Paint the Town: Spencer Finch at the Corcoran

by Editorial

Spencer Finch presents My Business, with the Cloud – part of NOW at the Corcoran.

By Julie LaPorte

Spencer Finch, Sunlight in an Empty Room (Passing Cloud for Emily Dickinson, Amherst, MA, August 28, 2004), 2004. 100 fluorescent lights, fixtures, filters, monofilament, and clothespins, dimensions variable. Courtesy of Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C. Photo: Denny Henry.

Spencer Finch, Passing Cloud, (394 L Street NW, Washington, D.C., July 7, 2010), (detail), 2010, dimensions variable. Fluorescent light fixtures and lamps, filters, monofilament, and clothespins. Courtesy of the artist and Galerie Nordenhake, Berlin. Photo by Denny Henry.

In his first solo show in Washington, D.C., Spencer Finch, a Brooklyn-based artist, presents My Business, with the Cloud at the Corcoran Gallery of Art. The exhibit is part of NOW at the Corcoran and will be on display through January 23.

Visitors first glimpse Finch’s exhibition from the bottom of the main staircase.

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Looking up into the second floor rotunda, we see a bright, sharp-edged shape suspended from the ceiling. Upon closer inspection, we find what looks to be blue, purple and clear cellophane pinched into shapes with clothespins, shot through with light from above. The work references a moment in 1863 memorialized by Walt Whitman when the poet and Abraham Lincoln crossed paths on the city’s street.

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“I was thinking, what is the same about Washington now as then?” Finch said about this work. “Because the city has changed so much. I thought one thing that is the same is the light. So I decided to recreate that moment, which is almost nothing. I did light readings to see how the light was changing, and when you walk under the cloud, the color of the light is exactly the same as the light of a passing cloud at the corner of Vermont and L.”

Spencer Finch, Leak (Water Stain Over My Bed, Four Views), 2000. One of four watercolors on paper, 10 x 8 in. each. Courtesy of the artist and Yvon Lambert, Paris.

Spencer Finch, Leak (Water Stain Over My Bed, Four Views), 2000. One of four watercolors on paper, 10 x 8 in. each. Courtesy of the artist and Yvon Lambert, Paris.

This piece is whimsical, calming and delightful. It offers a promise of what is to come. Upstairs there is another large room full of works by Finch – a huge cloud sculpture made with 64 fluorescent lights, abstract watercolors of the jet stream or a stain above the artist’s bed that shifts shapes depending on perspective, collages of clouds made of paper squares or scotch tape, and photographs of clouds reflected in puddles of water.

“Spencer Finch’s work is all about trying to capture the ephemeral – these really small moments – and trying to connect with particular memories or experiences that are from another place or time,” said Curator Sarah Newman.

In conjunction with this exhibit, choreographer Dana Tai Soon Burgess will present Streamlit Vapors Are Borne, an original dance piece inspired by Finch’s cloud installation. The site-specific piece will be performed in the rotunda December 5 and 12 at 11:30 am, 1:00 pm and 2:30 pm and is included in the price of admission.

Spencer Finch’s exhibit is the inaugural show of NOW at the Corcoran – a collection of modern and contemporary art from the Corcoran’s permanent collection. The collection contains a gallery that focuses on D.C. artists Jefferson Pinder, Yuriko Yamaguchi and Chris Martin – the second artist to be featured in NOW at the Corcoran in June 2011.

NOW at the Corcoran is celebrating its launch with NOW at Night on October 1 – a special evening hosted by Chris Martin with private viewings of Finch’s exhibit, the new modern and contemporary art galleries, a preview of Salon Corcoran before it’s sent to NADA Art Fair Miami Beach 2010, a commissioned piece by Bluebrain and music by Thunderball. It promises to be an amazing night and all the proceeds will go to support future NOW exhibitions.

For more information about the exhibit or to buy tickets to NOW at Night, visit the Corcoran Gallery of Art.

2010 HeadshotJulie LaPorte is a freelance writer living outside Washington, D.C. For the past year she has served as a columnist for Washington Life Magazine – penning reviews for the Performing Arts and the Paint the Town columns.

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She also works as a political marketing copywriter for candidates in local, state and national campaigns as well as for Congressional franked mail.

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