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The Pulitzer Foundation for the Arts and Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis have joined together to create the Contemporary-Pulitzer blog which, for the first time, combines the perspectives of two separate institutions with differing missions within the same blog.

Offering alternating posts each day from the Pulitzer and Contemporary, the blog provides a candid look at the behind-the-scenes workings of both arts organizations.

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A Sudden Influx of Sound

David B. Olsen is a gallery assistant at the Pulitzer and a Ph.D. Candidate in the Department of English at Saint Louis University, where he teaches courses in writing and literature.

By David B. Olsen


There are different kinds of quiet at the Pulitzer. From the expectant hollow of the main hallway to the whisper of unseen footsteps, the building is a vessel for soft sound. As a gallery assistant, I have come to hear the murmur of stray phrases passing through the building as a study of what happens to the sound of words when they are almost over. In this way, the brilliance of Tadao Ando’s architecture is both visual and physical, but also sonic; his minimal design creates a space that seems to embrace the incidental and otherwise ordinary noise of that which is always around us. Nothing is ever amplified, exactly, but is instead given a bigger kind of quiet. And yet, a sudden influx of sound – such as that of the St. Louis Symphony – is also equally at home here. Read the rest of this entry »

Chanting for the Opening Reception

Monks from the Mid-American Buddhist Association chant on Vesak Day. Listen to them and members of other Buddhist temples at the Reflections of the Buddha opening reception.

As you readers may have noticed, there hasn’t been much to read here recently, but I assure you the Pulitzer staff and its partners have been busy the past three weeks. Much has happened since Dreamscapes concluded with KDHX DJs emitting dreamy sounds throughout the galleries. Everyone has been developing programs, events, catalogues, docent trainings, and community connections as part of our next exhibition, Reflections of the Buddha.

As I write this, senior curator Francesca Herndon-Consagra is working with art handlers and registrars to configure awe-inspiring statues and thangkas in relation to the Ando building (quite a humbling experience, they might say). These works date from the second to the twentieth century and were created in Afghanistan, China, India, Japan, Korea, Mongolia, Nepal, Pakistan, and Tibet. If you would like a sneak peek, visit the Reflections of the Buddha web catalogue holding page and download the gallery guide. Witness the works in person by attending our opening reception next Friday, September 9, from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. 

Since Reflections of the Buddha showcases  works born from the culture and philosophy of Buddhism, the Pulitzer decided to partner with Buddhism specialists in the St. Louis community and beyond for several programs and events. As a complement to the opening festivities, at 6 p.m., members of the Buddhist Council of Greater St. Louis will share an opening chant, featuring examples of Buddhist traditions living in the St. Louis area. Read the rest of this entry »

Pulitzer Appoints New Director

Van Dyke

Kristina Van Dyke,  Photo by George Hixson | Courtesy of The Menil Collection

August 5, 2011, St. Louis, MO — The Board of Trustees of the Pulitzer Foundation for the Arts today announced its unanimous decision to appoint Kristina Van Dyke as Director, following an intensive international search.  Ms. Van Dyke, currently the Curator for Collections and Research at The Menil Collection in Houston, Texas, will begin working full-time at the Foundation on November 7.  Joining the Pulitzer as it prepares to celebrate its tenth anniversary, she will work closely with Trustees and staff to oversee the exhibitions program, as well as other scholarly, artistic and community-related programming, including the contemporary chamber music series.  Ms. Van Dyke succeeds Matthias Waschek, who served as Director of the Foundation for more than seven years.
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Robert W. Duffy, associate editor at St. Louis Beacon, introduces Kristina Van Dyke and offers a look at the history of the Pulitzer:  ”Pulitzer Foundation names new director

This Saturday: Transformation Project Walk


As we’ve said before, part of the Pulitzer’s identity is that it doesn’t have labels for the artwork, however for the next three weeks, the Ando building will boldly declare its address in neon, as part of 2010 Whitney Biennial winner Theaster Gates’ exhibition Dry Bones and Other Parables from the North.

Dry Bones will open this Saturday along with three projects during the Transformation Project Walk. In case you haven’t been reading the news or listening to St. Louis Public Radio, the Walk will be a big bash that concludes all of the community programming we’ve worked on throughout the Matta-Clark exhibition. Similar in scope to The Light Project, the Walk will be one of those special events that encourages all of St. Louis to explore the Grand Center neighborhood and experience each unique project site.

This Saturday, May 15, from 3-7pm, the Pulitzer will provide a shuttle and trolley service to those who want to see what Transformation has accomplished this spring. Each stop will exhibit inspired works by program participants, which are sure to demonstrate how art can affect social change and further conversation on the St. Louis urban landscape. For a full description of the event and programs, visit this page.

