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Month: July 2020

Art in the Garden: Karen LaMonte

 

Photograph courtesy of Karen LaMonte

Meet the Artist

Karen LaMonte (American, born 1967) works with various materials including cast glass, iron, and bronze to create life-sized dresses. Many viewers may be familiar with her glass masterpiece, Ojigi Bowing (2010), in the Museum’s Permanent Collection. In both Ojigi Bowing and Reclining Nocturne 3, LaMonte uses the lost-wax technique to render fine details of both the cloth and traces of the body underneath in the molds she creates for casting. In her work, LaMonte embraces and celebrates the feminine while highlighting the sensual and erotic nature of the body. In dresses such as Reclining Nocturne 3, 2016, seen here, she subtly subverts the tradition of reclining nude figures by removing the body, only leaving behind a hollow dress.  Simultaneously, she constructs an identity and a narrative about her subject without any identifying characteristics. Despite not knowing the exact identity of this woman, LaMonte creates an individualized portrait.

Currently, LaMonte lives and works in the Czech Republic. She graduated with a BFA from the Rhode Island School of Design and later worked in glass centers such as Pilchuck Glass School in Seattle and UrbanGlass in New York. LaMonte’s work has been included in numerous exhibitions and acquired for museum collections around the world.

Karen LaMonte (American, born 1967), Reclining Nocturne 3, 2016, rusted iron, Loan courtesy of Karen LaMonte

Sunday Puzzle – July

Each week we will share a new puzzle featuring an artwork from the Museum’s collection. Whether a solo personal challenge or joint family effort, we make it easy for you to get started solving—simply play on your computer, smartphone, or tablet.

This week’s puzzle is Joe Price’s aptly named July.

Last Week’s Puzzle

Ellen de Mello Weiland’s abstract Summer 80 VI

How to Play

Click with a mouse or drag with your finger the digital puzzle pieces into place. Correct alignments will snap together.

Icons

On the Bottom Left

    • Image icon – click to see the work you are putting together
    • Ghost icon – click to see an opaque image of the work on the puzzle board
    • Dotted Square icon – click to arrange or disarrange the puzzle pieces
    • Three Dots icon – click to select to restart the puzzle, change your background color, adjust settings, or get help

On the Bottom Right

  • Puzzle icon – click to play on Jigsaw Planet
  • Window icon – click to play in full-screen mode

Easy (36 Pieces)

Medium (100 Pieces)

Hard (252 Pieces)

Extreme (300 Pieces + Rotation)

How to Rotate Pieces

  • Mouse + Keyboard: 
    • Move the mouse wheel up (left rotation) or down (right rotation).
    • Or, press the left (left rotation) or right (right rotation) arrow key.
  • Touch: Tap on the piece and then tap on the appeared left or right rotation icon.

Credit

Joe Price (American, 1935–2019), July, 1990, screen print on paper, Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts, Gift of the artist and M. Lee Stone Fine Prints, 2011.12.21

Local Artists Live – Pacrates Asbel

Have you ever wondered what goes on behind-the-scenes in studios of local artists? On Saturday, August 22, Montgomery artist Pacrates Asbel will broadcast live on the Museum’s Instagram—opening his studio space to share his artwork, reflect on his inspirations, and offer a live Q&A with his audience! This is a great chance to meet one of our local artists and learn about his creations.

Live Stream Event

Saturday, August 22
10–10:30 AM

Follow the Museum on Instagram

Meet the Artist

Coming soon!

Above: Pacrates Asbel, Quiet Confidence, 2019, 36″x48″ acrylic

Local Artists Live – Karvarus Moore

Have you ever wondered what goes on behind-the-scenes in studios of local artists? On Saturday, August 8, Montgomery artist Karvarus Moore will broadcast live on the Museum’s Instagram—opening his studio space to share his artwork, reflect on his inspirations, and offer a live Q&A with his audience! This is a great chance to meet one of our local artists and learn about his creations.

