Born Netta Deweze Frazee Scudder, she adopted the much simpler name Janet when she went to art school in Cincinnati in the 1880s. When she arrived in Chicago in 1891, she became an assistant to sculptor Lorado Taft (along with Bessie Potter Vonnoh) and helped him with his commissions for the World’s Columbian Exposition. She received her own commissions for the fair as well. She settled in New York City and established a reputation for medallions and later for urban and garden fountains, especially Frog Fountain (1901, pictured, collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art).
Alida Cervantes, Mexican painter and mixed-media artist, creates work with a three-dimensional presence. Themes of power, wealth, and social caste based on race, confront the viewer in her current Mills Gallery show. “La enemiga natural” (above, oil on found palette), suggests that the traditional, over-wrought trappings of feminine wealth and power—elaborate clothes, clownlike makeup—are merely broken and disturbing signifiers. Through September.
Beverly Semmes‘s oversize dresses—fit for a giantess—have become feminist art memes. Her current show at Samson Projects in SOWA, Boston, is a return to these iconic garments, and they seem like old friends—crazy friends, maybe—but still a welcome and hilarious sight. Taken all together, the clothes are souvenirs of wild lives: a diaphanous blue negligee draped over an enormous hanger, decorated with red tags (is the giantess keeping score?); a fringed evening shawl in crushed velvet; a huge gown in canine-print fabric (pictured) with crazily puddling sleeves; blouses embroidered with cellular patterns. The last day is May 27.