Steve Mumford, “Snipers Brad and Matt at an observation post, Tikrit, Feb, 2004 . . .
There’s no shortage of photographic images of the war in Iraq — live footage on TV, front-page news photos, streaming video on-line. But perhaps it’s the fact that we are inundated with this kind of visual information that gives Steve Mumford’s watercolor and sepia drawings, which are sketched directly from life on the front lines, a disproportionate power. A Boston native and 1987 Museum School graduate, Mumford made four trips to Iraq in 2003 and 2004, “armed” only with his inks, his sketchpad, and press credentials from the Web site artnet.com. During this time, he posted drawings and written accounts of his travels with Army units to Baghdad and seven other cities in Iraq on artnet’s site as “Baghdad Journal.” “Baghdad and Beyond: Drawings by Steve Mumford,” at Tufts University Art Gallery through November 19, features 41 drawings from this series, and eight watercolors from the artist’s 2006 trip to Brooke Army Medical Center, where he drew portraits of disabled Iraqi War veterans. Mumford will be in town to speak about his experiences in a special artist’s talk and reception in the gallery on November 2.
The White Cube is held up as the classic (though recently rather battered) design model for contemporary art galleries, but “white cube” also describes the sterile environments associated with medicine and technology, something curator and artist Lisa Lunskaya Gordon believes is no coincidence. Gordon has organized a BIG, multi- and mixed-media exhibition called “PURE,” filling the 20,000-square-foot white box formerly known as Office Max at the Brighton Mills Shopping Plaza with work and performances by 70 artists exploring the concept of purity and its antithesis, contagion. “Pure” is on view weekends, noon to 5 pm, through November 12, with a major closing extravaganza and performances planned for November 10 (black-and-white attire is encouraged; see the Web site for details) and “An Afternoon of Pure Thought” scheduled for November 5. This forum will offer the chance to talk with Gordon and other participating artists including Eric Love and E. Stephen Frederick, curator of the ongoing elaborate multimedia Empire S.N.A.F.U. Restoration Project.
Graffiti, street art, Mexican murals, folk art, and cartoons are all vibrant elements of the current art scene in Los Angeles, and “Electric Wasteland: Urban Art from L.A.,” opening at Montserrat College of Art’s Montserrat Gallery on November 3, brings together LA artists Date Farmers (a/k/a Armando Lerma & Carlos Ramirez), Dave Kinsey, Jeff Soto, and Aaron White in a show that examines the grit and dynamism of that great big city.
Artist’s talk and reception for “Baghdad and Beyond: Drawings by Steve Mumford” at Tufts University Art Gallery, 40R Talbot Ave, Medford | November 2: 6 pm | 617.627.3518 | “An Afternoon of Pure Thought” at old Office Max, Brighton Mills Shopping Plaza, 400 Western Ave, Brighton | November 5: 5 pm | 617.966.6264 | “Electric Wasteland: Urban Art from L.A.” at Montserrat College of Art, Montserrat Gallery, 23 Essex St, Beverly | November 3–February 3 | 978.921.4242
Tufts University Art Gallery: http://www.ase.tufts.edu/gallery
Montserrat Gallery: http://www.montserrat.edu