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Montgomery Museum of Fine Art

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Category: Community

Conversations with New Docents

At the MMFA, docents are volunteer guides who attend in-depth training sessions in order to provide tour services for visitors the Museum.  They also participate in guest lectures, supplemental programs, and support the Museum by maintaining current Museum membership. They come from diverse backgrounds and careers, have different levels of experience with art, and exhibit a variety of fine talents. The positive and professional group of incoming docents for 2014–2015 has already started leading tours and integrating themselves into the fabric of the Museum. Conversations with these volunteers reveal their passion for learning about art, their enthusiasm for engaging with young people, and their enjoyment of interaction with other docents and Museum staff. They are people who are willing to go above and beyond to serve their community.  My conversations with the new docent class are summarized below.

 

 

Julie GoolsbyJulie_Goolsby-blog

Julie was motivated to become a docent when she noticed her third grade students’ responses to the paintings at the MMFA. She was impressed by their excitement at visiting the museum as well as their insightful interpretations of the artwork. Julie enjoys learning about different artists, talking about paintings, and meeting new friends. She loves children and is obviously very excited about participating in the docent program.

 

Phyllis_Hall-blogPhyllis Hall

Although Phyllis has no formal background in art, she has always loved and appreciated the beauty of art, whether traditional or unorthodox. Jeannette Siegers, a volunteer at MMFA, recognized Phyllis’ love of literature and encouraged her to come on board at the Museum. After taking an online look at the program, Phyllis contacted Alice Novak, who encouraged her to visit the Museum and to sit in on a discussion session. Phyllis enjoys the docent training, in particular hearing the stories behind the compositions, learning how different time periods of art history are reflected in the artists’ works, and mostly just learning in depth about art from a more technical standpoint.

 

 Andy HuffmanAndy_Huffman-blog

It was at MMFA’s annual FLIMP Festival in May 2014 that Andy and her mother found out about the docent program from Pam Moulton, a long-serving docent. Interested, they decided to come and sit in on a training session. They liked what they heard and saw. Andy has been drawing most of her life and started painting in the 8th grade, or for about ten years now. As a painter, she enjoys learning about art and gaining inspiration for new styles and new subject matter with which to experiment. Moreover, she enjoys interacting with her fellow trainees as well as with children and adults. Andy considers her style of painting realistic; however, she is becoming drawn to the impressionist style.

 

Dorothy_Johnson-blogDorothy Johnson

Dorothy worked as an auditor with the Federal Government while traveling with her husband Dennis, who spent 22 years as a Commander in the U.S. Navy. When they returned to Montgomery in 1992, she began working at the Alabama State Bar, retiring from that position in August of 2014. Her friend Margaret Lynne Ausfeld, MMFA’s Curator of Art, suggested that Dorothy consider becoming a docent. She enjoys the training, especially the historical lessons behind the art, and now finds herself reading a lot more about history.

 

Rosemary McKenzieRosemary_McKenzie-blog

As a child, Rosemary traveled with her parents a lot, and they always visited museums. In college, she took art history courses and went to Europe where she was exposed to the art there. Previously, she was a docent in Laurel, Mississippi and loved the experience. When she moved here, her next door neighbor suggested that, because Rosemary loved art, she should consider becoming a docent at MMFA. She loves learning and talking about art, taking it apart piece by piece and examining the details. Rosemary was impressed by how many people came to the Museum for the recent Holiday Open House.

 

Nancy_Moss-blogNancy Moss

Nancy had never thought about being a docent before she came to the Museum’s book club, Ekphrasis, and listened as docents were talking about their experiences. There definitely was an air of excitement and sincerity, so she decided to give it a try. Nancy enjoys learning about art, for she knew very little before. Having retired, she has more time to think about art. She believes the MMFA is truly a public place, reaching out to all people of different age groups.

 

Mary Lil OwensMaryLil_Owens-blog

Mary Lil took two art history courses during her senior year of college—as an afterthought. She has always loved art and that is one reason she was interested in becoming a docent. She enjoys the art history lectures and discussions, and seeing the artwork “up close and personal” is wonderful. The MMFA, she notes, offers many opportunities for people to get involved. Clearly, the Museum is here for the community. Formerly, Mary Lil was a high school English teacher, track coach, (she was on the track team in high school), and lawyer.

