Friday, July 13, 2007

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Dennis Oppenheim :: Engagement, 1998

Rolled and painted steel pipe, steel grating, electric lights, acrylic, concrete foundation
Dimensions: 30’ x 30’ x 30’
Location: North end of parking lot at the front of the NMA building
Acquisition: Through a generous challenge grant from the City of Reno Arts and Culture Commission

Engagement is comprised of two steel “wedding rings” that tilt away from each other. Atop the rings, in place of gems, are two steeple-roofed houses made of steel and acrylic and illuminated from within. The sculpture is a monument to the institution of marriage and ties directly to Reno’s history of quick marriage and easy divorce. Engagement was first installed on a traffic island at Broadway and 23rd Street in New York City in 1998 as part of a public sculpture project. Next it traveled to Monaco for the Monte Carlo International Sculpture Festival in July of 2000. After that it reached Reno and was temporarily placed at McKinley Arts and Culture Center until its permanent installation in front of the new NMA in 2003. The NMA’s Engagement is one of three versions that Oppenheim created; the others are in Palm Beach, Florida, and Leoben, Austria.

About Engagement, Oppenheim states, “By turning the traditional diamond into a dwelling, this work places the dynamics of union between two people and their life in the air, in a precarious balance…these homes are ready to slip, lean away from each other, or fall to the earth.” Additionally, Reno bears a personal significance to Oppenheim as he was once married here.

Note prepared by Kathleen Durham and Lois Smalley.

Robert Wysocki :: Nevadan, 2002

16g steel, polyethylene, cast aluminum, silicone, electro-statically applied polyester resin, vinyl
Location: Fourth floor foyer
Collection Nevada Museum of Art, purchased by VIA.

The stimulus for Wysocki’s Tonka toys is the memory of his childhood and the magic that these objects held for him as a boy. He continues to be fascinated by their bright colors, clean lines, and functionality. Tonka created real working vehicles and miniaturized them in great detail, perfectly in scale for small children to play with. Wysocki has enlarged the toys to a super-sized scale, creating the trucks and trailers in proportion to adults and adult fantasy. As sculpture, his jumbo toys include the Nevadan, a long three-trailer gravel truck, the Chi Town Hustler, and the Summer of ’75 Winnebago model. At this scale the pieces are not big enough to be “real” objects, though they simulate actual tractors, trucks and trailers. Indeed the veracity of the pieces invites one to want to get in and play, to drive the vehicles and put them to use. Wysocki is a meticulous craftsman and has fabricated these trucks with precision and intricate detail corresponding to the careful craftsmanship of the original toys.
Robert Wysocki grew up in Southern California and received his BA in architecture from the University of California, Berkeley. He obtained his MFA from Yale University
in sculpture and spent two years studying mathematics and physics at California State University, Chico.
For the past four years, Wysocki has been an Assistant Professor of 3-D and Conceptual Arts at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.

Source: Nevada Triennial, Catalog published by Nevada Museum of Art 2005, Diane Deming, ed.

Michael Todd :: Small Enso, III, 1984

Patinated bronze
Gift of Kathryn Todd
Location: Donald W. Reynolds Grand Hall (in the Atrium near the elevator)

Enso: the circle in Zen brush painting that represents the complexities of the universe. Michael Todd began sculpting with small circles (enso), and large circles (daimaru) in 1970. In an exhibition interview at California State University, San Bernadino, he explained that “form seems to flow more naturally and freely in the circle, yet it provides restraints and discipline.” His process involves the use of found metal as well as “spills,” which are random shapes formed when molten metal is thrown on a flat surface. He experiments with all forms of patination, often pouring acid on bronze while it is still warm to create a variety of warm colors. He claims that “I have always felt like a painter at heart, and my sculpture is certainly more painterly, that is, more gestural and lyrical, than most sculptors. I have been painting on canvas occasionally over the years, and the paintings have always helped me to loosen up the sculpture.” He prefers to have his work shown against a white background, preferably in a quiet place.
Todd received a B.A. from Notre Dame and an M.A. from UCLA. He was the recipient of Woodrow Wilson and Fulbright Fellowships. He has taught at UCLA, UCI, UCSD and California Institute of the Arts. His work is in the Whitney, the Hirshhorn, the Norton Simon and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.

Note prepared by Kathleen Durham and Lois Smalley.

Bryant Baker :: The Pioneer Woman, 1927

Bronze, 17 ¼"
Location: E.L. Wiegand Gallery

Bryant Baker was born in England in 1881. He was the supervisor of sculpting at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London until 1913 when he emigrated to the United States. He spent the war years in the U.S. Army, manufacturing sculptural prosthetics and casts for wounded soldiers. He became a U.S. citizen and lived in New York City until his death in 1970.
The small bronze Pioneer Woman in the E.L. Wiegand collection was a model for a competition. Twelve artists were asked by Oklahoma oilman E.W. Marland to sculpt their versions of a pioneer woman. The sculptures were sent on a tour of the U.S., with a public vote at each of their stops. Eventually 750,000 people cast votes. Baker’s sculpture was the favorite, and a seventeen-foot bronze version of the Wiegand maquette, mounted on a thirteen foot limestone pyramid, was unveiled in 1930 in Ponca City, Oklahoma. The unveiling was a grand occasion, with Will Rogers acting as emcee. Forty thousand people attended. After Baker’s death the Ponca City bought the contents of his studio and installed them in the Marland Mansion Museum.
Note prepared by Kathleen Durham and Lois Smalley.

