Brooklyn Museum Sanford Biggers Exhibit Planned

&#8220Sanford Biggers: Sweet Funk-An Introspective&#8221 challenges and reinterprets symbols and legacies that inform contemporary America in a focused selection of eight installations and five additional artworks created by the New York-based artist. On view September 23, 2011, through January 8, 2012, this will be Biggers’ first museum presentation in New York, and it will mark the Brooklyn debut of his Blossom (2007), a large-scale multimedia installation.

Sanford Biggers employs a variety of media, and his work incorporates references to a range of artistic and cultural traditions. The focal point of the Brooklyn Museum exhibition, Blossom (2007), is composed of a large tree that grows through, and uproots, a grand piano. At various intervals, the keys move as the piano plays the artist’s arrangement of &#8220Strange Fruit,&#8221 a song first recorded in 1939 by the blues singer Billie Holiday.

In Biggers’ work, the tree suggests multiple, divergent ideas and references, some of them horrifying, such as lynchings and other race crimes that the 1930s song movingly protested. But other references are positive, such as Buddha’s finding enlightenment while sitting under the bodhi tree. Addressing the historical and cultural landscape, Blossom, which was recently acquired by the Brooklyn Museum, also references the ideologically tinged landscapes by artists such as Alfred Bierstadt and Frederic Church.

Blossom will occupy the center of the Museum’s fifth-floor Rotunda (the Iris and B. Gerald Cantor Gallery), where it will be presented along with eight other, thematically related installations. One of Biggers’ earliest videos, Bittersweet the Fruit (2002) introduces the imagery of tree, piano, and black male subject. Cheshire (2008), a sculptural installation, alludes to the disembodied smile of the cat in Alice in Wonderland as well as to the caricatured wide grin associated with blackface minstrelsy. The video installation Cheshire (2007) presents a sequence of professionally attired African American men who each attempt to climb a large tree. The installation Kalimba II (2002), named after an African percussion instrument, incorporates a piano that has been cut in two by a wall- a bench invites the visitor to sit down and play half of the keyboard, initiating a dialogue/duet with an unseen visitor on the other side of the wall.

Another related installation is a large glass disc, titled Lotus (2007) that refers to the Buddhist symbol but also to the slave trade: etched in glass, the filigree pattern contained in each petal of the lotus flower is made up of diagrams of the placement of human bodies in the cargo hold of an eighteenth-century slave ship. The remaining installations include Shuffle (2009), a video installation that explores the shifting identities of the main protagonist- Calenda (Big Ass Bang) (2004), a dance diagram affixed to the floor and walls that evokes both a cosmic explosion and codified dance forms- and Passage (2009), an altered portrait bust of Martin Luther King Jr. that casts a large shadow, a silhouette of Barack Obama, on the wall.

Sanford Biggers has been creating installations and performances for more than fifteen years. He now works and lives in New York City. Originally from Los Angeles, he attended Morehouse College in Atlanta, earning his B.A., and then the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, completing his M.F.A. He was the recipient of a Creative Time Global Residency grant, which took him to Brazil in 2009. Biggers joined the faculty of Columbia University in January 2010. He was also part of the affiliate faculty at the Virginia Commonwealth University and spent a year as a visiting scholar and resident artist at Harvard University.

Sanford Biggers: Sweet Funk-An Introspective is organized by Eugenie Tsai, John and Barbara Vogelstein Curator of Contemporary Art at the Brooklyn Museum. The exhibition will be accompanied by an illustrated catalogue with an introduction by Eugenie Tsai and an essay by the critic Gregory Volk. The Museum is coordinating this exhibition with the Sculpture Center, in Long Island City, Queens, which will host a concurrent exhibition of new work by Biggers.

Illustration: Sanford Biggers (America, b. 1970). Blossom, 2007. Steel, Zoopoxy, silk leaves, wood, piano w/MIDI system. Courtesy of the artist and Michael Klein Art.

