Monday, July 30, 2007

Tomorrow's Ends and Beginnings

Tomorrow is the final day to see our Spring 2007 exhibitions here at the Addison, including the wildly popular William Wegman: Funney/Strange (see left) and An Impressionist Legacy: Lawrence's White Fund Paintings. We're very sad to see these shows close as they have become favorites among our record number of visitors.

Tomorrow is also the final day of our Education Fellow and blog poster Rebecca Spolarich. Though her two year Addison fellowship is ending, she'll be starting a new job in Paris, France. We all wish her the best of luck in her future endeavors!

And late tomorrow, we'll be launching a freshened front page for our website. It contains links to our fall shows and a spot for a link to Building for the Addison's Future, a major project on the museum's horizon that will soon be announced to the public. This follows the newly redesigned Education Module on our site (see right) launched last week and designed by Rebecca as one her last gifts to us before her departure. A multitude of new pages outline the various aspects of our Education program. Click here to view it.

We will be taking a break from posting to the Blog during the month of August while we're closed and busy installing the new shows. But, I promise, we'll be back posting again when we reopen September 4th. Take care and have a great summer!

James Sousa
Associate Registrar for Collections and Archives

Monday, July 23, 2007

What to see while we're closed...

Though the Addison closes its doors during the month of August, one will be left open at a different address - the Essex Art Center in Lawrence, MA.

To celebrate the artwork and writing created by the hundreds of students who visit the Addison throughout the school year, the Education Department has organized Student Photography Alphabets - an exhibition of student photography - on view through August 17 at the Essex Art Center.

Student Photography Alphabets brings together selections from sixteen Photography & Writing projects prompted by the Addison's fall 2006 exhibition, WendyEwald: American Alphabets. Responding to Ewald's work which questions the link between language, education, and identity, students created painted photographs, alphabet books, and DVDs which mimic the format of the familiar alphabet primer. Sixteen alphabet projects created by K-12 students in schools as close as Andover and Lawrence and as far away as Mumbai, India are on interactive display in the Essex Art Center's Student Gallery. Visit for visitor information.

Contemporary photographer Wendy Ewald's collaborative work with children and young adults across the United States has inspired numerous projects organized through the Addison's Photography & Writing Program - a program directed by the Education Department which works to develop students' visual literacy skills through picture-making and creative writing. Learn more about this program by clicking on EDUCATION on the Addison's website.

Top left: Q is for Quieted, A 20th Century Alphabet, Pike School, Andover.
Above: M is for Martin Luther King, Jr., A 1st Grade Alphabet, Robert Frost School, Lawrence.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Only Two Weeks Left!

There are only two more weeks left before William Wegman: Funney/Strange closes here at the Addison. Plans are in place to start packing the show soon after it closes July 31st while transport via a climate-controlled, tractor-trailer truck has been arranged to bring the show's thirty-six hefty crates to its next and final venue: the Wexner Center for the Arts in Columbus, Ohio.

Last week, representatives from the Wexner visited the Addison to have a look at the installation here. They took copious notes as they met with Allison Kemmerer, the Addison's curator in charge of the show, and bounced ideas off each other regarding the layout of the artwork and the positions of the walls in their exhibition space. Their Registrar and I compared notes on the challenges associated with moving and unpacking the show's large crates and installing some of its more complex pieces, such as the large, four-paneled postcard painting Tilted Chair (see above in the Brooklyn venue, below in the Addison venue).

I have my own travel arrangements set for early September to fly out and oversee the unpacking and condition reporting of the show in Ohio. It will be the fifth installation I've seen of Wegman and I'm looking forward to see how it will fit into the Wexner's space. It's always interesting to see artwork installed in different places. It was great fun this weekend when I saw our three Hoppers proudly hung outside the Addison's walls at the MFA, Boston in their Edward Hopper exhibition.

So be sure to visit William Wegman: Funney/Strange before it closes here July 31st. Otherwise, you'll need to see it at the Wexner when it opens there September 20th.

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On a related note, Boston Globe subscribers may have noticed the interview with William Wegman in Sunday's Globe Magazine about his new murals in the service plazas on the Maine Turnpike. You can see the full article here.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Behind Closed Doors

Summers typically mean vacation, especially for the students at Phillips Academy. However, summertime is one of the busiest seasons for the Addison staff. When the museum closes for the month of August, we're still busy working inside offices and storage areas that are behind closed doors and off limits to our visitors. This summer the Addison is fortunate to have a special guest working among us. We invited artist Dawoud Bey to curate one of the five galleries in the upcoming exhibition The Discerning Eye: Five Perspectives on the Addison Collection.

Yesterday Dawoud began his two week residency at the Addison, where he will be working in storage rummaging through our photography collection. Dawoud, curator Allison Kemmerer, Director of Education Julie Bernson and I spent the day discussing his goals for his residency and the idea about his exhibition. Dawoud will be investigating various portraits in the Addison's collection and the role between the sitter and photographer in different settings. However, my brief generalization about the artist's concept is a mere regurgitation of Dawoud's current idea, but things may change as he continues to look, investigate and select photographs for the exhibition. With that being said, Dawoud will be writing an explanatory text for his show that will be more insightful and interesting, especially once you see the art and read the artist's statement alongside each other.

Until then, no more spoilers about his exhibition, but it promises to be an innovative one!

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Inventory's Hidden Treasures

Collections inventory is an important part of the work we do here. We need to track the locations of the 16,067 objects in our permanent collection. This is not an easy task given how often our exhibitions change, how many objects we send out on loan, and how often our collection is used in-house for study. Inventory not only keeps us on top of where everything is, but it gives us the opportunity to rediscover treasures in our storage areas that rarely see the lights of the exhibition galleries.

Recently, I came across our Larry Stark print collection (see right)while resolving some outstanding inventory issues. Research into our archives indicated that Mr. Stark and former Addison Director Chris Cook made an agreement years ago that the Addison would be the repository of one copy of every print he made. We now have almost 400 prints by the artist.

We recently made a similar agreement with Carroll Dunham, a Phillips Academy alumnus of 1967, who, just a few months ago, gifted us one of every print he made, totaling over 200 pieces in all. We are organizing a traveling show of his work next year.

We are also the repository of the George Tooker archive (see left) which came to us in 1996 and contains nearly 200 studies and drawings by the artist, also a Phillips alumnus, of 1938. Representatives from the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts and the National Academy Museum and School of Fine Arts were here recently to select objects for a George Tooker exhibition they'll be organizing next year.

As they were studying the Tookers, they asked me which little-known, hidden treasure in the Addison's vaults is my favorite. I chuckled, saying, "I couldn't possibly choose just one object!" There are too many objects and I'm discovering new favorites with each and every inventory. Who knows what the next one will bring to light?

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On a slightly related note, today Margaret Leahy, our Assistant Registrar and Development Associate, finished her two year project scanning over 12,000 slides of our collection from our archives. This now allows us to post digital images of over 80% of our objects online. Congratulations are in order for a job well done!