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Montgomery Art Guild Museum Exhibition opens Friday, June 12

MAG 41st Invitation 0215_MAG Post Card InvitationJuried shows inevitably instigate anxiety among artists. In order to enter, they must select art they hope will resonate with jurors whose taste they do not know. For exhibitions juried from digital images, like the MAG Museum show, artists must photograph their art so that the colors, composition, and textual characteristics are conveyed clearly despite each image being viewed on a computer monitor. Whether the artwork is six inches or six feet tall, durable or ephemeral, the artist has only a digital image or two with which to impress the judge. No wonder that artists complain jurors “just don’t get it.”

On the other hand, jurors have nothing but that tiny image and the title, date, dimensions, and material on which to base their decisions. Juried shows guard the anonymity of the artist so that decisions are based on the art, not the artist. Most jurors are adept at considering the visual and factual information and then imagining how the art will look in a gallery. Still, they often profess surprise when they see the art in person. “It has a greater presence than I expected.” “That frame really enhances the craftsmanship of the relief sculpture.” “The digital image did not convey the character of the brushstrokes.” Consequently, exhibitions juried from images often ask the juror to award prizes upon inspection of the art in the gallery, as is the case with the MAG Museum show.

MAG.BlogJurors are picked to serve because of their broad experience with art, and perhaps because of their familiarity with the type of art featured in the exhibition (contemporary art in the case of the MAG Museum show), but also because they do not reside in the same community as the artists and thus can bring an independent, and arguably unbiased, eye to the selection process. The juror for this exhibition is Tom Butler, who recently retired from a long career as director of the Columbus (GA) Museum of Art. In his statement for the catalog, he says:

As for my selection process, what were my criteria? …the high quality of the artist’s jpgs was critical. Medium, color, scale, texture, and my personal emotional reactions were the essential things I considered…but I also realize that I may have missed some subtleties that are only evident in the actual artwork. However, for four decades I have been looking at slides, transparencies, and now jpgs, so I have come to trust myself in this kind of decision-making process. Whether the work of art selected was based in observations of reality or an abstract composition, the most important factor to me was how honest the artwork was to its own identity.

Butler ultimately selected fewer than a hundred items by 74 artists from the 427 items entered by 127 artists, 38 of whom were first-time entrants. The high percentage of first-time entrants is probably attributable to a new $500 award for first-timers given by the 2014 Junior Executive Board of the Museum in order to encourage emerging artists to participate. It worked. 27 of those first-timers were selected.

That award and 23 others totaling more than $22,000 will be selected by Butler once the art is delivered to the Museum on June 5. Those awards will be announced at the opening reception on Friday, June 12. The party starts at 5:30 with the awards announcement commencing around 6:30.

Once the ceremony is done, listen carefully to the artists in the crowd. Inevitably, from some you’ll be sure to hear, “that juror just didn’t get it.”

Michael W. Panhorst, Ph.D.
Curator of Art, MMFA

Congratulations to Docent Graduates 2015

Doc.Grad.BlogIn recognition of the MMFA’s powerful and thought provoking exhibition, History Refused to Die: Alabama’s African-American Self-Taught Artists in Context, the Museum education department also payed homage to our state and its history by hosting the MMFA 2015 Docent Graduation with an Alabama theme, entitled “Jubilee.”  Dinner, prepared by Jenny Weller Catering, featured  a delicious array of barbecue, macaroni and cheese, braised greens and peach cobbler.  Tables were decked out in red and white, with a centerpiece of apples and white daisy mums, atop a cascade of books about Alabama artists.   (At left: 2015 graduates of the MMFA Docent Program, with Alice Novak, and Jill Byrd.)

Doc.Grad.Table.BlogMMFA docents are recognized for their dedication and service to the Museum by this annual special event. This year, we welcomed seven new docents who completed the requirements and graduated the program:  Julie Goolsby, Phyllis Hall, Andy Huffman, Nancy Moss, Mary Lil Owens, Laura Roth, and Penny Thompson. Other accolades went to both the outgoing and incoming Docent Councils as well as docents who had outstanding performances in categories such as gallery, studio, outreach and puppet show.

