By Maureen Corey, Curator of Art~
Well, the new aha! brochure for the Museum, Rialto, and Art in Public Places has hit your mailbox, and you’ll notice a season of fun, enlightening programming lies ahead. As usual, the cover contains two images, each of them a highlight from the programming at the Museum and Rialto. Also, as usual, deciding which images to both fit the cover and entice readers is a careful balancing act that graphic designer Michelle Standiford has down to a science. What I find fascinating is how these two juxtaposed images, with seemingly no relationship, both inspire insightful musings and enhance each event. The differences expose the similarities and create its own narrative, unique and wholly unintentional—or is it? Here’s a few observances from the current cover:
This viewer/viewed arrangement spins on its head. In the Christo picture, the wrapped island is viewed from above, with the photographer likely in a helicopter. The island is the subject and presents itself nakedly unashamed and even assertively for review. The Vienna Boys Choir are at even level with the viewer, which would seem to create an intimacy, but achieves just the opposite. The singers are equally unabashed in the return of the gaze, but we are kept at a metaphoric arm’s length by their stance and positioning. Kind—but not welcoming us into the scene. The status of both images is underscored and emphasized by the manipulation of the viewer’s role and modified perception.
While both images show artists of international reputation, one appears to be organic while the other seems orderly. But is that really the case? When visiting the Christo and Jeanne-Claude exhibit, you might expect to see a joyful expression of color and shape and understand this story of artists who are driven to create both upon and within the natural and built environment. The creative possibilities are endless and only limited by the artists’ imagination. The Vienna Boys Choir, on the other hand, will show excellence within a more prescribed format. The nature of this type of art aligns itself with structure, history, and the classic blend of many voices working beautifully together. The cover photos themselves reveal much more, however. Consider the engineering, coordination of staff, production of the fabric, municipal permits, and many other details that are necessary for any work of this scale, and you’ll appreciate the orderly attention to detail in each of Christo and Jeanne-Claude’s works. Notice how each of the boys in the choir picture are arranged not in a line, but scattered at different angles throughout the field. Each is presented as an individual, and the skill lies in this transmutation from the organic beauty of each unique voice into a seamless and transcendent whole.
Keep looking for future covers and feel free to share ways in which these images reflect, contradict, or otherwise enhance your experiences at the Rialto and Museum.