Savored Realities: Three Petite Museums

Three “small” museums, three intense takes on realities. During my summer stay in Greenwich, I visited the Morgan Library (NYC), Museum of Contemporary Art (Westport), and the Aldrich Museum of Art (Ridgefield).

The Morgan is a treasure trove, and one of my longtime favorite art destinations in NY. Shazia Sikander’s Extraordinary Realties show was simply gorgeous – stunning. In miniature format works on paper, she appropriated a a traditional manuscript painting style from the Indo-Persian heritage, but expressed her contemporary reality. The compositions were narratives; her use of watercolor and gold leaf and a subtle layering of elements captured my concentration. Circles and wings, as well as repetitive dot patterns brought a decorative element that connected the work to the historical genre, while the subject matter belied themes of feminism, identity, class and race. On the way out, my husband and I slowed down in the Rienzo Piano-designed atrium to appreciate the colorful wall painting by Sol Le Witt.

Needing some sea air, my family and I headed out to beautiful Westport in search of the perfect beach. On the way, I dropped by the Museum of Contemporary Art in Westport, CT. There’s always time for art! Especially in such a bite-sized museum as this one – what a little gem. I deeply enjoyed the mixed media works on display, noting the extensive use of collage – including an entire room whose walls were covered with printed cutouts, colored and pasted in layers to evoke a backyard scene. Print, color, pasted on layers. Refreshed by new visions, we continued on to the coast (where we did in fact discover a lovely stretch of beach.)

Deep in suburban greenery, amidst classic Americana estates, the Aldrich Museum of Art called to us on an overcast Saturday morning. We were immediately drawn into the large scale works of __. We noted his clever uses of plastics, tin, aluminum foil into both abstract and figurative expressions, especially admiring his earlier works. Heading upstairs into the smaller galleries, we were mesmerized by the mobiles of Tim Prentice. We spent time admiring both the minute detail of his handiwork and the elegant effects of the works from afar. Before heading into town for lunch, we strolled out onto the lawns to get close to Frank Stella’s sculptural stars, which were beautifully visible from the road and throughout the museum windows, receding and reappearing.

These three shows were experienced deeply, a result of their digestible size. Grand museum retrospectives are a wonder… a way to disappear into another realm, to become almost educated. Whereas, these exhibits presented a chance for the imagery to linger, like a drop of high quality chocolate melting on the tongue that is savored precisely for its delicacy.

What petite show is around your community?