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Montgomery Museum of Fine Art

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Congratulations to Docent Graduates 2015

Doc.Grad.BlogIn recognition of the MMFA’s powerful and thought provoking exhibition, History Refused to Die: Alabama’s African-American Self-Taught Artists in Context, the Museum education department also payed homage to our state and its history by hosting the MMFA 2015 Docent Graduation with an Alabama theme, entitled “Jubilee.”  Dinner, prepared by Jenny Weller Catering, featured  a delicious array of barbecue, macaroni and cheese, braised greens and peach cobbler.  Tables were decked out in red and white, with a centerpiece of apples and white daisy mums, atop a cascade of books about Alabama artists.   (At left: 2015 graduates of the MMFA Docent Program, with Alice Novak, and Jill Byrd.)

Doc.Grad.Table.BlogMMFA docents are recognized for their dedication and service to the Museum by this annual special event. This year, we welcomed seven new docents who completed the requirements and graduated the program:  Julie Goolsby, Phyllis Hall, Andy Huffman, Nancy Moss, Mary Lil Owens, Laura Roth, and Penny Thompson. Other accolades went to both the outgoing and incoming Docent Councils as well as docents who had outstanding performances in categories such as gallery, studio, outreach and puppet show.

Doc.Grad.Barto.BlogTwo special recognition awards were given:  the Wayne Barto Memorial Award for Outstanding First-Year Docent was given to Penny Thompson; and the Pat Wanglie Honorary Award for Docent with Exceptional Service was given to Beth Acker. (At left: Alice Novak, Penny Thompson, Donna Pickens and Jill Byrd.)

Doc.Grad.Wanglie.BlogThe Museum is grateful to each and every docent who volunteers their time and talents to the MMFA, and, with their help, we look forward to another successful year educating the River Region about art and the Museum.
(At right: Beth Acker and Pat Wanglie.)

Jill Byrd
MMFA Tour Coordinator

Learning Through Art

wfartists2On Tuesday, May 5, 125 excited third-grade students and their families filled the ARTWORKS corridor, proudly snapping pictures of the artwork installed up and down the hall. This happy occasion was the opening reception of the exhibition, Learning Through Art, featuring works of art created by each third-grade student at the Wares Ferry Road Elementary School during this past year as part of the MMFA Artist in Residence Program. One mother, when viewing her son’s artwork, was overheard exclaiming, “I never knew he could do artwork as good as that!” That comment was repeated many times as families viewed paintings of bright red flowers inspired by Georgia O’Keefe, trees painted in an Impressionist style, animals in clay relief, George Rodrigue inspired “blue” dogs, and other works of art in the exhibition.

The evening also included a special recognition ceremony for the students and teachers. When Mrs. Baker and Mr. Diggs, the homeroom teachers, gave each student an award certificate, the children paraded across the stage and lined up to have their pictures taken, even without prompting! Derek Murphy Jr. was recognized for his artwork included in a state competition sponsored by the Alabama State Council on the Arts. Timiya Harris, Willie Grant, and Kimberly Gudino were honored for having their artwork included in an exhibition of student art at the U.S. Department of Education in Washington, D.C. that just opened and will be on view through June 30, 2015. The exhibition, Museums: pARTners in Learning 2015, is sponsored by the American Association of Museum Directors and the U.S. Department of Education, and celebrates innovative visual arts programming of museums with schools. The MMFA is one of 16 museums in the U.S. to have student work included in this exhibition.

The award ceremony ended with special thanks to Principal Ed Drozdowski and the outstanding MMFA art teachers, Jean Kocher and Laura Bocquin. Several members of the Montgomery Kiwanis Club were present in the audience and were recognized for their funding support of the program this year. With assistance from a National Endowment for the Arts grant, this unique program will continue and hopefully expand to additional classes next year.

Donna Pickens
Assistant Curator of Education for Children and Family Programs

 

Note: for those unfamiliar with the MMFA Artist in Residence Program, the Museum sponsors weekly art classes at the school, with lessons based on works of art in the Museum’s collection and related to the core curriculum. Professional artists from the River Region also visit the classes, teaching special techniques in drawing, painting, printmaking, ceramics, and sculpture. The curriculum includes Visual Thinking Strategies (VTS) an inquiry-based teaching method, to encourage students’ critical thinking and literacy skills. During a recent visit to the Museum, the students demonstrated the skills they have learned from this approach, offering many astute observations about the original works of art in the galleries.

