Liz Glynn's Open House reimagines a Gilded Age ballroom and invites you in

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Liz Glynn's Open House reimagines a Gilded Age ballroom and invites you in
Open House takes the form of one of the grandest interior spaces of the Gilded Age, a private ballroom historically accessible only to the most elite members of society.

BOSTON, MASS.- Public art curator Now + There unveiled its 2018 season with Open House on July 26 with an exhibition by nationally acclaimed Boston-born artist Liz Glynn. The exhibition is located on Commonwealth Avenue Mall at Kenmore Square, transforming a busy area of the city into the opulent ruin of an open-air ballroom.

Open House takes the form of one of the grandest interior spaces of the Gilded Age, a private ballroom historically accessible only to the most elite members of society. The work was inspired by William C. Whitney’s private ballroom in New York City, a magnificent, now demolished, interior designed by Stanford White, architect of Kenmore Square’s Hotel Buckminster and numerous Commonwealth Avenue mansions within close proximity of the exhibition.

With this revision of a Gilded Age ballroom, the artist highlights class distinctions and the dynamics between public and private space, beckoning you to take a seat and linger. Glynn addresses the evolving face of a city asking: who has access to space in a society that is increasingly divided along socio-economic lines? Organized for Boston by Now + There, Open House was commissioned and originally presented in 2017 by Public Art Fund at the southeast entrance to Central Park, New York, in cooperation with the artist and Paula Cooper Gallery.

“We are thrilled to partner with Now + There to bring Liz Glynn’s Open House to Boston,” says Public Art Fund Director & Chief Curator Nicholas Baume. “As a former Bostonian and ICA Chief Curator, I’m particularly excited that Liz Glynn’s brilliant Open House will create a dialogue with this beloved Boston icon, Commonwealth Avenue Mall. Glynn’s skillful and timely reinterpretation of an exclusive Gilded Age interior could not be more appropriate amidst the Back Bay’s grand nineteenth century architecture.”

“During the late 19th century, ballrooms became important signifiers of power and prestige accessible only to the elite, unlike the grand promenade of Commonwealth Avenue Mall,” says Now + There Executive Director Kate Gilbert. Bringing this work to Boston during a time of rapid development, Now + There is sparking a dialogue about economic inequality and supporting Glynn’s desire to incite future action. You can’t sit within Open House and not think about who is designing tomorrow’s Boston, and who will have access to it.”

Daniel S. Palmer, Associate Curator Public Art Fund, the curator of Liz Glynn: Open House, says “By reinterpreting an artifact of a period marked by incredible financial growth—and disparity—Glynn connects our present moment to the historical era of the Gilded Age and makes it accessible to the public.”

Liz Glynn stated, “Open House will offer Boston a site to consider the values which shape our urban spaces. Who has access to public and private spaces, and how does this relate to rising income inequality? The installation is designed as a living room for all, and I’m particularly excited about the potential for local artists and community members to activate the site as a gathering place for conversation and performances.”

When first installed in New York City in 2017, Open House was Glynn’s first large-scale public commission and engagement with subjects from the Gilded Age. The exhibition continues her ongoing interest in social ritual and economy as expressed through transformations of material. Glynn’s work is often activated through performance, engaging history and modern materials to recreate objects and architectures that she has researched extensively. Her practice seeks to de-stabilize dominant historical narratives and invite audiences to question the values attached to cultural artifacts. This approach re-animates history, connecting it to the present moment and opening it up to a critical rethinking.

Glynn’s current exhibition at MASS MoCA, The Archaeology of Another Possible Future, is a sprawling sculptural experience of sight, sensation, sound, and scent spread across 25,000 square feet in Building 5 gallery. Stretching nearly a football field in length, this exhibit considers what happens to material goods, and the people who used to make them, in the face of technological acceleration and an increasingly abstract economy.

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