NEWS RELEASE — Brattleboro Museum & Art Center
June 19, 2013
Pete Biolsi, Mondo Mediaworks
Four New Exhibits Open June 29 at Brattleboro Museum & Art Center
Includes first Red Grooms exhibit in New England in 17 years, first ever in Vermont
BRATTLEBORO, VT — Pop artist Red Grooms has been making a ruckus in the art world for six decades, but his work has not been shown in New England for 17 years, and he has never had a solo show in Vermont. That will change on June 29, when the Brattleboro Museum & Art Center (BMAC) opens “Red Grooms: What’s the Ruckus,” a major new exhibit spanning the artist’s long career and featuring several of his signature, large-scale, interactive sculptures, including a near life-size replica of a New York City bus, replete with a driver and passengers.
Opening alongside the Grooms exhibit are “Dynamic Invention: American Abstract Artists at 75,” a portfolio of 48 digital prints by members of the longstanding abstract artists’ organization; “Between Dark and Night: New Pastels by Mallory Lake,” featuring lush, film noir-inspired work by the Brattleboro-based artist; and “Collective Memories of Place,” a site-specific outdoor installation by Terry Slade. All four new exhibits will remain on view through October 20.
Red Grooms exhibit is most expensive in BMAC history, includes rare early work and large sculptures.
Known for his humorous, often cartoonish style, Red Grooms first made a splash in the art world in 1959, when he and other young, aspiring artists staged a series of “Happenings,” wild, anarchic events blending improvisatory performance and studio art. In the decades since, Grooms has delved into an astonishing array of artistic media, including film, printmaking, sculpture, and painting. He has even created a signature medium he calls “sculpto-pictoramas,” something akin to relief paintings, often with moving parts. Grooms’ fascination with performance, spectacle, and the hustle-and-bustle of daily life is evident in the BMAC exhibit, which primarily explores three themes in the artist’s work — the circus, the city, and the art world.
Visitors to “Red Grooms: What’s the Ruckus?” will first encounter the artist’s life-size “Hot Dog Vendor” outside the museum’s front entrance. Upon entering the museum, they will see the 10-foot-tall “Jumbo the Elephant” and have an opportunity to board “The Bus,” a 1995 mixed-media creation that has only traveled outside New York once before. Accompanying these large-scale works are nearly 30 other pieces created between 1950 and 2012, including portraits of the artists Picasso, Renoir, Morandi, Rauschenberg, and Louise Nevelson, among others, as well as Grooms’ 1968 film “Tappy Toes” and several early works on loan to BMAC from a private collector, which have never been exhibited before.
According to BMAC Director Danny Lichtenfeld, “Red Grooms: What’s the Ruckus” is the most expensive exhibit ever assembled by the museum. “At a certain point in the planning, it became clear that both Red and the gallery that represents him, New York’s Marlborough Gallery, were willing to help us mount a truly significant exhibit of this important artist’s work, which would not have been complete without several of the very large sculptures.” Getting those sculptures out of storage, up to Brattleboro, and installed at the museum is a costly proposition, said Lichtenfeld. “But it’s worth it,” he added, “because people are going to love them.”
Three other new exhibits span the stylistic gamut, from pure abstraction to film-noir inspired pastels.
Offering visual contrast to the richly detailed, figurative work of Red Grooms, the museum’s Center Gallery will contain “Dynamic Invention: American Abstract Artists at 75,” 48 digital prints, each by a different artist, created as a portfolio to mark the 75th anniversary of American Abstract Artists (AAA), an artist-run organization founded in 1936 in New York City to promote and foster understanding of abstract and non-objective art. The exhibit is accompanied by an essay written by AAA member, artist, curator, critic, and teacher Robert Storr, Dean of the Yale School of Art and former Director of the Venice Biennale.
Tucked into the museum’s intimate South Gallery is “Between Dark and Night: New Pastels by Mallory Lake,” 12 masterful works created by the Brattleboro-based artist over the past year and a half. Steam trains, foggy nights, and the golden glow of monumental Beaux-Arts interiors inhabit this evocative and mysterious new work based on movie stills from film noir classics.
Outside the museum, Terry Slade’s “Collective Memories of Place,” a site-specific installation inspired by the museum’s history as Brattleboro’s train station, is “intended to stimulate conversation about our relationship with our surroundings and the impact human existence has on the planet,” according to the artist. In the museum’s Ticket Gallery, BMAC’s education curator, Susan Calabria, has created a hands-on, interactive exploration of color, encouraging visitors to reconsider their perception of color and its associations with language, food, and art history.
Full schedule of related events includes Red Grooms gallery talk, film screenings, and more.
Opening to BMAC members on Saturday, June 29 at 5:30 p.m. and to the general public the following day at 11 a.m., the new exhibits will remain on view through Sunday, October 20. During that time, BMAC will present a number of related events, including a public conversation between Red Grooms and artist Stephen Hannock; guided exhibit tours by BMAC’s chief curator, Mara Williams; screenings of the film-noir classics “The Hitch-Hiker” and “Detour”; a lecture on pop art by Susan Powers of the Hood Museum; and much more. For information on these and other events planned for the coming months, visit www.brattleboromuseum.org/calendar.
About Brattleboro Museum & Art Center
Founded in 1972, the Brattleboro Museum & Art Center presents rotating exhibits of contemporary art, complemented by lectures, artist talks, film screenings, and other public programs. The museum’s exhibits and gift shop are open Sunday, Monday, Wednesday, Thursday: 11-5; Friday: 11-7; Saturday: 10-5. Regular admission is $8 for adults, $6 for seniors, and $4 for students. Members and children under 6 are admitted free of charge. Located in historic Union Station in downtown Brattleboro, at the intersection of Main Street and Routes 119 and 142, the museum is wheelchair accessible. For more information call 802-257-0124 or visit www.brattleboromuseum.org.
Major support for BMAC is provided by its members and Entergy Vermont Yankee, Foard Panel, C&S Wholesale Grocers, Sam’s Outdoor Outfitters, People’s United Bank, Brattleboro Ford Subaru, and Whetstone Station Restaurant & Brewery.