Happy Birthday Addison

The Addison Museum’s 75th Anniversary Opening Gala last Friday night avoided the clichés and cheesiness of typical birthday parties, resulting in a gathering that was that was classy and sophisticated enough to bring the community together. For this celebration, the organizers spent a lot of time trying to get the student body involved. Head of School Barbara Chase said, “Often times students do not realize that a world-renowned Museum is right on our campus, and we don’t use the resource enough.” Nicole Duddy ’08 said, “Typically, I’m intimidated by the silence and abstractness of art and art museums. But I learned that art is just based on taste and everyone can enjoy it!” Furthermore, the publicity for the event, inducing interesting posters, emails, and birthday hats on the tables in the library and in Commons, contributed to the great turn out. Dean of Faculty Temba Maqubela said “Students should come to the Addison at least once a week. It is an incredible opportunity to expand knowledge and understand beyond the classroom!” The new Blue Key Heads of 2006-2007 also joined in the commotion as they greeted and ushered people into the Addison. Whenever someone passed by, the Blue Keys enthusiastically yelled and chanted the person’s name, and even formed a human bridge for the person to walk under. Of their first official gig as Blue Keys, Abbot Cluster Blue Key Head Karen Schoenherr ’07 said, “This is just the beginning of it all. It’s so exciting that our group is recognized not just for cheering on athletes, but our energy is appreciated all around campus.” The Addison’s 75th Anniversary also fell on Trustee and Alumni Weekend. The event brought together approximately 900 members of the past, present, and new Andover community to mingle and catch up over tasty hors d’oeurves and classy cocktails. William Sherrill ’06 went through the exhibits with his father Stephen Sherrill ’71. Abigail Donahue’s ’08 also had a chance to see her aunt, Sandra Urie ’70, the Chair of the Buildings and Grounds committee. Oscar Tang ’56, President of the Board of Trustees, opened the celebration, giving an informal speech commenting on the Addison’s influence on him as a young student. As apart of the anniversary, some alumni wrote observations about the Addison’s permanent collection. Most alumni wrote about the painting, “Eight Bells” by Winslow Homer. Timothy Regan ’79 wrote, “The two calm seamen navigating through stormy seas was hypnotic. A perfect metaphor for the Addison Gallery: an island in the daily storm of the school.” Edward Bass ’63 remembered “each Wednesday, at Addison Tea, genteel conversation, and more importantly genteel company, was the only time, place and manner that one could fraternize on a weekday with the ladies, or at least the only permitted way. But in those times, girls seemed very much like art, somewhat distant, rather mysterious, but worthy of a great deal of study, time and effort with promise of revealing all the wonders of the universe.” The event was the premiere of In Focus, a photographic celebration of the Addison’s 75th anniversary. The exhibition displays a small portion of the works of one of the oldest collections of photography in the world. Including works ranging in period from the nineteenth and twentieth century, the exhibit used themes to explore photography’s diversity as a medium. As the headline, this was where most of the foot traffic lay. A student jazz group provided a sonic context for assessing the photographs, among which I, a photography novice, found myself feigning careful analysis of the photographs. Despite my false pretensions, however, I did find myself genuinely engrossed in Diane Arbus’ 1962 photograph, “Child with a toy hand grenade in Central Park, NYC,” Lonnie Graham’s “Hoodie Boy,” and, especially, Douglas Huebler’s “Location Piece #28,” which depicts fifteen gelatin silver prints of faces in passing cars along a Massachusetts highway. The second debut exhibition was a product of the collaboration of Adam Ames and Andrew Bordwin, a team of artists known as Type A, and the Addison’s Edward E. Elson artists-in-residence Winter Term. Building on past themes of male bonding and competition, Type A turned its attention to Andover student athletes of both genders and PA’s athlete culture. Jinx, the first of Type A’s two works on display, explores the superstitious ritual common among athletes. In the gallery’s front hallway were a series of video monitors displaying rituals various PA athletes perform prior to every competition. One of the athletes laced and re-laced his shoes three times before every race. Another twirled her tennis racket a specific number of times. Aside from the commentary the work makes about humanity’s obsessive need to control its environment, Jinx is worth checking out simply because of its rather entertaining video footage of Andover students engaging in bizarre, almost primal behavior. Type A’s second work, Cheer, sought to document the relationship between desired outcome and reality, portraying a variety of Blue Key Head and SLAM cheers. Next year’s captain, Akosua Oforiwaa-Ayim ’07, said “It is a huge honor to work with these guys…being taped to represent the school is the ultimate recognition.” Mrs. Chase said, “I just love anything that starts off with Slam!” The Addison’s permanent display was, as always, satisfying, and made exponentially more interesting by the tableaux vivants. Though Jinx and Cheer certainly had commentary about the nature of competitive sports and alpha-male culture, the undisputed highlight of the opening was In Focus, reflective of the Addison’s longstanding photographic heritage. As the museum’s largest collection, the Addison’s photographic body certainly stands testament to the medium’s variety and resourcefulness.