spring and summer at the RBSC

Wednesday, August 26th, 2015 » By lstone » See more posts from ALL THE NEWS

Greetings from the RBSC at the tail end of summer. Spring semester went by in a combined blur of class and staff projects. A few highlights include Nick Lowe’s Sophomore Seminar students who morphed ideas about Roger Brown works of art with areas of interest in the Roger Brown Study Collection, and installation strategies, into the exhibition Sophomore Sensations, installed briefly on the Yoshida shelves.

1.sophomore stacked

Frédéric Moffet’s Intimacies class (Film Video New Media Animation) held An Intimate Affair at 1926 on a balmy Sunday afternoon in May. Students screened outstanding films and performed intriguingly to an audience of significant sweethearts. A charged time was had by all, and Frédéric managed to arrange a surprise downburst, a refreshing end to the midspring afternoon.

2.Frederic and the gang

3.intimacies screenings
4.Udita Upadhyaya – Proximal Distances



On June 11 a solemn ceremony was held for the inurnment of a portion of Harold Allen’s ashes at Graceland Cemetery. Renowned and revered as artist, scholar, teacher, friend, and avowed Egyptomaniac, as his signature initials above convey (!), Allen joins a pantheon of extraordinary people who impacted Chicago forever. We are eternally grateful to Scott Dietrich for shepherding the Harold Allen Study Collection (HASC) into SAIC’s collection of Special Collections. The inurnment marks renewed efforts to organize the extraordinary materials in the HASC for access.

7. finalHarold Graceland captions
8.Inez, Graceland + caption

9.Harold Blackstone Hall


AT LONG LAST, The project to digitize all (21) of Roger Brown’s sketchbooks was completed in June. The sketchbooks reveal the origin and development of Brown’s creative process, providing insight into his ideas from early years to his final works. They are original, irreplaceable drawings invaluable in the interpretation of the resulting artworks, while revealing ideas that never went further than a sketch.

The sketchbooks are now safely stored in the Prints and Drawings Department at the Art Institute of Chicago, where they are on long-term loan and accessible to scholars, the curious, and sketchbook-obsessed. Now begins the project to write metadata for each page, then Chris Day, Digital Services Librarian at Flaxman Library, will organize the images into an online collection. Our thanks to Leigh Armstrong and Armstrong-Johnston staff for their special care and expert digitization, and to Mark Pascale, the Janet and Craig Duchossois Curator of Prints and Drawings at the Art Institute of Chicago.

Page in Brown's 1972 sketchbook.

Page in Brown’s 1972 sketchbook.


East Coast

Works from the Roger Brown estate were on view in two outstanding New York exhibitions, Roger Brown: Political Paintings at DC Moore Gallery (June 18 – August 7, with catalog) and Roger Brown: Virtual Still Life at Maccarone (June 25 – August 14). Both shows received excellent press––see links to reviews below. Huge thanks to Russell Bowman Art Advisory, Jay Gorney, and all staff at DC Moore and Maccarone, for showcasing two diverse and critical dimensions of Brown’s remarkable oeuvre.

Roberta Smith’s New York Times reivew, Maccarone; Ken Johnson’s New York Times review, DC MooreARTnews, New YorkerArt in America.

11. DC Moore
12 catalog



West Coast…

The last chapter of Roger Brown’s life––creating a home, studio, gardens, collections, and extraordinary body of work in Southern California––is explored in depth, in Jonathan Griffin’s insightful article in East of Borneo.

Meanwhile, back at 1926

Roger Brown’s devotion to conflating high style with vernacular is ingeniously distilled in his 1926 N. Halsted St. garden. Grand Greco-Roman statues of Persephone and Neptune gaze down upon four classically-styled jardinière and a table, all of cast concrete, of the sort that many would consider “ersatz.” Teak English garden seating lends a warm––and maybe for some, sophisticated––note to the setting. The objects rest on a radiating pattern of pavers, redolent of flooring of the Florentine Renaissance. They radiate around the catch basin manhole cover. IN this garden notions of high and low blur. All are subject to the Midwest weather and well past due for a cleanup. Don Howlett / Preservation Services, Inc., cleaned all the objects of atmospheric staining and buildup of biological growth. Hairline cracks and broken areas were repaired, and all received a surface treatment to deter moisture penetration and protect interior metal.

Brown's sketch for the garden at 1926 N. Halsted St. From his 1993-1997 sketchbook.

Brown’s sketch for the garden at 1926 N. Halsted St. From his 1993-1997 sketchbook.

neptune + persephone


Preserving 1926  Preservation contractor and SAIC faculty member Neal Vogel and his Restoric crew are hard at work on the project to restore all the doors, windows, and transoms, and create new, wood framed, UV filtering storm windows for the second floor. This project is generously funded by the Walter and Karl Goldschmidt Foundation, to whom we are most grateful! Stay tuned for a full report in our fall semester update.

Restoric crewmembers left to right Adjua Pryor, Elizabeth Fisher, Erin Gibbs, and Roseanne Ghazarian.

Restoric crewmembers left to right Adjua Pryor, Elizabeth Fisher, Erin Gibbs, and Roseanne Ghazarian.



Roger Brown acquired 36 drawings by venerable master artist Joseph Yoakum. As fragile works of art on paper the trove is subject to deterioration from exposure to light. Thus, we regretfully remove them for a rest rotation for half of each year––March through August––transforming the Yoakum Room from a warm and rich place to a barren one. After some years of fumbling, we realized we could restore a measure of the room’s soul by installing 36 blanks. Guests enter the room and gasp in awe, imagining the works they can’t actually see. The drawings will be reinstalled by the end of August so you’ll have to come back next March to catch the curiously empty display.

Yoakum Room with blank mats

Yoakum Room with blank mats

Lisa Stone, August 2015

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