Boca Raton Museum of Art
501 Plaza Real, Boca Raton, FL 33432
In Mizner Park
T: 561.392.2500 F: 561.391.6410
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10AM - 8PM
NOON - 5PM
Children(12 & under)
|Thursday, July 24, 2014|
Saturday, July 19 the Boca Raton Museum of Art hosted an exclusive talk for members by Curator of Exhibitions Kathleen Goncharov on the topic of biennials. The definition of biennial, or biennale in Italian, is an event that occurs every two years. It is typically used to describe large-scale international contemporary art exhibitions. The most famous biennial, as Goncharov explained, is held in Venice and began in 1895.
In her discussion, Goncharov spoke about her personal experience during the 2003 Venice Biennale. Goncharov worked together with Fred Wilson, a contemporary, conceptual artist, as the representatives of the United States. Wilson is best known for his piece Mining the Museum (1992) installed at the Maryland Historical Society wherein he juxtaposed pieces normally “hidden” in storage like iron slave shackles with expected display items like 19th-century silver decorative arts. By “mining” the museum’s holdings he forced the audience to examine, question and deconstruct the traditional display of art and artifacts.
- the theme of Wilson’s exhibition - race in Venice from the Renaissance onward;
- the experience of viewing the Biennale;
- how every pavilion was designed to illustrate the country it represented;
- the coming together of these countries in the Italian Pavilion, which was a large space for every country represented; and
- the artists chosen for the 2015 Venice Biennale.
Biennials, particularly the Venice Biennale, are incredible opportunities to see some of the forerunners in contemporary art from around the world. The large scale of biennials is a unique way of experiencing art without viewing it at a museum or gallery. The pavilions provide cultural context for the visitor to be immersed in the idea of a different country, and what the artist is trying to capture about his or her homeland.
Kathleen Goncharov’s lecture gave the listener a firsthand account of what it takes to create an exhibition at the Venice Biennale. Goncharov also described the eclectic mix of styles displayed. She explained that it’s not just contemporary art heavy-hitters but also less publicized artists like surrealists and “obsessive” artists (artists who work meticulously with small or delicate materials).
One of the highlights of the talk for me was the sneak preview of artists chosen to be in the 2015 Biennale. Two of particular note are Joan Jonas (Untied States) and Danh Vo (Denmark).
Having been in Italy for the 2013 Venice Biennale, I traveled to the city to see the event. While there I particularly enjoyed the Azerbaijan Pavilion, where six different artists presented their ideas on ornamentation as well as the Croatian Pavilion in which artist Kata Mijatovic delved into the realm of dreams using audience participation. Biennials are a wonderful tradition in the contemporary art world and since the Venice Biennale began countless Biennials have been created around the globe such as:
- the São Paolo Art Biennial (second-longest running);
- Biennale de Paris; and
- the Whitney Biennial.
|Thursday, July 10, 2014|
|Urs Fischer Comes to Instagram|
Considered one of the most intriguing installations at the Boca Raton Museum of Art, Swiss artist Urs Fischer has created magnificent stainless steel boxes polished to a mirrored surface with images of a sponge and a chair (respectively) silkscreen printed onto the various sides of the boxes. Obscurely named Pineapple/Melon, the four pieces (two printed with chairs, two printed with sponges) are giant interactive still lifes that provide multiple views of the objects: top, front and sides. Fischer enjoys changing the perception of things by presenting them in a different way, thus changing the human relationship to them. The feature that stands out most in these boxes is that the viewer is able to be present in the piece through the reflection of the polished surface.
Urs Fischer was born in Switzerland and began his artistic career there. He studied photography in Zurich and found his inspiration in the neo-Dada movement. In the mid-late 2000s, Fischer became increasingly popular in the US, particularly, New York where he currently resides.
His works are incredibly popular in the contemporary art scene and he has shown pieces at the:
- Venice Biennale;
- New Museum of Contemporary Art (New York); and
- Museum of Contemporary Art (Los Angeles).
At first glance, one would think the cubes are made out of a common glass mirror. Yet, what makes Fischer’s pieces so eye-catching and different is the fact that they are made out of polished stainless steel. While these pieces are beautiful to behold, their medium does present a challenge in upkeep and cleaning; stainless steel as polished as this is hard to maintain and clean. Fingerprints remain on the piece for a long time and the cleaning process is complex. While the boxes look just like mirrors, it is important to remember they are not, and must be treated differently.
While physically touching the pieces is discouraged, another exciting feature of the Urs Fischer boxes is the interactive portion. It is even possible to create the illusion that one is sitting in the chair on the mirrored box. If you would like to try this optical illusion, it is sort of a trial by error process. The key is to sit on the ground at a certain distance from the cube while someone takes your picture from an angle. The distances and angles will have to be worked out while present at the museum, but some of our Instagrammers have posted fun snapshots of themselves sitting or standing on the chair!
