Visual Art

A Digital Canvas for Art

By Kara Miller   |   Friday, June 15, 2012
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Part 1: 

A screenshot from "Searching for Michelle," a work of by Maja Kalogera art comissioned by

We often talk on this show about new advances in science, math, and technology. Today, we ask what progress in those areas can do for a whole other world of ideas: The arts.

From music in video games to web-generated comic strips, traditional art may be migrating out of concert halls and gallery spaces and onto the Internet.


Renoir's Paintings Dance Together Again

By Jared Bowen   |   Sunday, June 3, 2012
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June 3, 2012
Dance at Bougival, 1883(Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. Photograph © Museum of Fine Arts, Boston) Dance in the Country and Dance in the City (Paris, Muse´e d’Orsay, Photographs © Re´union des Muse´es Nationaux / Art Resource, NY) Pierre-Auguste Renoir (French, 1841–1919)

BOSTON — For the second year in a row, the Museum of Fine Arts is presenting a Visiting Masterpieces program. On view right now is a set of works by the Impressionist painter Renoir that you cannot miss.
In 1883 Pierre-Auguste Renoir had high expectations for himself. Six foot tall expectations, as he painted a series of three life-sized portraits: “Dance at Bougival”, “Dance in the Country” and “Dance in the City”.  Now for the first time in a generation, the three paintings are reunited at the Museum of Fine Arts.

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There's Nothing Quite Like a Classic

By Jared Bowen   |   Thursday, May 31, 2012
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May 31, 2012
Bianca Amato and James Waterston in Noël Coward’s Private Lives. (Photo: Paul Marotta)

Hear Jared's take on the events below on Morning Edition.
Beauty and the Beast
Plays at the Boston Opera House
Through June 3rd

Thanks to the Disney film, you probably know about Belle, the young woman stuck in a provincial French town, who finds she must tame a Beast, a young prince transformed by an enchantress as punishment for his insensitivity. If the Beast can learn to love and be loved in return, the curse will be lifted and he will be transformed to his former self. If not, he and his palace of servants will remain under the spell for eternity. A warm story with lovely sets and costuming, but this production may be more fun for the kids than adults.

Private Lives
Plays at the Huntington Theatre
Through June 24

The Huntington reaches another high bar and great success with this well-known play by Noel Coward. Newlyweds Elyot and Sibyl are honeymooning at a hotel in northern France where they unexpectedly encounter Elyot’s ex-wife Amanda and her new husband Victor.The romance between Elyot and Amanda is quickly revived, and the two desert their new spouses and flee to Amanda’s Paris flat. There, the stormy rivalry that first divided them rekindles in time for Sibyl and Victor to rediscover the pair in the throes of a passionate fight. It's hilarious, beautifully performed and shouldn't be missed.

Dancing with Renoir
On View at the Museum of Fine Arts
(Part of the Visiting Masterpieces series)
Through September 3rd

Visitors can't help but be moved when they stand amongst this glorious trio of full-length dancing couples painted by Pierre-Auguste Renoir. The show, Dancing with Renoir, at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston will run until September 3 and has already made a sensation in New York. Here, Renoir’s "Dance at Bougival", one of the MFA’s most beloved treasures, will be reunited for the first time in Boston since the MFA’s Renoir exhibition in 1985–86—with two of the artist’s masterpieces, "Dance in the Country" and "Dance in the City", lent by the Musée d’Orsay in Paris. 

Art For The People

By Bridgit Brown   |   Tuesday, July 26, 2011
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Fern Cunningham has a mission and it is to sculpt the story of her people. Back in 1999, when the city of Boston unveiled the Harriet Tubman Memorial that it commissioned her to create; she made a point to punctuate the fact that the monument told the story of the liberated, and not the liberator. Up until then, Boston had no memorials that honored an African American woman, nor was there one that honored any woman. Titled “Step On Board,” the memorial is a testament to Fern’s will to make the presence of the black experience known throughout the city of Boston.

“The victims have a different story to tell than the people who may have opened the door. Especially in the case of Harriet Tubman,” she said.

