Ernesto Neto – Gratitude – June 6 to Sept. 7, 2014 – Aspen Art Museum
Matt Barton – I Think I Feel Something – July 25 to Oct. 5, 2014 – MCA Denver
Located somewhere between a good science fair and a carnival, two art exhibitions are offered to the fair citizens of the state of Colorado this summer. Come one, come all and experience new-healing through color, lights and vibration at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Denver. Visit beautiful Aspen to enclose yourself in spices and stone therapy while ‘doing’ the beautiful constructions of Ernesto Neto.
Neto is a Brazilian artist who’s pieces are built with stretchy fabric stretched over finely-made plywood or metal spines that create human-size shelters that descend around the body as one “does” them. “Let’s do this one,” my friend said, and luckily there are a pair of, or room for a few on each of the structures. We started to the powder blue umbrellas and in order to get inside someone outside has to lift a counter-weight made of Brazilian stones (crystals) that have been washed in the Roaring Fork River. While the weight is hanging five feet away, I was inside, encased to my knees in the blue nylon capsule with a small weight on my head, and just as I start to wonder how I will get out, I smell the scent of oregano. Inside the ribs of the umbrella have been sewn spices. I lift the weight and turn myself to place my nose in front of the lavender section. My concentration on scent broke the spell I felt, the unexpected discovery was now a thing of the past. But still I had to call to someone to release me if I wanted to leave it in an elegant way. The space wasn’t threatening – transparent and lighter than many a hanging lamp – so I just enjoyed the view through panels of spice and herb in the piece I’ve learned is called Capsule Seed. Another friend was getting into the ‘pink’ device.
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The weight was lifted and I emerged to try the other pink one, called Egg Bed Crystal Shell. A human body is outlined on the plywood bed and pink, weighted bags are lowered onto me and are supposed to land on what are the seven chakras. Of course, this is an approximation since everyone is slightly different and if I was at all knowledgeable I could have arranged them to land just right. The weights are slight and soft like a panty hose filled with beans. The effect of laying for a few minutes in a gallery and looking around at the shapes and colors was a relaxing way to exist in (the sometimes too posh) Aspen, and we all left the show feeling refreshed.
Neto’s work is the last show at the riverside setting of the Aspen Art Museum. The AAM has finished a new building on Durant, downtown, and the town is giving the old space to another non-profit at the end of September.
Same New-Age Theme – Different Town – Different Museum
I’d already experienced the similarly-themed show at the MCA by Colorado Springs artist Matt Baron. And just as a disclaimer – I’m with the folks who spoke to me while viewing this show – “we’re militant atheists,” he said while his female partner nodded and laid down on the smooth split side of a log plank. He swung the other half of the log over her. If it was supposed to do something it wasn’t apparent.
Another piece was tent-like and had an interior chair with what seemed like a nagging dog rubbing against your knee looking for attention. The dog turned out to be a helmet with a video playing at the end of it. The video didn’t work – great. Really, was it necessary? The helmet inside the tent gave you the idea — being inside and isolated and further isolating yourself. However, the crudity of the construction was instantly creepy.
After that I watched a woman be bombed by changing colored lights that bathed her in a pose that made her look like a romantic nude from another period of art. The beauty of this exhibition, was watching the human interaction. The experience that showed on the face of many participants was frustration – nothing seemed to happen although there was anticipation that it would. I didn’t read the artist’s statement but it certainly seemed to me like a satire on new age healing. Anticipation, filling the cart with supplements, disappointment and frustration. I’ve heard of that.
Surely some things in our world could improve our quality of life even if they don’t have the direct effect of penicillin, and some things are just a joke on us.