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Category: Artist

Meet the Artist – Carl Burton

Carl Burton is a New York photographer whose work was exhibited at the Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts in Color and Light: Photographs by Carl Burton in 2011. He often works with a panoramic camera capturing landscapes and cityscapes such as The Dogana, Grand Canal, Venice, Italy, pictured above. Curator of Education, Alice Novak, recently caught up with the artist to ask him about the creation of this photograph.

Above: Carl Burton (American, born 1937), The Dogana, Grand Canal, Venice, Italy, 1996, Digital inkjet print on paper, Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts, Gift of the artist, 2011.5.2

What is it that attracts you to the city of Venice?

Venice is the most seductive of all cities with some of the most beautiful light on earth. It’s a photographer’s paradise, especially in the mornings, late afternoons, and early evenings when the sun is low. Early morning is actually my favorite time. I like to wander through the almost empty city, my camera on a tripod slung over my shoulder. Then, I can take the time to look and discover.

I first visited in August during the 1970s.  My late wife Carol and I had been driving through Italy’s deep south and decided one evening that we’d had our fill of mountains and dusty villages. “How about driving to Venice?” I asked. “Why not?” we agreed, and early the next morning we fled Bari, driving some 510 miles along the Adriatic coast. We arrived in Venice on a sweltering afternoon, exhausted and deeply disappointed. Indeed, our first visit to Piazza San Marco was so hot and crowded, that we felt we’d made a terrible mistake. To make matters worse, Carol’s diabetes soon acted up, and she was hospitalized. For the next six days, I was on my own. What looked at first like a disaster, turned out in the end to be good luck. In the hospital, Carol, who was studying Italian literature, roomed with six Italian women who spoke no English. They and the hospital staff were kind and welcoming, and she quickly learned more about the real Italy than she could in a year of graduate school. As I made friends in our pensione and explored the city, I realized that the longer you stayed, the more you looked, the more the city opened up and welcomed you. What we had believed would be our only visit to Venice became the first of many, and for a long time, we visited every year.

What is the story of this picture?

I took this photo, in May of 1996, during a special and sad time. Carol had died in February, and on our last visit, she had asked to be cremated. Because she loved Venice, she asked if I would take her ashes there and scatter them in the lagoon? “Look on your trip”, she said, “as a celebration of our life together.” I took the photo not long before I carried out her wishes. Friends were joining me, and as I awaited them, I explored my hotel. One afternoon, I walked out on the hotel’s taxi landing and looked down the Grand Canal toward Palladio’s great church San Giorgio Maggiore in the distance. Directly across stood the Punta della Dogana, which was then the disused customs house. (It’s now a museum of modern art, palazzograssi.it, and a wonderful example of historic preservation.) It could be an interesting shot, I thought, and ran for my camera.

What caught your eye about this composition?

I was using a panoramic camera, a Fuji 6×17 that produces a negative that measures 2 1/4 inches by 7 inches, a format perfect for this particular image. As I set up the camera, I looked carefully through the viewfinder. The stormy sky over San Giorgio on the left was both beautiful and threatening. The warm light on the water taxi formed a nice contrast. I liked the way the pilings gave a vertical interest to the picture plane, and how the walkway on the right drew your eye to the canal, along the opposite shore to the Dogana, then left across the lagoon to San Giorgio Maggiore and the approaching storm. I don’t actually think this analytically when I shoot. I simply say to myself, that image sings.

Have you been back to Venice recently?

Yes, my wife Ruthie and I were there in September on a tour called “Dark Age Brilliance” (Martin Randall), visiting early Christian and Byzantine churches in Ravenna, Cividale, and Porec, Croatia, ending up in Torcello, Venice, Our glimpse of Venice from there was so marvelous, that we regretted not staying longer.

What are your thoughts about Venice today?

I’m worried about it. Too many tourists, too many huge cruise ships, stirring up the canal water and undermining the foundations of Venice’s buildings. Too much flooding—the most recent Aqua Alta [Tide Peak] was astonishingly high. Save Venice is very important to me.

And finally, the coronavirus, which stopped this year’s Carnival. This pandemic is just the latest in a series of plagues that have struck Venice. You can’t see it in my photograph, but just out of sight on the right side of the image is the Church of Santa Maria della Salute (health). After the Black Plague of 1630, the church was constructed and dedicated as thanks for the city’s deliverance.

