Monday, April 16, 2007

Tony Feher and the IMA Entryway

If have visited the Indianapolis Museum of Art anytime over the past month or more, you most likely had noticed the art work of Tony Feher suspended above your head just inside the entryway. While I believe Feher’s work to be difficult for a lot of people to come to terms with, it is his use of such simple materials and means to produce his works that makes them enticing to me. My first impression of the installation on display was that of decorative porch lanterns/lights you may expect to see hanging outside a trailer. Don’t ask me why that was my first impression, something about my childhood visiting relatives or something of that sort, or it was something in the shape of these bottles and how the sunlight played with the vibrancy of the colored liquid inside them. Strung around the entry way from column to column, in sort of undulating sags, the piece draws your eye around the entry way. While I am intrigued by this piece and a large selection of his work, I find myself questioning whether this piece truly succeeds in activating the space. Part of me thinks it could have been more dynamic, more involved. As it is, it feels like a sketch for a more grandiose idea. Maybe it will grow on me as much of his work has in the past. But, I do not envy him in his challenge to activate that space, as it is a complicated at best.

I have, since the reopening of the IMA, not liked the entry way. If it were a corporate lobby or some sort of terminal building I think I would be fine with it, but in the context of an art museum it really is lacking in functionality. One of my biggest gripes about the IMA entry way was the unexplainable fact that there was no art to be seen. It’s an “ART” museum! How could there be so little regard to exhibiting art? Unfortunately, the design of the entry way is, in my opinion style over function and in the case of an art museum I believe it is best to error in favor of function rather than style though both can be accomplished simultaneously. It was nice when we first got to see the Julian Opie window installation in the space as it finally connected some form of art with the inside of the entry and now it has been replaced with the Feher piece. Now, thanks to support from the Efroymson family, we will get to see site specific installations in the space by different artists every 6 months or so. The Feher piece is the first in this lineup and I look forward to seeing how other artists deal with such a complicated space. I for one think that they will certainly be challenged to do so. What artist will come out on top with the best installation in that space? Perhaps we should keep score cards.

NOTE: For those who would be interested in listening to Tony Feher speak, the lads and lasses up at Bad at Sports had him on their show a while back... As always I highly recommend their podcast. Listen to the Tony Feher episode here.

34 Responses to “Tony Feher and the IMA Entryway”

Jeffrey Geesa said...
April 18, 2007 at 1:30 PM

Major hip points for Indianapolis.

Anonymous said...
April 18, 2007 at 2:07 PM

This kind of installation piece has been done many times over and over

Anonymous said...
April 18, 2007 at 3:59 PM

Off the subject, But,
I visited the Indianpolis Museum of art about 7 years ago, a day trip from Chicago. I remember a great painting upstairs in the modern room that was a very large abstract, had many colors and layers working in a kind of circle motion pattern, but looking at it closer you could start to see layers of images, one image I remember is of a tiger or lion almost jumping out to you. Kind of a chaos painting. It was great.
Does anyone happen to know who the artist might be and what piece I am talking about? I have tried research but to no avail. I emailed the museum but never heard back from them.

Scott said...
April 18, 2007 at 4:42 PM

I may be way off base as I do not remember a tiger or lion image but if it was a painting from the permenant collection 7 years ago + large abstract + many colors + chaos painting = Matthew Ritchie? Are their images in that piece?

But now that I think back to the old building, was it a very large painting, near wall size with lots of graphite drawing on it and not quite finished looking? If so I remember that painting somewhat but I will see what I can do to find out info on that one. That piece would have been in the same room as the Robert Colescott painting. Hmmm, I like mysteries.

Anonymous said...
April 18, 2007 at 8:40 PM

What are hip points, and who keeps score?

Anonymous said...
April 18, 2007 at 9:03 PM

Points for being hip. I keep the score.

Anonymous said...
April 18, 2007 at 9:08 PM

What do you do with the "Major" ones?

Christopher said...
April 18, 2007 at 10:29 PM

Regarding the mystery painting, I did too think of the Matthew Ritchie.

