Costantino Nivola, Italian Sculptor

Costantino Nivola 
(Exhibition at the Italian Cultural Institute, February 24-April 10, 2012)


If you are curious about Nivola, learn more at the Museo Nivola webpage or checkout this fun blog post at MONDOBLOG. Some of the murals shown in the post are located in Nivola’s farmhouse in the Hamptons. His family has inherited the farmhouse and they are currently in the process of restoring the beautiful home and preserving the works.


Curatorial Practice Week 5

Everybody has heard the saying, “there are too many cooks in the kitchen.” This week, I learned that there can be too many curators in the museum.  I am in a class of 18 students that are working together to create 1 exhibition with a very limited amount of space and a deadline of April 28th. Mission Extremely Difficult. The main problem is that until now, we have not been working together. Almost every one of us found an artist, convinced the artist to participate in the exhibition, and wrote a proposal. Go us! We are awesome!

We are awesome and we were feeling pretty good until….we were asked to climb down from the clouds and look at the facts. 1. We have a budget of $5000 (Yes, only $5000. Press materials, invitations, shipping, wall labels, etc. We have to make it happen with $5000). 2. We each get 15 feet of wall space. (If your artist creates massive murals then you better start negotiating with your classmates.) 3. Loan agreements must be finalized and signed in 3 weeks. And 4. A show with 18 different artists is not a show–it is a yard sale. What can we cut?

We all decided to stay after class and discuss our artists and our vision for the exhibition. Many of us (myself included) grew disappointed as we realized that we may not be able to exhibit our artist in the show, but we were able to create a plan of action. By next week, everyone will finalize an image list of their artist’s work and present a solidified budget for the cost of that portion of the exhibition.

The artist I am presenting is Ethan Murrow (I posted some of his work on February 2, 2012). His works look like black and white photographs, but they are actually intricate graphite drawings on paper.

I have attached two of Murrow’s works below. The first is from Murrow’s collection called, Zero Sum Pilot Series, which is about a man that is determined to fly but taking all of the wrong steps to get there. The other is from the collection, Doppler Doppleganger. The characters in this collection are on an endless quest to find their doppleganger. Wether or not Ethan is included in the show, I plan on getting to NY or Boston to see some of his amazing work.













Release point adjusted down to the 165th rotation














Day 4 of Curatorial Practice (Exhibit Critique 1)

Here we are-one month into class. Our assignment this week was to visit an exhibition at a gallery or a museum and write a short critique. During class, we all shared our experiences in various art institutions throughout DC.

My critique was on the Fears & Phobias exhibit at the Target Gallery in Alexandria, VA. Target Gallery is a small room in the left wing of the Torpedo Factory. It is hidden behind a spiral staircase ornamented with sculptures and paintings. The gallery’s Fears and Phobias exhibit features twenty-two different artists and a wide variety of mediums; graphite on paper, oil on linen, silver on gelatin, paper construction, clay sculpture, charcoal, etc. Target Gallery successfully incorporated a mixture of mediums and styles into the exhibit while maintaining the purpose of the show to “feature work that is introspective and personal as well as work that expresses larger issues in a social context” (gallery postcard)Sleep without Dreams by Casey Callendar and Wet Behind the Ears by Michelle Steen were two works that I found particularly striking. I was forced to stop and contemplate my emotional reaction to the works because both artists channeled some of my fears. As I watched visitors browse the gallery, it was evident that they were also drawn to certain works more than others. One woman lingered quietly near Flytrap by Ann Piper while another guest asked the gallerist if she knew more about the motivations of Laurel Garcia Colvin for her work, Pattern #2 The New American Toile series.  Fears and Phobias is a unique show because it functions under the umbrella of one theme, but each work is a show in itself that caters to a specific fearful viewer.  Visitors to the gallery may understand the show as a whole, but they will leave the room deeply impacted by a few works that really channel their own fears.

Unfortunately, the setup of the room is not conducive to the special individual experience of the viewer. First, the room is very small. The woman lingered by the  Flytrap was repeatedly asked to step forward or back to allow visitors to exit.  These interruptions hindered her experience with the work and the personal introspection that the show is meant to foster. Second, the lighting in the room is outdated track-lighting. Each work is illuminated with the same level of lighting which severely lessens the impact of some of the pieces. For example, Ayumi Tanaka’s archival pigment print called, Are You There?, needs gentle lighting to showcase the unique movement of the painting. Instead, the work was given the same lighting as the oil paintings and watercolor. Third, important details were overlooked such as labeling, framing and noise. The labels are small paper printouts taped to the wall. It is possible that the gallery budget does not allow for more professional wall labels, however the labels are not firmly adhered to the wall and not much attention is paid to font. Certain artists prefer less information about their piece, however, some of the titles are essential to the work and the labels serve as an important representation of the artist’s message. Frames also seem to be an afterthought. I would consider framing some of the works in a similar manner in order to unite the show. Lastly, the gallerist’s desk is located in the gallery. She was playing a video and discussing work with her colleague during my visit. The noise is distracting to the viewers and is another interruption to personal introspection.

