Norm Magnusson: On This Site Stood

June 24November 4 , 2007
Exhibition Reception: Sunday, June 24, 2007; 3 to 5 pm

The Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum is located in one of Connecticut’s oldest historic districts, full of people, places, and things to remember; making the Museum a perfect venue for Norm Magnusson to present his recent series of historical markers in an exhibition entitled On This Site Stood.

Historical markers have traditionally offered glimpses into the extraordinary array of people and events that have shaped history in a particular region. Some refer to tangible reminders like a covered bridge or historic house, others designate sites of significant events that passed and left no trace, like a battleground. Playing off the familiar format of a typical state historical marker, Magnusson has created a series of cast aluminum sculptures that cleverly focus attention on contemporary social and political issues by simply stating the concerns of individual Americans who “on this site stood.” Magnusson’s work, which is part of the Museum’s ongoing Main Street Sculpture Project, will be installed along Main Street and in The Aldrich’s Cornish Family Sculpture Garden. The artist is creating new markers especially for this installation, one of them directly inspired by the Museum’s historical building.

additional images | click to enlarge

Amidst the many historical sites in Ridgefield—including a Revolutionary War battleground and a Colonial tavern, Magnusson’s markers will arrest viewers with contemporary facts such as “ON THIS SITE STOOD, RY BRAUER, TYPICAL AMERICAN TEEN.  BY THE AGE OF 18, HE HAD WITNESSED OVER 30,000 MURDERS ON TV.” The subject matter of Magnusson’s project is broad, with other topics including global warming, the importance of dissent in the democratic process, evolution/intelligent design, and “Walmartification.”

Magnusson, clearly aware of the potential for these contemporary roadside markers to persuade and shape ideas, comments, “Historical markers are an inherently interesting vehicle for socially pointed thoughts.  The types of people who stop to read them are collectively defined more by their curiosity about the world around them than they are by any shared ideological leanings, which makes them a perfect audience for a carefully-crafted message.” Magnusson hopes his art will open minds and shape opinions, and calls what he is doing an art of social conscience.

Magnusson’s work is in the permanent collections of The Museum of Modern Art (Franklin Furnace Artist's Book Archive), the Springfield Museum of Art, the Anchorage Museum of History and Art, The Pember Museum, and numerous other public and private collections. His work was also shown at the Bridgewater/Lustberg Gallery in NYC. Magnusson was honored with a Pollock-Krasner Foundation grant in 1999. Magnusson lives and works in Woodstock, NY and is represented by VanBrunt Gallery in Beacon, NY.

The exhibition will open with a free public reception from 3 to 5 pm on Sunday, June 24, 2007, at The Aldrich, located at 258 Main Street, Ridgefield, CT.  Round-trip transportation from New York City is available; please call the Museum at 203.438.4519 for reservations.

Top of page: Norm Magnusson, BETH WHISE, 2007. Cast aluminum, acrylic paint. 90" (approx.) x 36" installed. Courtesy of the artist and the Van Brunt Gallery, Beacon. *Created especially for The Aldrich exhibition .