The Condit exhibit designers love art, whether it’s in a great museum or on the street. Our travels for work take us to cities that not only have big trade shows, but also great museums; think Chicago, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, and of course New York. We also travel as widely as we can for pleasure and to see friends and family, and often those trips coincide happily with the presence of a great museum or art installation nearby.
Two recent trips offered a chance to see some amazing exhibitions. The first, in Hartford at the Wadsworth Athenaeum, was The Human Touch: Selections from the RBC Wealth Management Art Collection. A remarkable collection of portraits, installations, and other media, the exhibit celebrates people, diversity, and the spectrum of contemporary human experience through exceptional works by renowned national and international contemporary artists.
And if you haven’t been to “The Wads” as the locals call it, what a collection! Everything from old masters to great contemporary works, all in a newly renovated world class setting.
While at the Wadsworth, a painting by Kerry James Marshall caught our eye. His portrayal of African-Americans is strikingly modern, but placed in a context that draws imaginatively from artistic conventions from the Renaissance and onward. Our next stop was Chicago, where it just so happened there was a major retrospective of his work. The exhibit at the Chicago Museum of Contemporary Art, titled Kerry James Marshall : Mastry, highlighted the career of one of Americas greatest living artists. These are amazing works; huge in scale, full of astonishing technique, and offering a portrayal of African American life that is rare in the collections of traditional museums. The works are bold, colorful, provocative, and often feature a wink at well-worn artistic traditions, from pastoral landscapes and tableaux to formal portraiture…even one of our favorites, paint by number!
Our trip to Chicago also led us onto the streets of Logan Square, to see an amazing display of local street art. A collective of Chicago artists was invited to create works on the walls surrounding the MegaMall, which is slated for demolition. Executed over the course of just 2 days, the variety of styles and themes was breathtaking. And the temporary nature of the installation was well expressed by the man who helped coordinate the project, Billy Craven of Gallery F “It takes the phrase, ‘Street art is ephemeral,’ to a very literal point,” Craven said. “Every artist paints on the street with the realization their work may only be up for a few days, but if they are lucky, for many, many years.” Demolition of the building has been delayed, and as of September it was still standing, so it may not be too late to see this for yourself!
All of this gets us designers to thinking; how can we incorporate the boldness, immediacy, and emotion of fine art (or street art for that matter) into our exhibits? Not that our projects are not works of art in their own right; our craftsmanship leads the industry and many of our designs are absolutely gorgeous to behold. We have even used artists in our custom trade show exhibits before, to paint murals and to create installations out of client product. But we’d like to do more of it; recruiting some of our outstanding local artists to enhance our clients’ visitor experiences will help them distinguish their brand and supports our community. Look for us to do more of this in the years ahead!
Here are some great recent examples of trade show exhibits that incorporate art in an inspiring way.