And I need to go spend more time with the Feher piece. After my brief initial viewing, it quite frankly didn't move me at all. And that surprised me as I have liked some of his work in the past.

liriodendron said...
April 19, 2007 at 7:08 AM

The open glass window entry is so large and nondescript, and yes, lacking art, does seem wrong for an art museum. I remember feeling like I was entering a sports stadium when visiting.
My humble suggestions....I would consider replacing some of the wall of windows with colored glass in a beautiful design, or...boldly painting the huge columns, or painting that large concrete stair support thing (sorry, I don't know the terminology) with a striking visual image.Something like the Chihuly at the Childrens Museum! ;)
There needs to be something huge, (like the space)that takes your breath away and people talk about and remember as soon as you enter.

Richard said...
April 19, 2007 at 10:24 AM

I found a Mathew Ritchie on the collections browser of the IMA's "Digital Website." (

This link should lead you to "Shemjaza"

The collection browser will allow you to search some part of the collection and should tell you if it is on exhibit or not. It says that Shemjaza is on view.

Scott said...
April 19, 2007 at 11:32 AM

Mystery Question:

If not the Ritchie, these are the two other works that come to mind as per your peramters...

The Native Alien, by William Wiley

Archangel in the Mouth of a Dragon, by ?

Anonymous said...
April 19, 2007 at 12:22 PM

Thank you Scott.

It was Archangel in the Mouth of a Dragon. Thank you for the link. I remember the yellow eyes and open mouth behind the figure. I remember sitting on a wooden bench in front of it and looking at it for a long time. It is a moving piece. And just keeps moving. Who is the artist? The bio does not mention who? Mohlman is collector?

Scott said...
April 19, 2007 at 1:04 PM

Well, after placing a call to the IMA's collections department a very helpful young lady gave me the name of the artist for that work, his name is Arnaldo Roche-Rabell. Thanks for the mystery, it is now no longer...

Anonymous said...
April 19, 2007 at 3:58 PM

Soooo.....hanging a bunch of colored bottles from the ceiling is art huh?

How much did he get paid and where can I sign up for this gig?

Scott said...
April 19, 2007 at 4:19 PM

Yes, art has evolved from the mere idea that colored pigment on a surface is art. The idea that this 90+ year old question is still brought up is funny. Though I am sure he got paid quite well, the great thing about doing what artists do, you don't have to sign up. You don't even need to sell things to be an artist. In fact noone even has to know who you are. You can be, anonymous.

Anonymous said...
April 23, 2007 at 9:09 AM

I prefer the Matthew Richie. And Anonymous 3:58, are you serious?

Anonymous said...
April 25, 2007 at 9:34 AM

Yes, I'm very serious. But since I'm not an "artiste" my opinion doesn't count.

Anonymous said...
April 25, 2007 at 2:42 PM

What I think is funny is how people want to see something in nothing. "Art has no restraints" is so old and overused. Give me something substantial that shows the person actually can do anything with some skill and real insight. This conceptual stuff is so tired. Now any nonsensical person can make art and say its relevant because Duchamp created conceptualism. And I like Duchamp. But at least he could paint with some level of skill and therefore have a leg to stand on when he gave an opinion, visually or written. Ill grant you that nearly anything can be "art" but lets get some "fine art" in Indiana. Is this Feher's masterpiece. And does this stuff really have to be in a museum.

Anonymous said...
April 25, 2007 at 4:40 PM

If it can spark discussion amongst absolute strangers, is it not, by default, relevant? Can the artist's skill be in the manipulation of the viewer?
Maybe it is intentionally cheep and obvious to catalyze cynicism and ensure this conversation happens… again and again and again.
I have made up a story in my head that involves the artist boycotting the cavernous corporate look of our lobby by dangling a taunting trail of tacky pink water bottles… that just so happen to remind Christopher of trailer home decorations? That idea makes me smile. That each little bottle, in essence, is a sassy middle finger, directed towards the lobby interior.

Anonymous said...
April 26, 2007 at 9:06 PM

I sort of like the entry, but I'm am a minimalist and we are city that for the most part does not get that concept....Chihuly would be striking and I get what your saying, but I am starting to get a little sick of him. It just seems like he is EVERYWHERE. I have a client who collects glass and he told me Chihuly is a joke to real glass blowers. I like his instillations, but I can't stand his coffee ring paintings!

