Grant gives boost to supportive art programs for adults with disabilities – GuelphToday
ELORA CENTRE FOR THE ARTS
Thanks to a recent Ontario Trillium Foundation (OTF) grant, the Elora Centre for the Arts (ECFTA) will has expanded the reach and scope of their Supportive Arts program for young adults with (dis)abilities.
The three-year grant allows the Elora Centre for the Arts the opportunity to build on the proven model of their original program and increase the offered number of classes per week each year.
“Our Supportive Arts program is about enriching people’s lives through arts and culture, and this boost to the program from OTF is really improving access to arts-based learning opportunities and compelling artistic experiences for participants in our community”, says Judy Anderson, lead Arts Programmer and Instructor at ECFTA. “This program will impact so many people in our community over three years,” she says.
The expanded program was slated to launch in March, just before COVID-19 hit. The program was rescheduled and launched mid-September, in a slightly re-imagined format to best suit the needs of the participants. Various local partner centres who participate in the program are not running field trips at the moment and limiting their activities to in-centre day programs if anything.
“We decided we needed to shift our thinking a bit to deliver the program despite the restrictions” said Lianne Carter, Executive Director at the Elora Centre for the Arts. “We decided that, for Phase 1, we would take the program on the road and run it at one of our partner’s day facilities in Guelph. That means loading up art project materials, art instructors and assistants and driving to their location but if it means we can still run the program, that’s what we are going to do for now” she said.
Phase one of the program expansion includes an ECFTA-lead art project followed by a movement and mindfulness session twice a week. The second year of the program grows to three workshops a week, and the third year it expands to four workshops per week.
“I want to express our sincere thanks to the Ontario Trillium Foundation for helping the Elora Centre for the Arts” said Wellington-Halton Hills MPP Ted Arnott. “This generous grant will ensure the continued success of this Supportive Arts program, allowing more young people to participate and benefit.”
One of the original Supportive Arts participants, Simon Greaves, is currently working on a large outdoor art piece, as a thank you to the Ontario Trillium Foundation for their support of the program.
The piece will be completed and hung in the outdoor garden at the Elora Centre for the Arts in the spring.
To view photos of the program in the coming weeks, community members can visit https://eloracentreforthearts.ca/classes/outreach/ or follow the progress on the ECFTA Facebook page @eloracentre.arts For more information please contact Lianne Carter director@ecfta or 519-830-1876.
Hannah Gadsby’s Disastrous ‘Pablo-matic’ Show at the Brooklyn Museum Has Some ‘Pablo-ms’ of Its Own – ARTnews
Over the past half century, Pablo Picasso’s reputation has taken quite a beating. Once termed a “genius” by fellow Cubist Georges Braque and later a “prodigy” by his biographer John Richardson, Picasso was called a “walking scrotum” in Robert Hughes’s 1991 history of modern art. In 2019 he was even labeled an “egoist” by artist Françoise Gilot, who ended their tumultuous decade-long relationship and then chronicled it in a 1964 memoir that was recently reprinted.
The shift owes something to feminists like Linda Nochlin, who, in a well-known 1971 ARTnews essay, asked if Picasso would have been called a genius if he were born a girl. But most people don’t know Nochlin. They know Hannah Gadsby, a comedian who took up Picasso in their 2018 Netflix special Nanette, going so far as to say he “just put a kaleidoscope filter” on his penis when he helped think up Cubism, a movement that prized a multiplicity of perspectives.
Gadsby is even more unsparing than that in the audio guide for their new Brooklyn Museum show, “It’s Pablo-matic: Picasso According to Hannah Gadsby,” which opens to the public on Friday.
Gadsby notes that Picasso was a “monumentally misogynistic and abusive domestic authoritarian dictator,” and that he “takes up too much space.” To further underscore the point, perhaps in homage to Hughes, Gadsby lends Picasso the nickname “PP.” You can do the work figuring out that very unsubtle pun.
“Picasso is not my muse of choice,” Gadsby later says of organizing the show. “I regret this.” They should.