Are you working in your home City of New York at the moment?

I take a camera on our daily walks to Central and Riverside Parks. You can follow me on Instagram and on Flickr.

Click here to see more work in the MMFA’s collection by Carl Burton

Local Artists Live – Tori Jackson

Have you ever wondered what goes on behind-the-scenes in studios of local artists? On Saturday, May 30, Montgomery artist Tori Jackson 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 May 30 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

This Saturday, May 30, Local Artists Live will feature Tori Jackson, a painter whose art speaks not only through its distinguishable beauty but also its vibrant heritage. Originally from Prattville, Tori recalls her youth: full of recreation, playing outside with her sister and cousins, picking fresh fruit at her grandma’s house, and constant creative engagement. “I painted anything I could get my hands on,” she says, as she remembers collecting rocks to paint for her mom. Both of her parents and her grandma, Alberta, were all artists who enthusiastically supported her creative pursuits through her early stages.

Tori Jackson, “Annie Lou,” 2015, oil on canvas

Along with joyful memories of exploration and creation, Tori also remembers ridicule growing up, whether stemming from others’ judgment towards or their ignorance of her ancestry. It wasn’t until she was creating work as a live painter and participating in an event at The Sanctuary that she was offered the opportunity to boldly embrace her heritage and share her viewpoint with others through a public platform. Tori recalls meeting Kevin King, when he walked up to her and asked: “Don’t you have Native American ancestry?” She replied, “Yes, African-Native American, mostly.” After this exchange, Kevin connected Tori to Michelle Browder, to take part in Art on the Square, an annual event held in downtown Montgomery that highlights the significance of our city’s history by bringing light to voices often unheard or ignored. As part of the event, Tori performed a traditional Native American dance; this was particularly impactful because it was not only on the same streets that were part of where the Trail of Tears took place but also the very location where slaves used to be auctioned for a penny or less.

As Montgomery evolves, so does our desire to do better, to be better. Read below to learn more about Tori and her art, and how a pure approach to creating is part of her attempt to bring about positive change for our community.

What is your favorite thing about living in the South?

My favorite thing about living in the south is seeing change take place, or hoping that my actions and the actions of those around me will make a change. We have a long way to go.

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

What excites me the most is opportunity, for all people and all types of art. My art is very different in comparison to what is typical around here and often I have felt unless I paint a cow, shoe, or a barn I had no chance at winning or being acknowledged. It is just not me to paint such things. I do not like being put in an artistic box. Most artists who paint out of passion do not.

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

I’m not sure if I have a favorite. I try to put meaning into all of my paintings and there are so many I can look at and remember exactly where I was and how I was feeling. However, I will say, I did do a portrait of my grandmother (pictured above) and because of the way I feel about her that may be my very own Mona Lisa. She is not always fond of pictures, and I had been begging her for years to let me paint her. The day she finally agreed, I called her that morning and for whatever reason she said, “alright”. I was so excited I’m pretty sure I got in my car within minutes after hanging up to take some pictures of her for reference. I took an elaborate scarf and wrapped it around her head and took her glasses off and she began to pose. That day she felt as beautiful as I’d always thought she was.

Leonard Koscianski (American, born 1952), “Red Fish,” 1990, Oil on canvas, Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts Association Purchase, 1991.17

What are some works of art in the MMFA’s collection that inspire you?

I have two art pieces that always struck me. One has an orange fish surrounded by long blades of grass (Leonard Koscianski’s Red Fish, 1990; pictured right). The colors have such contrast that the green from the blades of grass and the orange line down the back of the fish look like they are glowing. It’s definitely the colors of that painting that grab me in. My other favorite painting has an almost androgynous woman holding a baby (Gary Chapman’s Mutter und Tochter, 1993). The figures are so detailed and perfectly proportionate. Aside from the figures, the presentation of her body language is so strong. It makes me think of how strong women truly are, but also eliminates the everyday typical appearance of a woman. Every time I see that painting it makes me want to go home and practice my figures that much more.

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’m not keen on claiming to have one favorite painting because my mood changes day to day, hour to hour and I have so many artists I love. However, I have always been fond of Vincent van Gogh. I was fortunate enough to get to travel abroad in college to Paris. While in Paris, we went to three museums, The Louvre, Musee d’Orsay, and unfortunately another I cannot recall, other than it had contemporary art. I never thought I would get to see Van Gogh’s art in person and I was overwhelmed with emotions; the movement in his paintings is so incredible. I cried right there in the middle of Musee d’Orsay. Michelangelo and Monet were both incredible, too. Water Lilies is huge! Pictures do not do justice.

