The most significant arts event of the fall is surely the Opening Celebration for the Columbus Museum of Art's renovations and addition of a 50,000-square-foot wing. The museum has long been a bastion for breathtaking works that span centuries, and this new wing serves as a continuation of its dedication to the history of the works in CMA's collection while presenting modern works in a contemporary setting - specifically designed to create a full-fledged experience.
This fall will have a dynamic energy when it comes to the arts in Columbus. From notable contemporary exhibitions at institutions like the Wexner Center for the Arts, Columbus College of Art and Design and the Pizzuti Collection to exciting independent events and showcases from local artists, this fall is going to be filled with must-see visual, performing and theatrical events.
With all that's happening, the most significant event of the fall is surely the Opening Celebration for the Columbus Museum of Art's renovations and addition of a 50,000-square-foot wing. The museum has long been a bastion for breathtaking works that span centuries, and this new wing serves as a continuation of its dedication to the history of the works in CMA's collection while presenting modern works in a contemporary setting - specifically designed to create a full-fledged experience.
"We were really in need of a larger, more experiential space [where] we could do things with the collection and with exhibitions that really serve our community," said Nannette V. Maciejunes, executive director of the Columbus Museum of Art. "When we stepped back and asked, how can we serve our community better? What do they need from us? One of the things we needed to do to serve that community was an infrastructure investment - that turned out to be the most beautiful wing."
"Museums aren't just about art - they're about people and art and that sort of electric connection between art and people, and bringing that to life," said Maciejunes. "So I think the other thing is that … now a lot of different spaces encourage you just to come in, hang out and linger [with the artwork] and have spaces to interact with each other and art. That visitor centered-ness comes through with this, which is very contemporary."
The new wing's design, led by DesignGroup architect Michael Bongiorno, aims to bring a welcoming, contemporary component for visitors, but also pay homage to the history of the museum.
"I think the brilliance of what Bongiorno did is, it's very contemporary in its feel and connection to the outside, and yet at the same time [the renovations] use classic materials. It uses pre-patina-ed copper, picking up the copper roofs and spires, and is in conversation with all of them. We use Indiana limestone to connect with the 1931 Ross Building … If it's using historical materials, it's doing it in a very contemporary ways," said Maciejunes.
The new wing is most importantly designed to complement the excellent post-war and contemporary pieces.
"It's mainly the post-war, because the earliest work in the new wing, in terms of our permanent collection, is from 1936. It's the Jackson Pollock composition, 'With Flames,'" said Tyler Cann, who was recently named the museum's curator of contemporary art. "Pollack really led the way to a lot of different manifestations of art in the '50s and later. So it does begin with that work."
The art displayed in the new wing from the museum's permanent collection will be divided into sections that share similar themes and concepts.
"That whole section I've begun calling, 'from the cube to the grid,' because it starts with this post-cubist moment with that Pollack, but quickly extends out to works that might be more associated with minimalism. And they deal with the grid in very different ways," said Cann of how he organized the pieces. "So the post-war period is shown in one side of the gallery, and the other side there is a large gallery where the subject [is what] I'm calling 'the self as subject.' It shows a lot of works that deal with the human figure, and it's often the artist's own body is represented. So much of our identity is tied to our physical bodies and the way we experience our own physicality is something that artists have dealt with for a very long time."
There will also be a handful of works that either haven't been seen before - as either new acquisitions or because there wasn't the proper space, pre-renovations - along with some very popular pieces that haven't been displayed for years, as well as two new exhibitions. "Imperfections By Chance: Paul Feeley Retrospective, 1954–1966" explores the legacy of the modernist painter and sculptor Paul Feeley. "Keeping Pace: Eva Glimcher and Pace/Columbus" will focus on the impact Pace Gallery had on the Columbus arts community.
"We also feature a number of works that have not been seen before in the new wing that we have acquired in recent years or have never been able to show. This includes the large installation by Josiah McElheny called 'Three Screens for Looking at Abstraction,'" said Cann referring to the centerpiece by McElheny, his first acquisition as contemporary curator. "We will have a very large work by Roy Liechtenstein called 'Oval Office.' It's just sort of perfect for this moment and Columbus, Ohio, this iconic swing state. The chair of the Oval Office is empty and there is a lot of focus right now about who is going to occupy it. [Mel Chin's] 'Spirit" is a piece that was very popular and people very much loved that piece, and we lost the space for it. It's been almost a decade and people are excited it's going back up again."
Photos by Will Shilling