Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Erie Art Museum Gallery Reviews

Erie Art Museum "the Weavings of War" wrapped up earlier this week.
I saw it on Sunday and was dramatically underwhelmed. The stoires themselves were horrible - but the weavings were really sub-par - overall the sort of stuff you can buy on ebay. Yes, the stories of these women are heartbreaking, but I'm not sure that great art and pathos mix very often.

I think the curator's heart was in the right place, but there needed to be more contextuality and a smaller scope - maybe just focusing on the South American pieces. The Afghan and Middle Eastern pieces seemed tacked on, there only to correspond to current American interests and, becuase they were also the weakest pieces artisically, served just to drag the whole show down. Maybe the strangest part of all was the attempt to work male performance artist Lynn Manning into the exhbit. The press release claims that Manning, the former Blind Judo Champion of the World, "exemplifies this same process [as the weavers] on an individual level." Huh?

On the other hand, "Fables, Foibles, and Fairy Tales" by Susan Read Cronin -- Ground Floor Gallery through Oct 30th --
was entirely charming.
From the well designed introductory text (available as a zine-like publication) to the process of lost wax casting to the cluttered playroom layout of the exbihit itself, this was the best show I've seen at the EAM in years. Cronin's work like "Boing!" (pictured above) skewers stuffy notions about art with its kinetic energy, sense of whimsy, and overall fun. The lost wax prcoess leaves a rough hewn surface to these pieces which also carry a slight patina to them giving them the feel of something totally handmade, no smoothness here, no machined parts.

When my wife and I walked into the gallery and saw "Boing!" the first piece, I started talking about the statment on the American economy it was making, bulls versus bears and so on. My wife waited until I was done and then said, "Or maybe it's just supposed to be cute." It's that sort of show. If you're a stuffy intellectual nerd guy you can project your own biases on the art. But if you're someone who just enjoys life, you can go in and enjoy the show for what it is. Highly recommended, highly kid friendly, this show alone is worth the price of admission. Now if I can just come up with a couple spare thousands to buy "Boing!" or "To The Rescue!" (pictured below)

Looking ahead:

McKeever's 3rd Annual Nature Art Show runs rom Septmeber 23-25. The seven gallereis are located in North, Sourh and West Lodges, the Sandy Creek Conservance conference room and the three infoor areas inside the Dscovery Building. The show runs from Friday 6-9 pm, Saturday 1 pm -6 pm and Sunday noone-4 pm. Admission is free and open to the public.

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