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September/October 2008 Visual Arts Calendar

September 15, 2008 | by Judy Moore
EVANSTON, Ill. --- Mary and Leigh Block Museum of Art, 40 Arts Circle Drive, is located on Northwestern University's Evanston campus. The museum's hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday; 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Wednesday, Thursday and Friday; and noon to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.

The museum is closed on Monday. Admission to the museum is free; unless noted, admission to all programs also is free. For more information regarding Block Museum exhibitions, programs or location, phone (847) 491-4000 or go to the Block Museum Web site at http://www.blockmuseum.northwestern.edu.


"A Letter from Japan: The Photographs of John Swope," Sept. 19 through Nov. 30, Main Gallery. This exhibition is the first in-depth presentation of vintage prints from the late Los Angeles photographer's 1945 journey through post-war Japan. Shot during a three-and-a-half week period, Swope's photographs vividly document the impact of World War II on the local population of Japan as well as on the Allied soldiers and prisoners of war. Swope (1908-79), who had previously collaborated with the writer John Steinbeck on a book about aviation cadets, traveled to Japan in late summer of 1945 with the U.S. Navy to photograph the release of Allied prisoners of war. Driven by a desire to understand the country that Americans perceived as a threat, Swope also took pictures of Japanese civilians during his journey, utilizing his personal charm and his unusual Navy-issued camera (a Rolleiflex which was held at waist level, leaving the photographer's face unhidden) to interact with his subjects. In a running letter to his wife, the actress Dorothy McGuire, Swope wrote, "With a camera and a desire to take pictures it is very difficult not to talk with them, befriend them, and try and find out more about them." Swope's correspondence with his wife provides commentary for more than 75 photos from his trip displayed in the exhibition, which also includes selected highlights from Swope's career as a Hollywood photographer from the 1930s through 1970s. "A Letter from Japan: The Photographs of John Swope" was organized by UCLA's Hammer Museum and is accompanied by a 256-page catalogue ($45). The exhibition and catalogue are generously supported by Gail and Jerry Oppenheimer, with additional support from Mrs. Sidney F. Brody, The Judith Rothschild Foundation, Shirlee Fonda, and Jane Wyatt.

"Drawn from Memory: Holocaust and History in the Art of Samuel Bak" exhibition, Sept. 19 through Nov. 30, Block Museum's Print, Drawing and Photography Study Center. Born in Eastern Europe in 1933, Samuel Bak suffered the ravages of the Holocaust as a child. His paintings and drawings continually address the traumas he and other European Jews experienced at the time. The "Drawn from Memory: Holocaust and History in the Art of Samuel Bak" exhibition focuses on the artist's incorporation of iconography from historical and modern art, including his frequent invocation of the brooding winged figure from Albrecht Dürer's 1514 print "Melencolia." Bak's appropriations evoke displacement and loss and become metaphors of the ruptures he has lived through, as well as universal symbols of suffering. This exhibition is organized by the Block Museum with cooperation from the Pucker Gallery, Boston.

"Magdalena Abakanowicz: Reality of Dreams" exhibition, Sept. 26 through Dec. 14, Block Museum's Alsdorf Gallery.
Renowned artist Magdalena Abakanowicz (born 1930) is one of the most potent voices in the art world today. Her creations, based primarily on human and animal forms, express a spiritual and philosophical quest. Abakanowicz is best known for large-scale installations in cities across the world, including the colossal "Agora," installed in Chicago's Grant Park in 2006. She came of age during World War II and under Communist rule in postwar Poland. Growing up in Poland in the 20th century, Abakanowicz overcame traumatic events in European history, personal challenges, and political oppression through dogged resourcefulness. Her art is informed by these experiences, and the theme of individuality within an anonymous multitude is repeated in her sculpture installation "Flock" and selected drawings made during some 25 years. The exhibition has been organized by the Block Museum of Art with the cooperation of Marlborough Gallery, New York.

Theo Leffmann, "Weaving a Life into Art" ongoing exhibition from Sept. 19 through Nov. 30, Block Museum's Theo Leffmann Gallery.
Theo Leffman is recognized as a rich contributor to the American fiber art movement in the late 20th century. For more than 30 years, Leffman liberated textiles from practical and decorative applications by using them as a means of personal expression. Through the generous gift of the late Paul Leffmann, these works are part of the Block Museum's permanent collection.


Docent Guided Adult Tours of the Fall 2008 exhibitions, Mary and Leigh Block Museum of Art. Block Museum docents will lead free guided tours of "A Letter from Japan" exhibition at 2 p.m. Saturdays from Sept. 27 through Nov. 29. Free guided tours of Bak's "Drawn from Memory" exhibition and Abakanowicz's "Reality of Dreams" exhibition will take place at 2 p.m. Sundays from Sept. 28 through Nov. 30. Tours of only Abakanowicz's "Reality of Dreams" exhibition will also take place at 2 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays from Dec. 6 through 14. Tours of the galleries begin in the museum lobby. Reservations are not necessary.

