The Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum is always updating its exhibits, constantly bringing in new artists and performers. This summer, a new museum director is added to the mix.
Back in May, the museum announced that Alyson Baker was selected as its ninth and newest director, taking over earlier this month from previous director Harry Philbrick.
“Alyson Baker became executive director of The Aldrich on July 5,” said Pamela Ruggio, Communications Director. “Alyson’s impressive credentials, including her academic background—she studied at Wellesley and then went on to Brown where her program involved coursework at RISD—and art-world experience position her well to be successful here.
“The thing I loved about studying at Brown was that I got to study concurrently at [the Rhode Island School of Design],” Baker said.
“Baker joins The Aldrich following a productive eleven-year term as executive director of Socrates Sculpture Park, an internationally renowned outdoor museum and artist residency program located in New York City, where she oversaw a remarkable period of institutional and programmatic growth, implementing initiatives that have significantly increased the Park's organizational capacity and operating budget while more than doubling its annual attendance. She has a great reputation for not only her leadership, but also for curating innovative exhibitions, enhancing the quality and depth of educational and multidisciplinary cultural programs, and establishing a diverse array of effective partnerships.” Ruggio said.
“This is my second week working at the Aldrich and I am very happy here,” Baker said.
From 1987 to 1992, Baker held the position of director at the Pat Hearn Gallery. She was an associate director of the Gagosian Gallery from 1992 to 1997. From 1998 to 2000, Baker was a curatorial assistant in the Contemporary Art Department at the Carnegie Museum of Art.
“Baker is a great fit for The Aldrich,” Ruggio said. “The Board and staff are extremely enthusiastic about this appointment. We’re all looking forward to assisting her as she begins to build upon the work begun by her predecessor, Harry Philbrick, who left the Museum a vibrant institution that plays an important role in the exhibition of cutting-edge art and the development of innovative arts education."
Terrance Bancel, the museum Communications Coordinator, has only worked with Baker for a little over a week and is already impressed with her knowledge.
“The first thing I noticed about her was she is incredibly affable and friendly,” Bancel said. “We are all very confident that she will put us in the direction we are looking for.”
Last Friday, Baker strolled through the museum, meeting members and trustees and getting feedback on the art. Ben Ortiz and Victor Torchia, two art collectors, found the Visual Sound gallery, Chelpa Ferro, created by Barrão, Luiz Zerbini, and Sergio Mekler, enchanting.
“I think that the current exhibit is fascinating,” Ortiz said. “It’s especially exciting having Brazillian artists.”
“In the other room it sounds like people are meditating,” Torchia said.
“This is the amazing thing about the Aldrich,” Ortiz said. “They show very cutting edge art. This is one of the bold steps that the Aldrich has taken and it’s the ultimate interactive exhibition,” he added.
Baker joined The Aldrich at an exciting time. Six new exhibitions featuring diverse artist collaborations opened last month. The exhibitions comprising the Collaborations at The Aldrichsemester are: Chelpa Ferro: Visual Sound; Kate Eric: One Plus One Minus One; MTAA: All the Holidays All at Once; Type A: Barrier and Trigger; Jessica Stockholder: Hollow Places Court in Ash-Tree Wood; and Judi Werthein: Do You Have Time? The projects unite both individuals and communities to create new collaborative identities, generating fresh art through the utilization of contemporary technology, materials, and expertise.
The two artists who make up Type A, the group that had created Barrier and Trigger, mingled with the crowd as Baker struck up conversations with more guests.
Ames and Bordwin have been together as Type A for thirteen years. For the past four-years, the two have been attracted to the idea of working with targets and turning them into art.
“We had ideas, and they all came together to make our own targets,” Ames said.
Ames and Bordwin learned about the “thug” that police use at shooting ranges through a New York Times Article, according to Ames, and they became interested in learning more. The two collaborated with the Ridgefield Police Department to gain the knowledge they needed in order to create their exhibition, Barrier and Trigger.
“In order to do this, we needed access to a real or fake gun,” Ames said. “The Ridgefield Police Department talked to us and gave us a lot of information."
Barrier and Trigger can be viewed until December 31. Type A and Baker enjoyed the evening, talking to intrigued members and trustees. The three of them encourage residents and visitors of Ridgefield to stop in and spend some time viewing and discussing the artwork. Questions are always welcome.