Fischer’s pieces are located in the museum’s East Gallery among various portraits. While the still lifes seem to have little to do with portraiture, the mirrored portion provides a connection to the theme of the gallery. Because one can see his or her own reflection in the boxes, the piece becomes a portrait of that person, and our gallery becomes a portrait gallery with revolving portraits with our lovely guests as the subjects- just another special interactive portion of these stunning pieces.
|Friday, June 13, 2014|
|The Viewer Talks Back|
Art museums have a real challenge: they must display art and its history in an interesting and contemporary way. That’s not to say that museums are stodgy or uninteresting; in fact they have survived and thrived into the digital age by promoting direct contact between the public and traditionally conservative collections.
Engaging the public is essential to the success of any exhibit or a museum. Successful museums have learned that creating interactive areas for their visitors, whether it is in specific exhibits or throughout the museum in general, is a strategy that works. The most popular exhibits include audience interaction or talkbacks.
Here at the Boca Raton Museum of Art, Curator of Collections Marisa Pascucci has created an interactive portion in our current exhibition, Afghan Rugs: The Contemporary Art of Central Asia. There is a desk with Post-it notes and pencils where the museum-goer is encouraged to share thoughts on the exhibition or art in general.
There are 62 responses posted on the board and the majority of them state things such as:
- “No more war”;
- “Peace not war”;
- “I love art”;
- “I liked the rugs”; or
- small sketches.
There are; however, 6 or 7 more in-depth comments on both the Afghan Rug and exhibit and the other temporary exhibition installed in our north gallery, Elaine Reichek: The Eye of the Needle. These notes discussed art and war (in response to the war imagery in the Afghan war rugs), the use of symbolism in the Afghan Rug exhibit and in Elaine Reichek’s works and how they were similar, as well as a discussion of the history and images in the Afghan rugs.
|Portrait Rug (Amanullah Khan), knotted wool, Afghanistan, acquired in Peshawar (Pakistan), 1985, 53 1/4 x 33 ½ inches. Courtesy of a private collection
||War Rug, knotted wool, Pakistan refugee camp, acquired in
Peshawar (Pakistan), 1998, 72 7/8 x 42 7/8 inches. Courtesy of a private collection
All in all it was surprising and refreshing to read some of the insightful comments as well as see some children’s handwriting and drawings getting excited about being able to express an opinion of their own. The museum also displays a monitor that runs both Twitter and Instagram feeds. When a visitor tweets or Instagrams and tags the museum it appears on the monitor. It is great to hear feedback from people who have just visited or see the beautifully edited Instagrams of favorite pieces in the museum.
Speaking from personal experience, many museum exhibitions I have attended have offered at some sort of audience participation. For example, in Florence, Italy last fall the Palazzo Strozzi presented an exhibit entitled Unstable Territory: Borders and Identity in Contemporary Art in which contemporary artists portrayed the different meaning of “territory.”
In one portion of the show, the audience was asked to write or draw on a large dry-erase board their thoughts on language barriers, love and other traditions. In addition, at the Venice Biennale, last fall, there was an exhibit that the audience created themselves.
Croatian artist Kata Mijatovic asked via social media, as well as at the venue, for specific dreams from the viewers of the show. The dreams were then displayed on television screens throughout the room with accompanying pictures and music. This sort of interaction directly affects the exhibit itself. It is less of a reaction to the art, but more of a way of making the art; an interesting way to get viewers involved.
More personal, and fun, are the prompts and written responses museum curators come up with to promote thoughtful interaction with the exhibit. Nina Simon, Executive Director of the Santa Cruz Museum of Art & History uses interaction in some of her shows and it is pretty successful.
Some creative ways in which Simon encouraged participation in just one exhibition, Santa Cruz is in the Heart:
- writing thoughts and opinions on cocktail napkins;
- posting certificates of accomplishment on a mock fridge; and
- writing in marker on rearview mirrors set up throughout an exhibit.
Each of the displays asked the viewers to recall personal experiences that corresponded to the theme of the show. Generally the greatest concern with each interactive portion was the number of appropriate responses to the prompt. Obviously, without the cooperation of the audience, the interactive portion of exhibitions does not matter. The key is to come up with a prompt that will inspire audiences and create thoughtful and meaningful comments on works at the museum.
So, why is it important for audiences to interact with art? Well first of all, if the museum-goer puts something about the collections on their social media it can inspire more people to visit. More importantly; though, it creates a dialogue between the institution and the viewer.
Sometimes it’s not enough to just stand in front of a piece. Thinking about and reacting to art is as important as looking at it. That is precisely the thing that curators are prompting you to do.
With the areas designed for audience interaction the viewer can:
- take time to critically reflect and develop his or her own opinion of the exhibit(s);
- consider what he or she liked or disliked;
- address how it made him or her feel; and
- relate it to his or her own life.
