Open Today 10am-5pm

Montgomery Museum of Fine Art

Open Today 10am-5pm
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Category: Artist

First of Its Kind Museum Store Sale

If you haven’t been in the Museum Store in the past five years (yes, FIVE) you may not realize the caliber of handcrafted work we now feature. Behind each work of art is a story—a real live artist investing their time and talent—and we are happy to showcase these works in a gallery-like environment.

ADM.store.Greemn-blogFolks, you have until Sunday, ​July 13, to take advantage of a 30% off sale featuring 25 of our artists. This includes pottery by Chris Greenman, Randy Shoults, Jo Taylor, and Suzanne Jensen,  paintings by Marguerite Edwards, Nan Cunningham, Kellie Newsome, Barbara Royal, Rachael Sherer, and Pam Truitt, jewelry by Joanne Staley, Bernice Fischman, and Leah Dodd, various multi-media works by Darrell Ezekiel, Sherri Schumacher, Marybeth Farris, Kay Sasser Jacoby, and MORE.

There’s a “Half Off” table of MMFA logo items. This includes mugs, ornaments, and tee-shirts.  In addition, EVERYTHING in the store is 10% Off–which means it’s impossible NOT to save money when you shop this week!ADM.store.Jensen-blog

Tonight, July 10, we’ll be open until 7 p.m. for the MMFA Opening Reception AND book-signing for Raymond Smith’s photography exhibition, In Time We Shall Know Ourselves, as well as, an exhibition featuring the works from the Museum’s  original collection.  

ADM.store.Truitt-blogIf you visit us and say you read this blog, there COULD be a surprise in it for you!  See you sooner rather than later.  Meanwhile, come see us Tuesday through Saturday 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Sunday 12 to 4 p.m. 

Kay Jacoby
The Museum Store

Drawing With Color and Light

Glass_Littleton_blogFor almost 20 years, the MMFA has collected and interpreted art from the American Studio Glass movement from artists who use glass to draw with color and light. Recently we had the chance to acquire two works that greatly expand and enhance not only our collection, but also the understanding of the history of contemporary glass. First is Orange Triple Movement, 1983, by Harvey Littleton (American, 1922–2014), the man internationally recognized as the “Father of the Studio Glass movement”. This inventive work comes from one of his best-known series: Topological Geometry. In this piece Littleton utilized gravity to pull, bend, and shape the glass into elegant layers of flowing orange tones—a hue that is difficult to control.  In fact, the success Littleton found with the challenges of this piece made it one of his favorites.

The second acquisition is an innovative work by the influential collaborative team of Joey Kirkpatrick and Flora Mace (American, born 1952 and 1949).  Doll Drawing with Rebecca, 1983 features a unique process pioneered by the two artists. Liking the quality of a drawn line, they decided to use thin metal wires to replicate pencil marks in the glass.  The “drawings” are filled in with colored glass before they embed it all in clear glass and form the vessel. This piece is an early example of their work and complements sculptures from a later series of glass fruit, also part of the MMFA Permanent Collection.Glass_Kirk-Mace_blog

Both pieces, along with many other works, are now on view in our freshly reinstalled Weil Atrium gallery.  Come out to see both of them as well as the many other pieces that will dazzle and delight your eyes.

If you’d like to learn more, you can hear Harvey Littleton describe his inspiration and process by going online to an interview hosted by the Archives of American Art. The interview is found at http://www.aaa.si.edu/collections/interviews/oral-history-interview-harvey-k-littleton-11795

Jennifer Jankauskas
Curator of Art

 

Sahara of the Bozeart—Say What?

In November of 1917, in the New York Evening Mail, essayist and journalist H. L. Mencken first published a version of his essay entitled The Sahara of the Bozeart. Reprinted in a compilation of essays in 1920 (Prejudices: Second Series) this essay, condemning the South as a “cultural wasteland,” caused quite a stir. In several thousand words Mencken damned the region as “that gargantuan paradise of the fourth-rate,” and although defenders of Southern society and culture rose up in its defense, his pronouncements were regularly repeated, and for generations the South was consistently branded as “sterile, artistically, intellectually, culturally, as the Sahara Desert.”

