The Johnson Museum
on the Cornell University campus
early November, 2011
I drive down along Lake Cayuga during the day in early November thinking that I have never seen the water look so blue! So, like a tourist, I pull over to take a picture – this kind of marvel has been going on since I moved upstate from New York City. Back in Manhattan there didn’t seem to be any distinct seasons, you would just notice that it gets warmer in the summer. For a few years in Brooklyn, I had a painting studio with no natural light, and I began to yearn for daylight. I wanted to have those large picture windows that my neighbor Alex Grey had for his studio space.
So what a joy it is to be on my way down to an opening at The Ink Shop, a cooperative printmaking space on State Street in downtown Ithaca, NY. The show, opening on the first Friday in November is titled ” In Tents” – and represents seven printmakers who show their art at outdoor art fairs around the country – they travel a circuit setting up a booth to sell their prints.
The artists, Ann Eldridge, Johanna Mueller, Christopher Plumber, Jenny Pope, Daryl Storrs, Marina Terauds and Heinrich Toh make a pleasant company and their work has a broad appeal. Many of these names were new to me, and I found the monoprints of Heinrich Toh to be very intriguing – incorporating hand drawing, photo, and decorative digital elements along with lots of color and space.
Later, I went up the hill to the Johnson Museum on the Cornell University campus to view the new addition and I really enjoyed the visit. The Johnson Museum collections have been moved around making a new open storage study gallery where you can view anything from a suit of armor, to pre-columbian pottery. The opening of a new addition a few weeks ago adds levels underground, as well as a mini Japanese garden replete with moss and stones and gardeners at work.
Palampore, block printed and hand colored
early Chintz fabric from India
Inside the Johnson Museum I found a cross section of Indian Textile art in an exhibition called “Essence of Indian Textiles” from the Parpia Collection. Here you find the origins of Chintz fabrics in the marvelous Palampore which usually portrays a magical flowering plant that the Indian artisans made for export. Indian textiles defined deluxe in the 17th and 18th centuries. Today, we look at the rich colors of their carpets, wall hangings, and even the common Banjara folk arts and we are moved by their sense of detail, high level of design and terrific craft.