Exploring Visual Arts across Madison
Apr 29, 2014
02:12 PM

Destination Design at MMoCA

Destination Design at MMoCA


“Pete’s Barley Pop Art” by Chapa Design

If Thursday night’s opening gala was any indication, enthusiasm for design is thriving in Madison. A stylish crowd turned out for the opening of Design MMoCA.

The Madison Museum of Contemporary Art’s biennial showcase of local creative talent pairs designers of an array of disciplines with works of art from the museum’s permanent collection and asks them to design something—rooms, products, installations, interactive displays and more—based on the prints and paintings.

If the premise sounds open-ended, it is. And smart, because it allows for an absolutely broad array of creative output.

“Dream Up” is this year’s theme, and the installations certainly are imaginative. Many of the seventeen designers cite ideas of transformation, change and new possibilities emerging in statements about their work for the show.

One of the first installations that visitors see, in the main-floor State Street Gallery, is “Unplanted,” a whimsical space by SAA Design Group [pictured at right]. Inspired by Claes Oldenburg’s “Chicago Stuffed with Numbers” lithograph, the room features walls with small holes, filled with bright artificial flowers. Visitors can pluck the blooms from one wall and tuck them into another, creating their own designs and reshaping the look of the installation.

Nearby, the Egg Design Group took Virginio Ferrari’s stainless steel “Twisted Circle” and fashioned "Creo in Decorus Repens (To Create the Graceful Unexpected)" [pictured below]. It's a room with modern and organic furniture, a light blue cello and a Pema Chodron quote—“To be fully alive, fully human and completely awake is to be continually thrown out of the nest.

And Kemper Smith drew inspiration from Ellsworth Kelly’s minimalist lithograph of leaves, “Sarsaparilla,” to craft “Mirror,” a long work of tiny squares of glass that move as people move by the installation. The piece takes on different personalities when examined up close, component by component, versus farther away, as a quivering form.

Over in the Henry Street Gallery, Cory Allen Linsmeyer’s “He Wore Blue Velvet” uses Jules Olitski’s atmospheric “Pale Blue” screenprint to offset a multimedia space featuring an embellished ice blue floor mat and two velvet wrestler uniforms that flank a video of a wrestler donning the same outfit.

IQ Foundry also employs technology in its “Surrogate Reflection,” an interactive display influenced by an untitled screenprint by Ernest Tino Trova. On a screen, futuristic silver forms mimic viewers’ movements and poses. During the show’s opening, this proved a particularly popular installation.

And in a nearby corner of the gallery, “Pete’s Barley Pop Art” is Chapa Design’s answer to Peter Saul’s “Texis Artist” lithograph. The designers used the trippy, drippy aesthetic of the print to inspire red and white paintings on walls and wooden boards, as well as a display case of beer bottles twisted into similarly surrealistic shapes.

These are just a handful of the thoughtful and eclectic displays showcasing the creativity and innovative spirit of Madison’s design community. Visit Design MMoCA, open through May 4, to see all the art-inspired installations for yourself.

Photos by Darris Harris, courtesy of MMoCA.

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About This Blog

A perk of being managing editor of Madison Magazine is the opportunity to delve into exciting aspects of the city—and Madison's art scene is one of my favorites. It's dynamic, diverse and always inspiring. Join me here for artist interviews, details on events, exhibition previews, reviews and more.

Find past arts coverage on my former blog.

– Katie Vaughn
Follow Katie on Twitter @katiemv

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