Viewer’s Discretion: ‘Mole Man’

‘MOLE MAN’ (AMAZON, SUNDANCE) Focusing on autistic 66-year-old Ron Heist, “Mole Man” presents a manifestation of compulsive creativity on a grand scale seldom witnessed. Heist qualifies as an outsider artist for sure, but he could also alternately be proclaimed an outsider architect with the huge structures he has crafted at his parents’ home in Pennsylvania, [...]

Viewer’s Discretion: ‘At Eternity’s Gate’ and ‘Requiem’

‘AT ETERNITY’S GATE’ (AMAZON, APPLE, GOOGLE PLAY, VUDU, YOUTUBE) It seems obvious from the moment he appears on the screen that Willem Dafoe was meant to play Vincent Van Gogh, even though there’s nothing particularly Van Gogh-ish about his appearance. And yet, as he wanders through the fever dream of “At Eternity’s Gate,” Dafoe is [...]

Trenton Doyle Hancock @ Mass MoCA

Every art show is the result of the artist’s imagination pouring out into reality, allowing ideas to seize tangible representation in the physical universe. But Trenton Doyle Hancock’s new show at Mass MoCA, “Mind of the Mound: Critical Mass,” is also an effort to pull visitors inside the imagination of the Houston-based artist. The show [...]

Pat Falco: Antiques that challenge assumptions

The artist Pat Falco was born and raised in Boston, and he hasn’t left. That’s reflected in the Boston-centric nature of his art, which tackles issues like income inequality, gentrification and racism in context of real estate development and the cost of living in his hometown. But now he’s bringing his work across Massachusetts to [...]

Viewer’s Discretion: ‘Art and Craft’ and ‘Keeping Faith’

‘ART AND CRAFT’ (AMAZON, FANDOR, HOOPLA, SUNDANCE NOW) When I think of art forgers, I think of crafty con men who are in it for the big money, so Mark Landis, the subject of “Art and Craft,” went against what I envisioned. Landis is an art forger, but a quirky one. He gives his art [...]

Viewer’s Discretion: ‘The A Word’ and ‘The Exhibition’

‘THE A WORD’ (AMAZON) Based on an Israeli show called “Yellow Peppers,” this British series centers a family in a small English village that would probably be considered typical as they face the autism diagnosis of their son. The focus here is Joe (Max Vento), at the start of the series 5-years-old and beginning to [...]

Viewer’s Discretion: ‘Faces Places’ and ‘Sacro GRA’

‘Faces Places’ (Amazon, Apple, Google Play, Netflix, Vudu, YouTube) This gentle documentary brings together 89-year-old New Wave film director Agnes Varda and 33-year-old street artist JR for a journey through France for a collaboration that captures what they see and who they meet, and what they decide to affix to walls in commemoration. Varda, who [...]

Taryn Simon @ Mass MoCA

In her new show at Mass MoCA, artist Taryn Simon offers ways in which the personal and the powerful interact on an intangible, emotional level, translating an individual’s singular passionate reaction into tacit approval of something larger. Alongside an expansive survey of her book-making work, Simon’s show features two distinct parts that each stand on [...]

Allison Janae Hamilton @ Mass MoCA

A new show at Mass MoCA takes a closer look at the landscape — not just as a visual attraction, but as something that affects everyday human lives and communities. Although the scope of this theme is extensive, the vessel to address it is more personal: The artist Allison Janae Hamilton uses scenes from her Southern childhood [...]

Viewer’s Discretion: “The Breadwinner” and “The Square”

‘THE BREADWINNER’ (AMAZON, GOOGLE PLAY, NETFLIX, VUDU) Based on the book by Deborah Ellis, this gorgeous Oscar-nominated animated film tells the story of Parvana (Saara Chaudry), a young girl living in Afghanistan during the rule of the Taliban. She usually accompanies her father, a former teacher, to the marketplace to help sell off their belongings [...]

Rachel Howard @ Mass MoCA

With her new show at Mass MoCA, British painter Rachel Howard’s reputation has preceded her.A former spot painter for Damien Hirst in the 1990s, Howard is now an acclaimed abstract painter, with the British newspaper The Telegraph proclaiming her “one of the finest abstract painters of her generation.” Her focus on dark topics, like sin [...]

Viewer’s Discretion: ‘The Detectorists’ and ‘Treasures from the Wreck of the Unbelievable’

‘DETECTORISTS’ (ACORN) There was never a chance that a comedy about a group of English metal detectors — or, more properly, as the title states, detectorists — was going to present typical people in normal lives. If England is the spiritual home to quiet eccentrics, then “Detectorists” took it upon itself to offer a series that gave laughs, but [...]

Viewer’s Discretion: ‘Blurred Lines: Inside the Art World’ and ‘The Legacy’

‘THE LEGACY’ (AMAZON) The tagline for this family drama could easily be “Her sculptures were perfect, but her family was a mess.” Taking the classic Scandinavian trope of familial dysfunction and adding multiple layers to it, “The Legacy” reveals what happens when a world-famous artist dies suddenly and leaves her children to deal with the [...]

The Unexpected Path: Mass MoCA curator Denise Markonish

Massachusetts Museum of Art curator Denise Markonish is pretty sure her job title doesn’t accurately describe the job she does. You can scrap “curator” — she prefers “producer.” “When you’re working with contemporary artists to make new works, the scholarship and all that is important, but I’m trying to get the thing made,” Markonish says. “I always [...]

Lisa Nilsson

The technique of paper quilling isn’t a common one in the contemporary art world, but North Adams resident Lisa Nilsson embraced the antediluvian medium and elevated even beyond her contemporaries that to her inventive and intricate — and almost obsessive — images that stretch the form to its limits. Quilling is a hundreds-of-years-old paper craft that involves rolling strips [...]

Mass MoCA finds wonder in the everyday

Ryan and Trevor Oakes put their own spin on 14th-century architect and designer Filippo Brunelleschi’s linear theory in “Have No Narrow Perspectives” (2008–09 — stainless steel, enamel, epoxy), part of “Explode Every Day “ at Mass MoCA beginning Saturday. (Courtesy Ryan and Trevor Oakes — mass moca) A new show at Mass MoCA takes the notion of wonder and [...]