Video

Meet the Artist

The featured artist on our upcoming segment of Local Artists Live is Karvarus Moore, a Montgomery native whose work focuses primarily on portraiture. Karvarus began exploring creative outlets when he was around seven years old, after watching his late older brother Kordarrius Young draw animated characters from shows they would watch on television, such as Dragon Ball Z. Karvarus wanted to do what his big brother was doing, so he picked up drawing, and over time his interests grew into a desire to draw things from real life, always pushing himself to learn more and do better.

Karvarus continued artistic exploits through his studies first at Booker T. Washington Magnet High School then at Troy University, where he earned his Bachelor of Fine Arts in Art Studio with a concentration in 2D. After a college experience that encouraged exploratory art-making and helped Karvarus find true purpose in creating, he was excited about the opportunity to collaborate with Sara Ivey from Troy on the creation of a mural at the university’s International Arts Center. The project, a rendering of the Qin Shi Huang terracotta warrior statues,  highlights Troy University’s internationality.

Last year Karvarus moved up north a little way to attend the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, where he recently completed the Post-Baccalaureate program for painting and drawing, and will begin the Masters of Fine Arts program later this month. Be sure to tune in this Saturday, August 8, at 10 AM on the MMFA’s Instagram, when Karvarus will go live for a Q & A with the audience and share some of his artwork and inspirations.

What is your favorite thing about living in the South?

The food and the warmer weather. You know the food is good when you want to just laze around and sleep afterwards. As far as the weather, I hate being cold and luckily it doesn’t get freezing cold down here much.

A Moment in My Life Time, 2019, oil, colored pencil, and paper on canvas, 50 in x 60 in

What excites you most about the growth of Montgomery’s art scene?

The gradual exploration of abstracted and nonrepresentational means of visual expression. I used to think that being a great artist meant you had amazing technical skills, but sometimes it’s more than that, depending on what and how you’re trying to express something. The playful, experimental work I see from Montgomery is inspiring and a joy to see. I also love to see more socially driven artwork that sparks a conversation on the problems still embedded in America especially from a city so rich in Civil Rights history.

What is your favorite work of art from the MMFA’s collection, and what specifically about the artwork speaks strongly to you?

My favorite piece at the museum is Long Day, Late Night by American artist Dale Kennington. I love the ordinary moment on the subway she captured. Everyone in the piece seems to have their own world, bubble, and life.

What piece of art that you have created is your favorite and why?

I am torn between two. A Moment In My Life Time, pictured above, is an embodiment of who I am at this moment in time and everything leading up to now. My family, my values, my interests, my quirkiness—everything. It also shows my growth towards more playful and emotionally evoking applications of paint and use of materials to make a more interesting and compelling composition. I also really love Red Chair, pictured below, because of its sense of quirky mystery. Some elements are rendered and other elements are just the base structure, but together they create this sort of harmonious tension that goes on to form other areas of the painting. You aren’t really sure what you’re looking at. It invites you to look deeper and explore the context to figure it out.

Do you have an all-time favorite work of art, and have you seen it in person? If you have, how did you feel in the moment?

I love David Hockney’s painting American Collectors (Fred and Marcia Weisman) on view at the Art Institute of Chicago. I love every aspect of this painting. From the figures to the setting to the patterns, textures, and paint application. In the moment of viewing the painting, I feel standoffish.

Red Chair, 2019, oil on canvas, 30 in x 40 in

Tell us about your most preferred place to be on earth. What role, if any, has the energy of that place helped shape you as an artist?

At the moment, I would love to be in Chicago. I’ve really grown as an artist there while attending the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. My peers are all such incredible artists and I’m inspired and encouraged by them. I’m excited to go back for the MFA Program. I love going to the museum there, too. I always feel inspired and excited to get back in the studio after every visit.

What drives your creativity?

My Christian faith. God knows each and every one of us deeply, more than I could ever know someone. As humans, however, we all notice at least one compelling, unique characteristic or spirit about others that speaks volumes about who we are. As an artist, I want to express that essence through painting and drawing in an emotionally powerful and interesting way. I want to express that humanity through my love of art to bring glory to God.

What is your preferred medium?

Oil paint. There are a multitude of different ways it can be applied.

Do you listen to any particular music when you create?

I listen to rap for the most part and sometimes a jazz station when painting. My favorite artist to listen to is J. Cole.

What advice would you give to beginning artists?

