The winners of the second annual competition for the Community Curators Grant program have just been announced by the Somerville Museum. Inaugurated in 2016, this seed grant gives winning candidates the opportunity to develop cutting-edge exhibitions while also supporting related programming. The first exhibit in this exciting new initiative was Pennie Taylor's highly acclaimed 'Triple Decker Ecology.' Conceived in collaboration with local artist and environmental activist David Buckley Borden, the exhibit was a dazzling exploration of land use and environmental issues in Somerville and beyond. By resituating a host of found and slightly altered objects from phone booths to flags, Borden and Taylor cleverly skirted the didactic, presenting a sharp yet playful critique of environmental concerns.
The second show selected in the initial 2016 competition is Bess Paupeck's 'Our Stories, Our Stuff, Our Somerville.' Opening on February 14 and running until March 31, this exhibition is also a collaboration. However, in this case the collaborators are the various members of the Somerville community who have answered the Curator's call for objects from their own collections. From these, Paupeck will skillfully weave a portrait of Somerville's diverse and complex material culture.
The newly announced winners of the Museum's Community Curators Grant will offer two altogether different artistic experiences. The first exhibit, called 'The Art of Observation,' will be a major retrospective of the work of David Campbell, one of Somerville's most beloved artists. Curated by Debra Olin, the show will explore Campbell's long-standing fascination with the streets and buildings of Somerville itself. Programming for this exciting event, which is tentatively scheduled to open in February 2020, will also introduce a number of other artists for whom Somerville has been a primary inspiration.
Debra Olin and David Campbell pose with Campbell's artwork. Image credit: Bill Kipp
"The Art of Observation" will be followed by another collaboration, this one between two of Latin America's leading artists, José Falconi from Peru and Santiago Montoya from Colombia. Sure to garner interest from critics and art-lovers well beyond Somerville, the 'El Dorado Chocolataria' will reimagine the elusive paradise of gilded beings long sought by South American explorers. Instead of gold, however, these explorers will enter into the subconscious world of sweets, turning the Museum into an enormous chocolate factory where hot cocoa can be exchanged for anything from an original work of art to a simple found object. Then, just as the show is about to close, a second exhibit will be mounted based on the many pieces that have been brought by the public to obtain their hot cocoa.
Colombian artist, Santiago Montoya, poses with José Falconi in front of Montoya's wall art.
The Community Curators Grant program comes at an exciting time for the Somerville Museum, which is in the final stages of a major capital campaign, having raised over one million dollars over the past decade.In addition to paying for many structural repairs on its unique 1920s building, the funds will also allow the Museum to become ADA compliant with the installation of an exterior elevator. The Community Curators Grant program guarantees that the Museum will have a string of outstanding shows well into the future. Perhaps you have an idea which you would like to turn into an exhibit, as the next competition will soon be announced. And if curating doesn't inspire you, there are many other ways to become engaged in the city's premier cultural institution. Drop by. Volunteer. Get involved.
More information about the Community Curators Grant