A Valentine’s Museum Love Letter Week: Mass MoCA, North Adams, Massachusetts

Patrick Garry, February 15, 2024

Dear Mass MoCA,

I love you. From my first visit, the work of the many artists you house captured my heart. Your impeccable selection and displays of works of amazing contemporary arts leave me in awe every time I visit.

Whether it be the bands playing folk museum in the summer and fall or events hosted each season to engage with the community, I always feel welcome by your engagement efforts. Your range of artists challenges my intellect in ways your peers do not. However, your selection of art is the constant reason for my enthusiasm. The often rotating installations and the artists you introduced me to factions of contemporary art I would never have been made aware of. It has also introduced me to many of my favorite contemporary artists, including Jenny Holzer and James Turrell. Through these different artists and topics, I have learned more about the human experience than I have at any other institution.

Installation at Mass MoCA. Photo: Patrick Garry.

I am constantly immersed by your interactive installations, which allow me to experience the world of art in new ways at every visit—exposing me to works that ask one to walk into the unknown. Whether that be a literal pitch-black room full of sounds where one cannot see a thing or an exhibit that explores the world through the eyes of someone deaf, the institution provides art that shows a new perspective on the human experience. As an institution, Mass MoCA has also shown me that art can be more than just a reflection of society hung on a wall; it can be an experience happening in real-time, meant to be shared with the person next to you. To be shared with humanity as a tool of connection.

Installation at Mass MoCA. Photo: Patrick Garry.

For this reason, you are the perfect place to go with the ones I love. I have taken many of my best friends and family there for birthdays or even on school breaks; I would rally a group to go experience the art together. The outreach made by your museum educators and instructors has exposed me and my loved ones to a further understanding of the art on view when we visit. The institution is a cornerstone of the North Adams community.

Mass MoCA, you have constantly inspired me with art from across the art world. And for that, I cannot thank you enough.

Love, Patrick Garry

A Valentine’s Museum Love Letter Week: The Drawing Center, Manhattan

By Lana Ogilvie, February 16, 2024

Dearest Drawing Center,

I miss those days when I lived in the neighborhood and could drop by unannounced in the afternoon. A quick visit to get refilled. Just the two of us. Teasing me with so many exhibits in that intimate space. Since 1987 you have been a home for creatives on Wooster Street in SoHo, reminding us of a time when artists lived and created in expansive, light-filled lofts. A legacy of a time now gone; the ghosts of Leo Castelli’s and Paula Cooper’s original galleries lingering in the cobbled streets.

You kept me sane then, living in that madness near Holland Tunnel traffic and the many tourists visiting the city. The only real art space left is speaking the truth, as the old places turned into mall stores and sham storefront galleries with art dealers selling Damien Hirst lithographs.

Remember our Hipkiss in the back room? Those massive, kelp-like forms, stretching, rising more than 7 feet, enveloping us in a graphite narrative of intricate, imagined lifeforms. Towers of vegetation grew around us, even as we stood watching; like a wall shielding us from everyone else.

From a drawing on display in The Drawing Center. Photo: Lana Ogilvie.

I love you for your rare and singular focus. Drawing. Always seen as the poor cousin to painting. All the other galleries uphold painting as the ideal. Ha! Painting. As if painting would even exist without the foundational drawing. The very beginning of all art, from the first markings of prehistoric humans on cave walls. A dynamic line, expressing all emotions in pressure, width, depth, and inherent lyricism. You have championed that line for decades, right at the center of where art lived. Claire Gilman and Isabell Kapur gracefully curated. Always focusing on the foundation.

From a drawing on display in The Drawing Center. Photo: Lana Ogilvie.

Remember that time you showed me your foundations? Susan York captured their weight and presence in monochromatic, charcoal simplicity. Rich and smooth like the rock itself. That narrow hallway squeezed in almost as if the granite piers of the foundation were pressing in on me, their miniature replicas shoring me up. I changed then, only making pared-down images with the barest bits of information. I didn’t have the strength for more than one tone. Maybe I was just lazy or evolving or just missing you and these helped me to remember.

Come spring I will visit again when the buds appear. A time for regrowth and renewal.

Yours, Lana

From a drawing on display in The Drawing Center. Photo: Lana Ogilvie.

