Pop and circumstance 

Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center headlines its 'Extremely Grand Opening' with a daring masterpiece collection

click to enlarge This Keith Haring piece comes from the Weisman Art - Foundation.
  • This Keith Haring piece comes from the Weisman Art Foundation.

Coming soon to Colorado Springs: a giant red disk. And not just any large, metallic red slug of steel, but one curved so that while hanging on the wall, it will distribute sound across the room. It's torqued in such a way that, in peering into it, one's reflection flips upside down and right side up. And it's finished with a shimmering red lacquer.

It's the handiwork of artist Anish Kapoor, and along with nearly 150 other works by numerous other artists, it will christen the opening of the expanded Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center as part of The Eclectic Eye: Pop and Illusion, Selections from the Frederick R. Weisman Art Foundation.

The show will feature a myriad of sculpture pieces, installations and hanging art, all of which tell a story one that changes with each viewer and each piece. The show promises to be striking in appearance and interpretive in a way that will draw the audience through the exhibit, looking for more.

"There is a dialogue going on in the room and an energy between the pieces," says director /collector Billie Milam Weisman, who runs the Weisman Foundation from Los Angeles.

And it's a coup for the FAC.

"(We) are looking at the legacy of illusion and taking it all the way to abstraction," says Blake Milteer, the FAC's curator of 19th through 21st century American art.

In the realm of pop art, often viewed as the sounding board for omnipresent popular culture, a separateness persists that infuses emotion into what would have been just advertisements, and it creates art. The familiar is distorted, if only slightly, as is the case for Andy Warhol, whose Marilyn Monroe silkscreens will be on display. Her iconic face, splashed with glaring industrial colors, creates its own illusion in describing the image that was Monroe.

These are high concepts, but the basic emotional journey of an artistic experience is one that the Weisman Foundation takes great pride in. Entrepreneur Frederick R. Weisman started collecting modern and contemporary art in the 1950s and, since then has amassed a collection of nearly 1,100 works. Since Weisman believed such great art should not be kept to himself,, the foundation he started continues to loan several collections throughout the country. Furthermore, the large estate in Los Angeles where the permanent collection is kept remains open to the public.

Since Frederick Weisman's death, his wife Billie Weisman has headed operations and continues to put together art shows for museums. For the upcoming FAC show, she collected both historically significant pieces and ones that could serve as an introduction to modern and contemporary art.

"A lot of people were intimidated or frightened by modern or contemporary art because they didn't understand it," says Weisman. "[But] contemporary art isn't self-explanatory."

The Weisman Foundation looks to change those feelings.

"[There are works] you can even, at times, giggle about," she says, with a laugh. "They are sometimes humorous in a very intelligent way."

From the deep conversation of illusion in art, to works that are simply beautiful, to works that can be droll, this show promises to appeal on many levels.

Milteer adds that it is something entirely new for the FAC. It signifies, he says, a new direction for the museum.

"This tells the story of private collectors ... who are on the leading edge of art."

The Eclectic Eye: Pop and Illusion, Selections from the Frederick R. Weisman Art Foundation
Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center, 30 W. Dale St.
Runs Aug. 4 through Oct. 28
Call 634-5581 or visit csfineartscenter.org for more.


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