Anonymous said...
April 27, 2007 at 12:04 AM

Chihuly IS a joke. And I don't think an artwork can be said to be interesting or successful just because it re-starts a lame conversation about how boring some conceptual art can be. That just means that it may be a piece of lame and boring conceptual art. That's not to say I think this is lame or boring or even conceptual. What do you people think the concept is here? I think this is a formal piece and it's pretty. What is so important about Duchamp being able to paint? Is that more relevant than being able to design a visually striking piece out of pink liquid filled bottles? It's all just the same ability to make semi-vapid, but somewhat visually appealing objects.

lirio said...
April 27, 2007 at 6:47 PM

I guess I just want more to look at when I walk in.....

Anonymous said...
April 29, 2007 at 8:53 AM

I like this piece.
The first thing I think about this piece is that Tony drank gallons of pink lemonade before he started filling those bottles.
mmmm pink lemonade... (followed by drooling sounds)

We should be happy with what we get here. Happy that we have the IMA, happy that Emily's balls are gonna be on Mass. Ave. Happy that Casey is represented by Jeremy and gets a grant from him and that's not seeing as a confict of interest, happy that that cops give you fucking tickets for nothing around here and they are so expensive, anyway. Take what you can.

And Fuck you if you're gonna say: if you don't like it you can move, coz I was fucking born here bitches and nobody tells me to leave.

Scott said...
April 29, 2007 at 11:38 PM

Most recent Anonymous,

I truly appreciate your willingness to questions what goes on in the scene and I always enjoy sarcasm. Every community needs it, everyone should question the decisions made around them. Much needs to be said in the city but people don't want to do so "publicly". I for one think that it is sad that the little de Kooning painting on a napkin is as prized as it is and for some reason has been on display at the IMA for years. Of all the canvas's he painted we only have a paper towel?

As for the Casey - Jeremy conflict of interest, I trust the system put into place by CICF for situations of conflict of interest. All of the jury members for the fellowship were arts professionals from outside the state with the exception of Jeremy. In the case by case situation where a jury member personally knew or had some other relationship with one of the artists the abstained from voting or discussing that particular artists work. That seems completely fair and with out conflict of interest. Perhaps I am biased but I think Casey is a great artist and hard working as are all the artists who have won the Fellowship to date. Is it fair to question, of course it is but the facts point to no conspiracy here. I don't think anyone believe you have to be happy with what is going on here; but why not try and do something to improve the situation?

Look at the dialog these things have brought to the blog, I can not wait to see what that mole will stir up.

Anonymous said...
April 30, 2007 at 12:30 AM

That does seem problematic- the Casey-Jeremy thing. Though not even remotely unusual. I've sat on panels and juries and pretty much the entire conversation goes like,"Oh I know him (or occasionally her) and his work is really interesting." This is just more blatant than usual. As for Emily's marbles- I don't get it. As for dialog being the point of everything, I say, gimme a break. Dialog about how things suck doesn't make them suck less.

Anonymous said...
April 30, 2007 at 11:36 PM

no comment

Anonymous said...
April 30, 2007 at 11:39 PM

I don't know if I "get" the marbles either, but I like them. I also like dialog.

casey said...
May 1, 2007 at 1:15 AM

Hey ya'll
I'm not represented by Jeremy and I'm not represented by Recent Projects. Maybe someday... who knows. So no conflict.
I understand Jeremy didn't even vote for me for the fellowship.
BUT, my mom and dad were both on the selection committee, so it all worked out O.K. for me.

All joking aside, I think we should work hard, make the best work we can and trust that good things will happen to us individually and as a community. Really in the end, the big pay off is the work, mountains of bad ass work.

peace out, I love you all, don't hate on me.

casey said...
May 1, 2007 at 1:27 AM

hey ya'll
I would also like to say, that an 11' sphere downtown is hilarious. get it, 5 giant spheres downtown. I think it's going to be awesome.
thanks again.

