In this week's edition of GBH Executive Arts Editor Jared Bowen’s arts rundown, find out more about some of the national headlines in the arts and culture sector, alongside an exciting local business and two new exhibits at area museums.

National Museum of Women in the Arts

Opening in Washington, DC, Oct. 2023

Last week, Bowen called in to Boston Public Radio from Washington, D.C., where he took a tour of the National Museum of Women in the Arts ahead of its reopening in October. This week, he walked through the significance of the museum, the first major museum in the world to exclusively show art by women. The museum houses 6,000 items in its permanent collection, spanning four centuries of artistry, and the pieces are presented thematically, as opposed to chronologically. Bowen said the museum displays its collections thematically as opposed to chronologically, which offers opportunities for stories to be told across time. "How women in the 1600s were working the same as a woman in 1942, perhaps. So we get to see different viewpoints of history and social strata through their art," allowing otherwise unnoticed connections to be made between works from the 17th and 20th centuries.

Madhouse Motors

Roxbury’s Madhouse Motors is one of the few motorcycle-specific repair shops in the area, and the only one owned by a woman. Owner and MassART alumna J. Shia incorporates her Middle Eastern roots into her work, seeing motorcycles as artistic endeavors and her shop as an artist’s studio. As Bowen described, Madhouse Motors is home to mechanics “who just love motorcycles and love bikes so much that they view it as a sculpture.” While the public cannot visit the shop the way you would an art gallery, there is a new cafe open to the public attached to Madhouse Motors.

This is a photograph of motorcycle builder, J. Shia. she is in her motorcycle shop, leaning on one of her bikes, her Triumph motorcycle. It is vintage mint green, with a tan leather seat. J. Shia is looking directly into the camera. she looks intense and thoughtful.
J. Shia, mechanic, designer, builder and owner of Madhouse Motors
Jacob Garcia GBH News

"Lyle Ashton Harris: Our First and Last Love"

On view at the Rose Museum through Jul. 2

Following 35 years of Lyle Ashton Harris’ career, this exhibit at Brandeis University’s Rose Art Museum is “an exhibition of an artist really in conversation with himself.” Beyond retrospection, the exhibit also dives into discussions of identity and art, and how Harris incorporates his experience as a Black artist into his work and “how he had seen himself be seen by the world.”

In addition to Harris’ portrait work, there are also shadow boxes where Harris has collected work created by himself and by his family, including mementos of his grandfather’s love of photography. The narratives of these shadow boxes are “stark, provocative, and pointed,” bringing the gallery to life.

This image is of a multi-media a collage. Black and white family photos are mixed and layered with other photographs of people. The images are against a traditional Ghanaian cloth, which is a series of  alternating orange and brown wavy lines.
Lyle Ashton Harris, Succession, 2020.
Private Collection. © Lyle Ashton Harris. Image courtesy of the artist and LGDR, New York

"Spirits: Tsherin Sherpa with Robert Beer"

On view at the Peabody Essex Museum through May 29

This “enchanting” exhibit at the Peabody Essex Museum is highlighted for its vibrance, brought together by featured artists Tsherin Sherpa and Robert Beer. Artist Robert Beer emigrated to the Himalayas from the United States in the 1960s to begin art-making following a mental health crisis. Beer’s work — he was among the first Western artists to learn traditional Himalayan techniques — informed Sherpa, a Himalayan artist who learned how to paint from his father before moving to California from Nepal. These two cross-continental experiences show through in the featured work, where traditional spirits are depicted alongside Coca-Cola branding. As Bowen explained, “this show charts the evolution of [Sherpa’s] spirit and how it echoes immigration and migration across the United States,” an attempt for each artist to be “reconciling his own movement across the globe.”

This is a rendering of two Tibetan Buddhist deities. They are crouching on the ground, facing each other against a black background that is full of dozens od colorful, flying butterflies.
Spirit (Metamorphosis), Acrylic and ink on canvas
Collection of Dolma Chonzom Bhutia Peabody Essex Museum


Bowen also took on some of the latest arts and culture headlines with Boston Public Radio hosts, Jim Braude and Margery Eagan, starting with Jeff Koons. Love or hate his work, he's known around the world for his balloon animal sculptures. Koons has made nearly 800 “balloon dog” sculptures, but now there’s one fewer. A woman visting a contemporary art fair in Miami accidentally knocked a sculpture valued at $42,000, off a pedestal, shattering it to pieces.

German ballet choreographer Marco Goecke made headlines for retaliating against critic Wiebke Hüster by smearing her face with dog feces. He accused Hüster of writing “often nasty reviews." The incident, which led to Goecke stepping down from his post at the Hanover State Ballet, has prompted discussion about the role of critics in the arts. Bowen weighed in, saying that, among critics and artists alike, “There’s really not malfeasance in this community. People work really hard [...] and it comes from a well-meaning place. It doesn’t always land, it isn’t always great, but it’s always borne of just an extraordinary effort.”