Museum Exhibitions

Medium unspecificity prevails

 James Hyde, LOUNGE, 1998, acrylic on cement and glue on Styrofoam, 30 x 24 x 17 inches, courtesy of the artist.

Contributed by Sharon Butler / For artists like Robert Rauschenberg, Claude Viallat, Elizabeth Murray, Blinky Palermo, Rochelle Feinstein, and Michael Venezia, painting has arguably been about the object more than about the image, and in the past decade or so, a slew of artists working with found materials, furniture, lumber, and more have adopted a painting-as-object, amalgamated approach to art making. This year, museum curators have begun to take notice.

At the deCordova Sculpture Park and Museum in Lincoln, Massachusetts, curators Dina Deitsch and Evan Garza have organized “PAINT THINGS: beyond the stretcher,” an exuberant exhibition that focuses on work merging painting, sculptural form, video, performance, and installation strategies. The curators selected artists who are exploring materiality, context and space–physical, social, political, or emotional. I wish Clement Greenberg, the art critic who championed color and
flatness in the 1940s, could see the show. I wonder why painters were so intrigued with Greenberg’s notion of medium specificity back in the day?

Looking at the work in this show, though, a better title might be “Things with Paint.” Do these artists identify as painters or do they just happen to use paint in these particular pieces? Does it matter?

Artists in “PAINT THING” include Claire Ashley, Katie Bell, Sarah Braman, Sarah Cain, Alex Da Corte, Cheryl Donegan, Franklin Evans, Kate Gilmore, Alex Hubbard, James Hyde, Sean Kennedy, Wilson Lawrence, Steve Locke, Analia Saban, Allison Schulnik, Jessica Stockholder, Mika Tajima, and Summer Wheat.

Installation view, left to right: James Hyde, LOUNGE, 1998; Sarah Braman, 8pm, 2011, In the Woods, 2012, and Time Machine (I lost my mind), 2012; Alex Da Corte, Blood Brothers, 2012; and Sean Kennedy, untitled, 2012 (ceiling).
Franklin Evans, paintthinks, 2013, acrylic on canvas, digital prints, laminations, photographic sculpture, painted tape, wall painting, sound piece, Courtesy the artist and Federico Luger, Milan.
 Analia Saban, The Painting Ball (48 Abstract, 42 Landscapes, 23 Still Lives, 11 Portraits, 2 Religious, 1 Nude), 2005, oil, acrylic, watercolor on canvas, 26 x 26 x 26 inches, Image courtesy of Thomas Solomon Gallery, Los Angeles, CA. Photo: Joshua White.
Jessica Stockholder, [JS 492], 2009, glass table top, plastic shower curtain, cloth curtain, yellow coveralls, rubber boot, fluorescent orange plastic, green plastic tray, green VHS cassette cases, plastic and real wood, fake fur, hardware, glass topped table, lamp, vase, carpet, plastic parts, copper foil, oil and acrylic paint, cloth tape, green extension cord, power board, brass tacks, courtesy of the artist and Mitchell-Innes & Nash, New York, NY; Analia Saban, The Painting Ball (48 Abstract, 42 Landscapes, 23 Still Lives, 11 Portraits, 2 Religious, 1 Nude), 2005, oil, acrylic, watercolor on canvas, 26 x 26 x 26 inches, courtesy of the artist and Tanya Bonakdar Gallery, New York, NY; and Mika Tajima, Furniture Art (San Diego); Furniture Art (St. Moritz); Furniture Art (Rotterdam); Furniture Art (Calgary); Furniture Art (Manila); Furniture Art (Las Palmas de Gran Canaria), 2011, spray enamel and Plexiglas, 24 x 18 x 1 inches (each), courtesy of the artist. 
Claire Ashley, DOUBLE DISCO, 2012, rehearsal still, Defibrillator Performance Space Chicago, IL, two performers, spray paint on PVC coated canvas tarpaulin, blower fans, and backpacks, courtesy of the artist.
Jessica Stockholder, Kissing the Wall #5 with Yellow, 1990, metal strapping, spools of thread and wool, plastic cord, cloth, wood chair, oil and latex and acrylic paint, fluorescent light, paper, glue, 30 x 36 x 54 inches, courtesy of The Carol and Arthur Goldberg Collection. 
Sarah Cain, killing me softly, 2013, installation view, mixed media, dimensions variable, Courtesy of the artist and Honor Fraser, Los Angeles, CA, Galerie LeLong, New York, NY, and Anthony Meier Fine Arts, San Francisco, CA.  Also in view: Sarah Braman, 8pm, 2011, camper chunk, steel, Plexiglas, and paint, 41 � x 52 x 48 inches, collection of Mr. James Keith Brown & Mr. Eric Diefenbach; and Jessica Stockholder, [JS 462], 2008, framed oil painting from TJ Maxx, green plastic, brown plastic, bamboo bead mat, yarn, cloth, copper, plastic bits, thread, lexel caulk, oil and acrylic paint, hardware, 29 x 27 x 8 inches, courtesy of Anne & Joel Ehrenkranz. 
 Cheryl Donegan, Kiss My Royal Irish Ass (K.M.R.I.A.), 1992, video, 5:50 minutes (color, sound), Courtesy of the artist and Electronic Arts Intermix; and K.M.R.I.A. Seat, 1992, plastic and metal, 31 x 17 x 14 inches, courtesy of the artist.
Katie Bell, Blind Impact, 2013, acrylic, vinyl, wood, laminant, foam, window blinds, plaster, drywall, 8 x 16 feet (approximate), Courtesy of the artist.

PAINT THINGS: beyond the stretcher,” curated by Dina Deitsch and Evan Garza. deCordova Sculpture Park and Museum, Lincoln, MA. Through April 21, 2013. A catalogue with essays by both curators is now available.\

About the author: Sharon Butler is a painter and the publisher of Two Coats of Paint.

Photos by Clements Photography & Design, Boston, unless otherwise specified. Courtesy of the deCordova.



  1. So much energy in this exhibit, glad to have this way to get some sense of it.

  2. The work by Franklin Evans offers interesting possibilities. He seems to explore them primarily in terms of planes and space. The color is high, but it seems more to establish spatial and planar relationships than about color itself. At least, this is what I get from the photo. The gallery could do a little better and remove their lighting. It doesn't need to be in the way.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *