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Category: Exhibition

A “Stellar” Show of Prints by Frank Stella!

Rarely do citizens of a city the size of Montgomery have an opportunity to see a retrospective exhibition of a great living artist here at home. Frank Stella Prints: A Retrospective from the Collections of Jordan Schnitzer and his Family Foundation, is one of those rare occasions, with 84 works on paper (some of which are extremely large) that are on view at the MMFA through October 29.

 

For over 50 years, American artist Frank Stella (born 1936) has created a significant body of abstract paintings, reliefs, sculptures, drawings, and prints. Frank Stella Prints illustrates the artist’s remarkable career as a printmaker and shows how his highly experimental endeavors have redefined printmaking. Stella’s three decades of collaboration with master printmaker Ken Tyler, first at Gemini GEL and then at Tyler Graphics, set the standard for contemporary printmaking during the last quarter of the twentieth century. Together, the two men pioneered new techniques to produce unorthodox blends of relief, intaglio, lithography, and screen-printing, as well as hand-painted monoprints. Through it all, Stella’s style evolved from the minimalist geometric abstraction of his early years to the baroque exuberance of his later gestural work.

 

Jordan D. Schnitzer. Courtesy of Jordan Schnitzer Family Foundation.

It’s all on view at the MMFA thanks to the generosity of Jordan Schnitzer, a philanthropist in Portland, Oregon, whose collection of 15,000 (yes, fifteen thousand) contemporary works on paper—a veritable lending library of art—is the source of this exhibition as well as the Andy Warhol exhibition at the High Museum in Atlanta that closes on Sunday, September 10. Both exhibitions have toured the country courtesy of the generous Jordan Schnitzer, bringing world-class modern art to cities large and small.

 

Frank Stella Prints premiered at the Madison (WI) Museum of Contemporary Art, where Dr. Richard H. Axsom, Curator Emeritus, organized the show and authored the hefty catalogue raisonné of Stella’s prints, which is available for purchase in the MMFA store. The exhibition then went to the Addison Gallery of American Art at Phillips Academy in Andover, Massachusetts, Stella’s alma mater. At the Addison, Stella, Tyler, Axsom, and Schnitzer participated in an insightful panel discussion that addresses the renowned artist’s collaboration with the master printmaker and his atelier, as well as the insights of the curator and collector. Thanks to the Addison, that wide-ranging conversation is as close as your phone, computer, or digital assistant – just click here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cFbFnSHuFHA&feature=youtu.be.

 

Thanks to Jordan Schnitzer and local exhibition sponsors Laura and Barrie Harmon, Melissa and Frank Wilson, Ann Hubbert, Dr. Maria Wohlman and John Crews, Frank Stella Prints is as close as the Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts. It’s a rare opportunity to see a retrospective exhibition of a great living artist right here at home. Don’t miss it.

 

 

Michael W. Panhorst, Ph.D.

Curator of Art

 

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

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

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


Blount Collection

Edward Hopper, New York Office, 1962

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

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

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

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Karen LaMonte, Ojigi Bowing, 2010

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

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Gary Chapman, Mutter und Tochter, 1993

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

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Young Gallery

Kelly Fitzpatrick, Negro Baptising, 1930

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

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Quilts on the Mind

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

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

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

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

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

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

Alice Novak
Curator of Education

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

Fig 2.: Ryan Blocker, curator at ADAH

 

Celebrate 200 Years of Quilts in Alabama!

You may have heard that the state of Alabama will be celebrating the bicentennial of statehood for the next three years. Beginning this month and extending through December of 2019, state institutions will feature projects that focus on Alabama’s rich social and cultural heritage. The MMFA’s first exhibition honoring the bicentennial opens this month, and the project reflects a cooperative spirit, ingenuity, and respect for our material culture that is surely worth commemorating.

Blog.Quilts2Sewn Together: Two Hundred Years of Alabama Quilts, now on view at the MMFA until April 16, had its inception at an MMFA staff ‘”pre-opening” visit to the newly completed Alabama Voices installation at the Alabama Department of Archives and History. After our introductory tour, Archives curator Ryan Blocker (pictured to the right) took us to see some special treasures in her care—storage cabinets with rolls of amazing textiles. These examples of linens, costumes, and clothing, some of them centuries old, were part of the Archives’ collections that began back in 1901; it’s the oldest state archives in the United States.

