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Three New Exhibitions Open at the Taubman Museum of Art
Chris Doyle.

ROANOKE, VA.- The Taubman Museum of Art just opened will open three new exciting exhibitions on March 20 and will offer a full schedule of exhibition-related programs.

“We are thrilled to open these three spectacular exhibitions to the public,” said Georganne Bingham, executive director of the Taubman Museum of Art. “They are wonderful examples of the museum’s mission to showcase important contemporary and regional exhibitions of artists working today.”

“These new and exciting exhibitions of the work of Devorah Sperber, Chris Doyle, and the regional instrument makers, all organized by the museum, are part of our on-going strategy to engage the various segments of our growing community,” said David Brown, director of art for the Taubman Museum of Art.

Devorah Sperber: A Strange Sense of Déjà vu - Through May 31, 2009 - Devorah Sperber’s composite works evoke memories and explore the way that we process information. Using technology as a starting point, Sperber incorporates the use of everyday objects in ultra heroic ways to create visually stunning objects that merge visual art and culture with scientific inquiry. Up close, they appear as pure abstractions; from a distance or viewed through acrylic spheres, they coalesce into familiar imagery. Sperber’s work examines how the human brain makes sense of the visual world and reality as a subjective experience and explores the art of seeing.

“Devorah’s career was heightened with her well-publicized show at the Brooklyn Museum in 2007. We are more than pleased to be able to present a fascinating mid-career survey of her multi-faceted works that merge cultural icons that we know and love and visual art with the way that we process information,” remarked Brown.

Sperber reconfigures culturally derived digital imagery, images that also have personal meaning for the artist, into breathtaking works of art, including floating shower curtains covered with 120,000 stickers that reveal a ‘68 VW bus, a Persian rug made from 18,000 colored marker caps, and a 40-foot long bed of stacked river rocks made from 20,000 spools of thread. She gives three-dimensional form to the pixel, which often registers as a mere spec on the visual and mental radar, yet is potentially laden with information for the human brain.

Of the nine works on display in the exhibition, five of the works use spools of thread as pixels, with four incorporating a glass sphere on a small pole positioned about five to six feet from the work or art in order to help bring the pixels together. The glass spheres in front of each work function as the eye and reveal what the back of the cornea “sees” as it captures an image; the image is at first upside down and only after reaching the brain is the image turned.

“I am interested in how the human brain makes sense of the visual world and reality as a subjective experience. As a visual artist, I cannot think of a topic more interesting and yet so basic than the art of seeing,” said Devorah Sperber.

All of Sperber’s works are tour de forces that spring to life with the assistance of viewing devices. In Lie Like a Rug, the artist uses 18,000 color markers to capture and present a full-size Persian rug, complete with folds and curves. In Shag Rug (After Pollock), she hand placed more than 160,000 chenille stems (pipe cleaners), bent some of the tips, into foam panels. The result is an almost complete replica of Jackson Pollock’s 1950 painting Autumn Rhythm #30, that many say is one of his best works. Now reinterpreted by Sperber, this iconic American image nonetheless retains all of its original power and mystery. Devorah Sperber: A Strange Sense of Déjà vu is sponsored by WSLS 10.

Chris Doyle’s Apocalypse Management: Vistas and Details - Through May 31, 2009 - Apocalypse Management: Vistas and Details will feature new work by multimedia artist Chris Doyle in the museum’s MediaLab, including a series of connected light boxes of a large-scale diorama made from hundreds of images pulled from the Internet and reworked by the artist. Accompanying the boxes is a series of flat screen animations of figures isolated from the diorama.

“Chris Doyle represents a growing number of artists who use various media to explore their ideas. His range varies from high profile public art works both in the United States and abroad and both gallery and museum shows,” said Brown. “We are presenting his latest work, created especially for the museum, which explores the degree in which we manage our misfortunes, somehow rising above whatever is thrown at us.”

Doyle’s installation at the museum takes inspiration from the Mannerist and Renaissance frescoes of The Last Judgment (Michelangelo and others) by merging them with contemporary disaster imagery, man-made or natural. A companion piece to a larger version that concurrently will be on view at the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art, the backlit work shows an extended landscape in the aftermath of disaster. The cause of the disaster in unclear in Doyle’s portrayal, but the devastation portends a state of emergency for which the viewer is reminded to be ready to take action. On separate flat screens, animated vignettes come to life, where the wounded, lost, and dying sing and dance their way out of destruction. The exhibition addresses mankind’s innate ability to rise above the tribulations of man-made and natural disasters and reflects our ability to cope and survive stronger than any experience in which we find ourselves.

Doyle is a multidisciplinary artist well known for his public art installations, including the illumination of the Tampa Convention Center using sixteen giant motorized disco balls. In 2007, he completed The Moons, an outdoor three-screen video piece for the new Sprint Arena in Kansas City, Missouri, and he recently has completed projects for in Tampa, Florida, Melbourne, and Australia, in addition to a solo show at Sam Lee Gallery in Los Angeles. Chris Doyle’s Apocalypse Management: Vistas and Details is sponsored by WSLS 10.

In Life I was Silent, In Death I Sing - Through June 7, 2009 - The greater region around southwest Virginia is known world-wide as one of the great cultural centers for string instruction makers and musicians. In Life I was Silent, In Death I Sing will feature a select group of ten regional instrument makers, most of whom live within two hours of Roanoke, who grew up playing music and have dedicated themselves to making a better sounding instrument than what was available or what they could afford. Their creations are enjoyed by music fans all over the world.

“We are delighted to celebrate the region’s unique cultural heritage through this exhibition of the work of the talented musicians and instrument makers that call western Virginia home,” said Brown. “It is an intriguing survey of the creations of some of the world’s most noted luthiers, such as Wayne Henderson, whose skills and creativity spectacularly combine art, craftsmanship and music.”

The exhibition will display the fine-crafted guitar honings of master instrument maker and legend Henderson, including his first guitar of pieced together cardboard, which he made at age 7, his first real guitar, #1, and #7 which boasts of a bullet hole through it; an assortment of string-based instruments by Gerald Anderson and Spencer Strickland; an incredible array of instruments from maker/player Arthur Connor; several banjos from Roanoke’s own Andy Poole; and, Ken Butler’s cubist-inspired creations. Other artists in the exhibition include Andy Boothe, Mark Dalton, Jeff Huss, Ward Elliot, and Stanley Lorton. Visitors will have the unique opportunity to appreciate the skills and attention to detail that go into making these playable works of art.

As part of the programming for the exhibition, Cyrus Pace, Fine Arts coordinator for Roanoke City Schools, will explore the history of jazz and consider the guitar both as an instrument to create art and as an object of art in itself on April 10 at 12 noon in the Advance Auto Parts Auditorium. The cost is free.

Three of the museum’s current temporary exhibitions remain open, including In the Cataclysmic Calm, Mark Jenkins: Recordings, and 17th Florentine Paintings: Selections from the Haukohl Family Collection. Also on view are Selections from the Permanent Collection and Earthly Delights: Judith Leiber Handbags.

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