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 favorite place to be on earth is probably The Smoky Mountains. The serenity and fresh air is absolutely something that recharges my soul. Having a peaceful mind or wanting to gain a sense of peace is a big part of my process as an artist.

What drives your creativity?

Balance drives my creativity. It is a type of therapy for me. Music festivals have absolutely been a big part of that drive as well. Receiving an opportunity to work next to some of my current favorite artists like Drake Arnold and Steven Teller is an indescribable feeling.

What is your preferred medium?

My preferred medium is oil paint. I had a great teacher my first year in college and we were all required to purchase oil paint. I like it because I can leave a piece and go back to it.

Do you listen to any particular music when you create?

I do not have a particular type of music I listen to when I paint. My music depends on my mood, but my colors depend on my music.

What advice would you give to beginning artists?

My advice would be find your audience. There is no right or wrong in art, because art is subjective. Some people like Picasso in his earlier realism stage, some prefer his later impressionistic stage.

Above: Tori Jackson, Dedicated to Josie Billie (Seminole Medicine Man), 2019, mixed media on CNC cutout

Local Artists Live – Kevin King

Have you ever wondered what goes on behind-the-scenes in studios of local artists? On Saturday, May 16, Montgomery artist Kevin King 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

Above is a recording of the May 16 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

Kevin King is the featured artist on this week’s Local Artists Live. Not only an artist, he is also an activist who founded and is the Executive Director of The King’s Canvas, a gallery and studio space that offers opportunities for fostering creativity and learning important life skills. Kevin, whose non-commissioned art focuses on raising awareness of social justice issues, is a man of faith who creates with deep purpose. When asked if he remembers the wisest words ever spoken to him, he quotes a verse from the Bible, Micah 6:8, “He has told you, O man, what is good: And what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God…”

Kevin grew up in Mobile, but he recalls visiting his father in Montgomery during spring breaks and summer vacations. A favorite memory from those visits was attending LL Cool J’s Nitro Tour at Garrett Coliseum in 1989. Growing up, he was actively creative through high school, then set art aside until picking it up again in 2013. At that time, he was deeply entrenched in serving West Montgomery; the historical context and connected social issues of this community and city were all constantly at the forefront, inspiring Kevin to create art that addresses controversial issues. Continue reading below to learn about Kevin, his art and process, and be sure to tune in at 10 AM on Saturday, May 16, for his live takeover of the MMFA’s Instagram account!

What is your favorite thing about living in the South?

I have always lived in the south so my favorite thing is the sense of family, community, and hospitality.

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

I am excited about more creatives who were more underground and felt unaccepted by the mainstream art community unapologetically being themselves and finding community and opportunity without compromising who they are.

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

Do or Die (pictured above). It represents the socially conscious and activism hip hop movement that I grew up listening to.

Do or Die is a depiction of character Radio Raheem from Spike Lee’s 1989 film Do The Right Thing. To me Raheem represents hip hop culture in a way that elevates and celebrates socially conscious protest hip hop such as rap group Public Enemy’s Fight the Power (Listen on Spotify or Apple Music). Do or Die honors young black men in our communities who fall victim to violence at the hands of the police such as the Radio Raheem Character in the movie. Do The Right Thing was inspired by real-life incidents, and the movie ends with a dedication to “families of Eleanor Bumpurs, Michael Griffith, Arthur Miller, Edmund Perry, Yvonne Smallwood and Michael Stewart,” all black New Yorkers who had been killed in the years leading up to the film’s release.

Is there an artist represented in the MMFA’s collection whose work speaks strongly to you?

I love Yvonne Wells’ art.

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?

Ernie Barnes’ The Sugar Shack. No, I have not seen 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?

The King’s Canvas studio. It provides the artistic ambiance that I need in order to foster creativity.

What drives your creativity?

The challenge to creatively address issues in our society, especially when there are no available ears to hear your frustrations and an unwillingness to stand up for the voiceless and powerless.

What is your preferred medium?

Acrylic on canvas.

Do you listen to any particular music when you create?

Old School Funk, Jazz, and Hip Hop. It really depends on the subject of the art.

What advice would you give to beginning artists?

Never stop creating.

