AHA! A House for Arts

S6 E29 | FULL EPISODE

AHA! | 629

Join producer Matt Rogowicz on a trip to Roberto Juarez's studio in Canaan, NY, and see pictorial dance come to life in the natural symbols. How does being a professor shape his role as museum director? Lara Ayad finds out with Ian Berry, Dayton Director of the Frances Young Tang Teaching Museum and Art Gallery at Skidmore College. Don't miss Drew Wardle perform "Runaway" and more.

AIRED: February 17, 2021 | 0:28:45
ABOUT THE PROGRAM
TRANSCRIPT

(bright music)

- Pictorial dance comes to life in the natural symbols

of Roberto Juarez.

Learn about the Tang Teaching Museum with Ian Berry

and catch a performance by Drew Wardle.

It's all ahead on this episode of AHA, A House For Arts.

- [Announcer] Funding for AHA

has been provided by your contribution

and by contributions to the WMHT Venture Fund.

Contributors include Chet and Karen Opalka,

Robert and Doris Fischer Malesardi,

The Alexander & Marjorie Hover Foundation,

and The Robison Family Foundation.

- At M&T Bank we understand that the vitality

of our communities is crucial to our continued success.

That's why we take an active role in our community.

M&T Bank is pleased to support WMHT programming

that highlights the arts, and we invite you to do the same.

(bright upbeat music)

- Hi, I'm Lara Ayad and this is AHA,

A House For Arts, a place for all things creative.

We join Matt Rogowicz in Canaan, New York

for today's field segment.

(vibrant music)

- I'm here at the studio of Roberto Juarez

to get a behind the scenes look at the Pineapples and Pigs

featured in his current work.

Let's go.

(vibrant classical music)

- I'm a painter, a printmaker, an artist.

I make large-scale paintings for public buildings.

I paint in my studio for exhibitions and galleries.

I keep everything and make collages out of them

and use them as source materials for larger paintings,

so little to big is I think the thing I love doing.

(vibrant classical music)

So Matt, these are the collages I make

in my studio almost daily.

And from this little collage that was made in 2018,

I made this painting a couple of days ago,

That is one of newest works in the room.

So you can see how the design

of this collage gets translated to a larger picture.

I always knew I was going to be an artist, even as a child.

In fact, as a child, I would draw constantly

and my parents didn't really support it.

There wasn't a lot of art in the house,

so I figured out that if I drew under tables

and under chairs, no one would find them.

And so that's where it was my secret place

to draw and paint.

In seventh grade, I was taken to the Art Institute

for the first time in Chicago.

Mrs. Sundale, my art teacher took us

to see Van Gogh paintings and it changed my life.

I was, you know, this little kid, but I knew

that that was the important thing, thing that I cared about.

I'm painting these paintings that I call,

"In My Grandmother's Front Yard" because of these images

of the pineapple and the pig.

Once I printed them on Chinese paper

I started remembering the first time I saw her front yard,

and I was probably 12, had never left Chicago.

And there was a gigantic pig tied to a mango tree

in the front yard of my grandmother,

and her kitchen was on the porch.

So she would cook outside

and it was just a different world,

it opened my whole idea

of who I was and what, you know

what could be out there.

As a kid, it's a fond memory, it's a warm memory.

And so once I saw this, I thought, okay, I'm here.

I'm gonna be playing in my grandmother's backyard

or front yard, so to speak.

And that gave me an extra kind of joy of working.

So what I do is I print on the Chinese paper

these images, and gather them, and give them different

graffito and different textures.

This is a horse brush for like brushing horses.

And it was given to me as a gift.

And I never knew what to use it for

because it's kind of too coarse for the kind of marks

I make on canvas, but it's perfect for printing,

I'll show you.

(vibrant classical music)

And then I start painting on the underpainting.

Underpaintings are made in my process

by collaging small collages.

And that's how I work out the dynamic

of what I wanna say visually.

And once I have that, I blow it up.

And then on top of that,

I started adhering these pigs and pineapple.

And then what happens in that interface,

I respond to, my own painting, my own tearing,

my own drawing on top of it so that it becomes one.

(gentle music)

I also do public work.

I do gigantic murals for mostly courthouses.

I did a federal courthouse in Fort Pierce, Florida.

We're in the room where it was painted,

and it is a 20 foot tall by 10 foot

stretched piece of linen.

They were kind of surreal in a sense,

because there were flowers from above ground,

all under water,

and there were microscopic, kind of life,

living with these flowers.

And there were two sides to this gigantic entryway.

One side was nature.

And that was the painting you saw as you left

because it helped kind of bring you back into the world.

