Art Complex Museum

Exhibitions - 2014, 2015



Asian Connections

September 21, 2014 – January 18, 2015

Asian art is one of the four collecting areas of The Art Complex Museum. The other strengths of the collection are American paintings, Shaker objects and Works on Paper. The Asian collection includes over 1,450 works which span more than five thousand years. Carl and Edith Weyerhaeuser personally selected many of them. Their friends, Kojiro and Harriet Tomita, bequeathed a number of objects. Purchase of the Leland C. and Paula Wyman Collection added significant works of Indian and Persian art. Almost every Asian country is represented in the museum’s collection. The majority of objects are from Japan, China, India and Persia. The remainder are from Tibet, Kashmir, Nepal, Thailand, Myanmar, and Sri Lanka.

This exhibition is the first time Bengtz Gallery has been filled with the finest examples of Asian art from our collection since Tribute to Kojiro Tomita: Asian art from the permanent collection was displayed in 1990. We will show all of our Chinese paintings. We will highlight the variety of materials: painting, calligraphy, ceramics, bronze, prints, lacquer, jade, glass and textiles. We will explore different themes: the religions of Buddhism, Hinduism, Jainism, Shinto and Confucianism, as well as Kabuki theater and secular imagery of landscape and poets. This show will address many pertinent questions: What do the works of art from these various places teach us about similarities and differences within Asia?; How do these cultures connect to one another?; How do they relate to the past or reflect the present?; How has the museum chosen to acquire works of art in recent years?

The majority of the museum’s Chinese paintings depict the landscape, the most popular subject understanding of their predecessors by naming them in the inscription. Ru Wenshu refers to the great Northern Song (960 – 1127) painter, Guo Xi, circa 1000-circa 1090. Guo Xi specialized in winter scenes emphasizing the bare branches of the trees. The tall, narrow composition begins in the lower left with a traveler and servant proceeding to visit a friend in his pavilion midway up the right side of the painting. Mountain peaks punctuated by a water fall tower above and are silhouetted against a gloomy, grey winter sky. She handles the ink deftly, adding a few subtle washes of color.

Most of Indian art is devoted to religious themes, especially Hindu ones focusing on a particular deity. The three main Hindu deities are Brahma, the Creator, Vishnu, the Preserver, and Shiva, the Destroyer. Vishnu manifests himself as ten avatars or re-incarnations who appear when the world is in need of help. The most compelling is the eighth, Krishna, who was raised by a cowherd and his wife. Krishna grew up to become a model lover having many liaisons with the wives and daughters of the cowherds (gopis), especially his favorite, Radha. Her intense passion for Krishna symbolizes a devotee’s desire for union with god. Women Yearning for Krishna was painted around 1635 – 1645 in Mewar in Rajasthan to illustrate the Kavipriya written by Kesava Das. The vigorous drawing and limited palette with blocks of primary colors are typical of Rajput style. The Sanscrit script identifies the theme. The overall effect is flat and two-dimensional because there is no variation in the colors from light to dark.

Ceramics, particularly those of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, are a focus of our Japanese collection. Many of them were created for use in the Tea Ceremony. Edith Weyerhaeuser believed that understanding the Tea Ceremony was one of the best ways to learn about Japanese culture. The curatorial staff is always on the lookout for pieces which would enhance the collection in a substantive manner. The stoneware Vase with salt glaze by Tomoo Hamada (born 1967) is a recent acquisition. It will add to our group of tea ceremony vases as well as document the continuation of the Mingei (Folk Craft) ceramic tradition founded by Tomoo’s grandfather Shoji Hamada (1894 – 1977) in Mashiko, Japan. When possible, we build on our existing holdings by purchasing works made by other generations of a family. We will display this Vase with the Tea Bowl in our collection by Shoji Hamada. Tomoo was trained not only by his grandfather, but also by his father, Shinsaku, born 1929. Tomoo values combining a free spirit with impeccable technique. The shape of this Vase is reminiscent of the Japanese folding screen. Its diagonals set up dynamic rhythms and the contrast between the brown and blue vertical striations create fascinating textural interest.

These examples show the range in time, style, theme and materials from the three most important areas within our Asian collection. The exhibition will explore these concepts in greater depth and variety to demonstrate what our collection can teach us about the enticing connections to be found in Asian art at The Art Complex Museum.


