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Montgomery Museum of Fine Art

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Month: February 2017

Five “Greats” chosen by our staff from the MMFA Collection

Short on time while visiting the MMFA? Make sure to check out these pieces for an insight into the variety of the Museum’s collection. All works were marked as favorites by the Museum’s staff!

Click here to download a map with more information on gallery location and audio tour stops.


Blount Collection

Edward Hopper, New York Office, 1962

Top5.HopperNew York Office was painted when Hopper was eighty years old, and very near the end of his life.  But the subject of the painting had occupied the artist since virtually the beginning of his career, combining three major themes he revisited regularly in his art: urban environment, the business office, and a solitary figure viewed through a window from the outside.

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John Singer Sargent, Mrs. Louis Raphael, ca. 1906

Top5.SargentThis portrait depicts the wife of one of the directors of a prominent London Bank, R. Raphael and Sons. The setting is Sargent’s London studio at 31 Tite Street, which is documented in contemporary photographs. Specific accessories such as the sculpture on the mantelpiece as well as those visible in the mirror are known to have been in Sargent’s studio when the portrait was made in about 1906.

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Karen LaMonte, Ojigi Bowing, 2010

Top5.LamonteFrom afar, Ojigi-Bowing seems to glow from within.  Without a head or hands, it seems almost ghostly.  On closer inspection, the piece reveals the glow to be the overhead light refracting through the hollow interior out through the slightly frosted, but still translucent glass.

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Gary Chapman, Mutter und Tochter, 1993

Top5.ChapmanThe artist Gary Chapman defines the “attractiveness” of the mother in Mutter und Tochter as based upon his personal experience of powerful, confident women. It his belief that mothers need to be strong role models for their daughters as women continue to strive for full social equality.  This mother embodies the idea of physical strength, as it is portrayed in her defined musculature, and her confident pose.

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Young Gallery

Kelly Fitzpatrick, Negro Baptising, 1930

Top5.NegroBaptisingNegro Baptising is one of the first paintings acquired by the museum, donated by Fitzpatrick, who was a member of the first board of directors and a teacher in the affiliated art school. Like many of his works, it depicts an activity he witnessed in the local rural black community, in this case a traditional river baptism.

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Quilts on the Mind

To celebrate the opening of the exhibition Sewn Together: Two Centuries of Alabama Quilts last month, the Museum invited Jennifer Swope, Assistant Curator in the David and Roberta Logie Department of Textiles and Fashion Arts at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, to help contextualize this ground-breaking exhibition by tracing the evolution of the art world’s appreciation of quilts as an art form. The Fleischman Lecture she delivered was titled “From Beds to Wall: Quilts as Art.” Swope allowed the quilt pairs to speak for themselves and was careful to mark the significance of the exhibition.

She remarked afterwards, “This is first time that a cultural historical museum has collaborated with an art museum to show quilts together as far as I know. It is also the first time many of the quilts from the Archives have been on display, and that’s exciting. People get to see them because of the collaboration.” Swope greatly values the fresh approach. “The exhibition allows cultural aspects of objects and aesthetic aspects of objects to co-exist on equal footing. It’s a tribute to the fabulous curators that work so well together.” She continued, “It is important to bring new audiences to the material. People who aren’t aware of the compelling nature of quilts find that they like the stories being told in the show. People who tend to approach quilts from a material culture perspective find that they are aesthetically powerful too.”

Reflecting on Quilt Programs
Last Tuesday in the MMFA galleries, curators Margaret Lynne Ausfeld and Ryan Blocker hosted the first of several Short Course programs on Sewn Together. This exhibition is a collaborative venture between the MMFA (Ausfeld) and the Alabama Department of Archives and History (Blocker), featuring “exemplary pairs” of quilts with similar themes, created at different times and places, by hand or by machine, by Alabamians. The quilts selected from the collection of the Archives reflect fine craftsmanship and a traditional nineteenth-century aesthetic while the Museum’s companion quilts are usually more modern, dynamic interpretations of the same patterns or themes. The two curators approached the program yesterday as they approached the exhibition, as an enthusiastic and erudite team.

