Each year in Palm Beach County, after a summer lull that seems endless, art starts happening again like Snow White gently waking from her sleep, bright-eyed, bushy tailed and — thanks to some local wizards — with remarkably plumper lips and a less-furrowed brow.
After all, we do live in a veritable fantasyland of opulence and wealth and the “season” motivates us all to break out our best Lilly Pulitzer and head to the Norton, the Society of the Four Arts, the Morikami and the bevy of grand art institutions that grace our pink-house-lined streets and shores.
While it’s true that the art season in Palm Beach never disappoints in terms of the quality of the artists represented and the caliber of curators, collectors, writers and notables, this year presents an endless roster of exhibits punctuated by leading global winter art and antique fairs. All combine to entice us out of our languid slumber and into a jovial season of parties and cocktail hours inspired by art.
Norton Museum of Art, West Palm Beach: Highlighting the Norton’s schedule this year is an exhibition of work from internationally renowned photographer Annie Leibovitz that includes 39 works the museum recently purchased. This will open on Jan. 17 and run until June 9. The show has been curated by Charles Stainback to demonstrate another side to Leibovitz’s celeb-studded photos. Expect to see more pensive celebrities on display here, making these works more provocative and intriguing than the Vanity Fair-type images Leibovitz is known for.
This also will be the inaugural year for the exciting new Rudin Prize for Emerging Photographers, which was awarded in late September. This is a $20,000 cash prize that the Norton plans to present biennially. The judging panel is composed of John Baldessari, Graciela Iturbide, Susan Meiselas, Michal Rovner and Yinka Shonibare.
The Norton has made numerous user-friendly changes over the past year to introduce a more congenial atmosphere to accentuate their exhibit schedule. The lobby will soon feature a site-specific installation by New York-based artist Rob Wynne, I Remember Ceramic Castles, Mermaids & Japanese Bridges (Nov. 1-October 2013). Wynne integrates his signature mirrored glass relief with the natural world through silkscreened wallpaper and glass-beaded drawings of life found above, near and under the sea.
In Keep Calm and Carry On: World War II and the British Home Front, 1938-1951 (Nov. 1-Jan. 20), the Norton draws its inspiration from that famous World War II slogan and poster, which can be seen today on T-shirts, no doubt worn ironically. But for the people of Great Britain who were under attack by Adolf Hitler in 1940, it was deadly serious. This exhibit will show how that unique British can-do spirit manifested itself culturally, as the country’s creative class came up with drawings, films, photos, posters and even fashion to do their bit to send Jerry packing.
The Museum’s second RAW (Recognition of Art by Women) exhibition, Sylvia Plimack Mangold: Landscape and Trees, will run from Dec. 9 until March 3. The artists, born in 1938, hewed to the realist tradition during a time when minimalism was all the rage. Her gentle, nature-based art evokes the surroundings of her studio in New York’s Hudson River valley, and the exhibit, which will feature paintings, drawings and prints, will offer another perspective on the centuries-old tradition of landscape visual art.
Chinese and Middle Eastern art has captured the world’s attention more than ever in recent years. The exhibit, The Middle East and the Middle Kingdom: Islamic and Chinese Artistic Exchange (Feb. 2– Aug. 4) will focus on the influence of the art of Islamic nations on China, including in how this cultural crossover affected things as quintessentially Chinese as Ming pottery.
Philanthropist Emily Fisher Landau gave a great gift to the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York last year in the form of more than 300 works of contemporary American art. Legacy: The Emily Fisher Landau Collection (Feb. 21–June 2) will serve as an overview of that gift and of the issues that have interested modern artists. The artists featured here comprise an honor roll of some of the biggest names in the field: Andy Warhol, Cy Twombly, Richard Prince, James Rosenquist, Susan Rothenberg, Ed Ruscha, Nayland Blake, Jenny Holzer, Gregory Crewdson, Nan Goldin, Jasper Johns and Agnes Martin, among numerous others.
