Art Of Spring

And Spring arose on the garden fair, Like the Spirit of Love felt everywhere; And each flower and herb on Earth’s dark breast
rose from the dreams of its wintry rest.
~Percy Bysshe Shelley, The Sensitive Plant

Spring

Kathy Ruttenberg, The Messenger, Ceramic Sculpture, Courtesy and © Kathy Ruttenberg.

The environmentally astute fairytale sculptures of Chicago-born, New York-based artist Kathy Ruttenberg inhabit an allegorically charged world of unconscious drives, Ovidian transformations and feminist-inflected narratives. Described by Donald Kuspit as perhaps the most creative, certainly unusual, ceramic art being made today, Ruttenberg’s work is populated with women sprouting or metamorphosing into trees, flowers, birds, snails, antlers and crabs. Figurines of whimsical caterpillars, bats and rabbits are intricately rendered in clay and watercolor, a three-dimensional counterpart to the poetry and visions of William Blake a la Beatrix Potter. “The tools for my work are fire, earth and emotions,” Ruttenberg writes. “This mix makes an interesting cocktail of allegory and symbolism, with an odd twist of nature. In my world, where the wind blows with intensity, animals and humans often share the moment.”

Bodies In Balance

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The first major exhibition to present the origins, history and practice of a millennium of visual history, Bodies in Balance: The Art of Tibetan Medicine opens at the Rubin Museum of Art in New York, 14 March and runs through 8 Sept. 2014, exploring the guiding principles of the Tibetan science of healing represented in medical paintings, manuscripts, and medical instruments. A multi-media installation showing how Tibetan medicine is used today, invites visitors to relate what they discover to their own lives through interactive experiences within the galleries and throughout the Museum including the Café Serai and the shop.

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Tree of Diagnosis, Copy of Plate 3 of the Lhasa Tibetan Medical Paintings; Lhasa, central Tibet; date unknown; Pigments on Cloth and Brocade; Private Collection, Chicago, Courtesy Rubin Museum.

The relationship of Tibetan medicine, Buddhism, and the visual arts has been integral to the development and transmission of this medical tradition. Approximately 140 objects dating from the 9th century to the present day demonstrate the advancement of Tibetan medical knowledge as it was codified in medical texts, illustrated in art, demonstrated by medical tools, and made evident by examples of medicines compounded from natural ingredients and applied in practice. Bodies in Balance provides audiences an opportunity to have a personalized exhibition experience.

The Tibetan science of healing is based on an analytical system in which three forces -wind, bile, and phlegm- govern physical and mental aspects of being. They are associated with colors in Tibetan imagery: pale blue, yellow and white, depicting imbalances that create illnesses that are then treated with medications or through modifications in behavior or diet. Using a brief questionnaire, visitors can determine which of the three forces is dominant in their constitutions and follow a color-coded pathway that highlights the exhibition components most relevant to them. The do-it-yourself approach even incorporates a video station where visitors learn to take their pulses in the Tibetan fashion, counting, for example, beats per breath. Also included in the exhibition is a touchscreen that provides additional information and interactive experiences of select elements of these practices.

Bodies In Balance: The Essentials

Keynote by Theresia Hofer: Friday March 21, 2014 @ 7:00 PM

A conference to deepen your appreciation of the exhibition -a full weekend of talks and demonstrations on the beneficial subject of Tibetan medicine and concepts of wellbeing. Scholars, medical practitioners and experts meet to share their experience in eleven separate presentations. As interest in healthy living and a holistic approach to healthcare gain popularity in Western societies, age-old healing traditions from the East are being re-examined as new sources of knowledge. In a keynote to open the weekend’s conference, exhibition curator Theresia Hofer outlines the rich and integrated medical, spiritual, and artistic dimensions of Tibetan medicine, providing audiences with a new perspective on the relationship between mind, body, and sustained wellbeing.

Expressions of the Inexpressible: The Dictionary of Buddhism

With Donald Lopez: Saturday March 22, 2014 @ 6:00 PM

A presentation to launch the Princeton Dictionary of Buddhism, in which the author highlights the entries on the Medicine Buddha.

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The new Princeton Dictionary of Buddhism, by Donald Lopez, in 1,304 pages and 1.2 million words, is the most authoritative and wide-ranging reference of its kind ever produced in English. Its more than 5,000 alphabetical entries explain the key terms, doctrines, practices, texts, authors, deities, and schools of Buddhism across six major canonical languages and traditions: Sanskrit, P?li, Tibetan, Chinese, Japanese, and Korean; the dictionary also includes selected terms from Burmese, Khmer, Lao, Mongolian, Newar, Sinhalese, Thai, and Vietnamese. The entries take an encyclopedic approach to the religion, with short essays that explore the extended meaning and significance of the terms in greater depth than a conventional dictionary. At this book launch event, both authors will be present to discuss new and emerging trends in Buddhist Studies that are covered in the dictionary and highlight the entries on the Medicine Buddha. They will also present a Top Ten list of misconceptions about Buddhism, and will examine how these issues are addressed in the dictionary.

