Expect more of the same--and a whole lot more that’s new at the Coral Springs Museum of Art. That’s the agenda outlined by the museum’s executive director, Bryan Knicely, who says his goal is “to maintain the museum’s traditional programs while also stretching its boundaries” — including a leap from painting and sculpture into digital arts.
Knicely took over the northwestern Broward County museum late last year after working for arts councils in Maine and Columbus, Ohio; as a grants writer for the Museum of Art, Fort Lauderdale; and, most recently, as president of the Stonewall National Museum & Archives, also in Fort Lauderdale. “I always thought I would end up as a museum director,” he says. “I just didn’t think it would take me so long to get here.”
Since its opening in 1997, the Coral Springs Museum of Art (CSMART) has often focused on exhibiting Florida artists. Current and upcoming exhibitions however may be a harbinger of a broader outlook.
Contemporary Israeli Art, on display through August 24, was organized by the museum’s former director Barbara O’Keefe. The exhibition includes 52 works by 10 artists and ranges from Marcus Botbol’s laser-cut metal sculptures to Iris Eshet Cohen’s abstract acrylic paintings. Calman Shemi, who was born in Argentina and immigrated to Israel, is represented by a series of intricate lacquer-on-aluminum paintings that are mounted within a handmade frame, giving free rein to that irresistible urge to look through an open window.
Two of the artists in the show, Knicely notes, have provided inspiration for students in CSMART’s summer classes. Lenner Gogli’s Cubist mixed media on aluminum works and in particular her detailed images of roses have provided inspiration to students in clay classes as have Sveta Esser’s landscapes of Tuscany.
Upcoming exhibitions also give an indication of CSMART’s new outlook.
This fall, the museum will host a Breast Cancer Awareness Body Painting Project, featuring fine art and photography essays of survivors. It will be followed by William Glackens as Illustrator, on loan from the Fort Lauderdale Museum of Art
Next years’s exhibition schedule includes a site-specific installation by Henning Haupt, an architectural design professor at Florida Atlantic University, whose work is currently on display in the All Florida exhibition at the Boca Museum of Art and the South Florida Cultural Consortium show at the Fort Lauderdale museum. Also on the museum’s exhibition schedule are new work by master marionetteer Pablo Cano and photographer Clyde Butcher’s Preserving Eden series focusing on islands isolated against the sea rather than Butcher’s iconic Everglades landscapes.
Arguably the biggest change at the museum will be its venture into social media and digital art. In January 2014, it will open CSMARTLab, a high-tech workspace for artists and creators to work with a gamut of equipment, including 3D software tools, iPads and the latest computers.
CSMART and Leaders in Software and Art (LISA) received a $50,000 FAB!/Knight New Work Award (a partnership between Funding Arts Broward and the Knight Foundation). The grant will pay to bring nationally recognized digital artists to South Florida as part of a symposium and classes being taught in the new facility. Both the symposium and CSMARTLab will provide opportunities for artists, professionals and students to create, network, learn about and advance cutting-edge digital media and trends in digital art.
“Being digital brings on a whole new layer, a complexity that’s costly and something most museums are uncomfortable with,’’ Knicely said. “Nounting canvasses and installing site-specific structures is one thing, but curating and exhibiting digital art, an intangible source, is a challenge.”
Knicely and three prospective LISA artists from New York are discussing residencies at CSMART and how they can help jump-start the lab when it’s up and running.
While the digital lab is being developed, the Coral Springs Museum of Art will start offering classes this fall using digital tools. Other plans once the lab opens is to host a yearly symposium to coincide with a similar one in New York, along with workshops, artist residencies, and overall creating the most cutting-edge tech art in Florida.
“I’ve always had a passion for art education,” Knicely says, adding that the museum will offer art classes that incorporate technology tools. “I want to teach tech geeks to be artists!”