Exhibit to Focus on Gender in American Portraiture

Hide/Seek: Difference and Desire in American Portraiture, the first major museum exhibition to explore how gender and sexual identity have shaped the creation of American portraiture, organized by and presented at the National Portrait Gallery last fall, will be on view at the Brooklyn Museum from November 18, 2011, through February 12, 2012. With the cooperation of the National Portrait Gallery, the Brooklyn Museum has reconstituted the exhibition in concert with the Tacoma Art Museum, where it will be on view from March 17 through June 10, 2012.

Hide/Seek includes works in a wide range of media created over the course of one hundred years that reflect a variety of sexual identities and the stories of several generations. The exhibition also highlights the influence of gay and lesbian artists who often developed new visual strategies to code and disguise their subjects’ sexual identities, as well as their own. Hide/Seek considers such themes as the role of sexual difference in depicting modern Americans, how artists have explored the definition of sexuality and gender, how major themes in modern art&#8211especially abstraction&#8211were influenced by marginalization, and how art has reflected society’s changing attitudes.

Announcing the Brooklyn presentation, Museum Director Arnold L. Lehman said, &#8220From the moment I first learned about this extraordinary exhibition in its planning stages, presenting it in Brooklyn has been a priority. It is an important chronicle of a neglected dimension of American art and a brilliant complement and counterpoint to Youth and Beauty: Art of the American Twenties, a touring exhibition organized by the Brooklyn Museum, also on view this fall. &#8220

In addition to its commentary on a marginalized cultural history, Hide/Seek offers an unprecedented survey of more than a century of American art. Beginning with late nineteenth-century works by Thomas Eakins and John Singer Sargent, the exhibition traces the subject of gender and sexuality with approximately one hundred works by masters including Romaine Brooks, George Bellows, Marsden Hartley, and Georgia O’Keeffe. It continues through the postwar periods with works by Jasper Johns, Robert Rauschenberg, Agnes Martin, and Andy Warhol. The exhibition addresses the impact of the Stonewall Riots of 1969, the AIDS epidemic, and the advent of postmodernism and themes of identity in contemporary art. The exhibition continues through the end of the twentieth century with major works by artists including Keith Haring, Glenn Ligon, Nan Goldin, Felix Gonzalez-Torres, and Catherine Opie.

The Brooklyn presentation will feature nearly all of the works included in the National Portrait Gallery exhibition. Among them are rarely seen works by Charles Demuth, whose better-known industrialized landscapes are on view in Youth and Beauty- a poignant portrait of New Yorker writer Janet Flanner wearing two masks, taken by photographer Bernice Abbott- Andrew Wyeth’s painting of a young neighbor standing nude in a wheat field, much like Botticelli’s Venus emerging from her shell- Robert Mapplethorpe’s photograph riffing on the classic family portrait, in which a leather-clad Brian Idley is seated on a wingback chair shackled to his whip-wielding partner, Lyle Heeter- and Cass Bird’s photographic portrait of a friend staring out from under a cap emblazoned with the words &#8220I Look Just Like My Daddy.&#8221 The exhibition will also include David Wojnarowicz’s A Fire in My Belly, an unfinished film the artist created between 1985 and 1987.

The original presentation was co-curated by David C. Ward, National Portrait Gallery historian, and Jonathan Katz, director of the doctoral program in visual studies at the State University of New York in Buffalo.

At the Brooklyn Museum the exhibition has been coordinated by Tricia Laughlin Bloom, Project Curator. Hide/Seek: Difference and Desire in American Portraiture has been generously supported by The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts.

Additional support has been provided by the Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation.

Photo: Walt Whitman by Thomas Eakins. Courtesy National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Museum.

