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Russell Crotty: Globe Drawings

March 5 - June 27, 2004


Miami Art Museum presents Russell Crotty in his first solo museum exhibition on the east coast of the United States. Crotty, who is based in California, is also an amateur astronomer who has received national recognition for his intricately detailed ballpoint pen drawings based on his observations of the night skies. MAM's installation consists of ten drawings on globes that range in size from eight to 45-inches in diameter and will be on view from March 5 to June 27, 2004. Russell Crotty: Globe Drawings is originated by Miami Art Museum as part of its New Work series of projects by leading contemporary artists and is curated by MAM Curator, Lorie Mertes. (right: Russell Crotty, Summer Triangle over Knolltop Estates. 2002, ink and watercolor on paper on acrylic sphere, 16 inches diameter, Private collection, Photo courtesy CRG Gallery, NY).

The hovering globes-created between 2000 and 2004- are suspended from the ceiling and resemble a small galaxy of spheres that invert our notion of scale. The globes are installed at eye-level so that visitors can admire in detail the thousands of pen strokes and gossamer lines, as well as Crotty's haiku-like, hand-written notes on celestial activities and issues of ecological concern. In conjunction with the exhibition, MAM has commissioned Crotty to create a new globe of the night skies over the Everglades. When completed, this new work by the artist will stand as a lasting tribute to Florida's most unique natural resource.

Crotty's creative process is singular. His methodical work embodies both the Renaissance ideal of virtuosity, and the romance of 19th-century astronomy. Awed and intrigued by the mysteries of the universe, Crotty observes the night sky from his telescope in his home-made observatory in the hills of Malibu, California. The artist painstakingly records the movements of stars and planets and laterreinterprets his observations in books or on paper-covered acrylic spheres like those shown at MAM. (right: Russell Crotty, installation view, "The Universe from My Backyard," Art Center College of Design, Pasadena,California, 2001)

Born in California in 1956, Crotty began making art in childhood. When diagnosed with juvenile diabetes at the age of 14 and confined to bed, he made drawings to escape into his imagination. That same year, his father died and his mother bought him a telescope to distract him from his grief. In the artist's adult life, these two hobbies found form in his masterful drawings of the night skies.

"With its patient craftsmanship and ardent attention to detail, Crotty's conscientious fusing of art and science brings honor to both disciplines. Walking through his maze of cosmic spheres, it is difficult not to feel infected by his eager fascination," noted Holly Myer of the Los Angeles Times.

Ms. Mertes states, "In his lush drawings of the night sky, Russell Crotty invites us to contemplate the mystery and awe of the universe and that of our existence. He reminds us that by simply taking the time to look up and out we can gain perspective on our daily lives."


About the Artist  

Russell Crotty was born in 1956 in San Rafael, California. He received his B.F.A. from the San Francisco Art Institute in 1978 and his M.F.A. from the University of California, Irvine in 1980. He has had recent solo exhibitions at the Contemporary Arts Museum, Houston (2003); Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art, Kansas City, MO (2003); CRG Gallery, New York (2002); and Art Center College of Design, Pasadena, CA, (2001). Group exhibitions include: Drawing Now: Eight Propositions, Museum of Modern Art, Queens, New York (2002); Miami Currents: Linking Collection and Community, Miami Art Museum, Miami (2002); and Made in California 1900-2000, Los Angles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles, CA (2000). Russell Crotty lives and works in Malibu, California.


About the Curator  

MAM Curator Lorie Mertes has been with the museum since 1994. She has curated solo exhibitions by such artists as Jim Hodges, Liisa Roberts and Alexis Smith, as well as curating New Work Miami: Robert Chambers and Frank Benson, New Work Miami: Dara Friedman and Robert Thiele, and mantle, a special project by the critically acclaimed artist Ann Hamilton commissioned by MAM in 1998. Ms. Mertes most recently organized the first museum exhibition in the United States of collaborative works by artists Janine Antoni and Paul Ramírez Jonas and served as the MAM Curator for the traveling exhibitions: Kerry James Marshall: One True Thing, Meditations on Black Aesthetics, Shirin Neshat and Roberto Matta: Painting Drawings of the 1940s. Additional projects in process include New Art, the South Florida Cultural Consortium Fellowship winners scheduled for September 2004.

Ms. Mertes developed Russell Crotty: Globe Drawings in cooperation with Lynn M. Herbert, Senior Curator, Contemporary Arts Museum in Houston.


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