Organized with Brooklyn Museum curators Catherine Morris and Lisa Small, “It’s Pablo-matic” aspires toward a new kind of Picasso scholarship that better accounts for his misogyny, his bad behavior, and his colonialist impulses. Gadsby and the curators intend to accomplish this by weaving in more recent works by pillars of feminist art, a noble gesture meant to “unearth and champion voices and perspectives that are missing from our collective understanding of ourselves,” per Gadsby.
The show’s problem—Pablo-m, if you will—is not its revisionary mindset, which justly sets it apart from all the other celebratory Picasso shows being staged this year to mark the 50th anniversary of his death. That is the appropriate lens for discussing much of Picasso’s oeuvre in 2023. It is, instead, the show’s disregard for art history, the discipline that Gadsby studied, practiced, and abandoned after becoming frustrated with its patriarchal roots.
The Pablo-ms begin before you even enter the first gallery. Above the show’s loud red signage on the museum’s ground floor, there’s a 26-foot-long painting by Cecily Brown, Triumph of the Vanities II (2018), featuring an orgy of brushy forms set against a fiery background. The painting looks back to the bacchanalia of Rococo painting and the intensity of Eugène Delacroix’s hues. It has little to say about Picasso, an artist whom Brown has spoken of admiringly.
Inside the show, there’s Jo Baker’s Birthday (1995), a Faith Ringgold print featuring a reclining Josephine Baker beside a bowl of ripe peaches. This is a direct allusion to paintings by Henri Matisse like Odalisque couchée aux magnolias (1923), not to Picasso. (A better Ringgold selection would’ve been her 1991 quilt Picasso’s Studio, which takes on the artist more directly.) Likewise, there’s Nina Chanel Abney’s Forbidden Fruit (2009), in which a group of picnickers are seated around and atop watermelons. It’s a composition that specifically recalls Édouard Manet’s Déjeuner sur l’herbe (1862–63), not any particular Picasso painting.
There’s no question that Ringgold and Abney are highlighting the limits of modernism—they replace white figures with Black ones, whom they suture into European images. But this exhibition is not about the modernist canon as a whole, which is itself an extension of a male-dominated Western art history that spans centuries. It’s specifically about one man, per the show’s title: Picasso, whom “It’s Pablo-matic” flatly offers as the only modernist worth critiquing. He isn’t.
Ironically, one of the few Picasso-focused works comes courtesy of Gadsby themselves. It’s a ca. 1995 copy of Picasso’s Large Bather with a Book (1937), depicting a blocky, boulder-like figure crumpled over an open volume. Gadsby painted their reproduction on the wall of their parents’ basement. Looking back on it, they now call it “shitty.”
“Picasso once said it took him four years to paint like Raphael, but a lifetime to paint like a child,” Gadsby writes in the wall text. “Well, I don’t want to call myself a genius … But it did only take me four years to be as funny as Raphael.”
“Funny” is debatable, but comedy is used as a curatorial device throughout the show. Gadsby’s quotes, which are printed above more serious art historical musings, are larded with the language of Twitter. “Weird flex,” reads one appended to a Picasso print of a nude woman caressing a sculpture of a naked, chiseled man. “Don’t you hate it when you look like you belong in a Dickens novel but end up in a mosh pit at Burning Man? #MeToo,” reads another that goes with a print showing a minotaur barging into a crowded, darkened space.
Most of the works in this show are by Picasso, strangely enough. This in itself constitutes an issue—you can’t re-center art history if you’re still centering Picasso.
But if the curators must, they have at least brought some impressive works to the US for the exhibition. There are several paintings on loan from the Musée National Picasso in Paris, some of which are enlisted in savvy ways.
One of them, Corrida: la mort de la femme torero (Bullfighting: Death of the Female Bullfighter), from 1933, shows a woman tumbling across two colliding bulls. Upon impact, her breasts spill out, lending the scene an unseemly erotic quality that courses through so many of the Picasso works in this show. It’s all the more disturbing to learn that this female toreador was based on Marie-Thérèse Walter, who was romantically involved with Picasso at the time. I agree with the curators’ assessment that this painting emblematizes Picasso’s brutal tendencies. I only wish it wasn’t paired with this quote from Gadsby: “If PETA can’t cancel Picasso … no one can.”
