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Category: Artist

Art in the Garden: Randy Gachet

Meet the Artist

Birmingham-based artist Randy Gachet reclaims and re-contextualizes everyday materials into his art. In Hollow Sphere Theory, 2018, he combined salvaged tire pieces from roadsides into two semi-spheres of hexagonal elements.  For Gachet, this is partly a way to return industrial materials to nature, to push humble materials into new directions, and to explore what he terms the “bounty” that exist in areas of urban sprawl. The resulting sculptures are playful ways to examine the tension between nature and artifice, high and low, insider and outsider.

Originally from Mobile, Gachet received his Bachelor’s of Fine Arts from Birmingham-Southern College and now teaches at the Alabama School of Fine Arts in Birmingham. His work has been featured in exhibitions at the Johnson Center for the Arts in Troy, the Wiregrass Museum of Art in Dothan, the Huntsville Museum of Art, and the Meridian Museum of Art in Mississippi.

 

Art in the Garden: Chris Boyd Taylor

Meet the Artist

Chris Boyd Taylor is primarily interested in craft, scale, color, movement, architecture, and ideas of spectatorship and interpersonal relationships. This piece is part of a series called Stadium Spheres, 2018, inspired by recent travels across the Southeastern United States documenting venues of spectatorship. Taylor found that many stadiums use staggered colored seat patterns in order to trick television viewers into thinking it is full when it is not. This color pattern, and the stair zig-zag that accompanies the profile of most bleachers, is the signature design inspiration for this new body of work.

Taylor received degrees in fine arts from Ohio State University and New York State College of Ceramics at Alfred University and is presently an Assistant Professor of Art at the University of Alabama in Huntsville. His work has been exhibited both nationally and internationally, with major public art commissions in Montevideo, Uruguay, and Clarksville, Tennessee. Taylor is currently working on a commission for the Nashville International Airport to hang in one of the concourse’s skylights.

Interview

Art in the Garden: Craig Wedderspoon

Meet the Artist

Craig Wedderspoon trained as a glass and crystal carver but moved to making art from metal and wood in the late 1990s.  Manipulating his chosen material and playing with density, pattern, surface, and the velocity of line, Wedderspoon combines geometry with patterns found in the natural world. This results in elegant abstract forms that are simultaneously fluid and ordered.

Currently, Wedderspoon is an Associate Professor of Art at the University of Alabama. He received his undergraduate degree from Florida International University and his master’s degree in sculpture from Virginia Commonwealth University. His work has been exhibited widely, including solo presentations at the Birmingham Museum of Art and the Johnson Center for the Arts in Troy.

Interview

Frank Fleming (1940–2018)

Jerry Siegel (American, born 1958), Frank Fleming, 2010, archival pigment print, Lent by the artist © jerrysiegel.com

On Sunday, March 18, 2018, renowned Alabama artist Frank Fleming passed away. Born in Bear Creek, Alabama (roughly 155 miles northwest of Montgomery) in 1940, Fleming experienced a typical farm-boy childhood surrounded by animals and constantly outdoors. As a child, Fleming stuttered, and as a result of being teased by other children, he often turned to animals for company. He has said he felt more at home with animals than people as a child.

Because of his love for animals, Fleming originally planned to be a biology major, but when he took an elective course in art and discovered his talent, he decided instead to get a BA in art. He graduated from Florence State College in 1962 and would go on to earn his Master of Arts (1969) and Master of Fine Arts (1973) from the University of Alabama. Unable to find a teaching job, Fleming put aside his teaching ambitions and moved to Birmingham where he began making functional and decorative pottery, continuing his sculptural work on the side.

Fleming preferred to work in porcelain, particularly Tennessee porcelain, but also tried bronze casting—like his work surrounding the Till Fountain. His ceramic pieces were entirely hand-built, and he rarely created conceptual sketches of his works before he began, preferring to watch his compositions evolve as he worked. During his time at Florence State College, Fleming used paints and colored glazes but switched to clear glaze over plain white porcelain when he began to produce pottery professionally. Eventually, he came to leave the surfaces of his works unglazed to make surface textures more palpable and immediate to the viewer.

Fleming’s sculptures are notable for their extreme veracity of detail which makes them highly realistic. The disjunction between the careful detailing and colorless surfaces of his works, however, lends a bizarre, and many times surreal, atmosphere to his pieces. Most of Fleming’s works center around anthropomorphized animals, human-animal hybrids, and other organic hybrids. Humor is a common undercurrent in many of his works which is sometimes ironic, sometimes whimsical, and sometimes directed at Southern culture.

In addition to being an outstanding and creative talent in our state, Frank Fleming was a good friend to the Museum. He consistently supported the Museum’s Art Auction fundraisers, and he was generous with his time in working with our educators and docents.  In addition to the Till Fountain, the Museum holds four other works by Fleming, including two porcelain sculptures that demonstrate his amazing facility in the use of clay.

Learn more

Artist Biography
Objects by the Artist

Artist Market: Pam Buwalda and Brooks Barrow

Artist Market kicks off with its preview party the Friday before Thanksgiving with a preview party for museum members from 5:30 to 8:00 P.M. and open to the public Saturday from 10:00 A.M. to 4:00 P.M. Artist Market celebrates local and regional artists by offering an opportunity to feature and sell their art, while also connecting with others in the industry. We took a moment to interview a couple of our artists.

Come join us as we celebrate our 8th Artist Market!