 

Laura_Roth-blogLaura Roth

At the MMFA’s Ekphrasis book club meetings and a couple of short courses, Laura met some docents who encouraged her to become involved in the program. Her two sisters love art, and she has visited several well-known museums. Participating in the docent program, Laura loves learning the history of the paintings and finds the stories interesting. For twenty-five years, she was a teacher of third and fourth graders.

 

Penny ThompsonPenny_Thompson-blog

A former school librarian, Penny has much experience working with students. Thus far in her training, she has presented some Outreach sessions and is amazed at what students have to say about the art. Penny considers it a pleasure to visit the public school classrooms because the children are excited about coming to the MMFA. She loves listening to Alice Novak’s lectures, and enjoys learning in such a beautiful environment.

 

Eleanor Lee
New Docent Liaison

New Leadership at the Museum Store

P1000794a-blogA new face, with a hint of familiarity, is now taking a leadership role in the Museum Store. His name is Ward Chesser and he has been a part of the MMFA family since October. He fills the position recently vacated by Kay Jacoby who retired after five years.

Chesser says, “Normally when people come in, I tell them of the Museum being here for 25 years. I also talk about the many artists who have great artworks for sale, like Tallahassee, Florida native Mary Proctor who is a self-taught artist. She has work on display here at the store and at the Coca-Cola museum in Georgia.”P1000787-blog

Chesser is no stranger to the retail arena. He once marketed his own work, and still works as an event planner in his spare time.   He says, “I once said to myself, this would be a unique place to work.” He never dreamed it would happen until he got the call. Chesser says, “It’s a great fit for me.”

When asking him his biggest challenge of being on the job for two months? Chesser says it is, “Increasing sales. I would love to have a record everyday. We have so many unique things for great prices. Being an artist, a unique gift means so much.”

P1000786a-blogI quickly found that his customer service skills go well beyond just talking about art. During this interview, customer Sakis Pantazis, who is visiting from Greece, stopped by to shop for a second time. He says, “Ward introduced me to several restaurants in the area.”

As he continues his newest journey and takes the store into the holiday season, he says he looks forward to his own metamorphosis. Ward Chesser encourages art lovers to stop by and take advantage of the unique greeting cards, drawings, pottery, jewelry, books and other items offered at the Museum Store.

The Museum Store is open Tuesday through Saturday from 11 A.M. to 4 P.M. and Sunday from 12 Noon to 4 P.M.

Cynthia Milledge
Director of Marketing and Public Relations

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

 

 

With African Art, the MMFA Welcomes a New Era in Collecting

EV.jazz.African.blogThe Museum celebrated a new collection and a new era in collecting with a series of events held between Thursday, October 23 and Sunday, October 26. The many participants over the three-day event were given a sense of the importance of the African acquisitions that are new to both the Museum and to the community.

On Thursday evening the Museum hosted a lecture by Professor Robin Poynor, a member of the faculty in the School of Art and Art History at the University of Florida. Professor Poynor discussed the roles playedEV.African.Poynor.blog by these newly acquired objects of African art in the lives of those who lived in traditional African societies. He showed many of the Museum’s woodcarvings, weavings, ceramics, and metal objects in the context of their use through photography depicting homes, communities, and public performances.   For the past year, Professor Poynor has served as the Museum’s consulting curator to select works of art for the collection, and to provide information and scholarship relative to their acquisition. He worked closely with the donors and with the Museum staff to create the exhibition Art for Life’s Sake: An African Collection for the Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts.

EV.African.Dileep.blogThe weekend events also included a Friday lunchtime presentation for the Museum’s Collectors Society that featured the collector and donor of the African art acquired as a gift by the Museum—Dileep Mehta of Atlanta, Georgia. As a professor of finance, Dr. Mehta traveled extensively, and worked over a period of many years to build his collection of African materials. On Sunday, the Museum hosted a combination Family Day for African Art, a Jazz Jams featuring the Jazz students in the program at BTW, as well as a EV.African.BTWdance.blogperformance by the BTW Dance Theater, Out of Africa. There were hands-on activities in the studios, artist’s demonstrations, and tours of the new African collection for the public.