Museum Presents The Brooklyn Artists Ball

The Brooklyn Museum will be partnering with Brooklyn artists to celebrate the Brooklyn Artists Ball, on Wednesday evening, April 27, 2011. This new twist on the Museum’s longstanding annual gala will celebrate the creativity and considerable influence of Brooklyn artists. Museum Trustee and arts patron Stephanie Ingrassia will chair the event with Sarah Jessica Parker acting as Honorary Co-Chair. &#8220It is incredibly exciting for the Museum to enlarge in yet another way its already major engagement with the community of artists living and working in Brooklyn. The new direction of the Ball signifies the Museum’s enormous commitment to those artists, past and present, who are a cornerstone of the institution,&#8221 said the Museum’s Director, Arnold Lehman.

The Museum will honor Brooklyn-based artists Fred Tomaselli, Lorna Simpson, and Fred Wilson, as well as retiring Brooklyn Museum Chair, Norman M. Feinberg. Fred Tomaselli is best known for his highly detailed paintings suspended in clear epoxy resin, which he has described as windows into a hallucinatory universe. Tomaselli has exhibited at the world’s foremost galleries and institutions, including in a solo exhibition at the Brooklyn Museum in 2010.

Fred Wilson is an installation artist and a political activist who was chosen as the United States representative for the Venice Biennale in 2003. Wilson has had solo exhibitions around the world, including at The Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago- the Fine Arts Museum of San Francisco- and The Studio Museum in Harlem. He is also included in the Brooklyn Museum’s permanent collection.

Lorna Simpson’s work portrays images of black women combined with text to express contemporary society’s relationship with race, ethnicity, and sex. Simpson was the first African American woman to be exhibited at the Venice Biennale, had a retrospective at the Whitney Museum of American Art in 2007, and is the subject of an exhibition currently at the Brooklyn Museum’s Elizabeth A Sackler Center for Feminist Art.

The Brooklyn Artist’s Ball will commence at 6 p.m. with a special VIP cocktail reception hosted by Honorary Co-Chair Sarah Jessica Parker in the Great Hall, amid a space-altering, site-specific architectural installation created by Situ Studio, a Brooklyn-based creative practice specializing in design and fabrication. The installation, reOrder: An Architectural Environment reimagines the classically ordered space, transforming the scale of the hall with stretched fabric canopies and integrated furnishings that swell, expand, and augment the profile of the existing monumental columns. Also exhibited in the Great Hall will be a pulsating animated video environment by Brooklyn-based video artist and designer Sean Capone, whose dynamic and mesmerizing large-scale video projections have received critical acclaim for their breathtaking effect.

Following the cocktail reception a sumptuous seated dinner will take place in the Museum’s magnificent Beaux-Art Court. Table environments uniquely designed by Brooklyn-based artists including Aleksander Duravcevic, Valerie Hegarty, Ryan Humphrey, Bo Joseph, Jason Miller, Angel Otero, Duke Riley, Heather Rowe, Shinique Smith, Brian Tolle, Vadis Turner, Sara VanDerBeek and Anya Kielar, and Dustin Yellin will provide guests with an exceptional multi-sensory dining experience.

Tickets to the Brooklyn Artists Ball are available from $500 to $1,500 and tables range from $5,000 to $50,000. Tickets may be purchased online at For further information on the event or ticket options please call (718) 501-6423 or e-mail [email protected]. Proceeds from the Brooklyn Artists Ball will support the Museum’s exhibition, education, and outreach programs.

Skylar Fein Exhibit at the Brooklyn Museum

A recent work by Skylar Fein titled Black Lincoln for Dooky Chase will be on view at the Brooklyn Museum through August 2011 as the centerpiece of an installation including related works from the permanent collection. In Fein’s 2010 work he overlays a silhouette portrait of Abraham Lincoln on a panel created to resemble an old wall menu from Dooky Chase, a well-known New Orleans Creole and soul food restaurant.

