A Solstice Soiree December 18th

17 12 2008


Ok, so paganism may not be at the forefront of your mind during this time of year, but fear not, this is not cloaked figures at Stonehenge paganism we’re talking about…we are talking winter solstice which, since ancient times has been a night for revelry: singing, dancing, feasting, and bonfires. Sadly we cannot indulge your desires for fire or dancing-it’s a museum people-but we can certainly satisfy your yen for a little pagan holiday inspired fun.

First up: Music.

There will be Renaissance party music in the courtyard starting at 5:30pm. Yes, you read that right: Renaissance party music. Who knew? If, however, renaissance party music is not your thing, check out the Nadia Washington Quartet as part of the Jazz at the Gardner series; the concert starts at 7pm and requires an After Hours PLUS ticket-check out our link below:


Next up: Feasting.

The Gardner Café will be open during After Hours, serving delicious sweet and savory small plates. Not to be missed is The Poinsettia, a seriously festive cocktail created specifically for this event.

Lastly: That pagan inspired fun I promised.

The Gardner Museum is chock full of Christian imagery, but Mrs. Gardner was never one to say no to a little mischief-so with some digging you’ll find plenty of intriguing pagan-inspired art too. Grab a copy of our self-guided pagan tour to discover images of Hebe, the dispenser of nectar and ambrosia, and the Maenads, followers of Dionysus who were known for their frenzied dancing. Wait – did I say there wouldn’t be dancing…..?

Maggie Moran is the Communications Intern at the Gardner Museum and a big fan of After Hours. She agrees with Mrs. Gardner’s assessment that one should not “spoil a good story by telling the truth,” but would like to assure you that the information contained in this blog post is all completely true.

Groove out to your own Wanderlust on September 18!

10 09 2008

Sigh, wanderlust, it’s the best word isn’t it? It conjures up a longing for travel a la On the Road or The Sun Also Rises (hmm…I think my own summer reading is influencing this post!). But seriously, what better way to kick off a new year of After Hours than exploring the idea of travel as a means for soul searching exploration? Of course you can always just come, grab a drink with a friend, check out the galleries and skip the soul searching bit!

Gardner herself was inveterate traveler, heading to Asia for several months during the late 1880s. Who knew that over 130 years later those incredible travels would inspire another person? For those of you haven’t seen artist Luisa Rabbia’s video project Travels with Isabella, the September 18 After Hours is your chance!

Here, Rabbia has created a moving video of images from Gardner’s own travel scrapbooks from her Asia voyage, fused with drawings by Rabbia. Both old and new, this piece is such a great example of the residency program at the museum and how bringing living artists to the museum infuses the Gardner with new ideas and ways of looking.

Dr. Magpie

Also not to miss is our first After Hours PLUS concert by Dr. Magpie, a fantastic string jazz group fresh out of Berklee College of Music.

Named for a bird that chatters and improvises, Dr. Magpie is composed of six of Berklee’s finest string instrument players, who’ve come together to create a sound that draws equally from Appalachia, New York (both uptown AND downtown), and the freewheeling Left Bank of prewar Paris. It includes two fiddles, two guitars, mandolin, and bass!
Julie Crites is Director of Program Planning for the Gardner Museum and the grand pooh-bah of After Hours. An avid food-lover, gallery-goer and jewelry-maker, Julie is the brains behind at least a couple of the sake-tinis you’ll enjoy over the months at After Hours, so raise a glass to her the next time you’re in the courtyard. You can reach her at jcrites at isgm dot org

After Hours is back!

8 09 2008

We can hardly believe we’re entering into Year 2 of After Hours and we’re psyched you guys are along for the ride!

We made a few tweaks and adjustments to this year’s program – most notably another fabulous artist commission by Danijel Zezelj (see below)! We just loved Zezelj’s work – so strong and bold. He was also an Artists-in-Residence at the museum back in 2005 and later went on to have a really incredible exhibition with us called Stray Dogs which still exists online for those of you who want a look!

Danijel Zezelj, 2008

Danijel Zezelj, 2008

Time change – yes, yes, I know folks want us to stay open later, but baby steps! For now, we’re extending hours until 9:30pm, so it’s still not a late for some, but can be first stop for those who are bit more nocturnal!

Garden of Earthly Delights

8 05 2008

Isabella Gardner in the conservatory at Green Hill, 1905. Photographer Thomas E. MarrIsabella Stewart Gardner was an avid and skilled gardener and landscape designer. It may be possible that her initial interest in horticulture came through her grandmother Isabella Tod Stewart, who received awards for agriculture from the state of New York (which Isabella put on display in the Short Gallery of the museum). Her home at 152 Beacon Street, Boston, was filled with tropical plants, large palms and ferns. She took advantage of large bay windows overlooking the sidewalk below to create a changing display of flowers visible to all passers-by. The flowers were grown by her father-in-law, John Lowell Gardner, Sr. whose relationship with Isabella possibly focused her gardening interests. John Sr. was a member of the Massachusetts Horticultural Society and received many show awards for ornamental plants and vegetables. His extensive gardens at Green Hill, Brookline, were recognized in Boston and beyond, for their beauty and attention to detail.

