Monday, June 28, 2010

Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum Experience

The Meeting of the KAWS
I finally took my children to the museum today. My wife stayed home recovering from the bug that I was ill with the day before. We didn’t want to go to the planned museum since my wife was ill, so I chose an alternative that was close by. It was a sunny day and the kids had their swim, so I decided to go to the museum. I wanted to go to one that no one else in the class had had blogged about. My children and I took a trip to The Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum located in Ridgefield, Connecticut. The kids were happy that it was close by, they said they were tired. When we got to the museum they were starting to get more into exploring. That’s the thing with my kids you have to get them going and then they enjoy themselves. We were to only take pictures if one of us was in it. They did not want us to sell any copies of our photos, so one or all of us had to be in the picture. The one with my daughter next to the red picture is the one where she wanted herself in it. She said “I can do better than that; I should have my pictures in a museum”. I think she will some day. Well now you met the kids and me.
The Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum is on Main Street in Ridgefield Connecticut. The building was constructed in 1783 by Joshua King and James Dole, two lieutenants in the Revolutionary War, and was nicknamed "Old Hundred" because it served as a grocery and hardware store from 1783 to 1883 and as Ridgefield's first post office. Grace King Ingersoll remodeled the building in 1883 and used it as her home. From 1929 to 1964, it served as Ridgefield's First Church of Christ, Scientist. Larry Aldrich purchased the historic "Old Hundred" building. He wanted a place to contain his growing collection of art. So The Larry Aldrich Museum began in 1964. In 2001 were to renovate the Museum, the architects were presented with the challenge of expanding a contemporary art museum located in an historic district with colonial roots. Architect Charles Mark Hay, design principal at Tappé Associates, Boston, based the new Aldrich on an abstraction of traditional New England architecture. Today The Aldrich's 25,000 square feet of new and redesigned space accommodates twelve galleries, including: a screening room, a sound gallery, a 22-foot-high project space, a 100-seat performance area, an Education Center, Museum store and, the Cornish Family Sculpture Garden, a two-acre outdoor exhibition space.
There were seven different special collections showing at the museum. We started with the John Shearer: America collection. There were collections of his documentary photograph work. Most photographs were of images of people in their natural surroundings. Some black and white, some with color added on certain objects or the person themselves. We saw sketches, paintings and the journals from Rackstraw Downes.. He documented every day in his journals, which were on display, of is working process and creation of the paintings. The paintings on display were Under the Westside Highway at 145th Street and The North River Water Pollution Control Plant. I told the kids that when we finally get to the MET we can see this area; they thought that it would be cool to see where the painting was done. They had Screen-printing from Gary Litchtenstein. They showed each section as a new color was added. They even had a video showing the process on how screen-printing was done.
The one thing that stood out for all of us was the KAWS. This is a figure created by a Brooklyn-based artist and designer named Brain Donnelly, a.k.a. KAWS. KAWS was born in 1974, attended the School of Visual Arts (SVA) in Manhattan in 1993. KAWS started out skateboarding around Jersey City going into Manhattan to Brooklyn Banks. Then he started doing graffiti on buildings in New York, from there he’s has incorporated his signature image into posters and billboards. The character is an inflated skull with crossed bones and X-ed-out eyes. He started to incorporate this idea or “signature intervention” on as much billboard advertisement as he could. He considered the image to be limitless in terms of translation, anywhere, in any country it will always be just a skull. The KAWS would be recognizable no matter where he went
The figures we seen were from 2 inches to 10 feet tall. Most figures were made of plastic, because the artist wanted to make his artwork more accessible to a broader audience. He believed that the mini-sculptures, made from plastic, would be easier to purchase then a sculpture made of expensive material. He has incorporated his image in almost anything that is well known. KAWS has put his image on almost anything known from Mickey Mouse, the Simpsons, SpongeBob, Pinocchio and Jimmy Cricket and the Michelin Man. See photos. It was hard to see the cross bones because it looked more like ears. After knowing what it really was you could see the true form. I must say they did get the attention from my kids. We were all fascinated in all the pieces there. This was the first time seeing these but I bet it will not be the last.


  1. This is in some ways the most challenging museum of all as it is all brand new and experimental work. Your kids are the best barometer of what to think as their perceptions are fresh and generally true. Looks like they enjoyed themselves.... What a great idea to include them in the pics as a way to relax about copyright issues!

    Glad you made it there!

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