The Radical Camera: New York’s Photo League, 1936-1951 (March 14-June 16) was organized by The Jewish Museum, New York, and the Columbus Museum of Art, Ohio. The League was an idealistic group of photographers inspired by then-popular socialist ideas and a belief in the power of the documentary image. The exhibit contains 175 photos by such lens artists as Berenice Abbot, Aaron Siskind, Barbara Morgan, Sid Grossman, and Weegee (aka Arthur Fellig), and covers an event-crammed historical period from the Great Depression to the Cold War.
Doris Duke, who would have turned 100 this year, was considered “the world’s richest girl” when she entered society as the daughter of the tobacco and power kingpin James Buchanan Duke. She famously led a life of privilege and public notoriety, but she left her money to important causes when she died in 1993. Her Islamic-style estate in Hawaii, Shangri La, is the subject of the first traveling expedition of objects from Duke’s collections. Doris Duke’s Shangri La: Architecture, Landscape, and Islamic Art (March 21-July 14) will feature ceramics, textiles, chandeliers and other objects, documentary film and photos about the estate’s construction, and new photos by Tim Street-Porter.
The Society of the Four Arts, Palm Beach: One of the loveliest venues for art in the county is the Society of the Four Arts. Its exhibition space is only one part of its offerings, which also include a robust lecture and concert series. The site itself is also a beautiful location for walks and gatherings.
The first exhibit of the season is Painting the Beautiful: The Pennsylvania Impressionist Landscape Tradition (Dec. 1-Jan. 20). On loan from the James A. Michener Art Museum, the show offers more than 50 paintings by Impressionist painters enamored with the Bucks County landscape. Artists such as Fern Coppedge are featured here in an exhibit that will expose viewers to a little-known niche of American art.
The Four Arts’ second major exhibition will be Copley, Delacroix, Dali and Others: Masterworks from the Beaverbrook Art Gallery (Feb. 2-March 30). The Beaverbrook, named after the British newspaper tycoon Lord Beaverbrook, is in the Canadian province of New Brunswick and contains a sizable collection of Victorian and Georgian British art, as well as works by Canadian artists such as Franklin Carmichael, one of that nation’s Group of Seven painters. A highlight of the show will be the Catalan provocateur Salvador Dali’s Santiago El Grande, painted in 1957, and depicting the ascension of Christ into heaven with the help of St. James on a gigantic white horse inside cathedral-like latticework.
Boca Raton Museum of Art: Politics NOT as Usual: Quilts with Something to Say (now through Jan. 13) focuses on women who created these communal blankets for something other than comfort. These were artworks that also were political statements, advocating women’s suffrage, calling for Hawaiian independence, celebrating the end of the Civil War, and even saluting President Grover Cleveland. One particularly poignant quilt in the exhibit, organized by the American Folk Art Museum in New York, is the 9/11 National Tribute Quilt, which incorporates blocks from every state in the Union as well as some foreign countries in a reminiscence of the terrorist attacks of 2001, with the Twin Towers at the center.
The Smithsonian American Art Museum had a huge hit on its hands with The Art of Video Games (0ct. 24-Jan. 13), and Boca will be the first museum to host it outside Washington, D.C. Forty years of video game production will be examined, from Atari to Playstation, and more than 80 games will be featured. There will even be a chance for museum goers to try their hands at five different games, ostensibly so that viewers can get a better sense of how the various artistic intentions come together.
Another first is Impact: 50 Years of the Council of Fashion Designers of America (Jan. 29-April 28), the first museum exhibition celebrating the Council of Fashion Designers of America and its members over the past 50 years. Organized by Diane von Furstenberg, the council’s president, this is a couture exhibition featuring work by von Furstenberg and the biggest names in American fashion: Alexander Wang, Bob Mackie, Carolina Herrera, Donna Karan, Judith Leiber, Kate Spade, Marc Jacobs, Michael Kors, Narciso Rodriguez, Nicole Miller, Norma Kamali, Oscar de la Renta, Ralph Lauren, Rick Owens, Thakoon, Vera Wang and Zac Posen.
