Worcester Art Museum Artist in Residence Creates New Vistas for Third

WORCESTER, MASS., December 30, 1999 - Mixed-media artist Annette Lemieux has been commissioned to create the third "Wall at WAM," transforming the Worcester Art Museum's Renaissance Court with a monumental painting entitled Two Vistas. Measuring 67-feet long by 20-feet high, the massive mural was conceived in response to the courtyard environment and will be created during a three-week residency that begins on January 19 with an expected completion date of February 4. During that time, the public is invited to watch Lemieux at work (assisted by Worcester artist John Smith) and see the painting in progress. Two Vistas will be on view until July, after which time it will replaced by a new "Wall at WAM" commission.

The public is invited to a reception for the artist on Sunday, February 13, from 3-5 p.m. Lemieux will speak about her work on Monday, March 1, at 7 p.m. Museum admission is free for both the reception and lecture.

During the past two decades that Lemieux has exhibited internationally, she has simultaneously made paintings, sculptures, photographs, drawings and mixed-media installations. For all the different styles and media it engages, Lemieux's art is distinguished by her use of historical icons to speak to us of the present. Lemieux regularly transforms found images and objects that turn up in her life -- books, flags, bricks, helmets -- things that have wide if not universal familiarity, but resist precise readings of time and place.

In the late 1990s, Lemieux turned to landscape and began using her own photographs of oceans and skies as subjects of new images. Frequently, these images have been made in the form of dyptichs. The double image is inspired in part by Andy Warhol's use of the repeated and recycled photographic image but is also a continuation of Lemieux's own interest in seeing and presenting two sides of an issue or two readings of an image.

Based on a recent sky photograph, Two Vistas not only incorporates the double image but also offers "two views" that alter our relation to seemingly familiar spaces and images: first, Lemieux's "outdoor" image transforms our experience of the Museum's architectural interior and second, the repeated "sky" confounds the traditional role of illusionistic landscape painting (as seen in numerous works in the Museum's collection).

This is Lemieux's second official visit to the Worcester Art Museum. In the late 1980s, she was a visiting artist for the Burncoat High School/Worcester Art Museum Collaborative Program. Born in 1957, Lemieux moved to Boston from New York in the late 1980s and now resides in Brookline. She has a studio in Allston, and is a visiting lecturer on Visual and Environmental Studies at Harvard University. She is represented in New York by McKee Gallery Collections, and has work in numerous collections including the Museum of Modern Art, Whitney Museum of American Art, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, Museum of Fine Arts, Fogg Art Museum, and Rose Art Museum. The "Wall at WAM" project will coincide with Lemieux's participation in the 2000 Whitney Biennial.

"Wall at WAM" works are in a highly visible, key position in the Worcester Art Museum, painted on the court's second story wall that overlooks ancient Antioch mosaics. Designed in 1998 to introduce the Museum's new contemporary art program, the "Wall at WAM" also gave viewers a first-hand experience of the creation of art that is essentially ephemeral. Once completed, each project remains on view for approximately six months, then is painted over for the next artist to start anew. Previous participants included Venezuelan-born, New York-based Arturo Herrera and Swedish artist Sophie Tottie.

According to Susan Stoops, the Museum's curator of Contemporary Art: "The Wall at WAM has achieved some of the main objectives of our contemporary program. These include providing the support and opportunity for artists to create new works in response to the Worcester Art Museum's space and collection, and developing a continuous presence of contemporary art at the Museum. It is a privilege for us to commission a work by an artist of Annette Lemieux's stature. Her work is some of the most consistently challenging and rewarding art being made today. Two Vistas promises to be an extraordinary painting that not only transforms our experience of the Museum's Renaissance Court but also expands the tradition of landscape painting. I encourage people to stop in at the Museum when the work is being created, and join us at the February 13 reception and March 1 lecture to meet the artist."

Museum Background

Opened to the public in 1898, the Worcester Art Museum is the second largest art museum in New England. Its exceptional 35,000-piece collection of paintings, sculpture, decorative arts, photography, prints and drawings is displayed in 36 galleries and spans 5,000 years of art and culture, ranging from Egyptian antiquities and Roman mosaics to Impressionist paintings and contemporary art. Throughout its first century, the Worcester Art Museum proved itself a pioneer: the first American museum to purchase work by Claude Monet (1910) and Paul Gauguin (1921); the first museum to bring a medieval building to America (1927); a sponsor of the first major excavation at Antioch, one of the four great cities of ancient Rome (1932); the first museum to create an Art All-State program for high school artists (1987); the originator of the first exhibition of Dutch master Judith Leyster (1993); and the first museum to focus its contemporary art programs on art of the last 10 years (1998). The Museum's hours are: Wednesday through Sunday, 11am-5pm, and Saturday 10am-5pm. Admission: FREE for members; Non-members: $8 Adults; $6 Seniors and full-time college students with current ID; FREE for youth 17 and under; FREE for everyone Saturday mornings 10am-noon sponsored by The TJX Companies and Massachusetts Electric Company. For more information, call (508) 799-4406 or visit the Museum at 55 Salisbury Street in Worcester.