Above: Kevin King (American), Do or Die, Acrylic on canvas

Local Artists Live – Tara Cady Sartorius

Have you ever wondered what goes on behind-the-scenes in studios of local artists? On Saturday, May 2, Montgomery artist Tara Cady Sartorius will broadcast live on the Museum’s Instagram—opening her studio space to share her artwork, demonstrate a creation that reflects the whimsy of Flimp, 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.

Left: Tara Cady Sartorius, Running at the Riverfront, 2015, Oil on Board; Right: Photograph of Tara Cady Sartorius

Video

Above is a recording of the May 2 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

Saturday, May 2, 2020, would have been the Musuem’s 30th annual Flimp Festival, canceled this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic along with all public programming based on guidelines from the Governor, Mayor, and health officials. In honor of this temporarily unrealized momentous occasion, Local Artists Live will feature the founder of the festival, artist and educator Tara Cady Sartorius. 

Tara’s path to becoming an artist was a natural one, abundantly nourished by a creative, eclectic lifestyle growing up. During her childhood, Tara’s family moved so often that she attended 10 different schools before graduating high school, living on the east and west coasts of the United States and even spending a summer in France. Along with frequently moving, she learned from an early age about the dance of life by observing her seven older siblings and the death of her father when she was just five years old. Her mother, an artist and musician, was an independent thinker and surrounded her children with books, music, and art. Tara’s childhood overflowed with creative activities, and she remembers an obsession with scissors and cutting things, whether they should be cut or not, and specifically recalling that she did not get in trouble for this. 

After earning her undergraduate degree in ceramics from the University of Santa Barbara, a certificate in art teaching while still in California, and eventually her MFA in sculpture and art criticism from Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, Tara’s journey brought her to Alabama. Her mid-summer move to Montgomery in early adulthood stands out as quite a shock. “Everything was so green it almost hurt my eyes…it was so hot.” Tara came to Montgomery in 1986 to serve as the Curator of Education at the MMFA, a position she held for 21 years. Brought here to oversee the development of the Museum’s new interactive gallery (what we now know as ArtWorks), Tara’s artistic vision and educational philosophy kept the MMFA’s engagement with the community fresh, fun, and ever-evolving. She believes now, as she did then, that “the pursuit of knowledge should be motivated by curiosity.” This philosophy radiates through the merging of whimsical art and FUNdamental learning, all embodied in the Flimp Festival, held annually during the first weekend of May at the start of spring. We asked Tara a few questions about Flimp, living in the south and Montgomery, and reflections on art and art-making.

What sparked the founding of the Flimp Festival?

The idea for the Flimp Festival came right around the opening of the new Museum in 1988. At that time a group of us from the Museum used to go down to the beach to spend long weekends in Seaside way before it was very developed. One evening we all decided the museum needed a “signature” event and our brainstorming led us to [Geneva Mercer’s] Flimp Fountain and the Flimp Festival. We had lots of laughs but then got somewhat serious about it (in a fun way) as we gave it a mission (imagination, humor, and creativity) and chose components according to those three values. 

Do you have an all-time favorite Flimp memory?

One of my favorite memories was the performance piece that Robin VanLear created the evening before Flimp. It was a spectacular group effort with costumes, lanterns, a boat, and a house-like construction (built by Robin) on the “island” across the lake. At dusk, performers holding bamboo sticks with round paper lanterns on the ends slowly streamed out of the museum and surrounded the lake, evenly spaced around the water. One by one the performers lit their lanterns in the direction of the house. At the same time, another performer was in a canoe with a “guide” being paddled across the lake. As they reached the shore below the house, the “guide” got out of the canoe and walked toward the house as one of our interns, Andrea Potochick, walked all the way across the slippery weir. Both figures then simultaneously appeared to “light” an electric light in the house, which was covered in a translucent white paper. After the performance that night, there was a huge storm and the house was struck by lightning. Flimp is just magical that way! 

What is your favorite thing about living in the South?

I like that if I so much as scratch the surface of humanity around here, there can be a great outpouring of love. Southerners seem desperate to connect. I like that. The people I have met here are incredible, and I love the language and the double entendres, and I especially appreciate the lack of ability to assume anything about anyone. I have grown to be defensive and protective of the South in terms of culture and interpersonal human caring. The humanity here is way more complicated than it gets credit for. The tension between the races and socio-economic strata are palpable, and I wonder if reconciliation will ever be possible. My approach is entirely one-on-one. 

