Permanence and Fracture

John Perreault, left to right, “Mended Rocks” (detail), 2006 and “Mended Stones,” 2004, the Noguchi Museum, Long Island City, Queens, 10/6/15

“Museum of Stones,” is the first exhibit at the Noguchi Museum to bring other artists’ work into the eponymous sculptor’s elegant, light-filled building and garden. Marking the Museum’s 30th anniversary and “engaging Noguchi’s work in a contemporary conversation,” more than 40 artists are featured, including Scott Burton, Janine Antoni, Keith Sonnier, Joseph Kosuth, Jimmie Durham, Mel Bochner, Yoko Ono, Vija Celmins, Tom Sachs and John Perreault.

Stones (in human time, if not geological) are solid, less subject to the erosion of seasons. Seen from above, at a distance, Perrault’s two pieces, “Mended Stones” (2004) and “Mended Rocks” (2006), could be skies crowded with stars or oceans full of islands. But viewed in close-up, each stone reveals it has a suffered a fine fracture and been repaired. Permanence is change, resilience, before/after.

John, who died in September, was an artist and art critic, poet, activist, and he ran museums. He was brilliant, funny, sarcastic, handsome, the beloved husband of my dear friend Jeff Weinstein and the irreplaceable friend and colleague of so many (including Mark and me).

I exited the elevator, excited to tour a large installation of Alice Neel’s portraits at the (then uptown) Whitney and chose to move clockwise around the room. I reached the last painting, and looking at it, I was suddenly laughing. It was John, reclining, and although I knew him well, of course I’d had never seen him totally naked. And it wasn’t just John’s dishabille that felt incongruous–it was oddly pleasing to see a friend’s portrait, by a great artist, in a major museum.

An older woman, well-dressed in the perennial style of the monied Upper East Sider, regarded me with horror and expressing her disapproval, demanded my silence and said, “Modern art is not funny.”

Today is the last day to view “Museum of Stones” at the Noguchi Museum, which is open until 6:00 pm. The show opened in another season and although I’m always timely on this blog, I couldn’t write sooner, failing several times, because the piece required using the past tense.

John Perreault and Jeff Weinstein, Stone Ridge, 5/25/08

John Perreault and Jeff Weinstein, Stone Ridge, 5/25/08

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