsa, Oklahoma. In 2017 she received both the public vote and juried vote awards in the time-based category for her work Red Dirt Rug at ArtPrize Nine in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Detrixhe has spent the past two years as a Tulsa Artist Fellow in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Originally from Kansas, the artist now lives and works in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

 Completed Red Dirt Rug. Photo by: Mark Andrus

Completed Red Dirt Rug. Photo by: Mark Andrus

Curator's Notes: Night Swimming

Our intern Abby Lindsay sat down with Abigail Ogilvy and Ally Boli to ask a few questions about their co-curated exhibition, Night Swimming, on view this summer:

Q: At Abigail Ogilvy Gallery, you present both group and solo shows. Is the creative process for curating solo shows particularly different than for a group exhibition?

Abigail: Absolutely, each show is so nuanced in terms of how it comes together. Our recent solo exhibition with Anna Schuleit Haber happened very organically, the works were all in the Northeast (her studio is in New Orleans) and she was quick to work with us on the writing and promotion. For our current show, Night Swimming, Ally and I both researched, met with artists, and discussed who would be the best fit. We were excited to exhibit a few new artists this summer, and are very pleased with how the show turned out.

Q: How long did it take to plan this exhibition? How far in advance did you start preparing for Night Swimming?

Abigail: Each exhibition varies, but for this particular exhibition it took just over a year of planning, studio visits, and selection of the artwork.

Q:  How did you come up with the title, Night Swimming?

Abigail: Ally picked it! So I’ll let her explain.

Ally: I felt Jenna Pirello's piece Night Swimming encapsulated elements of other artists work, visually it references the black background of Donna Moylan's work Twelve Twelve, as well as the fluidity of Natalia Wróbel's work. Austin Eddy also reference's swimming and nighttime in a few of his titles such as, Four Birds, Two Boys, Lake Floating Late at Night in Spring and Two Birds, One Flag Bearer Swimming Down Stream Past a Tunnel.

Q: You are showing Austin Eddy’s artwork for the first time, what drew you to his work initially?

Austin Eddy, "Flying-Fingers, City-Face (Between Here and There)," Oil stick, paper collage on fabric collage on canvas, 40 x 60 in.

Abigail: I saw Austin’s work in an exhibition in June 2017.  We were attracted to his work for the same reason we exhibited each painter in this show. Like all of the artists on view, Austin has a unique and interesting process, is hardworking, smart, and an incredibly talented artist. For Austin specifically, I was initially attracted to his use of basic geometric forms as building blocks for his paintings.

Ally: Abigail showed me his work and I loved his use of texture. 

Q: Austin Eddy, Donna Moylan, and Jenna Pirello are originally from the Boston area, and Natalia Wróbel worked in Boston until last year. Did this impact your decision to feature them together in this exhibition?

Abigail: Isn’t it interesting how they all have ties to Boston? That was a complete accident, we actually didn’t even notice until we were finalizing their bio pages on the website!  

Q: You represent Natalia Wróbel, and have featured her paintings in previous exhibitions at Abigail Ogilvy Gallery. How did you decide which of her works to include in Night Swimming?

Natalia Wróbel, "Luminaries," Oil paint on linen, 39.4 x 47.2 in.

Abigail: Natalia is constantly pushing herself to create new work and go outside of her comfort zone artistically. When she does so, a new series is born and it is amazing to watch her work grow and develop. This new work was created during her artist residency at the Berlin Art Institute in Germany this past fall, and this show debuts these works in Boston.

 Q:  The paintings featured in Night Swimming explore the imaginary using both figuration and abstraction. What effect do you think this has on the audience?

Abigail: Our goal is always to create interesting exhibitions in which visitors want to spend a lot of time with each artwork. The works in Night Swimming really cannot be understood with a quick glance, the audience is forced to slow down. It’s been wonderful to watch our visitors take in the work from a distance, and then get close and analyze the details.

Ally: I hope it inspires our audience to ask questions, whether to themselves, their friends, or to me! 

Q: What does a typical installation day look like for you?

Abigail: I absolutely love install week! Well, it is really a two day period. It may come as a surprise, but I am typically the person who de-installs the previous show (taking down the works), and then I retouch the walls with spackle and bright white paint. When the walls are blank and ready for the next show, there is so much opportunity on the horizon! Usually de-install takes a day and then we install the next day, we like efficiency. 

Ally: And a couple trips back and forth between the gallery and Home Depot

Q: What would you say is the hardest part of coordinating an exhibition?

Abigail: Ah, I hate that question! To answer the reverse of that question, my favorite part is when the first artwork is hung and we are on our way to having a show!

Ally: It's hard to pinpoint, each exhibition presents its own set of unique challenges which is part of what I love.

Rena Detrixhe, "Red Dirt Rug," Photo courtesy of Mark Andrus

Q: Any upcoming shows you are excited about?

Abigail: I think our programming in 2018 has been our strongest in the gallery history – and we have a powerhouse roster of artists exhibiting this fall. Starting with Rena Detrixhe’s installation of Red Dirt Rug in September and ending with our first solo exhibition by Natalia Wróbel in November!

Ally: All of them - go check out our upcoming exhibition page to take a peek what's next.