Lolo hosts from ICA Miami l Art Loft 711 Full Episode

On this episode of Art Loft, pioneering feminist
artist Judy Chicago brings a sitespecific performance to ICA Miami with her work entitled,
A Purple Poem For Miami. We’ll also explore several decades of her
work. The Norton Museum of Art has their grand reopening. More wall space means neverbeforeseen pieces
are now on display. And we’ll see how an artist transforms into
a mermaid for her underwater dance. It’s all ahead on this episode of Art Loft. [Announcer] Art Loft is brought to you by… [Narrator] Where there is freedom, there is
expression. The Florida Keys and Key West. [Announcer] The MiamiDade County Tourist Development
Council, the MiamiDade County Department of Cultural Affairs, and the Cultural Affairs
Council, the MiamiDade County Mayor, and the Board Of County Commissioners, and by the
Friends of South Florida PBS. Hi, I’m Lolo Reskin, and from ICA Miami, this
is Art Loft. A photograph of Abraham Lincoln without his
famous beard is just one of the pieces you’ll see in the first gallery dedicated to photography
at the Norton Museum of Art. The gallery traces the history of the medium
through portraiture, and this is just one of the stops on our tour of the museum’s grand
reopening. Let’s take a look. This is the first gallery at the Norton Museum
of Art that is dedicated to the permanent collection. As a curator, one of the things I always look
to is, how do my objects relate to the rest of the museum? You wanna have the collections speak to one
another. In this case, it speaks across centuries. I decided that for the first six years, I
would follow the great questions of journalism. So this year, there will be three rotations
of who? A short history of photography through portraiture,
each one, in this case, addressing how we look at them as a contemporary audience with
contemporary eyes, and that’s important. We start with the very beginnings of photography. We start with daguerreotypes, 1839, and we
end with 21st centuries. We really do brush against the major artistic
currents of both America and Europe. The funny thing about early photography is
that it went through so many incarnations. The real big deal was to figure out how am
I gonna make this negative so that it’s as crisp and clear an image as it was when it
was a daguerreotype? Somebody comes up with the idea that they
are going to use glass plates, so that, once it’s set, it’s clear, and you get, as in this
portrait of Lincoln by Hesler, you get incredible detail. You see the wrinkles, you see the moles, you
see everything, how the hair lays, which was something that, prior to this, it was difficult
to do because they were using paper negatives. We always see him with a beard. He’s supposed to have a beard, but here it
is, prebeard, which I rather like. The other thing that’s on this wall, and the
reason I put these two together, this is an image by Julia Margaret Cameron, and I have
to tell you that Julia Margaret Cameron was an anomaly in the whole photo world. And I say that because, A, she’s a woman,
and it was a guy’s world. This is Sir John Herschel, and Herschel is
important not only for being a polymath, but being incredibly brilliant, but he’s also
the one that coins the term, photography. And the reason I put them together, as you
can see, they’re so different. She’s really looking at it as an art. This is really a political statement. We think they’re so simple, and yet, they’re
really, really complex little objects. From the 19th century to the ’30s, cameras
change. They get more sophisticated, and more than
that, they get smaller. Photographers can roam the streets, and nobody
really knows they’re taking pictures, so they’re not reacting as if they’re having their photograph
taken. In the 19th century, there was this, when
people had leisure time, people would walk around the streets of, primarily Paris, the
metropolitan areas, just looking at other people. They were called flaneurs. Cartier Bresson was probably the midcentury’s
most important photographic flaneur. He was that amazing talent that was able to
anticipate when all of the stars would align, and then take the picture just as everything
was coalescing into what he called the decisive moment. He really is the godfather of street photography. The really great thing about this piece is
that, A, it is a joyful piece, it is postwar. So here you have, you’re in the streets of
Paris, postwar, postoccupation. Cartier Bresson is playing with his camera,
with the depth of field, so you can see that he’s completely in focus. He’s really vignetted, that one moment of
pride of place, pride of adulthood for this little kid. Arne Svenson found a collector and the collector
was really amazing insofar as he had hundreds and hundreds of sock monkeys, and yet each
sock monkey had its own personality, and so Arne goes through and takes these very formal
portraits of sock monkeys. It would never happen in the 19th century,
wouldn’t’ve happened in the middle of the 20th century, but by the time you get to the