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

I have seen several times when Montgomery’s art scene seems to be growing, and then it pulls back, and then it grows again. I have great respect and confidence in the artists I know and the arts institutions with which I have become involved or familiar. It does seem that there is a lot of duplication, but there may be a need for that if one institution, organization, or group cannot fit all needs. I am liking the current growing appreciation for diversity. It’s about time! 

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

That is an impossible question to answer. The answer may change from day-to-day depending on my mood. Because I have written and researched so many of the works in the collection, I feel them very close to my heart. In playing this “judgment game” I recognize that there could be a difference between “my favorite” and a piece I would love to have in my home to look at every day–but here are some favorites, in no particular order:

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

It doesn’t matter what the artwork is, because the influence is what it is more about. Sometimes art appeals to me because of its intellect, sometimes I find things funny, and other times pieces are technically and visually arresting. If it’s worth doing, it is worth doing to a high degree of excellence. When I see excellence, I might cry. That’s when I know I have a “favorite.”

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?

The ocean: Beside the ocean or in the ocean, but not ON the ocean. I don’t enjoy being on a boat. I like being on the shore with waves that I can hear in a rhythmic pattern. When I die, cremate me, and then please scatter my ashes at More Mesa Beach in Santa Barbara. Cast them gently into the water while you are wading up to your knees.

What drives your creativity?

Curiosity, the need for quiet, the joy of tinkering, the desire to share beauty with others. That does not mean that everything must be literally beautiful, but the feeling must be strong and must access the same deep wellspring from whence beauty emerges. 

What is your preferred medium?

Whichever one I happen to be using, but clay always transports me. It is a complicated material and I also appreciate making things that are useful and beautiful at the same time. 

Do you listen to any particular music when you create?

I don’t listen to any particular music. In fact, sometimes I just want silence. I like pretty much every type of music except super-hard-non-harmonic punk rock. I do like to hear and contemplate poetic words in lyrics, but I love instrumental music that allows my mind to drift. I also enjoy good podcasts. 

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

This is another trick question, like asking a parent who’s your favorite child. Not fair at all. I’m still making – maybe my favorite is the next piece I create!

What advice would you give to beginning artists? 

Dear Young Artist, 

Please pursue whatever art form makes you feel that you don’t want to ever leave or stop. Do the things that your feet keep walking you to do when you aren’t thinking about what you “should” do. Consider exploring the option of teaching (even every once in a while), because teaching is more about learning than you might realize. If someone has ever inspired you, then you will be able to inspire others as well. I hope your work (in material, in spirit and in intellect) will reform and re-invent our educational system, and that you contribute toward helping others find what sparks their curiosity and joy while creating. 

Love, Tara

Above: Spiral Texture Wall, 2006, Designed by Tara Cady Sartorius

Local Artists Live – Madison Faile

Have you ever wondered what goes on behind-the-scenes in studios of local artists? On Saturday, April 18, Montgomery artist Madison Faile 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.

Above (left to right): Original artwork by Madison Faile; Portrait of Madison Faile by Anna Gibbs

Video

Above is a recording of the April 18 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

“You can do anything you will yourself to do.” These wise words, spoken to artist Madison Faile by his grandmother, Deanie, indicate the origins of his dedicated, unbending nature. Pure creation itself drives his artistic work,  and no matter the medium or subject, one thing is abundantly clear: this artist lives to create.

Originally from Selma, Madison grew up in an artistic family where his love for art was cultivated from an early age. His mother was a ballet teacher and his district attorney father was an avid photographer with a darkroom in the home garage.  His grandmother, for whom he is named, was a very accomplished portrait painter and draftsman, and it was she who taught Madison how to draw. Encouragement and support from his mother especially helped his path in becoming an artist.

There are several artists in the Museum’s collection who inspire Madison, including Walt Kuhn, John Singer Sargent, Ida Kohlmeyer, George Inness, Clara Weaver Parrish, and Zelda Sayre Fitzgerald.

Madison is the first artist featured on the Museum’s program Local Artists Live, which will stream from the studios of various local artists, showcasing the talent and diversity of Montgomery’s art community. We asked Madison the following questions to learn more about his life, art and process, and to get a taste of what we might enjoy during his Local Artists Live segment set to stream on Saturday, April 18.

Madison, what is your favorite thing about being from and living in the south?

