Anyone who has taken a road trip to a small, picturesque town has probably seen a birchwood plaque. Traditionally, artists — often of the amateur or untrained variety — would paint a scenic bit of nature onto an oval-shaped slice of wood. These types of artworks tend to show up on the walls of country kitchens, for sale in tourist shops, and hanging in bed-and-breakfast bedrooms. For the American Swedish Institute's latest visiting exhibition, "#NameThisExhibit," 1,200 birchwood plaques from Sweden will be on display in what should be an endearingly kitschy overload of the art form. "The scenes these plaques usually depict represent nostalgia for the bucolic settings of one's past — reminiscent of leisure, visits to ancestral summer homes, or aspirational sightseeing trips," says Scott Pollock, director of exhibitions, collections, and programs. "Imagine something your grandpa might have had hanging in his suburban, paneled basement, and you'll get the idea." There will be several related events during the show, including Cocktails at the Castle from 7 to 11 p.m. Tuesday, April 30, with outdoor music by local bands Teenage Moods, Dan Mariska and the Boys Choir, and DJ Zac HB, plus live art creation from local artists who will give their own take on birchwood plaques. Also, from 1 to 3 p.m. Saturday, May 18, museum-goers can bring their own kitschy, out of fashion, or adorably quaint pieces to display in the gallery.
March 30-June 2, 2013