This exciting weekend of programs caps off a season of exploration for our staff, docents, and public as we learned more about the wonderful objects that have now found a home in Montgomery. We look forward to sharing them often with our audiences.EV.African.HomerJ.blog

Margaret Lynne Ausfeld
Curator of Art

View highlights of the African Family Day here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vAS-stIY540&list=UUr4m6_kMNuu97FChx2L00sA

 

 

 

MMFA Family Member says “Goodbye”

Kay_741blogIf you ever walked into The Museum Store in the last five years, chances are Kay Jacoby’s voice and smile greeted you. Customers say Kay truly knows how to combine superior customer service with a touch of wit-so much so, they feel compelled to come back. She has seen the Museum Store evolve from a typical museum gift shop environment to an amazing experience for artists and customers alike. Jacoby says, “I know just about every artist in here.”

She walked into the store that displays handcrafted artwork of regional and local artists in August 2009. As she embarked on this new career, she was also trying to get through grieving the death of her mom. Jacoby says, “I truly appreciate the support and friendships made.” As you can imagine the relationships created came through countless conversations, not only with shoppers, but the artists too. Jacoby says, “I know just about every artist in here. My favorite part about working in the store is displaying the art.”

All those moments of working with artists and displaying their art turned into a colorful display of emotion as she said her final goodbyes to members of her MMFA family, Tuesday, September 30th. The staff gathered to bid farewell to Kay over cake and coffee in the Museum’s Café M. Yes, the person who operated The Museum Store countless hours and days is moving to make some long-sought changes in her life as she goes home to create more artwork of her own.

On this occasion, Kay received quotes from her colleagues who have grown accustomed to seeing her painted plaques with funny and encouraging quotes in the Museum store. Kay_Tisha_38blogHere are words some of the staff left her with. “We don’t remember days, we remember moments,” “Love is a flower, you have to let it grow,” “Think differently,” and “If you’re going through hell, keep going,”

Kay_0041blogAll read aloud by staff members that Tuesday afternoon, these quotes seemed to echo their heartfelt sentiments: she will be greatly missed. As she leaves, she passes the torch to the newly hired, Ward Chesser, but don’t think you have seen the last of Kay Jacoby. Jacoby says, “I will be back for Artist Market and other events.”

Cynthia Milledge
Director of Marketing and Public Relations

 

A History Worth Saving

Scrapbk_blog220About three years ago, the Museum staff began identifying and digitizing photographs and other documents that record the history of the institution, which was founded in 1930. The project was planned and initiated through the efforts of Tara Sartorius in conjunction with our Collections Information Specialist, Sarah Puckitt, and the project is now managed by Sarah who continues to add data when her schedule permits. This “digital archive” is in its earliest stages, but already we can see the long-term value and usefulness of preserving our institutional memory in digital form.

Paper has always been a perilous material for storing information over time. All paper (the kind we write on, the kind we print copies on, and even photographic paper) is largely acidic; the non-acidic kind is now too expensive to be used for much other than making and preserving artwork. So when the process of scanning existing images and documents became more widely available and cost effective, the Museum started using computer hard drives to store our archival data. While it has its challenges, digital records are the future of archive management, and we are already somewhat ahead of the curve.

Archives_blogThe 2014 year-long celebration of our 25th anniversary in the Blount Cultural Park provided significant impetus for our efforts to locate and scan images of the Museum during its first twenty-five years, when we were located in an old school building downtown. A desire to focus on the early art collection also prompted us to look at the roots of the institution in its early years and to revisit our now distant past. It was fascinating to find images of the previous Museum buildings and the programs that gave rise to the ones we offer now.

McDonough_constr_blogA tangible result of our efforts to digitize the institutional history in a well-organized database was the timeline of early Museum history titled Origins • A Timeline of the MMFA. Produced in conjunction with the Origins exhibition which was on view this past summer and online at the link above, the timeline encapsulates through photographs and brief text the development of the Museum and its collection on Lawrence Street.

Through our website, via email, and through social media, the Museum will increasingly use digital means to communicate with our audiences. By preserving a digital heritage of the MMFA, subsequent generations of Museum visitors will have the resources to explore our development as the primary visual arts institution in the River Region for the last eighty-four years.

