Cultural Preview: Museums
Japanese Gardens, Sculpture Gardens, and even the iconic Flagler Museum.
Ann Norton Sculpture Gardens
Roger Ward’s career has taken him many places, but his heart has never strayed far from Palm Beach County. After more than 10 years as the deputy director and chief curator at the Norton Museum of Art, he pursued various freelance projects before landing at the Mississippi Museum of Art. Through it all, he kept his local apartment and an eye on one particular institution: the Ann Norton Sculpture Gardens.
“It’s very unique as an artist’s house, museum, and gardens,” Ward says. “There’s nothing else like it in South Florida.”
When ANSG began the hunt for new leadership, Ward was interested—very interested. “It seemed [like] a remarkable kind of challenge for somebody who had been around many rodeos in the art museum field,” he says. Since starting as president and CEO in March 2017, Ward has applied his professional experience and expertise in sculpture to bettering the organization and focusing the mission behind its special exhibitions.
“Everything we do either reflects upon or illuminates some aspect of Ann Norton’s career,” he explains. “I want to have exhibitions that are relevant to her as an artist, that illuminate her career or feature artists who were her contemporaries and who also came to Florida to see these rather unusual and exotic things.”
ANSG’s first exhibition of the season embraces this goal. “Ann Weaver Norton: Gateways to Modernism,” on view through November 26, chronicles her creative evolution through drawings, maquettes, and sculptures. Then, ANSG will mount three shows built around artists who share at least one of Norton’s hobbies: flowers in the case of “Gordon Cheung: New Order ‘Vanitas,’” December 9 to February 4; sculptures with “Celebrating Boaz Vaadia (1951-2017),” January 11 to April 29; and Florida’s native flora in “Behold a New Eden: Laura Woodward and the Creation of Palm Beach,” February 10 to May 20.
Moving forward, Ward hopes to help ANSG earn a reputation as a true gathering space for art, history, science, and conservation. Future plans include rebuilding the entryway and producing an exhibition of Norton’s notebooks and other personal memorabilia. Until then, Ward most likely can be found inside her studio, casting shadows in the same northern light she found so inspiring. West Palm Beach (561-832-5328)
Boca Raton Museum of Art
Boca Raton Museum of Art got a jumpstart when, in August, it opened a slew of special exhibitions. Many closed in late October, but “Deep Line Drawings by Carlos Luna,” composed of new works by the Cuban-born, Miami-based artist, is on display through the end of the year.
This month, the museum starts anew with a trio of exciting—and very different—shows, all of which open November 6 and extend through April 8. For a dose of fine art on a micro level, check out “Alex Katz: Small Paintings.” The 90-year-old New York native has appeared in more than 200 solo shows and 500 group exhibitions. These “Small Paintings” primarily began as test sketches but, when viewed on their own, capture another side of this highly regarded artist.
From a modern master to an innovator who only gained notoriety posthumously, “Regarding George Ohr: Contemporary Ceramics in the Spirit of the Mad Potter” spotlights artists who push the limits of ceramics. The show begins with 24 pieces by George Ohr. Although unknown at the time of his death in 1918, Ohr entered the contemporary art consciousness in 1969, when an antiques dealer found a stockpile of his unconventional creations in an attic. Guest curator Garth Clark pairs Ohr’s work with items not necessarily inspired by Ohr but complimentary to and mindful of his style. “Ohr is a prism that deflects time and links primal creativity,” Clark explains in a curatorial essay. “The purpose [is] a comparative study about artists, all working with the same tool kit Ohr had pioneered, all decidedly irreverent in their processes, and all highly informal in their use of form.”
Photography fans also have a home at the Boca Raton Museum of Art thanks to the newly created “Contemporary Photography Forum.” This recurring showcase was founded with the dual goal of augmenting the museum’s photography collection and providing emerging artists with a platform to broadcast their points of view, all of which start with photography. The inaugural exhibition includes American Daniel Gordon, Canadian Paul Kneale, and German Florian Maier-Aichen. Beyond their similarity in age—with the youngest born in 1986 and the oldest in 1973—each pursues a unique approach to digital imagery, using the medium to push their artistry beyond the instant gratification of smartphone photography and toward a more enduring result. Boca Raton (561-392-2500)
Cultural Council of Palm Beach County
Regardless of when you visit the Cultural Council of Palm Beach County, located in downtown Lake Worth, you’re bound to discover captivating works by artists who live in the Palm Beaches. Now through November 18, guests can view “Made in Palm Beach Gardens.” This biennial show spotlights individual Palm Beach County cities, focusing this year on the work of 14 of Palm Beach Gardens’ most creative minds. Afterward, a one-man presentation by Jason Newsted, the former bassist for Metallica, will take over the main gallery from December 1 to February 3. The council will then trade rock stars for interior designers with “Art & Decor,” wherein eight local decorators will pair up with eight artists to create vignettes on display February 16 to May 12. And while school may be out for summer, the faculty from the Dreyfoos School of the Arts will convene for a special exhibition in honor of the council’s fortieth anniversary and its founder, Alexander W. Dreyfoos. Take it in May 25 to August 18. Other Cultural Council highlights for the 2017-18 season include the Culture & Cocktail series, which returns to The Colony Hotel November 6, and the 2018 Muse Awards, scheduled for March 22. (561-471-2901)
