Saturday, July 30, 2016

Art in Kansas City

During a week long teacher workshop at Kansas City Art Institute, I had the opportunity to visit two art museums.
One was the Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art. This is a very small museum, made even smaller by the fact that two new exhibits were being installed. The building is gorgeous and shows the art well. An exhibit called Deconstructing Robert Mangold placed his work alongside his artistic peers and influences in a satisfying way. There was also a nice little collage exhibit.  The cafe is supposed to be one of the best restaurants in town, but it was not open when I was there, so I cannot confirm that, (nor have I eaten at many spots in town.)
Robert Mangold Print
A little deconstruction

The other museum is the Nelson Atkins Museum of Art. The locals are really proud of this museum, and I wasn't sure if I could be impressed but it turned out that I was. The museum comes across as a mini Metropolitan Museum of Art. It's got a little bit of everything.

 I was told the collections of Asian Art and Native American Art were exceptional. Since I live in Washington, I thought: we have entire museums devoted to these areas how great can their rooms be?
But I was impressed with the Asian Art rooms, they give the Sackler and the Freer a little friendly competition. In fact my favorite part of the museum was the collection of pet cricket accessories. 
Tiny cricket feeding bowls in front of cage and cage cleaning brush, cricket fighting ring is to the left.
Horse in the Temple Room

And the Native American section engaged me more than the confusingly displayed National Museum of the American Indian.

Other favorites were the Nick Cave (a local and a graduate of Kansas City Art Institute) work, and a show of snapshot photography. 
Funny double exposure snapshot
Nick Cave Property
detail Nick Cave
Yinka Shonibare with Anselm Kiefer in background
Love this George Ault

Go Kansas City!

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Miniatures and Dollhouses

The National Building Museum is exhibiting Small Stories: At Home in a Dollhouse. I was so excited about this exhibit because I have always loved miniatures. But I found the exhibit a little less thrilling than I had expected. One problem being the confusing way the audio worked, but I figured that out eventually.

I did learn some new things though: dollhouse miniatures began as a fad in the 17th century similar to cabinets of curiosities that were meant recreate actual homes in a small scale. They were also used as a tool for young women to learn how to manage a household. They were the only kinds of properties most women could own. Gradually over time, they evolved into playhouses for children. Last year I enjoyed reading The Miniaturist by Essie Burton which tells a mysterious story of a woman and her cabinet that recreates her home in miniature.
The exhibit features many old Dollhouses, but what disappointed  me was the strange scale of the oldest houses, for instance a giant copper pot on a small table. Also the dolls all looked awkward and wrong in their spaces (when do they not?)
Downstairs in the manor house
My favorites were the ones from the early 20th century, which had managed to get the scale under control but were old enough to be charming.

My favorite part of the exhibit were the contemporary rooms made by mostly local artists.
This clever one by Bridgett Sue Lambert depicting a camera trained on a mini dollhouse and giant printer printing out stills of the dollhouse and framed prints stacked against the walls. It also had a basement. I would not mind going back and studying this one some more.
I also loved this one called the Exile of Prospero by L. Delaney.

The contemporary pieces really made the show for me.