Pop-Up Art Exhibits at Montserrat Gallery in June

June 5, 2015


Pop-up art exhibits at Montserrat Gallery in June

By Will Broaddus Salem News, Staff Writer, Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Art exhibits can pop up anywhere.

“I have curated a series of pop-ups in a variety of places — both traditional and non-traditional venues,” said Robert Moeller. “I’ve done them in people’s homes, embedding art into an already-existing art collection. I had a series in our back yard.”

Most recently, he organized a pop-up exhibit in a more conventional setting, at the Mills Gallery of the Boston Center for the Arts.

“Yeah, You Missed It,” as the show was called, was up for just one day, which created a sense of urgency in the audience.

“Typically you can put an exhibit on the calendar, and it will be there a month or so,” Moeller said. “In this case, literally, it was only there for 24 hours.

“The reception itself was the best time to come see the show. I think over 500 people came — it was fun.”

Moeller, a painter, critic and curator from Boston’s South End, will create a pop-up exhibit at Montserrat College of Art next week, one of four to be held in the main gallery this month.

He will hang and install dozens of two- and three-dimensional works by artists from Boston, and also by staff and students from Montserrat, in a show called “No Shake, Not Here.”

The concept of pop-up stores have been around for a while, selling limited supplies of stock in unused spaces for a brief time, and the practice has found other uses.
“Restaurants do pop-up kitchens,” Moeller said. “I know where in Boston, different chefs use abandoned spaces, and set up a pop-up evening.”

But he finds that the quick format, which are often advertised through social media, forces people to decide whether to see the show — and if they do, to pay attention while they are there.

“I want people to slow down,” Moeller said. “I am asking people to stop their clocks, and to work within the parameters of the time frame we’re giving them.”
He also tries to heighten people’s awareness by not allowing them to take photographs at his shows.

“I’m asking people to have that unmediated experience, and not look through a camera lens or iPhone,” Moeller said.

Moeller’s exhibit was preceded this week by “Reliquary,” curated by artist Kirk Snow, which asks visitors to consider the “residue” of a series of performances.

“Garett Yahn — there will be a mound of sand and some audio,” said Pamela Campanaro, assistant curator of exhibitions at Montserrat. “And Tony Schwensen, I know, is going to be working with setting cement.”

A camera will record the performances in a video, which visitors will be able to watch at the gallery

Moeller’s exhibit will be followed next week by “Xubdued Light,” with 20 screenings of films that have been curated by Ethan Berry, a filmmaker who lives in Beverly and teaches at Montserrat.

The featured filmmakers, whose works are generally non-narrative and experimental, are all members of AgX* Boston Film Collective.

Berry’s pop-up will be followed by “Field Days,” an exhibit that explores the connections between art and athletics, which will be curated by Campanaro.

“The whole idea behind the pop-up concept was trying to activate the campus for our summer immersive students, and a regional Beverly audience,” she said. “We’re trying to offer the community a little bit of everything for summer.”

“Field Days” will present work from “an inclusive collective” called New Craft Artists in Action, which goes by the same acronym — NCAA — as the National Collegiate Athletic Association.

“We will be creating an immersive installation that is inspired by the kind of track and field layout that allows for mixed use,” said Maria Molteni, who founded NCAA and serves as its “team captain.”

The transformed gallery, complete with Astroturf and athletic equipment, will serve as the site of a “field day” at the exhibit’s reception on Thursday, June 25 from 4 to 6 p.m.

“We’re going to design activities that call upon athletic skills and crafts skills combined,” Molteri said. “We’ll have a huge field day with everyone who comes, with prizes and jerseys that we’ve made—official NCAA jerseys.”

Molteri played basketball in Nashville, Tennessee for 10 years, before turning her attention to making art, and first explored the links between these activities by crocheting colorful basketball nets.

“Utility and function are important to the history of the craft,” she said. By the same token, “The first basketball hoop was a beach basket — a fiber craft.”

By turning the gallery into an athletic site, Molteri wants to “push the boundaries of how spaces are used,” and to point out that art and sports aren’t that far apart.
“A lot of creative activities, creative skill sets, often require a certain kind of physicality and hand-to-eye coordination,” she said.

Rather than use a highly specialized and competitive sport like basketball or football as a model for the reception, Molteri and her “team” were deliberate in choosing a grammar school field day.

“It’s kind of this extracurricular event that’s usually celebratory,” she said. “It’s separate from team sports, it’s separate from class, and you perform these absurd activities.

“That levels the playing field for everyone. It is creative and inclusive and fun.”

If you go

What: Pop-Up Exhibits

When: “Reliquary,” reception, Thursday, June 4, 7 to 9 p.m.; “No Shake, Not Here,” reception, Thursday, June 18, 7 to 9 p.m.; “Xubdued Light,” performance by Laura Ryan, June 18, 7:30 p.m., film screenings Monday to Thursday, 4:30 and 7:30 p.m.; “Field Days: New Crafts Artists in Action,” reception Thursday, June 25, 4 to 6 p.m.

Where: Montserrat Gallery, Montserrat College of Art, 23 Essex St., Beverly.

Info: All events free and open to public. Gallery hours are Monday to Thursday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Friday, 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. More at www.montserrat.edu/galleries, [email protected].