Saturday, July 30, 2011

Little House

As much as I loved The Art Barge, and the D'Amico's home and studio, what I went really nuts over (which means suddenly forgetting to breath, and thinking "whaaaaaaaat?!") was the couple's guest cottage, the Little House. It's so lived-in, so cozy (this will never be a bad word for me) and comfortable and interesting, so happy and so personal, that I can't imagine it was actually reserved for visitors. Or if it was, they must have felt they'd arrived somewhere as familiar as their own home.

I just moved into a new apartment, and while I felt an impulse to whittle and purge, cut my stuff by half, live in a space with white walls and bare floors, just a bed, a chair, a lamp and a some books, looking at these pictures again reminded me that I'm really a Little House kind of person.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Mabel & Victor D'Amico Studio and Archive

After our tour of the Art Barge, we hopped back on the bus for a short ride to Victor and his wife Mabel D'Amico's home and studio, a sunny mid-century cottage on the beach. It's clear that Mabel was a creative force in her own right. She died in 1998 (just over a decade after Victor) and the house is just as she left it, a perfect midpoint between the amazing Eames and "Elephant" houses. Almost every surface shows off a collection or assemblage, from the window sills (colored bottles and driftwood sculptures) and the doorposts (geometric bits of wood and architectural molding) to the walls (ceramic cats and homemade masks). I have a new appreciation for pegboard. If it hadn't been for the three-hour drive back to Manhattan, I could have spent the whole day rummaging around this place. Luckily, I had just enough time, as some of the others milled around the bus, slapping at mosquitos, to duck into the tiny house hiding in the brush next door...

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Victor D'Amico Institute of Art/The Art Barge

Last week I got to join a busload of MoMA staff for a daytrip to the Victor D'Amico Institute of Art. The Art Barge, as it's affectionately called, was founded in 1960 by Victor D'Amico, MoMA's first Director of Education and a guy who believed in the value of playfulness and hands-on engagement in art education. A curatorial assistant and I were partly there to look at some of the "motivational toys" D'Amico developed as part of his Children's Art Carnival, a program that ran at MoMA from 1942 to 1969 (there's a great article about the Carnival on the museum's website, here.)

True to its nickname, the Institute's housed in a WWI navy barge, beached in the Hamptons. The two and a half hours we got at the Barge was more than well worth the six hours spent on the bus (even without Mad Libs). The place is amazing! Not to mention the D'Amico's home/archive and guest cottage (crazy amazing!), which I'll tell you about soon. The Institute's director fed us lunch, gave us a great tour of the Barge (from which I snuck away for a bit to take some pictures), and explained D'Amico's ideas and methods. I like knowing that MoMA, whose history can seem so stately and imposing, had this scrappy, rough, and disordered (in the best possible way) side.