Anonymous said...
May 1, 2007 at 11:42 AM

Hey Casey,
Let me just say I love your work, so there is no hate towards you or your work at all.
What I mean is that you have shown with Recent Projects more than once now, and Jeremy owns your work. I mean, do you see the incestousness of it? I would trust your mom and dad to be less partial than J.
Anyway, best of luck to you and your work.
And yes it is hilarious to have huge balls on downtown, specially when I can't place any context.

Scott said...
May 1, 2007 at 1:28 PM

Not to keep prodding this subject but I thought I would like to better explain the scenario being discussed.

I can understand that on the surface things may appear to be incestuous, but let me try and explain things again.

The selection committee members were Jeremy Efroymson, vice chair of the Efroymson Fund; Mitch Cope, co-curator/program director, Shrinking Cities Detroit Museum of Contemporary Art; Jeanne Long, director of special exhibitions, School of the Art Institute of Chicago; Ron Platt, Hugh Kaul curator of modern and contemporary art, Birmingham Museum of Art; and Susan York, sculpture and installation artist, Santa Fe, New Mexico.

When it came time to vote for the work of Casey and/or other artists who were known, had work owned by, or worked with, that particular juror, they did not vote or discuss that artists work. Therefore the remaining jurors votes and comments were the only ones taken into account on whether that artist moved up the ladder. This policy thereby prevents any incestuousness to take place. In short Jeremy never voted on Casey or discussed his work with the jury so as not to bias their opinions.

As for Casey's participation in the Visible/Invisible show recently, I curated that show and asked him to be apart of it several months before Recent Projects existed. Sometimes coincidence is just that, coincidence. Hope that helps.

Anonymous said...
May 3, 2007 at 10:55 AM

It's somewhat annoying and makes things even worse when you try to explain what we all know aready. Casey has been your buddy for a while now, and yes 2 of the projest of Recent Projects, Casey has been part of. Your first interview in this artist series was Casey, you have mentioned him several other times here too. One has to be blind to miss the favoritism. When you try to explain the process to us, it seems like you were in the room with all the panel. You can't be certain of any of the things you said because you were not there. Sometimes it is not coincidence that so many things happen. So there is no need to explain what you can't. You were not part of the panel and simply were not there, I don't care how close you are to Jeremy right now, you are not qualified to give explanations on behalf of CICF.

Also I heard a pod cast of Bad @ Sports a long time ago about curators choosing thei own work for exhibits. You should listen to that as well.

Anonymous said...
May 3, 2007 at 3:04 PM

It seems the arguement is no longer about a conflict of interest at cicf but rather favoritism from Scott. The problem here could be sour grapes? I was rejected also, but I don't need to try and make myself feel better by inventing a conspiracy. I certainly don't need to attack Scott for not getting a grant. Scott is probably as mad as the rest of us for not getting one.
keep up the good work on the blog Scott.

my complaint:
They should accept ceramics as art.

Scott said...
May 3, 2007 at 8:06 PM

We are so far off from the discussion of Tony Feher's art work. As far as my knowledge of the panel discussions goes, it s quite simple, I was not there. Rather I did have a long discussion about the selection process and the steps put into place to prevent any conflicts of interest with Joanna Nixon over at CICF. Hmmm, seemed the logical place to go to get the facts about the situation.

As for that particular episode of Bad at Sports, I know it well and have listened to it. As you may also know that this issue is a rocky one and one that I too question. I questioned whether or not to be apart of Bridge and have never been apart of any other Recent Projects show. In this particular instance I had the other artists discuss the issue and decide whether they wated to include my work. They decided they wanted my work included so I went. It is as simple as that.

For the record, I made an active decision not to apply for the Efroymson Fellowship due to the fact that I was currently working with Jeremy and I knew people would take issue with it if I had recieved one, even though CICF insured me that there would be no problem with me applying. So yes I am aware of conspiracy theory, and try to avoid it often.

I have been shocked at how many people get mad about not recieving such an award. Why not be glad for those talented individuals who did recieve it? It would be one thing if the winners were no good but I think all the winners have been good. Competition is tough. If your work is truly a good fit for the award, then persistance will most likely pay off someday.

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