Monday, May 9, 2011

With cuts to the arts, what will we have lost? | Concord Monitor

Friday, March 11, 2011

Stops Along the Way- Paintings by Bob Larson

Bob Larson, formerly a Concord lawyer, has been painting for years and has long been a patron of the arts, curating exhibits at his former law firm Sulloway and Hollis in Concord as well as sitting on the board of the University of NH Art Museum.  My first introduction to him came through a mutual friend and stone artist, Chance Anderson of whom the two collaborated on several sculptural pieces depicting the plight of Earth's global warming crisis.  I'm hoping to make it to the opening tonight (March 11th) at McGowan Fine Art on Hills Ave. in Concord from 5-7pm.  Hope you can make it too.

Here's the announcement from the McGowan Fine Art blog:

McGowan Fine Art announces “Stops Along the Way” featuring the paintings of Bob Larsen. The show will run from March 1 through April 1, with an artist’s reception on March 11 from 5 to 7 PM. This show is a benefit for Canterbury Shaker Village and is free and open to the public.

Bob Larsen is a noted local artist and former lawyer. His work has been featured most recently at the Sharon Arts Center, but also at the Sulloway Gallery in Concord, NH and the Forbes Galleries in New York City. As a lawyer Bob was in charge of the art acquisition and exhibition program at Sulloway & Hollis Law Firm where he was able to give outlet to his creative side by curating. In the past 15 years his passion to paint crystallized into something more than a hobby. A four month sabbatical and the inevitable retirement gave him the large chunks of time needed to develop his artistic skills.

Larsen has been recognized in the past for capturing the iconic structures of the state: the Capitol Dome, the buildings of Canterbury Shaker Village. For this show he revisits many of these icons but puts a twist on them. He bridges past and present by incorporating the contemporary and historic landscape. In ‘Benning Wentworth House” he has included the shadowy silhouettes of the Naval Shipyard cranes towering over the dignified yellow mansion. In “Lempster Wind Farm” the Washington Town Hall steeple vies with the stately wind towers. Some of the other icons he depicts are Strawberry Banke, Canterbury Shaker Village, the Bridges House and Gould Hill Orchard in Concord and the Cog Railway.

Mr. Larsen’s paintings are readily recognizable by their strong shadows and frequent use of reflections in windows. Attention to detail is his hallmark. In “Ministry” his close up of an historic window in the Ministry Building of Canterbury Shaker Village depicts the distorted images of other buildings, distant landscape and the shadowy image of a bowl and ewer sitting on the sill- effectively rendering three different worlds. “These paintings take me quite a bit of time to work out” says Larsen. “They might take a month a piece and I am a ruthless cropper. The painting generally starts off quite a bit larger than the finished piece. As I finish up I start to distill it down to the final composition.”

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Measuring Up: New Hampshire Arts Education Data Project

This should be interesting, unfortunately I will be teaching at these times so I can't make it.  I'm looking forward to seeing the results though.  With all of the cuts school districts are making around the state, I'm sure the 'state of arts education' is going to continue to decline.  
P.S.  When I hear of the results, I will post them here.

Educators, Administrators, Artists, Arts Advocates, Parents, Students & Community Leaders:  
You are cordially invited to attend a rollout event for the release of Measuring Up: New Hampshire Arts Education Data Project Report. The report includes findings from the 2008-09 school-by-school arts survey plus recommendations and actions for strengthening arts education in our state. Two events, both free and open to the public, are planned:  
Wednesday, March 9, 3:00 p.m.                   Thursday, March 10, 2:30 p.m.
Currier Museum of Art                                  North Country Education Services 
150 Ash Street                                              300 Gorham Hill Road
Manchester, NH                                            Gorham, NH
RSVPs are appreciated. Please click here to view the e-vite and to reserve a seat at either the March 9 or 10th event:  For additional information about the project, visit the Measuring Upwebsite:  Videostreaming is available for the Gorham rollout; email us at if you would like instructions for viewing.
Bob Morrison, lead researcher for the project and founder of Quadrant Arts Education Research, will present at both events. Mr. Morrison is recognized for supporting arts education through his work at VH1 Save the Music and his leadership among states with their arts data collection projects.
Tomie dePaola, award-winning NH author and illustrator, will speak at the Manchester event.
New Hampshire Fiddler Patrick Ross and his apprentice Dalton Binette will play at the Gorham rollout.  
Thank you! We hope to see you next week.
Marcia McCaffrey, New Hampshire Department of Education
Catherine O'Brian, New Hampshire State Council on the Arts
Frumie Selchen, Arts Alliance of Northern New Hampshire
Please forward this invitation to other teachers, education leaders, parents, artists and arts advocates who are interested in this work.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