Painted in acrylic on plaster and wood, Fein’s portrait will be displayed alongside such works as an 1871 marble bas-relief profile of Lincoln, early nineteenth-century cut-paper silhouettes by French artist August Edouart, and Kara Walker’s 2005 Cotton Hoards in Southern Swamp (from Harper’s Pictorial History of the Civil War).

Skylar Fein, a resident of New Orleans since 2005, believes that Lincoln’s opposition to slavery was shaped by a trip that he took as a teenager to New Orleans, which was then the center of the slave trade. Fein’s use of the silhouette taps into a long visual tradition, examples of which are included in the installation.

The silhouette was popularized in eighteenth-century Europe and soon caught on in the United States. Figures and profile portrait heads were cut from black card and set against a white ground or, in some instances, painted on glass. Evocative of the antebellum period and offering a graphic contrast of black and white the silhouette has inspired explorations of racial issues by contemporary artists such as Fein and Kara Walker.

A native of New York, Skylar Fein (born 1968) was a participant in Prospect.1 New Orleans, the 2008 biennial curated by Dan Cameron. His Remember the Upstair Lounge, a multimedia installation about a disastrous 1973 New Orleans fire at a gay bar that killed thirty-two and injured dozens, received broad critical acclaim. His work has been the subject of solo exhibitions, including the 2009 exhibition Skylar Fein: Youth Manifesto at New Orleans Museum of Art, and is represented in public and private collections.

Image: Skylar Fein (American, born 1968). Black Lincoln for Dooky Chase, 2010.

Brooklyn Museum Celebrates Rockwell Exhibit

The Brooklyn Museum’s Target First Saturday attracts thousands of visitors to free programs of art and entertainment each month. The April 2 event is a celebration of the different techniques artists employ to create a final product, as showcased in the special exhibition Norman Rockwell: Behind the Camera.

Throughout the evening, a cash bar will offer beer and wine, and the Museum Cafe will serve a wide variety of sandwiches, salads, and beverages. The Museum Shop will remain open until 11 p.m.

Some First Saturday programs have limited space available and are ticketed on a first-come, first-served basis. Programs are subject to change without notice. Museum admission is free after 5 p.m. Museum galleries are open until 11 p.m. Parking is a flat rate of $4 from 5 to 11 p.m.

Highlights include:

5-7 p.m. Music
The Fat Cat Jazz Club presents the Afro-Latin Jazz Alliance and the New York City All-Star Youth Big Band.

6 p.m. Film
Wuthering Heights (Peter Kosminsky, 1992, 105 min., PG). Juliette Binoche stars in this adaptation of Emily Bronte’s classic novel, the inspiration for the exhibition Sam Taylor-Wood: &#8220Ghosts.&#8221 Free tickets available at the Visitor Center at 5 p.m.

6:30 p.m. Performance
Beat boxer Kenny Muhammad (pictured) teams up with the Cocoro Strings for a new, percussive twist on classical music. Free tickets available at the Visitor Center at 5 p.m.

6:30-8:30 p.m. Hands-On Art
Sketch a charcoal portrait from live models as they emulate poses found in Rockwell’s illustrations. Free timed tickets available at the Visitor Center at 5:30 p.m.

7 p.m. Curator Talk
Catherine Morris on Lorna Simpson: Gathered. Free tickets available at the Visitor Center at 5 p.m.

8-10 p.m. Dance Party
DJ duo AndrewAndrew use their iPads to spin a zigzag history of pop.

9 p.m. Young Voices Talk
Student Guides on Norman Rockwell: Behind the Camera.

9-10 p.m. Performance
The Upright Citizens Brigade presents a series of improvisational skits based on visitors’ suggestions.

10-11 p.m. Late Night in the Galleries
All galleries open.

Photo: Kenny Muhammad. Photo Courtesy of the Artist.

