Monday, September 16, 2019

Sharon Kopriva: No Small Thing - Hilliard University Museum - Damn, I Missed the Dinner

     Sharon Kopriva, Breaking Bonds, 2019, 5 Panel Piece, 
          graphite and collage on paper, 80 x 113 inches

"...My Mom’s back was hurting from having to stand in the gallery, and she was becoming impatient for her martini, so I decided to decline Sharon Kopriva’s invitation to a dinner..."

Sharon Kopriva: No Small Thing - Hilliard University Museum - Damn, I Missed the Dinner

My Mom’s back was hurting from having to stand in the gallery, and she was becoming impatient for her martini, so I decided to decline Sharon Kopriva’s invitation to the dinner after the opening of Sharon Kopriva: No Small Thing at Hilliard University Museum. Before leaving the museum, I gave my regrets to Sharon, who was chit-chatting with philanthropist and art collector Marilyn Oshman.  Marilyn told me she too was beginning to feel fatigue from standing in the gallery, and Sharon told me that taking care of my 88-year old mother was more important than the dinner. “She’s your mother!”

So I missed the dinner. However it was fun to be invited. And it was fun to have some of my writing included in the exhibition catalogue for Sharon Kopriva: No Small Thing. My stuff appeared alongside comments by important curators and art writers. It was particularly fun to bank an additional exhibition catalogue without having to compose new material. That’s hard work.

Although, I regret I missed the dinner. I missed the chance to hang out with LouAnne Greenwald, Director of the Hilliard Museum. And with Bradley Sumrall, who organized Sharon’s 30-year survey exhibition Terra Verde: The Art of Sharon Kopriva at the Ogden Museum of Southern Art in New Orleans in 2012. Terra Verde opened on the day of my birthday. I regret not being able to spend time with Hilliard Museum Curator of Exhibitions, Benjamin Hickey. I thanked Benjamin for putting my stuff in the museum’s catalogue, nose to nose with some biggies.

Houston collector Lester Marks was invited to the dinner. He’s really big. I don’t know if Lester went to the dinner, because I missed it. Houston philanthropist Curry Glassell was invited to the dinner. One day I would like to meet her. Papercity editor Catherine Anspon, was invited to the dinner. I adore Catherine. So was Houston gallerist Deborah Colton. Ditto Deborah. Savannah real estate big-wig Bradford Moody flew to Louisiana for the dinner. “Good Lord woman, it’s been hectic, I arrived here yesterday, and had dinner with Michael and Jean Kreamer, Jeanie’s on the Board of the Hilliard. Tonight I’m going to Sharon’s dinner, and tomorrow, LouAnne coerced me into going on a Swamp Tour. In a boat.”

Brad, don’t fall out of that boat. Last week my nephew Jacques captured a 12 foot long gator.

In 2013, Susie Kalil wrote a fine description of Sharon’s work in Art in America: “Kopriva (b. 1948) gained widespread recognition when Walter Hopps curated a solo exhibition of her work at the Menil Collection in 2000. Equal parts archaeological dig, torture chamber and formalist exploration, her compelling oeuvre - often consisting of eloquent meditations on the body as well as on ritual, faith and the natural world - possesses the power to bring you to a complete stop.”

At the time of Sharon’s 2000 solo exhibition at the Menil Collection, referenced by Kalil, I was too timid to speak to her. Probably because Sharon was well known. A few years later, after we became acquainted, I realized how dumb that was.

Among the many things Sharon and I discussed in our 2014 interview, was the impact of Peruvian mummies on her sculptures. When I traveled in Peru, I went to Nazca to see the Chauchilla Cemetery, a large burial ground with mummified corpses in open mud bricked tombs or pits. Many of the mummies had hair preserved. They were wrapped in colorful textiles, some remarkably un-faded. Sharon spent quite a bit of time in Peru, knew the Nazca necropolis mummies, and acknowledged they lent artistic inspiration. Perhaps you can trace Sharon’s rotting-mummy aesthetic in her sculpture The Cardinal.

Peruvian Mummy from Chauchilla
Cemetery, Nazca, Peru
Sharon Kopriva, The Cardinal, 1994, Papier
Mache and Mixed Media, 50 x 48 x 48 inches

Sharon Kopriva: No Small Thing at Hilliard University Art Museum, University of Louisiana at Lafayette, through January 4, 2020.

Sharon Kopriva, Cathedral Green, 2012. Oil and mixed 
media on photo canvas. 81 x 186 x 2 ½ inches

Sharon Kopriva and Virginia 
Billeaud Anderson, Hilliard Museum

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