Never doubt yourself or your work. You have something to say. Your work is an extension of you, so say it boldly and proudly! And never throw away undesirable work you made. You can always learn from what you experimented with.

Above: Karvarus Moore, Tyler, 2019, oil on canvas, 48 in x 36 in

Sunday Puzzle – U.S.S. Mississippi

Each week we will share a new puzzle featuring an artwork from the Museum’s collection. Whether a solo personal challenge or joint family effort, we make it easy for you to get started solving—simply play on your computer, smartphone, or tablet.

This week’s puzzle is Reynolds Beal’s dynamic U.S.S. Mississippi, off Rockport, July 21, 1943.

Last Week’s Puzzle

Ellen de Mello Weiland’s abstract Summer 80 VI

How to Play

Click with a mouse or drag with your finger the digital puzzle pieces into place. Correct alignments will snap together.

Icons

On the Bottom Left

    • Image icon – click to see the work you are putting together
    • Ghost icon – click to see an opaque image of the work on the puzzle board
    • Dotted Square icon – click to arrange or disarrange the puzzle pieces
    • Three Dots icon – click to select to restart the puzzle, change your background color, adjust settings, or get help

On the Bottom Right

  • Puzzle icon – click to play on Jigsaw Planet
  • Window icon – click to play in full-screen mode

Easy (35 Pieces)

Medium (99 Pieces)

Hard (252 Pieces)

Extreme (300 Pieces + Rotation)

How to Rotate Pieces

  • Mouse + Keyboard: 
    • Move the mouse wheel up (left rotation) or down (right rotation).
    • Or, press the left (left rotation) or right (right rotation) arrow key.
  • Touch: Tap on the piece and then tap on the appeared left or right rotation icon.

Credit

Reynolds Beal, U.S.S. Mississippi, off Rockport, July 21, 1943, 1943, watercolor on paper, Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts, Gift of Pam B. Schafler in honor of Rhoda and Sidney Bressler, 2018.1.8

Film Recommendations – July 2020

Scrolling through Netflix, Prime, and Hulu can be an endless rabbit hole. This month’s film selection celebrates the lives and careers of three women artists.

Miss Hokusai

PG-13| 1h 33min | 93% Rotten Tomatoes

O-Ei is a talented artist who works with her father, Tetsuzo, later known as Hokusai, on the woodblock prints that would make Edo famous worldwide. This film is beautiful. Any fan of Hokusai or his famous The Great Wave print will enjoy this story and appreciate the scenes taken from his other prints.

Where to Watch

Stream: Netflix | Rent: Amazon, Google Play, iTunes, Vudu, YouTube

MMFA Collection Connections

Jack LevineKeiji ShinoharaChuck Close, and William T. Wiley

The Fabulous Life of Élisabeth Vigée LeBrun

PG-13 | 1h 35min

A docudrama that offers an excellent analysis of renowned painter and free-thinker, Elisabeth Louise Vigée Le Brun. Learn more about this fascinating artist from her early life to earning coveted royal commissions to paint many European royal elites including Marie Antoinette.

Where to Watch

Stream: Amazon Prime | Rent: Amazon

MMFA Collection Connections

Clara Weaver ParrishJohn Singer Sargent, and Mary Cassatt

What Remains: The Life and Work of Sally Mann

Not Rated | 1hr 20min

This documentary offers a rare glimpse of an eloquent and brilliant artist, photographer Sally Mann. Spanning five years and filmed at her Virginia farm, Mann reveals her artistic process and allows the viewer to gain entrance into her world as she reflects her personal feelings about mortality as she continues to examine the boundaries of contemporary art.

Where to Watch

Stream: Amazon Prime | Rent: Amazon, Vudu

MMFA Collection Connections

Eudora WeltyCaroline DavisPinky/MM Bass, and Nancy Marshall

Sunday Puzzle – Summer 80 VI

Each week we will share a new puzzle featuring an artwork from the Museum’s collection. Whether a solo personal challenge or joint family effort, we make it easy for you to get started solving—simply play on your computer, smartphone, or tablet.

This week’s puzzle is Ellen de Mello Weiland’s abstract Summer 80 VI.

