Fine Art

Rosenstock: Hymn to the Earth

By WGBH News   |   Tuesday, January 24, 2012
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Ron Rosenstock is a Worcester native and has traveled the world taking photographs. The Art museum in his hometown has mounted an exhibit of several of his evocative prints. WGBH's Bob Seay went to the Worcester Art Museum to talk with Rosenstock about his life's work. See more Rosenstock photographs, including shots in infared, or take a photo tour through Ireland, Peru, Iceland and more at the artist's website.





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.

Brandeis Art Museum Will Keep Famed Collection Intact

By Phillip Martin   |   Friday, July 8, 2011
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July 1, 2011

BOSTON — Brandeis University has announced that its famous collection of contemporary art will not be sold off. The university administration had threatened in 2009, in the midst of economic downturn, to auction off the prized 6,000-object collection at the Rose Art Museum if it became financially necessary to do so.

But the school did not anticipate the furious backlash to that decision. A group of museum supporters filed suit over the handling of the museum. A settlement announced on June 30 by Brandeis’ new President, however, will keep the museum open for to the public and its collection intact.

Roy Dawes, the Rose Museum’s acting director, said that the university has fully committed to the museum’s present role as a pre-eminent draw for art lovers and a great educational resource. The collection features original paintings from modern American artists such as Jasper Johns, Robert Rauschenberg and Andy Warhol.

“In the simplest of terms, basically Brandeis has stated quite emphatically that no artwork will be sold and that we will be hiring a new director,” Dawes said. “I have acted as interim director and will step down as the second in charge, as deputy director, and we can move forward in a fully functioning fashion.”

And Dawes says he is relieved. “We weathered the storm. It’s an amazing collection of modern and contemporary art — the largest collection of its kind in New England — and it’s something beloved by many people and it was horrifying to think that we might lose it.”

The Rose Museum is currently undergoing a $2 million renovation. It will re-open its doors to the public in October, with an exhibit of contemporary art from 1961, the year it was founded, to celebrate its 50th anniversary.

Chelsea Art Walk Celebrates A Rebounding City

By Bob Seay   |   Friday, June 10, 2011
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June 10, 2011



CHELSEA, Mass. — The city of Chelsea has seen tough times in recent years, including fires, bankruptcy and receivership.

But now, the city is rebounding. To celebrate, artists and citizens are coming together this Saturday and Sunday for the Chelsea art walk.

Earlier week, one of the event's founders, John Kennard, and Chelsea city Treasurer Bob Boulrice took WGBH's Bob Seay on a preview tour of the walk.

Click the player above to hear the story.

A 'Floating' Expansion For The Gardner

By Jared Bowen   |   Friday, February 25, 2011
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Feb. 25, 2011

Take the video tour: The Gardner's expansion. 

BOSTON — The Museum of Fine Arts isn’t the only Boston museum with a major expansion. Just across the park from the MFA, a vast, $114 million extension is rising behind the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, designed by famed architect Renzo Piano.
 
Anne Hawley, the director of the Gardner Museum, said the expansion was tailored to fit with the existing museum. “One of the things that Renzo Piano -- who so understands this building -- wanted to do was to make sure that the buildings, that the new building respected this building. He said it had to be like a nephew to a great grand-aunt.”

Site Plan of the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, Boston (Renzo Piano Building Workshop 2010)

And the great grand aunt, by the way, is getting a facelift. The new building allows for Mrs. Gardner’s palace to be restored back to the way she left it—including the grand tapestry room, which has doubled as a formal concert hall for the past 40 years.
 
“For over 100 years, this building has been loved to death but there’s just too much going on in it,” Hawley said. Everything from fixtures to tiles to the 16th-century Flemish tapestries will be restored.
 
But the bulk of the work is happening behind the museum, with the new 70,000 square foot building. It’s larger than Mrs. Gardner’s Palace.
 
Originally, Hawley and her colleagues told Piano they wanted the extension to “float poetically” behind the museum. “And to have a great feeling for people when they walked into it. And to have that intimacy of scale that the Palace has,” Hawley said.
 
So visitors will now enter the museum on a floor entirely enclosed by glass, giving the sense that building does float. It also gives patrons a clear view of the palace and surrounding gardens.
 
Hawley says it’s a definitive contrast from the original structure. “That is such a closed building. No one really knows when they look at it what’s going on inside. So the idea was that this would be very transparent and it would be open to the park and public,” Hawley said.
 
In addition to a new café, gift shop and offices, there will be a 2,000 square-ft. special exhibitions gallery here as well. It’s three times the space of the old one.
 
“It’ll be for contemporary artists but it will also be for historic projects and we’ll alternate between them. And it has, it goes 36 feet up,” Hawley said.
 
And what’s quickly shaping up to be the most iconic space in the museum is a soaring new performance hall. Previously housed in the Tapestry Room, here it will be a very singular cube with only two rows on each side of the ground level and just single rows on the three balcony levels.
 
“It is going to be intimate and lively and I think people are just going to love it,” Hawley said. She says there’s no other space like it.
 
We’ll be able to hear and see for ourselves when the new building opens in just 11 months.


Rendering from Evans Way Park, 2010 (Renzo Piano Building Workshop)

Center Stage

Tuesday, August 24, 2010
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About the Authors
WGBH News
The WGBH News team comprises the WGBH radio newsroom, The Callie Crossley Show, The Emily Rooney Show and WGBH Channel 2 reporters and producers from Greater Boston and Basic Black. 
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.
Phillip Martin Phillip Martin
Phillip W. D. Martin is the senior investigative reporter for WGBH Radio News and executive producer for Lifted Veils Productions. In the past, he was a supervising senior editor for NPR, an NPR race relations correspondent and one of the senior producers responsible for creating The World radio program in 1995. He was a Nieman Fellow at Harvard in 1998. Learn more at liftedveils.org.
Bob Seay Bob Seay
Bob Seay is the host of NPR's Morning Edition on 89.7FM WGBH Radio. He got his start in radio during college at WMUH, got involved with WGBH TV while in graduate school at Boston University and formerly hosted ME at WRNI in Rhode Island.
Jared Bowen Jared Bowen
Jared Bowen is WGBH’s Emmy Award-winning Executive Editor and Host for Arts. 

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