Moving Right Along. . . Kinetic Sculpture by David A. Lang

November 16, 2014 – February 15, 2015

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David A. Lang, Horse Play, 2007, Kinetic mixed media

Sculptor David A. Lang has a deep and diverse well to draw from as an artist. With a background including more than thirty years as Chairman of the Art Department of the Middlesex School in Concord, Massachusetts as well as founder of the Department of Scientific Illustration and Graphic Arts at Harvard University, and a part time flight instructor, Lang understands better than most people the way seemingly unrelated things connect.

A visit to his studio, which has been called, “a cross between Geppetto’s workshop and the Unabomber’s cabin,” is a visit into the mind of the artist where finished and partially finished contraptions and ideas lay alongside bed pans and wooden crutches and a soon to be restored British roadster. Lang says of his work, “I build interactive kinetic sculpture that is narrative in nature. It is both whimsical and serious, graceful and awkward, understated and, at the same time. conspicuously complex.”

“The work is,” he explains, “by and large, gas welded from steel wire, rods, fabricated into something often resembling vehicles, portrayed on very delicate wheels, some large and some quite small. The wheels themselves represent the passage of time. The work requires a great deal of patience, both to figure out how to make it kinetic and how to reduce the physical object to as refined and minimal a presence as possible. Motion and movements are very subtle and elegant. Virtually every piece has different visual interactions taking place, depending on your vantage point. There are visual harmonies that often work against subtle interferences. And yet everything does interact smoothly, if not by very small margins. Everything in this work is slow and understated. I use miniature motors, handmade gears, levers, pulleys and almost any material that could heighten the visual sense of unlikelihood.”

“The work seems to give the impression that the rules are often in flux,” he concludes, “but if you observe for long enough and allow yourself to become drawn in, everything comes into alignment. There is a balancing point between the machine and the observer, who in fact becomes an active participant in its existence.”


Look Again: ACM Collection Inspires the Boston Printmakers

May 17 – September 6, 2015

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Martin Lewis, United States, Chance Meeting, 1940 -1941, Drypoint, ACM 92.078 (left), Ellen Nathan Singer, Tenafly, New Jersey, In Passing, woodcut on rice paper, 2014 (right)

The Art Complex Museum (ACM) has a rich and comprehensive print collection. It encompasses seventeenth century Dutch etchings and engravings as well as modern Japanese, American and European nineteenth and twentieth century etchings, engravings, woodcuts, wood engravings, lithographs, and drypoint prints. It also includes a large number of contemporary prints in a variety of techniques, including work purchased by The Boston Printmakers for the museum collection from the North American Print Biennial - one of the most prestigious events in printmaking.

The Boston Printmakers and the museum have collaborated on a number of projects since the 1970’s. For this exhibition, Contemporary Curator, Craig Bloodgood and Collections Manager, Maureen Wengler assembled an “all star” portfolio of prints from the ACM collection and then asked members of The Printmakers to create responses. The result is thirty-four images from the ACM print collection including works by Ando¯ Hiroshige, Edward Hopper, Thomas Nason, Grant Wood, Käthe Kollwitz and Rembrandt van Rijn and fifty-eight works by the members.

The Boston Printmakers was founded by a small group of senior students and faculty at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston and the Massachusetts College of Art. They held their first meeting at the Wiggin Gallery at the Boston Public Library in autumn, 1947. Their host at this first meeting was the late Arthur Heintzelman, a distinguished etcher and the library's Keeper of Prints. Also attending were Ture Bengtz, head of the Graphic Arts Department at the Museum School and Otis Philbrick, head of the Painting and Graphics Department at Massachusetts College of Art. Bengtz would later become the first director of The Art Complex Museum in 1971. Today, the Boston Printmakers have close to four hundred members from all parts of the United States, Canada and Mexico.


Duxbury Art Association Annual Winter Juried Show

February 8 – April 26, 2015

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Irena Roman, Scituate, Massachusetts, Shadow, 2012, transparent watercolor

This year marks the forty-first year of the museum’s hosting the Duxbury Art Association (DAA) Annual Winter Juried Show. The popular exhibition encompasses artwork in all media by New England artists predominantly from the Metropolitan Boston, South Shore and Cape Cod areas.