(more…)

Behind the Scenes—Installing Once & Again: Still Lifes by Beth Lipman

Blog.LipmanOn Saturday, November 14, 2015, the MMFA will open our newest exhibition for the fall season, Once & Again: Still Lifes by Beth Lipman.  Featuring seven sculptures and eight photographs, this is the largest exhibition of artist Beth Lipman’s work to date. While her sculptures allude to seventeenth-century still-life paintings, her three-dimensional interpretations of these historical canvases offer pointed commentary on contemporary art and life. (At left: Artist Beth Lipman during installation at the MMFA)

Putting together these large-scale sculptures—assemblages of hundreds of individual glass objects—is not a straightforward process, but rather is an intricate dance of placement, gluing with silicone, and timing. To create this exhibition in our galleries Lipman arrived at the Museum on November 4. Since then, she has worked many long days on several pieces at once, adding new layers, allowing the silicone to dry, and coming back to each of the sculptures to add additional elements day after day.  Lipman’s works often defy gravity—glass vines, pitchers, swags, and vessels break free of the confines of their tables, bursting beyond their edges to dangle unsupported in space.  Pushing the glass material to the point of breakage, while simultaneously highlighting its strength, Lipman’s precarious compositions are fraught with a sense of immediacy and tension. Watching the artist in action as she builds these complex installations demonstrates Lipman’s mastery over her process, and the results are stunningly beautiful feats of exemplary creative engineering!  Accompanying the sculptures are equally impressive photographic representations of Lipman’s glass objects portrayed in two-dimensional splendor, revealing yet another aspect of the artist’s approach to her work.

Once & Again: Still Lifes by Beth Lipman is accompanied by the first full-scale, illustrated catalogue of the artist’s work, produced by the MMFA and available in the Museum Store.  The exhibition is touring to two other venues, The Hunter Museum of Art in Chattanooga, Tennessee (on view from March 11, to June 12, 2016) and the Jewish Museum Milwaukee, Wisconsin, (on view September 22, 2016 to January 7, 2017).

Please stop by the MMFA between November 14, 2015 and January 31, 2016, to see the results of Beth Lipman’s hard week’s work of installation—the culmination of her many years of experience creating art the in splendid medium of glass.

To see Beth in action, check out the  video  Cynthia Milledge, director of marketing and public relations, captured of the installation and the brief interview she conducted.

Blog.Lipman.1

Jennifer Jankauskas
Curator of Art, and the exhibition

A Thomas Hart Benton for the MMFA

Benton.BlogThursday, May 21, 2015 marked a significant milestone in the history of the Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts and its collection.  At around 10:30 that morning, the Museum purchased Ozark Autumn, 1949, by the Regionalist painter Thomas Hart Benton (American, 1889–1975) for its American paintings collection. It is the first painting by one of the three major American Regionalist painters—Benton, John Steuart Curry, and Grant Wood—to enter the collection.   Acquiring a painting by one of the artists from this particular school of American art was long considered an important goal for our MMFA collection because the Museum owns a significant number of works by Southern Regionalist painters who were contemporaries of Benton and the others. J. Kelly Fitzpatrick and his students formed a “mini-Regionalist” cohort here in the heart of Alabama, and these works were the foundation of the MMFA collection that began in 1930.
 
Benton.Blog.4Thomas Hart Benton was a controversial and influential character in both the art and social worlds in early and mid-twentieth century America.  After study and the practice of art in Paris and New York, Benton’s outspokenness, writings, and large-scale public mural projects made him a voice for national political and art issues in Depression-era America.  Early in his career he worked for a time as a modernist painter, but he eventually abandoned that style to pursue one rooted in traditional European art, creating murals with distinctly “American” themes that resonated with the public.  He is best known for his mural cycles such as America Today (now in the collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York), and his massive composition for the Missouri State Capitol in Jefferson City. His association with Wood and Curry, along with a December 1934, Time magazine cover story about Benton’s work, allowed him to settle into his permanently defined role as a Regionalist painter. (Above: Registrar Pamela Bransford and MMFA Consulting Conservator Larry Shutts examine the Museum’s latest acquisition.)
 
The acquisition of this critical work was made possible only by the amazing legacy of Ida Belle Young, who bequeathed the Museum funds for the purchase of “traditional American art” upon her death in 2004. However having the resources for a purchase was only one factor in acquiring the appropriate work.  The staff made a concerted effort for more than seven years to locate “the right Benton” before Ozark Autumn became available.  This work possessed two attributes that were considered critical—as a larger scale work in oil and tempera it could be put on long-term view with our other important American paintings (unlike a work on paper which is subject to damage over time from exposure to light), and the subject was an agrarian one depicting a corn harvesting scene.  Since many of our Southern Regionalist works depict the rural South, it was important to us that our Benton reflect that same agrarian tradition.
 
And yet a second exciting day dawned on August 31, when we finally unveiled this outstanding work of art for our MMFA Board of Trustees. The event, held in the Museum’s Rotunda at 5:30 P.M., celebrated the support of the Board, the generosity of Ida Belle Young, and the City of Montgomery’s ongoing belief in our mission to the community.Benton.Blog.3  The painting was given a very warm and hearty welcome, accompanied by a toast to the memory of Ida Belle Young, whose gift in the form of the Ida Belle Young Art Acquisition Fund had made its acquisition possible.(Right: Acquisition Committee Chairman Winnie Stakely and MMFA President of the Board of Trustees Roger Spain unveil Ozark Autumn)
 
For any collecting museum the addition of a truly major work of art is a rare event, and one that contributes to the ongoing vitality of the institution.  It takes a concerted team effort to achieve the Museum’s mission “to collect, preserve, exhibit and interpret art of the highest quality.” This acquisition of Ozark Autumn, and the many people that worked to get it to Montgomery, is a testament to what that mission statement is really all about.Benton.Blog.2

Margaret Lynne Ausfeld
Curator of Art

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