end of the 20th century, all of these ideas are playing through, and all the photographers
are thinking about not only what kind of pictures do I take, but what happens when I take them? And that’s a key for the end of the 20th century,
moving into the 21st. If you are looking at contemporary art right
now, you’ll see, oh my god, everything’s really big and really colorful! That’s the period we’re in, and if we have
anyone to blame for that, it is the German photographer, in this case, Thomas Ruff, but
also, Thomas Struth, Andreas Gursky. It’s completely neutralized. There’s no expression, there’s no emotion. It’s really about this head as an object,
as a thing that we have unlimited access to. Avedon once said that portraits are just the
surface. You can get nothing more and nothing less,
it’s only the surface, whereas we are led to believe from the time we’re tiny, that
through a great photograph, you can see into the person’s soul. Take your pick. The Germans don’t think so. I’m J. Rachel Gustafson and I’m assistant
curator at the Norton Museum of Art. The architects who actually were in charge
of overseeing the new Norton project, Lord Norman Foster of Foster and Partners, was
really interested in bringing the old 1941 original gallery that was built with Ralph
Norton, our founder, and his original architect, Marion Wyeth Sims, back into conversation
with each other. So this is the Baum Gallery. This was part of his original collection that
was later bequeathed to the museum. This is our collection of modern European
art, which really makes up kind of a treasure trove of some of our most important European
paintings and sculpture. Pablo Picasso, Constantin Brancusi, Claude
Monet, these are really hallmarks of the canon of European art. In this room, even if you look at the Claude
Monet, which is right over here, it’s probably not something you would necessarily associate
with Monet as one of the forefathers of impressionism. Here, you clearly see, this is a space in
a landscape, but it’s still a really interesting example of Monet working through his process
to get to what we know as impressionism later on. Before, the museum acted on a northsouth corridor. Now we have an east and a west, which is really
interesting to be able to see the water on one side of the museum, and then the grand
entrance on Dixie Highway on the other with the big banyan tree that marks the front. We’re standing in the Shapiro Great Hall,
which has a wonderful oculus in the ceiling to let in all the natural sunlight as well
as about a 30foottall window to our left where you can see the 80yearold banyan tree that’s
right outside, which served as the point of inspiration for a lot of the sitespecific
artworks on view. We have three different instances of a very
immersive, sitespecific installation for all three artists. It’s one of our three sitespecific works,
which is behind us here, which is 40footlong and 15foothigh tapestry, by the artist Pei
White, who’s based out of California. This work is called Icon, so the artist created
a tapestry that was in conversation with that banyan tree and in conversation with the space. In fact, with the Paul Morrison piece, which
is made of gold leaf, it also is pulling inspiration from the banyan tree and Florida’s native
flora and fauna, and then you also have Rob Wynn’s piece, which we’ll see in the staircase,
and it makes references to the tropical nature of Florida, the idea of constantly being surrounded
by water, and memories associated with summers here. What you can see behind me are many many pieces,
actually nearly 5000 pieces of mirrored, handpoured glass. The artist was on site to help install the
work, and he actually built a toscale template of the placement of the bubbles, so while
they might look sporadic to us, these are deliberate choices, and deliberate positionings
of these mirrored pieces to mimic that idea of the fish aquarium, the Florida water lifestyle
that we’re all very used to. With the expansion, we actually gained 35%
more gallery space, which is amazing, and it also means that for the first time in the
museum’s history, all five collecting departments are now represented on the first floor. Chinese art, American art, photography, contemporary
art, and European. So this is the beginning of what we call one
of our special exhibitions, which is Going Public, South Florida collectors celebrate
the Norton, and it was a special exhibition that looked specifically within our own community
for special collectors that have worked with the Norton and continue again and again to
lend their works of art. This is the Minimal Room, so this is talking
about minimalism. It’s squarely within our Contemporary Art
Department, but when you think of minimalism, sometimes you are just thinking black and
white, monochrome, and here you have just this piece that turns that on its head. Works on view here by minimalist artists that
we might not be as associated with, within the canon, but they’re certainly getting their
due as we move into an era where women artists are more recognized for their talents, such
as the Californiabased artist, Mary Corse. But as far as showing these female artists
