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Category: General

Stars Falling on Alabama

Stars Fell on Alabama

On the nights of November 12 and 13, 1833, a dramatic meteor shower occurred in North American that came to be known as “the night of raining fire” or “the night the stars fell.” The celestial show was so dramatic that many believed it to be an omen portending the end of the world. This event provided the themes for a book and song in 1934, each titled “Stars Fell on Alabama,” a phrase that also inspired the title of Thompson’s commissioned window for the Museum in 1999–2000.

In the window, the center panel is the primary element of the composition, featuring an encounter between earthly and heavenly creatures. A host of celestial beings – winged muses and personifications of the sun and moon – shower artistic inspiration in the form of fireworks on the figures below, who draw, make music, or simply marvel at the heavenly wonder. Muses, or personifications of inspiration, float above while in the foreground a group of stargazers sit under a quilt. Each quilt square has an image that is taken from a painting, sculpture, or porcelain from the Museum’s permanent collection.

Specific to Montgomery are the magnolia trees and people. Thompson has also included two self-portraits: the seated artist painting the scene, and the muse in the orange colored gown holding a tambourine. The artist in the center panel is working on a painting within a painting, with fireworks over a dome similar to the one here at the Museum in Blount Cultural Park.

The two flanking windows contain groupings of figures that are representative of Montgomery’s diverse population and culture. On one side, a man and a child gesture toward the center window event, while in the other, musicians play in celebration of a sky raining stars.

The Artist in the Window

The Studio Glass Movement is centered in Seattle, Washington, and Cappy Thompson is one of the stars of this movement of artistic expression. Thompson began her career as an artist of stained glass in 1976, and she developed her reputation as a glass painter when she moved to Seattle in 1984 and began teaching at the Pilchuck Glass School in Standood, Washington. She is known internationally for her painted blown-glass vessels, mostly narrative sequences that illustrate her understanding of and reaction to myths and dreams. Her art centers on narrative–an individual mythology that she has constructed based upon her longstanding love of storytelling and fantasy.

Thompson takes advantage of the transparent, light-transmitting nature of glass to construct stories on the interior of vessels, like the one from the Museum’s permanent collection or in window-walls such as that found in the Museum’s Lowder Gallery. Her subjects convey visual “blessings” or wishes that she conceptualizes as narratives on the painted surface.

Meet the Artist

Credit lines:

Cappy Thompson (American, born 1952), Lovers Sweet Embrace While Dream Chariot Waits, 1997, vitreous enamel reverse painted on free-blown glass, Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts, Gift of Bowen and Carol Ballard, Jim and Jane Barganier, Lucy Blount, John and Joyce Caddell, Dorothy Cameron, Herman and Anne Franco, Ralph and Lila Franco, Mike and Julie Freeman, Corinna Gauntt, Barrie and Laura Harmon, Charles and Donna Ingalls, Richard and Sue Jaffe, Mike and Kent Jenkins, Ray Johnson, Jim and Mary Lynne Levy, Jim and Joan Loeb, Michael and Laura Luckett, Maurice and Peggy Mussafer, Jim Sabel, Philip Sellers, Charles and Winifred Stakely, Andy and Lisa Weil, Jean Weil and Laura Weil, 2000.3

Cappy Thompson (American, born 1952), Stars Falling on Alabama: We Are Enraptured by the Celestial Fireworks of the Muses, 2005, vitreous enamel on glass, Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts Association Commission, 2006.2

Docent Awards 2018

Each year we celebrate our new docents, who have completed their studies and begun to lead quality learning experiences at the Museum, and honor those who have gone above and beyond in their service to the Museum. Our docent volunteers lead tours for students (including experiences in the galleries, studios, and ArtWorks) and adults, give off-site presentations, perform puppet shows, and help lead public programs. The work we do at the Museum would not be possible without their dedicated support.

2017–2018 Graduates

This year we welcomed a class of five docents who bring a set of diverse experiences and talents to our distinguished group of docent volunteers.

Paula Hayes, Elizabeth Jean, Bridget Koehler, Susan Lee, and Madeline Williams (not pictured)

Awards

100 Hour Club

Awarded to our most dedicated docent volunteers, who have served well beyond the required 40 hours a year.

Gretchen Sippial [125 hours], Mary Lil Owens [100 hours], and Binnie Coats [105 hours]

Outstanding Contribution to Kindergarten Program

Awarded to a docent(s) who helped to deliver on stage magic during the Puppet Show and supported the Cakewalk Tour.

