Get ready to party as the Montclair Art Museum celebrates turning 100 with a Centennial Birthday Party on Wednesday, January 15, 6–9 p.m. The evening, modeled on the Museum’s highly popular Free First Thursdays, will offer free admission, dynamic programming, and a cash bar. The Birthday Party will take the place of January’s First Thursday.
The event will include the unveiling of a permanent, site-specific installation that MAM commissioned internationally renowned artist Spencer Finch to create. The Brooklyn-based Finch is known for his explorations of color and light. His numerous public art projects include The River that Flows Both Ways (2009) for New York’s High Line, consisting of panes of colored glass inspired by the Hudson River. The work for MAM, titled Yellow, consists of four large-scale compositions, printed on transparencies and displayed on light boxes mounted in four ground-floor windows on the Museum’s façade. The artist will be on hand to talk to the public about his work.
A variety of activities will take place throughout the galleries, where visitors can hear live music by students from the Jazz Studies program at the Montclair State University John J. Cali School of Music,ask questions of MAM archivist Judith Hinds, and listen to poets perform poems inspired by MAM’s Centennial exhibition, 100 Works for 100 Years.
The centerpiece of the evening will consist of a short program held in Leir Hall, MAM’s auditorium, known informally as the Museum’s community living room. A brief video about the Museum will be shown, created by Mark Urman (executive producer) and Dawn Porter (director), both residents of Montclair who run independent film and television production companies. Recently, a documentary directed and produced by Porter, Gideon’s Army, was nominated for a Spirit Award, which recognizes the finest achievements of today’s independent filmmakers. The showing of the film will be followed by a 20- minute concert by the famed Newark Boys Chorus. And for the pièce de résistance: The Cake Boss, Buddy Valastro, will present a cake that he made specially for MAM. Visitors will be offered cake and champagne to help ring in the new century.
The festivities will continue in Leir Hall, where DJs Rita Houston and Russ Borris from radio station WFUV will spin tunes spanning from 1914 to the present.
“We want everyone in our community — in Montclair and surrounding areas and throughout Northern New Jersey and beyond — to help us celebrate this milestone,” says museum director Lora Urbanelli. “On the evening of January 15, we will pay tribute to our legacy and prepare for a promising future while having lots of fun!”
The exhibition 100 Works for 100 Years, which has been mounted in installments, will be on full display. It includes a Centennial Lounge, where visitors can vote for their favorite works, comment on their selections, curate their own magnetic mini exhibition, interact with MAM’s crowd-sourced audio project “100 Works, 100 Voices,” and learn more about MAM’s history through the Centennial Newspaper, distributed for the first time that evening. The event also marks the last chance to view Looking Forward: Gifts of Contemporary Art from the Patricia A. Bell Collection.
The Centennial Celebration co-chairs are Lisa Amato and Lyn Reiter. The Centennial Birthday Party co-chairs are Linny Andlinger and Michael Heningburg.
Additional Centennial year events coming up this spring include the exhibition Robert Smithson’s New Jersey, opening February 23, and the MAM Centennial Ball, to be held on April 26. Please visit the Montclair Art Museum website at montclairartmuseum.org for regular updates.
In honor of its Centennial and as part of its new contemporary art program, MAM has commissioned the internationally renowned American artist Spencer Finch to create Yellow (2013), a site-specific permanent installation for the Museum’s façade. Consisting of four large-scale compositions, printed on transparencies and displayed on light boxes mounted in four ground-floor windows, Yellow emits a gentle incandescent light that celebrates MAM’s intimate character, calling to mind a candlelit domestic space and animating the building’s façade. Each of the four compositions, which seen up close resembles an abstract painting, consists of red, green, and blue graphic elements that, when seen from a distance, blend to create the optical illusion of yellow light. Finch states, “I am interested in the paradox of perception, where something both is and is not what it looks like.”
Continuing the artist’s ongoing investigation of the science of vision, Yellow pays tribute to MAM’s neoclassical architecture and roots in the early 20th century; it also salutes the Museum’s historical collection, particularly its first-rate holdings of the Hudson River School painters, who were fascinated with light. While celebrating MAM’s first century, Yellow points the way toward its second.
Yellow is the second in a series of commissioned works for a redesigned outdoor sculpture garden. The first, a sculpture titled Host, by the artist Jean Shin, was installed on the Museum’s front lawn this past September. Both works are also part of MAM’s New Directions series, the centerpiece of our contemporary art program. New Directions was founded in 2011 to engage the community with new work that is at once accessible and thought provoking.