R. Crumb, Devil Girl
English-born artist Melanie Smith has made Mexico City her home for the past 20 years. Opening February 5 at the MIT List Visual Arts Center, "MELANIE SMITH: SPIRAL CITY & OTHER VICARIOUS PLEASURES" is an exhibit of painting, photography, and video organized by Cuauhtémoc Medina, associate curator of Latin American Art at the Tate Gallery in London. (Cuauhtémoc was the name of the king who ruled Tenochtitlan, the center of the mammoth Aztec civilization, when Cortés arrived in 1521; Tenochtitlan would become Mexico City after the Aztecs' defeat.) Included in the show is the video "Spiral City," which documents the endless sprawl of the Mexican capital, offering a dramatic aerial view by helicopter. Colors, textures, and several found objects from the city propel Smith's investigation of "abstract" art and the urban environment.
Also opening on February 5 at the List is "DAVIS, CHERUBINI, IN CONTENTION," a collection of collaborative sculptural works by Taylor Davis and Nicole Cherubini on view in the Hayden Gallery. The exhibit is a product of years of collaboration in which one artist begins a piece in the her own medium and sculptural voice that the other must then finish. The result is a physical conversation between the two sculptors, each of whose brand of artmaking is disguised by the other's. It's a witty exercise organized by the List's curator, Bill Arning, who will moderate a (verbal) conversation between the two in the gallery prior to the opening reception.
The work of cult comic-book author and illustrator R. Crumb is also inspired by those around him. Opening February 2 at Mass Art, "R. CRUMB'S UNDERGROUND" will feature work made by Crumb over the past 40 years. Regarded as the founder of underground comics (or "comix," as in dirty jokes and adult content), he rose to prominence after pioneering Zap Comix in San Francisco in the late '60s. "R. Crumb's Underground" is a career-spanning survey focusing on common Crumb themes: sex, mind-altering drugs, blues and jazz, autobiography, and (of course) social satire; it will include comics, sketchbooks, drawings, and sculpture as well as new and old collaborations with other artists. The show will also debut Crumb's new "spool" drawings.
"MELANIE SMITH: SPIRAL CITY AND OTHER VICARIOUS PLEASURES" and "DAVIS, CHERUBINI, IN CONTENTION" at Hayden Gallery, MIT List Visual Arts Center, 20 Ames St, Cambridge | February 5–April 5 | 617.253.4680 or listart.mit.edu | "R. CRUMB'S UNDERGROUND" at Stephen D. Paine Gallery at Massachusetts College of Art and Design, 621 Huntington Ave, Boston | February 2–March 3 | 617.879.7333 or www.massart.edu