Art for All
[b]Jay Block[/b] has designs on the BSU campus.
The recently hired collections and exhibitions manager is responsible for curating exhibitions at the university's Anderson Gallery and across campus.
Mr. Block is a native of San Bernardino, Cal., who has worked at the Whitney Museum and Neuberger Museum of Art in New York before coming to BSU. He's also worked with private collections, and is himself a painter and printmaker.
The Anderson Gallery exhibits for this season were planned when he arrived, but already Mr. Block is thinking to the future, with a host of exciting shows in mind.
Recently we sat down and talked with him about his new job and the future of the arts at BSU.
Q: Can you begin by telling us a bit about what it means to be a curator?
A: It's about building bridges between objects, thoughts and philosophies and bringing it all together so everyone can share in this dialogue. It's more important that people walk away with an understanding of an exhibit and have the tools to make judgments for themselves without feeling guilty or as if they're being talked down to. A good curator gives you those tools to make you feel comfortable with the aesthetic decisions that you, as the art patron, make. In essence, we help people articulate how they feel about a work of art.
Q:What interested you about coming to Bridgewater?
A: The potential to build from scratch, from the ground up, a comprehensive cultural approach to the arts.
Q: Specifically what kinds of things are you envisioning?
A: The governing idea is that art is not just a painting or sculpture. It's all interrelated. An exhibit of paintings may have great linkages to a piano sonata, for instance. I'm interested in stressing the linkages. As for specifics, I'm thinking about a film program that reaches out to contemporary culture, linking both the avant garde and the great classics. Also, helping to bring classical music, authors and performing arts to campus. The goal is to take the same approach to all this and to program for that common ground.
Q: Can you tell us about this upcoming season at the Anderson Gallery?
A: There are three shows: The first is called "Domestic Arrangements," which is comprised of images which play off of commercial photography with a sly reference to the decadence of consumerism. The second is "Animal Magnetism," a group show where the artists make their comments through their visual material on their concerns of the break between humanity and the animal world. The third show is by Mary Dondero, a local art star and BSU professor and her work from Zion National Park and the inspiration she's taken from there. This show will be in the Anderson Gallery and the Maxwell Library.
Q: What is your overarching plan for curating on campus?
A: The plan is to make Bridgewater an art and engagement university, a center for culture in Southeastern Massachusetts, and that it will be a destination for arts, music, theater, performance, or just to walk the grounds and enjoy the surroundings.
Q: What are some of the future exhibits you're thinking of?
A: The Lego community is huge. I'm looking at a possible show featuring an artist who creates models of birds that are anatomically correct using Legos. They're absolutely gorgeous, bringing together elements of design, bird watching and engineering. Another show features artists who create contemporary Chinese landscapes using nontraditional materials, like nails and cigarette burns.
The Anderson Gallery is open to the public. For hours, exhibit information and more, log on to http://www.bridgew.edu/art/gallery, or call 508-531-1359. (Interview by John Winters, G '11, photo by Rob Matheson, '07, Office of University Advancement)