A five-judge panel of working artists and art educators reviews the entries and selects approximately one hundred pieces for exhibition. Cash awards are given in each category for First Place and for "Best in Show." Ribbons are awarded for Second, Third and Honorable Mention. Over one hundred volunteers orchestrate the process of bringing the show to the public under the direction of the DAA and museum staff.

Founded in 1917, the Duxbury Art Association is one of the oldest arts organizations in the country. The organization has attracted and nurtured some of America’s greatest artists including DAA founders, Charles Bittenger, John Singer Sargent, and Frank Benson. It is located at The Ellison Center for the Arts, 64 St. George Street, Duxbury, Massachusetts. For further information, go to www.duxburyartassociation.org.


Shaker Works, Then and Now: Youthful Interpretations of the Shaker Form

February 22 – May 17, 2015

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Student working with a block plane.

For almost thirty years, Gerry Clifford has been running the woodworking program at Dedham Country Day School, a private, coeducational day school in Dedham, Massachusetts, which draws students from twenty-five surrounding towns. His students start working with sanding blocks and simple tools as early as pre-kindergarten, and by the time they are in middle school, they are building Adirondack chairs and Shaker boxes.

Mr. Clifford is a woodworker in the traditional sense and has always been drawn to the simplicity and beauty of Shaker furniture. For a number of years, he has been visiting the museum and its Shaker collection and making use of the vast assortment of Shaker information in our library to gather ideas for his classes. Last spring, he brought his older students to the museum to see actual examples of Shaker furniture up close.

For this exhibition, we have invited Gerry Clifford, an artisan and teacher, to display pieces handcrafted by his woodworking students at Dedham Country Day School.


Diana Barker Price: Untamed Forest

May 24 – August 16, 2015

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Diana Barker Price, Plymouth, Massachusetts, Potion, 2014, photograph

Untamed Forest includes new photography by Diana Barker Price from two ongoing series, Moments of Enchantment and Elixirs. Price says, “When I photograph the forest for Moments of Enchantment, I have a constant sense of my place between the roots underfoot and the interwoven canopy of branches above. I feel connected to what once existed, as if the pine needles and fallen logs hold memories of the past. And as I wander through the open spaces, the growing bushes and swaying boughs make promises of future possibilities.” She creates images that occur between the transitions of day and night, calm and storm, reality and fantasy, fleeting moments of magical light that become forever real once they are photographed.

For a few days each year after the autumn leaves drop into the pond water, she photographs images for Elixirs. Brilliant leaves from beech trees, clethra and cork bushes collect along with golden pine needles at the water’s edge. Price notes, as sunlight flashes through overhanging brush, the leaves ride the ripples like small boats and form naturally rhythmic patterns. Using a longer exposure time, she captures an intoxicating mixture of recognizable images, abstract forms and illusions. Reflections of blue sky and powdery clouds swirl with leaves, creating fragrant bouquets and luxurious potions that are the wild essence of water, trees and light, she concludes.


Sailing: Michael Eudenbach, Michael Kahn and Onne van der Wal

August 23 – November 8, 2015

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Onne van der Wal, Jamestown, Rhode Island, Wright on White, 2005, black and white photograph

Michael Eudenbach, Michael Kahn and Onne van der Wal are three of the most well-respected marine photographers working today. A self-taught photographer, Michael Eudenbach began shooting and developing photos at age ten using a classic twin lens reflex camera. He spent several years on the oceans as a member of a professional sailing crew. An extreme sports enthusiast, he enjoys scuba diving and flying, his paraglider, camera equipment always in hand. Eudenbach’s photos take us into a world that is both spectacular and peaceful. Taking his shots from the most daring angles - the top of a mast or from his paraglider - he immerses us in a dynamic world of perpetual motion while capturing the essence of the moment.

With his 1950’s camera, Michael Kahn travels extensively to photograph the world’s finest boats and pristine seascapes. He collects his images on traditional black and white film and produces luminous silver gelatin prints in his darkroom. His traditional technique united with his distinctive sense of form, vision, and composition have helped him to be one of the most memorable photographers of our time.

Kahn began taking pictures with a camera his mother gave him when he was thirteen and was introduced to traditional black and white photography while he was still in school. In an interview for the Holden Luntz Gallery, Kahn recently said, “I have never equated my work with any style, I simply make my photographs. I never look back at the old photographers for inspiration, I feel that if I did, I may not create a certain image because it has already been created. On the same note, my work falls into the category of Pictorialism, I definitely take a very precise approach to a scene and then bend or mold the image to meet the interpretation of the event using historical photographic manipulation in the darkroom.”

