Monday, November 16, 2015

Black Mountain College at Institute for Contemporary Art

Beth and I took a rare jaunt into the city to see an exhibit about Black Mountain College. We haven't been to ICA. It sits on Boston's busy waterfront.

Beautiful late autumn day. Recent winds and rain have denuded the trees (oaks excluded), so the landscape is bright and open and electric. Chilly with the wind, down on the water.

We parked in a garage near the museum. No means of identifying where in the garage one left one's car, like numbered spaces. Could be challenges later.

Short walk to the place itself. A patch of grass that children can run upon sat near the building and decorative grasses waved lushly in the wind. Boston's waterfront is always windy.

The building is eye-catching modern, if there is such a thing (modern, I mean). Lots of straight lines and glass. A hallway oceanside allows you to sit on benches and watch the waterfront. Boston's most exclusive neighbourhood coming soon, said a sign.

First floor is dedicated to the gift shop and the restaurant. We investigated neither. The restaurant was in brunch mode. Only the fourth floor houses exhibits. I forget what's on the second floor, the third has a theatre. Up we went to the fourth floor in a large glass elevator.

I will write in more detail about the exhibit elsewhere/elsetime.  [Late edit: here is the review: Black Mountain at ICA]

The show featured work from the school community, that is to say teachers as well as student, famous and not sos. The school was never flush. Josef Albers had a couple of works featuring tree leaves, more expensive material being hard to come by.

Albers came to Black Mountain by way of the Bauhaus, when Nazi unrest produced an uncomfortable atmosphere. I wonder if William Morris' design work influenced Bauhaus? I saw no mention but it seems a commonality exists.

The poets of the school were under-represented. It doesn't seem like the artists of BMC were lumped together in a school, but the Black Mountain School remains a thing even now, however usefully. Why not include a reading?

While scribbling notes as I toured, I was interrupted by a guide. She asked if I had a pen. I offered it to her. Tho she was dressed in black like the rest of the guides I didn't recognize her as such. She handed me a pencil and said pens aren't allowed. I could keep my pen. Were I in desecrating mood, I could have got the job done with a pencil, or just my hands. And I still had the lethal pen in my pocket.

There was a dance performance of a Merce Cunningham piece. An archival b&w film of the same piece played on the wall. An ex-Cunningham dancer dressed in red danced to the concerted piano plinking of a John Cage score. The dancer was a real dancer, you could tell from his posture and movement. Visibility proved problematic with the crowd so we moved on.

The exhibit floor is a mazy hive but we made it thru all the exhibits. A small theatre offered computers where you could read brief bios and and hear interviews or readings from BMC people. Olson's reading from Maximus was animated and fulfilling, tho I have seen it elsewhere. We rather thought we would spend longer but 90 minutes seemed to be enough to see all the work. We went thru a second time, willing to follow a guided tour. Things had gotten loud however, and it proved difficult to hear the guide.

It was around three and a little early to eat, tho I was ready to. A nearby restaurant intrigued Beth so we went in. The restaurant would not open till five but a woman there chatted with us. Beth was eager to try the place because it featured Greek food. Could we but manage the wait.

We joined Satan in hating on Christmas by getting a cup of coffee at Starbuck's. Beth looked up reviews for the restaurant we just left. Loved it or hated it was the consensus. One reviewer said the bartender yelled at them. Another customer wrote that a dish arrived in error yet the restaurant required that the patrons pay for it. A few more poor service and left hungry convinced us to go elsewhere. In fact we decided to go somewhere closer to home.

Lack of signs in the parking garage left us wandering a bit till we found the car. We were om the Zakim Bridge just as golden sunset painted the hills of Charlestown. The sunset was gorgeous with high clouds and dazzling red and gold. We stopped at a Mexican restaurant at the mall for enchiladas. Disappointed with the museum but otherwise fun day with Beth.