Last Week’s Puzzle

Nora Ezell’s bursting with color Star Puzzle quilt

How to Play

Click with a mouse or drag with your finger the digital puzzle pieces into place. Correct alignments will snap together.

Icons

On the Bottom Left

    • Image icon – click to see the work you are putting together
    • Ghost icon – click to see an opaque image of the work on the puzzle board
    • Dotted Square icon – click to arrange or disarrange the puzzle pieces
    • Three Dots icon – click to select to restart the puzzle, change your background color, adjust settings, or get help

On the Bottom Right

  • Puzzle icon – click to play on Jigsaw Planet
  • Window icon – click to play in full-screen mode

Easy (35 Pieces)

Medium (99 Pieces)

Hard (252 Pieces)

Extreme (300 Pieces + Rotation)

How to Rotate Pieces

  • Mouse + Keyboard: 
    • Move the mouse wheel up (left rotation) or down (right rotation).
    • Or, press the left (left rotation) or right (right rotation) arrow key.
  • Touch: Tap on the piece and then tap on the appeared left or right rotation icon.

Credit

Ellen de Mello Weiland (American, 1913–2009), Summer 80 VI, 1980, acrylic on canvas, Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts, Gift of Edward Lee Hendricks, 1986.9

Responding to the Moment – Community Insights

As Faith Ringgold said, “No other creative field is as closed to those who are not white and male as is the visual arts. After I decided to be an artist, the first thing that I had to believe was that I, a black woman, could penetrate the art scene, and that, further, I could do so without sacrificing one iota of my blackness or my femaleness or my humanity.”

To hear how works by African-American artists in our collection, including Ringgold, are speaking to our shared humanity and calls for equality at this moment in American history, we invited members of our community – artists, writers, students, teachers, advocates, leaders of arts programs and Civil Rights Museums – to share personal reflections on selected works of art. Thank you to each of our guest writers for joining with the Museum to lend their visions and voices. What they saw and heard in the works included meditations on being a black father, the wisdom of an elderly woman, the need to organize and take action, the power of art in the struggle for equal justice, the presence and relevance of history, and in the face of violence and resistance, a belief in the possibility for lasting change.

We hope you enjoy reading the reflections and arriving at your own.

Father and Child

John Woodrow Wilson (American, 1922–2015), Father and Child, 1965, lithograph on paper, Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts Association Purchase, 2010.3

Hush little baby. Daddy’s got you.
Don’t you cry, Baby. Daddy’s got you.
Daddy’s got you, today.
But, I cry in anguish and pain because I can’t promise you tomorrow.

Georgette M. Norman
Retired Director of Troy University Rosa Parks Museum

 


 

When I saw the piece, Father and Child, I was instantly overwhelmed by the emotion that welled up in me. Too often, African-American men are painted in the nation’s consciousness as “deadbeat, delinquent, or uncaring.” Though for sure that happens, the vast majority of men of color that I am acquainted with express a heartfelt, deep-seated, unconditional love for their offspring, even those men without the financial resources to adequately demonstrate it according to the strictures of our consumer society.

The tenderness and joy in this piece is evident, even though the image is basically featureless and undefined. I thought of that moment when I first held my infant daughter in my arms and beamed at the memory, in the next instant, I thought of the feelings of security and strength when I, myself was held in my own father’s arms. This too, created a joy for the bond of a parent and child, usually only broken by the passing of the parent or in tragic cases the child.

On the heels of these pleasant reveries, this nation’s ugly history barged its way into my psyche. I thought of the many untold numbers of men of color who were taken away from their children by being sold on the auction block, this could be that last embrace before his departure, never to embrace his child again; not to even mention being murdered for a perceived transgression, large or small.

George Floyd was a father, he will never again hold his child, nor will she be able to find that sense of security and joy in his arms that I still sense when holding my grown daughter in my embrace, and the sense I shared with my own father until his death.

The more things change, the more some stay the same.

