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Montgomery Museum of Fine Art

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Category: Families

Korean–Language Gallery Talk: Connecting to American History through Art

KoreanTalk.Blog.2On September 17, MMFA Docent Jiyeon Suh led a dynamic Korean-language gallery talk in the exhibition Journey Through the Collection: Docent Choices.  She focused on a section of the exhibition called Remembering the Past, which includes art that addresses American history from the Native American experience to the Civil Rights Movement.  I was lucky enough to be a participant and occasionally heard an English phrase such as “Manifest Destiny” or “flappers” which gave me a sense of the conversation.  At the end I asked Jiyeon, “Did you mention Kevin Costner?” and a few other questions . . .
“What is something about American history as represented in the exhibition that you find particularly interesting?”
Jiyeon: “At the beginning of the gallery talk, I introduced the idea that learning about the major conflicts that define American history helps to understand the social and cultural shifts in this country’s relatively brief history.  We looked at representations of the Civil War, First World War, and Second World War during the gallery talk.  Korean audiences can follow the timeline of American history easily because there are many close relationships to our national history.”   
“What connections to popular culture did you make in the galleries to help people understand the works of art?”
J: “While we were looking at a painting of Plains Indians beside a portrait of a Confederate Solider, I talked about Dances with Wolves, since native cultures and the Civil War are at the heart of the movie.  We also examined works from the 20s and 30s,  and I made connections to The Great Gatsby, which is very well-known in Korea, and a more recent Korean film, Assassination, which is set in 1933.”
“What is your message to your friends about enjoying the Museum?”
J: “The Museum is a wonderful gift to all of the families in Montgomery.  I love the people I meet at the Museum, connecting with my fellow volunteers, and the passion for art here!
With a Korean audience, I like to emphasize that by learning more about American art, history, literature, music, movies, and current issues we can better relate to our children and help them with everything they are studying in school.  It also gives us fun topics to discuss at home! “KoreanTalk.Blog
Many people are looking forward to hearing more from Jiyeon and her perspective on American culture in Journey Through the Collection very soon. 
– Alice Novak, Curator, with Jiyeon Suh

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

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

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

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

Margaret Lynne Ausfeld
Curator of Art

The Flimp Festival Draws in a Record-Breaking Crowd

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

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

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

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

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

Cynthia Milledge
Director of Marketing and Public Relations


Native American Family Day 2015

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

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

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

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


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

Jill Barry
Deputy Director


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

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 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

Margaret Lynne Ausfeld
Curator of Art

View highlights of the African Family Day here




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


Chinese Consul gets “lesson” in Arts Education at the MMFA

DSC-489_blogArt is looked at from a different perspective, at least when Yang Song compares what’s on display in China’s museums to the Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts. Song says, “This is wonderful. The visit is quite special, unlike other experiences in museums in Europe and China.”

Song is employed with the Consulate General of the People’s Republic of China based in Houston, Texas. The Consul for Cultural Affairs came to Montgomery, August 21 through 23, for this year’s Dragon Boat races on the Alabama River. Upon his arrival into the Museum’s Rotunda, he seemed impressed with the plans for the MMFA’s new sculpture garden. A few steps further into the Permanent Collection he marveled over Mary Cassat’s Francoise in Green, Sewing, a little girl decked out in her Sunday best. Song says, “At first sight, you see such beauty here at the museum, it’s a good environment for visitors.”

We even caught him photographing Charles Lucas’ creations on the back grounds of the MMFA. As he discussed the sight with Curator Margaret Lynne Ausfeld, his face lit up when she told him the creatures on display were created from car parts. In fact, Song had to turn to his assistant to have it all translated into his native language to make sure he fully understood. Song says, “In China our museums are open to the public, but the buildings are huge. There is very limited interaction. Here it’s totally different. China could learn something from Montgomery, Alabama.”DSC-483_blog

DSC-495_blogThe China native also liked touring and photographing the large window in the Lowder Gallery, but he seemed most impressed with the educational experience our Artworks Gallery provides for children. He noted that museums in his native land are hard pressed to provide the kinds of experiences that the MMFA can give young visitors. The size of China’s population makes delivering art classes, services, and cultural experiences a challenge even in modern day China.

