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Year: 2015

Donna Pickens is Moving On

BlogonDonnaDespite pleas from her co-workers, Donna Pickens retired from her more-than-fulltime position as Assistant Curator of Education for ARTWORKS, School, Family & Children’s Programs at the Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts in December.

For 11 years, she designed the Museum’s studio programs and supervised the staff that delivered countless hands-on art lessons for children and adults. Donna co-authored the Museum’s well-respected fifth-grade tour curriculum, and she helped to organize family days and special events like Holiday Open House and the Flimp Festival. In addition, she managed the Museum’s ARTWORKS hands-on galleries (for which she created some of the exhibits), and she coordinated dozens of ARTWORKS corridor exhibitions of student art that were always cued to the Museum’s temporary exhibitions in order to help students explore the themes, techniques, and materials on display in the Museum’s galleries. Twice the U. S. Department of Education chose student art from Donna’s programs for a national exhibition in Washington, DC that was co-sponsored by the Association of Art Museum Directors.

In recent years Donna created a new, yearlong, artist-in-residence program for third and fourth graders at Wares Ferry Road Elementary using pilot-project funding from the Hearst Foundations and the National Endowment for the Arts. She designed (and staffed and supervised) a solid program that utilizes Visual Thinking Strategies to improve students’ creativity, perceptions, and verbal abilities. She also expanded the Museum’s outreach programs, adding one for the Alabama Department of Youth Services at Mt. Meigs that officials now seek to duplicate at other facilities.BlogPost.DonnaP

Donna’s engagement with adult artists was similarly deep and broad. She taught and coordinated countless evening and weekend workshops, including ARTtalk (with the Montgomery Art Guild), and Art Ed Central (with and for local art teachers). She has also coordinated a robust range of lessons for the annual Alabama Art Education Association meetings at the MMFA, and she has been active in national arts education organizations as well.

Museum director Mark Johnson said, “We will all miss Donna and her creativity, perseverance, and passion for art and art education. We are grateful for her decade of service to this Museum and our community and we wish her the best in her retirement.”

Donna earned an MFA at Georgia State University and taught art in Atlanta for nearly three decades before moving to Montgomery. She is an accomplished sculptor with public art commissions and an artist who has mastered a wide variety of techniques and materials. She looks forward to flexing her artistic muscles in retirement, while spending more time with family and friends.

Fortunately for Museum staff and visitors, Donna has agreed to continue working a couple of days a week for several months to sustain the popular Museum programs we have all come to expect. So, please wish Donna a happy retirement when you see her. But don’t dawdle. She’s got grandchildren to see and art to make.

Michael Panhorst
Curator of Art

Give a Community Gift

2015-12-05 15.49.18 MMFA GivingIt’s December, which means that people are looking to donate to charitable causes for a couple of reasons.

1) They are in the holiday spirit and they want to give freely of their time and money this time of year.

2) The end of 2015 is quickly approaching so it’s the last chance some have to make charitable contributions to causes they care about AND take advantage of the tax deductions that come with them.

Whichever category you fall into, we hope you will consider giving a gift to the Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts.

For 85 years, the Museum has been a cultural focal point in the City of Montgomery. With free admission, the Museum has been a gathering place in the community. It’s a place for young mothers to come and entertain their children for an afternoon without breaking the bank. It’s a place where high school students can come to learn about the history of art and can even earn college credits while they’re at it through the Museum’s A.P. Art History class. On opening nights, the Museum becomes a meeting place for the curious minds of Montgomery.

For those who can’t make it to the MMFA, the staff and volunteers bring the wonder and the knowledge of the Museum to underserved Montgomery area neighborhoods. These outreach classes teach students to use artistic exercises to work through emotions in a safe and healthy environment which ultimately leads to a positive and lasting impact on behavior.

The MMFA strives to be a place for the curious to gather regardless age, race, income, or social status, so this holiday season keep the Museum close to your heART and give a gift your whole community can enjoy. Make a donation to the MMFA today.

20151106_130225 for blogI heART the MMFA because…
There is beauty everywhere.. the building, paintings, sculptures, grounds, and people. Montgomery Alabama is very lucky to have this fabulous museum.
Jules

 

Jennifer Eitzmann
Development Officer

Holiday Open House—Welcome the Season at the MMFA

HOH.BlogJoin your neighbors and friends at the Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts for Holiday Open House, an afternoon of merriment and holiday cheer. This annual event will be held next Saturday, December 5, from 1 to 4 P.M. This is a family-friendly tradition filled with seasonal art activities for children, musical performances provided by schools in the River Region, and a whole lot more.