Amongst her bronze repertoire, her favorite piece is “The Sentinel” which sits at guard in the 275-acre, historic Forest Hills Cemetery in the Roslindale neighborhood of Boston. This work is just as stunning as the woman that it depicts. She is a black woman, clad in bronze and sitting cross-legged on a block of Roxbury puddingstone.  “I like her because she reminds me so much of myself,” Fern added.

Raised in Alaska and Upstate New York, it was her mother’s influence that brought her to sculpting in the first place. Her mom was an art teacher and saw to it that her children were always involved in some kind of art-making too.  After graduating from Boston University, Fern made Boston her permanent home. She worked for the Elma Lewis School of Fine Arts as an art teacher until its doors closed in the late 80s. She has since been teaching art at The Park School in Brookline, which is home to “Time Enough” a monument that depicts her daughter reading a book.

Teaching at the Lewis School helped to shape the content of her work. Citing a list of influences like Paul Goodnight, Momadou Ceesay, Dana Chandler and the other artists that worked for the “movement” of the late 1960s, she described her work as “decidedly figurative” and stressed that it is really important for her to provide images of black people.  It took a leap of faith for Fern to get the commissioned work that she desired though.

“I would apply to a lot of commissions and find myself a finalist. I would get my thousand dollars and be told to go home,” she joked.
“After a while, I thought, am I just a convenient finalist? Because then people could say, ‘Well, we had a black finalist and we had a female finalist,’ when, really, female and black people are not expected to be sculptors.”  At that point she stopped competing and relied on individuals who would ask her to sculpt a statue of their children, full figures of their loved ones, heads, and portrait heads.

Nearly ten years later, The Browne Fund, which supports art projects that improve public space in the city of Boston, contacted her with a request to sculpt a monument for the Joseph E. Lee School in Dorchester. That project became “Earth Challengers”, a playful depiction of three school-aged children holding up an orb of the globe.

She has since been commissioned by the city to do a number of projects, including the “Rise” memorial, which she created with her cousin, Karen Eutemey. In 2005, the city installed the 20 foot granite and bronze monument at what some call the “Gateway to Mattapan” if one were heading north from the suburb of Milton on Route 138 or Blue Hill Avenue. She also sculpted “Family Circle”, a statue that portrays a father, mother, and child embraced together in a ball. This masterpiece is located in the cozy, tree-lined cul-de-sac at Elm Hill Avenue in Roxbury.

Her most recent commission, "The Value of a Life", is in the design stage. Dedicated to the youth who have lost their lives to violence, the memorial is expected to be unveiled in 2010 at Roxbury's Jeep Jones Park.

Fern is the recipient of many awards for her work, including the Beta Beta Boule Award that she received in 2000; an Appreciation Award from the Roxbury Action Program in 2003 for her efforts to bring her vision of African American history to her artistic creations. In 2004, she received a Drylongso Award which honors African Americans for their fight against racism; and in 2005, the Boston Renaissance Charter School presented her with its Renaissance Living Legend Award.

About the Authors
Kara Miller Kara Miller
As a radio host, Kara Miller has interviewed thinkers from E.J. Dionne to Howard Gardner, Deepak Chopra to Lani Guinier. She is a panelist on WGBH-TV's "Beat the Press," as well as an Assistant Professor at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth. Her writing has appeared in The Boston Globe, The National Journal, The Boston Herald, Boston Magazine, and The International Herald Tribune.

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Jared Bowen Jared Bowen
Jared Bowen is WGBH’s Emmy Award-winning Executive Editor and Host for Arts. 
Bridgit Brown Bridgit Brown
Bridgit Brown is a graduate of the MFA program in Creative Writing at Emerson College ('98). She was a Fulbright Lecturing and Research Scholar in Cote d'Ivoire, West Africa, and her writing has appeared in the Boston Globe, Boston Herald, Bay State Banner, Color Magazine, Black Perspectives Now, Colorlines of Architecture, Exhale Magazine, Ibbetson Street Magazine, and Somerville Review.


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