MMAA Exhibition “Brick x Brick” Uses Art to Describe the Craft of City Building

Juan Angel Chávez Hard Bark, 2012 Mixed media collage, 94 x 112%22

“Architecture is an endlessly fascinating lens through which to observe dramatic changes in the history and texture of contemporary cities,” posits a press release by the Minnesota Museum of American Art (MMAA) in St. Paul. We concur! And in MMAA’s new group exhibition opening Thursday (August 18), the process of building and the compositions created by texture, shape, form, and color of our cities come to the fore.

George Morrison Cube, 1988 Wood 11 3/4 x 11 3/4 x 11 ¾" Purchased with funds given by Sylvia Brown, Dr. Wolfgang Zeman, and Renato & Giorgio Marmont
George Morrison Cube, 1988 Wood 11 3/4 x 11 3/4 x 11 ¾” Purchased with funds given by Sylvia Brown, Dr. Wolfgang Zeman, and Renato & Giorgio Marmont

In the exhibition, “Brick x Brick,” half of the work is by Minnesota artists who bring a keen eye and their own aesthetic sense to describing the political and cultural forces that shape a city. George Morrison’s “Cube,” for instance, is classic Morrison: a collage of polished wood pieces assembled into a sculptural puzzle. Carolyn Swiszcz’s paintings of St. Paul’s iconic and aging retail landmarks capture the inevitability of change. In his 1988 painting “Elevator – 29th and Harriet,” Mike Lynch captures an enduring object in the Minneapolis skyline: the grain elevator.

Carolyn Swiszcz Big K, 2016 acrylic on panel, 36 x 36" Courtesy of the artist
Carolyn Swiszcz Big K, 2016 acrylic on panel, 36 x 36″ Courtesy of the artist

The show also includes a lithograph by internationally acclaimed New York artist Julie Mehretu, who is renowned for her densely layered abstract work. Titled “Entropia,” this one includes 32 layers of ink composed to create lines, shapes and swirls that recall topographical maps. And famed architectural photographer Robert Polidori’s images of Havana bring that city’s propensity for pastel blues and pink to life.

The object of the exhibition, by showing such varied works in such diverse media, is to convey how art can be used to describe the craft of city building, and to demonstrate how buildings can contribute to or disrupt the building environment. Perhaps one of the most compelling works in the show is Rob Fischer’s “Industrial Revolution.” In true Duchampian fashion, the New York artist uses a Modernist color palette and salvaged panes of glass to construct an installation as intriguing as the city itself.

The exhibition opens with a member reception, Thursday, August 18, 2016, 5:30 – 7 p.m., program at 6:15 p.m. Members are invited to attend an exclusive preview, including an introduction to the exhibition by MMAA Curator Christopher Atkins. Complimentary drinks and refreshments will be served. Music by DJ Booka B. (Not a member? Click here to join online. A public reception follows 7 – 9 p.m. The exhibition runs through December 30, 2016.

By Camille LeFevre

Juan Angel Chávez Hard Bark, 2012  Mixed media collage, 94 x 112″  Courtesy of the artist juanangelchavez.com
George Morrison Cube, 1988 Wood 11 3/4 x 11 3/4 x 11 ¾” Purchased with funds given by Sylvia Brown, Dr. Wolfgang Zeman, and Renato & Giorgio Marmont
Carolyn Swiszcz Big K, 2016  acrylic on panel, 36 x 36″ Courtesy of the artist carolynswiszcz.com

 

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