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Museum Invites You to Worcester's 'Living Room'

By Jared Bowen   |   Wednesday, June 20, 2012
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July 20, 2012

WAM doors
Matthias Wascheck, Director of the Worcester Art Museum, at the front doors on Salisbury Street.


BOSTON — A few months ago I visited the Worcester Art Museum for the first time (I am now embarrassed to admit), and I was stunned by its positively staggering collection. It brims with gems. All of the European masters are represented—Monet, Gauguin and Goya, to name just a select few. The museum’s American galleries are equally vibrant and it boasts impressive modern and contemporary art galleries as well. The new director of the Worcester Museum, the ambitious Matthias Wascheck, has now removed the cloak from the region’s hidden gem.
 
In a symbolic gesture that worked well for the MFA, Wascheck is reopening the museum’s front doors on Salisbury Street, which were shuttered in 2009 due to budget cuts. He has also commenced having the entire collection digitized and has launched a major advertising campaign. Even more impressive, today Wascheck announced that museum admittance will be free for all of July and August.

"This is the Renaissance Courtyard of the Worcester Art Museum," Wascheck said in a solicitation video,  "but it's not only our court, it is the living room of Worcester. It is your living room, and it is easier than you think to help us open this to the public." He goes on to ask for $60,000 to keep the doors and the courtyard accessible.
 
Wascheck arrived at the Worcester Art Museum in November from the Pulitzer Foundation for the Arts in St. Louis, Missouri, where he served as director. Before that he was director of Academic Programs at the Louvre. He is a man with exceptional pedigree and with the drive to dust off the cobwebs and elevate the WAM’s profile. So I implore you—go to Worcester. See works by all of the greats you’ve never seen before. Revel in your discoveries and the free parking. You will be bowled over. I promise.

Letter from the Editor: Welcome to WGBHArts

By Jared Bowen   |   Thursday, May 31, 2012
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As New England’s only full-time arts reporter on television, radio, and the Web, I regularly bring you the backstories behind the extraordinary arts at our doorstep and across our region. 
 
Today, I’m thrilled to welcome you to our newest platform: WGBHArts.org. We’ll steer you toward all that’s fresh, relevant and fun for the summer arts season. 
 
I’ve created a regular blog, Caught in the Act, and will curate exclusive content from a team of arts bloggers (check them out!). 
 
We’ll go behind the scenes of the big events happening this summer:
  • June: The national Theatre Communications Group Conference: Think of it as Boston landing the theater Olympics. Some 1,500 artistic directors will be there, and so will I.
  • July: Mark your calendar for July 27 – 29 for The Boston Globe WGBH Summer Arts Weekend presented by Citizens Bank—a big outdoor musicpalooza featuring Suzanne Vega, Sierra Hull and many more great talents.
  • August: Tanglewood celebrates its 75th-anniversary and the Berkshires is alive with the sound of great music.
Stick with us as we cover the mainstream—I already have a date with Batman, Catwoman, and a big tub of popcorn—and as we unearth the hidden gems in your own communities…like local superstar Kathy St. George channeling Judy Garland in Stoneham.
 
My WGBHArts.org summer to-do list includes:
  • A chat with renowned photographer Annie Leibovitz at the Concord Museum
  • Conducting the first-ever TV interview with cheeky British sculptor Gary Webb—he’s making his US museum debut at the deCordova
  • And see if I move like Jackson as Cirque du Soleil interprets the King of Pop at the Garden.
We’ll be first in line to cover the latest theater, dance and film…thumb through books for the best beach reads…and survey museums and galleries for the newest openings. 
 
Read, watch, listen. Then use our ArtsBoston calendar to plan your summer schedule.
 
The art of enjoying the summer just got a whole lot easier, with WGBHArts.org as your guide.
 
Cheers,
Jared 

Arthur Griffin's Lens on Fenway

By Jared Bowen   |   Thursday, May 24, 2012
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May 24, 2012

Hear more about the Griffin Museum on Greater Boston

WINCHESTER — Perhaps the best view of the Red Sox these days may be at the Griffin Museum of Photography in Winchester. Small but industrious, the museum honors Red Sox Nation in its latest show.
 
It’s a Fenway fest at the museum. The park you love, the moments you know and the ones you will now never be able to forget (think nuns). The Griffin celebrates Fenway Park’s 100th anniversary with a veritable scrapbook.
 
Paula Tognarelli is the executive director of the Griffin Museum. She said they’ve been anticipating Fenway’s anniversary for some time.
 
“We’ve been planning this for 2 years. This has been so much fun. We have gone out to a plethora of organizations looking for photographs,” she said.
 
There are stars and stripes, divine intervention and Fenway itself as the supermodel. It’s a photographic party for the park, according to Tognarelli.
 
“What it does do is focus on the building itself. People who inhabited the space, people who have visited the space, and I believe it communicates the spirit of a Boston icon,” she said.

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Pictures Worth Thousands

By Jared Bowen   |   Wednesday, May 23, 2012
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May 24, 2012


BOSTON — Photographer Ansel Adams once said, "You don’t take a photograph, you make it." Some images also end up making history, such as those by Arthur Griffin that depict decades of baseball at Fenway, or the enormous donation of Adams, Sheeler and Weston photography just received by the Museum of Fine Art from its trustee Saundra Lane. Hear more about those and some shows currently on the stage.

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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.

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About the Authors
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, BasicBlack.org: Black Perspectives Now, Colorlines of Architecture, Exhale Magazine, Ibbetson Street Magazine, and Somerville Review.

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