10 must-visit New England art exhibits for early 2011

Gorey's "Enigmas," La Farge's Tahiti, Fig's studios, Perry Welty's voicemail
By GREG COOK  |  December 29, 2010

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During the icy months of the gray heart of the Boston winter, art offers a chance for you to travel to the balmy South Seas and, via a brainy conceptual artist, the streets of Mexico City. Winter shows also offer a chance to travel through history, from Rembrandt to overlooked women Pop Artists, from early computer art to Edward Gorey's gothic whimsies.

"JOHN LA FARGE'S SECOND PARADISE: VOYAGES IN THE SOUTH SEAS, 1890-1891" | Addison Gallery at Phillips Academy | January 22–March 27 | New York painter John La Farge, a romantic at the forefront of the then retro-facing Arts and Crafts movement, and best known in Boston for his stained-glass windows for Trinity Church in Copley Square, took off in 1890 for a year's sail to Hawaii, Samoa, Tahiti, Tonga, Fiji, and Java — about a year before Gauguin arrived to claim the territory for Paris Modernism. This show, organized by the Yale University Art Gallery, collects his paintings and drawings — including 11 previously unknown sketchbooks — of palm trees, volcanoes, islanders, and coconuts. "Nothing is ever pale," he wrote home to his son. "There is color everywhere."

180 Main St, Andover | Free | 978.749.4015 or andover.edu/museums/addison

"JOE FIG: INSIDE THE PAINTER'S STUDIO" | Massachusetts College of Art and Design | January 25–March 2 | Fig offers glimpses into the studios of art stars via detailed models derived from his artist interviews and documentation of their lairs. MassArt presents Fig's dollhouse-scaled replicas alongside original art by 20 of his who's-who roster of subjects, including Ross Bleckner, Chuck Close, Barnaby Furnas, April Gornik, Julie Mehretu, Matthew Ritchie, and Dana Schutz.

621 Huntington Ave, Boston | Free | 617.879.7333 or massart.edu/galleries.html

"SEDUCTIVE SUBVERSION: WOMEN POP ARTISTS, 1958-1968" | Tufts University Art Gallery | January 27–April 3 | The story of Pop Art is usually a tale of boys: Warhol, Lichtenstein, Rosenquist, and so on. This show, organized by Philadelphia's University of the Arts, rounds up 22 Pop women — including Vija Celmins, Chryssa, Niki de Saint Phalle, Yayoi Kusama, Marisol, Faith Ringgold, and Martha Rosler — and wonders why they have long been overshadowed.

40R Talbot Ave, Medford | Free | 617.627.3518 or ase.tufts.edu/gallery

"RACHEL PERRY WELTY: 24/7" | DeCordova Sculpture Park + Museum | January 29–April 24 | This exhibit is a mid-career survey of the Gloucester and New York-based artist for whom the food her family consumes, the email spam she receives, and the general shrink-wrapped, mass-produced detritus of everyday American life inspires cascading sculptures of bread ties, deadpan videos in which she lip syncs to wrong numbers left on her voice mail, and performances of updating her Facebook status every minute for a whole day.

51 Sandy Pond Road, Lincoln | $12 | 781.259.8355 or decordova.org

"GABRIEL KURI: NOBODY NEEDS TO KNOW THE PRICE OF YOUR SAAB" | Institute of Contemporary Art | February 2–July 4 | A wool tapestry re-creating a grocery receipt, trash bins designed to look like a piechart, and aluminum blankets turned into banners are among the artworks featured in this survey of 10 years of sculptures and collages by Mexican conceptual artist Kuri (now based in Belgium), who, like recent ICA subjects Damián Ortega and Dr. Lakra, was part of the Mexico City circle of Gabriel Orozco. Organized by the Blaffer Art Museum at the University of Houston, the show looks, by turns, like a space-alien analysis of our shopping habits and distress signals sent from deep inside Wal-Mart.

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