Bill Ford
MMFA Board Member, artist, retired WSFA

Leap into Freedom

Thornton Dial, Jr. (American, born 1953), Leap Into the Freedom, 1989, oil on wood panel, Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts Association Purchase, © Thornton Dial, Jr. / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York, 2012.14.6

I like the abstract vitality of Dial’s work, the shapes, the colors, the sense of movement and mystery. “Leap Into the Freedom” is less abstract than many of his 3-D compositions, with the recognizable animal — is it a dog, a razorback, a bull? — and the well-shaped flowers and fronds and the wild climbing plants with the heart petals. It is a pleasing but intriguing composition, with the animal resolutely striding forward into a new place.

Horace Randall Williams
Co-founder, Editor-in-Chief, NewSouth Books

Rosa Parks I

Yvonne Wells, (American, born 1939), Rosa Parks I, 2005, cotton/polyester blend, polyester, and cotton, plastic buttons, Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts Association Purchase, © Yvonne Wells, 2008.9.6

This piece inspires the need to get organized. To make positive change, We The People must get organized. We must communicate the problem and detail the actions we want to see completed to provide a long-standing solution—a change in culture, practice, and policy.

To me, this piece represents the power of alignment. While there are various illustrations arranged across the quilt, they all have one focus and objective. Many pieces, many parts, with one common goal.  For this, Rosa Parks and the Montgomery Bus Boycott symbolizes the power and influence of an organized nonviolent action movement. The blueprint for change has already been designed and illustrated in this piece by Alabama-born artist Yvonne Wells.

Kalonji Gilchrist
President and Founder of 21 Dreams

Sharecropper

Elizabeth Catlett (American, 1915–2012), Sharecropper, 1970, color linocut on paper, Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts Association Purchase, © The Estate of Elizabeth Catlett / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York, 2002.14.1

Jamaal Barber, To be Free, 2018, woodcut, Photograph courtesy of the artist

Elizabeth Catlett’s piece, the Sharecropper, has been transcendent and vital imagery in the long-winded fight in activism for black rights. Aside from being an artist that I look to as an example for women artists or black artists, she’s a multidisciplinary creator that manipulates materials to speak on a narrative about struggle, power, and perseverance.

Last summer I met a printmaker from Georgia, Jamaal Barber, whose work evoked the similar feelings I get from Catlett’s work. His pieces revolve around black history, black strength, and modern-day tropes saturated in systemic racism.

Jamie Harris
Alabama State University student and artist

Shugg Lampley at the Gate

Chester Higgins (American, born 1946), Shugg Lampley at the Garden Gate, negative 1968; printed 2007, platinum print on paper, Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts Association Purchase, 2007.14

If you ask her, she will tell you the stories of her girlhood. Walk through the gate kind hands have opened for you. Accept the meal that waits for you at her table. Take and eat all that she offers: love and loss, beauty and sorrow, heartbreak, and joy.

Jacqueline Trimble
Chair, Department of Languages and Literatures, Alabama State University

Under a Blood Red Sky

Faith Ringgold (American, born 1930), Under a Blood Red Sky, 2000, color lithograph on paper, Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts Association Purchase, © Faith Ringgold / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York, 2001.8.1

Faith Ringgold’s storytelling talents are on abundant display in this color lithograph on paper, one of a series, depicting a group of runaway slaves making their way to freedom under cover of night. More abstract than some of her other work and highly charged in reds and blacks with the green of the trees fairly glowing in contrast, the composition vibrates with the danger and audacity of the undertaking. A border design with Ringgold’s signature text frames the work, suggesting that this is only one chapter in the historically interesting story of African Americans moving toward their meeting with destiny.

Suzanne La Rosa
Co-founder, Publisher, NewSouth Books

V4

John L. Moore (American, born 1939), V4, 1992, oil on canvas, Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts Association Purchase, 1996.7

To me, the V4 is primarily about dominance and individuality. The ovals are egg or head-shaped and easy to see as symbolic of individuals. In this case, literally black and white individuals – and some in-between. The grey, black or white colors and outlines also suggest the lack of anything that is “pure” 100% black or white. There are a couple of ways to look at the issue of dominance here; first and most obviously the large mostly white vertical oval near the center is literally overlapping and seems to be dominating a large collection of smaller black and white ovals. The large vertical nature of the white oval implies an ‘authority’ and a ‘stability’ in the blockage of the movement of the others. The smaller ovals behind the large white one appear more active due to the changes in their directions/orientations and varieties in their sizes, and color/values. They could be trapped, pushing forward or disengaging from the dominant relationship and finding individual freedom. The ovals that are separate/free seem to be rising higher, perhaps traveling further and faster without the blockage. The smaller free ovals also appear to be engaging in relationships with other different colored ovals of similar sizes without the issue of dominance as a barrier.