HOH.Blog.1Of course Santa will be on hand to hear what’s on each child’s secret “list,” and pose for that special picture. Take advantage of what is expected to be beautiful weather by enjoying a horse-drawn carriage ride through the Museum grounds. Pick up a festive cookie or two as you sample some hot apple cider or lemonade. Children of all ages can take part in holiday art projects and make something to take home.  They might paint a one-of-a-kind plastic ornament in the Museum studios, or make traditional Reindeer Feed Bags. Our amazing docents will be on hand to answer questions you may have as you explore our permanent and special exhibitions including Once & Again: Still Lifes by Beth Lipman and Retooled: Highlights from the Hechinger Collection.HOH.Blog.4

Remember, this event is the Museum’s FREE gift to the community. In return, we hope everyone attending will bring non-perishable items for the Montgomery Area Food Bank, and unwrapped toys for Toys for Tots to fill the bins we have located in the foyer. Your gifts will make the holiday season a bit brighter for local families in need.

So, come by this Saturday afternoon and experience Holiday Open House.  It’s a great way to kick off your own celebration of the Season!HOH.Blog.3

Cynthia Milledge
Director of  Public RelationsHOH.Blog.2

 

Behind the Scenes—Installing Once & Again: Still Lifes by Beth Lipman

Blog.LipmanOn Saturday, November 14, 2015, the MMFA will open our newest exhibition for the fall season, Once & Again: Still Lifes by Beth Lipman.  Featuring seven sculptures and eight photographs, this is the largest exhibition of artist Beth Lipman’s work to date. While her sculptures allude to seventeenth-century still-life paintings, her three-dimensional interpretations of these historical canvases offer pointed commentary on contemporary art and life. (At left: Artist Beth Lipman during installation at the MMFA)

Putting together these large-scale sculptures—assemblages of hundreds of individual glass objects—is not a straightforward process, but rather is an intricate dance of placement, gluing with silicone, and timing. To create this exhibition in our galleries Lipman arrived at the Museum on November 4. Since then, she has worked many long days on several pieces at once, adding new layers, allowing the silicone to dry, and coming back to each of the sculptures to add additional elements day after day.  Lipman’s works often defy gravity—glass vines, pitchers, swags, and vessels break free of the confines of their tables, bursting beyond their edges to dangle unsupported in space.  Pushing the glass material to the point of breakage, while simultaneously highlighting its strength, Lipman’s precarious compositions are fraught with a sense of immediacy and tension. Watching the artist in action as she builds these complex installations demonstrates Lipman’s mastery over her process, and the results are stunningly beautiful feats of exemplary creative engineering!  Accompanying the sculptures are equally impressive photographic representations of Lipman’s glass objects portrayed in two-dimensional splendor, revealing yet another aspect of the artist’s approach to her work.

Once & Again: Still Lifes by Beth Lipman is accompanied by the first full-scale, illustrated catalogue of the artist’s work, produced by the MMFA and available in the Museum Store.  The exhibition is touring to two other venues, The Hunter Museum of Art in Chattanooga, Tennessee (on view from March 11, to June 12, 2016) and the Jewish Museum Milwaukee, Wisconsin, (on view September 22, 2016 to January 7, 2017).

Please stop by the MMFA between November 14, 2015 and January 31, 2016, to see the results of Beth Lipman’s hard week’s work of installation—the culmination of her many years of experience creating art the in splendid medium of glass.

To see Beth in action, check out the  video  Cynthia Milledge, director of marketing and public relations, captured of the installation and the brief interview she conducted.

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Jennifer Jankauskas
Curator of Art, and the exhibition

The MMFA Salutes Our Invaluable Volunteers

VolRec.1.BlogOn Tuesday evening, October 27, the Museum held its annual Volunteer Recognition awards banquet.  The dinner and ceremony were held in the Rotunda with over 70 volunteers coming out to celebrate their many contributions to the MMFA.  The night began with a cocktail hour followed by a fall-themed dinner catered by Jennie Weller Catering and Events that included a menu of spiced pork tenderloin, roasted vegetables, a sweet potato bar, and peach cobbler.