A Valentine’s Museum Love Letter Week: The National Gallery in Prague, Czech Republic

By Maria Martin, February 14, 2024 (written on February 5)

Dearest National Gallery in Prague,

I have been a loyal visitor for the past decade. Today as I write this, you are turning 228 years old. Founded by a Society of Patriotic Friends of the Arts responding to a decline of public taste, you have since provided public access to art for the people in Prague.

You have multiple locations in historical buildings across the city, which alone holds so much history. My two favorite locations must be the Sternberg Palace which dates to the 17th century and the Trade Fair Palace, a prime example of Czech Functionalist architecture. Both buildings juxtapose one another but showcase an exquisite timeline of Czech architectural history. Your current museum director Alicja Knast who has held this position since 2021, is so inspiring, being a woman head of one of the largest museums in Central Europe.

From the exhibition Amidst Smoke Rings: Portrait of a Modern Artist, September 2022-January 2023. Photo: M. Martin.

Your exhibitions are thoroughly thought out and distinct. One of my all-time favorite exhibitions I went to was Amidst Smoke Rings: Portrait of a Modern Artist. Curated by Petra Kolářová, Collection of Prints and Drawings, the exhibition focused on the depiction of artists as smokers and its relevance to Central European culture. The design of the exhibition left me speechless, though simple, the entire space was a muted light gray, and the walls were adorned with translucent curtains resembling smoke. It was captivating and it didn’t take away from the art, it only enhanced it. I have always admired your extensive collection of Old Masters from Bohemia ranging from Bartolomeus Spranger to Petr Brandl. I was lucky enough to visit the Petr Brandl: The Story of a Bohemian exhibition last month, curated by Andrea Steckerová, Collection of Old Masters. I was able to learn more about Baroque artists from Bohemia which I believe aren’t celebrated enough.

From the exhibition Amidst Smoke Rings: Portrait of a Modern Artist, September 2022-January 2023. Photo: M. Martin.

You always prioritized making creative spaces accessible for the youth, be it an interactive workspace or turning your café into a bar at night. I remember going to my first art performance exhibition at the café called Masquerade, paying homage to the queer community in Eastern Europe. I was able to surround myself with other young creatives and the entire event was run by students from the Academy of Fine Arts in Prague (AVU). I thank you for keeping the Czech culture alive and supporting the future Czech artists that will follow. It is why I study art history and the reason I have grown fond of museums.


Maria Martin

A Valentine’s Museum Love Letter Week: Museum of Contemporary Art (MoCA), Los Angeles

By Bella Villegas, February 13, 2024

Dearest Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles,

You were a catalyst in my life, whether I recognized it at the time or not. My love for art had been rebirthed after a day trip with my mom to the Museum of Contemporary Art. Although only founded in 1979, MoCA has made an immeasurable impact on the art world and art lovers everywhere. Contemporary art is constantly evolving, change is inevitable, and the museum fosters and embraces the art that results from change. With a museum so current, a mission to actively support the creation of new work and produce original scholarship is essential, and it has been done successfully in the last 45 years. In the hands of director Johanna Burton, someone dedicated and tenured in contemporary art, the mission continues to stand strong.

Installation at MoCA in Los Angeles. Photo: B. Villegas.

In downtown Los Angeles, MoCA stands as an icon for contemporary art, being the only artist-founded museum in the city with a long track record of groundbreaking collections and exhibitions. Growing up in southern California and near the capital of creativity that is Los
Angeles, I’m aware of how much pop culture and new media are prevalent in a young Californian’s life. Unfortunately, I will not make it back home to visit Mapping an Art World: Los Angeles in the 1970s-80s. Curated by Clara Kim, Chief Curator and Director of Curatorial Affairs, and Rebecca Lowrey, Associate Curator, we can revisit what constructed the MoCA we know today, its collaboration and influences in Los Angeles, and the presence it has held for so
long. Digging into the archives, representative ephemera tells the story of not only the museum itself but also the time and disparate art scenes that L.A. fostered. Even apart from this specific exhibition, the MoCA holds a story of California, a place that I know well and have always called home.

Installation at MoCA in Los Angeles. Photo: B. Villegas.