DSC-505_blogCynthia Milledge
Director of Marketing and Public Relations


Third Graders Bring Art to Life

WaresFerryStudent_wAt the tender age of nine, Akira Sims knows first hand what it takes to get her name on a wall of fame at the Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts. Sims says, ”I really like to create things.”

For 17 weeks, Sims and 54 other Wares Ferry Road Elementary school students painted, drew, or sculpted their way through the Museum’s Artist in Residence program also known as Learning Through Art. Thursday, May 22, the third graders got to see their creativity pay off. The Museum held a reception in their honor.  Sims and her family were the first to arrive that evening. Sims says, “I was surprised because I have never seen art work in a museum before.” Sims creation “The Life of a Tree” and nearly five-dozen other third graders’ works are currently displayed in the ARTWORKS Corridor exhibition. She says, “I drew this in a day.”  

Ed Drozdowski is the principal at Wares Ferry Road elementary school. Drozdowski says, “I watched the kids doing this stuff. It’s a lot different seeing it now here at the Museum.”  This is the first year for the program funded in part by a grant from the Hearst Foundations.

Art educators Jean Kocher and Laura Boquin helped enrich the children’s artistic abilities during each of the weekly sessions.  Professional artists also visited the classes, sharing their artwork and special techniques. The program encourages the students’ critical thinking and literacy skills through the regular use of visual thinking strategies (VTS). Drozdowski says he wished Wares Ferry’s entire student body could participate.  “This is fabulous. We are taking baby steps.” His wish might just come true in the future. His students will continue exploring art for another year thanks to help from a Montgomery Kiwanis Club grant.

The student exhibition will be on view until June 29. Perhaps seeing these works will encourage more youngsters like Akira Sims to take an interest in the arts.                                

Cynthia Milledge
Director of Marketing and Public Relations                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            

Hear Ed Drozdowski discuss the Learning Through Art program at


FLIMP Festival 2014 is a hit in Montgomery



Four hours of creative, innovative, and family-friendly entertainment attracted a crowd of more than 2300 spectators to this year’s 25th-annual FLIMP festival.  A cool breeze accompanied by plenty of sunshine made for a spectacular day, and the first partnership between the Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts and Booker T. Washington Magnet High School made it one to remember.

The question everyone asked during Saturday’s event was, “Exactly what is a FLIMP?”  Even though they weren’t sure of the answer, that didn’t stop participants from getting their faces IMG_1383wpainted, making and breaking piñatas, or enjoying other arts and crafts.  Just when you thought you had seen it all, nearly two-dozen dogs, decked out from head to paw, strolled through the parking lot for the return of the Do-Dah parade. That procession actually helped four canines get adoptedIMG_1235w from the Montgomery Humane Society.

The echoes of voices from BTW’s choir and the melodies from the school’s band filled the air as everyone walked the grounds of the MMFA.  For those who didn’t want to be outside, no worries, there was plenty of entertainment on the inside of the Museum.  Who knew you could take an animal’s bones and other objects and turn them into a jam session?  Drummer Dave Holland showed a packed gallery, how to do just that.  Holland even let them volunteer to be part of his percussion section.

As this year’s festival came to a close, the reminder of two fun-filled days shared among local students and adults remained on display from 2014’s Chalk Art competition. If you drive out right now, you might still be able to get a glimpse of the chalk artists’ transformation of the front parking lot into an art gallery.

However, don’t worry if you missed out on all the fun this year. The FLIMP Festival will take place at the same place and time next year. We will plan on welcoming you then.

Cynthia Milledge
Director of Marketing and Public Relations

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