Sunday, July 8, 2007

Deborah Butterfield Explains Philosophy Behind Prone Horses

In this short video taken during the docent walkthrough of her exhibition on June 15, 2007, sculptor Deborah Butterfield reflects upon some of the philosophical and artistic elements contributing to her decisions to create sculptures of horses lying prone on the floor or ground.

Deborah Butterfield Docent Walkthrough Introduction

This five-minute-long video captures Deborah Butterfield as she introduces Nevada Museum of Art docents to her work and some key concepts about it during the artist-led walkthrough of the exhibition on June 15, 2007.

Friday, July 6, 2007

Celeste Roberge :: Cairn, 1998

Anodized steel, hand-selected river rock from the Truckee River
Dimensions: 54” x 58” x 40”
Location: Front Entrance to the NMA
Acquisition: Courtesy of the Artist and Funded by the City of Reno and the Nevada Museum of Art Volunteers In Art

Cairn, the most enduring of all the NMA sculptures, is popular with all age groups. It has greeted visitors to both the old and the new museum for many years. It is unique in that it is a “site specific” sculpture, created just for the NMA in 1998 by artist Celeste Roberge. The word cairn means “mound of stones erected to mark a site.” Roberge creates welded steel figures and fills them with various geologic materials gathered from the site local to where the sculpture is installed. Cairn represents a continuation of a series of rock figures that Roberge has been creating since the 1980s. Some are standing, some rising, and some walking. Her other cairns are rock-filled steel frameworks in the shape of globes and columns, and quarried rocks arranged as benches and outdoor “living room furniture.”

In 1999, the NMA presented an exhibit titled “From Exploration to Conservation: Picturing the Sierra Nevada” in which Roberge created a video installation commissioned by the museum that featured a tent and rocks in a stream of endlessly flowing water. Titled “Mountains and Rivers Without End,” it was a rocky streambed with a simulated “flow” of gurgling water.

Celeste Roberge (b. 1951) is an Associate Professor of Art and Sculpture Area Coordinator at the University of Florida in Gainesville. Her works are in numerous public and private collections across the U. S., mostly on the East coast. She lives and works in Gainesville, Florida, and South Portland, Maine.

At Runnymede Sculpture Farm in Woodside, CA, there are two Roberge Cairns: “Rising Cairn” and “Walking Cairn.” The following is a statement from the curator there: “These are our two most commented-upon pieces. People respond to these works viscerally and immediately. There is a dignity to these two pieces which draws the viewer into a contemplative space. Both pieces are female forms and modeled after Roberge herself. They are filled with river rocks and play upon the idea of ‘”figurative.'” We usually think of figurative sculpture as being carved out of rock: these are composed of rock. It’s as if you’re looking inside the people themselves; you see their viscera, their muscles. And the sculptures draw attention to the paradox of living: we live both inside ourselves, with emotions and thoughts, and we live outside in the world through actions and communication.”

About Cairns:
A basic cairn is a single stack of rocks essentially made to mark a path, territory, or site, or meant to be a tomb marker. The intent is utility and meaning rather than art. Those who place them are thinking of those who will come after. Those who find and follow them are trusting the travelers who went before.

Cairns of various types are found throughout the Neolithic world and recall early representations of women. Stacked or balanced, these offer places and moments for reflection, or meditation. Balanced stones are designed to stand for a long time without falling. Modern day hikers often refer to them as “trail ducks” when the top rock is larger and points the way at a turn. Some National Parks have rules of “rock etiquette” about cairns and the making of rock sculptures or the disruption of rock formations. Death Valley National Monument in California is one such place. Acadia National Park in Bar Harbor, Maine, also has an extensive system of cairns and rules about their construction. However, at Peace Cairn in Ireland (established in 1993) people are encouraged to bring a small rock or stone to add as a personal statement to symbolize the laying down of primitive weapons---turning them into building blocks of a better future.

Note prepared by Kathleen Durham and Lois Smalley.

Nancy Dwyer :: Inhale / Exhale, 2002

Red Granite
Location: Wilbur May Sculpture Plaza

Nancy Dwyer (b. 1954) is a New York-based painter, sculptor and digital artist who works with words. Her ‘word bench’ invites visitors to sit down, breathe, and relax in the presence of the Nevada Museum of Art. “Inhale/Exhale” was commissioned by the museum especially for the sculpture plaza.
Art Critic JoAnn Isaak wrote that Nancy Dwyer “gives words a physical presence appropriate to their meaning.” Thus the red granite letters of the NMA sculptures seem to increase or decrease in size as they embody the act of inhaling and exhaling. Dwyer works in stone, wood, paper, cardboard and vinyl. Her 1990 sculpture “Big Ego” is made up of three immense yellow air-filled balloons. The ‘E,’ ‘G,’ and ‘O’ deflate regularly and must be pumped up constantly. In contrast to the huge “Big Ego,” Dwyer has done small sculptures with letters cut out of entire encyclopedia volumes, spelling out “Blah, Blah, Blah.”
She has created a set of enameled aluminum benches entitled “Multiple Choice.” The benches read ‘Always,’ ‘Often,’ ‘Sometimes,’ ‘Seldom,’ and ‘Never.’ Many of her sculptures are site-specific. At the 911 Emergency Communications Facility in Chicago, Dwyer formed ‘911’ out of a series of benches. On closer examination the benches also spell out John Donne’s words, “No man is an island entire of itself.” At the gates of the Cleveland Indians’ baseball stadium are benches which say, “Who’s On First,” and Clevelanders gather at the entrance to their basketball arena where the benches say, “Meet me here.”
Dwyer said in 1997, “I believe that there’s something enriching to taking that extra moment to ponder, to reflect, maybe even to question. It is my hope that my art work has encouraged this activity.”

Note prepared by Kathleen Durham and Lois Smalley.