And on the other side of the wall, as you approached

or entered the building, you saw this kind of more abstract

idea of culture.

So it was culture and nature together.

To be able to be given a piece of architecture

like the courthouse and say, what and how could art

affect this space?

And part of it is the psychology of space,

what is happening with the people who enter the space?

And that's the challenge.

Grand Central Station was the perfect example of that.

It was a pivotal or important point in my career

because I was a young artist.

I was competing with like these big names

for this very, kind of, sought after commission.

And there was a tie, so to speak, and they couldn't decide

between me and this other artist,

and somebody, a friend of mine who is a prominent artist,

came in and said, "Give the kid a chance." (laughs)

And they did.

It's about kind of comforting,

cloistering the passengers, the travelers

in the smaller room inside of this cathedral of travel

which is Grand Central, which I love, it was historic,

and it's still there.

In this latest work, which is in the room right now,

there's a lot of vibrant color.

And I think that's a need for some kind

of excitement and joy that I wasn't feeling

from the outside world right now.

The pandemic has been a little hard on me.

It took me work to start to work again.

And once I started to work

I didn't wanna be dreadful in what I was saying or doing.

I wanted to enjoy my life again (laughs)

and not worry about living, or dying or,

you know, the politics of the moment.

I really wanted to create, like an oasis,

or a place that I could go that had these feelings

from my past.

And so I think the colors speak to that.

They're very bright.

There's not a lot of pastels or soft tones.

They're very graphic, and not pop, but almost pop.

I often wonder, what do people do who don't do art?

I mean, it's like, it's so part of my, everyday.

It gives me life and I love sharing what I can share in art.

I mean, that's part of the whole process,

not just the making is wonderful,

but when you put it out in the world,

like what we have in Pittsfield now, people respond,

and it's something they wanna see right now.

And it makes me feel like I have a purpose, which I do.

I mean, I think it's real, it's a real purpose.

- Ian Berry is the Dayton Director

of The Frances Young Tang Teaching Museum and Art Gallery

at Skidmore College.

In addition to directing, Ian teaches courses

about art and museums at Skidmore.

How does being a professor shape his role

as museum director?

Let's chat with Ian to find out.

Ian welcome to A House For Arts.

It's a pleasure to have you here.

And nice to see you again, not just from Skidmore.

- So good to be here Lara, so good to see you.

- So the Tang Teaching Museum has had a lot going on lately

and right now,

and some of the recent exhibitions include, "Flex,"

which pairs ancient Roman sculptures with action films

from the eighties with Arnold Schwarzenegger.

It has "Elevator Music," which is a, an ongoing installation

inside of an actual elevator with music.

And for the record, I've danced inside

that elevator with staff. - Excellent, excellent,

excellent. - But one of the amazing

things too, is that there are all sorts

of people like geologists and economists

and dancers that come to the Tang to study and work.

So, Ian, what is the Tang?

- I love that you mentioned that people coming

from all different disciplines and all different walks

of life and interests coming together in the museum,

'cause that's exactly why we built the Tang

and why being embedded at Skidmore is such a perfect home

for a museum like the Tang.

We are an art and ideas laboratory.

And when you come in the building,

I think there's a lot that you see that shows you that.

Our floors look like studio floors,

the spaces are wide open and ever-changing,

the galleries look different every time you come,

and that's to encourage this idea of experimentation,

exploration, invention.

And with the embedded brains of our faculty

and our students and all those involved in Skidmore,

we build things that then we share

with the larger community.

So tell me a little bit, Ian, about how you even got

into all of this work to begin with, because I understand

that you were the founding curator at the Tang.

And before that you got your

Master's in Curatorial. - 20 years ago.

- Yes, 20 years ago, and you got your Master's

in Curatorial Studies at Bard in '98.

And you've been the director now

at the Tang for eight years,

if I'm correct about that. - Yep, correct.

- How did you know

that you wanted to do work at a college museum?

- I was very lucky as a grad student to see academic museums

as a really wonderful spot to make things from,

and, just, academic museums

have a really special place in the museum ecosystem.

They're places where experimentation, and excitement,

and creativity is the standard.

Most of us are not so focused on selling tickets

or the blockbuster show.

And so we can evaluate and measure what we do

based on different measures.

And a lot of those measures were the things that really

turned me on as a young curator, working with artists

building new things, experimenting with objects in space

with people, collaborative exhibition making.

And I was very lucky as a grad student to get a position

at the Williams College Museum of Art, one of the oldest,

and grandest, and most important

academic museums in the country.

- And what did you do there?