Onne (pronounced "Onn-Uh") has been a nautical, sailing and yacht photographer for over twenty years. Once a professional sailor, Onne got his start in nautical, sailing and yacht photography while sailing with the 1981-82 Dutch Whitbread Around the World Race Team on their winning boat, Flyer. When Onne returned from their winning circumnavigation, the press was eager to see the many sailing photos he had shot with gear given to the eager young sailor and sailing photographer by Olympus Cameras. These yachting photos are still often published today and were his first commercial works, as they came to represent the photographic style and elements for which he is now well-known.

Onne was born in Holland to a family with a deep heritage of sea-going and sea-loving ancestors. He was raised on the water in Hout Bay, South Africa and at an early age was sailing and planning his "escape" to the sea. He worked on commercial fishing boats and spent any free time sailing and racing as well as maintaining local racing boats until, at the age of twenty-three, he left South Africa to skipper and manage larger racing sailboats. Onne has sailed the Atlantic more than ten times, and has raced in many other trans-oceanic events. Most recently his ocean sailing has been on nautical photographic expeditions, which have taken him as far north as Spitsbergen in the Norwegian Arctic and as far South as Antarctica.


Cannot be Described in Words: Drawing/Daring
Deborah Davidson, Guest Curator

September 20, 2015 – January 16, 2016

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Randal Thurston, ECHO, (detail), 2014, cut paper

Something is communicated in a drawing that has remained a constant for centuries - an intimacy of expression that is otherwise the province of writing. Cannot Be Described in Words: Drawing/Daring features works by eleven artists who engage in a variety of mediums and are all interested, in some way, in the materiality of drawing. They share a sense of daring: exploring new approaches, scale and mediums that expand the definition of drawing and add to what that definition can be. Their drawings are projective, that is, they depict something that is imagined before it is drawn. The drawings range from installations to works that are iterations of sculptural space, to the use of traditional materials like charcoal, which are pushed beyond their expected limitations.

Featured artists include: Jill Slosberg-Ackerman, Ilona Anderson, Sheila Gallagher, Audrey Goldstein, Raul Gonzalez, Chuck Holtzman, Fred Liang, Cynthia Maurice, Ethan Murrow, Randal Thurston and Debra Weisberg,


Meredith d’Ambrosio: Landscapes of the North Countries

November 15, 2015 – February 14, 2016

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Meredith d’Ambrosio, Duxbury, Massachusetts, Round Pond Bog, 2014, oil on canvas

Meredith d'Ambrosio's life story reads like an Edith Wharton novel. For years, the Boston vocalist struggled with a mother and father who rarely spoke to each other, leaving her somewhat unprepared to deal with an early love and then a marriage that quickly fizzled. Through it all, Meredith managed to remain focused on studying visual arts, a safe harbor of sorts from the tension and strife in her personal life.

In the late 1950s and early 1960s, while still an art student, Meredith began to get work singing and playing piano at Boston jazz clubs. She also began hanging out at the New England Conservatory of Music, where she met pianist Roger Kellaway. During the 1960s, Meredith began to make a name for herself as a jazz singer-pianist, accompanying herself at clubs in the Boston area. By this time she also was a single mother, with all of the joys and hardship that come with that status. She recorded her first album in 1978 at thirty-seven years old, recording thirty-five songs in a seven hour session. To date she has recorded a total of fifteen albums accompanied by world renowned jazz musicians.

Her late husband, pianist Haydn Higgins once said, “I first became aware of Meredith by way of a Boston disc jockey, Ron Della Chiesa on WGBH. After playing one of her recordings he informed his audience that this lady could be heard in person at the Asa Bearse House, a Hyannis restaurant. I had no sooner sat down to listen, when she proceeded to perform four songs I had never heard, each one a gem. Since I pride myself on an extensive knowledge of jazz and popular song repertoire, this is no small feat, and I was extremely impressed. We became friends that evening but it wasn’t until a few weeks later that she casually mentioned that she was an artist and asked if I would be interested in seeing her work. I was completely unprepared for the sight that greeted me when I walked into her modest rented room. Tacked to every wall were watercolors of such startling power and beauty that my jaw literally dropped open. I spent the next half hour without a word, examining one after another, overwhelmed by her talent,” Higgins concluded.





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