This is the first entry for what I hope will be a series about the reinstallation of Gallery 27—where the museum will put the spotlight on contemporary art. Gallery 27 will close to the public on Monday, Aug. 1, for reinstallation and reopen Sept. 16. So you have one weekend left to take a last look at some of our most popular works—Matisse, Modgiliani, Delaunay, Braque, Tanguy, Rauschenberg, Bontecou, and others—before they go into storage. But not to worry—they will go back on view in a few months in a reinstallation of galleries 1 to 10, being overseen by Theresa Papanikolas, Curator of American and European Art.
I’m looking forward to working on Gallery 27, because it gives me a chance to work for the first time with the newly combined holdings of The Contemporary Museum and the Honolulu Academy of Arts, resulting from the merger of the two institutions, which went into effect July 1. As some may know, I worked at the Academy for 15 years, from 1976 to 1991, starting as Administrative Assistant to the Director (at that time, James W. Foster, who hired me). I became Editor of Publications, then Assistant Curator of Western Art, and lastly Curator of Western Art (everything not Asian from ancient to contemporary), under director George Ellis. I moved to The Contemporary Museum in 1991, where for 20 years I was Chief Curator (then Deputy Director) of Exhibitions and Collections. Some of the works that the Academy acquired during my time there will be on view in Gallery 27, such as the Francis Bacon and the Leon Golub paintings, so the reinstallation process is like seeing old friends again.
The presentation of works from the museum collection in Gallery 27 will be a long-term exhibition—Anxiety’s Edge—remaining on view for approximately one year. Artists have always been responsive to the times in which they live and work, and the works in Anxiety’s Edge, comprising a wide range of media—painting, sculpture, drawing, photography, printmaking, video and mixed media—have as a common thread a sense of unease about the state of things in the late 20th and early 21st centuries. The artists of these works explore complex ideas and concerns about social, political, economic, psychological and moral issues in the world today.
The majority of the works are being drawn from former TCM holdings, and some of the works, such as a newly acquired pastel by the maverick artist Peter Saul, are being exhibited for the first time, while others haven’t been seen in a while. More on that in future blog posts. Several loans from local private collections will complement and amplify the museum collection works on view. Come Aug. 26, you will find Gallery 27 transformed, with a new layout and architecture, featuring a selection and juxtaposition of artists and works you haven’t seen here before.