We’ll fry anything

Corn Dogs + Blue Ribbons at Montserrat, Boston Does Boston at Proof, and Some Sort of Uncertainty at Axiom
January 2, 2008 12:16:42 PM
Meg Birnbaum, Granny's Racing Pigs

“Cord Dogs, Blue Ribbon and the American Pastoral: Photographs by Meg Birnbaum” at Montserrat College’s Schlosberg Gallery, 23 Essex St, Beverly | January 7–24 | 978.921.4242 ext.1319

“Boston Does Boston” at Proof Gallery, The Distillery, 516 East 2nd St, South Boston | January 12–February 23 | 508.963.9102

“Some Sort of Uncertainty” at AXIOM Gallery, 141 Green St, Boston | January 11–February 17 | 617.953.6413
The dead of winter is a great time to conjure the seedy pleasures and heady aromas of a good country fair, steeped in sheep and fried dough. Somerville photographer Meg Birnbaum attended seven New England fairs last summer and documented her experience with a little plastic camera. The resulting black-and-white images look slightly antique, with blurry edges and old-fashioned subject matter (kids carrying poultry, old guys in hats and lawn chairs watching a horse-pull), but each one betrays its 2007-ness in some small way. A selection of Birnbaum’s fair photos are on view in “CORN DOGS, BLUE RIBBONS AND THE AMERICAN PASTORAL: PHOTOGRAPHS BY MEG BIRNBAUM,” opening at Montserrat College’s Schlosberg Gallery on January 7. Perhaps the slightly nostalgic quality of the images is an expression of the artist’s concern with the prospects for these regional expositions. As she has writes in a statement about the project, “The future of summer fairs may rely on a shift away from agriculture to entertainment . . . mostly food, specifically fried food: fried Oreos, fried cheesecake. ‘We’ll fry anything,’ one sign read.” Seems hard to imagine that the attraction of livestock showmanship and crop competitions could ever wane.

Used to be, artists were unsure whether being identified with the regional label of “Boston artist” was a matter of pride or marginalization, but it seems that now, in an increasingly global art market, artists can be happily based in Boston while remaining active citizens of the (art) world at large. In “BOSTON DOES BOSTON,” opening January 12, the young Proof Gallery has tapped Boston artists Hannah Cole, Kevin Driscoll, Andrea Raynor, and Matt Rich to each select an artwork by a local artist, to be shown along with one work of their own. Artists David Ording, Nik Gulasik, Mary Hughes, and Ellen Rich, respectively, join their “deciders” in a show that shrugs off categorization without a backward glance.

Warm breath activates an artwork made with tears on a cool window, artists tell lies to visitors, and sounds of all sorts are triggered by movement in “SOME SORT OF UNCERTAINTY,” opening at AXIOM Gallery on January 11, in collaboration with Art Interactive. Flying in the face of the traditional gallery-goer’s expectation of a fairly passive experience with the art at hand, the interesting cast of artists assembled for this exhibition — Bruce Campbell, Liz Nofziger, Lina Maria Giraldo, Elias Heim, Brian Knep, Nathalie Miebach, Michael Sheridan, Douglas Weathersby, and the collective Institute for Infinitely Small Things—offer a more open-ended, inviting experience, taking the position of co-conspirators, as opposed to didacts, in relation to their audience.

On the Web
Montserrat College’s Schlosberg Gallery:
Proof Gallery:
AXIOM Gallery:


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The Best 2008 Readers Poll




  • NAUGHTY BY NATURE:   Spring Arts Preview: Landscape, road trips, weddings, and Spain
  • SIZING THINGS UP:   Monumental Prints and Small Ponds at the Davis Museum, ‘Art and Math’ at Axiom, Glass Sea Creatures at Harvard, and New Rationalists at Proof
  • YOUR HISTORY:   ‘Impermanence’ at the Essex Art Center, ‘Two Chinas’ at WAM, Renée Green at the Carpenter Center, and Feminism at the MFA
  • LIGHTING UP:   Moyra Davey at the Fogg, ‘Two or Three Things I Know about Her’ at the Carpenter Center, and Arno Rafael Minkkinen at BU
  • SKIN DEEP:   ‘Maori Tattoo’ at the Peabody Essex, Jim Henderson and Ann Torke at Boston Sculptors, and Student Shows at the MFA and SMFA
  • TIME IS ON MY SIDE:   David Claerbout at MIT, Children at the DeCordova, Kabuki Theater at the Peabody Essex, and more
  • THE ROAR OF THE GREASEPAINT:   ‘The World as a Stage’ at the ICA, ‘British Prints 1914–1939’ and ‘Traveling Scholars’ at the MFA, and Colombian Artists at GASP
  • RE-CREATIONAL VEHICLE:   ‘Broken Home: 1997/2007,’ ‘Empires and Environments,’ and ‘Arp to Reinhardt’ at the Rose, ‘Selections ’08’ at Mass Art, and Liz Linder at Space 242
  • ACQUIRING MINDS:   ‘Branded and On Display’ and Iván Navarro at Tufts, David Ording and Ledelle Moe at BU


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