Current Board of Trustees President Roger Spain gave a warm welcome, followed by remarks from MMFA staff Margaret Lynne Ausfeld, Curator of Art, Alice Novak, Assistant Curator of Education, and Madeline Burkhardt, Volunteer Coordinator, who also presented the evening’s awards. The first award, for Outstanding Leadership, was presented by Mr. Spain to Board of Trustees member and past President of the Board of Trustees, Barrie Harmon.  Barrie was recognized for his many contributions through the sponsorship of temporary exhibitions, as well as his current, critical leadership of the campaign to fund the MMFA’s new Sculpture Garden.Blog.VOLREC.5

Other winners announced during the event included Jarrod Cowans,(pictured at left below) who was named Rookie of the Year, and Karla Hodges (at right, pictured on the left with MMFA educator Donna Pickens), winning the First Impressions award for her work at the Information Desk. Luigi Edwards received the award for FLIMP Festival support, recognizing her multiple years of service ensuring that this amazing event goes off without a hitch.   Vol.Rec.3.BlogCayla Hamilton, Jamie Reschke, and LaKendrick Taylor were named Outstanding Interns for their assistance to  Museum staff with photography projects, digital design work, and educational outreach programs.

The award for leading the Most Successful Bazaar d’Art went to Courtney Kershaw; the Fundraising Excellence Award for Art in Concert went to Harrison Hawke; the Development Leadership Award went to C.J. Hincy; and awards for the Last Call events sponsored by the Junior Executive Board were given to Rachael Gallagher, Allison Muhlendorff, and Erika Tracy. Docents who won awards during their graduation ceremony this past spring were also recognized.

We cannot thank all our volunteers enough for the hundreds of hours of their time donated to help the Museum! There are many opportunities to serve your Museum and your community by volunteering at the MMFA. If you are interested in volunteering at the Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts, please contact Madeline Burkhardt at volunteers@mmfa.org.

(at right: Assistance Needed Today award winner Margaret Arthur, with MMFA educator Alice Novak.)

VolRec.4.Blog

Madeline Burkhardt
Volunteer Coordinator

Art in Concert 2015

Art in Concert 2015, FuturebirdsWe could not have asked for better weather for the 4th Annual Art in Concert on Friday, October 16, organized by our Junior Executive Board (JEB). Local DJ Kevin Nutt opened the show turning the tables with fantastic tunes that really got the crowd going.  Over 400 people were on hand to welcome the headlining act The FUTUREBIRDS to Montgomery.  Hailing from Athens, GA but currently based in Atlanta, the FUTUREBIRDS are an incredible up-and-coming band on the verge of national recognition.  True to form, they played an amazing live show that had the crowd dancing long into the night.  Highlights included new songs from their album Hotel Parties and a great cover of Brooks and Dunn’s Neon Moon.

The side lawn was the perfect venue for the concert during which people enjoyed some great food catered by Jennie Weller Catering and Events, and craft beer from Back Forty Brewing Company located in Gadsden, AL.  We were fortunate to have the support of our key sponsors Auburn University at Montgomery, MATTER and the Poarch Band of Creek Indians; their generosity helped make the night the tremendous success that it was.  The Junior Executive Board, under the direction of president CJ Hincy, has decided to donate the proceeds, which were in excess of $10,000, to education programs within the Museum, as well as to our community art outreach programs benefitting many within the River Region.  We additionally want to thank key JEB members Allison Muhlendorf, Rachael Gallagher, Erika Tracy, and Harrison Hawke for their marketing, fund raising, and logistical work.Art in Concert 2015.2

The Junior Executive Board is looking for new members for the upcoming year. If you are interested in joining this dynamic group of MMFA supporters, please send a cover letter and resume to Deputy Director Jill Barry, jbarry@mmfa.org for consideration before December 1.

Blake Rosen
MMFA Special Events Coordinator

The Fall Edition of DiVine Lunch and Artist in Action

cafe.33Please join us for what promises to be a great afternoon of delectable food and beautiful art on Thursday, October 15,  with DiVine Lunch, 11 A.M. to 2 P.M. and Artist in Action, 12 noon to 2 P.M.

The menu for DiVine Lunch will start with a delicious Callaloo soup made of leafy greens typical of Caribbean dining accented with a southern twist of Ambrosia Salad. Our partnership with United Johnson Brothers, LLC., wine distributors continues and their suggestion of either a crisp Equilibrium white blend or a smooth Santa Maria Valley Chardonnay will pair perfectly with the soup and salad combo.