Flagler Museum, Palm Beach: The Whitehall mansion’s galleries open this season with Capturing the Cup: Yacht Racing During the Gilded Age (Oct. 16-Jan. 6). A replica of the extravagantly ornate America’s Cup is one of the standout objects in this exhibit, which focuses on the so-called Golden Age of yacht racing during the Gilded Age. Marine painters have often used the America’s Cup race as a subject (as dedicated viewers of Antiques Roadshow know), and examples will be here along with trophies by expert metalsmiths, historic film footage, and a nod to Sir Thomas Lipton, the tea heir who never won the America’s Cup but became something of a good-sport celebrity during the races.
The American artist Walter Gay, who lived much of his life in France with his heiress wife, made a specialty out of the patrons of the Gilded Age, painting the interiors of some of the most luxurious homes of his time. Impressions of Interiors: Gilded Age Paintings by Walter Gay (Jan. 29-April 23), features depictions of what contemporary high society had inside its mansions, from silk wall coverings to historic furniture. The exhibit includes about 70 works from private and public collections, and was organized by the Frick Art and Historical Center of Pittsburgh.
Morikami Museum and Japanese Gardens, Delray Beach: The Morikami’s exhibits are complemented by the beautiful park and gardens that surround the museum. It launches its season this year with Entertaining the Gods and Man: Japanese Dolls and the Theater (Oct. 2-Jan. 27) an exhibit of Japanese ningyō. These apparently simple objects have accrued ritual and cultural significance in Japanese culture, and while some of the more extroverted examples – the Boys’ Day Festival figures – are better-known, this exhibit offers ningyō in their theatrical context, a rarely explored, underappreciated avenue of Japanese art.
Senior curator Tom Gregersen, who will be retiring after a 35-year career at the museum, goes into the vaults for a highly personal adieu called The Curator’s Farewell Exhibition: Cool Stuff from the Morikami Museum’s Collection (Feb. 12-May 19). Gregersen has said he will choose objects from the western Delray Beach museum’s collections that say something important to him about Japanese culture, which the center describes as “dynamic, design-conscious and imaginative.”
The Lighthouse ArtCenter, Tequesta: The Lighthouse ArtCenter is hosting this year’s Florida Craftsmen Annual Member Show, on view until Oct. 10. This juried exhibition features contemporary glass, jewelry, fiber, wood, ceramics, furniture and mixed media, all made by Florida artists.
Coming just after that is one of the center’s most important annual activities, the D’Art for Art Exhibition and Event (Oct. 18-Nov. 10). Artists donate some of their best works in all media to the event to raise funds for the Tequesta institution’s operations and educational functions.
Florida’s natural beauty, so unlike any other part of the country, inspires Landscapes 2012 (Nov. 15-Jan. 5). It’s an juried annual exhibit in which artists take Florida’s outside world as their canvas, sometimes in representative ways and others with a more imaginary twist.
Two other shows open Jan. 17, beginning with Fractured Landscapes (through March 13), which showcases the work of Cuban-born Miamian Jake Fernandez. Paintings include large landscapes on linen and wood, plus a variety of smaller works on paper as well as photo assemblies. Nature Watercolors (through March 13) is devoted to the art of the actress Dina Merrill, also well-known for her famous parents – E.F. Hutton and Marjorie Merriweather Post. But Merrill has been painting flowers, birds and butterflies in a plain, colorful style of disarming simplicity.
Delray Beach Center for the Arts at Old School Square: Don Maitz is best-known in the illustration world for his Captain Morgan liquor art, which can be seen everywhere. It also inspired a fascination with the pirate life of the late 17th and early 18th centuries, and his canvases, many of them for children’s books and games, are on display in Ahoy Maitz! Pirates & Treasures, until Oct. 28.
In addition to the annual display of work by Palm Beach Watercolor Society members (Oct. 16-Jan. 13), the newly rebranded center at Delray’s Old School Square will offer art focused on golf (both opening Nov. 9 and running through April 21). Golf pro Gary Wiren has been an advocate of golf-themed art for many years, and his collection of golfing memorabilia, The Seagate Hotel & Spa World of Golf: The Gary Wiren Collection, offers tees from the 16th century, sheet music celebrating golf, historic putters and other singular artifacts. Accompanying them is an exhibit of oils, watercolors and acrylic paintings from the Academy of Golf Art.