Docent-Led Group and School Tours by Appointment, from Oct. 1 through Dec. 14. The Block Museum offers free docent-led tours to groups of eight or more. The 45-minute-long tours are available each day the museum is open. The Block also provides hourlong interactive tours and activities for school groups on Tuesdays through Fridays from Oct. 1 through Dec. 14. Arrangements for group or school tours should be made at least four weeks in advance by e-mailing blockeducation@northwestern.edu. Group reservations are available at http://www.blockmuseum.northwestern.edu/visit/guided-tours.html.


Three American Photographers: In Depth Series Lecture, "The Artist at War: John Swope and the History of War Photography," 5:30 p.m. Friday, Sept. 26, Block Museum. John Swope's poetic photographs of Allied soldiers, Japan's people, and the country's battle-scarred landscapes bring a unique perspective to war photography. "A Letter from Japan" curator Carolyn Peter, director of the Laband Art Gallery at Loyola Marymount University, Los Angeles, addresses Swope's work in the context of war documentation.

Three American Photographers: In Depth Series/Block Cinema Film Screening, "World War II Short Films from the Rohauer Collection," 8 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 8, Block Museum's Pick-Laudati Auditorium. Hollywood helped the war effort with educational short films, wryly entertaining public service announcements and aggressively patriotic propaganda. Great talent such as directors John Ford, Frank Capra and Preston Sturges as well as actors Katherine Hepburn and Walter Huston donated their service to create some of the most interesting short films of the 1940s. The evening screening will include the films "Safeguarding Military Secrets" (1942) directed by Sturges, and "What To Do in a Gas Attack" (1943), and "Divide and Conquer" (1942).

Family Program, "Pinhole Cameras," 1 to 3 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 12, Block Museum. Families with children aged 6 to 12 will learn how cameras work and create their own pinhole camera to capture an image. For inspiration, children and adults will view John Swope's black and white photographs featured in the exhibition "A Letter from Japan: The Photographs of John Swope." Admission is free for Block Museum members; $5 per family for nonmembers. Reservations are required. E-mail blockeducation@northwestern.edu.

Lecture, "Dialogues with the Past and Present: The Vivid World of Samuel Bak," 6 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 29, Block Museum.
Jeffry M. Diefendorf, Pamela Shulman Professor in European and Holocaust Studies at the University of New Hampshire, College of Liberal Arts, explores the ways in which artist Samuel Bak engages contemplation of the Holocaust by making the subject accessible rather than morbid or repellant. This lecture is held in conjunction with the Block exhibition "Drawn from Memory: Holocaust and History in the Art of Samuel Bak."

"Three American Photographers: In Depth" is part of "American Art American City," a citywide initiative celebrating the history of American art, sponsored by the Terra Foundation for American Art.


The Sculpture Garden of Northwestern's Mary and Leigh Block Museum of Art constitutes one of the most significant groupings of modern sculpture in the region. In 1987, Leigh Block, one of the museum's inaugural donors and a preeminent collector of modern art, bequested a large group of outdoor bronze sculptures to the museum. These pieces formed the core of the collection, which now features monumental sculptures by some of the 20th century's most renowned European and American sculptors, including Barbara Hepworth, Jacques Lipchitz and Henry Moore.

In 1989, the Block Museum opened its Sculpture Garden with nine of the monumental bronzes donated by Leigh Block. The Sculpture Garden was designed by Chicago architect John Vinci and through donations and acquisitions has grown to 22 pieces. Located on the Evanston campus, it is open year-round. For more information about the Sculpture Garden, visit http://www.blockmuseum.northwestern.edu/collections/sculpture.html/.

Docent-Led Group Tours of the Sculpture Garden by Appointment, through Sept. 30. The Block Museum offers free docent-led tours of the Block's outdoor Sculpture Garden Tuesdays through Sundays. Arrangements for Sculpture Garden Tours should be made at least four weeks in advance by e-mailing blockeducation@northwestern.edu. Group reservation forms are available online at http://www.blockmuseum.northwestern.edu/visit/guided-tours.html.


The Dittmar Memorial Gallery, Norris University Center, 1999 Campus Drive, Evanston
campus. The gallery is open from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily. Admission is free. The gallery places emphasis on ethnic cultural art, art by emerging artists, art by or about women, artwork by Northwestern undergraduate and graduate art students and traveling art shows. For information, call the Dittmar Gallery at (847) 491-2348 or Norris University Center at (847) 491-2300, e-mail dittmargallery@northwestern.edu or visit the Dittmar Web site at http://www.norris.northwestern.edu/dittmar.php.

Sarah I. Ross exhibition, "Lazy Action: Preparing for a Crash," Oct. 1 through Nov. 3, Dittmar Memorial Gallery. Sarah Ross is a conceptual artist whose works focus on myths of health, safety and cleanliness that surface in the physical and visual structures of everyday spaces. The art she produces utilizes multiple forms and materials, and has included customized jogging suits, performative photographs, fantastical proposals for public spaces and street posters. Taking cues from people and populations that adapt and re-organize space to fit their habits, she creates objects that suggest and recognize the possibilities of adaptation. These adaptations are ad hoc and site/body specific, often misusing technologies, readapting them to another set of standards. Her artwork has been exhibited in Los Angeles, New York, Baltimore, Chicago, Portland and Romania.
Topics: Campus Life