Japanese Garden, Green Hill, 1905. Photographer Thomas E. Marr.Isabella and her husband inherited Green Hill in 1883 and she continued to reside there seasonally until 1919. Working with John Lowell Gardner Sr.’s English gardener, Charles Montague Atkinson, she honed her skills. With its extensive greenhouses, Green Hill provided an opportunity for her to explore plants and garden design. She continued to participate in the Massachusetts Horticultural Society annual shows and her efforts were rewarded with many awards for her floral entries. In addition, she created several theme gardens at Green Hill, including an Italian garden, an ‘English lawn’ and a Japanese Garden. Her gardening experience was manifest in the creation of the courtyard and gardens at Fenway Court in 1900, a “garden beautiful” to compliment the “house beautiful” within.

Top photo: Isabella Gardner in the conservatory at Green Hill, 1905. Photographer Thomas E. Marr.

Bottom photo: Japanese Garden, Green Hill, 1905. Photographer Thomas E. Marr.

– Kristin

As the Gardner Museum’s archivist, Kristin Parker tends to photographs and documents relating to Mrs. Gardner as carefully as Isabella tended her own gardens. Click here to read her most recent post on Mrs. Gardner’s travel scrapbooks.

More on Mahanthappa

21 02 2008

Okay, so we’re a little late. At this point, if you don’t already have tickets, you’re not going to be able to see the Rudresh Mahanthappa Quartet’s concert in the Tapestry Room tonight, because we’re completely, utterly beyond sold out. But, if you’re the plan-ahead type and you do have those tickets already in hand, we thought you might enjoy a couple interviews with Rudresh that came out in the past week, in the Boston Globe and Boston Phoenix. A few quotes are probably in order:

He’s a self-described egghead, a numbers nut who could have become a mathematician or economist. He’s a science-fiction fan who loves William Gibson’s “Neuromancer” and is liable to zone out to sci-fi reruns on TV. But when Rudresh Mahanthappa takes the stage, it’s with an alto saxophone, not chalk and blackboard, that he burrows into theorems and explores alternate planes, in a musical language so vivid and complex that hard-bitten jazz arbiters have dared to compare him to Ornette Coleman or John Coltrane. (Read more from Globe writer Siddhartha Mitter.)

“If you look at what a lot of composers in the 20th century did — Bartók, Schoenberg, Webern — what I’m doing on Codebook is not particularly groundbreaking.” But Mahanthappa is drawn to his puzzle problems as a way of thinking outside the box at the same time that he delves into material that really interests him. And he’s drawn — like earlier modern composers — to creating his own self-contained systems. “Say you decide that the piece is always going to go minor third, half step, major third, in any direction. Some really amazing music can come out of that because each note carries more weight — whether to go up or down becomes much more serious than in another circumstance.” (Read more from Phoenix editor Jon Garelick.)

But don’t take our word for it. After the concert tonight, ask Rudresh your questions about his music yourself. He’ll be signing CD’s downstairs in the museum’s Spanish Cloister after the performance, starting at about 8:30. Whether or not you were able to track down one of those elusive concert tickets, you can catch a glimpse of Mahanthappa and his quartet there, and maybe even talk string theory over a cocktail or two. Free gallery talks, a funky new self-guided tour focused on cross-cultural exchange in the Gardner collection, and some awesome fusion food in the cafe will keep you busy enough until then.

Mrs. Gardner Abroad

13 02 2008

Isabella’s India Travel ScrapbookMrs. Gardner compiled 27 scrapbooks during her extensive world travels which included, in part, journeys to Europe, Turkey, Japan and Cuba and each experience was carefully recorded. In some scrapbooks, her observations are made in the style of an anthropologist taking field notes, as she sketched and defined hieroglyphics and illustrated monuments or jotted down excerpts from local myths. In others she included photographs purchased at local photographer’s shops, which catered to the tourist industry. Mrs. Gardner dedicated Sundays to her scrap booking, pasting photographs, pressed flowers and other ephemera into her books. The scrapbooks illustrate the link between her early travels and the later construction of her museum.

Read the rest of this entry »

More on Magnus

15 01 2008

Considering coming to our “Composer Portraits” concert Thursday night? Find out more about Magnus Lindberg, the composer we’ll be profiling, in this article in Sunday’s Boston Globe.

This 49-year-old Finnish composer is a major voice in European music, but one that is heard all too rarely in this country…He wields a technical arsenal of enormous sophistication but his music never comes across as arid or brainy. Saturated with color and textural detail and brimming with a remarkable density of sound, his best works address themselves to a broad audience without descending into a pallid or pandering neo-Romanticism. He is a master of concluding strokes that unlock the mystery of what has just transpired, and few composers can so artfully wed moments of surprise with a forward-rushing sense of destination. And finally, as his various concertos testify, he has created some of the most strikingly virtuosic music for orchestra and solo instruments of the last 20 years.

Read on for more, including thoughts on Lindberg’s early experiences with punk rock and what the northeast corridor has in common with the Silk Road.