Katharina Grosse

Last weekend we took a trip up to Mass MOCA (the Museum of Contemporary Art in North Adams, Mass). It was our first time there in awhile, so pretty much everything was new, though we all love that museum so much we might be lured back even when we’ve already seen everything once.

As usual, the kids were lured immediately into the kids space, where they can create their own works of art. This time, it was collage — the tables were filled with odds and ends and the kids ripped them, glued them stuck them onto construction paper. Owen’s created a silhouette out of feathers; Maya put together a woman out of ticket stubs, ribbons and stickers.

We’d seen the Sol LeWitt show a few times, so coasted through that, into Katharina Grosse. Using the museum’s largest space, Grosse created a surreal landscape out of piles of dirt, some scattered clothes, bright spray paint and enormous pieces of Styrofoam.  The effect is hard to describe, especially from the balcony, where you could look down from above.

Petah Coyne

The other large show, of Petah Coyne, is equally intense. Combining taxidermy birds and wax, also in large scale, the effect is both morbid and stunningly beautiful.

Both exhibits were so odd that I found myself wondering who has the nerve to do that. Who thinks of spray painting dirt? Or enfolding dead birds in wax flowers? Yet they are so successful, so beautiful. It is a lesson to the foundering artist (of any sort) to stop thinking so much and just work.

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