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Posts Tagged ‘Montserrat College of Art’

Art: Caleb Cole
“The Teacher,” exhibited at a Montserrat College of Art show, is a portrait of unnoticed dedication.

Cate McQuaid’s recent Boston Globe review of an art exhibit really spoke to me. I liked the idea of portraits that have meaning beneath the surface, and I especially liked the portrait of a teacher devoting extra time to his job. Anyway, that’s what I saw here. McQuaid saw woe.

McQuaid wrote, “With portraits, the subject tries on one face, the artist may capture another, and the viewer may see something else. Your projection, my projection. It’s all dreadfully nebulous, but if it weren’t, it would be pat and dull.

“ ‘Observance: As I See You, You See Me,’ an exhibition of photographic portraits at Montserrat College of Art’s Montserrat Gallery, examines what these shifting valences tell us about identity and societal assumptions. Many of the artists and subjects, people of color or queer, have experienced the walls strangers throw up based on appearance alone. …

“Woe is a keynote in Caleb Cole’s series ‘Other People Clothes,’ elaborately staged scenes in which the artist creates fictional personae. Cole is small and balding, with a peak of red hair, like Tintin. In ‘February Is Dental Month,’ the artist, surrounded by file folders, looks down at us from behind a large desk. We can find a story here, but the expression tells more: alienation, tenderness, perhaps disdain.” More here.

As much as I like abstract art, representational art that stirs the depths can be fascinating.

My Struggle, by Karl Ove Knausgaard, does something like that. The seemingly endless minutiae of the author’s life and thoughts flow along the surface, but something compelling emerges that is hard to describe. The writing is cinematic. The author sees everything, and observing him observe everything creates a powerful connection.

Interestingly, in the part of My Struggle that I’m reading now, Book 5, Knausgaard gets a tip from a successful novelist about having the “hinterland,” or backstory, of all your characters in mind when you write fiction. As with the Cole portrait of the teacher, the observer will sense things that are not spelled out.

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Here’s a story about how a city counterintuitively addressed its graffiti problem by offering a place to do graffiti.

Jeremy Fox writes at the Boston Globe that the graffiti mural began as a response to the growing problem of offensive messages sprayed on a wall facing the train track. That wall, he reports, “has become a local institution with a national and even international following.

“In the process, this wall at the Clemenzi Industrial Park has also become one of just a few spaces in the region where graffiti is officially sanctioned, which may help protect nearby walls from unwanted images and messages.”

(Don’t you love words like “sanctioned,” which means one thing and also its opposite?)

“John Clemenzi, who manages the property that his family has owned for four decades, said that when he began allowing artists to paint on the building’s rear wall, Beverly was in the midst of ‘a horrible graffiti problem.’ But in recent years, he said, ‘I rarely if at all see any graffiti elsewhere in the city.’ …

“The change began about a dozen years ago, when two Montserrat College of Art students approached Clemenzi with a proposal to decorate the wall, which faces the tracks for the Newburyport/Rockport commuter rail line. …

“He agreed to let the young artists decorate a small section, 40 feet of what he estimates is a total length of about 800 feet.

“He set three ground rules: Clean up after yourselves, no offensive messages, and don’t paint on the building’s brick faces. The students agreed to follow those rules and to help police the area, and over time, the sanctioned graffiti grew to cover the wall.” Read the rest of the story here.

Photo: John Blanding/Globe Staff
Artists worked at the Clemenzi Industrial Park in Beverly. Since people began spraypainting the wall a decade ago, the drawing of graffiti has fallen elsewhere in the city.

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