Last night was our first public art display in our home by artists other than ourselves– “Michael collects and Gregory paints.”
In a previous post, I described our new Amish built display table for our living room, which has allowed us to exhibit lots of items from our vast tchotchke collection. Playfully, but seriously, I suggested to my friend Michael that he have a show “in the table.” He has been collecting miniatures his entire life and now his collection, on permanent loan to the Chicago Children’s Museum (also in a previous post), will open this May 13. But he is a consummate (and obsessive) collector and so has continued collecting since this donation. He would use the table.
His partner, Gregory, who was diagnosed with early onset of Altzheimers 8 years ago, has begun to paint, so Michael suggested that Gregory show his paintings as well. He would be “on the wall.”
Michael and Greg created Artist Statements about their work. An excerpt from Michael’s:
I have been a collector all my life…Unlike my other artistic endeavors which are usually orderly and symmetrical, if not balanced, “In the Table: A Display of Collected Items” invites the viewer to visually inspect, discover, and make sense of a disorderly array of unrelated items. The only thing they have in common is that they are all small. The contents of the table may be rearranged periodically during the reception.
My installation was inspired by a visit to The Menil Collection in Houston where I saw a show called Witness. In a small, dark, but carefully lit room, were cases displaying actual and reproduced items with which the Surrealists surrounded themselves in their studios.
…What inspired me in particular was a glass top coffee table, placed on a platform in one corner of the Witness exhibit, which had belonged to Mrs. Menil. It contained in no particular order, a huge array of items, each more interesting than the next. Her purpose was to inspire her visitors, adults and children, to play, discover, question, and learn from the items in the table…The collector in me was moved and wanted to both play with and to own Mrs. Menil’s table collection.
An excerpt from Gregory’s statement:
When I met Nancy Rosen…there was an instant connection…[A]n amazingly prolific and talented oil painter, [she] has taken me under her wing as I begin to develop my latest art form, working with oils.
The paintings are on Stonehenge paper that has been roughly gessoed. I begin each piece by studying the rough surface of the paper in silent contemplation until it “speaks” to me. Then I paint and do not stop, or look at the work from afar, until I am finished with the piece. I automatically know when to begin and when to end a piece…The ideas just seem to come from within, I know not where exactly.
As I cleaned the house for the opening, I cleaned with real intention. I have never done that before, that is, clean with intention. Thoughts and memories of my 32 year old friendship with Michael and Greg filled me as I mopped, dusted, and even painted two walls. My intention in the cleaning of the house was a mantra to build constructive energy in the space of our home and to demonstrate my sincere love for the both of them. The house was flooded with light.
Last night at the opening, the energy was high and palpable. A wonderful mix of people (35-40 guests): friends of Michael and Greg’s, some of our friends, some of our son’s friends (and his new girlfriend, I might add), mutual friends. Good synergy. Diverse conversations and lots of places to explore and have them. We converted our son’s old room into a guest room/ gallery of JB’s and my work. Our studios were open and in the library upstairs, people played the theremin.
Boosted by the champagne cordials and other adult beverages, Michael and Greg held court with engaged admirers and supporters. The evening felt busy and electrically-charged. It was a wonderful feeling to be able to play host and create opportunities for others to have attention around their creative endeavors. It was wonderful to have a house that, inspired by this task, so easily adapted and grew creatively in its capacity to hold the tangible visions of others.
JB’s closeup photo of “in the table:”
Visit Michael’s Museum to find out more information about the upcoming opening at the Chicago Children’s Museum.