working in the field, you don’t see that as often. Now you have this beautiful new building marked
by something that is quirky, whimsical, and for most people, a curiosity. It’s a really interesting object. It is actually a typewriter eraser. You would use a special eraser to erase typewritten
text on a typewriter, and the artist, Claes Oldenburg, explored the idea of the mundane
or the everyday object, whether it be scissors or a screw. He looked at that object throughout his career,
beginning as early as 1968, and over the next 30 years, envisioned it in all these different
works on paper that you see, drawings, maquette sculptures that are smaller realizations of
the more than 20foot sculpture that stands outside, that is balanced in this very shallow
field of water, and it looks like it’s dancing, and actually, if you were to look at one of
these earlier drawings, you can see he actually realized it in water, which is a wonderful
juxtaposition, to see as late as 1970s, Claes Oldenburg was actually thinking of a monumental
version of a typewriter eraser. The last time you visited us here at the Norton,
we were in a reduced space that basically encompassed the original 1941 gallery, but
now we’re able to expand and really show the breadth of our collection and the whole history
of art. From the rich history of Ralph Norton and
his museum in West Palm Beach, we travel down to here, ICA Miami. Let’s take a look at how their exhibit, Judy
Chicago: A Reckoning, explores the history of this iconic artist. We’re here at the ICA in Miami’s Design District,
and I’m here with Stephanie Seidel, who’s the curator of Judy Chicago: A Reckoning. Tell me a little bit about how this show got
started. [Stephanie] We really wanted to focus on different
series of works that we felt didn’t have enough attention in the past. [Lolo] What’s the span of time that it covers? So it starts with 1965 to 1994. Judy Chicago is kind of the feminist icon
of feminist art. She made one work that’s super famous. It’s called The Dinner Party, that she finished
in 1979. The Dinner Party is a largescale installation
that has 39 place settings of different women throughout history, and every plate combines
attributes of the individual women’s lives into an image. For Judy, this piece, of course, is a blessing,
but it’s also kind of always overshadowed what else she did, and when it was shown in
1979, it was a huge scandal, and basically, most of the art world and art critics said,
we don’t think this is a good piece of art. They were extremely critical, but at the same
time, more than one million visitors came to see it, so there was always this interesting
combination of her immense popular success, but then a lack of really discussing her work
in more of an art world context. But these are the test plates that she only
really started looking at again about 10 years ago. She really had it all packed up, and it was
kind of such a tough topic for her. Starting out with 1965 minimal sculpture. There’s these largescale kind of geometric
sculptures, that was the light and space movement. A lot of geometric abstraction, but she kind
of developed her own take on it, and its beautiful colors. For instance, the Sunset Squares that we refabricated
for this exhibition, had been destroyed, and as a female artist, there was no really demand
for her work, and it was hard to store it, it’s expensive to store works. Her spray painted paintings that we see here
from the ’70s, these really iconic paintings are kind of striving to find an imagery that
is not phallic, that is not maledominated, but more universal and they rotate around
a central core which is more of a female iconography for her. One of the core pieces, called the Birth Project,
she felt there’s hardly any images of women giving birth in Western art history. One of the complements to this exhibit was
a public performance, so here is A Purple Poem For Miami, by Judy Chicago. I’m really excited to share A Purple Poem
For Miami with you. We’ve been working on it for a year. We’re giving Miami, we hope, a gift that you
will enjoy. [Lolo] Tell us a little bit about the origins
of her smoke art. [Stephanie] Yeah, they really started in the
late ’60s, early ’70s, when she was still working in Pasadena and Los Angeles, and she
would just grab a couple of friends and drive out to the desert or the national park, and
set off these beautiful colored smoke bombs, and have these female bodies merge with the
smoke, and it’s beautiful images, and back then, obviously, it was much easier. You didn’t need much permits, but it was also
her response to the upcoming land art at that time. So all this was sugarbased, and it’s completely
harmless, but that allowed her to go back to her very early smoke pieces, and really
recreate them, which was impossible before. [Judy] Before this is over, let me tell you
that one of my goals with these pieces was to soften and feminize the environment and
show the world what it would look like if we were all kinder and more generous with
each other. One of the other series in the show is called