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

 

Director’s Circle Dinner 2015

Ryder.TwoFigures.blogWhile Monday night, April 13, was dark and dreary, the Museum shone with the warmth of early springtime.  Our annual Director’s Circle Dinner serves to thank our loyal supporters, and this year the dinner also celebrated the opening of Masterworks of the Move: American Paintings from Wesleyan College. Chauncey Ryder’s Two Figures in a Landscape from the Wesleyan Collection was reproduced on the invitation to the event, and served as seasonal inspiration in color and tone.

Director's Circle 10Longstanding dinner sponsors Margaret and Jimmy Lowder of The Colonial Company and Gene and Ray Ingram of Jack Ingram Motors joined MMFA director Mark Johnson and his wife Amy in welcoming over 150 guests to the annual April dinner. Friends enjoyed visiting over cocktails in the Rotunda and viewing the exhibition nearby before making their way to the Lowder Gallery for a sumptuous dinner.Director's Circle 1

In his brief remarks, Mark thanked everyone for their dedication to the Museum and enumerated some of the highlights of the last year. He then welcomed special guest Lisa Sloben, Director, Center for Creative and Performing Arts at Wesleyan College who spoke about the collection on view. In closing, Board of Trustees’ President Roger Spain reminded our guests of the MMFA’s mission to collect, preserve, exhibit, and interpret art of the highest quality for the enrichment, enlightenment, and enjoyment of our public, and thanked them for allowing us to do just that.

If you are interested in helping to further the mission of the Museum by joining our Director’s Circle, please feel free to contact me at jbarry@mmfa.org or 334-240-4344.

Jill Barry
Deputy Director

Native American Family Day 2015

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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

 

Reflections from a Montgomery Businessman and Civil Rights Activist

Loyd.H.3.blogOn April 2, the Museum hosted a special program to complement the exhibition now on view, History Refused to Die. The speaker was Mr. Loyd Howard, a local businessman who shared his memories of life in Montgomery during the height of the Civil Rights Movement.

To watch Mr. Howard walk into the Montgomery Museum of Fine Art’s Orientation Circle, you would think he was a quiet but reserved man. At first, he stopped to scan the room to see who was in attendance at the reception held in his honor. He then spoke to many, smiled at some, and even hugged others.

Loyd.H.2.blogAfter 30 minutes of socializing, he was introduced to a crowd of nearly 50 people. When Mr. Howard walked up to the podium, almost instantly he transformed from a mature business owner of 55 years to a 14-year old teenager growing up in Montgomery, Alabama during a time when discrimination was at an all-time high. He talked about his early life working in a barbershop with Raymond Parks (the husband of Rosa Parks) and others. Mr. Howard said, “Raymond Parks thought he and Mrs. Parks would be killed after she refused to give up her seat. What photographs don’t reveal and people don’t know is, she wasn’t sitting in the white section of the bus. She was actually arrested for not giving up her seat to a white man in the black section of the bus.” Those words had some people in the audience shaking their heads.

Loyd.H.1.blogThe Civil Rights activist also described how blacks learned to unite during this period. He recalled when Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. arrived in Montgomery. Mr. Howard said, “We didn’t even know what a boycott was. They had to teach us what it meant. We were also taught how we needed to react to everything non-violently.” Mr. Howard said it was a movement that pushed the nation towards social reform and he described it as “one of the greatest historical events that the world will ever have.”

As the nation prepares to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the Montgomery Bus Boycott on December 1, 2015, the owner of Howard’s Cosmetics said he hopes his story will help people get another first-hand view of what actually took place during that time. It was so refreshing to have someone who experienced those trials and tribulations in our midst here at the Museum.

Cynthia Milledge
Director of Marketing and Public Relations

 

 

 

 

 

Looking at the MMFA Through the Eyes of an Intern

Lakendrick-blogAs much as I tried to hide it, I was a nervous wreck my first day as a graphic design intern here at the Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts. Imagine me, a young lad out of my small hometown of Forkland, Alabama, working in such a prestigious environment. “Get it together Ken. Don’t mess this up,” was the thought that rattled around in my head for days. I wanted to do no less than a great job here at the Museum. After a couple of weeks and a couple of projects completed, the bashfulness slowly but surely dissolved and my confidence grew as I built new, stronger connections with the Museum staff.

Working here independently has helped me grow both personally and professionally. Other than the summer gigs I would do with my uncle back home, I’ve never had the opportunity to really work in a professional environment. More than anything, I am thankful for the projects that forced me to step out of my comfort zone. I remember the first project that allowed me to utilize my basic photography skills. There was a costume contest along with a jazzMetal Sculptures 2-blog event and it was my job to get pictures of all of the festivities. This was my first time shooting an event and the very thought of moving around so many people put butterflies in my stomach. Regardless, I completed the task given to me. In retrospect, there were things I could have done better, but I did learn things from that experience that I can apply in the future.