Doc.Grad.Barto.BlogTwo special recognition awards were given:  the Wayne Barto Memorial Award for Outstanding First-Year Docent was given to Penny Thompson; and the Pat Wanglie Honorary Award for Docent with Exceptional Service was given to Beth Acker. (At left: Alice Novak, Penny Thompson, Donna Pickens and Jill Byrd.)

Doc.Grad.Wanglie.BlogThe Museum is grateful to each and every docent who volunteers their time and talents to the MMFA, and, with their help, we look forward to another successful year educating the River Region about art and the Museum.
(At right: Beth Acker and Pat Wanglie.)

Jill Byrd
MMFA Tour Coordinator

Learning Through Art

wfartists2On Tuesday, May 5, 125 excited third-grade students and their families filled the ARTWORKS corridor, proudly snapping pictures of the artwork installed up and down the hall. This happy occasion was the opening reception of the exhibition, Learning Through Art, featuring works of art created by each third-grade student at the Wares Ferry Road Elementary School during this past year as part of the MMFA Artist in Residence Program. One mother, when viewing her son’s artwork, was overheard exclaiming, “I never knew he could do artwork as good as that!” That comment was repeated many times as families viewed paintings of bright red flowers inspired by Georgia O’Keefe, trees painted in an Impressionist style, animals in clay relief, George Rodrigue inspired “blue” dogs, and other works of art in the exhibition.

The evening also included a special recognition ceremony for the students and teachers. When Mrs. Baker and Mr. Diggs, the homeroom teachers, gave each student an award certificate, the children paraded across the stage and lined up to have their pictures taken, even without prompting! Derek Murphy Jr. was recognized for his artwork included in a state competition sponsored by the Alabama State Council on the Arts. Timiya Harris, Willie Grant, and Kimberly Gudino were honored for having their artwork included in an exhibition of student art at the U.S. Department of Education in Washington, D.C. that just opened and will be on view through June 30, 2015. The exhibition, Museums: pARTners in Learning 2015, is sponsored by the American Association of Museum Directors and the U.S. Department of Education, and celebrates innovative visual arts programming of museums with schools. The MMFA is one of 16 museums in the U.S. to have student work included in this exhibition.

The award ceremony ended with special thanks to Principal Ed Drozdowski and the outstanding MMFA art teachers, Jean Kocher and Laura Bocquin. Several members of the Montgomery Kiwanis Club were present in the audience and were recognized for their funding support of the program this year. With assistance from a National Endowment for the Arts grant, this unique program will continue and hopefully expand to additional classes next year.

Donna Pickens
Assistant Curator of Education for Children and Family Programs

 

Note: for those unfamiliar with the MMFA Artist in Residence Program, the Museum sponsors weekly art classes at the school, with lessons based on works of art in the Museum’s collection and related to the core curriculum. Professional artists from the River Region also visit the classes, teaching special techniques in drawing, painting, printmaking, ceramics, and sculpture. The curriculum includes Visual Thinking Strategies (VTS) an inquiry-based teaching method, to encourage students’ critical thinking and literacy skills. During a recent visit to the Museum, the students demonstrated the skills they have learned from this approach, offering many astute observations about the original works of art in the galleries.

Do-Dah is a Parade with a Purpose

Do-Dah.kids.blogWhen the MMFA moved from downtown Montgomery to the Blount Cultural Park in 1988, the staff began preparing for a park-and-art-centered outdoor event—a plan that came to fruition 18 months later as the Flimp Festival on May 5, 1990.  We introduced the Do-Dah Parade as a central part of those early Flimps, and it grew to include a diverse assortment of wonderful pets in costume, and some adventurous owners who dressed up as well.

