Tigers, sunflowers, landscapes and inspiration: The Montclair Museum of Art opens four fall exhibitions

The refreshed Inness Gallery at MAM, via the MAM Instagram account

The Montclair Museum of Art (MAM) is in the midst of a modern transformation, but its Montclair and New Jersey roots continue to keep it grounded. Ahead of the Sept. 10 opening of MAM’s four new exhibits, director Ira Wagner noted that even as MAM is evolving to incorporate new visuals and new technology to emphasize accessibility, the museum’s focus in Montclair remains a constant. This fall, Lori Field of Montclair and her Tiger TarotWoolpunk’s Sunflowers Graffiti’d Sky in the Garden State and George Inness-inspired art in collaboration with Studio Montclair guarantee visitors a full infusion of New Jersey art they’ll want to visit again and again.

Lori Field and her 2022 piece “Shadow of My Former Self”

In the Weston and Elevator Galleries, Lori Field’s multimedia exhibition, Tiger Tarot, includes over 60 works on a colourful, fantastical and sensory journey. With recurring motifs around themes that include the female form, blue roses and countless animals, visitors will feel truly immersed in Field’s vision. Mixing traditional exhibition methods such as silver point contrast with ultra-modern techniques such as animated videos of Field’s tarot images. The videos are a collaboration between Field and her son, artist and filmmaker Harry Field. The use of recurring themes within multiple mediums encourages visitors to experience the exhibition as a spiral, moving from tapestry to animations to colored pencil creations and back again.

of Tiger Tarot the collection at the center of the exhibit is something Lori Field had wanted to tackle all her life, but never had the time. The recent pandemic, she explained, provided time and inspiration. Emotions surrounding the uncertainty of a global pandemic fueled a desire for a system to assess the future, as a founding guide. The anthropomorphic images and vivid colors are both dreamy and hopeful, even as they are disturbing and stimulating. Across the field guest curator Kathy Imlay with a unifying exhibition that stayed true to the artist’s intentions.

The exhibition brings together Lori Field’s early work with recent pieces.

The main points of Tiger Tarot include the pairing of one of Field’s first installations of blue roses in resin at the foot of a final piece of the Tiger Tarot. One particularly odd display is a collection of colored pencil works, which visitors of a certain age will recognize as being on narrow paper. Field is also showing recent, deeply personal works. Shadow of My Former Self is a beautiful colored pencil creation that responds to the loss of Field’s husband last year. The detailed tapestries also highlight Field’s ability to weave together the ancient and the modern.

Woolpunk Stays With ‘Sunflowers & Graffiti’d Sky in the Garden State’

Overlooking Bloomfield Avenue from MAM’s Laurie Art Stairway is Woolpunk’s epic artwork, Sunflowers & Graffiti’d Sky in the Garden State. Set against the backdrop of a large photograph of a Jersey City community garden, the embroidered and stitched collage features recurring images such as Bambi, the Coca-Cola logo, taxis, stylized flowers, animals and various local patterns. Woolpunk used recycled textiles, most of which were collected by Montclair residents during a call for donations. The center of the banner represents a pile of trash, but the colors and bright background exude a hopeful attitude. The various flowers seem to be evolving and fighting against the garbage dump, even as fish appear to escape from it. However, there are sharp comments about consumerism, climate justice and transgression throughout the piece.

Woolpunk is based in Jersey City and considers itself an environmentalist first and foremost. Her most successful efforts, she explains, have come from simply asking a question and trying to answer it based on observed responses. For this project, the response came in part through creative donations to the project. None of the fabrics sewn into the design are purchased new; in addition to items donated by the MAM community, Woolpunk used found items and recycled fabrics given to it by other artists. Eagle-eyed visitors will spot a piece of fabric with the MAM logo on the banner. There is also a subliminal message for those who take the time to enjoy the piece over time.

Anchoring the current exhibitions is the redesigned Inness Gallery. Gail Stavinsky, now with 20 Innes pieces, including one by George Inness’s son and a new acquisition, twilight, which was recently donated to the museum. Gail Stavitsky, MAM’s chief curator, explained that the gallery has been reinstalled to highlight a natural daily cycle and the places Inness visited and painted. The room also has a refreshed color scheme. Stavitsky credits MAM’s Osanna Urbay for the sky blue and gold color choices to bring out the natural themes and nuances in the paintings’ frames.

Don’t miss the collection of over 100 works in collaboration with Studio Montclair: Inspired by George Inness: Life and Landscape. With artwork from many artists between MAM’s Vance Wall Education Arcades and SMI’s Leach Gallery just down the street at 641 Bloomfield, visitors can enjoy many different perspectives using many different mediums in response to the work of George Inness.

The Montclair Art Museum boasted a record 500 people registered to attend the opening for these exhibitions, and MAM will soon be part of Bloomberg Connects, a free app that helps museums and artists become more accessible to the world and add history and detail to the museum visit experience. Combining its New Jersey focus with a global outlook, MAM’s work to innovate is sure to continue to increase its reach and inspire new artists.

Lori’s field Tiger Tarot will be on display until January 1, 2023. Woolpunk’s Sunflowers & Graffiti’d Sky in the Garden State is on display until August 6, 2023. The Inspired by George Inness: Life and Landscape cooperation between LSI and MAM is open until November 6, 2022.

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