For information on presentations See Full Schedule

About

Hofer has a dual training in anthropology and medical history, holding advanced degrees from the University Vienna, Brunel University and University College London, UK. She currently works at the Section for Medical Anthropology at the University of Oslo, with her research and teaching focusing on cross-cultural understandings of health, illness and disability, and the history, art and contemporary practice of Tibetan medicine. She has carried out extensive fieldwork in the Tibet Autonomous Region (P. R. of China), Bhutan, India, and Nepal. She spent a year in Lhasa and rural central Tibet researching Tibetan doctors’ work in transforming and developing Tibetan medical traditions in the latter half of the 20th and into the 21st century. The result of almost five years of research and international collaboration is this first major exhibition that examines the guiding principles of Tibetan medicine through its diverse visual history, illuminating how this healing system has been passed down across a millennium and remains relevant to our 21st-century lives.

Tibet House Benefit

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The 24th Annual Tibet House U.S. Benefit Concert will feature a typically star-studded and diverse lineup of musicians. Iggy Pop, Joe Walsh, New Order’s Bernard Summer, Phil Cunnigham and Tom Chapman, Patti Smith and Her Band, Robert Randolph and Matt Berninger and Aaron Dessner of The National, Tibetan singer-songwriter Techung and composers Nico Muhly and Philip Glass, are all slated to perform at New York City’s Carnegie Hall on 11 March, 2014. Actors Maggie Gyllenhaal and Peter Sarsgaard are serving as Honorary Chairpersons for the show. Proceeds from the evening benefit the Tibet House U.S., which is a nonprofit educational institution that is dedicated to preserving the Tibetan civilization with a cultural center, gallery and library. It was founded in 1987 at the request of the Dalai Lama. Tickets for concert are on sale now.

Magical Realism

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Beth CarterMessenger (detail), Bronze, Edition of 15, 50 x 26 x 24 in., Courtesy Bertrand Delacroix Gallery.

On view now through 8 March, 2014, is the powerful new collection of work by Beth Carter “Dancing with Morpheus” at Bertrand Delacroix Gallery in New York. Carter, a native of Bristol, England, is known for her starkly beautiful and haunting sculptures and drawings on paper. This show introduces ten new sculptures and several new drawings. The new bronze sculptures range from life-size figures to small more intimately scaled pieces shown alongside the new large-scale monochrome charcoal and colored pastel drawings. Serving as a perfect allegory for this new body of work, the title of the exhibition Dancing with Morpheus refers to the Greek God of Dreams and leader of the Oneiroi -Winged Spirit Dreams.

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Beth CarterCrowmask, Bronze, Edition of 15, 32 x 24 x 18 in., Courtesy Bertrand Delacroix Gallery.

In these new pieces Carter intuitively manifests her fascination with themes of transformation, half-states, hybrids and duality with her characteristic sense of playfulness and foreboding. Here, Carter’s animal-headed humans are thoughtfully involved in self-reflection. She clearly wants us to focus on this aspect of what differentiates us from the rest of nature. Instead of using these animal heads to channel the power of the Hawk or Crow or Bull or Horse, she uses the animal heads to show us our deep skepticism about the justice and fairness of nature itself. By taking the head of the Bull or Crow and combining it with the “body language” of melancholia, we get a profound visual impact which expresses some of our deepest moral concerns.

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Beth Carter, Monkey and Hare, Bronze, Edition of 15, 33 x 23 1/2 x 30 in., Courtesy Bertrand Delacroix Gallery.

Carter first crafts her sculptures out of clay or wax and subsequently casts them into limited edition works in bronze or resin. Her work is distinct in that while it is deeply rooted in mythology, it plays with classical precedents to create a new genre -one that is steeped in fantasy, melancholy and whimsy. The artist categorizes her works as “magical realism.” There is something captivating and peculiar about her enchanting minotaurs, winged creatures and hybrid forms. Her unusual sculptures are derived deep in her subconscious; the artist emphasizes that her works emerge from an internal, contemplative place and this unfiltered emotion is clear in her striking work. We discover an unfolding meditation on those existential dilemmas that beset us all.

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Beth CarterMinotaur on Box, Bronze, Edition of 15, 56 x 38 x 27 in., Courtesy Bertrand Delacroix Gallery.

Perhaps Carter’s most well-known pieces feature the reading or seated Minotaur, a vulnerable half man, half bull creature naked and hunched over a tiny gold book. These pensive pieces encapsulate many of the larger themes that run through her entire body of work. Her art often explores the nature of duality and opposition; whether it is the relationship between beasts and humankind, vulnerability and power or the real and the imagined, Carter cleverly juxtaposes conflicting ideas that the viewer, alone, must reconcile.

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Beth CarterFool, Bronze, Edition of 15, 18 1/2 x 6 1/2 x 5 1/2 in., Courtesy Bertrand Delacroix Gallery.

The distinct sense of melancholy present in Carter’s art allows her creatures to be at once physically imposing and emotionally vulnerable. Her thoughtful drawings in charcoal and conté demonstrate this same interior drive to explore sadness and the subconscious. Carter’s unique works create an alternate reality -one that invites the viewer to partake in a journey to a strange, dreamlike world where the lines between man and beast, reality and fantasy and the possible and impossible are no longer clear. Prompting a rare kind of empathy towards her subjects, Carter is a force to be reckoned with in the fine art world of figuration.

About

Carter received her degree in Fine Art from Sunderland University in the United Kingdom. In 1995, she was awarded 1st prize in the Northern Graduate Show ‘95 at The Royal College of Art, London. Afterwards, she traveled to Sri Lanka, India, New Zealand, Mexico, Gambia, Kenya and Tanzania to study mythological sculpture. Her work has been shown in the US and abroad and appears in private collections throughout Europe, Asia and the US.