UNCG Campus Weekly

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75 years of “art of the now” on display at WAM

102616feature_artofthenow1 “Decade by Decade: Art Acquired in Its Time,” a new exhibition at the Weatherspoon, presents “art of the now” from each decade since the museum opened in 1941.

Curated by Elaine Gustafson, the exhibition is quintessential to the Weatherspoon Art Museum. The museum’s founder, Gregory Ivy, always advocated for “art of the now,” so that UNCG and the Greensboro community could experience art that was truly of their time.

All the pieces featured in this current exhibition entered the collection shortly after being produced, which means they hadn’t been vetted by critics and art historians. Sometimes these works were made by very young artists and the Weatherspoon was the first museum to ever purchase their work.

102616feature_artofthenow2Gustafson notes that with timing like that, “you’re really taking a chance.” Art collected in this manner has a big payoff, however—when an artist experiences a great career after the museum has acquired their early works, it’s very gratifying for a museum to have supported their career and to have those works in their collection. Collections that feature “art of the now” supports the Weatherspoon’s mission as a teaching museum, not only because it exposes viewers to the newest types of creations and styles but also because fine art students can identify with work that’s featured, and see that, as Gustafson says, “the work they are producing is also worthy of being in a collection.”

Among the many notable pieces, “Decade by Decade” includes (Annie) Elizabeth Beall’s “Bus Station” (1943), Alexander Calder’s mobile, “Yellow Sail,” (1951), Lee Lozano’s “Clash” (1965), Philip Pearlstein’s “Female Model in Red Robe on Wrought Iron Bench (1972), Nancy Grossman’s “A” (1981), Robert Colescott’s “A Visit from Uncle Charlie” (1995), Amy Cutler’s “Saddlebacked” (2002) and Ursula von Rydingsvard’s “Spoon-Ladle” (2011).

“It’s a very select idea of the history of art in the last half of the twentieth and the twenty-first century,” Gustafson says, and adds that it shows “constant tension between abstraction and figuration.”  These are works that could be featured in top museums in New York City or L.A., but instead they’re available to UNCG and the Greensboro community, thanks to the Weatherspoon curators, staff and donors.

“Decade by Decade” runs through December 23. The museum is open Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday 10 a.m. -5 p.m., Thursday 10 a.m.- 9 p.m., and Saturday and Sunday 1 p.m.-5 p.m.

On Nov. 3 at 6:30 p.m., enjoy a screening of a documentary about one of most widely known artists in Decade by Decade, Eva Hesse, with a Q and A with the filmmaker.

By Susan Kirby-Smith

Visual: Curator Elaine Gustafson, before exhibition opened. Visual at top: “Out of Body,” Shinique Smith