Being from the south is something that many try to escape, but I’ve always embraced it. Southern culture is so steeped in [both] pain and beauty, and I love the contrast. Forgotten elegance, ruined finery…I could go on for hours.

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

It’s been exciting to see Montgomery grow and develop over the last few years. We’ve come so far in such a short period of time. I only hope that with this growth comes an emphasis on public art, because we are still greatly lacking [in that regard].

You said Walt Kuhn’s Clown with Long Nose (pictured above) is your favorite artwork in the MMFA’s collection. What is it about this painting exactly?

Walt Kuhn’s life and work have always been a favorite of mine. There is a real metaphysical side to his characters. I don’t consider them portraits; I consider them paintings of characters. The one in the museum’s collection, like many of his, has real menace.

You are known to paint plenty of clowns yourself; is this directly related to the Kuhn painting or do you have another inspiration?

No. [My inspiration is] the circus.

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

Changes all the time. Impossible to answer.

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

Changes all the time. Also impossible to answer!

Tell us about your love for New Orleans. Has the energy of the city helped shape you as an artist?

New Orleans will always be my spiritual city. I always find endless inspiration when I’m there.

What is your preferred medium?

I usually work in acrylic and oil, [sometimes] charcoal and pastel, and I adore colored pencil.

Do you listen to any particular music when you paint?

Everything. Ragtime to Big Band. 70’s to 90’s grunge. Nina Simone to Green Day.

What advice would you give to beginning artists?

Keep going. Do whatever you have to do to make the best work you can. Don’t settle.

Above: Walt Kuhn (American, 1880–1949), Clown with Long Nose, 1936, oil on canvas, Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts, The Blount Collection 1989.2.25, © Estate of Walter Kuhn

Art in the Garden: Jamey Grimes

Jamey Grimes (left) and his assistant Eric (right)

Meet the Artist

Alabama artist Jamey Grimes (born 1976) has created a work inspired by nature: Teraxacum, 2019. Named for the genus of the common dandelion, Grimes uses geometrical forms to represent the dandelion in its seed pod form. Extending off the plinth, his individual aluminum seeds tumble across the reflecting pool. In home gardens, the dandelion is often considered as both a nuisance (a weed) and an object of wonder (blowing the seeds and making a wish). In the Garden, the oversized Teraxacum ise a captivating and whimsical interpretation of this flowering plant.

Sponsors

We appreciate the aid of multiple City of Montgomery Departments including Maintenance, Lagoon Park Trails, and Urban Forestry for all of their efforts in bringing this project to fruition. We are equally thankful to sponsors Dr. and Mrs. Barry L. Wilson, PowerSouth and Servis First Bank, and co-sponsors Gage and Mark LeQuire for enabling us to bring Jamey Grimes’ Teraxacum to the River Region. This project has been made possible by a partnership that includes the National Endowment for the Arts and The Alabama State Council on the Arts.

 

Art in the Garden: Patrick Dougherty

Patrick Dougherty (American, born 1945), Rough ‘n Tumble, 2020, cherry laurel, ligustrum, and sweet gum gathered from the Montgomery area

Meet the Artist

For Rough ‘n Tumble, artist Patrick Dougherty found inspiration in the ancient pyramids of Nubia (see image to the right)—located in the Nile Valley of present-day Sudan. Dougherty placed one edge of each of his massive, woven pyramids on a pillow-like form to throw the structures off-balance. While they reach regally to the sky, the pyramids are simultaneously filled with a sense of wonder and whimsy.  Look through the windows to see inside or venture through the doorways of each structure to explore interior rooms. This “stickwork,” constructed of locally-gathered saplings over three weeks in March 2020, invites up-close-and-personal exploration and stirs our imaginations.

Image credit: Detail of the Nubian Pyramids of Meroë, Sudan, Photograph by Fabrizio Demartis, CC BY-SA 2.0

Installation Time Lapse

Sponsors

The MMFA is incredibly grateful for the generosity of sponsors Laura and Barrie Harmon and John Caddell and co-sponsor Warren Averett, Barganier Davis Williams Architects Associated, and Valley Bank with additional in-kind support by Warren Barrow for Patrick Dougherty’s installation. We appreciate the aid of multiple City of Montgomery Departments including Maintenance, Lagoon Park Trails, and Urban Forestry for all of their efforts in bringing this project to fruition.