The Future of Art, an immediated autodocumentary

Great thoughts on the output of art in this information driven time.  What is the right tool for the job?  Do traditional arts fall by the wayside because of so many new tools?  Making art within a group?  How does one find a voice in the cacophony of voices already singing?  Great video.  Enjoy. -M

The Future of Art from KS12 on Vimeo.

The Future of Art
an immediated autodocumentary

What are the defining aesthetics of art in the networked era? How is mass collaboration changing notions of ownership in art? How does micropatronage change the way artists produce and distribute artwork? The Future of Art begins a conversation on these topics and invites your participation.

This video was shot, edited and screened at the Transmediale festival 2011 in Berlin, Germany.

Conceived and Edited by Gabriel Shalom
Produced by KS12 / Emergence Collective
Executive Producer: Patrizia Kommerell
Assistant Editor: Clare Molloy
Production Assistant: Annika Bauer

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

An artless redefinition of adequate -

CONCORD – It’s not every day you get a Grammy-nominated artist testifying against proposed legislation in the state capital. But when Goffstown singer-songwriter Judy Pancoast heard about a bill that would make music education optional in the state’s public schools, she wanted her voice to be heard.
Pancoast, nominated this year for her children’s album, told members of the House Education Committee on Tuesday that music was the only thing that saved her from a childhood filled with torment from other students because of her weight. Thanks to the support of a music teacher, she gained the confidence to sing a solo in the spring concert, sparking her career in music.
“To me, music was not just a core curriculum subject; it was the core curriculum subject,” Pancoast said.
Pancoast was one of dozens of education leaders, current and former teachers, and arts advocates who expressed fierce opposition to a local state representative’s proposal to strip subjects such as art, world languages and technology from the state’s definition of an adequate education.
About 150 people turned out for the Education Committee’s hearing on HB39, sponsored by Rep. Ralph Boehm, R-Litchfield. The crowd was so large that committee Chairman Rep. Michael Balboni had to move the hearing midway in, from a small meeting room in the Legislative Office Building to Representatives Hall in the Statehouse. Before it was moved to the larger room, people were sitting on the floor and a long line of those hoping to get in wrapped through the hallway.
The bill, filed earlier this month, would strike arts, world languages, health, technology education and information and communication technologies from the list of subjects defined as an adequate education by the state. That would leave English language arts, math, science, social studies and physical education as the only state-mandated subjects. The state established the current definition of an adequate education in 2008.
While recognizing the value of the subjects he proposes to remove, Boehm, vice chairman of the Education Committee, said the total cost goes beyond what the state is providing in funding. Keeping them in the definition would continue to force unfunded mandates upon local school districts, he said.
“The state pays $3,430 or so per student for a so-called adequate education. But we all know that the school districts’ cost per student is more than $10,000,” Boehm said. “It looks like this was another downshifting from the state.”
Boehm said his legislation intends to be more realistic about what the state is actually paying. If local taxpayers are going to pick up the tab for additional subjects, they should get to decide what is taught, he said.
In a conference call Tuesday, House Democratic Leader Terie Norelli blasted Boehm’s proposal. She argued an education without critical subjects such as art and world languages is anything but adequate. Removing them would downshift millions of dollars to local taxpayers and would undoubtedly send the education debate back to court, she said.
“This irresponsible legislation would tear at the fabric of what makes our education system the envy of other states in the nation,” Norelli said. “If these subject matters are not part of an adequate education, then the next generation and our generation will suffer greatly.”