Do-Dah.Lennox.blogThe original Do-Dah parades were eventually discontinued, however in 2014 a number of factors led the Museum to revive the Do-Dah tradition.  First, the Hannah Daye Ridling Bark Park opened in 2013 providing dogs and their families a safe place to play.  Then, in 2014, the Museum entered into a partnership with the Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing and Visual Arts to present the annual Flimp Festival, and we jointly approached the Montgomery Humane Society (sponsors of our Bark Park neighbors) to re-institute the Do-Dah tradition.  Our goals were to incorporate the BTW students as co-organizers and participants, and to bring greater visibility to the efforts of the Montgomery Humane Society to find loving families for shelter dogs. We continued this new tradition of Do-Dah at this year’s Flimp, and we are delighted to report that our participation grew.Do-Dah.awards.blog

About fifty amazing dog and their human companions gathered on a perfect May morning to strut their stuff, and compete for 1st, 2nd, and 3rd-place gift cards generously donated by
Pet Supermarket.  The Parade was led by Jazz band musicians from BTW, and our judges, Alabama News Network anchor Tim Lennox and Museum Director Mark Johnson, awarded prizes to winners who achieved the most creative costumes and ensembles.   Students from BTW escorted 10 costumed dogs from the Montgomery Humane Shelter in the Parade, and later presented them to potential adoptive families in the adoption tent from 11 A.M. to 2 P.M. The folks at For Healthy Pets provided gift packets of healthful and tasty products for adopters that day.

Do-Dah.pup.blogWe appreciate all the participants who made this second revival of the Do-Dah Parade and Adoption Event a great success—musicians, parading dogs and people, judges, and volunteers.  We particularly thank the BTW student escorts, and the volunteers from the Montgomery Humane Society who took such good care of the shelter dogs for the day.  Finally, we again thank our sponsors Pet Supermarket, For Healthy Pets, Barking Lot Grooming Salon, and Groomin’ Tails Pet Salon for their sponsorship of prizes for the Do-Dah Parade, and for contributing to the on-going welfare of pets in the Montgomery area.

Margaret Lynne Ausfeld
Curator of Art

The Flimp Festival Draws in a Record-Breaking Crowd

FlimpartsandcraftsLast Saturday, May 2, proved to be one of the most memorable dates in the Flimp Festival’s history. When everyone arrived at Blount Cultural Park, the friendly faces of the Booker T. Washington Magnet High School teachers, students, and Museum staff greeted them. This accompanied by great weather made it a perfect setting for our 2700 guests.

The annual event kicked off at 10 A.M. with registration for the Do-Dah Parade. This year, we had nearly 50 people and their dogs dressed in costumes marching to the tune of “When the Saints go Marching In,” led by BTW’s jazz band. At the end of the parade, three lucky winners received awards for the best ensembles. The Montgomery Humane Society also brought in 10 dogs in hopes of finding them permanent homes.FlimpDo-Dah

FlimpChalkartOur Sidewalk Chalk Art competition was another main attraction at the Festival. The MMFA used the theme “Montgomery: The Past, Present and Future.” There were more than 70 entries in the student and adult categories. What a fantastic display of talent!

The arts and crafts proved to be the most popular of all. Visitors got a chance to make hats, get their faces painted, create creatures like ladybugs with clay, or shape copper into jewelry. Dave Holland, a non-traditional artist and musician, received rave reviews after encouraging the audience to be a part of his percussion session.

Voices of BTW’s choir and the music from the school’s band could be heard throughout the Blount Cultural Park. As the Flimp Festival came to an end, we saw many families taking pictures capturing memories of another great year at the MMFA.Flimpband

Cynthia Milledge
Director of Marketing and Public Relations

 

Director’s Circle Dinner 2015

Ryder.TwoFigures.blogWhile Monday night, April 13, was dark and dreary, the Museum shone with the warmth of early springtime.  Our annual Director’s Circle Dinner serves to thank our loyal supporters, and this year the dinner also celebrated the opening of Masterworks of the Move: American Paintings from Wesleyan College. Chauncey Ryder’s Two Figures in a Landscape from the Wesleyan Collection was reproduced on the invitation to the event, and served as seasonal inspiration in color and tone.

