Sunday, April 29, 2007

Alvin Ailey at the Wang Center

Once every year Alvin Ailey comes to Boston. I saw them many years ago with a friend who had danced semi-professionally. We were delighted with the children's matinee. We came up afterwards for the question and answer session with the performers. It was very exciting.

This afternoon's performance was equally good with a larger audience. They danced The River, The Golden Section, and Revelations, the latter is one of their signature pieces. Bostonians are always delighted with Revelations. The River was clever and beautifully executed. The Golden Section was very sexual and perhaps a little too forward for a Boston audience. Some people around me were obviously upset by it from what they were loudly saying. On the other hand the arts cannot always play it safe and make a statement at the same time. Choreographed in 1983 by Twyla Tharp, it reflected the post disco ethos of the time.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

The Rose Nichols House

After the prerequisite swan boat ride and stroll through the Public Gardens I walked up Beacon Hill. The Rose Standish Nichols House Museum on Mount Vernon Street is open for tours despite the fact that they are in the process of cataloging the collection and having some of the the items restored. The staff seem quite enthusiastic about their undertaking. The four rooms on display do look a little more spruced up then on my previous visits. It lacks the lived in look that many less well attended historic house museums acquire after decades of minimal attention. The Nichols House Museum must have deep pockets or a very large grant for this project. After numerous tours I always enjoy yet one more walk through this elegant and interesting woman's home.

Friday, April 20, 2007

An Excellent View of Boston

The Skywalk on the fiftieth floor of the Prudential Building usually costs $11, which is a little steep for a nice view. But today the price was discounted and there were some improvements since I had been there last. Parts of the now defunct Dreams of Freedom Museum were salvaged and installed up there. It was a Museum about immigration to Boston and the immigrant and ethnic groups that now make up Boston. It was a good idea, but not very popular when it opened. A free headset offered a corny guide to the City below. It is still a very fun activity to do once every few years on a sunny day. I wonder what it would be like to see a sunset from there.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

The New ICA on Easter

My sister came to visit for the holiday. After lunch we walked along the harbor, past Fan Pier, to the New Institute of Contemporary Art . A metal bunny by Jeff Coons was nice. Most of the art in the temporary collections was OK. The gallery with benches overlooking the harbor with huge glass windows was definitely the highlight. We could have sat there for hours and read magazines or written letters. It was peaceful and wonderful. The art in the permanent collection was pretty dreadful. When we left the Museum we asked for directions to the nearest public transportation but it seemed pretty confusing. So we jumped in a cab to get her flight on time. Nice to spend Easter with family.

Saturday, April 07, 2007

The Last Ruskinians at the Fogg Art Museum

This exhibition just opened to the general public this morning and I would highly recommend it. The watercolors were made in the second half of the 19th century and the early twentieth century. The artists in this exhibition, with the exception of one work by Turner, are not nearly as well known as Hopper, Sargent, and Homer, from the last watercolor exhibit at the Fogg . However, the very real looking works in this exhibit are highly aesthetically pleasing. John Ruskin, Herbert Moore, and Joseph Lydon Smith, have some wonderful depictions of nature, still lifes, as well as Italian and classical architecture.

A good museum should highlight the works of lesser known artists of merit as well as showing off the masters and those artists currently in vogue. Harvard's first professor of art history, Charles Eliot Norton, was a big fan of Ruskin's work and his followers. At a time when French art was becoming more daring, this was a more conservative school. Maybe history will be kinder to these artists than the 20th century was to them.

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Japanese Art in Providence

Following a friend's advice I took the train to Providence today to see the Japanese exhibits currently on view at the Rhode Island School of Design Museum . The Museum is free on Sunday mornings and I almost felt a little guilty having such a nice trip to Rhode Island without spending any money there. The special exhibition of sixty Japanese woodblock prints from the Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Collection was outstanding. Without a doubt worth a special trip. Feathers, Flowers, Talons, and Fangs: Power and Serenity in Japanese Nature Prints, on view through June 10th, is lush with large colorful flowers, birds, and some animals. Some of the great masters of the medium such as Katsuka Hokusai and Utagawa Hiroshige are represented in the collection on display.

Another room of woodblock prints had a case with the traditional materials for making the finished product. There were some interesting monochrome prints on the walls along with works that were more colorful. A third room had a ravishing display of embroidered silk kimonos and fabrics. With a final view of the nine feet tall wooden Buddha, my visit was complete.

A friendly guard told me that he had really come to like art very much after working at the Museum. He urged me to return in May when the several galleries will be refurbished and ready to view. Just as on my last visit to the Museum, the guards take great pride in their Museum. As I was leaving the man at the front desk said that Providence had a lot to offer as a tourist destination. In the last year I have had several nice day trips to the College Hill area of the City. I would be inclined to agree with him.