Cofrin cranks up the contemporary
Published: Thursday, June 1, 2006 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, June 1, 2006 at 12:00 a.m.
Sometimes good things get better.
The Mary Ann Harn Cofrin Pavilion opened last October with a fine new collection of contemporary art. In fact they had so much, the Samuel P. Harn Museum of Art had to tuck half of it away for another day. Oh, to be overburdened with beauty . . .
After six months "American Matrix 1" has been sent to the bench and "American Matrix 2" is up and swinging. While not everything has changed, there are more than enough new pieces to justify a return trip to the Harn.
More than enough? Heck, the Lichtenstein alone is worth the visit.
"It's a terrific signature piece," curator Kerry Oliver-Smith says of the Roy Lichtenstein painting. "It's one of the best out there; it's so much fun."
I couldn't agree more.
When I first walked into the gallery, I was greeted by two old friends, the twin bronze sculptures titled "The Columbia River" by Jim Dine. These wonderful gatekeepers suddenly have morphed into bookends for what lies beyond.
"Artist's Studio with Model" is big, bold and classic Lichtenstein. It has all the components that made this artist a pop icon. The comic book canvas references high, low and classic art while poking fun at art history in the process. You can see nods to Matisse, Picasso and geometric abstraction. Through it all shines his sense of humor.
Sharing wall space in the Pop Inspired section is the Campbell's Soup kid himself, Andy Warhol. There is a series of four silkscreen prints of - bet you can't guess - yep, soup cans. Like Lichtenstein and his fellow pop artists, Warhol rejects classic artistic subjects and emphasizes the thin, mass-produced lifestyle that accompanied America's evolution into a world power and a land of consumption.
Nearby is Robert Rauschenberg sculpture's sculpture "Tibetan Garden Song." A child's cello sits in a washtub, with a brush attached to the neck of the instrument. It is an attractive piece, but not one I immediately understood; however, its sensual aspect has kept the work in my memory for days.
As always the Harn has broken the exhibit into several themes. Besides the Pop Inspired section, there are Methods and Materials, a carry-over that is unchanged, Painterly Perspectives, Strange Space and a single artist area showcasing the works of Laylah Ali.
Make sure you read the plaques as you go through the sections. Some of the pieces really came into focus once I understood their relation to the underlying theme. "Shipwreck and Worker, Istanbul" by Allan Sekula is a perfect example. This photograph of a laborer at a ship wrecking yard evokes a sense of futility that fits neatly into the Strange Space section.
If you really want to go into detail, Oliver-Smith will lead a gallery talk about the exhibit at 3 p.m. Sunday.
On a lighter side, there is some new art in the open-air courtyard off the pavilion's entrance. This area not only makes a fine place to relax, but you can actually sit on the art. How often can you get away with that?
So while we may have sent our Monet off for a semester abroad, don't sweat it, we got Lichtenstein "in the haus." Oh, yeah.
"American Matrix 2" runs through Oct. 29. See it.
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As you read this, the Yulee Railroad Days celebration is in full gear. While the focus of the festival is celebrating the old railroad and the history of the time, their will be art to be found along the route.
Melrose galleries will be open to celebrate the event. On Friday and Saturday, there will be a paint out featuring plein air artists and photographers. The two-day event culminates with a sale at 5 p.m. Saturday at the Melrose Bay Gallery. Artists such as Ron Haase, Linda Pence and Eleanor Blair will be displaying their skills, and a portion of the proceeds will go to supporting the Yulee Days-Melrose Connection Committee.
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A couple of weeks back I promised more information on the Dan Dobson show at the Reitz Union. I had a chance to check it out. The good news is that it is well worth the trip if you like your art with a sci-fi flavor. The bad news is that it ends on Friday. If you enjoy digital photography that recalls the psychedelic, '60s, surrealistic rock-album covers of the '70s and the digital imagery of the future, get it in gear and get over there.
David Hackett can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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