fb-pixel10-plus eye-catching art exhibitions from Boston to the Berkshires to Portland - The Boston Globe Skip to main content

Winter Arts Guide


10-plus eye-catching art exhibitions from Boston to the Berkshires to Portland

María Berrío, "Oda a la Esperanza" (Ode to Hope), 2019. Collage with Japanese paper and watercolor paint on canvas. 92 x 118 inches (233.7 x 299.8 cm). Dallas Museum of Art, gift of Damian Delahunty.Courtesy the artist and Victoria Miro. © Maria Berrío/Photography by Jeanette May

PLEASE STAY HOME: DARREL ELLIS IN DIALOGUE WITH LESLIE HEWITT AND WARDELL MILAN Darrel Ellis, who died in 1992 at just 33, used his brief career to carve out a unique position in contemporary art with an ingenious technique that merged photography and sculpture in confrontational ways. Leslie Hewitt and Wardell Milan, both celebrated contemporary artists in their own right, have made new works in response to Ellis’s, continuing a conversation that Ellis was unable to finish. Feb. 3-April 9. Carpenter Center for Contemporary Art, Harvard University, 24 Quincy St., Cambridge. 617-496-5387, carpenter.center

AMERICAN PERSPECTIVES A traveling exhibition from the American Folk Art Museum in New York, this show includes 70 significant pieces ranging from the 18th century to the present day. With works that include textiles, sculpture, pottery, and painting, the show asserts that folk art is a genre affirming that “everyone has a story to tell.” Feb. 3-May 7. Portland Museum of Art, 7 Congress Square, Portland, Maine. 207-775-6148, portlandmuseum.org


SPIRITS: TSHERIN SHERPA WITH ROBERT BEER Sherpa, perhaps the best-known contemporary Himalayan artist working today, mines the aesthetics of traditional Buddhism to remix and resituate the ancient spiritual practice in the fractured landscape of the contemporary world. Sherpa’s paintings, drawings, and sculptures are joined by a selection of drawings by the British artist Robert Beer, a pioneer in the West for his study of thangka paintings. Beer’s work tracks a Westerner’s aesthetic journey into an ancient spiritual culture that Sherpa works joyfully to recontextualize in the present day. Feb. 4-May 29. Peabody Essex Museum, 161 Essex St., Salem. 978-745-9500, www.pem.org

Tsherin Sherpa’s “Fly High,” 2019. Metal leaf, acrylic, and ink on canvas. Virginia Museum of Fine Arts.Peabody Essex Museum

THE FARNSWORTH AT 75 The Farnsworth Museum in Rockland, Maine, marks a significant anniversary this year with a slate of exhibitions that tell the story of its growth from a regional vanity project — it was born with a bequest of just a few hundred objects from its patron Lucy Copeland Farnsworth — to a small but mighty hub of American art. Four exhibitions opening concurrently include “The Farnsworth at 75,” showcasing its historical holdings set against several contemporary pieces; two shows by the beloved half-time Mainer Andrew Wyeth, “Early Temperas” and “Islands in Maine”; and “Louise Nevelson: Dawn to Dusk,” an exhibition of the museum’s holdings of the 20th-century Modernist doyenne who also happened to have grown up down the road and donated a trove of pieces before her death in 1988. All opening Feb. 11; both Wyeth shows close April 30; “The Farnsworth at 75″ closes Dec. 31; Nevelson closes Dec. 31, 2024. Farnsworth Museum of American Art, 16 Museum St., Rockland, Maine. 207-596-6457, farnsworthmuseum.org


MARÍA BERRÍO: THE CHILDREN’S CRUSADE Legend has it that the Children’s Crusade of 1212 saw thousands of kids trekking through France and Italy, converting Muslims to Christianity. Berrío’s work draws on centuries of paintings and drawings depicting the story for her own work, which conflates the age-old parable with the very real and devastating movement of migrants, especially unaccompanied minors. Feb. 16-Aug. 6. Institute of Contemporary Art Boston, 25 Harbor Shore Drive. 617-478-3100, icaboston.org