Brooklyn Museum Great Hall Renovation Complete

The Brooklyn Museum has completed an extensive renovation of its historic Great Hall at the center of its ground floor and has reclaimed additional space for a new gallery. This project, which is the initial phase of a major redesign of the first floor, marks the most transformative change to the floor since that portion of the Museum was constructed in the early twentieth century. The renovated space has been redesigned by the award-winning studio Ennead Architects, formerly known as Polshek Partnership. Ennead has been the architectural firm responsible for the transformation of the Museum over the past twenty-five years.

According to Arnold L. Lehman, Museum Director, &#8220This major rethinking of the nineteenth-century McKim, Mead & White architecture will completely alter and enhance the experience of every visitor in a way that makes for a more exciting and logical introduction to the Museum. Because only one-sixth of the original design for the building was completed, circulation on the first floor has always presented a navigational challenge for our visitors. Through this exciting and engaging new design by Ennead Architects, these issues have been resolved in a manner that will completely transform the visitor experience.&#8221

The initial phase of renovation features the expansive, two-story-high colonnaded space with its original coffered glass-block ceiling. For many years, this room served to display the Museum’s holdings of pre-Columbian, Native American, and Oceanic art. Now to be known as the Great Hall, it is a rare example in New York City of a hypostyle hall, with a dense grid of columns. Designed to form the core of a series of galleries, the space now features four monumental freestanding walls, which define a central gallery. The renovation has also created a new South Gallery, restoring to public use an area previously used for back-of-house functions.

&#8220The goal in this first phase of renovation has been to create a grand central gallery that gives focus to this tremendous space,&#8221 states Susan T. Rodriquez, a partner of Ennead Architects who led the design effort for the transformation. &#8220The entire project, when completed, will provide a more porous, transparent, and accessible experience. It reimagines the Great Hall as layers of galleries surrounding the central space and provides a dramatic visitor sequence that will showcase the Museum’s collections.&#8221

The new freestanding walls allow for the display of art while concealing climate-control systems within. Their crisp, diagonal edges facilitate and reinforce movement from the Lobby into the Great Hall. The central gallery features a new terrazzo floor. The entire gallery volume has been technically upgraded to become a state-of-the-art museum environment, complete with new sprinkler and lighting systems.

The lighting, designed by the Renfro Design Group, features a flexible track system integrated into the historic coffered ceiling, with LED lighting in the central bay. Natural light filters down to the Great Hall through McKim, Mead & White’s glass-block ceiling, which forms the floor of the Beaux-Arts Court. A new glass floor was introduced over the existing glass-block floor in the Court renovation by Ennead Architects in 2009. The Gilbane Building Company was the construction manager for that project.

Funding has been provided by the City of New York, the State of New York, and the Brooklyn Museum.

The renovated space will be inaugurated on March 4 with a site-specific architectural installation, reOrder: An Architectural Environment by Situ Studio, which will engage the existing monumental columns with a series of suspended fabric canopies and furniture that relate to the details of the McKim, Mead & White structure. It will be on view through January 15, 2012, after which the space will become an introductory gallery to the entire permanent collection.

The first exhibition to be presented in the new South Gallery will be Thinking Big: Recent Design Acquisitions, also opening on March 4 and on view through May 29, 2011, after which it will be given over to a new installation of selections from the Museum’s holdings of African Art. Current plans for additional enhancements to the Hall and the first floor are anticipated to begin in the fall of 2011 and be completed in 2013.

The next phase of the first-floor transformation will include a Museum Cafe, a bar, and an outdoor dining terrace located directly off the lobby. The design will include the Williamsburg murals, on long-term loan from the New York City Housing Authority. The cafe will feature a formal dining room that can be used for special functions and a casual dining area overlooking the Steinberg Family Sculpture Garden. There will be direct access to the dining areas from adjacent parking.

The Museum Shop will be relocated to the area currently occupied by the Robert E. Blum Gallery near the main lobby. The new shop will be redesigned by Visbeen Associates, Inc., an award-winning architectural firm based in Grand Rapids, Michigan, whose projects include several of the Metropolitan Museum of Art satellite stores, as well as the Peabody Essex Museum shop. Important new features to enhance the visitor’s experience will be a wider entrance that will open onto the Grand Lobby, providing greater visual access to the galleries in the Great Hall and assisting with circulation patterns, as well as a new signage system.