It was natural that Ryan and I began looking at and talking about Alabama quilts. The MMFA has a collection of 82 quilts primarily made in West Alabama from the decades of the 1980s and 1990s. These quilts are a mixture of examples made for practical use in the home and those made consciously as art objects for display.   Some of those in the Archives’ storeroom were created over 150 years ago; they reflect the origins of the quilt as a both a necessary utilitarian object and one that routinely demonstrated the needlecraft and creativity of the maker. The more we looked and talked, the more we discovered fascinating parallels in these quilts that were made in our state from its earliest days until the end of the twentieth century. We were excited to discover patterns, quilting techniques, themes, and methods of construction that reflected the continuity in both our extraordinary collections.

Blog.Quilts1We joined forces to select and interpret 14 exemplary pairs of quilts, composed of one example from each collection, which are now on display on the walls of the MMFA. Many of the older examples from the Archives’ collections have never been formally exhibited. Historic textiles are, by their nature, very fragile objects, and thus are rarely hung on walls or seen under exhibition lighting. We are honored that the Archives chose to share these distinctive and historically significant quilts with us in order to make them accessible to the public.

The two staffs (pictured to the right) joined forces to tell the story of the exhibition through not only text panels but also a printed brochure and an interactive website dedicated to Alabama and its quilt history. The website was largely the creation of Archive staff members Raven Christopher and Georgia Ann Hudson, with timely and creative contributions from our own curatorial digital assets manager, Sarah Graves. The site, sewntogetheralabama.org, will give this collaboration a “second life” on the internet, long past the period of the physical exhibition. It is accessible to quilt lovers the world over, as well as to local collectors and families who treasure their family heirlooms. Among the valuable resources you’ll find on the website are two videos that explain how best to care for your quilts and how to safely store them. It also contains photographs of the quilts paired with their comparative texts explaining the continuity of the quilting tradition in our state and “sneak peeks” at quilts that were too fragile for display in the galleries.

Blog.Quilts3I hope that you will take time before April 16 to come to the Museum to see these extraordinary historic textiles. It may be your only opportunity to see them before they return to their safe storage for future generations. We appreciate all of the staff members of each institution who participated in making the larger project a reality. We are very grateful for the financial support of the Alabama State Council on the Arts, as well as the sponsorship of our long-time patrons and supporters, Laura and Michael Luckett. And be sure to make a virtual visit through the website sewntogetheralabama.org to learn even more about the art of quilt making in Alabama, a tradition two hundred years in the making.

Margaret Lynne Ausfeld
Curator

Fig 1.: Ryan Blocker, curator at ADAH

Fig 2.: (left to right) Margaret Lynne Ausfeld, MMFA curator; Sarah Graves, MMFA digital asset manager; Ryan Blocker, ADAH curator; Georgia Ann Hudson, ADAH PR; and Raven Christopher, ADAH archaeology curator

Fig 3.: (left to right) Staff from ADAH, Georgia Ann Hudson, Ryan Blocker, and Raven Christopher

MMFA Kicks Off the New Fall Season

pic118-mapache-in-a-corn-field-for-blogWith a new season comes a change of scenery in the galleries of the Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts. On Saturday, October 1, 2016, the Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts will debut its much anticipated fall exhibitions: First Folio! The Book that Gave Us Shakespeare, Hamlet at the Alabama Shakespeare Festival,  Boydell Shakespeare Gallery Engravings, Callot’s Commedia dell’ Arte Characters and 17th-Century Scenes, Federico Uribe: Transformart, and The Political Persuader: Cartoons by
Frank M. Spangler, Sr. 
 

The Museum is hosting an array of events all month long to celebrate.

Teacher Workshop: First Folio! The Book that Gave Us Shakespeare
Saturday, October 1, 10 A.M. to 2 P.M. Read More

Short Course: Shakespeare Today
Tuesday: October 4, 11, 18, 25
12 noon to 1 P.M. Read More

Celebrating the Opening of the Fall Exhibitions
Thursday, October 6, 5:30 to 8 P.M.

hamlet-for-blogJoin us for the unveiling of our fall exhibitions. The evening will begin with a free reception from 5:30 to 7 P.M., followed by a reading of Hamlet’s soliloquy, “To Be or Not to Be…,” from Act 3, Scene 1 by Geoffrey Sherman, ASF Producing Artistic Director, at 6 P.M. We will end the evening with a lecture by Colombian-born, Miami-based artist Federico Uribe at 7 P.M. Read More 

College Night: First Folio! The Book That Gave Us Shakespeare
Thursday, October 13, 6 to 7 P.M.

In honor of the First Folio! exhibition, Dr. Elizabeth Hutcheon, Assistant Professor of English at Huntingdon College, will host an evening for the university community celebrating the enduring relevance of the works of William Shakespeare. Read More 

 

droeshoutportrait_firstfoliofolger-for-blog2Family Day: A Shakespeare Celebration
Saturday, October 15, 12:30 to 4:30 P.M.

The Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts in Collaboration with the Alabama Shakespeare Festival will present a day for families to view the First Folio! The Book that Gave Us Shakespeare exhibition with offerings on the grounds of the theater including performances, creative children’s activities, artisan demonstrations, theatrical fight presentations, talks on Shakespeare, and more.  Several arts activities (1 P.M. and 3 P.M.) will be offered at the MMFA.  


Mixed Media Workshops

Saturday: October 15 and 22, 12:30 to 4:30 P.M. Read More


Credit Information:
Figure 1: Federico Uribe (American, born Colombia 1962), Mapache (Racoon), 2007, in Corn Field, 2011, wooden shovels, bicycle tires, and shoes, Lent by the artist

Figure 3: Nathan Hosner as HAMLET and Greta Lambert as GERTRUDE, photograph courtesy of Alabama Shakespeare Festival

Figure 2: Martin Droeshout (English, 1601–c.1650), Shakespeare, 1623, engraving, photograph courtesy of Folger Shakespeare Library

 

 

Last Call/Art in Concert

last-call-septThe Junior Executive Board of the Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts welcomed more than 100 young professionals to Last Call on September 1 in conjunction with the exhibition Photorealism. Guests sampled IPA and Pilsner from Railyard Brewing Company. They also dined on Red Beans and Rice and Jambalaya from The Seafood Bistro. All were encouraged to purchase raffle tickets for a chance to win a stock the cellar prize package or VIP tickets to Art in Concert that will be held on Friday, October 14, 2016. The JEB raised more than $600 to support the Artist in Residency Program–Learning Through Art at Wares Ferry Road featuring the likes of Barbara Davis and Darius Hill.

AIC16_OnExhibit ad_3x4Looking to the fall, the JEB is very excited to announce Daniel Elsworth and the Great Lakes as the featured band for the 5th annual Art in Concert.  Previous artists have included St. Paul and the Broken Bones and The FUTUREBIRDS. For the first time, there will be a VIP Tent sponsored by Pine Bar and Vintage Year offering free food and drink to those who purchase a $50 VIP ticket. General admission tickets are $15. All tickets can be purchased in advance here. We will be selling general admission tickets at the gate the night of the event. As always, this event is rain or shine! Please bring blankets and chairs, but no outside food or drink. Both will be available during the concert for purchase using either cash or card. Make sure to follow the JEB on Facebook (MMFA Junior Executive Board) and Instagram (mmfajuniorboard) for updates on food vendors, band information, and ticket flash sales!

last-call-sept-2-2Are you interested in joining the JEB?  The Junior Executive Board works to advocate the programs of the MMFA to young professionals in the River Region. Through significant fundraising events, the JEB supports major exhibitions and the Education Department of the MMFA. We are always looking for new faces to be part of this board of young people. If you would like to be considered for the 2017 board, please submit a cover letter and resume to Blake Rosen between October 1 and November 11  via email at brosen@mmfa.org. The new board will be announced December 1.

We hope to see everyone October 14 for Art in Concert!

Blake Rosen
Special Events Coordinator

Summer Exhibitions Opening Reception 2016

Summertime is always a welcome season at the Museum—the galleries offer a cool respite from the heat and our staff takes a mini-break from the nonstop activities of the fall and spring. Nevertheless, there’s plenty to see and do at the MMFA, and this coming Thursday, July 14, offers a perfect opportunity for you to join as we celebrate five wonderful exhibitions now on view with a reception from 5:30 to 8:00 P. M..

Four of the shows are rarely seen objects from our own permanent collection—Photorealism, Harmonics: Joe Almyda’s Works on Paper, Taking It to the Streets, and Women’s Work: Prints from the Collection of the Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts.  Our fifth show, Lynn Saville: Dark City, Urban American at Night features the work of a photographer who is also represented in the collection.  We have a number of exciting programs scheduled in conjunction with these shows, including a post-reception talk on Thursday evening beginning at 7:00 P.M. by Professor Kathleen Spies of Birmingham-Southern who is sharing her thoughts on the evolution of women as professionals in the art world.

Dr. Spies’s focus in her talk will be the creative spirit and accomplishments of women in the American art world, inspired by our Women’s Work show. This exhibition showcases forty-seven prints by twenty women artists from the Museum’s works on paper collection. The artists include the Alabamians Anne Goldthwaite and Clara Weaver Parrish from the earliest part of the century, to modern printmakers such as Jennifer Bartlett, Pat Steir, and Lesley Dill.

Below are a few examples of the works on view which you’ll be able to enjoy when you join us Thursday night!

