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The newspaper of The Johns Hopkins University October 18, 2004 | Vol. 34 No. 8
'House Guests' Showcases the Work of Evergreen's Artists-in-Residence

House Guests, an exhibition of new work by artists Patrick Burns, Denise Tassin and Micki Watanabe, Evergreen House Museum's recent artists-in-residence, opens on Tuesday, Oct. 19, and will remain on view through Sunday, Jan. 2 An opening reception and two artists' talks will accompany the exhibit [see below].

Every year Evergreen House offers a two-month summer residency to a visual artist living outside Maryland. The program provides housing, a studio and a stipend, allowing the artist the time and space to produce new work in a visually and culturally rich setting. In summer 2003, Micki Watanabe was artist-in-residence. Throughout 2004, Denise Tassin and Patrick Burns, visual artists who live and work in Baltimore, also worked on-site, exploring the house and its collections and learning about its history.

Says Evergreen curator Jackie O'Regan, "The residency celebrates and continues the Garrett family's legacy." The Garretts, who lived at Evergreen during the first half of the 20th century, were collectors and patrons who hosted many artists and musicians.

While at Evergreen the three artists had access to the house's extraordinary and diverse collections, including a library containing more than 30,000 books; 48 rooms filled with fine and decorative art objects from around the world, and the estate's 26 acres of gardens and meadows. "The artists blend history with evocative imagery and bring the Garretts to life, telling their intimate and unique stories with imagination, subtlety and deep affection," O'Regan says. In House Guests, the artists' work will be on display throughout the house.

Tassin's Suppressed Desires Party, a series of 29 temporary installations, takes its title from a party given in the 1930s at the Baltimore home of Sunpapers editor in chief Hamilton Owens and his wife. The couple's Suppressed Desire Costume Party, attended by members of the Garrett family, was an invitation for guests to come dressed as the person they most wanted to be. Mrs. Owens dressed as her close friend Alice Warder Garrett, Mrs. Garrett came as Charlie Chaplin, and John Work Garrett arrived as Albert Einstein. Tassin's work reflects the transience of life and art and the fleeting nature of Evergreen's extravagant-party past, represented in the exhibition by inflatable toys blown across the lawn, drawings made to music and perishable paper pieces exposed to the elements.

Watanabe's Object of Literature is inspired in part by architect Laurence Hall Fowler's 1928 addition to Evergreen House, the Great Library, the room designed to hold the Garretts' rare books. Drawn to the almost-sacred nature of places where books are housed, Watanabe created a series of miniature libraries and reading rooms, including replicas of the Library of Congress and John Work Garrett's boyhood room at Evergreen. Each piece is crafted with meticulous detail down to the inlaid floors and furniture, allowing the viewer to literally peek into these dearly held intellectual worlds.

Burns' Evergreen Drawings represent a vision inspired by the 17th- through 19th-century illustrated insect and botanical books in the Great Library. Burns initiates an intriguing dialogue between beauty and repulsion, drawing with graphite on an abrasive sandpaper surface. In his smaller drawings, the solidity of stenciled elements and primary colors is dissolved by the subtlety of a transparent graphite wash or acrylic varnish. His series of larger drawings suggests more of a narrative, depicting vague but realistic interior and exterior settings.


Special Events for 'House Guests'

"Whispering in the Library"
Thursday, Oct. 21, 5-7 p.m.; $10/person, reservations recommended (410-516-0341).

A fine wine tasting and an evening in Evergreen's Garrett Rare Book Library with a welcome by Winston Tabb, dean of Johns Hopkins University libraries. Robert Saarnio, director of Evergreen, will discuss architect Laurence Hall Fowler, his relationship with the Garretts and the construction of the Great Library. Sculptor Micki Watanabe will speak about her project, Object of Literature.

Opening Reception
Saturday, Oct. 23, 2-5 p.m.; free

"Insects and Other Living Things: An Evening in the Great Library"
Thursday, Oct. 28, 5-7 p.m.; free.

Artist Patrick Burns and JHU rare book curator John Buchtel will explore the John Work Garrett Library's collection of rare books on insects and botanicals that inspired Burns' Evergreen Drawings.


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