At present, with the daily news being what it is, this makes me think primarily about individual responses to oppression and domination, the larger themes in the image of parts that were previously held together starting to break away, and the dynamics of a relationship changing – evolving and moving out of an established recognized pattern and into a new one. Everything changes, but the process can often cause anxiety, confusion, and fear of the unknown – even when the change is for the better.

Nathaniel Allen III
Chair, Department of Visual Arts, Alabama State University

Yesterday: Civil Rights in the South III

Yvonne Wells (American, born 1939), Yesterday: Civil Rights in the South III, 1989, cotton, cotton/polyester blend, wool, polyester, and plastic buttons, Gift of Kempf Hogan, © Yvonne Wells, 2004.20.8

Yvonne Wells’ story quilt narrates, through vivid images, the African American civil rights journey in the South—yesterday—from slavery through the civil rights movement of the 1960s. But the images are also very much a depiction of today, of the current nationwide, nonviolent protests calling for justice and being met with violent responses, even murder. The most striking image of all is the circle of protesters—united and diverse—surrounding a speaker (Martin Luther King, Jr.) centered within a golden sun. Can this symbolize a plea and a ray of hope for “equal justice under law,” for positive civic and social change through peaceful, nonviolent action today as for yesterday?

Alma Freeman
Former MMFA Board Member, Docent, retired from Alabama State University

The 1920’s…The Migrants Arrive and Cast Their Ballots

Jacob Lawrence (American, 1917–2000), The 1920’s…The Migrants Arrive and Cast Their Ballots, 1974, screen print on paper, Gift of Lorillard, a Division of Loews Theatres, Inc., © The Jacob and Gwendolyn Lawrence Foundation. Licensed by ARS, New York, NY, 1976.158

Jacob Lawrence’s work is a visual representation of the resourcefulness and resilience of the human spirit. As a designer, I appreciate his ability to communicate his messages with simple shapes and unmixed colors. I can’t help but see his raw approach to painting and printmaking foreshadowing the invention of hip hop, where artists would craft narratives over minimalistic production. Lawrence, who also grew up during the Great Depression, found liberation in painting scenes that captured the plight of African Americans. It is a great thing that he has left us with a roadmap on how to capture beauty and perspective in difficult times.

Christian Hardy
Illustrator and Design Teacher, Lanier High School

Local Artists Live – Barbara Davis

Have you ever wondered what goes on behind-the-scenes in studios of local artists? On Saturday, July 25, Montgomery artist Barbara Davis will broadcast live on the Museum’s Instagram—opening her studio space to share her artwork, reflect on her inspirations, and offer a live Q&A with her audience! This is a great chance to meet one of our local artists and learn about her creations.

Video

Above is a recording of the July 25 live stream event that was originally broadcast on the Museum’s Instagram account. Click here to follow the Museum on Instagram.

Meet the Artist

Local Artists Live will feature Barbara Davis this Saturday, July 25. Barbara loves this place she calls home, and her passion for Southern living shines through in her artwork. Barbara has lived in Montgomery all of her life and she wouldn’t have it any other way. She has fond memories of attending Floyd Elementary School, where she was creatively engaged–“always with crayon in hand”–and where she even met her husband when they were both in the third grade! In her youth, Barbara was a Girl Scout; her favorite badge was the Dabbler Badge because it required the completion of fun art-related activities, such as soap carving.

A die-hard Auburn fan, Barbara attended the university’s affiliated campus, Auburn University at Montgomery, where she earned a degree in Fine Arts after much consideration and prayer. After college, she found herself in a banking career. Though she regularly continued to paint, there were many years when she thought that earning a living as an artist was an impossible dream. Finally, in 2010, Barbara transitioned to being an artist full-time, and as they say, the rest is history.

