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January 2015’s The Nor’Easter:45th Annual Juried Members Exhibition brought together a wide assortment of 113 exemplary artworks created by members of the New Britain Museum of American Art. Despite the obvious merits of each artists’ work, one work in particular, Ron Lambert’s Side Defeated, was distinguished by winning the Members Exhibition Juror’s Award.

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Ron Lambert, Side Defeated, 2015, Wallpaper, plaster, tar, wood and vinyl siding

 

There is little wonder that Side Defeated caught the juror’s attention. Being a free-standing piece made from a combination of media: wallpaper, plaster, tar, wood and vinyl siding, Side Defeated gives both the eye and the mind much to take in. Walking around Lambert’s piece the audience is first reminded of a house. At the onset, Side Defeated appears to be as if a “chunk” has been ripped from the skeleton of a suburban home, allowing the viewer to see the “innards” of its construction. Indeed, Side Defeated was in some ways truly “ripped” into reality, as it was originally part of another work Lambert had designed for an exhibition at Alfred University. While trying to construct one piece that simply would not “come together,” Lambert deconstructed it, cut away at the materials and the result was Side Defeated, a new and unique artwork.

ron-lambert-side-defeated-nbmaa03When interviewed, Ron Lambert emphasized the importance of “home,” or the idea of “home” to the piece. The common-place wallpaper of fruits and vegetation could be found in kitchens across America. The familiarity of Side Defeated highlights the importance of the ideas of “safety” and “comfort” which “home” often invokes. Almost everyone has sat in this kitchen with similar motif, or driven by a house with that same siding. Side Defeated acts as a conduit of memories of one’s first home, to thoughts on their present living arrangements.

However, like every home, Side Defeated bears the marks of time and its environment. Within the piece, a bubble of black tar appears like a malignant tumor, an intruder within the bones of the house. This “illness” not only ron lambert side defeated nbmaaresides on the insides of the piece, but on the outer layer of vinyl siding where a small hole, constructed as if by an insect, mars its almost perfect, plastic surface. Lambert’s vision of home and the ease and comfortability seems now threatened with decay. The visceral damages to the home act as an aesthetic reflection of the harm and heart-break which are an inevitability in one’s own home, and in one’s own history. Side Defeated’s history is as scarred and “common” as any human viewer’s own, making this piece both relatable, yet unique simultaneously. This commonality is central to Ron Lambert’s piece, and is something he strives to inspire within the viewer.

This theme of the known and the familiar runs through every aspect of Side Defeated. The materials which Lambert chooses to work with can also be labeled as “common.” Anyone who has walked through a Home Depot or watched a television show on HGTV will recognize Side Defeated’s construction-site origins. This is intentional on the part of the artist. When questioned about his materials, Lambert asserted that he rejected the “traditional” mediums of bronze or paint etc. because those “objects,” do not allow him to “think about it as anything but an art piece.” By choosing “commonplace” materials Side Defeated erases the “distance between the piece and the viewer” and allows a personal and unique “dialogue” between the piece and viewer to take place. The static and revered nature of the white marble and acrylic paints of the “traditional” artwork, places the piece on a pedestal which the viewer cannot understand or fully relate to.
When asked if he would categorize Side Defeated into the realm of “non-art,” Lambert replied that he would not, rather that the piece functioned under the “philosophy that everything around us can be art with the right intention.” Like other artists before him, such as Joseph Beuys and Connecticut native Robert Gober, Side Defeated embraces the art latent in all things, and in all people. There is little doubt that the 45th annual Juror’s Award winner achieves Ron Lambert’s ultimate goal as acting, in his words, “as a vehicle for ideas,” provoking both thought and admiration in its viewers.

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NBMAA Caption Contest

Caption Conetst OctoberThis October, we’re challenging our visitors and readers to submit a creative caption for Don Maitz’s illustration for Balance of Power.

Fill out a caption card and drop it in the box hanging in the gallery or simply write in the comment section below. Don’t forget to leave us your contact information so we can send you a free year-long family membership if you are the winner. Take a look below to see who you’re up against!

I control space and time, but my skirt is still too short.

August

These are my favorite bouncy balls; I got them at Target. Aren’t they fabulous?

Josh Blumenthal

What comes from the Earth must rise to the sky.

Heather MacFarlane

You can never find a taxi-cab in absolute reality when you really need one!

Howard Brender

The ferocity of art transcends time and space.

Magdalena Kinga

So many worlds to conquer and just so little time. It’s exausting, really.

Lisa Merrill

Is there a choice?

Katherine Corbett

I am the world!

Nicole Maisto

Beetlejuice, Beetlejuice, Beetlejuice.

Aron

You get the best of both worlds.

Kendra Madia

I have more issues than Vogue!

Emma Edwards

Time does not exist.

Annette Tillmann

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This post comes to us from Rena Tobey, Speaker, Wednesday’s at 1 p.m. 

Woman with Book, ca. 1910.  William McGregor Paxton (1869-1941).  Oil on canvas on board.  1981.16.

Woman with Book, ca. 1910. William McGregor Paxton (1869-1941). Oil on canvas on board. 1981.16.

Woman with Book by William McGregor Paxton, currently hanging in the NBMAA Impressionist Gallery, was painted the same year as his wife Elizabeth Okie Paxton made The Breakfast Tray.  Come join us for Wednesday’s at 1 p.m. on October 23, 2013 as we explore a very provocative painting, a very modern marriage, and one of the better American artists who is likely to be brand new to you.

To tease you further, I cannot show you an image of The Breakfast Tray here.  It resides in a private collection, and I do not have permission to “publish” it in this blog post.  Now, you have to come to the talk, which will be filled with images galore!

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Hopper’s Self Portrait (1925-30) is a typical example of Hopper’s self-representation, which was often moody, lonely, and somewhat unflattering.

This post comes to us from Emily Sesko, Curatorial Intern

I remember being nine years old, packed into the car for a trip to Boston to see an exhibit of Edward Hopper paintings at the Museum of Fine Arts. My dad was excited, always in search of an opportunity to see a few good Hoppers. We’ve been all over the place in search of Hoppers, sometimes on purpose, other times finding ourselves on an impromptu Hopper-hunt. The hunt brought us to NBMAA a few years ago, around Christmas time.  There was just one hanging upstairs in one of the galleries—Abbot’s House, from ca. 1926—and my dad was thrilled. A Hopper outpost, just twenty minutes away from home.

During his eighty-five-year lifetime, Hopper was not an especially prolific artist, producing fewer than 400 total works before his death. Nevertheless, he is one of America’s best-recognized painters, and was one of the bestselling artists at the height of his career between 1925 and 1945. What did it take to become one of America’s beloved realists? (more…)

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