 

Blog.Thomson.SummerOpening2016Laquita Thomson, November 13, 1833, 1990, 1995.12.5.5

Thomson is a member of the faculty at Freed Hardeman University in Clarksville, Tennessee.  While a Masters degree candidate at Auburn, she created a series of lithographs titled Celestial Happenings—Stars Fell on Alabama, in which she documents events such the one here— “the night the stars fell” was a meteor shower that inspired the popular song “Stars Fell on Alabama.”

 

Blog.Harshman.SummerOpening2016Melissa Harshman, 2nd Place, 2004, 2005.4

Prior to the twentieth century, the traditional roles of women and girls centered on the home and the domestic duties associated with homemaking.  In this screen print Harshman copies images from popular periodicals of the early twentieth century to illustrate how these roles were taken for granted, insuring that professionally many women were relegated to 2nd place.

 

Blog.Hartigan.SummerOpening2016Grace Hartigan, On a Tar Roof, 1960-1961, 1995.2.3.2

Grace Hartigan is recognized internationally as a leader in the second generation of Abstract Expressionists.  Hartigan broke away from the constraints of expressionism to explore not her personal emotions, but those derived from an outside sources such as poetry, in this case a work by the poet James Schuyler titled Salute.

 

Margaret Lynne Ausfeld, curator of Art
and
Sarah Graves, collections information specialist

Photorealism

Blog.PhotorealismgalleryThe first thing you notice about the new Photorealism exhibition is the big, bold, colorful images of planes and motorcycles, movie marquees, and cityscapes. The show includes only 20 items and fills only two galleries, but it is an eyeful. Indeed, there is more than meets the eye’s initial inspection. Each image invites close looking.

Some viewers may marvel at the images’ high degree of mimesis—the fidelity with which they mimic their subject. The vivid array of reflections in the cowl of a motorcycle, the nuanced shades of grey enveloping the fuselage of a P-51 Mustang sitting under an overcast sky, the glittering gold and patriotic colors of a Fourth of July still-life composition impress viewers with their detailed representation of reality. But it is not immediately apparent that these pictures do not mimic three-dimensional reality. These are pictures of photographs—primarily photos of motorcycles, airplanes, movie marquees, and other urban imagery—hence the exhibition title, Photorealism, and the name of the style that took root in 1960s Pop Art.

Blog.Empire.PhotorealismThat’s right. Photorealist artists paint pictures of photographs. First they photograph places like banal urban views and things like cars, trucks, and other macho machines. Then they project those images onto canvas or paper, trace the forms, and fill in the colors, often with airbrushes that capture the fuzzy effects of soft-focus lenses and out of focus photos. Photorealists often crop their images to make the most of abstract design compositions, but the results always look realistic, even if artists like Robert Cottingham take some creative license with the isolation or modification of their images as he does with movie marquees like that of the now demolished Empire Theatre that once stood in downtown Montgomery (fig. 2, above). Still, the subject of the photograph remains recognizable in every Photorealist painting or print.

Photorealist prints are much more common than Photorealist paintings, which typically require many months to complete. However, Photorealist prints are similarly time-consuming to create because each usually involves a dozen or more individual screens—one for each color. One print by Tom Blackwell (whose Triumph Trumpet and 451 are in this show) required 86 separate screens and took 15 months to make. That print, Shatzi (1979), depicts a World War II aircraft and was printed on Masonite (as is Ron Kleeman’s Mustang Sally in this exhibition) because of its great scale (4 x 6 feet). It was printed by Norman Lassiter, a master printer who partnered with Louis Meisel, a New York gallery owner, to publish Photorealist prints under the aegis of Editions Lassiter-Meisel.

Editions Lassiter-Meisel also published the ten silkscreens in the City-ScapBlog.CityscapesPortfolioes Portfolio (fig. 3, to the right) that are on view in the current exhibition. Most are signed and numbered A.P. 21/30, indicating that they were the 21st of 30 artist proofs pulled in addition to 25 publisher’s proofs plus the full edition of 250. Signed and numbered print editions of this scale enabled Photorealists to sell images of their paintings for substantially less than the original paintings cost. Relatively large editions like this one also enabled Meisel to donate a few of the portfolios to museums—as he did for our museum.

So, when you go to see the new Photorealist show, don’t get blown away by the big, bold, colorful images. Take time to look closely at these prints. It’s a little like a summer “staycation,” enjoying the everyday sights without leaving the air-conditioned comfort of your hometown museum.

Michael Panhorst
Curator of Art

 

Image Credits
Figure 2: Robert Cottingham, Empire, 2009, screen print on paper, Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts, Gift of the artist, 2009.12

Figure 3: Colophon and Preface, from the portfolio, City-Scapes, Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts, Gift of Louis K. and Susan P. Meisel, 2014.5.8

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