In a nutshell, being an intern for the MMFA has been a great learning experience. It feels as though I’ve become a part of the family here. I give so much thanks to my wonderful internship supervisor, Cynthia Milledge, Public Relations Director, for giving me this opportunity.

Park Sculpture1-blogLeKendrick Taylor
MMFA Intern

Note: The staff at the MMFA are so proud of LeKendrick and all of his contributions during his 13 week internship. He is an outstanding young man with a bright future in the graphic arts field.

 

 

 

 

Docent Road Trip to Birmingham

2015docenttrip1.blogDespite a foggy start, 20 docents and MMFA staff headed to the Birmingham Museum of Art on Friday morning, March 20. We were greeted by Dr. Robert Schindler, Curator of European Art, who led a fascinating tour of Small Treasures: Rembrandt, Vermeer, Hals, and Their Contemporaries, an exhibition of small-format 17th-century paintings from the Dutch and Flemish Golden Age. The group discovered information about each work in the exhibition, the time frame in which they were created, and about the installation process itself. One of the highlights of the exhibition is Vermeer’s Girl with the Red Hat. As one of only three-dozen works created by Vermeer, this work is both incredibly rare and a perfect example of Vermeer and his craft. Dr. Schindler recounted how x-ray and neutron reflectography revealed that underneath Vermeer’s image lies a bust length portrait of a man with a wide brimmed hat. Before painting directly on the old portrait, Vermeer turned it upside down to avoid being excessively influenced by the image.

After the tour we had a delicious lunch at Oscar’s at the Museum with several of the BMA’s docents and educators, setting the stage for some great conversation.

Jumping back into our cars, the docents headed a few miles down the road to the new Abroms-Engel Institute for the Visual Arts (AEIVA) at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. This impressive zinc & glass building opened in 2014 and houses the Department of Art & Art History as well as gallery space.  Registrar, Christina McClellan gave the docents insight into the two exhibitions currently there. Works of cut and painted paper by Michael Velliquette provided an atmosphere of color and whimsy. Mr. Velliquette was also the juror for the student exhibition in the next gallery space. The 39th Annual Student Juried Exhibition contains 55 works by student artists. It was great to see the talent, diversity, and imagination of these up and coming young artists!

All agreed it was a great day!

Gloria Simons
MMFA Volunteer Coordinator and Docent

 

The MMFA Becomes a Classroom for Students Learning About the Civil Rights Era

Speaker_221-blog

History came to life recently for some area middle and high-school students. On Saturday, March 14, Jaida Boardley and nearly 80 others came to the Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts to take part in Remembering the March, an arts event and teen essay contest.

As she walked in the Museum she turned in an essay (which was required for admission to the event) and entered the Wilson auditorium. Minutes later, the Baldwin Middle Magnet student, and others came face to face with Sheyann Webb-Christburg. Christburg participated in the Selma to Montgomery March in 1965 when she was only eight years old.

The now author and Civil Rights activist introduced the Disney movie, Selma, Lord, Selma, based on the book she co-authored and that bears the same name. Christburg told the crowd, “This movie has struck a chord with children across the country. You need to know young people were also involved in the March. ”

12 year-old Jaida admitted she had seen the movie before, but hearing it was based on the life of the woman now standing in her presence gave it a new meaning. Jaida said, “I was excited to see her.”DSC_0217-blog

After screening the movie, singer Eric Nettles performed the song So Amazing, and further set the stage for Christburg’s presentation. Christburg said to the youngsters, “You need to know you matter in the world. Be the best you can be and get a good education. I tell you this because that’s how Dr. King spoke to me. Develop a strong character. Let it be deeply embedded in you. ”

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Following a question-and-answer session, the young people walked into the MMFA’s galleries to view the exhibition History Refused to Die: Alabama’s African-American Self-Taught Artists in Context. There they received another kind of history lesson. Lonnie Holley, one of 15 artists featured in the exhibition, spoke with them about the sources of his painting, Carrying the Lighter Child, encouraging them to follow their dreams as he had his.

IMG_1677_blogRemembering the March is just one of the FREE programs being held at the Museum commemorating key events of the Civil Rights era. Thursday, April 3 at 6 P.M., the pubic is invited to attend a presentation by Montgomery businessman Loyd Howard. He will focus on his experiences during the Montgomery Bus Boycott in anticipation of the 60th anniversary later this year. Also, on Thursday, April 23 at 6 P.M., writer and editor Randall Williams, will explore the larger social and political context of the Civil Rights Movement in Alabama.

Cynthia Milledge
Director of Marketing and Public Relations

 

 

 

 

 

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

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