This unfortunate, and even in Mencken’s era inaccurate, reputation was one reason it was difficult for artists living and working in the South to find their way to acceptance within the larger art world in the early twentieth century. Those who wished to make a professional career of art, such as Ann Goldthwaite and Clara Weaver Parrish, quickly took themselves to art schools in New York and Paris in order to obtain the necessary “credentials.” Later, other artists found this journey more difficult, and less rewarding.

C_Gillis_blog2Late last year the Museum acquired an important watercolor for the permanent collection by one such artist, the Selma painter Crawford Gillis (1914–2000), In Custody (Project for a Southern Armory), 1936, watercolor on paper, Gift of George W. and Sue Royer, Jr., 2013.13. In Custody is a powerful indictment of Southern society in the 1930s. It is evident from the painting’s composition—a frightened black man in the custody of National Guardsmen—that he was referencing the social climate that predominated during the years of the Great Depression, in which poor people both black and white were subject to harsh living conditions, and sometimes brutalized by authorities. The painting’s subtitle, Project for a Southern Armory, was most likely an ironic reference to the possibility that an image such as this one would be an appropriate mural subject to place in an armory building that was planned for Selma. When asked if he had witnessed what transpired in the composition, he told the reviewer that, “I didn’t see it. They announced they would build a new armory in my town, and this is the way I felt it would work out.”

Gillis is an example of a talented Alabama artist who was fully dedicated to his work but unfortunately lived in an era when achieving wider recognition was complicated—first by the Great Depression and then by the disruptions of World War II. In addition, he fought the C_Gillis_blogprejudices of a society that accepted Mencken’s opinions as gospel—since there was no culture in Alabama, as Mencken adjudged it, there would be no artists.

This attitude created a challenge for those who saw Crawford Gillis’ insightful works on exhibit in a New York gallery in 1938—and then had to come to terms with his origins in the South. The reviewers of the January exhibition essentially dealt with the perceived contradiction by patronizing the artist characterizing him as “self-taught” despite the fact that he had studied art for many years in Selma, and then attended the National Academy of Design, studying under Charles Courtney Curran (1861–1942) and Leon Kroll (1884–1974). In spite of these quite acceptable art world credentials the reviewers did not get past his “past”.

While H. L. Mencken was no admirer of the South, by 1930 he would have at least found something to admire in Montgomery. In that year the founders of the MMFA created the State’s first art museum, and Mencken himself married a Montgomery girl, Sara Haardt, who was a Professor of English at Goucher College. Ever since Montgomery’s art museum has been proving that prejudices are just that, and that art is indeed alive and well in the “Sahara of the Bozeart.”

Jerry Siegel, Crawford Gillis, 1994, Collection of the Jule Collins Smith Museum of Fine Art, Auburn University

Margaret Lynne Ausfeld
Curator of Art

 

Early Modern

MaxWeber_LibCongress_blogThe painter Max Weber was one of the first American artists to personally experience the art world in Paris in the first decade of the twentieth century, a time of amazing transition in the history of art. In Weber’s case, this experience included meeting and learning from artists like Pablo Picasso, Henri Matisse, Henri Rousseau, and taking tea at the salon hosted by art collectors Gertrude Stein and her brother Leo… in other words he was in the heart of it.

After his return to the U.S. in 1909, Weber created a range of work that was influenced by the Cubists initially, but his style regularly evolved over his forty-year career. The MMFA’s most recent acquisition, using funds bequeathed by Ida Belle Young in 2007, is a painting by Weber created during the 1920s when he had moved to Long Island. (below: View of Roslyn, New York, ca. 1922-1925, oil on canvas) It is a landscape depicting the village of Roslyn on the north shore of Long Island, painted from a vantage point just across a body of water known as the Roslyn Pond. While representational (we can readily see trees, town, and pond), it is also clearly in keeping with the reductive tendencies of Modernism—buildings composed of simple geometric shapes and the rest a symphony of varied brushstrokes in green, blue, rust, and tan. Though he largely left Picasso’s Cubism behind, he maintained a love of the style of the French Post-Impressionist Paul Cézanne, who created monumental landscapes in this same palette and with the same intent: to capture the soul of this peaceful place in paint.