- I was a lucky Curatorial Assistant, helping with shows,

and learning how it all worked, and meeting faculty,

the great faculty there, and working with students.

And I had fantastic mentors and colleagues there.

And a few years into that job, Charlie Stainback,

who was helping build the Tang at Skidmore,

came by and recruited me in a bit.

And I came over to Skidmore

when the Tang was a construction site and rebuilt.

- This is so fascinating,

because there's experimentation in the museum,

and there's also experimentation in the classroom as well.

- [Ian] Yes.

- And I'm wondering, Ian, what what do you see

as the relationship between your directing

and your teaching, in particular?

Are there unexpected lessons that surprise your students?

And on the flip side,

are there things your students teach you

about the meaning of art?

- All of those things.

I really see, I teach two different seminars at Skidmore

and I'm also in and out as a guest

for lots of different classes that come and go.

And I see teaching as an equal part of the enterprise,

my own curatorial enterprise.

- Maybe give like a specific example of say,

a class session, or a project that students do

where that really ties in.

- Sure well one of the courses that just finished

last semester is a course where we learn

about doing oral histories.

What is the art historians job when the artists

are still alive and the artwork is brand new and unfixed?

What is that art historians job then?

And we focus on interviewing artists,

and making primary sources,

and what is the information we want?

And we do that with artists whose work

is in the Tang's collection most often.

And through that class,

those students are creating the archive

and the record for the museum and for future generations

to learn about the collection. - So the students, yeah,

so the students are helping build knowledge, really,

about the art of the Tang. - They're doing it themselves,

absolutely.

- You know, I can't help but think bigger picture here

about contemporary art,

that it can be often very unexpected.

It can be eccentric.

It can often challenge us in a lot of ways,

challenge our beliefs, perhaps.

- Often in the best ways.

- And often in the best ways.

And in fact, I'm thinking about, say,

Jonathan Seliger's piece outside the Tang.

It's the huge, thank you shopping bag,

but it's a massive sculpture, you know,

or other examples like that.

How does a work like that,

how does contemporary art like that,

why is it important,

and how do people on campus often interact

with a work like that outside the Tang?

- Well yeah, I'm glad you brought up Jonathan's sculpture

because it's a great example of an artist

that we develop a long time relationship with.

So we've, Jonathan was actually the focus

of our very first Solo Opener Series show way back in 2001.

And then we acquired that thank you bag many years later.

And we have other works in our collection

that have been part of other exhibitions,

and classes, and student curated projects.

So I like the long conversation with artists.

And contemporary artists and living artists

that are developing their work

give us that opportunity.

They can come to campus.

they can interact with our students.

- It's like they're living resources.

- Absolutely, and we can support them through the college,

through the actions of the museum.

They can be lecturers

They can make things.

They can visit classes.

- I do wanna get to this, the 20th anniversary celebration

that the Tang is celebrating now,

and I know that there are some programs

including current exhibitions that have been

created to celebrate this.

And one of them is "Never Done: 100 Years of Women

in Politics and Beyond," and what a title, right?

I mean, this has so much political currency right now.

Tell us a little bit about how the Tang

is really getting innovative

with both maybe virtual and in-person formats,

dealing with the limitations of the pandemic.

How are you drawing students

and the wider surrounding community in to the Tang?

- Well, an exhibition, like "Never Done"

comes from a conversation with faculty and students,

listening to what's going on, connecting those conversations

with what's happening in the world,

and resources we have that we might be able to bring,

and bring together physically inside the museum.

And, you know, the 19th amendment had a big anniversary

and there's lots of celebrations

around this region and around the country about voting.

It was an immensely important election cycle,

very fraught, very much a part of our lives,

very much a part of a lot of different courses at Skidmore.

And so we brought-- - What are some examples

of those courses?

- Well, Minita Sanghvi, who co-curated the show

with our own Rachel Seligman, who's a Curator at the Tang,

teaches in marketing courses in business,

and advertising, and the role of political marketing,

and particularly women's role in political marketing.

So her course has very much informed that project.

Rachel and Minita together chose the work of 100

women artists from all different generations

to come together.

And we built a town hall of sorts

where all different kinds of things could happen.

We had to do a lot of those things online,

and you can all see them now online,

but we also had classes meet in that space,

distanced and with all the health protocols

that we followed during the fall,

surrounded by-- - Sounds like a laboratory

space again, right? - Yes, surrounded by

these beautiful voices of all these artworks.

It was great.

