MADONNA AND CHILD:  Selections from the Accatino Collection
Through December 31, 2006
Reception:  Thursday, December 7, 6-9pm

Riverside Art Museum
3425 Mission Inn Avenue, Riverside, CA  92501
Contact: Andi Campognone, Associate Director
Daniel Foster, Director
Peter Frank, Senior Curator
(951) 684-7111, ext. 306, fax (951) 684-7332
Web site,
Museum Hours: Monday through Saturday, 10:00 am to 4:00 pm, Thursday until 8 pm
Museum Shop Hours: Monday through Saturday, 10:00 AM to 4:00 PM
Atrium Restaurant Hours: Monday through Friday, 11:30 AM to 2:00 PM
Admission: $5.00 per visitor / Museum members, students, children 12 & under FREE

Balloonery Exhibit: Holly Crawford Installation


In the spirit of the holiday season, the Riverside Art Museum is pleased to present the work of three intrepid artists who work in the unusual medium of balloons. Inland artist Mary Beth Fletcher, a graduate of Claremont Graduate University, joins New York artists Holly Crawford – herself a southern California native – and Jason Hackenwerth in filling the museum’s Art Alliance Gallery with installational work fabricated entirely from balloons.

Whether it’s sculpture, architecture, or performance, art made from balloons is obviously not art conceived of as permanent. But it is conceived as art, its colors painterly, its shapes sculptural, its presence potentially all-surrounding, and its associations festive. Many artists have worked, and continue to work, with inflatable bags, and all have at least subtly exploited the fun of it all. But, like Christmas spirit itself, it’s serious fun. “Balloonery” is meant first and foremost for the kids, but finally, it’s a show for all ages to enjoy.

Mary Beth Fletcher is a professional clown, and the mischievous sensibility she brings to her day job she brings to her art as well. Her balloon objects are balloon creatures, seemingly bouncing and slithering around their allotted space like pets from another planet testing out a new abode. Taking the comfortable shapes of pillows, sausages, doughnuts, and stones – among other rounded, curvaceous objects – Fletcher’s amiable alien animals mug goofily and endearingly.

Holly Crawford – a critic, historian, editor, and theorist as well as a painter, poet, and performer – presents a more austere balloon work, but infuses it with a similarly organic energy, describing the balloons as resembling “cells that come together into different spaces.” Crawford’s Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird – a loose homage to the Wallace Stevens poem from whence it gets its name – exists as a site-specific participatory installation that exists in a given time period almost like a story: the installation is constructed, it goes on view for a couple of weeks, then, during the reception, is altered by popping, and is removed a week or two later.

Crawford’s balloons are all black, but Jason Hackenwerth’s are at least as colorful as Fletcher’s – and, if anything, even more biomorphic. Hackenwerth’s balloon sculptures have taken the forms – and also taken off from the forms – of sea creatures, fossils, and even giant prehistoric creatures. Indeed, one of his most recent exhibitions was held at New Haven, Connecticut’s Peabody Museum of Natural History, where he constructed immense imaginary dinosaurs. He has also created expansive organic structures hung from the ceiling, floating high above viewers’ heads. He’s come a long way from the days when he entertained children at the famous New York toy store F.A.O. Schwarz, and even a longer way from his studies and exhibitions as a painter. But he comes by his profession – and the exuberant performance with which he enlivens his inventions – through example, his mother was a weekend clown, tying balloons into animal shapes in a downtown mall.

All three artists in “Balloonery,” then, are performers, even entertainers, as much as they are shape-makers. No matter how strange, rigorous, or elaborate the structures they make out of myriad inflatable latex sacs, Crawford, Fletcher, and Hackenwerth mean for their complex balloon accretions to induce a spirit not just of awe, but of giddiness. If the Bauhaus taught us that form follows function, these three artists suggest that form follows fun. For more information please contact Christine Jesson-Valore at

Madonna & Child Exhibition: Peruvian Cuzco School, Our Lady of Mount Carmel, Accatino Collection.

MADONNA AND CHILD:  Selections from the Accatino Collection

The Riverside Art Museum is pleased to present its Holiday Season 2006 exhibition. Drawn from the collection of Tom and Christie Accatino, this selection of paintings from the 16th to the 19th centuries focuses on a single subject: the Biblical Mary and her infant son Jesus. The show thus displays multiple portraits of Christmas itself.

Tom and Christie Accatino are local collectors, based in Riverside and Palm Springs, whose eclectic tastes range from California landscape painting (their extensive holdings in this category were sampled at the Riverside Art Museum last year) to Asian artifacts. They have a particular interest in certain themes and approaches associated with the Old Masters, and over the past few years have amassed a group of portraits, still lifes, and religious subjects by various painters – many still unidentified – working in the Baroque and classic styles prevalent in their day.

The selection presented here includes a range of treatments of the Madonna and Child subject. The iconic pair is shown with St. John the Baptist as a child; with the shepherds who flocked to the manger where Christ was born; with the “sacred heart” symbol; and in other configurations. Augmenting these are several works dealing with related themes, such as a Deposition from the Cross and an adult Christ enthroned on Judgment Day.

The artworks, spanning the period between Renaissance and modern times, come from Europe – including Russia – and South America. One work has been positively identified as coming from the hand of the Spanish Baroque master Bartolome Esteban Murillo, while the authorship of the others remains a mystery. No matter their maker, the pictures alternately move and charm us with their sincerity, intimacy, and skill, even virtuosity.  For additional information on this exhibit please contact Christine Jesson-Valore at


The Riverside Art Museum, located in downtown Riverside, occupies a National Historic building designed and built by Hearst Castle architect Julia Morgan.  The Riverside Art Museum is a 50 year-old, private non-profit cultural institution that offers diverse contemporary fine art exhibitions and programs to serve the inland southern California region.

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