Sunday, June 29, 2008

A Report from the Phantom Zone: PEM

It seems to me that a lot of Boston area artists are unaware that the Peabody Essex Museum in Salem is one of Boston’s great venues that is actively working on displaying contemporary artwork made by local artists. The latest exhibition to open in the Art and Nature Center at the PEM, “Polar Attractions” was curated by Jane Winchell and includes many local contemporary artists like Jane Marshing whose work you may have seen recently at the ICA and Nathalie Miebach whose work was in the Decordova Annual. Lindsay Erben, the Art and Nature Program Specialist at the PEM, has said that the Art and Nature Center has a definite focus on exhibiting living contemporary artists.

So how come more people aren’t going out there to see the great contemporary and historical artwork?

Well, here are the top ten reasons to go to the Peabody Essex:
1. It’s only 30 minutes away (16 miles)!
2. You can get there by the commuter rail. (Go to Salem on the Newbury-Rockport line.)
3. It’s the country’s oldest continuously-operating museum.
4. It has a photographic archive of more than one million rare and vintage prints that you have access to.
5. The museum always has activities (many of which include live animals, like snakes. Which is cool ...)
6. Their collections of artwork from around the world are first class and they have over 2.4 million pieces!
7. The staff is all well informed, friendly and helpful, which makes getting around the huge collection easy and fun.
8. The Moshe Safdie designed atrium is fantastic.
9. Once you get out to Salem there is an incredible amount to do, ranging from historical sites, dining, and shopping.
10. Witches.

The only reason not to go:
1. You’re lazy.

Other current exhibitions at the Peabody Essex include:
“Wedded Bliss” that explores the wedding as a source of inspiration for the creation of art in cultures around the world. On display, they have work ranging from Picasso to Vera Wang to Sandy Skogland.

“Body Politics, Maori Tattoo Today” that features photographs of Maori facial tattoos.

And the many permanent collections like the Native American, Indian, Japanese, and Korean collections, to name a few.

So go.

Also, go to the newly launched "Polar Attractions" blog where you can enter a competition and maybe have your work displayed in the Museum!

Mary Edna Fraser

Antarctic Explorer � Darkness to Lightness,
Nathalie Miebach


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