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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