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November 2008 Visual Arts Calendar

October 21, 2008 | by Judy Moore
EVANSTON, Ill. --- The 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," 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 the 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). Gail and Jerry Oppenheimer generously support the exhibition and catalogue, 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, 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, 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, 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 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 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 Dec. 14. Tours of the galleries begin in the museum lobby. Reservations are not necessary.

Docent-Led Group and School Tours by Appointment, through Nov. 30.
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 hour-long interactive tours and activities for school groups on Tuesdays through Fridays through Nov. 30. 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.


Lecture and screening, "Abakanowicz and Chicago," 6 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 6, Block Museum. Block Museum curator Corinne Granof will present a program about the exhibition "Magdalena Abakanowicz: Reality of Dreams" and "Agora," Abakanowicz's sculptural installation in Chicago's Grant Park. The program includes a screening of the short documentary film "Agora," directed by Agnieszka Ziemacka-Masters.

Three American Photographers: In Depth Series/Block Cinema Film Screening, "World War II Short Films from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Film Archive," 8 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 12, 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 "It's All Over But the Shooting" (1945), John Ford's "The Battle of Midway" (1942) and "Women in Defense" (1941). "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, bequeathed 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/.


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 Ross exhibition, "InAction: Preparing for a Crash," through Nov. 3, Dittmar Memorial Gallery.
Sarah Ross is a conceptual artist whose works examine the visual culture of health, safety and cleanliness that manifest in everyday architecture and landscapes. Ross' "InAction" exhibition explores the aesthetics of intimacy, distance and public inaction and showcases a selection of installation pieces and collages. The public is invited to attend an Artist Workshop that Ross will present from 2 to 5 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 18, at the gallery. Workshop participants will explore the gallery's surrounding areas and have an opportunity to practice "inaction" by using the "InAction Units" featured in the exhibition, including a packaged pillow, roll-out blanket and informative guide. The exhibition includes a series of collages titled "Architecture for a Comfort Class." These imaged structural spaces are constructed from the signifiers of relaxation, simplicity and accumulation proposed by design magazines. Ross is the recipient of grants from the University of California Institute for Research in the Arts and the Illinois Arts Council. Admission is free.

"Focus on Africa: Celebrating 60 Years of the Program of African Studies," Nov. 7 through Dec. 17, Dittmar Memorial Gallery. In 1948, Professor Melville J. Herskovits was granted the funding to launch the Program of African Studies (PAS) at Northwestern University. PAS will hold a fall exhibition of art and archival materials as part of its 60th anniversary yearlong celebration. The mixed-media exhibition, curated by department of anthropology and PAS alumna Justine Cordwell, will bring together stunning and priceless art objects commissioned by or donated to PAS, materials from the library archives and donated photographs from many early PAS alumni. These treasured materials collected during the last decade are rarely seen by the general public but give an amazingly intact picture of what the field of African Studies was like at its start. The exhibition will trace Herskovits' early travels as well as highlight his efforts to create an interdisciplinary center for the study of Africa at Northwestern. The exhibition will be accompanied by an audio "soundscape" allowing visitors to experience the sounds of Africa and the words of many of its most famous academics. The exhibition is presented with support from the Herskovits Library of African Studies, the Northwestern University Library Archives, the Mary and Leigh Block Museum, the Dittmar Memorial Gallery and alumni of the Program of African Studies. An opening reception from 5:30 to 8 p.m. Friday, Nov. 7, is free and open to the public
Topics: Campus Life