Sunday, May 8, 2011

The North Carolina Museum of Art's Art Park

The NC Museum of Art was fantastic! I had the opportunity to visit it yesterday.

The museum is divided up into two buildings: the east building (temporary collection/exhibits) and the west building (the permanent collection). Unfortunately, I can't cram all of what I saw in those two buildings into just one post. So... we're going to talk about the art park.

The museum owns 164 acres on and around the museum, which includes a beautiful art walk because tons of outdoor sculptures are on the grounds. Lots of families come here to walk around, bicycle, or walk the dogs.

Among the sculptures in the garden are a whirligig by Vollis Simpson (yes, the same artist as the one that was at the American Visionary Museum), a "road tattoo" community collaborative installation by Steed Taylor, and what I call the "onion rings" by Thomas Sayre. There are 14 different features in the art park, ranging from a camera obscura dome in the middle of the woods, to some crazy benches that echo to one another.

Most notable, again, is the kinetic sculpture of Vollis Simpson. Housed in the middle of a field, this giant is absolutely breathtaking, though I'd bet it's seen better days. The color of the sculpture has faded to a mild color at best, only hinting at the beauty it displayed in its prime. Vollis Simpson is one of the most famous folk/visionary artists to come out of North Carolina.

(image via Flickr)

Barbara Kruger, Henry Smith-Miller, Laurie Hawkinson, and Nicholas Quennell were the four artists who designed the museum's outdoor stage and amphitheater, called "Picture This".

The museum is housed on a former prison grounds, and a lot of the art in the art park are reminders of the property's past. A good example of this is the "Crossroads/Trickster I" sculpture by Martha Jackson-Jarvis, which is made from the former prison's bricks. Another example is Al Frega's Benches located strategically around the art park. The benches are made from former prison bars that were found on the grounds.

(image via NCMA)

(image via NCMA)

Ledelle Moe created some really disturbing concrete sculptures to put on the grounds. One of these is "Collapse I", which looks like a huge human lying on its side. The park also houses Moe's "Untitled" (not shown).

(image via Eric Krouse)

Next along the path was Thomas Sayre's "Gyre", which looked like three gigantic onion rings sticking out of the ground. To create these humongous culptures, Gyre dug trenches and then filled them with concrete and steel bars. The museum then lifted up each structure and put them into place in the park. Insane! Apparently they look pretty rad at night, too:

(image via Hello, Raleigh)

(image via Flickr)

One of the most (seemingly) famous monuments in this park is Chris Drury's "Cloud Chamber for the Trees and Sky", which is a HUGE camera obscura. It looks like a hobbit hole, and it's dark inside (and wet, since it rained cats and dogs yesterday). Essentially, you would sit inside, shut yourself in the darkness, and view the sky through a tiny pinhole in the ceiling, which would be projected onto the ground. DaVinci was the inventor of the camera obscura, which is similar to a modern day projector- the difference is that DaVinci used light and we use technology.

(image via New Raleigh)

The last notable sculpture in the art park is Steed Taylor's collaborative community installation on the concrete slabs that run through the park. As a part of a NC arts initiative, 45 volunteers helped Taylor paint black 18th century designs onto the concrete, which will fade over time. The art park is subject to lots of invasive plants, so each design was based on a different plant. Naturally, "invasive" was an appropriate name for the work.

(image via NCMA)

See y'all soon!
-Katie B

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous10.5.11

    WOW. I love the giant onion rings! Makes me hungry too.