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February 2011 Visual Arts Calendar

January 24, 2011 | by Judy Moore
Thomas Rowlandson, Miseries of the Country, 1807, etching, with stipple, in black ink and watercolor on cream wove paper. Courtesy of The Lewis Walpole Library, Yale University, 807.00.00.79.

EVANSTON, Ill. --- An exhibition of artist Thomas Rowlandson’s satirical depictions of political and social life in the late 18th- and early 19th-century England, and a complementary exhibition of contemporary prints and graphics, will be on display at the Block Museum this winter. Both will be open to the public through March 13.

Block Museum event highlights include a Feb. 9 lecture, on The Language of Visual Humor before Rowlandson and How He Developed His Own Dialect,” by Constance McPhee, associate curator of drawings and prints at New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art; a hands-on Feb. 20 Family Program event focusing on the games and pastimes in Georgian England; and Feb. 24 Block Book Club discussion of Daniel Clowes’ (“Ghost World”) latest book, “Wilson.”

To complement the Block Museum’s “Thomas Rowlandson” winter 2011 exhibition, Block Cinema will present two free Saturday matinees in February set in Georgian England. The Oscar-nominated film “Kitty,” starring Paulette Goddard, will be screened Feb. 12 and the 1935 film “Becky Sharp,” based on William Makepeace Thackeray’s “Vanity Fair,” will be shown Feb. 26.

The Dittmar Memorial Gallery will unveil its second winter exhibition featuring the works of two Chicago-based artists, titled “Tech Noir: The Art of Stephen Flemister and Krista Franklin” which runs from Feb. 10 to March 16.


The Mary and Leigh Block Museum of Art, 40 Arts Circle Drive, is located on Northwestern University’s Evanston campus. The museum is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday; 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Wednesday, Thursday and Friday; and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.

The museum is closed on Monday. Admission to the museum and to all programs is free, unless noted. For more information regarding Block Museum exhibitions, programs or location, phone (847) 491-4000 or go to the Block Museum website at www.blockmuseum.northwestern.edu.


“Thomas Rowlandson: Pleasures and Pursuits in Georgian England,” through March 13, Main Gallery. One of the most popular satirists of his period, Thomas Rowlandson (1757-1827) applied his masterful drawing skills and keen sense of humor to colorful, detailed and sometimes bawdy depictions of everyday life in and around London during the late 18th and early 19th centuries. As the first major exhibition of Rowlandson’s work in the United States in 20 years, “Pleasures and Pursuits” provides the opportunity for a reappraisal of the artist’s watercolors, drawings and prints while examining the mixing of classes in London’s gathering spaces and leisure activities during a time of remarkable economic expansion and social change. The exhibition is organized by the Frances Lehman Loeb Art Center at Vassar College, Poughkeepsie, N.Y., with support from the Evelyn Metzger Exhibition Fund, and Furthermore, a program of the J.M. Kaplan Fund.

“The Satirical Edge in Contemporary Prints and Graphics,” through March 13, Alsdorf Gallery. “The Satirical Edge in Contemporary Prints and Graphics” is an exhibition drawn primarily from the Block Museum’s permanent collection. It features works from the 1950s to the present by artists active in the United States who use the power of printmaking to create outrageous scenes and narratives of warfare, greed and injustice. The show begins with printmakers from the mid-20th century, including William Gropper, Warrington Colescott  and Sidney Chafetz. A newer generation is represented by artists Tom Huck and Enrique Chagoya. Other contemporary artists in the exhibition include R. Crumb, Sue Coe and the Guerrilla Girls, a feminist art collective.


Docent guided Adult Tours of the Winter 2011 exhibitions, Mary and Leigh Block Museum of Art, 1 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays through March 13. Tours begin in the museum lobby. Reservations are not necessary.