Director's Circle 10Longstanding dinner sponsors Margaret and Jimmy Lowder of The Colonial Company and Gene and Ray Ingram of Jack Ingram Motors joined MMFA director Mark Johnson and his wife Amy in welcoming over 150 guests to the annual April dinner. Friends enjoyed visiting over cocktails in the Rotunda and viewing the exhibition nearby before making their way to the Lowder Gallery for a sumptuous dinner.Director's Circle 1

In his brief remarks, Mark thanked everyone for their dedication to the Museum and enumerated some of the highlights of the last year. He then welcomed special guest Lisa Sloben, Director, Center for Creative and Performing Arts at Wesleyan College who spoke about the collection on view. In closing, Board of Trustees’ President Roger Spain reminded our guests of the MMFA’s mission to collect, preserve, exhibit, and interpret art of the highest quality for the enrichment, enlightenment, and enjoyment of our public, and thanked them for allowing us to do just that.

If you are interested in helping to further the mission of the Museum by joining our Director’s Circle, please feel free to contact me at jbarry@mmfa.org or 334-240-4344.

Jill Barry
Deputy Director

Native American Family Day 2015

EV.NativeAM.day.pano

We held Poarch: History in Motion, our second Native American Family Day on Saturday and we certainly were in motion!  Over 1,000 visitors joined us for a full afternoon of activity. Several artisans were on hand helping the kids make decorated medallion necklaces, clay pinch pots and woven baskets in the Poarch tradition.

EV.NativeAM4blogTribal historian, Robert Thrower shared stories and showed Poarch artifacts to guests all afternoon. Through the objects he shared, he explained what life was like in the early days of the Tribe and some of their traditions.

In the field next to the Museum, the drumming group Medicine Tail played while members performed demonstrations of both Stomp Dancing and the elaborate Pow Wow Dances while the younger and more energetic attendees tried their hand at traditional Stick Ball, the predecessor of modern day lacrosse.

EV.NativeAM2blogIn the Rotunda, the premiere of a new photography exhibition Poarch: History in Motion was installed. Beautiful portraits by Karen Odyniec of tribal members were hung next to short stories about them with artifacts from Kerretv Cuko, the Poarch Band of Creek Indian Museum in Atmore.

 

EV.nativeAMERICAN-blogWe were delighted to partner with the Tribe again this year to present such a fun and informative day for the River Region, all of which was free.

Jill Barry
Deputy Director

 

Reflections from a Montgomery Businessman and Civil Rights Activist

Loyd.H.3.blogOn April 2, the Museum hosted a special program to complement the exhibition now on view, History Refused to Die. The speaker was Mr. Loyd Howard, a local businessman who shared his memories of life in Montgomery during the height of the Civil Rights Movement.

To watch Mr. Howard walk into the Montgomery Museum of Fine Art’s Orientation Circle, you would think he was a quiet but reserved man. At first, he stopped to scan the room to see who was in attendance at the reception held in his honor. He then spoke to many, smiled at some, and even hugged others.

Loyd.H.2.blogAfter 30 minutes of socializing, he was introduced to a crowd of nearly 50 people. When Mr. Howard walked up to the podium, almost instantly he transformed from a mature business owner of 55 years to a 14-year old teenager growing up in Montgomery, Alabama during a time when discrimination was at an all-time high. He talked about his early life working in a barbershop with Raymond Parks (the husband of Rosa Parks) and others. Mr. Howard said, “Raymond Parks thought he and Mrs. Parks would be killed after she refused to give up her seat. What photographs don’t reveal and people don’t know is, she wasn’t sitting in the white section of the bus. She was actually arrested for not giving up her seat to a white man in the black section of the bus.” Those words had some people in the audience shaking their heads.

Loyd.H.1.blogThe Civil Rights activist also described how blacks learned to unite during this period. He recalled when Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. arrived in Montgomery. Mr. Howard said, “We didn’t even know what a boycott was. They had to teach us what it meant. We were also taught how we needed to react to everything non-violently.” Mr. Howard said it was a movement that pushed the nation towards social reform and he described it as “one of the greatest historical events that the world will ever have.”

