What happens when love and art intersect? Find out on this week's edition of Arts This Week with GBH Executive Arts Editor Jared Bowen. He joined GBH's Morning Edition team to talk through two new exhibitions that showcase how love can create everlasting impressions. This transcript has lightly edited.
Patrick Kelly: Runway of Love
On view at the Peabody Essex Museum through Nov. 6
"Love is key to the title here," said Bowen.
Patrick Kelly was a designer from Vicksburg, Mississippi, who broke barriers by creating space for Black fashion models in an industry that was lacking diversity. Inspired by his grandmother's sewing, Kelly would go on to become one of the largest designers of the late 1980s and early '90s, joining the high-fashion upper echelon among people like Coco Chanel, Christian Dior, and Yves Saint Laurent.
"His designs were just so fashion forward," Bowen noted. "I mean, he was somebody who just appreciated the female form and the body, but also brought this great joy to what he was doing in these colorful buttons [...] and other elements of life that come to the fore."
Themes of love and exuberance can be glimpsed throughout the exhibit, and several pieces display Kelly's affinity for incorporating hearts, buttons and teddy bears in his designs.
"What I was so struck by, too, is not just the joy you see in his clothing, but in the photographs of him and in the video of runway shows, he's always got this just giant smile. He was just all about happiness and even sending letters of love to people," said Bowen.
On the Edge
On view at the Armenian Museum of America through Nov. 30
This new exhibit comes from the collection of Joan and Jack Quinn.
"This is a great, great show because it introduces us to all of this fabulous art from the 1970s through the 1990s that was happening in California," said Bowen. He pointed out that what makes this exhibit particularly engaging is the role of Joan Quinn, as "she is the one who has facilitated this major exhibition at the Armenian Museum of America because she has Armenian heritage."
The Quinns were immersed in artist circles and supported several now-famous artists in their early days, including Jean-Michel Basquiat, David Hockney and Andy Warhol. Because of her charisma, Joan was an inspiration and muse for many of them, with renditions ranging in style and technique from Renaissance portraiture to pop art.
"Artists were sketching her or making their own interpretations of her — be it in neon or through sculpture. What I love about that is that you see this wide array, all of these different artistic viewpoints of her," Bowen said.
Art collectors generally work with advisors to create the best return on investment for art purchases. But, as Bowen puts it, the Quinns "were really collecting, it seems, through their friendship and just genuine passion. And so there's, I think, an extra energy in this show if you know that going in to walk around and view it."