George Jacobsen and Katherine Danley

Outstanding Contribution to Tour Outreach

Awarded to the docent who helped prepare students and schools for their visit to the Museum.

Laura Bocquin, Outreach Coordinator, and Beverly Bennett

Outstanding Contribution to Studio

Awarded to the docent who helped to support and lead programs in the studio including Family Art Affair and Flimp Festival.

Binnie Coats and Kaci Norman, Assistant Curator of Education, Youth, Family, and Studio Programs

Outstanding Contribution to ArtWorks

Awarded to the docent(s) who led interactive tours with enthusiasm and engaged young people on their level.

Kelly Bazan, ArtWorks Educator, Gretchen Sippial, and Paula Smith (not pictured)

Outstanding Contribution to Gallery

Awarded to the docent who goes above the call of duty in the galleries, working to provide quality tours that hold the interest of groups of all ages.

Mary Lil Owens and Kaci Norman, Assistant Curator of Education, Youth, Family, and Studio Programs

Wayne Barto Memorial Award

Awarded to a first-year docent who is an enthusiastic and integral part of our new docent class.

Elisabeth Palmer, Assistant Curator of Education, Docent, and Adult Programs, and Susan Lee

Pat Wanglie Award

Awarded to a docent who creates an enriching experience, and achieves the learning goals of the Museum. This docent is gracious and welcoming of various viewpoints.

Elisabeth Palmer, Assistant Curator of Education, Docent, and Adult Programs, Mary Lil Owens, and Alice Novak, Curator of Education

Sponsor

Guy Davis, Market President for BB&T. The Docent program is made possible by BB&T.

Become a Docent

The Museum is always looking for committed individuals who are interested in art and making connections with people. Teaching credentials or artistic backgrounds are not required. The Museum will supply the necessary training to lead dynamic learning experiences for all ages effectively. Click here to learn more and apply.

Flimp Chalk 2018

Artists of all ages took part in the annual Flimp sidewalk chalk art competition on Friday, May 4 and Saturday, May 5, 2018. Working as individuals and in groups, artists transformed the Museum’s parking lot into a gallery of chalk masterpieces.

Inspired by our spring exhibitions, Journey of the Islander: The Life and Art of Walter Inglis Anderson and Natural Wonders: The Art of Jacqueline Bishop and Douglas Bourgeois, this year’s theme was Gulf Coast Jubilee.

Winners

This year’s competition was judged by Tonya Terry of WSFA, local artist Melissa Tubbs, and Rick Dildine, the Artistic Director at Alabama Shakespeare Festival. All prizes were donated by local businesses: Chick-fil-a, Eastdale Mall, Frios Gourmet Pops, Montgomery Biscuits, Montgomery Zoo, Nancy’s Italian Ice, and W.A. Gayle Planetarium.

Elementary School

First Place
“No More Waiting”
Blount Elementary School
Sean Dickson, Morgan Dozier, Valeria Hidlago, Dylan Jenkins
Second Place
“Mystical Excitement”
Blount Elementary School
Ella An, Chloe Lim, Haley McBeal, and Reagan Slinkard
Third Place
“Fun and Free”
Blount Elementary School
Leo Jin, Mahalia Mallory, Audrina Nelson, Daniela Velazquez
Theme
“Life is good”
Blount Elementary School
Mimi Darawad, Dallas Henderson, Sidney Lowe, Coleman Russell

Middle School

First Place
“A Sailor’s Perspective”
Floyd Middle Magnet School
Kolbi Bates, Mariah Thomas, and Tyler Toth
Second Place
“Untitled”
Saint James School
Nicolas Hakala, Julie Lee, Jiyeon Paek, Zenifa Zaman
Third Place
“Untitled”
Montgomery Academy
Annalia Berry, Chandler Brazil, and Jonilah Megie
Theme
“Deep Sea”
Trinity Presbyterian
Anna Kate Blissitte, Katherine Lamkin, Abby Taunton, and Lily Yancey

High School

First Place
“Road Trippin”
Saint James School
Christine Choy, Erin Dickey, Camillia Richardson, Aaliya Jo Sims
Second Place
“Untitled”
Saint James School
Peyton Christian, Abby Engles, Claudia Hubbard, and Hannah Mathis Ray
Third Place
“Fish Hair, Don’t Care”
Montgomery Catholic
Lauren Beverly, Hailey Covington, Chloe Newell, Samantha Zanglin
Theme
“Sweet Catch”
Montgomery Catholic
Daphne Hardy, Cameron Morris, and Mari Caitlin Riggles

