By Sandra Schulman
Three artists whose work spans decades and mediums ranging from manhole cover rubbings to holograms to immersive installation, are taking over the ground floor of the Boca Raton Museum of Art this week.
The three shows, gathered under the title Three Artists, Three Visions, One Spirit, curated by associate museum curator Kelli Bodle, open Wednesday and run through Oct. 22.
Sari Dienes (1898-1992), Matthew Schreiber, and Sri Prabha push the boundaries of what constitutes art materials in three separate galleries.
Dienes, although she is lesser known than two artists she inspired, Jasper Johns and Robert Rauschenberg, was an important figure in the New York art world of the 1950s. Her exhibition here, “Incidental Nature,” features core elements of her decades of artmaking, including her 1950s street rubbings, inspired by time spent in Japan, and portraits of her famous circle of artists.
Hungarian-born, Dienes worked in a wide range of media: paintings, drawings, prints, sculptures, ceramics, textile designs, sets and costumes for theater and dance, sound-art installations, mixed-media environments, music and performance art.
“Bones, lint, Styrofoam, banana skins, the squishes and squashes found on the street: nothing is so humble that it cannot be made into art,” she once said, and used those materials in unorthodox ways.
Dienes made colorful prints using a roller called a printmaker’s brayer that lifts ink impressions off sidewalk grates, manhole covers, pieces of wood, ancient rock carvings petroglyphs and other objects. She liked to construct industrial design with nature to show the differences and similarities.
“Sari Dienes is celebrated as the ‘doyenne of the American avant-garde’ and is finally receiving the recognition she has long deserved,” museum director Irvin Lippman said in a prepared statement.
Matthew Schreiber (b. 1967) lives in Brooklyn and is one of the world’s foremost hologram and laser artists. His drawings and holograms in “Orders of Light” show ephemeral images of spiritualist medium communities in Lily Dale, New York, and Cassadaga, Florida. Cassadaga is just west of Daytona Beach and is home to spiritualists and psychics. Located in the woods, there is a church, workshops, art filled trails, and hundreds of psychics available for readings.
Holograms glow and move with the eye, making them even more otherworldly, even in images as simple as a tree or a hand. His works on paper feature blind contour studies, peripheral view drawing, and lens-less photography.
He worked as the chief lighting expert for the artist James Turrell from 2000-2013, who is known for his work in the light and space movement. His lab, the Schreiber Holography and Optical Laboratory, invites others to create fine art holography, and some of the Lab’s current artists include Paul McCarthy, Ed Ruscha, and Deana Lawson.
Since childhood, Schreiber has had a dual interest in art and science. For this exhibition, the museum selected more than 50 pieces, including works on paper, holograms, and photographs.
Sri Prabha, originally from Hyderabad, India, lives and works in Hollywood and is known for his boundary-pushing installations and projections that tell stories. Here he masterminds a site-specific installation “Resonator-Reanimator,” fusing ideas from both Vedic eastern philosophy and western science to explore connections to the natural world.
“This one is very specific,” he says of the new, fully immersive large-scale exhibit. “It’s pretty much all new, the idea is about panspermia, which is life coming from space and then becoming life here on earth. That formulated these sculptures and video.”
“There are these large floating panels that are tectonic plates. They’re blue on the bottom and they have circular holes in the middle. I think of them like space flowers, spires, bringing life to earth and the plates are floating underneath it made out of fabric. Those fabrics are from my family, it gives me a more personal attachment to the materials I was using. “
“It’s interrelated because of the idea of the elements and cosmos at the beginning of time back and forth, some of the elements before they became the elements as well. Taking apart these molecules and basic materials, the component parts of the universe.”
Prahba sees it all as one big cycle of things becoming something else that are still evolving. Of course, the install can be taken as a trippy, colorful, walk through artwork, but the back story gives the images a deeper meaning.
“Time’s fluid where the illusion of time is you can see time back and forward, happening at the
same time. Everyone talks about the multiverse now. There’s that element of it and, and then the resonating part of the cosmos, the universe, just thinking about the cosmos, you’re thinking about existence, it’s a feedback loop,” he says.
“I’m being reactive to the site, the space being more improvisational in how things are getting set up and installed and not over-planning that element of it, which is different from what I normally do. I’m trying to keep it very fresh.”
Lippman summed up the way the three exhibits connect this way:
“It is Sari Dienes’s now-famous quote that ‘spirit lives in everything’ that provides the overriding theme that continues in the two concurrent exhibitions of work by Sri Prabha and Matthew Schreiber. Prabha’s site-specific installation has a cosmic energy that will give the visitor the sense of tracking through space and time, while Schreiber’s holograms of spiritual camps and his experimental drawings create new dimensions for us to explore.
“The three artists all focus on the tools of perception; and visitors will find the Dienes, Prabha, and Schreiber exhibitions each present an imaginative, multi-sensory experience,” he said in a prepared statement.
Three Artists, Three Visions, One Spirit opens Wednesday and runs through Oct. 22 at the Boca Raton Museum of Art, 501 Plaza Real (Mizner Park) in Boca Raton. Hours: Wednesday through Sunday, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. except Thursday, when the museum is open until 8 p.m. It is closed Mondays and Tuesdays. Admission: $16; seniors, $12; groups, $10. Members, high school students and children enter free. For more information, call 561-392-2500 or visit bocamuseum.org.