Blog / Gazing at stars



By Wendy

On a quick trip to New York, with so many museums and galleries to visit, the Bronx Museum of Art might not always make the cut.
But last month during Armory Week we made a beeline for the Bronx with the perfect tour guide: Mike Levine, a Duke alumnus and member of the Nasher Museum’s national board of advisors. Mike grew up in a taxi garage, as he puts it. He knows all the back streets. No traffic. No wrong turns. “There’s the new Yankee Stadium!”

We were thrilled to visit the impressive museum and see the exhibition, “Stargazers: Elizabeth Catlett in Conversation With 21 Contemporary Artists,” curated by friend and colleague Isolde Brielmaier.

Sunday’s New York Times gives the fascinating backstory of Elizabeth Catlett’s life and the evolution of the exhibition. Celia McGee writes, “The curator of the Bronx Museum show, Isolde Brielmaier, has juxtaposed 31 of Ms. Cattlet’s works with pieces by 21 other artists — less to point out her direct influences on them, Ms. Brielmaier said, than to explore resonances between the older artist and the younger ones. The idea, she added, was to make the show about ‘what all the artists are thinking, and to look at the past and the future.’ ”

Here’s the rest of the NYT story.

You don’t need to leave home to see some of the artists in “Stargazers”–Xaviera Simmons, Hank Willis Thomas and Mickalene Thomas. They are represented in the Nasher Museum’s exhibition, “Building the Contemporary Collection: Five Years of Acquisitions,” on view through August 14. (Mike Levine is a lot more than our tour guide! He and his wife, Marjorie, gave the museum the beautiful paintings “Tambourine” by Lynette Yiadom-Boakye and “Black Widow with Brothers Fighting” by Noah Davis. Both are on view in the exhibition.)

Some “Stargazers” artists also have work in “30 Americans,” an exhibition organized by and drawn from the Rubell Family Collection in Miami, Florida, and on view all summer at the North Carolina Museum of Art.

It’s not so unusual to find work by contemporary artists of the African diaspora in the Bronx. But “Building the Contemporary Collection” and “30 Americans” offer museum goers in North Carolina an unusual opportunity to see exciting work by some of the world’s most important living artists. And you don’t need a tour guide to find them.

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