It’s key that the show repeatedly references Gilot and Walter, as well as other women from Picasso’s love life, like the artist Dora Maar and the dancer Olga Khokhlova. These women were previously written off as Picasso’s “muses,” and “It’s Pablo-matic” suggests that historians still have trouble talking about them. While the show is frank about the negative aspects of these women’s relationships with the artist, they are always discussed within the context of Picasso, who continues to exert a strong gravitational pull.
I detected a disingenuous sentiment amid it all. Gilot and Maar both produced art of note. Where was that in this show? It would’ve been instructive to see their work placed on equal footing with Picasso’s. Or, for that matter, pretty much any female modernists. The only ones who make the cut are Kathe Köllwitz and Maria Martins, both of whom are represented by unremarkable examples of their remarkable oeuvres.
These women didn’t make it into history books for a long time, and that’s the subtext of Kaleta Doolin’s Improved Janson: A Woman on Every Page #2 (2017), a piece included in this show. The work takes the form of a famed art history textbook that has, in every one of its pages, a vaginal oval cut out of it. An image of Picasso’s Demoiselles d’Avignon (1907) was sliced by Doolin during the work’s making, its lower left-hand corner now lopped off.
Doolin’s work is about removal: she leaves parts of Janson’s book absent to make clear that women artists, for so many centuries, were kept out of the picture. This was a painful, violent elision, and Doolin makes steps toward rectifying the carnage by acknowledging all that contributed to it. If only Gadsby had done the same.
Why does this show contort art history so? There are numerous Picasso works here that portray threesomes, rapes, and bestiality. The wall text doesn’t hide the sources of these images: Ovid’s poetry, Greek mythology. When Picasso represented a minotaur kneeling over a nude, sleeping woman who can’t consent, he was glorifying sexual assault, using classical art as a limp justification. He was hardly the first male artist to do that, however: Bernini, Titian, Correggio, Poussin, and many more did it too. Yet this exhibition directs its aim only at Picasso.
Many of the women in this exhibition are responding to centuries of misogyny, not just Picasso’s. Betty Tompkins has a grand, grisaille painting showing an erect penis entering a vagina in close-up—an image that recalls a certain Gustave Courbet work—while Joan Semmel takes a lighter approach, with a painting of a post-coital couple shown from the woman’s point of view. Ghada Amer is showing a terrific embroidered work in which pools of red thread reveal pairs of splayed-open women’s legs, and Rachel Kneebone has a porcelain piece that looks like a fountain of limbs. There’s no specific reference point in these works, because the male gaze is omnipotent. It wasn’t found only in Picasso’s studio.
The final gallery, the sole one without any Picasso works in it, brings “It’s Pablo-matic” into even squishier territory. There are some great works here—Dara Birnbaum’s classic video skewering Wonder Woman, an Ana Mendieta photograph of an abstracted female form sculpted into the ground, Dindga McCannon’s painting of a multihued revolutionary with real bullets fixed to the canvas—but they have almost nothing in common, beside the fact that they are all owned by the Brooklyn Museum.
The supplement to this exhibition, available on the Bloomberg Connects app, includes an interview with one artist in this gallery, Harmony Hammond. Asked about her feelings on Picasso, she says, “Truth be told, I don’t think about Picasso and his work.”
It would’ve been nice to have more artists who were thinking about Picasso, or whose work, at least, has something to do with him. But this seems like too much to ask from the curators, especially Gadsby, who greets that line of thinking with a big, fat raspberry. “Humans are not doing great,” they say on the audio guide. “We are unsettled. I blame Picasso. That’s a little joke. Or is it? I don’t know.”
Revealing show cleverly pairs two female Impressionists – The Globe and Mail
In a new Impressionism show at the Art Gallery of Ontario in Toronto, there’s a moment parents will recognize. In an 1897 painting, by the American expat artist Mary Cassatt, a mother lies in bed with a baby. Front and centre, the plump toddler sits upright, rosy-cheeked and bright-eyed, while the mother gazes sleepily up from her pillow. There’s a tea cup nearby and the child seems to be holding some bread: The title, Breakfast in Bed, is saccharine enough to suggest a tender maternal scene of the kind prized by Victorian audiences. Look closer at the mother’s expression, however, and you’ll perceive her reality: a 6 a.m. wake-up when she would rather sleep.
