M | I | C / A || THEN / NOW showcases what generations of artists created back “then” and what new generations are creating “now” after over one hundred and fifty years of artistic pursuit. Viewers will see how the unique visions of individual artists have developed over a wide span of years, since many of the participating artists will be represented by work created early in their careers, as well as by their current images or objects. The artists in this show all graduated at least 10 years ago from the undergraduate program of Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA), one of the nation’s oldest and top art schools.
Barry Nemett, Chair of the Painting Department at MICA since 1992, has curated M | I | C / A || THEN / NOW for two simultaneous exhibitions at Ethan Cohen New York in Chelsea, New York City and at Ethan Cohen Fine Arts/ Kunsthalle Beacon (KuBe, www.KubeNY.org), in Beacon, New York. The exhibitions are comprised of the work of 65 alumni – some deceased – who have distinguished themselves nationally and internationally. These artists include classical sculptors such as Joseph Maxwell Miller (late 1800s), early 20th-century illustrators like Aaron Sopher, and mid-20th-century painters, including Morris Louis and Herman Maril. Well-known contemporary MICA alumni, such as Donald Baechler, David Byrne, David Humphrey, Jeff Koons, Joyce J. Scott, and Shinique Smith, are also included. The participating artists come from diverse parts of the world, including China, Iran, Israel, Japan, Korea, Libya, Pakistan, Russia, and the United States, from Hawaii to New York. Many are trailblazers in their respective artistic areas. From their work displayed throughout the world and/or as college art educators, all have profoundly inspired younger artists. With examples of painting, drawing, sculpture, film, photography, printmaking, illustration, graphic design, video, conceptual art, performance, and installation, M | I | C / A || THEN / NOW – in two distinctive locations – represents the vital and far-ranging artistic approaches that MICA has always supported in integrating traditions and the avant-garde.
The Chelsea gallery exhibition addresses innovative two-dimensional works, containing broad representational and observational approaches. A drawing by Morris Louis is a distinctive, unusual example of his more well-known work; Jeff Koons’ print is an early and rare example connecting to his present art practice; and the painterly work of Donald Baechler features a single, iconic, multi-layered yellow flower.
In the second venue – at The KuBe, a former high school converted into an arts center located three minutes away from Dia: Beacon – the presentation features large-scale installations and accommodates many more works. There are three 30-foot sculptures by Frank Hyder – located outside the front entrance, in the former gymnasium, and on the roof. Two site-specific sculptures by Jason Peters wind through a 100-year old beech tree at the main entrance and highlight the rooftop glass greenhouse.
The two contrasting exhibition venues — Ethan Cohen’s New York gallery and the sprawling Kunsthalle Beacon — have made this ambitious undertaking possible, a bit of here and there to go along with then and now.
This exhibition is dedicated to the legacy of Fred Lazarus IV, President of Maryland Institute College of Art from 1978 through 2014.
Ethan Cohen Fine Arts and Barry Nemett extend a special thanks to MICA for its generous support of this exhibition.