The space that has been occupied for decades by the Museum Cafe, as well as offices and art-storage areas, will be reclaimed as a special exhibition gallery, which will replace the existing Robert E. Blum Gallery. The final phase of the first-floor transformation will include the renovation of gallery space currently occupied by the African galleries, which will be deinstalled on June 26, 2011, and will reopen in the South Gallery on August 12, 2011.

At the completion of the renovation of the first floor, all gallery space will be climate controlled, and non-exhibition spaces will be air-conditioned.

The Brooklyn Museum, as designed by McKim, Mead & White in the late nineteenth century, was built in many stages, and only one-sixth of the original design was completed. It has undergone several subsequent changes. In 1897 the West Wing (now known as the Morris A. and Meyer Schapiro Wing) was completed. Construction continued through the early twentieth century, and the large first-floor hall that housed the Museum’s non-European art collections opened in 1925, serving as the focal point of a series of galleries dedicated to various cultures of the world. Until the staircase in front of the Museum was removed in 1934, a large portion of the first floor contained an auditorium. Another major change took place in 1965, when four massive case structures were constructed and the space, showcasing North Central and South American collections, was renamed the Hall of the Americas (now to be called the Great Hall). The addition of the glass Rubin Pavilion on Eastern Parkway in 2004 reenergized visitor circulation on the first floor.

The current first-floor renovation continues a major redesign of the Museum’s ground level that began in 2004 with the opening of the Rubin Pavilion, the Ennead-designed, critically acclaimed front entrance, as well as the renovated lobby, redesigned front plaza, new South Entrance, and expanded parking facilities. It continues a Master Plan created in 1986 by the partnership of Polshek Partnership (now Ennead architects) and Arata Isozaki & Associates to improve and expand the Museum building, with a strong emphasis on making all gallery spaces climate controlled. Subsequently, they affected
a number of significant changes to the building, including the 1993 renovation of the entire Schapiro Wing, as well as the creation of the Iris and B. Gerald Cantor Auditorium and new art-storage facilities in the early 1990s. Ennead also designed the Elizabeth A. Sackler Center for Feminist Art, which opened in 2007. The recently completed Service Extension building for the reception and processing of art and the complete renovation of the entire basement for staff and support spaces were both designed by Ewing Cole.

Image: Rendering Courtesy Ennead Architects.

Split Second: A Unique Exhibition Experience

Split Second: Indian Paintings, a small installation of ten rarely seen works from the Brooklyn Museum collection, on view July 13 through December 31, 2011, will result from a unique online experiment that was inspired by Malcolm Gladwell’s critically acclaimed book Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking.

The project is designed to explore how a viewer’s initial reaction to the work is affected by what they know, what they are asked, and what they have been told about the object in question. Just launched on the Museum website, the experiment consists of three steps.

The first phase consists of a timed trial. To gauge a person’s split-second reaction to a work of art, participants are given a four second countdown clock and asked to select which painting they prefer from a randomly generated pair of images from a pool of 167 works. Next, they are asked to write about a painting in their own words and then rate its appeal on a scale. In the final step, participants are asked to rate a work of art after being given unlimited time to view it alongside a typical interpretive text. Each part of the exercise aims to examine how a different type of information-or lack thereof-affects a viewer’s reaction to a work of art.

The resulting installation will include the Indian paintings that generated the most controversial and dynamic responses during the evaluation process. Each painting will be accompanied by an analysis of the data collected and a visualization of the data that explores the public’s response during the online evaluation.

The Brooklyn Museum collection of Indian paintings is considered among the finest in the United States. Rarely on public view because of their extreme sensitivity to light, Split Second: Indian Paintings provides a rare opportunity to view these seldom seen works of art.

