I recently had the opportunity to represent the Milwaukee Art Museum at the Fine Furnishings & Fine Craft Show held at The Garage at the Harley-Davidson Museum. First of all—what a great venue! If you haven’t yet been to the Harley-Davidson Museum, the cool industrial architecture is definitely worth checking out. Also, the Show was a perfectly timed experience for me, with the European Design Since 1985: Shaping the New Century exhibition open at the same time at the Milwaukee Art Museum. Our exhibition explores notions of design as either primarily for function, or for a more conceptual idea. I was able to see more examples of how craft and design intersect at the Fine Furnishings Show. Apart from one prototype plastic chair, the objects there demonstrate a beautiful melding of function and handcrafted one-of-kind design.
In my high school art history class, my teacher, having covered with reverence the high-contrast drama of the Baroque, flipped the slide machine to show Jean-Honoré Fragonard’s The Swing and paused, glaring at the slide in the darkened room. Then she pronounced: “The Rococo. I loathe the Rococo! The Rococo is art history’s porn!”
Since I started working (almost two years ago!) on the exhibition European Design Since 1985: Shaping the New Century, I’ve been on a personal scavenger hunt. I want to gather as many of the featured designs “in the wild” as possible. Sure, these fabulous contemporary designs are easy to spot in museums or galleries, but my goal is to find them in hotel lobbies and friends’ apartments.
It is a busy week at the Museum, with two exhibitions opening and one closing, plus free admission on Thursday, October 7. The time to visit is now!
On Thursday, September 30, experience the opening of the newest on site installation by featured artist Chakaia Booker. Manhattan-based Booker uses cut tires to create relief, free standing, pedestal, and outdoor sculpture. Over a dozen works will be on display in Baumgartner Galleria through February, 2011, for On Site: Chakaia Booker.
Did you ever wonder what goes into producing Museum audio guides? I imagined that it involved a script, some research and a microphone, but I had no idea what the technical side looked like. I didn’t know if we recorded this at the Museum, or how everyone manages to sound so clear and polished. Now I know the answer to both.
The thing I find particularly thrilling about the American Quilts Exhibition Store is that because quilts are such a living medium, a part of everyday lives, they often inspire very personal dialogues as visitors pass into the exhibition store. Every day we meet visitors who are eager to share their sewing stories—they admire the works in the exhibition in a profound way because of a shared experience with those artists. We learn about still-vibrant family traditions of sewing, memories of people’s mothers hand-stitching their clothing when they were children, the various techniques seamstresses develop over time, and the agony and the ecstasy of piecing those wee slippery scraps of fine fabric together.