Pensacola, Florida
Monday November 20th 2017

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What’s New at PMoA?

By Shelby Smithey

LEGOS Return
It’s true, the Pensacola Museum of Art is bringing back LEGOS. This time its “Piece by Piece,” an exhibition that features the work of NYC-based artist Sean Kenney and consists of sculptural and 2D works crafted with LEGO bricks. The exhibition is on display through September 3 and features an interactive LEGO brick-maker space for all ages.

The content of the works in the exhibition attend to a variety of subjects that include sustainability and urban commuting, Claes Oldenburg-esque over-scaled pop cultural objects and industrial design and abstract mosaics that pull from the artist’s own narrative as a designer.

Amy Bowman-McElhone, Director and Chief Curator at the Pensacola Museum of Art at the University of West Florida, said that Kenney also depicts his journey from corporate designer to independent artist in a series of playful LEGO brick vignettes.

“Accompanying the exhibition is an interactive LEGO maker-space that aims to engage visitors of all ages in the process of making, by turning the gallery space into an activated lab for creativity,” Bowman-McElhone said. “When you think about it, a LEGO brick is the essence of creativity. From its basic rectangular form, everyone from a professional artist to children and hobbyists alike can manifest their creative vision.”

Furthermore, Bowman-McElhone said, LEGO bricks and the LEGO brand hold a special position in visual culture, both as a staple toy for children and in relation to the brand’s growth into the world of adult LEGO subcultures and mainstream Hollywood films.

“As such, the LEGO brick as an artistic medium engenders a sense of play and nostalgia that connects with many visitors,” she said.

Bowman-McElhone said that there are a handful of makers who are certified LEGO professionals who show their work.

“Sean Kenney left his corporate career for this art form to become a ‘professional kid,’” Bowman-McElhone said. “Quickly becoming the LEGO Company’s biggest customer, with almost 5 million LEGO bricks, he turned his hobby into a career. His work starts out as a sketch, and through engineering, design and creativity, Sean captures the more than just the shape of the original. The essence of the original piece is captured with LEGO bricks.”

Metaphor as Manifestation
“Metaphor as Manifestation,” an exhibition of prints by Jasper Johns and Robert Motherwell is also currently on display and will be throughout the summer, until August 27.

Bowman-McElhone said that Johns and Motherwell were two very significant and well-known artists of the post-World War II and contemporary periods.

“The exhibition features prints produced in cross-disciplinary collaborative efforts between Motherwell and the Spanish poet Rafael Alberti, Jasper Johns and the avant-garde novelist and poet Samuel Beckett,” she said.

“These creative projects interrogate the intersections of visual and literary art forms by experimenting with the relationships of image and text.”

She said that the exhibition is part of Justin C. Baldwin’s personal collection, which has been assembled through travels, dealers, auctions and artists across the globe.

“The nineteen lithographs by Motherwell included in this exhibition are the artist’s response to a poem written in 1980 by Alberti to the artist,” Bowman-McElhone said.   For Motherwell, the moral struggle embodied by the Spanish Civil War served as a central metaphor in his art. The civil war in Spain, which marked the beginning of an international struggle against Fascism, became a vehicle through which Motherwell explored the archetypal themes of freedom and loss.”

PIECE BY PIECE & METAPHOR AS MANIFESTATION DUAL OPENING RECEPTION
WHEN: 5:30-7:30 p.m., Thursday, May 18
WHERE: Pensacola Museum of Art, 407 S. Jefferson St.
COST: Free
DETAILS: pensacolamuseum.org