A Gift that Sparks the Imagination

The Museum is thrilled to introduce its latest permanent installation in the John and Joyce Caddell Sculpture Garden to the River Region. The Children’s Gate (2019) is a gift of the City of Montgomery in honor of the Montgomery art community.

This brightly-colored work of art was crafted by Montgomery-based artist Vincent Buwalda (American, born 1965). Situated between the Sculpture Garden and the Education Courtyard, the Gate consists of playful robots welded from steel. Buwalda’s inventive design will spark the imagination of people of all ages, encouraging all who enter the Education Courtyard to unleash their own creativity.

Mayor Todd Strange and the Museum initiated the commission to celebrate local artists with the permanent placement of a work of art in the Garden. The Sculpture Garden Committee unanimously selected Buwalda’s design from the call for proposals put forth by the Museum and the Montgomery Business Committee on the Arts.

On Thursday, June 6, Mayor Todd Strange and the Museum’s Director Angie Dodson presented the Gate to local children, Museum supporters, the Sculpture Garden Committee, the Montgomery Business Committee on the Arts, and members of the media.

Vincent Buwalda, (American, born 1965), The Children’s Gate, 2019, urethane paint on welded steel, Gift of the City of Montgomery, Todd Strange, Mayor, 2019.6

Yvonne Wells – 2019 Governor’s Arts Award Recipient

The Museum wishes to celebrate artist Yvonne Wells (American, born 1939), a recipient of the 2019 Governor’s Arts Award from the Alabama State Council on the Arts.

A Tuscaloosa native, Wells began quilting in 1979. Initially, she created quilts to keep her and her children warm during the cold winter by following patterns from a book. Sewing based on patterns felt unsatisfying, and in 1984, Wells began creating story quilts. A quiet and humble woman, she speaks both eloquently and powerfully through visual narratives that illustrate personal experiences as well as religious or sociopolitical issues. She has said, “Everything I create is like a story, a record of history to benefit people in the future.”

For example, in Yesterday: Civil Rights in the South III on view now at the Museum, Wells’ imagery serves to illuminate many difficult moments from the era, including the bombing of Birmingham’s 16th Street Baptist Church that killed four little girls, Governor George Wallace standing in the schoolhouse door in an attempt to stop integration at The University of Alabama, and various acts of violence such as lynching and attacks on protestors with dogs and water hoses. Wells did not focus solely on the struggles of that period; she also depicted joyous celebrations and the hopeful changes that time has brought while honoring heroes of the movement such as Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King, Jr.

Among her many achievements, Wells created an ornament for the Christmas tree at the White House in 1993, and she received the Alabama Arts and Visual Craftsman Award in 1998. The Museum holds 18 of Wells’ exuberant and sophisticated quilts in our Permanent Collection, and we presented solo exhibitions of her work in 1996 and 2013. In addition to the Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts, her work is included in national and international museums and private collections.

Congratulations to Yvonne Wells on receiving this well-deserved honor!

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

Stephen Rolfe Powell (1951–2019)

The Museum wishes to honor the memory of Stephen Rolfe Powell, a luminary in the field of studio art glass and a friend of the Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts, who passed away on Saturday, March 16, 2019.

Originally from Birmingham, Alabama, Powell spent his undergraduate years studying painting and ceramics at Center College in Danville, Kentucky. While continuing to pursue ceramics in graduate school at Louisiana State, he found his passion in the excitement of glass and never looked back.

Since that time, Powell became internationally recognized for his innovative glass sculptures. A master with murine, he blew and stretched glass into suggestive, asymmetrical shapes, that along with his inventive method of swinging and torching the molten glass, offered a fresh departure from conventional vessels. His eccentric sculptural pieces, often sporting tongue-in-cheek titles, are dazzling imaginative works that pop and sizzle with rich color.

Known for his humor and exuberance, along with his grace and generosity, Powell was an unofficial ambassador for glass art and studio glass artists. Equally important to creating his own work, Powell relished his role as a professor, inspiring many students throughout the years at the glass program he founded at Centre College.

Learn More

From Our Collection

Artist Biography
Objects by the Artist

Exhibition

Psychedelic Mania: Stephen Rolfe Powell’s Dance with Glass

Museum Store

Catalogue – Psychedelic Mania: Stephen Rolfe Powell’s Dance with Glass
Publication — Stephen Rolfe Powell: Glassmaker

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