Robert Longyear talks about the chairs in his installation and how they relate to the theme of “congregation.” Like Gordon Matta-Clark, who used titles like “A W-Hole House” and “Reality Properties / Fake Estates,” Robert also incorporates word play into his artwork. For more information on his project visit the Urban Evolution blog.

Joe + Snow

Richard Serra's "Joe"Serra's "Joe"

The Pulitzer’s assistant registrar stands in the center of Richard Serra’s Joe.

Even with Urban Alchemy gaining momentum as we prepare for spring’s programming, Serra’s Joe is never far from the spotlight on Washington Blvd. Particularly after a marked weather change, as in today’s snow blanket, someone is likely to say, “Joe looks beautiful; someone should take photos.” So Elise and I trekked into the courtyard this afternoon, looking for ways to digitally translate beauty.

For more of the encore presentation of  “Snowy Joe, and for images of Joe‘s 2001 installation, visit our Flickr collection “The Building and Beyond.”

From the Galleries: Nicole on Splitting

Nicole Stevens, Gallery Assistant, talks about Gordon Matta-Clark’s Splitting.

Wednesday afternoon, I borrowed Gallery Assistant Nicole Stevens, last on our blog with Cephalus and Procris, to continue “From the Galleries” with Urban Alchemy. In the video above, Nicole talks about Splitting on the Mezzanine while referencing two documentary photographs of the monumental piece. (Do the images seem familiar to you?) In the Pulitzer’s Cube Gallery, you’ll find Splitting: Four Corners and a print, Splitting, which artfully reveals the interior of half the house that Matta-Clark bisected and that Four Corners was taken from.

Gordon Matta-Clark Opening = Success

As I’m sure all of you already know (because you follow our blog, facebook and twitter accounts faithfully) our Urban Alchemy / Gordon Matta-Clark exhibition opening took place last Friday from 5pm to 9pm. Admittedly, scheduling a 4 hour opening did seem like a long amount of time and we therefore planned to evaluate the visitor attendance flow every hour to figure out if, for future openings, we should open later or close earlier. Much to our excitement, we found that our 900 visitors came in a steady stream – showing up on their way home from work or arriving after a dinner on the town for a glass of wine on our mezzanine. It certainly didn’t hurt the event when the skies cleared just hours before we were slated to open, giving our guests an amazing view of a setting sun against a St. Louis skyline.

Sunset Read the rest of this entry »

What does social work have to do with the Pulitzer?

YouTube Preview Image

In the video above, Director Matthias Waschek describes how community engagement is incorporated into the Pulitzer’s primary identity as an arts institution. This is the first in what we plan to be a series of “From the Director” clips in which Matthias presents topics unique to the Pulitzer.

If you have a question, please feel free to leave it in a reply. We want to know what you want to know.

If These Walls Could Talk

Having been a gallery assistant at the Pulitzer, I can’t recall how many people I’ve seen glide their palms over the Pulitzer’s walls with a look of admiration. Yes, these walls are smooth, but knowing nothing about concrete, I’ve never been nearly as awed as some visiting architects. Still, the more I learn about the building, the more I appreciate the brainwork and assiduousness behind the “Ando concrete.”

Early last Friday, Facilities Manager Steve Morby explained to me what makes the concrete here special. He became acquainted with it when he worked on Ando’s first project in the United States, the Eychaner Residence in Chicago, completed in 1998. Steve had been working with concrete for 25 years, but in his paper “Constructing Concrete as an Art Form,” he explained that he had “never seen such exacting details, and the expectations of such high levels of wall quality were amazing.”

Although Ando is not the first to use exposed concrete in the way he does, as architect Thomas Daniell pointed out in 2007, the process for making an Ando wall is still unusual, and because Ando uses it consistently to affect a building’s overall environment, it has become his trademark. In the following video, Steve describes the procedures for making concrete and how his construction team altered them to create the Ando quality.

Cleaning, Sealing, the Building

For the last month, at varying days and times, there’s been some man raised via lift or scaffolding to the Pulitzer’s outside walls, putting something all over the cement. Don’t worry-I know these men to be part of the facilities crew and have thought nothing of it. I simply say, “Hi!” and walk in the building.

Generally, when I see things, such as Facilities Manager Steve Morby carrying a big bucket of something through the hallway, or Assistant Facilities Manager Shane Simmons sloshing through the Water Court in galoshes, or a pair of pink, man-size latex gloves (which must be theirs, right?) near my desk, I don’t ask questions. If I did, I’d be asking for shop class every day, since these guys have a big job every day.

“Can you tell me about how you’re cleaning the Water Court?” I asked Steve today.

Read the rest of this entry »

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Pulitzer Foundation for the Arts 3716 Washington Boulevard
St. Louis, MO 63108
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