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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

Rose Art ‘regards painting,’ opens ‘WaterWays’

Published: October 8, 2010
Section: Front Page

The Rose Art Museum reopened Thursday night with two new exhibits from the permanent collection.

The museum’s main exhibit, “WaterWays” displayed artwork that explored water and “the role water plays in your life, human life and contemporary culture,” the exhibition’s curator Roy Dawes said.

Dawes, who is also the director of museum operations, said he was inspired by a fountain Michael Dowling created for last year’s creative arts festival. The fountain, which will remain on the steps of The Rose until Oct. 30, was originally inspired by the festival’s slogan, “Source/ReSource.”

“That fountain really got me going and thinking about how we look at water as a society,” Dawes said. “I liked the idea of water and how it is expressed so differently through different pieces.”

“WaterWays” displayed pieces using different mediums, including paint, photography, digital video and three dimensions.

A press release about the exhibit expresses the importance Dawes feels water plays in society.

“We cannot go far from water,” it reads. “The recent tragedy in the Gulf of Mexico is something that we feel in our essence that registers in the water table of our own bodies.”

While “WaterWays” is being shown in the Rose and Lee galleries, Regarding Painting, curated by Dabney Hailey, the museum’s director of academic programming, is being shown in the Foster galleries.

“Regarding Painting” is meant to make viewers think about painting both as an act and a product, with the exhibit itself being divided into four sections focusing on different aspects of painting: the act of painting, the picture plane and the real, trauma as a subject and painting beyond paint.

The exhibit displays a diverse collection of painting styles from abstract to photo realism to everything in between.

Both exhibits are drawn largely from the museum’s permanent collection, something Belinda Jentz, who was at the exhibits’ opening, was glad for.

“I didn’t realize The Rose had photos in its collection,” said Jentz, who has been to many Rose exhibits before, many of which were not from the permanent collection. “I’m glad to see the photos coming out.”

Jentz came to the exhibit with her friend and Natick resident, Chanah Wizenberg who grew up attending exhibits at The Rose because her father was a professor at the university.

“Brandeis has always been like a second home to me, and I haven’t been to The Rose in a number of years, but I am really enjoying the diverse nature of the art,” she said. “I love the water theme, that is what drew me in.”

Andy Hogan ’11 also enjoyed the “WaterWays” exhibit.

“I like the way the exhibit incorporates digital art in conjunction with the type of art you would typically see in a museum,” he said. “The two mediums are really cool together.”

Originally, “WaterWays,” curated by Director of Museum Operations Roy Dawes, was supposed to be hung in the Foster gallery, while an exhibit “Atmospheric Conditions” was to be hung in the main Rose gallery.

But, after the three artists involved in “Atmospheric Conditions” canceled the exhibits in protest of the university’s refusal to make a legal commitment to not sell the museum’s art, “WaterWays” was moved into the main gallery and “Regarding Painting” was created.

Currently the state of the artworks in the exhibits is unclear. The university board of trustees made international headlines in January 2009 when it announced plans to sell pieces from the museum’s collection to gain revenue for the university.

While the board announced in late May that it was looking into non-sale options like renting the art, a lawsuit brought against the university by three of the museum’s benefactors in order to legally prevent any sale of art is set to go to trial in December.

The university announced Sept. 20 that it was searching for a new director of the museum, a post that has remained vacant since June 2009 when the university did not renew the contract of the museum’s then-director Michael Rush, who was particularly outspoken against the university’s plans for the museum.

Waterways: A student contemplates a photograph on the lower level of The Rose art gallery at The Rose Art Museum on opening night of the exhibit “WaterWays” Thursday night.
PHOTO BY Lien Phung/The Hoot