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Montgomery Museum of Fine Art

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Category: Artist

History Marches On in Montgomery

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On Thursday, March 19, the Museum hosted an opening reception and lecture for our current exhibition History Refused to Die: Alabama’s African-American Self-Taught Artists in Context.  The exhibition was organized by the MMFA in collaboration with the Alabama Center for Contemporary Art in Mobile, the Souls Grown Deep Foundation, and Tinwood, LLC, in Atlanta, Georgia.   

HRD-3artsts.blogThe artists featured in this exhibition all worked in Alabama in the mid to late- twentieth century, and, with the celebration of the 50th anniversary of the Selma to Montgomery March, it seemed there would never be a more appropriate time to present these works for Alabama audiences. A book published by Tinwood, LLC, also entitled History Refused to Die, documents the works and the theme of the project as a whole: an examination of the history of African-Americans in the state as seen through the eyes of these extraordinary artists.  (Pictured at left: Louisiana Bendolph, collector Bill Arnett, Thornton Dial, Sr. and Richard Dial) HRD-Minter.blog

Guests at the opening on Thursday evening had the rare pleasure of greeting six of the fifteen artists whose works are on view. They included Thornton Dial, Sr., his son Richard Dial, Charlie Lucas, Lonnie Holly, Joe Minter (at right), and quilt maker Louisiana Bendolph. It was a poignant moment in the history of Alabama art, since many of these artists are advanced in years, and, while their artwork has previously been exhibited in museums around the United States and overseas, they had never seen their art installed in an Alabama museum. This powerful and moving art reflects the larger context of the history of African-American culture in Alabama and the South, from slavery in the nineteenth century, to the migration from rural to urban centers in the twentieth century.  Using non-traditional materials such as metals, plastics, organic or plant-based material, these works bridge the gap between daily life and the world of art—demonstrating a profound respect for the process we today call “recycling,” but that the  artists see as a means to   link the present with a vibrant past.

HRD_Charlie2-blogHRD-Lonnie.blogThe Museum will be hosting a number of programs in conjunction with this exhibition including talks by Loyd Howard on Thursday, April 2, and a special audio-visual presentation by Randall Williams on Thursday, April 23.  We invite you to review all the programs listed in the calendar on the website, or call 244-4333 for more information.  Don’t miss this outstanding exhibition, and all the thought-provoking programs associated with it. (Shown above: Curator Margaret Lynne Ausfeld, Charlie Lucas, and Museum Director Mark Johnson; Lonnie Holley talking with Joe Minter.)

Margaret Lynne Ausfeld
Curator of Art

Reflecting on…Myrna Colley-Lee’s Visit to the MMFA

EX.myrna2.blogLast week we were excited to welcome Myrna Colley-Lee to the MMFA. Myrna is, of course, the collector of the superb works on view in the exhibition Reflections: African American Life from the Myrna Colley-Lee Collection, which was organized by International Arts & Artists, Washington, DC in collaboration with the office of Myrna Colley-Lee.

On Thursday, February 19 we began with a reception to celebrate the exhibition. Moving into the auditorium, with about 75 people who braved the unusual cold, Myrna and I embarked on a discussion touching on many topics including her collecting process and insights into her own artistic practice as a costume designer.

EX.myrna1.blogA pioneer in the Black Theater Movement, Myrna has worked on over 70 productions since the late 1960s. In her intense research for her designs she often references works that are in her collection. In our discussion, Myrna revealed that she is attracted to works that are a celebration of African-American life. She finds that so important in this day and age when the media often focus on violence or troubling aspects of African-American experiences. Works that resonate with her love of the South, particularly with the landscape of her home in the Mississippi Delta, also appeal. Sometimes, they remind her of certain people, for example, Myrna sees Oprah Winfrey in a scene from The Women of Brewster Place in Ernest EX.reflections-blogCrichlow’s Window, 1987. Mryna went on to explain how she has formed relationships with many of the artists she collects, and that she often acquires works through auctions that support causes she believes in.

At a luncheon the following day, Myrna met with our Collectors Society to talk more directly about her costume designs for several productions. Through a PowerPoint presentation she drew parallels to works in her collection such as Eudora Welty’s Window Shopping, c.1930 that proved inspirational in her own designs. At the end, she reflected on how her collection has become such an important part of her life—and is a true reflection of her.