MaxWeber_blogWhen Weber moved to Long Island in 1921 he and his wife left the urban bustle of upper Manhattan for a quieter natural environment where they could raise a family. They purchased a small house about five miles south of Roslyn, and the artist purchased a car (he named it Dinky) so that he could drive the rural roads looking for likely subjects. The Museum’s painting View of Roslyn, New York, is one of a number of works he painted while he lived in this house near Garden City.

Our Museum collection has grown significantly with the additions made using the funds provided by Ida Belle Young’s gift. Most of these works were made in the nineteenth century and have helped to enhance and further shape the core collection of works given by Winton Blount in 1989, and expand the resources our educators use to teach about the development of American art. When the Weber became available, it was immediately clear that this painting was going to play a significant role in our collection—it opens a chapter that takes viewers into twentieth-century art and introduces the modernist approach to art and design that dominated in Europe and America for years to come. It is a much-needed addition to our collection, and we look forward to sharing it with our audiences when it is installed next month.

Arthur D. Chapman, Max Weber, 1914, platinum print, Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division, [reproduction number, e.g., LC-USZ62-90145]

Margaret Lynne Ausfeld
Curator of Art

There’s a Story in Here Somewhere…. 

We will be hearing a lot in the next year about Selma, most of it related to the historic events that surrounded “Bloody Sunday” and the Selma to Montgomery March in 1965. Those events put Selma on the map, both nationally and internationally, but the town has been on Alabama’s map for a very, very long time, and what you don’t know about Selma may surprise you. One thing you might not know? There have probably been more creative and literary people in Selma per capita than in any other place in Alabama—maybe the whole South.

The curious coincidence that brought this to mind is the presence of two wonderful works of art that are currently in our galleries. They just happen to depict two members of a Selma family—two members who lived almost one hundred years apart.

Siegel_Fax_blogThe first is found in Romantic Spirits: Nineteenth-Century Paintings of the South from the Johnson Collection. The painting is by an artist named George Cooke who came to Alabama in the summer of 1848. He was traveling and took commissions to paint members of Alabama’s Black Belt planter families. He was given the task of painting a young boy named Joseph Fairfax Lapsley, known to his family as “Little Fax.” Like many children in the nineteenth century, Little Fax had a brief life, dying when he was only two. Little Fax’s father, Colonel John Whitfield Lapsley commissioned the painting as a memorial of his young son. Little Fax stands on a porch overlooking what was certainly the Alabama River as it winds past Selma. Up the river we see a steamboat, carrying away people and goods to a world little Fax would never know. It is a melancholy painting, intended to remind his parents of a life cut woefully short.

Flash forward to 2004 and a photograph by  Selma artist, Jerry Siegel in the exhibition Creator/Created: Jerry Siegel Portraits and Artists from the Permanent CollectionSiegel_lapsley_blogIt depicts the painter John Lapsley, the great-grandson of Colonel John Whitfield Lapsley, and an artist who is well represented in the MMFA permanent collection. Unlike Little Fax, John Lapsley had a long, very productive life as an artist, dying at the age of 90, but they are both depicted at the end of their natural lives. John Lapsley died a year after the photograph was made; Little Fax’s portrait was made the year after his passing. Those who knew John Lapsley knew a genuine Alabama character; like another Alabama native, author Truman Capote, he had a sharp wit and a sense of irony that was always present. John’s works in the Museum’s collection  date from the 1930s to the late twentieth century, fulfilling his destiny in a way that Little Fax unfortunately could not.

And there’s one more Selma art family to consider—that is the Siegels. Photographer Jerry Siegel was preceded one generation by his uncle, Jerome E. (Jerry) Siegel, Jr., who was for many years one of the best and most respected dealers in Southern art. As a true, old-fashioned gallerist Jerry nurtured the careers of artists such as John Lapsley, Crawford Gillis, Charles Shannon and others now in our MMFA collection. siegel_self_blogHis nephew continues that tradition through his photographs of artists in their studios, and although he makes his home elsewhere now he clearly knows his roots, artistic and otherwise. His own self-portrait in Creator/Created was made at the Edmund Pettus Bridge, the site of “Bloody Sunday,” and a reminder that Selma is at the heart of Alabama’s history, both artistic and social.

