Where in the World
It is with great joy that I mark the arrival of summer in New York, a season that brings the promise of ice cream cones, steamy sidewalks and the Artist-in-Residence exhibition at The Studio Museum in Harlem. On the Museum’s third floor, behind large picture windows facing 125th Street, three artists work tirelessly over the course of a year to create original artworks. These are the artists in residence. Periodically, I am invited to their studios to glimpse their creative processes, as well as discuss the critical logistical details surrounding their upcoming exhibition. It is like entering a magical world where each artist’s work presents unique and inspiring challenges. We debate and discuss how best to install, hang or present these artworks. From site-specific environments to paintings to performances, the resident artists’ work is diverse and visionary.
In early July, we move artworks from the studios to the mezzanine galleries, seemingly a simple procedure. While other shipments of art to the Museum might come from distant states or even abroad, these artworks are carried delicately to the galleries via two small passenger elevators, the original, creaky freight elevator, or even the stairwell. While it is a short physical distance, it can be very challenging! Upon the close of the last year’s Artist-in-Residence exhibition, Tenses, the Museum acquired a painting by Jordan Casteel, Kevin the Kiteman (2016). This large acrylic-on-canvas depicts a fixture of 125th Street, the eponymous kite vendor. It is a wonderful additional to our permanent collection. That work, along with others from the exhibition, then traveled to the Harvey B. Gantt Center for African-American Arts + Culture in Charlotte, North Carolina. The exhibition, Jordan Casteel: Harlem Notes, was on view from January 28 to July 8, 2017. So, while Kevin the Kiteman was initially “shipped” to Studio Museum’s collection from one floor up, it was wonderful to send the work further afield before it returns to its home.