As the nation prepares to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the Montgomery Bus Boycott on December 1, 2015, the owner of Howard’s Cosmetics said he hopes his story will help people get another first-hand view of what actually took place during that time. It was so refreshing to have someone who experienced those trials and tribulations in our midst here at the Museum.

Cynthia Milledge
Director of Marketing and Public Relations

 

 

 

 

 

Looking at the MMFA Through the Eyes of an Intern

Lakendrick-blogAs much as I tried to hide it, I was a nervous wreck my first day as a graphic design intern here at the Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts. Imagine me, a young lad out of my small hometown of Forkland, Alabama, working in such a prestigious environment. “Get it together Ken. Don’t mess this up,” was the thought that rattled around in my head for days. I wanted to do no less than a great job here at the Museum. After a couple of weeks and a couple of projects completed, the bashfulness slowly but surely dissolved and my confidence grew as I built new, stronger connections with the Museum staff.

Working here independently has helped me grow both personally and professionally. Other than the summer gigs I would do with my uncle back home, I’ve never had the opportunity to really work in a professional environment. More than anything, I am thankful for the projects that forced me to step out of my comfort zone. I remember the first project that allowed me to utilize my basic photography skills. There was a costume contest along with a jazzMetal Sculptures 2-blog event and it was my job to get pictures of all of the festivities. This was my first time shooting an event and the very thought of moving around so many people put butterflies in my stomach. Regardless, I completed the task given to me. In retrospect, there were things I could have done better, but I did learn things from that experience that I can apply in the future.

In a nutshell, being an intern for the MMFA has been a great learning experience. It feels as though I’ve become a part of the family here. I give so much thanks to my wonderful internship supervisor, Cynthia Milledge, Public Relations Director, for giving me this opportunity.

Park Sculpture1-blogLeKendrick Taylor
MMFA Intern

Note: The staff at the MMFA are so proud of LeKendrick and all of his contributions during his 13 week internship. He is an outstanding young man with a bright future in the graphic arts field.

 

 

 

 

Docent Road Trip to Birmingham

2015docenttrip1.blogDespite a foggy start, 20 docents and MMFA staff headed to the Birmingham Museum of Art on Friday morning, March 20. We were greeted by Dr. Robert Schindler, Curator of European Art, who led a fascinating tour of Small Treasures: Rembrandt, Vermeer, Hals, and Their Contemporaries, an exhibition of small-format 17th-century paintings from the Dutch and Flemish Golden Age. The group discovered information about each work in the exhibition, the time frame in which they were created, and about the installation process itself. One of the highlights of the exhibition is Vermeer’s Girl with the Red Hat. As one of only three-dozen works created by Vermeer, this work is both incredibly rare and a perfect example of Vermeer and his craft. Dr. Schindler recounted how x-ray and neutron reflectography revealed that underneath Vermeer’s image lies a bust length portrait of a man with a wide brimmed hat. Before painting directly on the old portrait, Vermeer turned it upside down to avoid being excessively influenced by the image.

After the tour we had a delicious lunch at Oscar’s at the Museum with several of the BMA’s docents and educators, setting the stage for some great conversation.

Jumping back into our cars, the docents headed a few miles down the road to the new Abroms-Engel Institute for the Visual Arts (AEIVA) at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. This impressive zinc & glass building opened in 2014 and houses the Department of Art & Art History as well as gallery space.  Registrar, Christina McClellan gave the docents insight into the two exhibitions currently there. Works of cut and painted paper by Michael Velliquette provided an atmosphere of color and whimsy. Mr. Velliquette was also the juror for the student exhibition in the next gallery space. The 39th Annual Student Juried Exhibition contains 55 works by student artists. It was great to see the talent, diversity, and imagination of these up and coming young artists!

All agreed it was a great day!

Gloria Simons
MMFA Volunteer Coordinator and Docent

 

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