The MMFA was thrilled to have Myna here and thanks her for sharing her wonderful collection. In addition we would like to thank the sponsor of the exhibition here in Montgomery, Hyundai, and our co-sponsor, Max Credit Union.

Jennifer Jankauskas
Curator of Art

Bazaar d’Art will feature ten works by Selma painter John Lapsley

Lapsley_Flower_Market_BLOGFor those interested in collecting work by Southern artists, this year’s Bazaar d’Art will present a very rare opportunity to acquire paintings by the Selma artist John Lapsley (1915–2005). Lapsley was an important Alabama painter/printmaker whose works date from the 1930s into the early part of the twenty-first century. The works being offered in the MMFA’s biennial silent auction reflect his passionate interest in the style of the French Post-Impressionists such as Edouard Vuillard (French, 1868–1940), Pierre Bonnard (French, 1867–1947), and the great French modernist Henri Matisse (1869–1944). His bright, colorful, and light-filled compositions were inspired by the style of these artists, however his subject matter was typically taken from his hometown in Selma, or the landscape and cultural environment of the American South.

Paintings by John Lapsley have graced the walls of central Alabama homes for many years; he was a prolific artist who exhibited widely during his later career. However, it is very unusual for ten works of this quality to be offered at one time. This opportunity has been made possible by a very generous donation from the Estate of Betty Baldwin, and by Nancy Buzard, both long-time Museum supporters. Betty’s nieces—Marcia Weese, Shirley Weese Young, and Kate Weese—joined with Nancy to make this wonderful gesture in support of the Lapsley_Sailboats_blogMuseum’s programs and mission in memory of their aunt, who passed away last year. Betty and Nancy were friends of the artist, and most of the works offered were acquired by them around the time they were painted. This circumstance makes this opportunity even more unusual, as when purchased on the secondary market, there are often questions regarding a work’s origin or its condition.

The works will go on view Saturday, February 21, at 10:00 A.M. and remain open for silent bidding until the Bazaar d’Art cocktail party on Thursday, March 5, beginning at 7:00 P.M. You may buy advance tickets at this link or call 334-240-4333 for more information.

Margaret Lynne Ausfeld
Curator of Art

Don’t Miss the Fifth Annual Artist Market

Randy_shoults_1136Just in time for the holiday season, 30 local and regional artists will showcase their outstanding works of art this coming weekend at the Montgomery Museum of Fine Art’s highly acclaimed Artist Market 2014. You won’t want to miss this opportunity to find one-of-a-kind, handmade gifts for everyone on your list.

The festivities kick off Friday, November 21, with a Preview Party from 5:30 to 8 P.M.

You can shop and get up close and personal with the artists while enjoying hors d’oeuvres and a cash bar. The fun continues on Saturday, November 22, from 10 A.M. to 4 P.M. Shop early on either day to get the best selection of all the wonderful works that will be available.Store_jewelry.blog

 

This year’s featured special artist is Elayne Goodman of Columbus, Mississippi, a contemporary self-taught artist who will show her distinctive, brilliantly colored decorative objects. Other artists on hand will be potter Margaret Barber, stone craftsman Brooks Barrow, potter Dianne Benefield, book maker Robin Birdwell, leather artisan Pam Buwalda, painter Joan DiLaura, and mixed media artist Darrell Ezekiel. The showcased artworks include pottery, drawings, and paintings and a host of other media.CarolineW_Sayre_w

 

Store_artist.blogWhile you are here, feel free to stop by the Museum Store from 11 A.M. to 4 P.M. to shop for even more examples of artist-made works, or make a reservation for the special “Artist Market Edition” of our popular Saturday Brunch at Café M from 10 A.M. till 2 P.M.

Artist Market 2014 is sponsored by STIFEL investment services. For more information, call 240-4333 or go to this link on the website http://mmfa.org/visit/events/. We look forward to seeing you at Artist Market 2014.

 

Cynthia Milledge
Public Relations and Marketing Director

 

 

1991-IV Looking Like New Again

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Museum staff recently reinstalled the three graceful, gilded, 14-foot-long aluminum arcs in the lake adjacent to the building—just in time for the arrival of wintering flocks of cormorants that love to perch on the kinetic sculpture and circle above tasty, unsuspecting fish.