The installation is organized by Shelley Bernstein, Chief of Technology, in consultation with Joan Cummins, Lisa and Bernard Selz Curator of Asian Art at the Brooklyn Museum. Bernstein was also the organizer of the landmark exhibition Click! A Crowd-Curated Exhibition presented at the Brooklyn Museum in 2008.

Illustration: Dhanashri Ragini. Page from an illustrated Ragamala series. Northern India (Punjab Hills, Kangra), ca. 1790 or earlier. Opaque watercolor and gold on paper. Overall: 10 x 6 15/16 in. (25.4 x 17.6 cm). Brooklyn Museum.

Brooklyn Museum Celebrates Native American Culture

The Brooklyn Museum’s Target First Saturday event attracts thousands of visitors to free programs of art and entertainment each month. The March 5 event celebrates the rich heritage and cultures of North America’s Native Americans and showcases the special exhibition Tipi: Heritage of the Great Plains.

Throughout the evening, a cash bar will offer beer and wine, and the Museum Cafe will serve a wide variety of sandwiches, salads, and beverages. The Museum Shop will remain open until 11 p.m.

Some Target First Saturday programs have limited space available and are ticketed on a first-come, first-served basis. Programs are subject to change without notice. Museum admission is free after 5 p.m. Museum galleries are open until 11 p.m. Parking is a flat rate of $4 from 5 to 11 p.m.

Highlights include:

5-7 p.m. Music
Martha Redbone (pictured) performs a combination of R & B, soul, rock, and traditional Native American music.

5:30 p.m. Performance
The Thunderbird American Indian Dancers perform an array of traditional Native American songs and dances.

6 p.m. Film
Edge of America (James McDaniel, 2003, 105 min.). An African American educator takes a job teaching high-school English on a Native American reservation and is coaxed into coaching the girls’ basketball team. Free tickets available at the Visitor Center at 5 p.m.

6:30-8:30 Hands-On Art
Design your own parfleche, an elegant Native American pouch made of hide. Free timed tickets available at the Visitor Center at 5:30 p.m.

7 p.m. Curator Talk
Nancy Rosoff, Andrew W. Mellon Curator and Chair of the Arts of the Americas, on Tipi: Heritage of the Great Plains. Free tickets available at the Visitor Center at 6 p.m.

8 p.m. Young Voices Talk
Student Guides on Tipi: Heritage of the Great Plains

8-10 p.m. Dance Party
Dee Jay Frame spins tracks fusing hip-hop and traditional Native American music.

9 p.m. Book Club
Lakota scholar Joseph Marshall III speaks about his latest book, To You We Shall Return. A book signing follows.

9-10 p.m. Performance
The Redhawk Arts Council hosts an interactive dance performance inspired by traditional Northern and Southern Plains dances.

10-11 p.m. Late Night in the Galleries
All galleries open.

Photo: Martha Redbone. Photo by Anthony Two Moons.

Recent Acquisitions Exhibits Opens Brooklyn Museum Space

The Brooklyn Museum will present the special exhibition Thinking Big: Recent Design Acquisitions from March 4 through May 29, 2011. The installation of forty-five twentieth- and twenty-first-century objects from the Museum’s permanent collection of decorative arts that have been acquired since 2000 will include a number of large-scale objects that will be exhibited for the first time.

Several important themes that have guided these acquisitions will be highlighted, including Brooklyn-designed objects- young designers- unusual materials and innovative methods of production- designs for children- and mid-twentieth century modernism.

The Brooklyn Museum has been actively acquiring twentieth- and twenty-first-century objects since the 1970s. Among the works featured in the exhibition are &#8220Cinderella&#8221 Table by Jeroen Verhoeven, 2005- Chest of Drawers, Model #45, &#8220You Can’t Lay Down Your Memories&#8221 by Tejo Remy, for Droog, 1991- &#8220Nirvana&#8221 Armchair by Wendell Castle, 2007- Spacelander Bicycle by Benjamin Bowden, 1946- and Womb Chair by Eero Saarinen, 1947-48. Objects by Charles Eames, Cindy Sherman, Konstantin Grcic, Francois Jourdain, and Harry Allen will also be included.

