Montclair Art Museum calls it the vernacular. The Newark Museum calls it indigenous. Either way, it’s about art at its most down-to-earth, often done by amateurs, usually in the form of crafts. This fall, both museums are featuring exhibits that emphasize the vernacular. The Newark Museum has a world-class collection of 150 quilts, started in 1918, and between now and Dec. 31 if will feature 3o of them in an exhibit called “Patchwork.” The show includes a new quilt by Maplewood artist Teresa Barkley, “Midtown Direct,” which celebrates the New Jersey Transit service into New York.
“Patchwork” explores the evolution of the quilt from a practical household object to an art object in its own right. Although American quilts dominate the show, a small companion exhibit of Asian and African quilts is also on display.
If you’ve ever seen any of the Newark Museum’s previous quilt exhibits, you know this is not one to miss.
In the case of Montclair Art Museum’s “The Spectacular of Vernacular,” which opens on Oct. 7, the emphasis is on vernacular materials and themes. It features 25 artists who utilize “craft, folklore, and roadside kitsch” to illustrate the experience of living in rural Minnesota.
One feature of the exhibit will be a large covered bridge, which visitors can cross one at a time to see an installation by artist Chris Larson.
Dario Robleto’s “Demonstrations of Sailors’ Valentines” is made of such humble materials as seashells, cut paper and colored wax, among other things.
MAM explains the idea of the show.
Focusing on pieces made since the 1970s, the exhibition shows how the vernacular, in its very ubiquity—its integration into home life, social rituals, and sense of place—is an ongoing fascination for artists. With artworks that draw from such diverse sources as billboards and handmade domestic items, it’s suggestive of a long, meandering road trip through the emblems and eyesores of everyday culture, replete with tourist destinations and outmoded hotels.