Margaret Lynne Ausfeld
Curator of Art

Littleton Unveiled

Littleton2_blogOn the evening of Tuesday, August 26, the MMFA officially ‘unveiled’ one of our newest acquisitions, Harvey Littleton’s Orange Triple Movement, 1983 (see blog post of July 7, 2014).

Joan Loeb, Chairperson of the Decorative Arts Committee, who was instrumental in bringing this historic and significant sculpture to the MMFA kicked off the event, and following the unveiling, Maurine Littleton shared her insights about the work. As a renowned gallery dealer and as the daughter of the artist, Maurine revealed how Harvey Littleton created the work, while describing her father’s relationship to many of the other artists featured in the MMFA’s collection of American studio glass including Dale Chihuly, Flora Mace and Joey Kirkpatrick, and Dante Marioni.

Littleton1_blogMaurine conveyed how to tell the difference between the different glass types utilized by artists—commercially available or hand-made—and why artists use various colors together, primarily because of similar melting temperatures. She also talked about the beginnings of the American Studio Glass movement, emphasizing the congenial nature of that artistic community. She believes that the sharing of ideas and techniques among artists helped the movement to blossom and grow. This is especially apparent in the early creation of glass programs at universities around the country—many started by students of her father. While these artists influenced each other, there was also a spirit of innovation that spurred so much creative experimentation, allowing artists to develop individual styles. Certainly, everyone could see Harvey Littleton’s extraordinary style and technique in Orange Triple Movement.

Jennifer Jankauskas
Curator of Art

 

Military Open House 2014

MOH76_blogMajor Brian Chatman family’s first visit to the Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts turned out to be impressive.
Chatman said, “We really appreciate you guys providing the food, the band is amazing and the kid’s zone, my daughter had a blast.”

Chatman, his wife Georgene, and their 16-month-old daughter Raelyn, were among the 423 people taking part in this year’s Military Open House. This is their first full month in Montgomery. They moved here in July from Los Angeles. Georgene Chatman said, “It’s introducing us to activities we can do throughout the day as a family and explore with other military families. It’s also introduced us to culture and art. This has been great.”

Like the Chatmans, many other military men and women took advantage of what this family centered event had to offer. During this two hour period, they got to take a personal tour of the Museum’s exhibits, dress up in costumes and take pictures at a photo booth, and get their hands dirty during clay pottery and paper quilt-making activities.MOH65_blog  Chatman said, “It’s a great introduction to the Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts.”  His wife Georgene added, “It helps us get connected with other military families.”

Not all members of the armed forces are active duty, some are reservists or retired like James Simpson. MOH85_blogWe found Simpson, his wife Cynthia, and son Desmond sharing family time doing an art project together. James Simpson said, “Not only do I get to take my family to a quality event, I also get to be around comrades, and sometimes I get to run into people from Maxwell Air Force Base that I was stationed with and haven’t seen in a long time.” Cynthia Simpson said, “It keeps our family connected. It helps us appreciate each other and enjoy this special time together. Their son, Desmond Simpson said, “It’s just fun to me.”

We found other guests like Brigadier General Robert Thomas bonding with colleagues while dining on a meal catered by Wintzell’s Oyster House. This is his third year bringing his family. Brigadier General Thomas said, “I think it allows the men and women at the base to feel like a part of the community.”

The fun doesn’t stop with the activities and food. Music filled the air in the Lowder Gallery with tunes being belted out by the voices of members of the LoFiLoungers band. Many said this helped end their evening on a good note.

MOH72_blogBrigadier General Thomas said, “My favorite part is looking at the paintings with my kids and discussing what is their favorite painting. I ask them ‘what do you like about this one’ and I think it’s a fun memory for them.”

This was the 19th year for the MMFA’s Military Open House. We look forward to saluting the Chatman, Simpson, and Thomas families for their dedication and service to our country again next summer.

Cynthia Milledge
Director of Marketing and Public Relations

View highlights of this year’s Military Open House at  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qXXGVH_41T4&feature=youtu.be.

MMFA’s Summer Program Encourages Young Men

This is the Montgomery Museum of Fine Art’s 13th year sending trained teachers to community centers in the Montgomery area  to offer weekly art classes for underserved youth. In March of 2013, the MMFA began its first year teaching weekly art classes at the Mt. Meigs Youth Detention Facility, working with the young men incarcerated there. Miriam Jones, the MMFA Outreach Coordinator, describes her experiences.