Museum member Stan Neuenschwander remarked after the Short Course, “The beauty of two museums, one history, one fine arts, coming together is outstanding.” Neuenschwander’s wife, Becky, and Rachael Jones are among those who not only attended the recent exhibition-related programs but who are also practicing quilters. The two spoke of the community aspect of quilting, whether as an avenue for connecting to people in other parts of the country or becoming intimately acquainted with those they quilt with locally. After the gallery talk, Jones spoke of the language of quilt pattern names shared by fellow quilters, such as “Drunkard’s Path” and “Lemoyne Star.” Reflecting on our larger heritage as Alabamians, Jones noted the deep ties to our agrarian past and legacy as cotton growers, and docent Beverly Bennet noted that many of us have ancestors who quilted. Museum member Ellen Mertins pointed out that many of the later quilts in the show are by individual artists and are not meant to be utilitarian. Jones noted she has found inspiration in the exhibition to go outside the box in her work, and the quilters are excited about the state of quilting today.

The Future of Quilting
Exhibition sponsor Laura Luckett pointed out that quilts by Alabamians are also represented in the collection of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. Swope remarked, “anyone outside of the state who is aware of Alabama quilts is aware of Gee’s Bend. The world is ready for a broader understanding of Alabama quilts, historical and contemporary, which Sewn Together delivers, bringing a broader cultural context. The region is such an artistically rich part of our country.” Additionally, as featured at the Museum last week by Sunshine Huff and Carole King, the Alabama Quilt Book Project stands to greatly expand the scholarship on Alabama quilts.

We do hope Swope will visit this rich part of our country again. She was effusive about the warmth of our Museum, the palpable nature of support for it in the community, the engaging manner in which the Archives addresses history, from pre-history to the present day, without glossing over anything, and the enthusiasm for their collections. She also really loved Jubilee Seafood and meeting exhibition sponsors Laura and Michael Luckett, whose daughter has published a book on quilting. In short, Swope said it was a special visit in honor of a very special exhibition. We look forward to further insights by our patrons as we continue to unravel the hidden and apparent meanings in these objects that were Sewn Together.

Alice Novak
Curator of Education

Fig 1.: (left to right) Margaret Lynne Ausfeld, MMFA curator; Jennifer Swope, Assistant Curator in the David and Roberta Logie Department of Textiles and Fashion Arts at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; Ryan Blocker, ADAH curator

Fig 2.: Ryan Blocker, curator at ADAH

 

February Makes Its Mark on the MMFA

It’s during the month of February that people tend to reflect on love and happiness. Here at the MMFA, we make it a point to celebrate those special times with you. Here is a list of the events that were created with the community in mind.

Short Course: Alabama Quilts 
Tuesdays: February 14, 21, and 28, at 12 noon

Throughout our state’s history, quilting has brought communities together. Now the MMFA and the Alabama Department of Archives and History have paired quilts from their collections representing similar themes, patterns, and techniques in works created across various times, places, classes, and racial lines. Join us for this short course to learn more about Alabama quilts and explore the exhibition Sewn Together.

Tales for Tots 
Wednesday, February 15, 10:30 to 11 A.M. and 11 to 11:30 A.M.

This FREE monthly program helps develop early learning about art fundamentals as participants engage with storybooks and simple craft activities related to art on display in the galleries.


Putting Together the Pieces: Alice Walker’s “Everyday Use” and Quilting Tradition,
co-hosted by Alabama State University
Thursday, February 16, 6 P.M.

Dr. Jacqueline Trimble, Chairperson of the Department of Languages and Literatures, and Dr. Catherine Gubernatis Dannen, Assistant Professor of English, Alabama State University, will lead a gallery talk in the exhibition Sewn Together: Two Centuries of Alabama Quilts.


Film at the Museum: Basquiat
Thursday, February 23, 5:30 P.M.

Layered with symbols, text, graffiti-like expressions, and references to other creative minds, Jean-Michel Basquiat’s paintings broke auction records for work by an African-American artist and remain highly collectible today. Basquiat, written and directed by painter and filmmaker Julian Schnabel, tells the story of the artist’s short, tragic life, and his meteoric success.

Family Art Affair and Jazz Jams 
Sunday, February 26, 2 P.M.

View the collaborative exhibition Sewn Together: Two Centuries of Alabama Quilts displaying traditional handmade quilts from the collections of both the MMFA and the Alabama Department of Archives and History. Enjoy the studio program replicating quilting styles and themes using textiles and colorful papers to make your own pattern designs to take home! As always, the jazz will be found in the Museum’s Orientation gallery!

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