The second course continues the Latin American theme using cumin and paprika to spice up the tomato sauce covering a quinoa and lentil hash, which may be accompanied by your choice of Lamb Pops, Braised Grouper or Cheese and Bread Stuffed Mirliton Squash. The squash often referred to as Mirliton in Haitian or Creole cultures, is better known in the states by another moniker, the chayote. It is smaller in size and green in color. Depending upon your entrée choice, either the A to Z Pinot Noir (which received a 90-point rating from Wine Spectator) or the Cambria Chardonnay will enhance your dining experience.Café M

Last, but certainly not least, the Mexican Hot Chocolate Cake uses spiced chocolate to create an interesting spin on a classic dessert. We are excited to be working with Goat Hill Roasters, an original coffee roasting company located in Montgomery, for the first time. The owners will bring their unique coffee blend to the Museum from their mobile store downtown.

Betty Carroll BlogMake sure to stop by the Museum Store to see Betty Carroll, our Artist in Action. She will be working on a fall lake scene with the vibrant colors of the changing foliage reflecting on the water’s surface. She has been a great addition to the Museum Store and her landscapes are always in high demand. So make sure to meet her as she brings fall colors to life as the Artist in Action.

Reservations are strongly recommended for DiVine Lunch; please call 334.240.4339 as soon as possible to insure a not-to-be-missed dining experience. The cost is $20 per person, excluding tax and gratuity. Upcoming DiVine Lunch dates are Thursday, January 21 and Thursday, April 21, 2016.

Blake Rosen,
Special Events Coordinator

 

A Day in Historic Eufaula with the Collectors Society

EufaulaCollector'sSociety1On Thursday, October 1, the Collectors Society took a splendid excursion to Eufaula. Doug Purcell, Executive Director Emeritus of the Historic Chattahoochee Commission, led the tour of historic architecture and collections.

The day began at the neo-classical Shorter EufaulaCollector'sSociety#2Mansion (1884, renovated 1906) where Mayor Jack Tibbs warmly welcomed the group. Ann Hubbert, who has been a part of Collectors Society since its inception, remarked that going to Shorter Mansion was a highlight both for its beauty and remarkable history. She was also glad she ascended to the cupola at Fendall Hall in order to enjoy the view.

EufaulaCollector'sSociety#3The group enjoyed lunch on the porch of the Italianate-style Fendall Hall (1860). Afterwards the Collectors Society toured the notable murals in the house, which was built by the ancestors of Lucy Jackson, who was on the tour. The last residence, the Petry-Honan House (1868), is still in the hands of the family that bought it in the 1870’s and retains its original detached kitchen. The final stop was the Eufaula Athenaeum, which houses special collections related to Barbour County in a historic drug-store building (1850’s) located downtown.

EufaulaCollector'sSociety#4Jane Barganier articulated the impact of the day, “We went to a small town that is proud of their EufaulaCollector'sSociety#6history, and they are keeping it alive. I was reminded that the culture of small towns is just as important as that of major cities. We should all be proud of the communities in our state, such as Eufaula and Selma, that have worked so hard to preserve their heritage in their homes, buildings, and art and have so much to contribute in terms of interesting people, history, artists, and writers. The day was fun, it was interesting, and studying history is so terribly important. ”

The Collectors Society will hear from glass sculptor Beth Lipman next month, in conjunction with Once and Again: Still Lifes by Beth Lipman. The group is also looking forward to a visit to the High Museum of Art in Atlanta to see the exhibition Hapsburg Splendor, a luncheon lecture with the Chief Historian of the History Channel, and more. It is not too late to join for this year. If you would like to be part of the Collectors Society, please contact Alice Novak at 334-240-4362, or at anovak@mmfa.org.

Alice Novak
Assistant Curator of Education

 

 

 

A Thomas Hart Benton for the MMFA

Benton.BlogThursday, May 21, 2015 marked a significant milestone in the history of the Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts and its collection.  At around 10:30 that morning, the Museum purchased Ozark Autumn, 1949, by the Regionalist painter Thomas Hart Benton (American, 1889–1975) for its American paintings collection. It is the first painting by one of the three major American Regionalist painters—Benton, John Steuart Curry, and Grant Wood—to enter the collection.   Acquiring a painting by one of the artists from this particular school of American art was long considered an important goal for our MMFA collection because the Museum owns a significant number of works by Southern Regionalist painters who were contemporaries of Benton and the others. J. Kelly Fitzpatrick and his students formed a “mini-Regionalist” cohort here in the heart of Alabama, and these works were the foundation of the MMFA collection that began in 1930.
 