This clever exhibition is stuffed with such telling moments, achieved by juxtaposing Cassatt’s work with that of the Canadian Impressionist Helen McNicoll. On the surface, the combo, entitled Cassatt – McNicoll: Impressionists Between Worlds, might seem opportunistic or merely convenient. Cassatt was an American living in France and part of the original circle dubbed Impressionist; McNicoll, 35 years younger, was a Canadian working in England under the general influence of the new styles. Throw together two female artists who belong to different generations and never met, and see if some of Cassatt’s wider fame can rub off on McNicoll’s work, not particularly well known even to Canadians. However, the execution, by AGO curator Caroline Shields, offers so many smart observations drawn from this pairing that the show swiftly banishes these doubts.
Shields argues that Cassatt and McNicoll, who both criss-crossed the Atlantic in the age of the steam liner, were figures who inhabited liminal spaces as they travelled between Europe and North America and negotiated professional restrictions placed on women. They could not venture unaccompanied into the city streets or cabarets so beloved by the French Impressionists, and convention encouraged them to concentrate on domestic subjects, although both were unmarried and childless.
Shields makes this point with two paintings near the start: Cassatt’s Young Girl at a Window shows a woman looking inwardly rather than out at a Parisian view; McNicoll’s The Open Door shows a country woman in an interior, perhaps seeking light to tie a knot in her sewing, but with her back turned to the great outdoors. So, both women are placed at the threshold of places where they do not venture.
Next, the exhibition matches Cassatt’s Woman Bathing of 1890-91, one of her familiar drypoint prints heavily influenced by Japanese ukiyo-e, with Interior (1910) by McNicoll, a view of an empty bedroom. By placing the familiar image of a woman at her toilette beside Interior, Fields makes the point that McNicoll has deliberately removed a nude from her scene.
The AGO has also provided a brief video in which the painting is animated as though we were watching the room through the day in time-lapse photography, revealing McNicoll’s use of a shaft of light to enliven her composition. Compared to the pointless animation in the so-called immersive shows devoted to such artists as Vincent Van Gogh or Claude Monet, this small educational intervention by AGO interpretive planner Gillian McIntryre is an astute way of asking viewers to stop and look closer.
Looking closer and thinking again is what this show is all about. Cassatt’s pictures of women and babies are often ambivalent – Maternal Caress and The Child’s Caress seem to show women suffering babies batting at their faces – while McNicoll painted children alone, without mothers supervising them.
One exception is In the Shadow of the Tree from 1910, which shows a young caregiver on a summer day reading a book with a pram beside her, one hand touching it as if to rock the baby. That painting, along with several showing women under parasols or tents at a beach, are testament to McNicoll’s masterful painting of light. Dappled or filtered light on a summer day is perhaps her most magnificent subject.
McNicoll was primarily known for outdoor scenes but around 1913, she began a series of ambitious canvases featuring women in interiors, including two of a figure wearing a massive white crinoline. As the drive to women’s suffrage reached its peak, these confining dresses were now seen as outmoded: McNicoll calls both paintings The Victorian Dress. What would have happened next? McNicoll died of diabetes at age 35 in 1915, so sadly we will never know.
It’s not a contest, but she often comes across as the stronger artist here, her brushwork more impressive in its impressionistic effects; her figures more graceful. In a section about labour, Cassatt is represented by Young Women Picking Fruit, an oddly emphatic painting from 1891 in which a well-dressed receiver looks adoringly up at the picker, as a symbol of women passing knowledge to each other. About 20 years later, McNicoll is painting working class women picking apples or carrying hay in more convincing depictions of empowerment.
This weighting probably has more to do with available loans than the reality of the two careers. The AGO has assembled 27 of McNicoll’s paintings from its own collection (which also includes all her sketchbooks, many on display) and from museums in Ontario, Quebec and New Brunswick, as well as private collections. Cassatt is represented by only 13 paintings and her best known pieces, works such as The Child’s Bath at the Art Institute of Chicago, are not included. Instead, Chicago has lent the more fussy female figure On a Balcony. The biggest hits are a pair of deliciously sophisticated female portraits, Portrait of Madame J from the Maryland State Archives and The Cup of Tea from New York’s Metropolitan Museum.