This season, fans of the Flagler Museum should make at least two sojourns to this island institution, in the fall and in the winter, to catch its special exhibitions. Together, this lineup honors the Flagler Museum’s fascination with both history and art. “Knights of the Air: Aviator Heroes of World War I,” on view through December 31, illustrates the plight of the pilot at the birth of aviation through artworks, artifacts, and photos. The second show, entitled “Masterfully Human: The Art of Gaugengigl,” addresses aesthetics. On display January 23 to April 29, “Masterfully Human” includes more than 80 works by Boston School painter Ignaz Marcel Gaugengigl, beloved for his images of everyday life in revolutionary-era France—despite being a Gilded Age artist himself. Visitors can learn more about Gaugengigl with an exhibition tour, taking place Wednesdays beginning January 31 at 10:30 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. (561-655-2833)
Morikami Museum and Japanese Gardens
The mundane becomes amazing this season at the Morikami Museum and Japanese Gardens in Delray Beach. The museum investigates the traditional and contemporary uses of indigo dye in Japanese culture, from farm attire to samurai jackets, in “Out of the Blue: Japanese Indigo Textiles,” on display until January 21. Then, ceramics take center stage February 17 to April 22 with “Nature, Tradition, and Innovation: Contemporary Japanese Ceramics from the Gordon Brodfuehrer Collection.” Designed for daily use, these 55 items from 43 Japanese artists marry beauty and practicality. Finally, from May 19 to August 26, end the season with a laugh at “Unexpected Smiles: Seven Types of Humor in Japanese Paintings.” This exhibition investigates the role humor played in artistic expression, particularly during the Edo period, a time of repressive rule in Japan. (561-495-0233)
The Society of the Four Arts
The Society of the Four Arts might be one of Palm Beach’s oldest cultural organizations, but it still knows how to surprise and delight. Its two main 2017-18 exhibitions boast unexpected artists and mesmerizing mediums. For example: Former U.K. Prime Minister Winston Churchill is remembered as a skilled military man and politician, but did you know he fancied himself a part-time painter, too? Twenty-eight of his vibrant landscapes will be displayed alongside photos, film clips, and memorabilia as part of “A Man for All Seasons: The Art of Winston Churchill” from December 2 to January 14. On December 9, local artist Edwina Sandys, who also happens to be Churchill’s granddaughter, will lead an illustrated lecture on her grandfather’s life and artistic legacy.
Afterward, trade war stories for colorful clothing with “Isabelle de Borchgrave: Fashioning Art from Paper.” In lieu of needle and thread, Belgian-born Borchgrave crafts outstanding garments out of rag paper. Inspired by notable ensembles from history and art, she has recreated court dresses worn by Elizabeth I and a floral frock culled from a circa-1480s Botticelli painting, among others. The Society of the Four Arts will showcase Borchgrave’s paper masterpieces January 27 to April 15. Want to know the ins and outs of her creative process? Attend an illustrated lecture entitled “The Artistic Journey of Isabelle de Borchgrave” February 3. (561-655-7226)
Norton Museum of Art
Despite being in the midst of a major renovation, the Norton Museum of Art in West Palm Beach is mounting a full season and sweetening the deal with free admission. The Norton began the year with a bang, with the world premiere of “Earth Works: Mapping the Anthropocene,” on view until January 14. After “Earth Works” closes, the Norton will welcome “Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney: Sculpture” from January 25 to April 29. Revered for her legacy as an art patron, Whitney was an artist in her own right. This exhibition of 40 of her drawings and sculptures is the first showing of her work since her death in 1942. Concurrently, from February 8 to March 18, visitors can also view “Jean-Michel Basquiat: Drawing into Painting,” comprising some of the most astonishing works Basquiat created during his all-too-short life.
As part of its “Spotlight” series, the Norton will offer a miniature approach to fine art. From December 14 to February 4, guests are invited to “Miss Lucy’s Three-Day Dollhouse Party.” Allow us to explain: Roughly 25 years ago, Jupiter resident and contemporary art collector Douglas Andrews asked a few of his artist friends—Cy Twombly among them, no big deal—to make tiny artworks to hang inside his mother’s dollhouses. The result is an outstanding group of pint-sized masterpieces any art aficionado would envy. (561-832-5196)
Cornell Art Museum
While glass and reflective materials is the focus of the fall exhibition at the Cornell Museum of Art at Old School Square in Delray Beach, flowers steal the show in the spring. From March 30 to September 9, “Flora” will be in full bloom. This multi-artist grouping includes pieces made from real flowers and inspired by themes of rebirth and decay. (561-243-7922)
Vero Beach Museum of Art
Need a reason to head up to Vero Beach? Here’s one: The city is home to an outstanding art museum. This season alone you can take in a memorial exhibition dedicated to the late, great children’s book illustrator Maurice Sendak (to December 30); view a few of the most iconic images ever taken (to January 14); tag along on photographer Paul Outerbridge’s adventures through California and Mexico (January 20 to June 3); and witness the evolution of the guitar from medieval times through today (January 27 to May 6). Top it off with a surfside dinner, and you have the recipe for a perfect Treasure Coast day. (772-231-0707, verobeachmuseum.org)