Docent-led Group and School Tours by Appointment. 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. Arrangements for group or school tours should be made at least four weeks in advance by e-mailing blockeducation@northwestern.edu. Visit www.blockmuseum.northwestern.edu/education for more information.


Lecture, “The Language of Visual Humor before Rowlandson and How He Developed His Own Dialect,” 5:30 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 9. English artist Thomas Rowlandson was one of the most popular satirists of his time, a keen observer of human behavior who captured the follies and foibles of everyday life in Georgian London with his wit and masterful drawing skills. Constance McPhee, associate curator of drawings and prints at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, will examine European caricature and satire before Rowlandson and discuss how the artist and his contemporaries reshaped their predecessors’ art into a newly dynamic visual form. Support for this program is provided by the Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art and the Alice Kaplan Institute for the Humanities, Northwestern University.

Block Cinema, “Kitty,” 2 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 12. Paulette Goddard stars in this 1945 Oscar-nominated film as a young woman from the streets of 18th-century London who is swept up into high society when the artist Thomas Gainsborough paints her portrait. Admission is free.

Family Program, Games and Pastimes in Georgian England, 1 to 3 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 20. Take an interactive tour of the hilarious Thomas Rowlandson exhibition and learn how to play card games from the artist’s time. There will be prints available for hand-coloring. Recommended for children aged 6 to 12, this event is free for Block Museum members; admission is $5 per family for nonmembers. Preregistration is required through blockeducation@northwestern.edu.

Block Book Club, Daniel Clowes’ “Wilson,” 5 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 24. Alternative cartoonist Daniel Clowes (“Ghost World”) creates funny and sad narratives about lost and dissatisfied souls. Cary Elza, a Ph.D. candidate in Northwestern’s department of radio, television and film and an instructor at DePaul University, will lead a discussion of Clowes’ latest book, the much-praised “Wilson.” Preregistration is advised through blockeducation@northwestern.edu. Attendees are encouraged to bring a copy of the book.

Block Cinema, “Becky Sharp,” 2 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 26. Based on William Makepeace Thackeray’s novel “Vanity Fair” this early Technicolor film from 1935 stars Miriam Hopkins as a socially ambitious woman in early 19th-century Britain. Admission is free.


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 www.blockmuseum.northwestern.edu/collections/sculpture.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 website at www.dittmar.northwestern.edu.

“Emotional DIY” by Soo Shin exhibition, through Feb. 6, Dittmar Memorial Gallery. Chicago-based artist Soo Shin rummages through junkyards and scouts city streets in search of discarded building materials and household furnishings. The wood, metal, concrete and sundry materials she salvages and transforms into art are key components of her do-it-yourself (DIY) “emotional functioning sculptures,” on display in her exhibition “Emotional DIY.” Her precarious sculptures reflect the uncertainty of human emotion; they are meant to console those who have experienced rejection and loneliness by replacing unfulfilled human relationships with inanimate objects and soothing words. While fully aware that objects cannot replace the role of human bonds, Shin believes that her artwork can trigger a conversation about the true language in people’s relationships. To view Shin’s works, visit the artist’s website at www.soooshin.com.

"Tech Noire: The Art of Stephen Flemister and Krista Franklin” exhibition, Feb. 10 through March 16, Dittmar Memorial Gallery. In their 20 mixed medium collages, paintings and sketches, Chicago-based artists Stephen Flemister and Krista Franklin explore ideas of the black body and identity through digital and futuristic landscapes. Examining the modern self-made identity, Flemister’s artwork encompasses surveillance culture, the “dark side” of the digital, and the collision of the public and the private spheres. Franklin’s mixed-media work repositions blackness through an “Afrofuturistic” lens, and plays on science fiction and speculative literature and cinema, as well as the iconography of film noir. For more information on Flemister, visit http://stephenflemister.com. For more on Franklin, visit  http://www.kristafranklin.com. An opening reception at 6 p.m. Friday, Feb. 11, is free and open to the public.

Topics: Campus Life