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SUMMER FUN AT THE NEUBERGER

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by Fran Alexander

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This summer's Neuberger Museum exhibitions promise to entertain and intrigue the whole family. As soon as you pull into the parking lot, you are met by a subtle light show projected onto the SUNY Purchase Performing Arts Building, which is part of the 2001 Biennial Exhibition of Public Art. It is QuamaneQ (Inuit for 'illumination') by Suzy Sureck, one of 16 contemporary artists featured in the Neuberger's third biennial of public sculpture.

When you approach the museum building, you are greeted by Robert Chambers' Zen-Volt, a large white fiberglass construction which, if you didn't know better, you'd think was a generator. Across the walkway is Lisa Hein and Bob Seng's Double Hung, a series of multi-colored Plexiglass windows hung on the bookstore wall, which you might assume are part of the building. And beyond the museum courtyard, past The General, by exhibition honoree Marisol, is Steed Taylor's Tom's Round pavement design that leads you to more of the works. All of the artists selected their own sites around the campus and the work is uncannily integrated into the landscape and architecture.

Wear comfortable shoes, hope for good weather, and use the handy brochure/map available outside the museum entrance to plan your tour. You will be hiking the campus, but there is an inviting shaded hammock installation, Nuestra Historia, by Laura Anderson Barbata, for rest and relaxation.

Inside the museum, don't forget to stop at the wall panels to the left of the entrance. Peter Gourfain's compelling Fate of the Earth explores man's destructive relationship with his environment through 24 bronze relief panels. And if you have young children, they're sure to appreciate Todd Slaughter's Red Riding Hood Stand right before the entrance, which features a large, flowing, empty, red cloak made of fiberglass placed atop a curious camouflage-patterned hunting stand.

But now back to the Biennial honoree, Venezuelan born Marisol Escobar. This wildly inventive artist, known for her cubist/pop-based mixed-media assemblages that often play with illusion versus reality, offers a real eye treat for the whole family. Her courtyard sculpture, The General, is seemingly constructed from a series of geometric bronze planes to render the general atop a horse. Twenty-five playful and sometimes historical colorful assemblages that also utilize a building block approach await in the South Gallery. Marisol's works encourage viewers to explore; hands are often placed logically yet without arms, as in John, Washington and Emily Roebling, where Mrs. Roebling holds a rooster with an unattached hand under its belly. Have your children be on the lookout for more of these visual surprises as they explore the rooms. For instance, Fishman consists of a man morphed into a fish with webbed feet and a fish head and a fish with a man's head (or is it a man with a fish body?).

On your way out, don't miss Toshiko Takaezu's beautiful large-scale ceramic pieces, which bring a dramatic sense of tranquility and stillness to the Theater Gallery. In the right back corner you will find two hammocks, each containing one stoneware ball, described by the artist as "moon pots". You may wonder how such heavy-looking objects can be suspended from these fragile string hammocks, but in fact all of Ms. Takaezu's ceramic objects are vessels rather than solid pieces. Like Marisol's work, hers contains an element of illusion versus reality; here it is perceived weight versus relative weightlessness.

And stop at the Outside In show in the North Gallery as well. Take a look at Applachian Farm Couple by George Segal, another "pop" sculptor. His figures, made from plaster casts of ordinary people, will remind you of Marisol's Family.

There's a lot to cover, and chances are you'll want to return to the Neuberger this summer. And then there's always the fantastic Pepsico sculpture garden across the street!

The scoop: Where: The Neuberger Museum of Art is located at SUNY Purchase College, 735 Anderson Hill Road, Purchase; (914) 251-6100 or www.neuberger.org. Hours: Tuesday-Friday 10am-4pm, Saturday-Sunday 11am-5pm Admission: $4, $2 seniors and students, free for members and children under 12. Exhibition dates: Biennial through October 7. Marisol through September 2. Toshiko Takaezu through September 16. Outside In through October 14.


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