Fwd: Art with feeling/ FAC's Tactile Gallery takes the center stage

Jess Mitchell jess at jessmitchell.com
Mon Jan 18 18:01:56 UTC 2010

I'm forwarding this message from John Rae about tactile galleries...


Jess Mitchell
Boston, MA, USA
Project Manager / Fluid Project
jess at jessmitchell.com
/ w / 617.326.7753  / c / 919.599.5378
jabber: jessmitchell at gmail.com

Begin forwarded message:

> From: "John Rae " <rae at blindcanadians.ca>
> Date: January 17, 2010 2:36:13 PM EST
> To: "Jess Mitchell" <jess at jessmitchell.com>
> Subject: Art with feeling/ FAC's Tactile Gallery takes the center stage
> Art with feeling/ FAC's Tactile Gallery takes the center stage
> | by  Mark Arnest 
> The Colorado Springs Gazette, Dec 21, 2001
> On a recent Thursday at the Fine Arts Center, 14-year-old Terry Garrett and
> 18-year-old Nicole Curtis are doing something that's usually forbidden in
> art galleries: They're touching the art.
> Not just the occasional curious poke, either. Their hands are splayed all
> over a seven-panel series called "Giricoccola," by artist Ann Cunningham.
> Their fingers trace curiously over the work that relates a Bolognese fairy
> tale about a beautiful girl, her wicked sisters and a friendly moon.
> But touching the art is exactly what Cunningham - and the Fine Arts Center -
> had in mind. That's because this work, and others now on display, are
> designed to be touched.
> Until recently, the Fine Arts Center's Tactile Gallery was confined to a
> small spot at the west end of the building - a spot regular visitors are
> likely to miss on their way to the rotating exhibits on the building's east
> side. But through New Year's Eve, the Tactile Gallery is also spread into
> one of the east galleries, where "Giricoccola" and other works are on
> display.
> "It's a chance to get Tactile Gallery pieces out of storage," says Ann
> Donald, a docent who has been involved with the gallery for years. "This is
> the first time we've been allowed into a big room."
> The exhibit gives art lovers a rare opportunity to experience more than a
> handful of the 100-plus works of the center's Tactile Gallery.
> There's something different about the works in this collection.
> In spots, the patinas have been rubbed off. Some show signs of wear. Others
> are a bit, well, grungy.
> In short, they've been touched.
> And this is exactly what Peggy Marshal had in mind 21 years ago, when she
> helped found the gallery with Mary Mashburn.
> "You can't just look at art," says Marshal. "You've got to do something."
> Inspired by the now-defunct Mary Duke Biddle Gallery for the Blind in the
> Raleigh (N.C.) Museum of Art, the Fine Arts Center's Tactile Gallery is one
> of just three in the country. Its collection includes works by artists
> ranging from local sculptor Don Green to Colorado College  alumna Glenna
> Goodacre, who designed the Sacagawea dollar coin.
> At an opening reception earlier this month, art teacher Alice Mayfield of
> the Colorado School for the Deaf and the Blind brought a half-dozen of her
> students, including Terry and Nicole, to experience the exhibit firsthand.
> The exhibit's visual highlight is Cunningham's elaborate "Giricoccola," part
> of a series the Golden-based artist calls "Tales Written in Stone." It
> incorporates signage in Braille and a video in American Sign Language along
> with traditional imagery and text.
> Terry studies each piece with his hands.
> "It's hard to make out the story," says Terry, who spends most of his time
> studying the panels themselves instead of the Braille explanations. Nicole,
> who spends more time on the Braille, grasps the story but says it's not
> entirely successful as a tactile work.
> "The moon is too smooth," she says. This causes it to recede into the
> rougher background instead of emerging from it, as it does to sighted
> viewers due to its lighter color. "Our fingers are basically all we have,"
> she points out.
> Among other works in the exhibit, Terry especially likes James Kemps'
> ceramic bear fetish, because its shape is easy to discern with his fingers,
> and Fred Myers' bronze "Kokopelli," because of the satisfying "dong" it
> makes when he taps it, and because he likes the feel of bronze. Trenton
> Matthew, a senior at the school, spends a lot of time exploring Elizabett
> Gudman's geometric bronze "Cubist Dreams."
> "We learn by shapes and feel," he says. "If you can see the shadow, it helps
> a lot."
> Of the semicircular front section of this piece, he says, "It looks almost
> like a face - almost like a snail."
> "There is one good thing about being blind," says Trenton. It's the way his
> imagination is continually engaged. Touching a tactile piece, he says, "is
> like those old radio shows: It could be anything."
> WHAT: "Hands On: Touchable Works of Art From the Tactile Gallery Collection"
> WHEN: Exhibit is up through Dec. 31 (a more limited Tactile Gallery
> selection is always on display). Gallery hours 9 a.m.-5 p.m.
> Mondays-Saturdays, 1-5
> p.m. Sundays.
> WHERE: Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center, 30 W. Dale St., 634- 5581
> ADMISSION: $4 adults, $2 seniors and ages 6-16, free 5 and younger, free
> admission on Saturdays.
> ALSO: View Ann Cunningham's work online at 
> www.acunningham.com.

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