Going, Going, (Almost) Gone. . .The Hood
March 13 is the last day to see any of the current exhibitions at the Hood Museum. When the Hood reopens after a major renovation, we will all be 3 years older. Three long, dry years without an art museum in our midst. Sigh. Ice, Ice, Baby: Nothing to be done, I suppose but to quit procrastinating and take in what's there. Initially, what drew me to the Hood was Eric Aho's Ice Cuts, a series of paintings described in the excellent glossy brochure as "the first comprehensive museum exhibition of this body of work, which is tied to Aho's experience of the winter landscape of New England. . ." Aho, of Finnish descent, cut a rectangular (or is it trapezoidal?) hole in the ice (an avanto) to form an entrance to a plunge pool used in conjunction with the traditional Finnish sauna. He created the paintings of the avanto (see above) over several years. The canvases are large, sunny yellow or blue; a series along one wall shows the avanto as blackness. I found the story of this work to be more intriguing than the actual paintings, and preferred the yellow, seeing it as an antidote to winter's darkness.Witness (noun and verb): The promise of one exhibition may draw you, another may grab you. Such was the case with Inventory: New Works and Conversations around African Art. Immediately inside of the Hood's entrance is Benny Andrews' collage/painting, Witness. This work may or may not be officially part of the exhibition; you will want to stop and admire it either way. "The painting's intensity arises from . . .a title that can be taken as at once an observation and a command." Andrews, African-American and one of ten children of a sharecropper in Madison, Georgia, stated that he incorporated the fabrics of his childhood--repurposed seed and fertilizer sacks--into the work because "Where I am from, the people are very austere. We have big hands. . .We wear rough fabrics. . .These are my textures." Among the works on the second floor are highly composed photographs by Halida Boughriet, born in Paris of French-Algerian parents, capturing and commenting on the lives of African immigrants and their first-generation children in France. Nomusa Makhubu of South Africa has created a new art form in which she uses old photographs from the country's colonial era and superimposes her own likeness on each. All compelling, but I admit that Witness commanded my eye again, and again, as I tried to leave the Hood. Images of Nepal: Dartmouth College is hosting an international summit next week, February 18 through the 20th, on the 2015 earthquake and its aftermath in Nepal. In conjunction with the summit, the museum is featuring an exhibition of photographs by the renown James Nachtwey and Kevin Bubriski. These photos, together with others taken by an amalgam of professional and amateur photographers who just happened to be on the scene when the earthquake occurred, are stunning, and exceedingly heartbreaking. While the rubble surrounds, the centerpieces of each photo are always the human faces and bodies of bravery and despair. The Hood will host a conversation about the exhibition on February 18 at 5:00 p.m Art lovers all, you have a month to see these exhibitions and the Hood's permanent collection before it all disappears for three achingly long years. Go in solitude, take a bunch of rambunctious kids, or bring your Valentine sweetheart.