Benton.Blog.4Thomas Hart Benton was a controversial and influential character in both the art and social worlds in early and mid-twentieth century America.  After study and the practice of art in Paris and New York, Benton’s outspokenness, writings, and large-scale public mural projects made him a voice for national political and art issues in Depression-era America.  Early in his career he worked for a time as a modernist painter, but he eventually abandoned that style to pursue one rooted in traditional European art, creating murals with distinctly “American” themes that resonated with the public.  He is best known for his mural cycles such as America Today (now in the collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York), and his massive composition for the Missouri State Capitol in Jefferson City. His association with Wood and Curry, along with a December 1934, Time magazine cover story about Benton’s work, allowed him to settle into his permanently defined role as a Regionalist painter. (Above: Registrar Pamela Bransford and MMFA Consulting Conservator Larry Shutts examine the Museum’s latest acquisition.)
 
The acquisition of this critical work was made possible only by the amazing legacy of Ida Belle Young, who bequeathed the Museum funds for the purchase of “traditional American art” upon her death in 2004. However having the resources for a purchase was only one factor in acquiring the appropriate work.  The staff made a concerted effort for more than seven years to locate “the right Benton” before Ozark Autumn became available.  This work possessed two attributes that were considered critical—as a larger scale work in oil and tempera it could be put on long-term view with our other important American paintings (unlike a work on paper which is subject to damage over time from exposure to light), and the subject was an agrarian one depicting a corn harvesting scene.  Since many of our Southern Regionalist works depict the rural South, it was important to us that our Benton reflect that same agrarian tradition.
 
And yet a second exciting day dawned on August 31, when we finally unveiled this outstanding work of art for our MMFA Board of Trustees. The event, held in the Museum’s Rotunda at 5:30 P.M., celebrated the support of the Board, the generosity of Ida Belle Young, and the City of Montgomery’s ongoing belief in our mission to the community.Benton.Blog.3  The painting was given a very warm and hearty welcome, accompanied by a toast to the memory of Ida Belle Young, whose gift in the form of the Ida Belle Young Art Acquisition Fund had made its acquisition possible.(Right: Acquisition Committee Chairman Winnie Stakely and MMFA President of the Board of Trustees Roger Spain unveil Ozark Autumn)
 
For any collecting museum the addition of a truly major work of art is a rare event, and one that contributes to the ongoing vitality of the institution.  It takes a concerted team effort to achieve the Museum’s mission “to collect, preserve, exhibit and interpret art of the highest quality.” This acquisition of Ozark Autumn, and the many people that worked to get it to Montgomery, is a testament to what that mission statement is really all about.Benton.Blog.2

Margaret Lynne Ausfeld
Curator of Art

Korean–Language Gallery Talk: Connecting to American History through Art

KoreanTalk.Blog.2On September 17, MMFA Docent Jiyeon Suh led a dynamic Korean-language gallery talk in the exhibition Journey Through the Collection: Docent Choices.  She focused on a section of the exhibition called Remembering the Past, which includes art that addresses American history from the Native American experience to the Civil Rights Movement.  I was lucky enough to be a participant and occasionally heard an English phrase such as “Manifest Destiny” or “flappers” which gave me a sense of the conversation.  At the end I asked Jiyeon, “Did you mention Kevin Costner?” and a few other questions . . .
 
“What is something about American history as represented in the exhibition that you find particularly interesting?”
 
Jiyeon: “At the beginning of the gallery talk, I introduced the idea that learning about the major conflicts that define American history helps to understand the social and cultural shifts in this country’s relatively brief history.  We looked at representations of the Civil War, First World War, and Second World War during the gallery talk.  Korean audiences can follow the timeline of American history easily because there are many close relationships to our national history.”   
 
“What connections to popular culture did you make in the galleries to help people understand the works of art?”
 
J: “While we were looking at a painting of Plains Indians beside a portrait of a Confederate Solider, I talked about Dances with Wolves, since native cultures and the Civil War are at the heart of the movie.  We also examined works from the 20s and 30s,  and I made connections to The Great Gatsby, which is very well-known in Korea, and a more recent Korean film, Assassination, which is set in 1933.”
 
“What is your message to your friends about enjoying the Museum?”
 
J: “The Museum is a wonderful gift to all of the families in Montgomery.  I love the people I meet at the Museum, connecting with my fellow volunteers, and the passion for art here!
 
With a Korean audience, I like to emphasize that by learning more about American art, history, literature, music, movies, and current issues we can better relate to our children and help them with everything they are studying in school.  It also gives us fun topics to discuss at home! “KoreanTalk.Blog
 
Many people are looking forward to hearing more from Jiyeon and her perspective on American culture in Journey Through the Collection very soon. 
 
– Alice Novak, Curator, with Jiyeon Suh

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