Betye Saar’s “Legends in Blue” from the Betye Saar: Heart of a Wanderer exhibit running Feb. 16 through May 21, 2023 in the Hostetter Gallery at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum. Mixed media assemblage. 2020. Courtesy of the artist and Roberts Projects, Los Angeles, California/Photo by Robert Wedemeyer

BETYE SAAR: HEART OF A WANDERER Saar, 96, a leader of the Black Arts Movement of the 1970s, captured her broad-ranging travels from the United States to Africa, Asia, and Europe in brisk sketches that would inform her later, more labor-intensive works. This exhibition presents some of those sketchbooks, a trove of her immediate reactions to the residue of colonialism on multiple continents, alongside selections from a lifetime of fully-realized works, including her well-known assemblage pieces. Feb. 16-May 21. Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, 25 Evans Way. 617-566-1401, www.isgm.org


GOD MADE MY FACE: A COLLECTIVE PORTRAIT OF JAMES BALDWIN A reprise of an exhibition curated by Hilton Als for the David Zwirner Gallery in New York in 2019, this exhibition takes on new urgency in the aftermath of a racial reckoning amplified by the pandemic. The exhibition examines the iconic author both through his own writings and the work of artists that include Richard Avedon, Marlene Dumas, and Kara Walker. Feb. 24-July 9, Mead Art Museum, Amherst College, 41 Quadrangle Drive, Amherst. 413-542-2335, www.amherst.edu/museums/mead

FROM THE ANDES TO THE CARIBBEAN: AMERICAN ART FROM THE SPANISH EMPIRE Spain dominated global exploration from its beginnings in 1492 — the Columbus voyage — and held it for more than 300 years, leaving an indelible colonial mark on both North and South America. This exhibition examines the relationship between colonial plunder and cultural transposition, perhaps best expressed by the scholar Edward Said: “[C]ulture participates in imperialism yet is somehow excused for its role.” March 3-July 30. Harvard Art Museums, 32 Quincy St., Cambridge. 617-495-9400, www.harvardartmuseums.org

Mateo Pérez de Alesio’s “Virgin Mary Reading” from the From the Andes to the Caribbean: American Art from the Spanish Empire running March 3 through July 30 in the Special Exhibitions Gallery (Level 3) at Harvard Art Museums. Oil on canvas with gold (gold likely added in the 18th century). 1590-1610.Courtesy of the Carl & Marilynn Thoma Foundation

NORA KRUG: BELONGING & ON TYRANNY Krug gained notoriety with “Belonging: A German Reckons With History and Home,” her 2018 illustrated memoir of growing up in Karlsruhe, Germany, in the 1980s and the long shadow of the Nazi regime — a shadow cast over her own family, who spoke little about their experiences during the reign of Fascism, though all four of her grandparents had lived through it. The book is featured here along with her most recent “On Tyranny,” a 2021 graphic novel inspired by Yale historian Timothy Snyder’s 2017 book “On Tyranny: Twenty Lessons from the Twentieth Century,” a dark proposition on the possible end of American democracy anchored in the totalitarian examples of Russia and Nazi Germany. March 18-June 18. Norman Rockwell Museum, 9 Glendale Road, Stockbridge. 413-298-4100, www.nrm.org


PORTALS: THE VISIONARY ARCHITECTURE OF PAUL GOESCH Goesch was among a generation of German architects who, after World War I, was taken to sketching visions of a future utopia, buoyed by the hope and promise of the birth of German democracy. As we know, it didn’t last; the rise of Fascism followed soon after, and Goesch, who was schizophrenic, was institutionalized and finally murdered by the Nazis for his condition. He left behind a fanciful dreamworld of speculative design, most of it unseen, that portrays his rich spiritual world tethered, however tenuously, to his vision of the built environment. At the Clark, he’ll be shown alongside his contemporary visionaries, including Wassily Kandinsky. March 18-June 11. Clark Art Institute, 225 South St., Williamstown. 413-458-2303, www.clarkart.edu

Murray Whyte can be reached at murray.whyte@globe.com. Follow him @TheMurrayWhyte.