There are no Cassatt paintings in Canadian collections, but luckily the National Gallery of Canada does hold an edition of the 10 drypoint prints devoted to women at their toilette, riding a bus or bathing children. It’s impressive to see the full series at the AGO, to recognize Cassatt’s meticulous printmaking and her commitment to making women seen in art rather than merely objectified.
More than a century separates us from Cassatt and McNicoll and it’s easy to assume that all is sweetness and light in their paintings of elegant ladies, chubby babies and vigorous farm girls. By pairing the two, Cassatt – McNicoll slyly reveals the many subtleties in the work of two female artists carving out careers in what was, in their day, a man’s profession.
Cassatt/McNicoll continues to Sept. 2023 at the Art Gallery of Ontario in Toronto.
Hannah Gadsby's Picasso exhibit roasted by art critics – The A.V. Club
“It’s Pablo-matic: Picasso According to Hannah Gadsby” has been Pablo-matic from the start. The comedian was criticized for launching an exhibit at the Brooklyn Museum, where Elizabeth A. Sackler (of Purdue Pharma infamy) apparently sits on the board of trustees. “Doesn’t matter what cultural institution you work with in America, you’re going to be working with billionaires and there’s not a billionaire on this planet that is not fucked up. It is just morally reprehensible,” Gadsby lamented to Variety, nevertheless moving forward with the exhibit.
After having criticized Picasso in their lauded Netflix special Nanette, Gadsby was tapped to co-curate an exhibition to mark the 50th anniversary of the artist’s death. The show examines Picasso’s “complicated legacy through a critical, contemporary, and feminist lens, even as it acknowledges his work’s transformative power and lasting influence.” The exhibit consists of Picasso’s work with the work of female artists, with the addition of Gadsby’s commentary.
Reviews of the show (which opens on Friday) are, shall we say, not kind. Gadsby’s quips tacked to Picasso’s art “function a bit like bathroom graffiti, or maybe Instagram captions,” writes New York Times reviewer Jason Farago, who dismisses Gadsby’s commentary as “juvenile.” ARTnews’ Alex Greenberger observes that Gadsby’s quotes are “larded with the language of Twitter,” highlighting the label above a minotaur print: “Don’t you hate it when you look like you belong in a Dickens novel but end up in a mosh pit at Burning Man? #MeToo.”
There is no debate about Picasso’s misogyny or any of the more unsavory (and well-documented) aspects of his character. Instead, it’s the apparently facile way Gadsby (with co-curators Catherine Morris and Lisa Small) has chosen to frame the show. The female artists featured do not include female Cubists, women inspired by Picasso, or the female artists Picasso was actually involved with in his life. Instead, their work “[seems] to have been selected more or less at random” writes Farago, while Greenberger notes that many of these pieces from female artists “have almost nothing in common, beside the fact that they are all owned by the Brooklyn Museum.”
The scathing criticism of the exhibit has been met with some schadenfreude online, particularly with the subset of folks for whom Nanette didn’t land. “Still thinking about that perfect @jsf piece on Hannah Gadsby’s Picasso show. Such a sharp evisceration of the corrosive effect a certain strain of meme-y social justice has had on culture and criticism. If people’s receptiveness means we can finally move past that, I’m thrilled,” The New Republic’s Natalie Shure wrote on Twitter. And of course, some people just like a good, well-written take down: “So so so happy that Hannah Gadsby made the Pablo-matic (lmfao) exhibit because the reviews of it have been the best most fun culture writing in a while imo!!!!!,” tweeted writer Sophia Benoit.
Agree or disagree (and perhaps you’ll have to visit the Brooklyn Museum to decide), the criticism of Gadsby’s criticism is lethally sharp. “Not long ago, it would have been embarrassing for adults to admit that they found avant-garde painting too difficult and preferred the comforts of story time. What Gadsby did was give the audience permission—moral permission—to turn their backs on what challenged them, and to ennoble a preference for comfort and kitsch,” Farago writes of Nanette, later adding, “The function of a public museum (or at least it should be) is to present to all of us these women’s full aesthetic achievements; there is also room for story hour, in the children’s wing.” You can read the full piece here.
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