Though summer is on the wane, a constellation of shows that began to emit from Skidmore College's Tang Teaching Museum in the spring will continue well into the fall, and so could nicely serve as a buffer to the inevitable end of our warmest season.
All Together Now is a wonderfully conceived project in which Tang curators, other art venues' curators, and Skidmore students collaborated to bring elements from the Tang's collection into other spaces, where they interact with related works from those museums' collections. It's my impression that this concept was birthed by the COVID-caused closure of the Tang to non-Skidmore viewers for more than a year (it reopened to the public on July 10th), and a desire to bring some of its holdings into the community during this shutdown. It also fostered some cool collaborations, and fed fuel to the fire of those students' educations, which is a core mission of the Tang.
The resulting eight exhibitions, six of which are still on view, cover a lot of ground, from sculptural wooden hat forms, to 19th-century photographs, to contemporary abstract paintings. Among the collaborating institutions are The Hyde Collection in Glens Falls, Yaddo and The National Museum of Racing in Saratoga Springs, and the former Brookside Museum (now the Saratoga County History Center) in Ballston Spa. Two of the shows have closed - one at Saratoga Arts and one at the Tang; and two are not easily accessible - at Yaddo and the Saratoga Performing Arts Center; so I recently visited the four that remain, including one at the Tang that opened on July 10 (the prior one closed in June).
|From left, works by Augustus Thompson, Bridget Riley,|
Richmond Burton, and Man Ray are grouped in
Summer Bomb Pop
all Hyde photos by Arthur Evans
Summer Bomb Pop: Collections in Dialogue is rich in significant stand-alone works, or in tasty juxtapositions if you choose to view it that way, with a smattering of explanatory labels that delve into the history of some of the works and artists on view. Most of the labels are student efforts, but several are by prominent art critic Dan Cameron, and add worthwhile insights.
The show's title (taken from a 2008 painting by Chuck Webster that leads the installation) is a clear message that this should be fun - and it delivers. I was surprised after immersing myself in what seemed to be a great big show, that there are only 26 works in it, but many are both large and complex, and they powerfully command the spacious gallery with scarcely a false note.
|Sarah Braman - Fall Friend|
What struck me most about this show is that so many young artists today are continuing and expanding on the Modernist traditions of abstraction, even as postmodern art has long since dived into a maelstrom of other modes of expression, including video, performance, environmental art, and all manner of identity politics, along with anything else you can imagine. I had no idea minimalism and abstraction were still so alive and well, and I am delighted to find that they are, and playing so nicely at the Hyde with their estimable forebears.
|Four Greens, Upper Manhattan Bay, 1957|
|Front Street, 1978|
All but a handful of the works on display retain the diminutive scale of a standard postcard (typically 3 1/2 by 5 1/2 inches), and most combine very few elements to create a powerful transformation of the mundane into the - dare I say? - transcendent. One is particularly struck by how precisely Kelly has again and again fitted two disparate elements into a cohesive whole. Simple? You try it!
|Images des Antilles (Stephanie de Monaco) 1984|
Walking through the Postcards show, I tried to imagine old Ellsworth toiling away at a little desk upstairs while everyone else was at the beach or drinking by the pool. He was a very soft-spoken guy (we met once, briefly), and modest, despite his wealth and success; these tiny creations mirror that personality.
I went away elated, and deeply impressed at Kelly's persistence. I will be going back to this one.
Working our way south, we next stopped in Saratoga Springs at the National Museum of Racing, a very expensively built and beautifully managed operation I'd never before visited (sorry, but my interest in horse racing is basically zero). We were there to view a small but significant installation of Eadweard Muybridge's photographs of animals in motion, part of the Jack Shear collection at the Tang, which were paired with three of the Museum of Racing's horse paintings by Henry Stull.
|Four photo sequences by Eadweard Muybridge are shown|
with a painting by Henry Stull at the Museum of Racing
The concise installation at the Museum of Racing, entitled Muybridge and Motion, perfectly illustrates the impact of this revelation by showing a Stull painting from before 1870, in which a race horse is depicted with its four hooves extended, and two Stull paintings from after 1870, where the horses are depicted correctly with their hooves gathered underneath. All three paintings are prime examples of such art, and enjoyable to examine. While the Muybridge photographs on view do not include his original experiment, they do include a similar sequence, a nice smattering of other horse studies, a nifty sequence of fallow deer on the run, and a couple of grids that show the motion of common birds in flight (a pigeon and a red-tailed hawk).
|A wooden hat form|
made in New York City
A nice printed booklet accompanies the show, which is entitled The Social Lives of Hats, providing solid descriptions and well-founded historical notes, all of them researched and written by Skidmore students. I must comment on the hat forms as really cool objects, works of art in themselves, even if by accident. But I may be biased, as I happen to possess a couple of similar wooden forms my uncle rescued from the streets of Manhattan decades ago.
The shows I've reviewed remain open through the following dates (more details are here):