- Where can working folks check out the online versions

or components of this,

of this exhibition-- - So the Tang's website

has deep, deep, lots and lots of things to discover,

lots of videos, lots of interviews,

lots of exhibition photos, a ton of information

about the "Never Done" show, right there on the homepage,

so please check it out.

- Great, that sounds fantastic.

Ian, it is such a pleasure having you on A House For Arts.

Thank you.

- Oh, it was a thrill.

Thanks for having me.

- Please welcome Drew Wardle.

(upbeat acoustic guitar music)

♪ Black dress, cold lips ♪

♪ The night before you may regret ♪

♪ Her Sunday dress with the polkadots ♪

♪ And the living room guest ♪

♪ They're praying every Sunday ♪

♪ For love that they confess ♪

♪ So why are they fed up ♪

♪ With the decorations and the mess ♪

♪ But she's the only one who ever really cared ♪

♪ Now she's alone ♪

♪ She's in the dark and she is scared ♪

♪ Playing hide and seek with the ghosts inside your head ♪

♪ As you try to speak, I caught you laughing instead ♪

♪ Instead ♪

♪ Last night you saw her dancing by the river's edge ♪

♪ Like a moving statue ♪

♪ There was only light beneath her feet ♪

♪ There's water in her gaze and lightning in her face ♪

♪ So it's no surprise to me ♪

♪ She's always leaving without a trace ♪

♪ But she still carries her father's animal grace ♪

♪ Playing hide and seek with the ghosts inside your head ♪

♪ As you try to speak, I caught you sighing instead ♪

♪ Instead ♪

♪ Do you ever love the way she loved you ♪

♪ Do you ever love the way she loved you ♪

♪ Do you ever love the way she loved you ♪

♪ Do you ever love the way she loved you ♪

♪ Do you ever love the way she loved you ♪

♪ Do you ever love the way she loved you ♪

♪ The way she loved you ♪

♪ The way she loved you ♪

♪ The way she loved you ♪

♪ The way she loved you ♪

♪ The way she loved you ♪

♪ The way she loved you ♪

This next one is a new single that my new band,

"Simple Sin," we just released it recently.

You can find us online.

"Simple Sin," and this new song is called "Runaway."

(soft acoustic guitar music)

♪ You feel it coming on somewhere ♪

♪ In here or somewhere else ♪

♪ The made you hate him ♪

♪ The cat's in the alley ♪

♪ But the dog is nowhere ♪

♪ You know you love him, but just not here ♪

♪ You crawl like crocodiles on Spanish leather ♪

♪ The secrets of your ear are lost in his pleasure ♪

♪ You gotta take him home, if you wanna kiss the devil ♪

♪ You gotta take him home ♪

♪ Runaway, baby and I see you now ♪

♪ Hide yourself in the dark ♪

♪ Runaway, baby and I see you now ♪

♪ Hide yourself in the dark ♪

♪ You say it's never there. ♪

♪ There's too many fakers with one foot in jail ♪

♪ And another in a fable ♪

♪ The tiger saw the eye when she asked for favors ♪

♪ Now she's telling lies ♪

♪ And art seems in the air ♪

♪ The wind sings in your heart ♪

♪ The summer's in your head ♪

♪ But spring won't even start ♪

♪ You feel it now buy you just can't say kid ♪

♪ You want it more, but it's just too much. ♪

♪ Runaway, baby and I see you now ♪

♪ Hide yourself in the dark ♪

♪ Runaway, baby and I see you now ♪

♪ Hide yourself in the dark ♪

♪ Runaway, baby and I see you now ♪

♪ Hide yourself in the ♪

♪ Every now and then you close your eyes ♪

♪ You get the funny feeling you don't want to hide ♪

♪ It's now or never ♪

♪ Your pride can't disguise ♪

♪ You don't want him there ♪

♪ No, you don't want him there ♪

♪ No, you don't want him there ♪

♪ No, you don't want him there ♪

♪ Ooh, ooh ♪

♪ Ooh, ooh ♪

♪ Ooh, ooh ♪

♪ Runaway ♪

♪ Runaway ♪

♪ Runaway baby ♪

♪ Runaway ♪

♪ Runaway ♪

♪ Runaway baby ♪

(upbeat music)

- [Announcer] Funding for AHA has been provided

by your contribution

and by contributions to the WMHT Venture Fund.

Contributors include Chet and Karen Opalka,

Robert and Doris Fischer Malesardi,

The Alexander & Marjorie Hover Foundation,

and The Robison Family Foundation.

- At M&T Bank we understand

that the vitality of our community is crucial

to our continued success.

That is why we take an active role in our community.

M&T is pleased to support WMHT programming

that highlights the arts, and we invite you to do the same.

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