Alabama’s greatest storyteller, Katherine Tucker Windham (and, yes, she was also from Selma) would have made a fine tale out of the Lapsleys, the Siegels and their lives across the centuries. Like all us Southerners, she did love a good story.

Margaret Lynne Ausfeld
Curator of Art

Tall Tales & Tornadoes with Ke Francis

GalleryTalk_KF_blogThe Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts hosted mixed-media artist Ke Francis at the opening of the exhibit Ke Francis: A Selection of Large-Scale Work on Thursday, March 20. In examining his work at face value, Ke’s pieces – GalleryTalk_KF_2b_blogwhich range from small prints to large sculptures – exhibit many of the characteristics of the folk aesthetic that are often found in rural settings. However, after hearing Ke explain his process, it became clear that he uses the folk medium as a vehicle for story-telling. During his lecture, Ke recounted several stories that influenced his work. Some were as real as tornadoes ripping apart houses, others as magical as sage catfish living on land. These tales allow the viewer to begin connecting the seemingly individual images within Ke’s works and understand how they mesh together into a web that evokes the archetypal experience of life in the South.  GalleryTalk_KF_3blogIt was wonderful to meet Ke and hear the stories in person. His words brought his images to life and created a very personal experience for the audience.

Beth Hataway
President, Junior Executive Board

The process behind Creator/Created

Blog_jjOur newest exhibition, Creator/Created: Jerry Siegel Portraits and Artists from the Permanent Collection just opened. This was a particularly fun exhibition to put together.  The idea started through conversations with Jerry who’s been photographing Southern artists for over 15 years.  In looking through his images we realized that the MMFA has many of these artists’ works in our collection and we thought by pairing photo and artwork together we could present a unique view into the works of art, the artists themselves, and their artistic process.  Going through our collection to select which of these artists’ works to feature was a real treat for me. I got to dive in and really begin to understand the breadth and depth of works by regional artists that we own in addition to all the other fantastic pieces in our collection.

Jerry is a wonderfully generous artist and I think his portraits speak to that; he really captures the essence of each of these personalities. When Jerry photographs his subjects, he takes multiple shots and often prints in both black and white and color. For the exhibition, we decided to use only the black and white images to present Jerry’s photographs as a cohesive body of work since we spread them throughout the galleries.  blog_iPadHe and I met several times to look at prints (both working and final) and to choose what worked best in this particular exhibition. Alternate images and color versions, along with interviews with many of the artists, are on I-Pads displayed throughout the galleries. Come take a look!

Jennifer Jankauskas
Curator of Art

Something’s missing

Blog_conservation_c

By 2012, the three 14-foot-long aluminum arcs installed by Edward Lee Hendricks in the Museum’s lake in 1991 still pivoted on their stainless steel posts in a gentle breeze as designed, adding their graceful movements to the tranquil scene. However, time and the talons of waterfowl—especially wintering flocks of big, black cormorants—had eroded the gilded surface that initially glistened in the sun.
Consequently, the Museum involved the artist in developing a plan to restore the arcs’ golden color and preserve the artist’s intent for his only sculpture in a marine environment. McKay-Lodge Art Conservation of Oberlin, Ohio, examined the sculpture and proposed to clean and re-gild the arcs with traditional gold leaf like that Hendricks had used. They also recommended an innovative Tnemec clear coat to protect the gilding from damage.
In October of 2013 the arcs were removed from the lake and shipped to Ohio for treatment. They will be re-installed in the spring of 2014. This conservation treatment will insure that the gleaming, golden arcs will again swing in the breeze as the artist intended.
The conservators will also be treating a second sculpture from the collection, Buckminster Fuller’s Twelve Degrees of Freedom, 1983. This work is one of the collection’s most significant examples of twentieth-century American sculpture, and it will also return to view in 2014.
Funding for the conservation treat-ment of these sculptures is provided by the Museums for America grant program of the Institute of Museum and Library Services, the Museum, and the MMFA Association.

 

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