I remember seeing Lauren Halsey: we still here, there during a visit. An installation work created in the museum by Los Angeles native Lauren Halsey emulates a cavernous and immersive space that she developed and changed through the course of the exhibition. It is so
rare to see a living artist create artwork that is living and adapting as well within a museum. I remember never seeing anything like it, only to learn this was the place where you could see everything like it, constantly. On the same visit, I stood in front of Jackson Pollock’s Number 1, 1949 as they were actively conducting a conservation of the piece and holding a “Q&A” with the conservator, all while the piece was displayed in the gallery. This was the first piece of art I
remember seeing in person and recognizing immediately, marveling at the size and the fact that I was looking at a real-life Jackson Pollock. I discovered so much in one visit, a museum world that I had not yet breached and a peek into what museums could be. I love what MoCA has done for me, it changed my thought processes toward museums. It sparked a connection and curiosity between me and art once again, and I can wholeheartedly connect where I am now back to my first visit. And at the time, it brought my mom and I to a common ground, something we could share admiration of for shared reasons.

All the best,
Bella Villegas

A Valentine’s Museum Love Letter Week: Farnsworth Art Museum, Maine

By Ben Wuoristo, February 9, 2024

Dearest Farnsworth Art Museum in Rockland in Maine,

Every time my leather-laced boots meet the polish of your wooden floors, I am almost overwhelmed by the welcoming feeling of familiarity and serenity. Since opening long before I was born in 1948, you have served as a little sanctuary between all the gift shops and cafes on the charming Main Street of Rockland, Maine.

Showcasing artworks that reflect the essence of the rugged landscapes I have traveled to, forests dense with rain-slicked trees emitting the sweet smell of summer balsam, fields of swaying grass that dance with flowers trimmed with lace, and misty seas that rise and fall in melancholic mania. Yet, amidst these familiar vignettes, your art still unveils worlds I’ve not yet traveled, ample for exploration. As I stroll through your winding hallways, I feel good among other visitors and staff who find a home in you. From the security guard with a soft and inviting smile to the gentle touch of Wyeth’s granddaughter’s tapping finger on my shoulder, every interaction further reminds me of the gentle nature of our home and the tenderness of Maine.

Interior of the Farnsworth Museum in Rockland, Maine. Photo: Ben Wuoristo.

Your glass panels housing depictions of prickling pine trees meeting the horizon of the vast ocean serve as a window to the world beyond the text that anchors your walls. As I gaze past my reflection, I transcend my surroundings, pushing past the curtains of consciousness. I become enveloped in a cacophony of cries from gray gulls, the gentle sighing of the wind, and the ever-crescendoing crash of waves. In that fleeting moment, you and I stand harmoniously, eerily still in a cold isolation that only a fair few could find comforting.

Awakening from my reverie, I become grounded by the reassuring creak of your hardwood floors that guide my curious and wanderlust footsteps through your labyrinthine galleries. I can’t help but think of the meticulous work your guardians have done to make you so very splendid. The direction of Christopher Brownawell keeps the breath flowing within you, and the curation of Jaime DeSimone weaves a spanning web of cultural richness. Through every exhibition, I witness your unwavering desire to bridge the gap between the past and present, wonderfully executed by Ann Scheflen.

In the embrace of your pigment-rich walls, I find a home lush with inspiration and wonder. A striking example of escapism and enrichment through art is what you are. Quietly standing in a still town, you’re humble yet endlessly magnificent. I love you.


Ben Wuoristo

Staircase in the Farnsworth Museum in Rockland, Maine. Photo: Ben Wuoristo.

Bonjour de Paris

This Spring, two AHMP students spend an entire semester studying abroad. Neige is in Paris, where classes start at the École des Métiers de la Culture et du Marché de l’Art (ICART), steps from the Champs-Élysées and close to the Arc de Triomphe, the Grand Palais, and Place du Trocadéro. ICART is a premier school in Europe dedicated to the pursuit of careers in the arts. Enjoy some of the great photographs Neige took in her first week and wait for photos from Renee who is currently in Florence soon!

Skyline over Paris. Photo: NG.
Roof Apartments in Paris. Photo: NG.
Staircase in Apartment Building. Photo: NG.
Corps à corps Exhibition poster at the Centre Pompidou. Photo: NG.
Sunset over Paris, late January 2024. Photo: NG.