“Teaching the students at Mt. Meigs is a joyful challenge. The boys are usually hesitant to dive into a project, claiming, ‘they don’t know how’ or ‘they don’t know what to make.’ It has been a good reminder to all the adults involved that if you haven’t tried to draw anything since you were a child it actually requires a good bit of bravery to try to express yourself in a brand new way. Teenagers particularly are plagued with worries about ‘messing up’ or being embarrassed, so, during a recent session, Ed.mt.meigs_blog1I, along with others, tried to include projects that each student could enter at their own level, ending in a group result that no one person would feel the burden of having to make a perfect piece of artwork.

With the assistance of Sarah Struby, our Outreach Teacher, we made clay masks that we then mounted onto ‘Totem Poles’ to be placed in their common space.  Clay encourages playing and masks can be all varieties of abstract, simple, mimicking, or complex. We were all inspired by the carved wooden totem pole by William Dawson in the Museum’s collection .

We also recruited Brian Cooley, sculptor/outdoor educator from the Montgomery Public Schools, to work with the boys on making flower planters out of old tires. The boys got really excited to see how they could reclaim a trashed object and with a bit of paint and cutting make something pretty. We also thought it was important to stress that you could make a place look more pleasing or improve the world around you without having to perfect fine painting skills or technical drawing techniques. Numerous boys talked about making planters for their grandmothers or moms when they went home.ED.mt.meigs_blog2

The tire planters and the ceramic totem poles are now installed in public areas of the Mt. Meigs campus so the students can share their work with everyone and to help with the larger goal of beautifying the facility. These projects were balanced with lessons on one and two point perspective to give the boys more confidence with drawing.”

The following quote from Carmen Archie, of the Mt. Meigs staff,  sums up the importance of the MMFA’s outreach program.   “The success of this has far exceeded my expectations.  The students’ response to the art class is overwhelming.  When the students hear another class is starting I get bombarded with requests to be in the class.  The number of students per class started with 10 to 12 students and we are now having to turn down students and place them on waiting list…. I see students who felt they didn’t have any artistic abilities open up and realize the potential they have.”

Miriam Jones
MMFA Outreach Coordinator

 

Groundbreaking for a Garden of Endless Possibilities

 

DSC_0805blogWhat started out as a $3 million vision by Museum director Mark Johnson and the MMFA’s board of trustees is being transformed into a three-acre reality.

Johnson says, “First we were just considering building it out to the road and having a one acre sculpture gallery, but then we started saying we have another 50 yards of property out there. We decided if we extended it out and changed a road here and there it would add a lot more space to it. ”

With temperatures rapidly approaching the 90-degree mark on Wednesday morning Johnson, Montgomery’s Mayor Todd Strange, MMFA Board of Trustees President Barrie Harmon, and other dignitaries took the Sculpture Garden to the next level. They all shoveled sand during a ceremonial groundbreaking to make way for it’s creation. The Mayor Strange says, “This is the next step forward.”

DSC_0769blogForward to 2016, which is when Museum leaders plan to have this new gallery completed. The additional outdoor exhibition and studio space will be an extension of the Lowder Gallery that is located on the east side of the building. The Board’s president believes the Garden was the highlight of the Museum’s 25th anniversary.  Harmon says, “It enhances the image of the city. It gives us a cultural dimension to what we’re trying to achieve in Montgomery.” The new addition will not only feature temporary and permanent exhibitions of outdoor sculpture, it will also be used for special events and innovative education programs. The space will provide an outstanding new venue for entertaining and appreciating the beauty of the natural setting in the Blount Cultural Park.DSC_0827blog

Director Mark Johnson says the planning committee did their homework touring other sculpture gardens across the United States to get ideas and taking this research to an architect and landscape architecture specialist in order to prepare the current plan.

The efforts to fund the construction of the new sculpture garden are already underway and Johnson says a third of the money needed has been raised so far.

In the meantime, to hear and see more sights and sounds from the June 25th groundbreaking go online to the Youtube video link seen here:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NlH9G0YduH0&feature=youtu.be.

Cynthia Milledge
Director of Public Relations and Marketing

 

 

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