At Tuesday’s hearing, speakers railed against the proposal, arguing that lifting the requirement to teach critical subjects would give local school boards the opportunity to remove them from the curriculum, putting students in those communities at a disadvantage. Boehm stayed to listen for part of the testimony, smiling while opponents spoke.
Representatives from many of the state’s education associations and organizations spoke out against the bill. Mark Joyce, executive director of the New Hampshire School Administrators Association, said while it’s clear the cost of teaching all subjects included in the definition exceeds the state’s contribution, simply eliminating them does not solve the problem.
“While we respect the notion of resisting unfunded mandates, we support the continued inclusion of art, music, technology and world languages as essential basics that compose the foundation of adequacy,” Joyce said.
Dean Mitchner, director of governmental affairs for the New Hampshire School Boards Association, also testified against the bill, as did Rick Trombley, director of public affairs for the New Hampshire National Education Association. Trombley pointed out that Republican leadership has recognized arts as an essential part of an education.
“The education of our future professionals begins somewhere, and that’s in the classroom,” Trombley said. “We run a tragic risk if the only thing we understand is the cost of some things, but the value of nothing.”
Maryanne Irish, president of the New Hampshire Music Educators Association, said while the legislation doesn’t prohibit schools from teaching the arts, removing them from the list of mandated subjects “would make the reduction of arts an easy and quick fix” for school boards looking for places to cut back.
“It makes education the scapegoat for a larger financial problem,” Irish said. “It is a wrong and disproportionate response.”
Applause broke out several times after speakers argued against the bill. Several times at the hearing, Balboni had to ask the audience to hold its applause.
Boehm’s bill would also require the Legislature to approve the state’s adoption of the Common Core Standards. Last year, the state Board of Education approved adopting the set of national standards in principle, but Boehm argues the board did not have the authority. Full implementation of the new standards is not expected for several years.
Kathleen Murphy, director of the division of instruction for the state Department of Education, said adopting the new standards would be in the best interest of New Hampshire students and teachers. Murphy said the department does not have a position about Boehm’s proposal on subjects included in an adequate education.
No action was taken by the committee Tuesday. Because of the financial implications about state funding of adequate education, the House needs an initial vote on the legislation by Feb. 17. That would mean the committee needs its recommendation by Feb. 10 at the latest. It would also need Senate approval, as well as the support of Gov. John Lynch.
Michael Brindley can be reached at 594-6426 or

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

New Hampshire native George Condo at New Museum, New York

Concord, New Hampshire native and UMass Lowell alum., George Condo is now showing at the New Museum in New York City in a solo exhibition titled Mental States.  Known for his portraiture of invented characters that often depict as he says, "composites of various psychological states painted in different ways."  
George Condo, “Jean Louis’ Mind,” 2005. Oil on canvas 45×38 inches. Courtesy of Luhring Augustine Gallery.
My first experience in seeing Condo's work was at a Pace/Wildenstein exhibit in January of 2000 when the gallery was still in SoHo.  The show was titled 'Jazz Paintings' and included large square formatted paintings of what seemed to me to be 'interpretations' of various musicians like Miles Davis, John Coltrane, and Jimi Hendrix to name a few.  At first approach, my impression was that it seemed an easy endeavor, but on second glance and in conceptualizing the notion of each artist's music, I saw and felt each of the paintings' lyrical qualities that encapsulated the music beautifully.  At the time I had fallen in love with Miles Davis' classic album Kind of Blue, listening to it and letting it ease our late night car rides back to New Hampshire from New York with my newborn son and wife quietly sleeping.  So I was keenly aware of the smooth sounds of Davis' trumpet of which Condo eloquently managed to capture. 
Kind of Blue album cover.