Power Play and those are these large, very striking images. What was she trying to convey in those, and
what was the reaction? So these are paintings from the early ’80s,
and it’s actually her first portrait of men. She was looking a lot at renaissance painting,
but then she developed these hyperreal portraits of men. And then another series that we wanted to
conclude the exhibition with, is a very intimate series of drawings, which is actually 140
drawings called Autobiography Of The Year, which was actually a very difficult time in
her career. For the first time since she was 19, she didn’t
have a studio, actually. She was producing those in the bedroom in
her house. She wasn’t even bothered so much by the criticism,
but was kind of really painful for her, was to hear that people would say she couldn’t
draw. Because she started drawing at the age of
five, at the Art Institute of Chicago, and kept on going to classes all her youth, so
she really came from drawing, and it felt to us that it was a great point to conclude
the exhibition on, so when she goes back to her origin, so to say, and does this extremely
personal, very frank series of drawings, where she talks about failure and about loss, and
just a lot of personal problems, which is kind of really a stark contrast to these early
minimal sculptures that have a very slick, manufactured surface. This is Larry Bell’s huge sculpture called
Hydrolux. It’s actually the first time since the 1980s
that it’s been assembled and displayed in the public. Now, from one water feature to another, we’re
gonna go meet Marina Anderson. She’s a professional mermaid, performing in
Fort Lauderdale, and her aquatic ballet hearkens back to the golden age of Florida tourism. Let’s check it out. I can’t say I’m a professional mermaid. If I just say that out and out, people don’t
really know how to put that together. They’ll think, do you do kids’ parties? It’s like saying you’re a professional unicorn. You have to explain it further. At one point in Fort Lauderdale, there was
a great golden age of tourism where a lot of interesting establishments opened up and
the nautical bar was certainly one of those places. I’ve always had a great interest in that,
and having been a free diver since age three, I’ve always had a great love for Esther Williams
films and aqua ballet and figure swimming. So it was a really natural progression to
be able to offer something based on what I already did, in an establishment that was
originally made for that kind of venue. When you see the 7:00 o’clock show, or the
earlier show, it’s generally a very easygoing mermaid theme performance. You’re having your cocktails, you’re having
your dinner, and you sit back and you watch aqua ballet taking place through those portholes. It’s very interactive, it’s not a synchronized
show. It’s not synchronized swimming, and because
it’s interactive, you never see the same show twice. The physical demands of the job are various. Some people have a great natural gift to just
be able to swim with their legs confined, and move with the monofin. It’s a single fin with two foot pockets, so
you’re moving with it. The idea is to use the medium of liquid space
rather than to try to traipse over it, so we wanna be as fluid as the water itself,
and the movements and maneuvers are very slow and tactical in order to be able to do certain
maneuvers, and generally, I base that on having a background in marine biology. I always rather used that as a medium for
inspiration, so I’ll look at how pinnipeds, sea lions and seals move. And so you’ll see a lot of barrel rolls and
loops and things that just look very, like we’re languishing in the water. So if the audience sees that we look comfortable,
we’ve done our job. If they forget that we’re holding our breath,
better still, that’s the goal. You can catch Marina and all of her mermaid
friends every Friday and Saturday at the Wreck Bar at B Ocean Resort in Fort Lauderdale. Wow, we saw so much incredible contemporary
art today! So at the ICA, tell us about it. We are here, it’s a public institution. How can people come check it out? So, we’re public and open and free all year
round, so there’s no admission. We’re directly in the Design District, on
three floors. We show contemporary art, we have a sculpture
garden, so please, come visit any time. And there’s a huge parking lot. Just saying that for South Florida, we gotta
know. Thank you so much, this was excellent. We’d love to hear from you about what your
favorite art was that you saw today, so connect with us anytime online, @artloftsfl. For Art Loft, I’m Lolo Reskin, and I’ll see
you next week. [Announcer] Art Loft is brought to you by… [Narrator] Where there is freedom, there is
expression. The Florida Keys and Key West. [Announcer] The Miami-Dade County Tourist
Development Council, the Miami-Dade County Department of Cultural Affairs, and the Cultural
Affairs Council, the Miami-Dade County Mayor, and the Board Of County Commissioners, and
by the Friends of South Florida PBS.

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