Dream on

Strange dreams in Lowell, ‘Icons + Altars’ in Newton, and 2006 Maud Morgan Prize Winner Ambreen Butt
By RANDI HOPKINS  |  December 6, 2006

Ellen Wetmore, Up in Smoke (2006), from “I Had the Strangest Dream”

Imagery that springs from the mysterious depths of the unconscious holds a powerful fascination for artists, and the quirky  world of dreams has inspired countless works of art. In the late 19th century, French Symbolist Odilon Redon was drawn to the world of the nocturnal and the lunar as a source for his disturbing, hybrid creatures. Surrealists including Salvador Dalí celebrated the irrationality and the unfettered narrative of dreams in many artistic media. Jonathan Borofsky’s sketchy, non sequitur drawings and paintings of his dreams, created throughout the 1970s and much of the ’80s, offer a funny little window into the parallel lives led by the mundane and the fantastical in our minds while we sleep. And Jim Shaw’s paintings and sculptures of objects that have appeared to him in his sleep provide a take on the solipsistic, narcissistic nature of dreams.

In that broad spirit, 119 Gallery in Lowell announces its Second Annual Juried Show, “I HADTHE STRANGEST DREAM”; it’s up through January 12, with a free opening reception December 16. Heidi Kayser, who runs Boston’s Axiom Gallery, chose from submissions of 92 artworks to make her final pick of paintings, prints, drawings, sculptures, fabric art, and video installations by 30 artists.

The visionary aspect of art co-exists with the political, the social, the cultural, and the spiritual in the annual “ICONS + ALTARS” exhibit at the New Art Center in Newton, up through December 17, with a celebratory closing-day reception and ticket drawing. One hundred artists have been invited to donate a work that responds to a personal idea of an “icon” or an “altar.” The exhibition and the reception are free, tickets to acquire the works are $225 each, and all proceeds benefit the New Art Center’s art-education and exhibition programs.

The Museum of Fine Arts has announced the 13th winner of its Maud Morgan Prize, which each year is awarded to a Massachusetts woman artist. Ambreen Butt is known for colorful paintings that bring a contemporary woman’s perspective to the traditionally male art of Persian and Indian miniatures. She was born in Lahore, Pakistan, where she studied miniature painting, then moved to the US, where she received her MFA from Mass College of Art in 1997. She will receive $5000 for a work that will be chosen to enter the MFA’s permanent collection. In addition, 10 of her pieces are on view in “AMBREEN BUTT: 2006 MAUD MORGAN PRIZE EXHIBITION” in the MFA’s Lower Rotunda through December 10.

I HAD THE STRANGEST DREAM” at 119 Gallery, 119 Chelmsford St, Lowell | through January 12; reception December 16: 3-6 pm | 978.452.8138 | “ICONS + ALTARS” at New Art Center in Newton, 61 Washington Park, Newtonville | through December 17; closing reception December 17: 3-5 pm | 617.964.3424 | “AMBREEN BUTT: 2006 MAUD MORGAN PRIZE EXHIBITION” at Museum of Fine Arts, 465 Huntington Ave, Boston | through December 10 | 617.267.9300

On the Web:
119 Gallery: http://www.119gallery.com
New Art Center in Newton: http://www.newartcenter.org
Museum of Fine Arts: http://www.mfa.org

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