There’s a lot happening this month in the Ann Arbor art scene, so there’s no reason not to make your rounds through a series of fascinating, innovative and very different exhibitions. Go alone or bring your spouse, kids, friends, parents or grandparents like me to the Kelsey Museum at 434 South State Street on Central Campus.
In addition to the 100,000 ancient and medieval objects from the civilizations of the Mediterranean and the Near East and the fabulous new William E. Upjohn Exhibition Wing there is, now through next month, a special exhibition: “Conserving Antiquity.” The show highlights the essential but generally unheralded work of preserving art and artifacts. You’ll go behind the scenes to experience the fascinating and challenging work of conservators, combining scientific and anthropologic research and hands-on dexterity with art, archaeology and human history. You’ll see, for example, an ancient Egyptian mummy mask, a Roman soldier’s leather armor and learn about their centuries-long conservation.
You’ll interact with conservators investigating mysterious artifacts and see two short films, one on the amazing, decades-long journey of the Kelsey’s Barosso watercolors from the Villa of the Mysteries in Pompeii. And, of course, you’ll be dazzled by the gigantic watercolors themselves. On Friday, January 18 at 6pm in the Kelsey’s lovely Lecture Hall, Clara Deck, Senior Conservator at the Henry Ford Museum, will speak about conservation at huge history museums like the Henry Ford. On Friday, February 1, John Steele, Conservator of Sculpture and Decorative Arts at the Detroit Institute of Arts will talk about recent conservation projects at the DIA. Ask him what it was like to handle the one-of-a-kind bejeweled eggs that are part of “Fabergé: The Rise and Fall, The Collection of the University of Virginia,” still running at the DIA through January 21.
Across the street from the Kelsey is the University of Michigan Museum of Art. Opening on January 19 and running through June 16 is “Florencia Pita/FP mod.” The Argentina-born, Los Angeles-based Pita is a rightfully world-renowned architect, installation artist and decorative art designer. She will be a household name some day and this is your chance to see her fun, wild and amazing work up-close and personal. No surprise, a related publication is part of the UMMA Book Series, the perfect gift for the artist and art lover in your life.
How does she do it? The omni-talented Emilia Javanica, fresh off her Masters of Fine Arts degree at the University of Michigan’s School of Art and Design is working a number of full time jobs with phenomenal success. She is the Programming Coordinator at North Quad. She is a Mentor for the University of Michigan Museum of Art project “Many Voices,” in which amateurs are taught and nurtured to make short videos. Her short play “Apocalypse” was performed last month at the Performance Laboratory in Detroit, where she has co-curated projects since 2010. Most exciting for me, she will direct a presentation by UM School of A&D professor Holly Hughes’ performance art classic “Clit Notes: A Sapphic Sampler.” Watch this space for showtimes in March.