In fact, it was the strong talons of these large waterfowl that abraded the original gold leaf applied by the artist, Edward Lee Hendricks, in 1991 when the sculpture was new. After two decades of seasonal ornithological onslaught, all trace of the gilding was gone, and the golden color contrast with the silvery lake was lost.

Consequently, the museum developed a plan to restore the color by reapplying gold leaf—and adding an innovative new protective clear coating. McKay-Lodge Art Conservation of Oberlin, Ohio proposed and implemented the treatment.

Now viewers can appreciate the site-specific sculpture as the artist intended. The Museum commissioned Hendricks to make the art to link the Museum and its contents with the natural beauty of the park. He purposely sited this sculpture in this place to capitalize on the reflective lake surface, the tree line in the distance, and the wind.

The artist said he wanted to make sculptures that “give physical substance to the grace and power of the wind. Geometric elements of aluminum and stainless steel are carefully designed to maximize their response to the slightest breeze…. The interaction of these elements with wind and sunlight creates a visual counterpoint that is aesthetically satisfying on a very basic level.”

Hendricks’ kinetic sculptures respond beautifully to the forces of nature. With new gilding and a new protective coating, they should satisfy viewers, and cormorants, for years to come.

Restoration of the gold leaf on the arcs was made possible in part by the Institute of Museum and Library Services.

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

Call me Trim Tab—Twelve Degrees of Freedom Restored

B_Fuller_Karsh_blogRichard Buckminster Fuller (1895–1983), who preferred to be called Bucky, wrote more than 30 books, earned 28 U.S. patents, circumnavigated the globe 57 times, and coined the term “Spaceship Earth.” Along the way, he invented the Dymaxion (short for dynamic maximum tension) house and car, and he popularized the geodesic dome, an efficient but often leaky structure designed and built through application of the principle of tensegrity.

Tensegrity is the balance of forces of tension (cables) and compression (rods) that the artist patented. His 1962 patent defines tensegrity as “the physical phenomenon that produces a stable geometric structure with solid members that are arranged in tandem with tense metal cables. The solid members of this system do not touch or support each other directly.B_Fuller_damage_blog

The spare beauty of the principle of tensegrity is aptly demonstrated in Twelve Degrees of Freedom (and by Fuller himself in a photograph by Yousuf Karsh, 2009.9.2), but not long ago that sculpture was limp and unable to stand on its small tripodal foot as originally designed because an accident in the galleries stretched its plastic-coated, braided steel wires.

B_Fuller_art_blogFortunately, a grant from the Institute for Museum and Library Services (IMLS) enabled the museum to employ McKay-Lodge Fine Arts Conservation of Oberlin, Ohio to restore the sculpture. After careful research into the design and fabrication of the sculpture, which was produced in Fuller’s architectural studios in Cleveland, conservator Tom Podnar painstakingly measured, knotted, and inserted each of the eighteen replacement wires and fitted their knotted ends into holes in the rods and the central sphere so that the entire geometric structure attained a rigid state. Only in that condition will the sculpture stand on one of its tiny tripodal feet as designed. Podnar’s persistence has paid off. Once again viewers can appreciate Twelve Degrees of Freedom as the artist intended.

This sculpture is part of Triad, a group of three similar tensegrity sculptures of rods and cables that Fuller designed and fabricated in an authorized edition of ten around 1982. Some of those are now in the collection of the Buckminster Fuller Institute in Philadelphia. Fuller made a few other sculptures like these, but most of his formidable creativity was focused on functional structures in a lifelong quest, as he said, “to find what a single individual [could] contribute to changing the world and benefitting all humanity.”

Fuller said, “call me Trim Tab.” That is the tiny adjustable flap on the trailing edge of an ocean liner’s rudder that creates a low pressure area, easing the movement of the relatively small rudder that steers the massive ship. Bucky made a career of applying minimal amounts of energy to effect maximal results, designing efficient sculptures, houses, cars, and other components of Spaceship Earth to achieve sustainable systems that maintain nature’s delicate balance.

Michael W. Panhorst, Ph.D
Curator of Art

Susan Vreeland makes a virtual appearance

On Wednesday, September 10, Susan Vreeland joined us for a Skype video discussion about her latest book, Lisette’s List: A Novel.