Barbara believes that the best way to grow as an artist is to create something every day, and that is what she does! Join Barbara this Saturday morning at 10 AM when she goes Live on the Museum’s Instagram account and demonstrates her painting style which seems to effortlessly capture soft light with such tangible vibrance.

What is your favorite thing about living in the South?

Mary Cassatt (American, 1844–1926), Francoise in Green, Sewing, 1908–1909, oil on canvas, Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts, Gift of the Ida Belle Young Art Acquisition Fund, 2009.6

Gracious living—which to me encompasses the heart of the people, the hospitality, the style, the food! Too hard to pick one thing!

What excites you most about the growth of Montgomery’s art scene?

So many artists are full-time artists and I love that evidence that there is the desire to pursue it and that the community and collectors support that desire.

What is your favorite work of art from the MMFA’s collection, and what specifically about the artwork speaks strongly to you? Who are some artists with works in the MMFA’s collection that inspire you?

There are several…the pieces in the collection by John Singer Sargent, Mary Cassatt (at right), Edward Hopper are the ones I am absolutely most drawn to – particularly the Sargent. The amazing brushwork is like an art lesson in itself! Not only the brushwork but the color. Amazing!

Also, [John] Kelly Fitzpatrick’s paintings especially inspire me, of course, since they are rooted in our area. I adore the color, the texture, the brushwork, and the light he captured in the scenes of Alabama in that time period.

What piece of art that you have created is your favorite, and why?

Barbara Davis, Touchdown Auburn!, 2019, 18×24, oil

Hard to say, but I think it’s a portrait that I did of Auburn sports announcer Rod Bramblett (at right) the week after he was killed in a car accident. I was recovering from shoulder surgery which I had just after returning from learning at the Portrait Society of America convention. I was eager to use some techniques, ideas, and tools gained from my study there. I had not been able to paint for weeks. So the painting is born of love and grief and exploration—just a lot of emotion—and I think it resonated with a lot of people.

Do you have an all-time favorite work of art, and have you seen it in person? If you have, how did you feel in the moment?

It’s a sculpture, The Pieta by Michelangelo, and I have not been able to see it in person. I can’t even imagine being able to see it in person!

Tell us about your most preferred place to be on earth. What role, if any, has the energy of that place helped shape you as an artist?

My preferred place is right where I am. I love the fields, skies, flowers, people, and experiences of home. It constantly inspires me. I hope my work honors this place, these roots. There’s nothing like painting plein air under a big sky in Pike Road, Alabama.

What drives your creativity?

I think I would say light. The effect of light is what makes my heart beat faster, what makes me know I want to paint something!

What is your preferred medium?

Oil!

Do you listen to any particular music when you create?

Yes, I do listen to music when I paint, but I love so many different genres–depends on the season, the day, the mood and sometimes the painting subject. I love classical, early jazz, French music, bluegrass, Big Band, 60s and 70s, old standards, old classic country. Sort of an old soul, for sure.

What advice would you give to beginning artists?

Never give up! If you have that dream, pursue it and don’t give up, but you have to work hard! Draw every day, paint all you can! Commit to creating for at least 5 minutes a day!

Above: Barbara Davis, Day by Day, 2019, 36”x36”, oil

Local Artists Live – Toni Toney

Have you ever wondered what goes on behind-the-scenes in studios of local artists? On Saturday, July 11, Montgomery artist Toni Toney broadcast live on the Museum’s Instagram—opening her studio space to share her artwork, reflect on her inspirations, and offer a live Q&A with her audience, a great chance to meet one of our local artists and learn about her creations.

Video

Above is a recording of the July 11 live stream event that was originally broadcast on the Museum’s Instagram account.

Click here to follow the Museum on Instagram

Get to Know the Artist

Toni Toney is the featured artist on Local Artists Live this coming weekend, and in preparation for her live stream segment, she has shared some insight about her journey in becoming an artist. Toni, a public school art teacher for 16 years, surprisingly only began identifying as an artist herself just two years ago. Less surprisingly, this born-creative recalls that in her youth she was constantly doing something artistic, from fashioning clothes for Barbies using mismatched socks and making custom bedding out of dryer lint to designing paper dolls with brightly colored clothes.

