Bronx, NY, August 13, 2013–Throughout its history, Wave Hill has been the temporary residence of many cultural and historical luminaries, such as Theodore Roosevelt, Arturo Toscanini and Mark Twain. Our fall exhibition, Tandem Pursuits: Armor & Ichthyology, explores the passions and professions of Bashford Dean, resident of Wave Hill House from 1909 until his death in 1928. During this time, Dean served as both Curator of Arms and Armor at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and Curator of Fish at the American Museum of Natural History. Inspired by this unique intersection of interests, Wave Hill's curatorial team has brought together a remarkable group of contemporary artworks that explores concepts of adaptation, pattern and protection. "I am imagining this show to be what Dean himself might have chosen if he were collecting contemporary art today," commented Jennifer McGregor, Wave Hill Director of the Arts and Senior Curator. The work of 16 artists, each inspired by fish or armor, will be interspersed throughout the galleries to create a juxtaposition of both subject and medium. Tandem Pursuits transforms Glyndor Gallery into a contemporary cabinet of curiosities, encouraging a comparison of subjects inspired by the fascination and scholarship of a remarkable man. Artists in the show include: Jimbo Blachly & Lytle Shaw, WonJung Choi, Amisha Gadani, Frank Gehry, Carol Hepper, Camilla Huey, Simone Leigh, Michelle Jaffé, Irvin Morazan, Kymia Nawabi, James Prosek, Christy Rupp, Ben Snead, Holly Sumner and Marina Zurkow.
Filling the gallery will be a mix of recent works and new, site-specific pieces inspired by both the place and this illustrious former resident. No strangers to Wave Hill, artist duo Jimbo Blachly & Lytle Shaw return with documentation of "Bashford's Grotto," their piece from Wave Hill's 2006 exhibition Garden Improvement. WonJung Choi creates a new sculptural installation about adaptation to initiate a dialogue with space in Glyndor Gallery's south fireplace, while Amisha Gadani incorporates animals' defense mechanisms into the construction of women's evening dresses. One of Frank Gehry's original fish lamps, made of Formica scales is also on view. Carol Hepper uses traditional craft techniques to create sculptures using natural materials that include tanned and painted fish skins. Camilla Huey creates sculptural corsets inspired by Dean and his wife, Alice Dyckman Dean. Michelle Jaffé investigates the visual language of clothing, or armor, simplifying the form to create sculptures that are both figural and architectural. Simone Leigh's torso covered with clay roses addresses issues of protection, race and gender. Irvin Morazan creates a new headdress that is a symbol of protection or armor. Artist and naturalist James Prosek focuses on the intricate patterning and vibrant colors of fish in his large paintings on paper. In her cardboard relief sculptures, Christy Rupp focuses on environmental effects on fish. Ben Snead's longstanding interest in painting fish is evident in his portrait of Bashford Dean. Holly Sumner's drawings and paintings explore how we observe and record scientific information, combining data with fanciful depictions of microscopic plant and animal life. Marina Zurkow creates heraldic crests celebrating a range of invasive species.
Tandem Pursuits is the first in a series of exhibitions and public programs focusing on Wave Hill's illustrious residents. A concert celebrating famed conductor Arturo Toscanini will be performed January 12, 2014. This will be followed by a series of spring literary festivities to celebrate Mark Twain. Literary programs will continue in the summer as we pay tribute to William Appleton, publisher and an early owner of Wave Hill, while Theodore Roosevelt's life-long passion for adventure and conservation— nurtured, some say, by the time he spent at Wave Hill as a boy—serves as inspiration for an exhibition next fall.