Banner image: Works from the exhibition Tim Whiten: Tools of Conveyance at the CU Art Museum. (Credit: CU Boulder)
Art lovers rejoice! The CU Art Museum is reopening on Aug. 17, 2021, after being closed to the public for the past 17 months, with three new shows on view as well as a visiting artist-in-residence this fall.
The museum will initially reopen with two exhibitions, featuring an international and a local Front Range artist. The retrospective Tim Whiten: Tools of Conveyance surveys 40 years of the Toronto-based artist’s abstract works on paper and objects related to his mark making practice. Staring into the Fire showcases a new body of work from Longmont-based artist Kate Petley composed of abstract photographs and works on canvas.
When the museum closed because of the pandemic in March 2020, its staff quickly pivoted, turning galleries into classrooms and conducting remote teaching. The prolonged gap in physical visits has allowed the museum to reevaluate its role in the relationship between people and art, and how it can better bring them together.
“We're reopening now with a renewed sense of mission,” said museum Director Sandra Firmin. “We’re really thinking about these exhibitions in terms of equity and creating a welcoming experience for all. We’re really thinking about who's excluded and who's included—both the artists that we exhibit, but also how we can empower our audiences and how we can be a visitor-centered museum.”
One way the museum is putting that mission into practice is through a new process of selecting their biennial artist-in-residence. Instead of inviting an artist, the museum put out a call for applications—receiving over 111 submissions locally and from around the world. As a result, multidisciplinary artist LaMont Hamilton will join the CU Art Museum in residence from Sept. 21 through Oct. 26, 2021, working on an installation to open in February 2022.
And opening in September, The Art That Made Medicine is a curated exhibition that examines how Western cultures obtained medical knowledge through anatomical illustration from the late 1400s to the mid-1900s, utilizing medical atlases from the Rare Materials Collection, Strauss Health Sciences Library, University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus and Rare and Distinctive Collections University of Colorado Boulder Libraries, and artist renderings of the body from the CU Art Museum.
Mark making and the mystical
Tim Whiten: Tools of Conveyance is full of drawings, anchored by sculptures that reference his artistic practice of repetitive mark making. Sometimes these marks relate to the emotions of mundane, daily activities in the home, and other times to religious symbols and images.
“The big idea for this exhibition reflects on the marks we make on each other and marks we make on the world,” said Firmin.
An opaque glass broom in one corner is even a signifier of movement and daily repetition; so is a glass rolling pin in honor of his mother, and a drawing on the wall inspired by hopscotch.
The four decades of work comprise Whiten’s first American-based comprehensive survey of his drawings, and the selected pieces also highlight his interest in thresholds and transformation. Several of his works are painted with lemon juice or coffee, which will change and fade over time, leaving no trace of his mark making. Another piece made of Whiten’s handprints on gold metallic paint will eventually break down due to the oils deposited from his hands. While no longer there, his marks on the piece remain and will continuously change it.
Slow down from scrolling
In Kate Petley: Staring into the Fire, museum visitors will find a room bursting with color, light, texture and movement. Filled with shapes threatening to collide, these recently-created abstract pieces feature optical illusions that appear as neither a painting nor photograph.
The Longmont-based artist uses a unique process to make these prints on canvas, combining collections of objects, sculpture, painting, lighting and photography. While the final products may look computer-created, there’s no digital editing involved.
In the same way people stare at their phones for long periods of time, viewers may find themselves mesmerized by these light-saturated works. But Petley’s art counters the quick pace of viewing—aiming to slow down the human relationship with technology, said Firmin.
“Kate Petley aims to produce a visceral response that is based on curiosity and wonder,” said Firmin. “The works provide much needed sense of joy and quietude and wonder, at a time when we need healing.”
These exhibitions and programming are generously supported by Boulder County Arts Alliance, CU Boulder Center for African and African American Studies, CU Boulder Student Arts and Cultural Enrichment fees and CU Art Museum members, as well as supported in part by the National Endowment for the Arts.
If you go
Aug. 17, 2021
Museum reopens to the public. Admission is free, masks are required.
Tuesday through Saturday: 11 a.m.–3 p.m.
Sunday and Monday: Closed
Tuesday, Sept. 21, 5 p.m. (with 4:30 p.m. tour)
In connection with our exhibition Tim Whiten: Tools of Conveyance, join the museum for a hybrid panel event, Abstract drawing, between thought and action. The moderator and panel artists will be virtual. Guests have the option of attending in person at the museum or via Zoom at 5 p.m.
Tuesday, Oct. 5, 6:30 p.m.
LaMont Hamilton, CU Art Museum Artist-in-Residence, will speak as part of the Department of Art and Art History Visiting Artist Program Fall 2021 Lecture Series. The lecture will be live on the Department of Art and Art History’s YouTube channel.
Thursday, Oct. 7, 2–6 p.m.
CU Art Museum Open House
Celebrate the museum’s reopening with special programming every hour, including take and make projects, conversations with artists and curators, and a dance performance by VisKosity at 5:30 p.m.