Toni grew up in Compton, California, before moving to the East side of Long Beach with her family when she was in 8th grade; creating was her escape from the chaos around the neighborhood outside her home. Toni’s love for art flourished through drawing and coloring after her father started taking her on weekend visits to the California African American Museum. After moving to Alabama in 2000, Toni continued her artistic pursuits at Troy University, earning her Bachelor of Science in Art.

As an adult, Toni’s main focus shifted from nurturing her personal creativity to helping her students grow through making their own art. Throughout all of her years of teaching, she has found herself focused on her students’ artistic evolutions. Toni says, “I’m always doing something, if not for myself, for somebody else. I enjoy bringing my own ideas to life and helping others do the same…it’s like my superpower.” This superhero teacher has received continued encouragement from her family (much like that foundational introduction to art visiting the CAAM with her father) and from artists whom she met at an ArtWalk event organized by the local nonprofit arts organization 21 Dreams. Fueled by a community of encouragement, Toni has been able to return to putting energy into her own art practice.

Toni recently collaborated in the creation of the Black Lives Matter mural located around the Court Square Fountain downtown. She states that taking part in painting the words ‘Black Lives Matter’ at the same location where Black people were once bought and sold as slaves was an overwhelming experience she will never forget. Continue reading to find out more about Toni, her artistic inspirations, and her belief of how consistently putting energy into creating is an important part of her own process. Don’t miss Toni’s feature on Local Artists Live this Saturday, July 11, at 10 AM on the Museum’s Instagram account, @MontgomeryMFA.

What is your favorite thing about living in the South?

My favorite thing about the South is the history and culture. My son is able to visit where historic events have happened, events that have shaped our history as we know it.

What excites you most about the growth of Montgomery’s art scene?

I love that so much has changed! You actually see that art is here in the city! That wasn’t the case a few years ago.

What is your favorite work of art from the MMFA’s collection, and what specifically about the artwork speaks strongly to you?

My favorite piece from MMFA’s collection is Negro Baptising. It’s the first piece I [go to] see when I walk into the museum. I love how Fitzpatrick captures everything, from the reflection of light on the faces of the onlookers to the personality he gives each subject. I feel like I’m a part of the painting whenever I see it like I’m witnessing the baptism along with them.

What piece of art that you have created is your favorite, and why?

My favorite work is titled Pink Ponytails (pictured above). She reminds me of the little girls I grew up with, still holding on to her childhood, still wearing her hair in ponytails and playing jump rope outside. She has a questioning look about her face which makes the viewer wonder who she’s looking at. I love the mystery behind that look.

Do you have an all-time favorite work of art, and have you seen it in person?

Hands down, Miss America by Ernie Barnes. I saw it for the first time as a child and I remember thinking, “That’s a strong woman”. I saw it again a few years ago and fell in love with it all over again. When I look at her I’m reminded that no matter what, you have to keep going; even when your load is heavy, keep going… hold your head up high and keep going.

Tell us about your most preferred place to be on earth. What role, if any, does that place play in shaping you as an artist?

My preferred place to be is anywhere near water. I love the beach. Growing up in Southern California, we went all the time. It’s something about the smell of the ocean and the sand at my feet that calms me, almost like a reset button. I feel alive there, a lot of my paintings have a bit of blue in them because of my love for the ocean.

What drives your creativity?

My creativity is innate. I’m a born creative. I’m always doing something, if not for myself, for somebody else. I enjoy bringing my own ideas to life and helping others do the same…it’s like my superpower.

What is your preferred medium?

I love acrylics. I can be impatient a lot of times, so when I have something I need to get out, acrylics are the way to go for me.

Do you listen to any particular music when you create?

I grew up listening to all kinds of music. From jazz and classical to funk and rock. It really depends on what my mood is. Right now, I like listening to Neo-Soul from the early 1990’s.

What advice would you give to beginning artists?

My advice would be to connect with other artists. Find a community of like-minded people who will give you constructive criticism about your work. I’d also say to create something every day. Even if it’s a sketch on a napkin or the back of an envelope, do something every day.

Above: Toni Toney, Pink Ponytails, 2019, acrylic

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