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May 2008 Visual Arts Calendar

April 29, 2008 | by Judy Moore

Mary and Leigh Block Museum of Art, 40 Arts Circle Drive, is 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.


"Design in the Age of Darwin: From William Morris to Frank Lloyd Wright," May 9 to Aug. 24, Mary and Leigh Block Museum of Art, Main Gallery; Print, Drawing and Photography Study Center and Ellen Philips Katz and Howard C. Katz Gallery.
With the publication of "The Origin of Species" in 1859, Charles Darwin challenged the foundations of both science and culture. His ideas about the transmutation of species and the mutability of nature provoked strong reactions among naturalists and theologians and continue to stir debate today. It is less well known that the influences of Darwinian and other modes of evolutionary thought extended into the realms of architecture, the decorative arts and design, as well, where biological terms like "adaptation," "fitness," "functionalism" and "type" were used by theorists and practitioners alike. During the 50 or so years following the publication of "The Origin of Species," biologists and designers wrestled with the question of whether the evolution of plants and animals, and the decorative forms derived from them, was the result of an internal dynamic presided over by a divine creator or external factors governed by mere contingency. The dispute, which may be called the "formalism/functionalism debate," was engaged by the English designers William Morris, Christopher Dresser, C.F.A. Voysey and C.R. Ashbee, as well as the American architects Louis Sullivan and Frank Lloyd Wright, whose works are included in the exhibition. This exhibition is guest curated by Northwestern art history professor Stephen F. Eisenman. A full-color catalogue ($36.95) and a May 17 daylong international symposium enrich the "Design in the Age of Darwin" exhibition. This program is part of American Art American City, a Chicago-wide art initiative sponsored by the Terra Foundation for American Art.

"The MFA Thesis Exhibition from the Department of Art Theory and Practice," April 25 through June 22, Mary and Leigh Block Museum of Art, Alsdorf Gallery. This annual exhibition represents the culmination of the course of study for the master of fine arts degree from Northwestern. The works vary in style and conceptual approach, manifesting the individual vision of the artists. The artists in this year's exhibition are Curt Bozif, Lisa Majer and Tim Mazurek. A reception from 5 to 7 p.m. Thursday, April 24, is free and open to the public.

Theo Leffmann, "Weaving a Life into Art," ongoing exhibition that re-opens May 9 through Aug. 24. 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 means of personal expression. Through the generous gift of the late Paul Leffmann, these works are part of the Block Museum's permanent collections.


Weekend Guided Adult Tours of the exhibition "Design in the Age of Darwin: From William Morris to Frank Lloyd Wright," Mary and Leigh Block Museum of Art, Main Gallery, 2 p.m. every Saturday and Sunday, May 10 through May 25, and 2 p.m. Saturdays only, from May 31 through Aug. 23. Block Museum docents will lead free tours of the galleries that begin in the museum lobby. Reservations are not necessary.

Docent-Led Group and School Tours by Appointment, available May 9 through Aug. 24. The Block Museum offers free docent-led tours to groups of eight or more. The 45-minute to hour-long tours are available each day the museum is open. The Block also provides interactive tours and activities for school groups. Arrangements for group or school tours should be made at least four weeks in advance by calling (847) 491-4852 or by completing the group visit registration form at http://www.blockmuseum.northwestern.edu/visit/guided-tours.html.


Block Museum Benefit Dinner, Tour and Raffle, 6 p.m. Saturday, May 10. The May 10 Block Museum Benefit Dinner will include a rare tour of one of North America's greatest private Arts and Crafts Movement collections housed at Crab Tree Farm in Lake Bluff. Benefit tickets are $250 per person. A raffle is also planned. For more information about the benefit and related raffle, or to make a reservation, call (847) 491-7540 or visit http://www.blockmuseum.northwestern.edu/benefit.

"Darwin and Design" Symposium, 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, May 17, at the Mary and Leigh Block Museum of Art. An international panel of scholars will gather to discuss the impact of the theory of evolution on British and American architecture, design and decorative arts. Caroline Arscott, Courtauld Institute of Art, University of London; David Brett, University of Ulster, Belfast; Stuart Durant, independent author and scholar; Jonathan Smith, University of Michigan-Dearborn; and Northwestern's Sarah Teasley, assistant professor of art history, Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences, will participate. Admission is free.

Family Film Workshop, the BBC's "Planet Earth," Episode 8: "Jungles," 2 to 4:30 p.m. Saturday, May 31 (Alastair Fothergill, 2007, United Kingdom, 58 minutes, DVD.)
Block Cinema will screen this Louis Family Nature Series documentary, part of the BBC's 11-part landmark television series "Planet Earth," that will take viewers into the wild to learn about the animals, plants and insects that live together in harmony in lush green jungles. Adults and children alike will enjoy this beautiful documentary, narrated by Sir David Attenborough. Northwestern biologists Carole Labonne and Laura Panko will introduce the screening and talk about evolution and developmental biology. Afterwards families are invited to create their own masterpieces inspired by jungle living. The workshop portion is recommended for families with children aged 6 to 12. Admission is free. Reservations are not required.


The Sculpture Garden of Northwestern University'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 Block. The Sculpture Garden was designed by Chicago architect John Vinci and through donations and acquisitions has grown to 22 pieces. Located on the University's Evanston campus, it is open year-round.

Free Block Sculpture Garden Tours are available by appointment. The Block Museum Sculpture Garden features monumental works by Hans Arp, Barbara Hepworth, Henry Moore, Joan Miro and others. For more information about the Sculpture Garden, visit http://www.blockmuseum.northwestern.edu/collections/sculpture.html/. For more information or to pre-arrange a tour of the Sculpture Garden, call (847) 491-4852.


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.

"Domestic Sunshine," the works of artists Brandy Pudzis and Marcy Sperry, through May 11, Dittmar Memorial Gallery. Chicago artists Brandy Pudzis and Marcy Sperry exemplify the diversity of contemporary art, by inviting viewers to engage not only in the aesthetic qualities of their pieces, but also the dark and uncomfortable questions they raise. Each of Pudzis' works conveys an intimate and complex story that is emotionally, if not literally, observed. Isolation, sexuality and social interaction play prominent roles, as do blood, apples and decapitation. Societal expectations and ideals, which create an imbalance of equality, are questioned and their effects on interaction observed. Sperry juxtaposes the traditional decorative function of domestic needlework and alternate cultural meanings to create elaborate pieces of craft that, at the same time, raise vital questions about the world. Exploring themes such as body modifications, fetishes of body parts and gender identification, Sperry invites viewers to reflect on the disparate consumer culture of America. The exhibition is free and open to the public.

Northwestern University Senior Undergraduate Art Majors Exhibition, May 16 through June 20, Dittmar Memorial Gallery, Norris University Center. This annual exhibition features the artwork of the 2007-08 Northwestern department of art theory and practice majors. The show exemplifies the diverse ideas and styles of the artists in multiple media -- drawing, painting, photography and sculpture. Artwork by 14 students will be on display, including Rachel Aherin, Eddie Chavez, Megan Chiou, Emma Cuciurean-Zapan, Rebecca Horning-Fleming, Stephanie Llamas, Britt Lower, Margot McKirdy, Sarah Mumma, Anisha Nadkarni, Baley Phelps, Cate Smierciak, Vanessa Soberanis and Sang Zhang. An opening reception from 6 to 8 p.m. Friday, May 16, is free and open to the public.
Topics: Campus Life