While I would change many aspects of the show, I am impressed by the ability of the gallery to join twenty-two artists into a show that functions under a common theme that is provocative and thought-provoking. It is very difficult to define fears and phobias and rather than impose a definition on the viewer, the show successfully requests that the viewer create their own definition. The main curatorial lesson that I will take from my visit to Target Gallery is that a successful curator generates a conversation between the artist and the viewer which then sparks a conversation with oneself. As I left the gallery, I pondered my fears and their importance. My experience with the theme continued outside of the gallery doors.

Quick Update

I just realized I never posted any photos of the Costa Rican Art Exhibit. Here is a photo of the artist, Jose Pablo Morales Delgado, and his wife Mariana. I took most of my photos with the university camera but I may be able to add them at a later date. 


Day 3 of Curatorial Practice

I’ve been brainstorming syllabus titles for class #3 of curatorial practice. (I may propose them to Jack at the end of the semester for future class sessions.)

Here are three of my faves:

Week 3. The Reality Check

Week 3. Get overwhelmed! 


Week 3. Here is what you should have been doing during week 1 and 2 while you were admiring art and finding your creative identity. 

Are you starting to get a feel for how class went this week? Let’s just say that I didn’t leave the museum with the warm, fuzzy, feeling that I am used too. Instead I left with questions swarming in my head and a knot in my chest. How am I going to find an artist this fast? Who should I speak to–the artist or their gallery representative? What do I say when we don’t even have an exhibition theme? When am I ever going to find the time to write this proposal by next week? Visit a gallery this week?! When?

Then, I stepped down from this insane mountain that I had just climbed and started to breathe. (I know… for a second you were concerned that I spiraled into a full-fledged panic attack and began hyperventilating until I passed out on a random sidewalk in Northwest, DC. And all for the love of art.) I began thinking of how amazing and intricate the job of a curator really is. There is a laundry list of important details that must be considered in order for the viewer to have a seamless experience in the exhibit. It is pretty ironic actually, all of the chaos that must take place in order to create the calm and peaceful atmosphere of a museum  or gallery.

Today, I will not delve into all the minute details of curating (especially since I am still learning them all) but, I can offer some thoughts on catalogs that we discussed during class. Katzen is currently featuring works by Anil Revri, Raul Middleman, and Cristobal Gabarron. They are three very different exhibits and the extreme variation in the style, context, and theme of the catalogs emphasizes these differences.

Revri’s catalog focuses on the mental experiences with his exhibit. Many of my classmates agreed that the catalog was an essential educational tool and that it would benefit viewers to read the catalog before entering the exhibit. Meanwhile, Middleman’s catalog discusses the physical experience of both creating and viewing his paintings. The class saw Middleman’s catalog more as an addition to the exhibit and a keepsake rather than an essential educational tool. Gabbaron’s catalog is the simplest of the three, however the artist’s answers to interview questions offer true insight into the motivation behind his work which is to highlight human life and coexistence.

Jack interviews each artist and incorporates excerpts of these interviews into Katzen’s catalogs. In this way, he is able to add a personal touch to the exhibit and offer some credibility to the artist through anecdotes and facts tied into the interviews. Jack’s presence in the catalog brings it to life and demonstrates his investment in the artist.

Prior to this class, I viewed the catalog as an afterthought but now I see that it is a work of art in itself.

Quote of the Week

“After the show, the catalog is all that remains.” -Jack Rasmussen

This is a sculpture by Cristobal Gabarron.

Drawings by Ethan Murrow


Murrow’s faux photos depict events that never happened. “He creates these fantasies about explorations that have gone amok,” says Winston-Levitan.

“I’m influenced by Michel Fournier, the French balloonist who goes twenty-five miles up to the stratosphere and parachutes down,” says Murrow. Murrow spent almost $20 million on three failed attempts at the same. “I admire the spunk and hardheadedness it takes. I’m interested in the delicate balance between failure and success.”

-Tim Appelo, November 10, 2010: City Arts Magazine

Sled is responsive, soft landing in doubt

Will be snaring meteorites and see infinite possibility controlled

Go forth and make them buy it

Best way to protect your garden from goddam crows? Hire a marionette

Miscues, poor signaling and improper use of the target by Pierpont and Chanute
all doomed the landing