Friday, March 30, 2007

Just one week until William Wegman-Funney/Strange opens!

My apologies for the lack of updates lately. Everyone here at the Addison is busy installing William Wegman-Funney Strange.

At this point, the show is unpacked and curators Trevor Fairbrother and Allison Kemmerer have laid out the show, selecting where each of the objects will go. The show has over 230 objects including paintings, works on paper, photographs, TVs, and a projector, so trying to place everything has been a challenge.

The prep crew have finished putting a fresh coat of paint on the gallery walls and are busy installing the objects. Though much easier than hammering the thousands of nails used in our recent Jennifer Bartlett: Early Plate Work exhibition, it is still a time-consuming process to hang each object and run all the wires for the TVs and projector system. The installation of the wall text and object labels comes next. Each individual object label is transferred to the wall by carefully rubbing the letters from their paper backing using a dull pencil. It is a process that requires patience, a precise eye for detail, and very strong wrists!

I've had the pleasure of traveling with the show to all three of its previous venues to help each museum's crew with packing, installation, and condition reporting. It has been interesting to see how each museum interpreted the show and arranged it on their walls. While each venue was spectacular and successful in its own way, I'm very excited about how the show is going to look here at the Addison. The show opens to the public Saturday, April 7th, so be sure to stop by to be one of the first to see it!

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

The Laserdisc Has Been Retired

Many visitors to the Addison know what I'm talking about. Since 1992, we've had an Apple computer hooked up to a laserdisc in our Reading Room that allowed the public to browse images and information about our permanent collection. A laserdisc, for those not in the know, was a large record-sized disc that looked somewhat like a compact disc on steroids. (see below) It has now gone the way of the eight-track tape and the aforementioned vinyl record. Once you selected a collection record on the computer it would find its image on the laserdisc and display it on a small monitor. It was ahead of its time in 1992, well before "internet" and "web" became household words.

Last December, after spending two years upgrading our in-house database software and beginning a massive digitization project, we posted our collection on the web. By clicking the
Collections button on our main page, anyone visiting our website can search and browse records for every object in our permanent collection. Everything acquired from when the Addison's doors first opened in 1931 to those approved at the most recent Trustees Meeting are there, much better than the laserdisc's cut off date of 1992. While only 60% of the records are accompanied by images at the moment, we are adding more images every day and each record will tell you whether the object is currently on view or not in the museum.

So, just two weeks ago, we replaced our venerable Apple and laserdisc player in the reading room with a new computer that allows its users to access our website. So anyone can now browse our entire collection, either here in the Addison, or from home. I've carefully placed the laserdisc itself into our archives for posterity. The question now is: how long will it be before the internet goes the way of the laserdisc?

Friday, March 16, 2007

Ship model experts reveal technique, history

On Saturday, March 10, "The Art of Ship Model Making," a special event held in conjunction with the current exhibition of the Addison's beloved ship model collection, Models as Muse: Roderick Buchanan, Christine Hiebert, Jennifer and Kevin McCoy, and David Opdyke, attracted both the curious and the practiced to two experts' perspectives on the delicate artistry of marine models.

Renowned ship model artist Erik Ronnberg, Jr. of Gloucester, MA joined R. Michael Wall, field expert and owner and director of the American Marine Model Gallery of Salem, MA to demonstrate the techniques involved in the creation of these fine artworks. Revealing his meticulous drawings, scrupulous research, and the hull in-progress for his latest project (a modern fishing trawler commissioned by the Smithsonian Institution of Washington, D.C.), Ronnberg entranced the audience by demonstrating the attention and skill required to produce a beautiful, accurate ship model - an art form whose popularity he fears is waning among those of today's generation.

R. Michael Wall guided a tour of the Addison Gallery's collection which museum founder Thomas Cochran (PA 1890) originally commissioned as educational representations of "America's rich maritime history." Wall described the various building techniques employed by model artists like Capt. H. Percy Ashley and the H.E. Boucher Mfg. Company, two artists whose works figure dominantly in the Addison Collection. Drawing on his years of experience in the curation, construction, restoration, and appraisal of museum quality ship models, he pointed out the distinguishing characteristics different modelers - including those whose work he shows in his gallery today - bring to their art.

Visitors fulfilled their curiosities by lingering to chat with the speakers and examining examples of Ronnberg's work currently available for purchase at Wall's gallery in Salem. To learn more about Erik Ronnberg, Jr. and R. Michael Wall, visit the American Marine Model Gallery's website at

Models as Muse remains on view through Sunday, March 18 after which the models will reappear on the museum's lower level for permanent display.

Wednesday, March 7, 2007

The Addison’s Artist Submission Program

A few weeks ago, my bin was overflowing with artists’ submissions, which meant it was time to gather the Curatorial Committee for our quarterly review. With thirty-nine portfolios submitted, the committee had its work set out for them. We received materials from a wide range of artists: a couple of submissions came from local residents in the Addison’s hometown of Andover while others came from as far away as Illinois, Florida, and California.

Not only were these artists dispersed across the country, but there was also a range of media: painting, photography, sculpture, performance, even video. Some artists turned to nature for inspiration—photographing mountains and hills of upstate New York—while others documented the aging process of their family members. Drawings ranged from minimalist-like pencil and chalk lines and squares to intricate fantastical scenes where colored rocks and flowing streams guided your eye through the work. Other artists continue to challenge art and art making practices by creating videos, some with sound and some without, that capture everything from the slow changes of light on a window sill to a man singing karaoke in a bar. The Curatorial Committee was impressed to see the variety of styles, themes and trends among this group of artists.

The Addison’s artist submission program provides an opportunity for artists to introduce their work to the museum. As you can see from the adjacent photo, my bin is nearly empty. Artists, start sending in your submissions! The next review is currently scheduled for sometime in July.
Click here for more information.

Friday, March 2, 2007

Preview our Upcoming Exhibitions

The artwork for the highly anticipated Addison venue of William Wegman-Funney/Strange is finally here. But it is not on the walls just yet. (see right) Soon, though, visitors will hear the sounds of drills and hammers coming from our second level as the show is installed by our able staff of Preparators, Registrars, and Curators.

While our current exhibitions are on view for a few more weeks, you can preview our Spring shows through their pages on our website:

William Wegman-Funney/Strange
April 7-July 31, 2007

An Impressionist Legacy:Lawrence's White Fund Paintings
April 27-July 31, 2007

Eye on the Collection:Landscape Impressions
April 27-July 31, 2007

The spring will also feature a selection of "greatest hits" from our collection that will soon be traveling to four different venues worldwide in our
Coming of Age: American Art,1850s to 1950s.

So please come soon to see our current shows before they close and come again to see our new round of shows starting in April!