Thursday, January 27, 2022

"Don't Like Mondays" in the George Morrison Gallery at the DAI

Forty years ago I painted apartments with a group of apartment painters in the Twin Cities. Because of my background I was asked to create a newsletter for the team, which we called  The New Monday Memo. (Or something like that.) The idea of it was to bring an upbeat feeling to the beginning of the workweek, as opposed to the way many people feel about the grinding routines and sometimes demeaning work cultures. 

This is a topic I've written about many times and Beth Livensperger's "Don't Like Mondays" is an artist's rendition of the various ways office life can damage people. The exhibit currently installed in the George Morrison Gallery at the Duluth Art Institute (4th floor at the Depot). It self-describes in this way:

Beth Livensperger’s large-scale collages depict women navigating the banal yet psychologically-charged space of office interiors, foregrounding female relationships across generations, from adversarial to supportive. In these pieces, receptionists are trapped behind tiny desks, a lone employee drowns in paperwork, and a manager delivers bad news to a subordinate. Men are relegated to bit parts—with visible hints that they still call the shots.

According to the DAI website, Ms. Livensperger received her BFA from The Cooper Union and an MFA in Painting and Printmaking from Yale University. In addition to exhibiting in venues in NYC, she has shown her work throughout the US as well as Seoul, Korea.

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For me the Don't Like Mondays raises questions that have been circulating for most of my life regarding what is art. At one end of the spectrum are those who are more concerned with the idea or concept than the actual craftsmanship. There are some who say everything is art. And then there are some who feel that everything is art except this or that, which can come from either end of the spectrum--that is, those "educated" in the arts and the uneducated.

Don't Like Mondays seems to be more about the message -- work is demeaning for women -- than the art. As a male I wanted to say, "Corporate culture can be demeaning for men, too." This is not universal, because there are certainly places where the culture is nurturing, the work is rewarding, the sense of achievement palpable. I've experienced that at times in my career. I also understand where the expression TGIF comes from.

The exhibit will be on display through April 3. 
For more details about this and other current exhibitions at the Duluth Art Institute visit:

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LEWagner said...

I love the Fats Domino song, "Blue Monday".
He doesn't over-state or under-state anything. Just simply the way it is. :)

Ed Newman said...

Thanks for sharing.

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