BMA announces event series tied to exhibit of Jack Whitten’s sculpture work

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Artist Jack Whitten carving wood on a beach in Crete, circa 1971. Image via the Baltimore Museum of Art.

The Baltimore Museum of Art will host a series of concerts, panel discussions and parties in conjunction with its exhibit “Odyssey: Jack Whitten Sculpture, 1963-2017,” what the museum is calling the first retrospective of the celebrated artist’s sculptural work.

Whitten, who died earlier this year, was perhaps best known for his abstract expressionist paintings that touched on a wide range of subjects and his ever-evolving creative process. But a Washington Post story on the forthcoming exhibit, co-curated with the Metropolitan Museum of Art, says the sculptures are “his most deeply personal work.”

The BMA says the works, made from materials such as wood, marble, copper and Whitten’s own personal effects, and drawing from Greek and African traditions, have a connection with Whitten’s painting series “Black Monoliths,” inspired by famous African-American figures from history. Those paintings will also be on display.

To kick off the exhibit on April 22, the museum will hold an opening celebration that includes demonstrations of wood assemblages and marble carving, music by Jali D and Spyros Koliavasilis (the latter performing songs from Greece and Crete, where Whitten kept a studio), a discussion with the curators Katy Siegel and Kevin Tervala, and Greek food.

On April 29, sculptor Melvin Edwards will sit down with Siegel to discuss Whitten’s five decades-long career.

This summer, the museum’s Art After Hours party on June 22 will celebrate the exhibit, and a summer jazz series, “Jazz Odyssey,” in the museum’s Sculpture Garden will include performances by Ravi Coltrane (June 2), the Sun Ra Arkestra (July 7) and local group the Lafayette Gilchrist Quartet (July 28). Tickets for the concerts are $50 and go on sale April 28. Tickets for the whole series are available for $135.

“Odyssey: Jack Whitten Sculpture, 1963-2017” runs from April 22 to July 29.

Brandon Weigel

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