Covet: Art + Objects, an ambitious summer-long exhibit at Ferrin Gallery in Pittsfield, features artists responding directly to works they’ve found in collections at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Museum of Fine Arts, and more. It’s a meaty exhibition of homage, and the highlights are in clay, one of Ferrin Gallery’s specialties. Many of the ceramic artists in the show translated paintings, prints, and drawings into their own medium, and that makes for a dramatic transformation. Look at Giselle Hicks’ “and then it was still,” above. Hicks takes off from Flemish still life artist Nicolaes van Veerendael’s 1662 painting “A Bouquet of Flowers in a Crystal Vase,’’ in the collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art. In Hicks’s 3D version, color has been ominously drained from the scene, and the blossoms overflow the vase onto a tabletop. The still life theme of vanitas – death is just around the corner – seems that much more vivid in Hicks’s contemporary twist on it.
Also in this week’s galleries column, two artists build forts in galleries, exploring the parallels between child’s play and the creative process. Candice Smith Corby’s fort at Ellen Miller Gallery is made of chairs and afghans and sheets; visitors are welcome to go inside. The artist also offers a series of delicately rendered gouache and watercolor images of similar structures, which read as ritual objects or totems. They depict creations imbued with meaning, which is of course what art is, too. Over at LaMontagne Gallery, Doug Weathersby and Environmental Services have been clearing out the storage area, a process and performance that embodies what Smith Corby paints. As he cleans up, he builds temporary structures and transient art objects. At right is the fort I mentioned — a temporary storage unit in the middle of the gallery. The place may seem like a mess, but it’s the mess of creation.