Sin — the ultimate pastime.
Certainly, the Fairfield/Westchester Museum Alliance must think so. Throughout the summer, the alliance, which consists of eight venues in the two counties, is presenting an unprecedented group of shows on “The Seven Deadly Sins,” one vice per institution. (The one nonparticipant is The Barnum Museum, whose historic home has been closed since an F1 tornado struck Bridgeport on June 24, 2010.)
Credit Bartholomew F. Bland, deputy director of the Hudson River Museum, for the idea.
“I’ve always been intrigued by it,” says Bland, who’s a big fan of Paul Cadmus’ lubricious Renaissance-inspired series of egg-tempera panels on the subject, now part of The Metropolitan Museum of Art’s collection. “It struck me how they were made in the 1940s (’45-’49) but seemed very modern.” (Other well-known interpretations include Pieter Brueghel the Elder’s group of engravings, 1556-58; George Balanchine’s 1933 ballet, a collaboration with Kurt Weill, Bertolt Brecht and Lotte Lenya; and Pieter Coecke van Aelst’s tapestry series, circa 1532-34, which The Met recently exhibited.)
The Alliance was one with Brueghel, Balanchine and company.
“We talked about doing the seven virtues, but no one wanted to do them,” Bland says with a laugh, adding that the Hudson Valley Center for Contemporary Art, whose “Lust” exhibit just closed, does have a companion show on “Love,” the first of the seven virtues.
Once the idea was agreed on, it quickly became clear, Bland says, that each of the member museums had a favorite vice (or two) and that each would take an approach that played to its strengths. The result is a mix of group and solo shows, single and varied themes and media, historical and contemporary works.
The Alliance offers free admission and a 10 percent gift shop discount to members of all participating museums and, for nonmember visitors, a free same-day pass to all museums when paying admission at any one of the participating museums.
Or you can just go to The Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum, put your feet up and watch videos of all the exhibits.
Don’t be “Sloth”ful, though. Read on.
Where: Hudson River Museum, Yonkers
When: Through Sept. 26
The concept: Mirror, mirror on the wall, who’s the envious one of all? Multimedia artist Adrien Broom rounds up the usual suspects (figures from “Cinderella,” “Snow White” and “Beauty and the Beast”) and some unusual ones as the green-eyed monster rears its head in the installation “Envy: One Sin, Seven Stories.”
For more: 914-963-4550, hrm.org.
Where: Katonah Museum of Art
When: Through Sept. 6
The concept: The Katonah Museum has chosen to interpret gluttony with a one-woman show that is sure to curtail it. Emilie Clark views consumption, decay and regeneration through installations of her family’s food waste – eggshells, desiccated tangerines, and fish heads in jars. “The Delicacy of Decomposition” offers a contemporary twist on the memento mori paintings of the Renaissance and the Baroque, reminders that we are all dust and unto dust we shall return.
For more: 914-232-9555, katonahmuseum.org.
Where: Neuberger Museum of Art, Purchase College.
When: Through Oct. 11
The concept: The Neuberger’s approach to its chosen vice was to explore a material that has always inspired the greedy. Some 20 contemporary artists from at home and abroad consider “Gold” as a metaphor for beauty, transcendence and, particularly, our commercial culture. (See Dario Escobar’s “Untitled,” a gilded McDonald’s cup.)
For more: 914-251-6100, neuberger.org.
Where: Hudson Valley Center for Contemporary Art, Peekskill
When: Alas, “Lust,” perhaps everyone’s favorite deadly sin, has just closed. You can, however, if you are 18 and over, see the catalog of its tough-tender, challenging works, which consider the eroticism of gay, straight and cross-gender identities, at www.hvcca.org/current-exhibitions/.
Meanwhile, “Love: The first of the 7 Virtues,” embracing many media and types of amour, remains on view through Dec. 6.
Teen love: Visit hvcca.org/pdf/LOVE%20Teens.pdf to read what older teens think of the “Love” show.
Contact: 914-788-0100, hvcca.org.
Where: Bruce Museum, Greenwich
When: Through Oct. 18
The concept: They say, “Pride goeth before the fall.” But what a spectacular fall it is, as seen through prints, drawings, paintings, rare books and a video installation that charts the course of art history from the Renaissance to our own time. Among the works is Albrecht Dürer’s engraving “The Great Fortune — Nemesis” (circa 1501), a study of the great bounty — and the great cost — to be found in victory.
For more: 203-869-0376, brucemuseum.org.
Where: The Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum, Ridgefield
When: Through Sept. 19
The concept: In a word — recliner. Artist Mats Bigert and Cabinet magazine editor-in-chief Sina Najafi have taken a few of the most delectable symbols of do-nothingness, thrown in a couple of gin and tonics and added the requisite TVs to allow visitors to put up their feet and savor video presentations of the six other sins so they don’t have to travel to the other museums. (How clever and sneaky is that?) We say, “Pass the chips.”
Sinful bonus points: “Sinful Weekend” on Sept. 19
Contact: 203-438-4519, aldrichart.org.
Where: Wave Hill, The Bronx
When: Through Sept. 7
The concept: Wave Hill is a public garden and cultural center overlooking the Hudson River. So it’s no surprise that the center chose to interpret its vice as the “force of nature.” A dozen contemporary artists plumb natural disasters real and imagined and their effects without and within. It’s the flip side of the natural world just as we like it — framed and contained.
Sinful bonus points: Sinful Weekend, Aug. 8 (artists’ talk at 2 p.m.) and 9 (“Wrath and Resilience: Film Shorts,” 2 to 4 p.m.)
For more: 718-549-3200, wavehill.org.