Cheers to a New Hampshire son for a bountiful career, painting with his heart on his sleeve.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Frank Stella, Irregular Polygons, Hood Museum of Art, Dartmouth College, Hanover, NH

Chocorua IV
Fluorescent alkyd and epoxy paints on canvas, 120 x 128 x 4 in.
Hood Museum of Art, Dartmouth College: Purchased through the Miriam and Sidney Stoneman Acquisition Fund, a gift from Judson and Carol Bemis, Class of 1976, and gifts from the Lathrop Fellows, in honor of Brian Kennedy, Director of the Hood Museum of Art, 2005-2010
© 2010 Frank Stella/ Artists Rights Socety (ARS), New York. Photo by Steven Sloman.

     In December, I visited Hanover to see the Frank Stella exhibit at the Hood.  The exhibition, Irregular Polygons, is a fantastic display of minimalist painting, or 'hard edge painting' at its finest and yet this internationally known artist's works, in this series, also has a unique connection to New Hampshire.  
     First, a little background.  Stella was born in 1936, raised in Malden, Massachusetts, a suburb of Boston, and attended Phillips Academy in Andover.  During his summers he would vacation in New Hampshire, with his father, a wealthy gynocologist,  climbing Mount Chocorua, or fishing in a favorite stream just east of Conway.  
     Stella attended Princeton University, graduating in 1958, hitting the New York art scene like a rocket.  He befriended Robert Rauschenberg and Jasper Johns, married art critic and then Columbia University student, Barbara Rose, and within a year was one of several artists featured at the Museum of Modern Art's exhibition, Sixteen Americans.  This exhibition is thought to have launched the Minimalist movement and really signaled the final blow to the end of Abstract Expressionism.  Stella's first acclaimed pieces were his 'Black Paintings', which once sold for 75 dollars per painting and now garner around 5 million.
     After his 'Black Paintings', Stella started experimenting in a number of different directions that echoed some of the work Rauschenberg was doing with his combines, but it wasn't until he started his shaped canvases, large fields of color and play with illusion that he really hit his stride.  The Hood's, 'Irregular Polygons' exhibition really documents his thinking during this time period (1965-66) in a wonderfully curated show of the series, of which have never before been seen all together.
     For us Granite Staters, this show is unique in that all of the titles in this series are of New Hampshire locations.  Chocorua, Conway, Effingham, Moutonboro, Ossipee to name just a few.  It was his first of the series, Chocorua that inspired him to title the rest of the series after locations he visited while vacationing as a child here.  It was the upright triangle emerging from the square below that made him think of the mountain in Albany.  
     This show could not have come closer to home for me on many levels.  Having painted abstract/non-objective pieces for a number of years, I have always appreciated Stella's work.  This series as well as his Moby Dick series I feel are his best.  So to see the breadth of the Irregular Polygons series all together in one location is a special treat for me and any viewer.  But I also feel, having admired many of the locations cited in his titles, especially Mount Chocorua (we used to meet my grandparents at White Lake State Park, where when sitting on the beach, one can see Mount Chocorua across the lake, a beautiful sight), that this work strikes another nerve in me.  
Ellis, my son, sitting in front of one of Stella's Moby Dick paintings at the Metropolitan Museum in NY.
     Formally, I find the paintings play with spacial illusion.  Harkening to a time of Hans Hoffman's notions of push and pull in the way some of the paint's brilliance is juxtaposed with darker or less intense colors, making those high chroma shapes emerge off of the canvas.  I also find these paintings have an object-like quality about them, as they are not rectangular windows into which the viewer finds illusionistic space but that the space is created by the shaped object/painting itself.  Also lending to its object-like quality is the massiveness of the paintings themselves, with a depth that borders 4-6 inches and height and widths around 120 inches.   
     If you find yourself in the Hanover area or want to make a day trip, I highly recommend heading to the Hood.  The exhibition is up until March 13.  You will not be disappointed.  While you're there check out my favorite burrito place, Gusanos Taqueria (this is not a paid advertisement, I just like the place), directly behind the museum.  However do not order the habinero sauce with the description that says, 'barely edible' thinking like I did, 'yeah, yeah, I've heard that before', as you will find yourself drinking more than your bladder can hold and sweating profusely from the intense heat the sauce holds.