Thursday, April 28, 2011

Museum of Arts and Design: Columbus Circle

Bead Tapestry Made of Obama Campaign Poster Paper
This museum was once called the American Craft Museum but relocated and reopened as the Museum of Arts and Design (MAD) at Columbus Circle.  It's in a fantastic location, close to Central Park, the shopping at the Time Warner Center, and within a stones throw of Lincoln Center (see my prior post on Lincoln Center).  It is a great place to spend an hour discovering hand crafted contemporary and modern art from all around the world.  Admission is $15 for adults, and they have a pay-what-you-wish on Thursday evenings; check out their website MAD Info for current exhibitions, hours and admission.

I had been to this museum a couple of years ago when my husband and I saw what I thought was one of the best art exhibitions I'd ever seen (yes, my husband enjoyed it too).  I went back earlier this week to see their current exhibits, which included a lot of African and African-inspired art, ceramic jewelry, and American tapestries by Judy Chicago and Audrey Cowan.  Highlights for me include the Algernon Miller tapestry called "Change" made of beads made of rolled Obama campaign paper (see above), South African Heath Nash's modern and whimsical lighting made from plastic bottles (see right), and fanciful toile wall paper of African Americans (see below left) made by a Harlem artist, Sheila Bridges (I first saw this paper on the Nate Show's tour of Gayle King's kitchen).  They also have better known artists' work like Missoni and Keith Haring (one of his famous Apartheid lithographs).

The museum curates exhibits that go well with one another, with great lighting that makes viewing comfortable, and each floor's moderate footprint makes it possible to take in the art in manageable chunks.  It really is a lovely museum that one doesn't need to rush through.  Also, I would highly recommend reserving some time and energy for the gift shop.  They have jewelry, glass, fabric, and novelty items made by modern artists and artisans for sale--I couldn't help but buy a jewelry kit of hand made paper beads (a la Miller and the ladies of the Kwetu Afrika Womens Association Angels who made the recycled beads).  Hey, how can you beat $18 for modern art? 

My favorite piece in the gift store?  Well, you can't get more dramatic, delicate, and fanciful than Dutch-born, London based Tord Boontje's "Blossom" chandelier of Swarovski crystal (see right).  One day I'd love to have a house where something like this would work--in the meantime, I'll keep trudging through NYC.... 

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