Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Moving On

crate interior
One of the fun aspects of my job is the installation of an exhibition. I confess there is a level of stress associated with installing and deinstalling an exhibition, but it is gratifying and we have a solid product at the end.

We are currently in deinstallation mode  and we are surrounded by crates, preparators, shippers, and lots of paperwork to make sure the "children" get to their respective destination safely. Deinstallation is always quicker than installation, in part, because we are familiar with the way the objects were packed, how they fit in the crates, orientation, and other particulars important to their safety.

If you have never seen a fine art shipping crate, it is a level of carpentry and artistry of its own and we have our own laundry list about what constitutes a good one. We appreciate having feet on the base--short leg blocks on each corner that are a little higher than the bottom of the crate, and it also nice to have a wood bar across each end of the crate to serve as a handle. These features make moving things much easier. Even the hardware makes a difference--large bolts with washers and metal plates or locks make the crates seal properly. Crates are custom made to protect the art from abrasions or breakage, but also ward off damp conditions, vibration, and shifts while they are being moved. Foamcore, styrofoam, Tyvek (a DuPont product that is a non woven product consisting of spun bond olefin fiber) are all part of the interior architecture. It is not part of my job to  know the chemical breakdown of these products, but it is helpful to know why or how to use them. 

We follow a protocol for deinstalling exhibitions. Each work is analyzed to assure they are in the same condition in which they arrived and those observations are noted in the "Condition Report Book." (The next venue that receives the exhibition also goes through this same process when the art arrives and before it departs). 

If the crates have not been kept in climate controlled storage, they are usually brought into the gallery at least 24 hours before they are packed in order to "acclimate"--that is, come to the gallery temperature. This allows the works of art to go into their containers without any kind of temperature shock, which can damage the art. The works are then wrapped to protect the frame, paint surface, glazing, etc. and then placed in their allocated slot in the crate. Each work is checked off of the master list as it is placed in the crate and once the crate is completely loaded, the crate is sealed and marked. 

When the fine art shippers arrive--special shippers dedicated to moving works of decorative or fine art-- their trucks are climate controlled, but also have compensations for vibration and shock, and the necessary dollies, lifts, straps and other hardware to move the crates and keep them in place during transport. The crates have an orientation for their direction, be it upright or horizontal, and that orientation is maintained throughout the process of loading and shipping. Fine art shippers are an amazing professional team who do more than move crates and drive trucks. Their knowledge about crate construction, handling works of art, getting in and out of loading docks, and coming up with creative solutions for difficult doorways, surfaces, etc. is impressive.

Today we have put our Venetian prints on the road and we are  preparing the walls and retrieving hardware for our next exhibition which opens January 10, 2014. I hope you will take the time to see the new exhibition titled, Chasing the Moment: Works from Annapolis Senior High. This selective exhibition is comprised of works from students in Advanced Placement, International Baccalaureate Program, Honors, and other art programs. Our mission is to provide the students with the experience of having their works hung in a museum space, complete with climate control, framing, metered lights and everything else we do for our standard exhibitions. We are so pleased to have the support from the Arts Council of Anne Arundel County for this event. 

Best wishes for the holiday season and hope to see you January 10-19 for the students work.

Lucinda Dukes Edinberg
Art Educator

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

An Artist's Love of Venice

As we are in the last days of the exhibition, Reflections and Undercurrents: Ernest Roth and Printmaking in Venice, 1900-1945, I am beginning my parting thoughts about the exhibition moving on to another venue. How one is attracted to a piece of art is very personal. And since the works from this exhibition came from a private collection (as a promised gift to Dickinson College), the works acquired are very personal and are chosen for a variety of reasons:  adding a piece for fun, a rare find, or serves as a complementary piece to another work or artist in the collection. But there is a cohesiveness about this collection--the sort of "chain of command" from Whistler to Menpes and Bacher, to Roth and Arms, Mauroner and Brugnoli--the legacy.

Fabio Mauroner, Trattoria "La Vida" (Campo San Giacomo dell'Orio), 1924.
Etching. The Trout Gallery, Dickinson College, Carlisle, PA, 2011.42
One of the things that has struck me most is the artists' intimacy of the subject and the etched line. The delicate line is more than scratching out a depiction of a doorway, canal, or gondola. These works are labors of love. Favorite walkways and trattorias, like that of Fabio Maruoner's Trattoria "La Vida," are places the artists knew well. In spite of their need, commercial or otherwise, to create a unique view of a city well represented by a litany of artists over the centuries, their dedication to their love of Venice and their medium is foremost.

The influence of the artists looking at each others' work is revealed as one walks about the exhibition. It is interesting to note that Fabio Mauroner had a collection of thirteen prints created by Roth, many of which have individual greetings. John Taylor Arms owned some of Ernest Roth's prints. And certainly these are not isolated incidents of artists collecting other colleague's works.
 Fabio Maruoner,  Il Traghetto, 1907. Etching and drypoint. The Trout 
 Gallery, Dickinson College, Carlisle, PA. 2011.3.1

Mauroner, a native of Udine, is one of the most intriguing artists in the exhibition. He arrived in Venice in 1905, around the same time as his close friend Ernest David Roth and they produced similar views of churches, plazas, cloisters, and other sites. Mauroner's early works are close to Whistler's and Roth's approach of aspects of Venetian life, scenes more familiar to residents than visitors.  Il Traghetto, shown in mirror image, depicts one of the gondola ferries used at strategic points along the Grand Canal to take people to the opposite bank and is a good example of the portrayal of everyday life. Mauroner  achieved some recognition in the United States through the exhibition of the Chicago Society of Etchers in 1925, the Ehrich Gallery in New York City, and the Seattle Fine Arts Society in 1926.

Although many artists in this exhibition did not receive the "red carpet star" fame as other artists of their period, their contributions for the artistry of etching and our appreciation of their work is no less diminished.  I hope you will have the opportunity to see these works before the exhibition closes on December 13.

Denker, Eric.  Reflections and Undercurrents: Ernest Roth and Printmaking in Venice, 1900-1940, edited by Phillip Earenfight. Seattle: University of Washington Press, 2012.