Around the feasting and gifting and worship services, there's usually a day during the holidays when you find yourself looking for something to do. Whether with family, out- of-town guests, or just to treat yourself, two outstanding exhibitions that I haven't had opportunity to write about to date are well worth a visit. They also both have smart, handsomely illustrated catalogs that would make great gifts (available in the museum shops).
"White Cube, Green Maze: New Art Landscapes" in The Heinz Architectural Center at Carnegie Museum of Art explores new ways that public cultural spaces are integrating with their environments and visitors. Images by noted international architectural photographer Iwan Baan transport viewers to six global sites, enlivening the exhibition and the catalog, published by University of California Press ($39.95).
Architectural Center curator Raymund Ryan has gathered a visual feast of institutions that illustrate the future of museums as increasingly user-friendly spaces that engage while educating and preserving. As a bonus they all occupy former brownfield or industrial sites.
Visitors of all ages wander the botanical gardens, Jardin Botanico, in Culiacan, Mexico, among pavilions, tropical plants and contemporary artworks by internationally important artists, equalized into an experience of creative discovery. Islands in Japan's Seto Inland Sea that were once industrial sites now house the sophisticated art projects of The Benesse Art Site Naoshima. The few elderly former employees who are still residents act as docents and caretakers. Visitors may stay in pricey deluxe accommodations or a student-budget yurt. Seattle's Olympic Sculpture Park invites meandering along pathways from a visitor pavilion downhill to the once-polluted Puget Sound shore where aquatic life is reestablishing.
Other represented sites are the Stiftung Insel Hombroich, Germany; Inhotim, Brazil; and Grand Traiano Art Complex, Italy.
While at the Carnegie, plan some time for the exhibition "Inventing the Modern World: Decorative Arts at the World's Fairs, 1851--1939," a collection of approximately 200 objects that are unique, beautifully crafted and simply a pleasure to look at.
And what would the holidays be without a visit to the Neapolitan presepio, the museum's 18th-century Nativity, and the lovingly decorated, 20-foot tall trees in the Hall of Architecture.
Warhol celebrates Kass
"Deborah Kass: Before and Happily Ever After" at The Andy Warhol Museum is an extensive midcareer retrospective of work by a gifted contemporary New York artist who deserves the broader audience this exhibition and book will bring. The catalog is on the Huffington Post's list of best art books of 2012 ($40 softcover, $65 hardcover).
Warhol director Eric Shiner organized the large traveling exhibition that amazes at every turn, representing Ms. Kass' incredible breadth through individual works that together reveal consistently adroit observation and a criticality that deflates cultural follies.
In "After Louise Bourgeios" she references Bruce Nauman's signature neon style, substituting his words for a quote of Ms. Bourgeios', whom she credits while ignoring Mr. Nauman and undercutting the male dominated superstar art world. Her "Warhol Project" works may look like simple appropriation art, but Ms. Kass appropriates appropriation, silkscreening luminaries from her own world in place of Warhol's tabloid and pop culture figures.
Identity politics and feminism are only some of the issues she takes on, and she does them all well. Plan to spend some time in these galleries.
"White Cube" continues through Jan. 13, and "World's Fairs" through Feb. 24, at 4400 Forbes Avenue, Oakland. Hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday, noon to 5 p.m. Sunday, and until 8 p.m. Thursday. The museum is closed Christmas Eve, Christmas, and New Year's Day, but will be open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. New Year's Eve. Admission, which includes Carnegie Museum of Natural History, is $17.95; seniors $14.95; students and children 3-18, $11.95; children under 3 and members, free. Information: 412-622-3131 or www.cmoa.org.
"Deborah Kass" continues through Jan. 6 at 117 Sandusky St., North Side. Hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday and until 10 p.m. Friday. The museum is closed Christmas Eve, Christmas, and New Year's Day, but will be open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. New Year's Eve. Admission is $20; students and children 3-18, $10; 5 to 10 p.m. Friday, half-price; children under 3 and members free. Information: 412-237-8300 or www.warhol.org.artarchitecture
Post-Gazette art critic Mary Thomas: email@example.com or 412-263-1925. First Published December 19, 2012 5:00 AM