The Eyes of Freedom (Nov. 9-18), a traveling memorial by Ohio artist Anita Miller, is devoted to the American military, particularly the fallen members of Lima Company 3/25, a Marine battalion that took severe losses in the battles of the Iraq War. Miller’s 23 life-size portraits of the slain Marines serve as a reminder of the individual cost of armed conflict.
Florida Atlantic University: FAU will present its third annual Fine Arts Festival on Nov. 3 and 4 at its Boca Raton campus on Glades Road. More than 35 artists will offer their work for view and sale, including paintings, prints, ceramics and photography.
Eleven artists from the five southeastern counties of Florida won grants from the South Florida Cultural Consortium, and as fellows of the consortium, are part of a display of their work, South Florida Cultural Consortium Visual and Media Artists Fellowship Exhibition, now on display and running through Dec. 15. The 2012 winners include Nellie Appleby, Domingo Castillo, Clifton Childree, Philip Estlund, Jiae Hwang, Eric Landes, Nicolas Lobo, Mark Moorman, Ernesto Oroza, John Sanchez, and Tom Scicluna.
Palm Beach Art, Antique and Jewelry Fairs: During the winter, the county is fortunate to have three fairs that bring outstanding art, antique and jewelry dealers from around the globe to the Palm Beach County Convention Center.
International Fine Art Expositions (IFAE) will present the annual ArtPalmBeach show from Jan. 25-28. The influential fair is now in its 16th year and contributes to the growing contemporary art scene in Palm Beach. This year’s Visionary Award will honor Italian glass artist Lino Tagliapietra. IFAE’s other fair, the American International Fine Art Fair (AIFAF), returns for its 17th year with a new name: Palm Beach Art + Design | PBA + D (Feb. 6-10, preview Feb. 5). Fine art and design dealers are the focus of this popular annual gathering.
Following IFAE’s fairs is the Palm Beach Jewelry, Art & Antique Show, which will be held from Feb. 15-19 at the Palm Beach Convention Center. A huge and hugely interesting event, this year’s show will bring more than 180 international dealers in everything from suits of armor to Old Masters and rare books. New this year is the Hope Designer Showcase, curated by interior designer Scott Snyder. The exhibit will feature five room vignettes created by Snyder and other top interior designers, including Geoffrey Bradfield, Jim Aman and John Meeks, Bruce Bierman and Campion Platt.
Armory Art Center, West Palm Beach: Scott Armetta is an atmospheric landscape painter, and the Armory will host his first solo exhibition, Scott Armetta: Dark Florida (Oct. 26-Dec. 8). Opening that same day is The Figure and the Field (Oct. 26-Nov. 24),which features some of the Armory’s advanced student painters.
To celebrate the Armory’s 25th anniversary, the center has organized the Palm Beach County Youth Art Competition (Nov. 15-Dec. 1), in which Palm Beach County middle and high school students compete. The guidelines this year call for the art to be in Art Deco style or to relate to the celebration of art.
The solo show David Willson: Cartoonist (Dec. 1-13) will feature Willson’s editorial cartoons from the past two decades for the Palm Beach Daily News. Jane Manus: Geometry of Space (Dec. 1-April 26) moves viewers outside to the sculpture garden, where six of the artist’s large-scale abstract forms will be on display.
The Armory Faculty Exhibition will run from Dec. 14-Jan. 12 and features work by faculty members in all media.
Artists of Palm Beach County Art Salons: These salons, now taking place in the Studio Building at the Armory Arts Center, are the brainchildren of West Palm Beach artist Elle Schorr and the Artists of Palm Beach County and they provide the perfect venue for discussing much of the great art that surrounds us this season. Local artists, writers and art lovers attend these bi-weekly Tuesday evening salons that begin with a topical presentation and end with a discussion. They are divided into the alternating themes: Mixed/Multimedia Salon and the Art, Women and Culture Salon.