• Red Collective
  • 10/12/20

A Day At the Museum

Finding something to do, anything to do, during the time of Corona to beat the boredom is tough. (Can we get an “Amen”?) Which is why when the North Carolina Museum of Art sent out an email announcement stating that they were reopening, we jumped on the invitation for visual inspiration and booked tickets for less than a week later.
A few hours off during an otherwise normal workday + good company + a picnic lunch normally equates to a pretty perfect day, but add in one of the finest state supported art collections in the country and you have the makings of a stellar experience. Before we get to the art though, let’s talk logistics: did it feel safe? Absolutely zero anxiety triggers here. From the moment you enter, the courteous museum staff creates a sense of calm while strictly monitoring visitor’s adherence to social distancing rules. Yellow arrows direct navigation through the galleries in an orderly path without restricting views. Once you leave the buildings, the sculptural world is your oyster and even on a less than sunshiney day, the collections gleam and invigorate the soul.
A few favorites in the MODERN | CONTEMPORARY galleries:

Joseph Alber’s “Homage to a Square”

Joseph and Anni Albers found their way from Germany’s Bauhaus to North Carolina via an appointment at Black Mountain College. His color studies most often found themselves in the form of this particular series of four square blocks in conversation with one another and his equally talented wife wove his interactions into her fabric work in a resoundingly modern manner. Our museum’s collection is brightly colored and thoroughly engaging (the longer you stare, the more your eyes see) but only a brief glimpse into the pair’s collaborative work. The story goes that when Joseph passed, Anni found hundreds of these exercises in a storage space in his office at Yale. Hundreds. Can you imagine?

“Raqqa II” by Frank Stella

One of the most electric and physically formidable elements of the collection, Frank Stella’s voluminous “Raqqa II” welcomes views from a variety of angles, regardless of social distancing paths. Systematic abstraction is the way of this artist who created a series of these “Protractions” in the latter half of the 1960s. This particular one is named after the ancient Syrian city, enclosed by a wall. It is with hope that we view the painting within the present historical context, imagining a future brighter than the one that exists there today.

Mickalene Thomas’ “Three Graces: Les Trois Femmes Noires'“

Continuing in a long line of sculptural representations of the three graces ( Euphrosyne, Aglaea and Thalia), the artist finds a path to dimensionality rarely achieved in a 2D format. The figures are not confined to the canvas and instead appear to dance anthropomorphically alongside you, on a much larger-than-life scale than the other beings in the gallery. Clothed in color and powerfully adorned with rhinestones, the mirrored panels reflect the space and entwine you within their world. Mickalene’s artistry has often been presented in the installation medium but from our viewpoint all of her work seems to envelope and draw the viewer in to a spatial plane that is visually dynamic and politically arresting (especially her photographic work).
If visiting art is a spiritual experience for you like it is us, we highly recommend this trip. We booked the first available 10am time slot for hopes of the most sanitary experience and while the FREE “tickets” chosen online were for a given hour, we were allowed to stay as long as we’d like. Have questions? Ideas about other safe happenings in the Triangle? Send us an email: [email protected].
If you’d rather take in the museum from the confines of comfy in your casa, this video from Durham’s own Liberation Station is a must view. Don’t forget to BE art!

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