As we began our discussion, Vreeland positioned herself in front of the webcam to give us an intimate view of her appearance (although she jokingly admitted that the real reason was to hide her messy office). Vreeland captivated us with her wit and infectious humor as she shared with us background information about the novel, as well as personal anecdotes. For example, during her student years, Vreeland chose to study music appreciation rather than art. She attributed this outcome to her old roommate who complained about an art history course and the burden of having to remember so many dates and the monotony of slides that all seemed to blur together. Fortunately, this did not discourage her from learning about art, collecting art books, and traveling around the world to places like France to quench her thirst for the world’s finest art treasures. As Vreeland once remarked:

“Coming out of the Louvre for the first time in 1971, dizzy with new love, I stood on Pont Neuf and made a pledge to myself that the art of this newly discovered world in the Old World would be my life companion. Never had history been more vibrant, its voices more resonating, its images more gripping.”

A video tour of Roussillon, the setting for Vreeland’s novel

Most of Vreeland’s novels (with the exception of her first book What Love Sees) were inspired by art (thank goodness!) and Lisette’s List was another literary treat. Beginning in 1937, Lisette and her husband André Honoré Roux moved from Paris to the village of Roussillon to stay with Andre’s grandfather, Pascal, who owned paintings by Cezanne and Pissarro. Pascal, who worked in the ochre mines of Roussillon, provided frames for the artists in exchange for paintings. Pascal eventually passed away and André died unexpectedly during World War II, leaving Lisette alone to struggle through her bereavement, while continuing to search for a rare collection of modern art that mysteriously disappeared. In the process, she discovered the value of friendship, community, and the transformational power of art.

The novel was a wonderful story about modern art, culture, and regional history, but it was Susan Vreeland’s special appearance that made the story enduring and timeless.

“An Observer Without an Agenda” Almost

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On July 10, 2014, Ray Smith presented a gallery talk at the Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts (MMFA) to celebrate In Time We Shall Know Ourselves, the exhibition of 52 photographs he made in the summer of 1974, and the beautiful book that Smith published in conjunction with the exhibition.

In his brief prepared remarks, which he titled “I Am a Camera,” Smith explained that his intent during his travel around the country forty summers ago was to be “an observer without an agenda,” who enabled his subjects—people he met along the road—“freedom to present themselves with the least amount of intrusion or direction from the photographer.”

In a couple of short video interviews the artist recorded earlier that day, Smith explained why he used a twin-lens camera for his project, the larger context of his artistic journey, and his love of literature, which led him to make photographs that were like poems or fiction, “a short story exploding beyond its frame.”

As the introductory text panel in the exhibition indicates, “these vivid short stories explode into an epic travel narrative, a great American novel set in the 1970s but with its culmination in its publication and exhibition today.”

The exhibition will remain on view at the MMFA through September 21, after which it will travel to the Hickory (NC) Museum of Art, the Museum of Contemporary Art, Jacksonville (FL), and the Georgia Museum of Art.

Perceptive viewers of the exhibition organized by the MMFA and readers of the book (which illustrates all of the images in the same sequence as the exhibition) may realize what the artist acknowledged in his gallery talk: “though my object was invisibility, I am IN every one of the photographs.”

Raymond W. Smith (American, born 1942), Self Portrait, Motel Room, Williamsburg, Virginia, 1974, printed 2012, gelatin silver print, Lent by the artist.

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

The Museum Store is Turning Five

ADM.store.blogThe Museum Store is preparing for our FIFTH YEAR as a HANDCRAFTED GALLERY STYLE SPACE. October is our birthday month and we are going to stretch out the celebration with treats, special deals, featured artists, and other fun things the entire month, so stay tuned for the details. If you haven’t been in the Store in some time, you are missing out on one of most distinctive shopping experiences in Montgomery. The Store features works by more than 70 local and regional artists with everything from pottery, glass, paintings, textiles, jewelry, photography, and more. We feel fortunate to have works by so many talented artists.

Behind each work of art there is a story, an investment of time and talent. The Museum Store should be first on your list when thinking about the perfect wedding or graduation gift and if you need just the right painting for your newly designed space, the Museum Store may have just what you are looking for.

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We will be closed for three days, August 5 through 7 for a little cosmetic work and will reopen Friday, August 8 with a new look and a bevy of new works by our beloved artists. Come and see what’s NEW starting August 8 and plan to celebrate with us the month of October!

Tisha Rhodes and Kay Jacoby
Director of Services and the Museum Store

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

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