These sorts of reactions are what art is about, anyone can be an art critic and you don’t need an art history degree to be able to talk about it. That’s why we at the Boca Raton Museum of Art encourage everyone to Tweet, Instagram, Facebook or Post-it about something they enjoyed at the museum!
|Wednesday, April 30, 2014|
|Docents… An Integral Part of the Museum Experience|
We’ve all had the thought while walking through a museum: “What is the artist trying to say with this piece?” We may not understand their intent right away, and we, perhaps, never will or will just forget about it altogether. Sometimes, it doesn’t really matter what the artists meant, but rather how that piece made us feel. In any case, we all have different experiences at museums, and if given the opportunity to take a tour with a docent – someone who is well educated in the museum collection and offers great insight into the art and its significance and, thereby, enhance our museum experience, why not take it?
Docents are volunteers. They contribute their time to educate museum visitors about specific exhibits and/ or collections in the Museum. The fact that they donate their time means that they want to offer their service and that they like what they do. Docents do not receive monetary compensation, but they do feel compensated, each in his/her own way. Additionally, every docent has their own reasons for volunteering, which brings me to another point – every volunteer has a story.
CBS News Sunday Morning had a segment in its broadcast called “Everybody has a Story” a few years ago (it is not shown as much now). Sitting down to write this blog and interviewing one of our many wonderful docents, Renee Buchsbaum, that particular news segment came to mind. Later, I thought how great it would be to apply the same concept with our volunteers to our Museum blog every few months.
To kick off our new blog segment – “Every Volunteer Has a Story” – I will begin by telling Renee’s story. We sat down together last week and she told me a bit about herself, her travels, and her experience as a docent at the Boca Museum.
Renee graduated as a docent in 2013 and has been heading tours for a little less than six months. Originally a ‘snowbird’, she became aware of the docent program at the Boca Museum and decided to stay in Florida in order to fulfill her docent training which ran past the summer. Her main reason for becoming a docent is because she enjoys art and it is “fulfilling for yourself; walking amidst beautiful things.” She mentioned that, as a widow and with so much available time, she enjoys the docent experience very much, especially because she loves being around people and loves the atmosphere at the Museum. When asked what are the pros and cons of being a docent and to give any advice to those thinking of becoming docents, she could only think of positive things to say about it; that it is enriching and that anyone thinking about participating should definitely do it. “It is so rewarding….getting something back by exchanging ideas with people and children, whether you have an art background or not.” (Renee has a background in interior design). She also said that not only is the experience enriching for her, but that docents also enhance the visitor experience through the Socratic Method by discussing, narrating, and asking questions. Renee took a one month hiatus to travel to Asia and is now settling back in from the whirlwind of a trip. As we sat together, a few of her colleagues stopped to greet her and expressed how happy they were to have her back; Renee was very glad to back as well.
Docent tours are held daily and are free with Museum admission. Click Here for times.
If you would like more information or are interested in applying to the docent program at the Boca Museum of Art, Click Here
For other volunteer opportunities at the Boca Museum, Click Here
|Monday, March 10, 2014|
|Boca Museum’s Juried Outdoor Art Festival…28 years and going strong!|
What makes the Boca Museum’s Art Festival important and vital to the community? South Florida in February is resplendent with festivals of all flavors for visitors and residents alike. Choosing how to spend your weekend in this sunshine paradise can pose a dilemma. Of course we think Boca Raton is paradise and Mizner Park is the spot inside this paradise. But we also believe Art Matters. This sounds like a cliché but it is the mantra we at the Museum espouse when creating events, programs and of course exhibitions. The Boca Museum of Art started our festival over 28 years ago and decided to set the bar high for inclusion in the festival. As a nonprofit cultural institution, it’s paramount that we engage the community, enrich people’s lives and help fund our organization. This outdoor festival has continually hit these marks.
This year the Museum held its 28th Annual Juried Outdoor Art Festival on February 8 & 9. With over 230 artists showcasing their artwork and thousands of visitors attending the event, the festival was a complete success in every sense of the word. We cannot thank our VOLUNTEERS (community & staff) enough for the 200+ hours of dedicated assistance. And the festival would not be the same without the art; we want to thank all of the artists who participated as well.
The event gives artists the opportunity to expose and sell their artwork, and it allows the community to engage with the art, the artists, and each other, not to mention the chance to take home a newly purchased art piece or two. The Museum also benefits by being able to fulfill its mission of celebrating, presenting, and inspiring creativity.
Juried festivals are fairly common and offer artists recognition and if they are lucky a cash prize to boot. And so we come to the really unique aspect of our festival. This year we are proud to have enlisted Marisa Pascucci the Museum’s Curator of 20th Century and Contemporary Art as our juror. A curator’s job requires a breadth of knowledge and skill in accessing and selecting exceptional contributions to the art world.
Jurying a competition is no easy task! Marisa explains, “Being asked to judge 200+ booths featuring the work of so many talented artists and their fascinating art is a blessing and a curse—while looking at art gives me great joy, it’s a huge challenge to say the least to narrow it down to a Best in Show and nine Merit Awards. I could’ve easily awarded Merit prizes for truly exceptional and significant artwork to at least 50 of the participants as opposed to 10.”
For all those who missed the juried results CLICK HERE to see the recap.
As a final note… hope to see you next year in paradise!
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