Thinking Big will be the first exhibition in a gallery that has been reclaimed from nonpublic space. The gallery is part of a renovation that is the first phase in a program that will redesign and transform much of the Museum’s first floor beyond the Rubin Pavilion and Lobby, which opened in 2004.

The exhibition is organized by Barry R. Harwood, Curator of Decorative Arts, Brooklyn Museum.

Illustration: Designer and Maker: Wendell Castle (American, born 1932). &#8220Nirvana&#8221 Armchair, 2007. Place made: Scottsville, New York, U.S.A. Fiberglass, 62 3/8 x 33 5/8 x 33 3/4 in. (158.4 x 85.4 x 85.7 cm). Gift of the artist, Brooklyn Museum.

Brooklyn Museum Acquires Unusual 18th-Cent Painting

The Brooklyn Museum has acquired, by purchase from the London Gallery Robilant + Voena, Agostino Brunias’s (1730-1796) painting &#8220Free Women of Color with Their Children and Servants in a Landscape,&#8221 (circa 1764-96), a portrait of the eighteenth-century mixed-race colonial elite of the island of Dominica in the West Indies. Brunias, a London-based Italian painter, left England at the height of his career to chronicle Dominica, then one of Britain’s newest colonies in the Lesser Antilles.

The painting depicts two richly dressed mixed race women, one of whom was possibly the wife of the artist’s patron. They are shown accompanied by their mother and their children, along with eight African servants, as they walk on the grounds of a sugar plantation, one of the agricultural estates that were Dominica’s chief source of wealth. Brunias documents colonial women of color as privileged and prosperous. The two wealthy sisters are distinguished from their mother and servants by their fitted European dresses.

The painting is a Caribbean version of contemporaneous English works made popular by artists such as William Hogarth and Thomas Gainsborough, whose art often depicts the landed gentry engaged in leisurely pursuits. Free Women of Color with Their Children and Servants in a Landscape and other Caribbean paintings by Brunias, celebrate the diversity of European, Caribbean, and African influences in the region.

Although Brunias was originally commissioned to promote upper-class plantation life, his works soon assumed a more subversive, political role throughout the Caribbean as endorsements of a free, anti-slavery society, exposing the artificialities of racial hierarchies in the West Indies. Among his supporters was Haiti’s liberator Francois-Dominique Toussaint L’Ouverture, who wore on his waistcoat eighteen buttons decorated with reproductions of Brunias’s paintings.

&#8220Free Women of Color with Their Children and Servants in a Landscape&#8221 will go on view on March 7, 2011 in the European galleries on the portraiture wall between contemporaneous female Spanish colonial and French subjects.

The painting will also be featured in an upcoming Spanish colonial exhibition organized by Rich Aste, Curator of European Art, which is tentatively slated for 2013. Building on the Brooklyn exhibition Converging Cultures: Art & Identity in Spanish America (1996), the upcoming presentation will focus on private art collecting in the colonial Andes and Mexico. Through more than two hundred paintings, drawings, prints, sculpture, and decorative arts from Brooklyn’s European and Spanish and British colonial collections, visitors will get a rare glimpse of the private homes of the colonial elite, who acquired and commissioned sacred and profane works of art as signifiers of their faith, wealth, and status.

Image: Agostino Brunias (Italian, ca. 1730-1796), &#8220Free Women of Color with their Children and Servants in a Landscape,&#8221 ca. 1764-1796, Oil on canvas, 2010.59, Gift of Mrs. Carll H. de Silver in memory of her husband, and gift of George S. Hellman, by exchange.