Fall Arts Preview: See something new, from paintings to folklife

'American Gestures: Abstract Expressionism'
‘American Gestures: Abstract Expressionism’

Framed: Identity and the Photographic Portrait
Through Oct. 12
Photographic Resource Center
832 Comm. Ave., Boston
Free, 617-975-0600
bu.edu/prc

This exhibition presents three local photographers who explore identity in their portraits. Caleb Cole dresses as various stereotypical personae; Myra Greene, a black photographer, explores ideas of whiteness; Lorenzo Triburgo depicts transgender men with many allusions to art history. At the heart of it all, one question reverberates: Is there even such a thing as identity?

American Gestures: Abstract Expressionism
Sept. 21 through June 1
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
465 Huntington Ave., Boston
$23-$25, 617-267-9300
mfa.org

It’s been more than a half century since they dominated the art world, but the abstract expressionists, with their vision of art as a spontaneous exercise of feeling and freedom, remain an inspiration. This retrospective includes work by Willem de Kooning, Robert Motherwell, David Smith, Mark Tobey, Alfred Leslie, Jackson Pollock, Lee Krasner and more, displaying the movement’s diversity.

Amy Sillman: One Lump or Two
Oct. 3 through Jan. 5
Institute of Contemporary Art
100 Northern Ave., Boston
$10-$15, 617-478-3100
icaboston.org

Painter Amy Sillman’s first museum survey shows her development as an artist, and it’s a fairly linear one. Her balance of humor with pathos and depiction with abstraction has been with her from the beginning — she’s simply gotten better. There’s often a cartoon element in her paintings, a recognizable shape or form, serving as a sign to interpret the more purely abstract parts.

Mollie Goldstrom: The Drawing Repeated in the Gravel Garden Path
Oct. 4 through 27
Gurari Collections
460 Harrison Ave., Boston
Free, 617-367-9800
gurari.com

Mollie Goldstrom’s images, created in intaglio, lithography, pen and ink, are full of tiny details that reward a close-up look. Her whimsically depicted objects and creatures are strongly reminiscent at times of Edward Gorey, but with more esoteric interests — this set’s inspirations include the forcibly organized “natural” world of gardens and an obscure 17th century manual on beekeeping.

About, With and For
Oct. 4 through Dec. 1
Boston Center for the Arts
551 Tremont St., Boston
Free, 617-426-5000
bcaonline.org

This group exhibition brings together myriad examples of “folklife,” a generous term encompassing homespun art and/or craft forms which, in the words of the Mills Gallery, fall outside “the specific concepts of the art world discourse.” They include boatbuilding, parades, storytelling and “collective mending” — if you’re wondering what that last one is, you’ll just have to come and find out.

Beyond Human: Artist-Animal Collaborations
Oct. 19 through Sept. 7, 2014
Peabody Essex Museum
161 Essex St., Salem
$11-$15, 978-745-9500
pem.org

The inaugural exhibition in the Peabody Essex Museum’s newly redesigned Art and Nature Center explores the use of animals in art, from surprisingly good paintings made by elephants to photographer William Wegman’s ongoing obsession with Weimaraner dogs to one animal, the bowerbird, that creates elaborate structures laden with painstakingly collected, brightly colored objects to attract mates — just like human artists.

Sophie Calle: Last Seen
October 24 through March 3
Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum
280 The Fenway, Boston
$10-$15, 617-566-1401
gardnermuseum.org

This exhibition re-displays “Last Seen,” Sophie Calle’s 1991 text and photo meditation on the Gardner art heist, alongside a 2012 sequel of sorts entitled “What Do You See?” Both pieces gather visitors’ impressions of the empty frames the museum leaves up in honor of the stolen works, but for the sequel, visitors weren’t informed of the story beforehand.

From Minimal to Bling: Contemporary Studio Jewelry
November 1 through January 11
Society of Arts and Crafts
175 Newbury St., Boston
Free, 617-266-1810
societyofcrafts.org

Featuring 21 artists, this exhibition displays the diverse approaches in the world of contemporary jewelry, from the beautiful to the strange to the how-do-you-even-wear-that? Nothing, aside from the fact that they’re meant, at least ostensibly, to be worn on the body, separates these items from non-wearable art when it comes the expressive ambitions of their creators.



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