Adult

First Place
“Excitement Among the Fish”
Laura Murray
Second Place
“Ocean Child”
Meredith Cooper, April Harris, and Stephanie Kirkland
Third Place
“Taste of the Gulf”
Heather Cap
Theme
“Excitement Among the Fish”
Laura Murray

Other

Emcee Award
“Gulf Essence”
Booker T. Washington Magnet High School
Kaitlyn Campbell, Alexis Day, Patrice Escalera, and Emily Turner

Thank You

This event would not have been possible without the support of the chalk art sponsors listed below:

  • Mr. and Mrs. Neal Acker in honor of Pamela Swan
  • Dr. and Mrs. Winston M. Ashurst
  • Mr. and Mrs. Bowen Ballard
  • Dr. and Mrs. John Bennett
  • Dr. and Mrs. Arthur Britton
  • Mr. and Mrs. Philip H. Butler
  • Mrs. Dorothy D. Cameron
  • Kearly L. Foster, CPA
  • Mr. and Mrs. William F. Furr
  • Mr. and Mrs. Richard H. Gill
  • Mrs. Ann Hubbert
  • Mr. and Mrs. Thomas H. Keene
  • Mrs. Anne D. King
  • Mrs. H. F. Jim Levy
  • Longleaf Strategies
  • Lowder New Homes
  • Mr. and Mrs. L. Daniel Morris, Jr.
  • C.J. Morrow Carraway Baker Law, LLC
  • Mr. and Mrs. Adam Muhlendorf in memory of Pamela de la Torre
  • Ms. Alice Novak and Mr. David Carter in honor of Gunter Giddens
  • Mr. and Mrs. Tabor R. Novak, Jr.
  • Mr. and Mrs. Phillip O. Rawlings
  • Mr. and Mrs. S. Adam Schloss
  • Mr. and Mrs. Charles A. Stakely
  • Ms. Micki Beth Stiller
  • Dr. and Mrs. John Swan, II in honor of Pamela Swan
  • Mrs. Helen A. Till
  • Dr. Laurie J. Weil and Dr. Tommy Wool in honor of Mark M. Johnson, Jr.
  • Mr. and Mrs. Adolph Weil, III
  • Judge Gene Reese and Mrs. Winston Wilson Reese
  • The Tipping Point

First Person: Sharisma Bell

Sharisma BellCongratulations to our former intern Sharisma Bell! Earlier this month, she was hired as the Marketing Producer for Raycom Media in Montgomery. Before getting her new job, she interned here at the Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts in Marketing and Public Relations for six months. In the end, she had dedicated 324 hours of her time towards learning every detail of the department from writing a news release, establishing contacts, to managing social media. Her final task was to write an informative blog about her experience here at the Museum.

Having graduated three years ago, being an intern was in the rear-view mirror for me. I had already completed two internships during my undergraduate studies, so at the age of 25, I couldn’t imagine being one for the third time. I like to think that we always have something to gain from every moment in life and sometimes you have to start as the student. Initially, I wondered could I be an intern again? Was it even worth it to dedicate time to something that I wasn’t receiving credit for? I pushed those thoughts aside when I approached Cynthia Milledge, the director of Public Relations and Marketing at the Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts, about a possible internship. I could not pass up the opportunity to learn a couple of things from one of my favorite childhood places.

When I thought about a possible internship, I felt a sense of pride to be amongst prestige and art. I have always loved art because I think there is beauty in people creating what they feel, what they see, or what affects them. I find that viewing artwork allows you a quick glance at the artist’s mindset. Growing up in Montgomery, there were several occasions where I would visit the MMFA on field trips. I was either in ArtWorks with Bear Elementary or I was picking a piece of artwork and writing a poem for it with Booker T. Washington Magnet High School.

To be a part of what goes on behind the scenes of the Museum was definitely something I wanted to experience. So finally, I was able to achieve my goal and being here has allowed me to grow deeper into my creativity. While interning here, I have met some great people who have given me the foundation to expand my writing skills and my artistic ability. For example, I have researched several art pieces extensively and wrote descriptions of each piece for the Cell Phone Tours in the galleries. Secondly, I had the opportunity to write mock blogs and news releases in the Public Relations Department. Finally, I comprised two potential community projects that stemmed from my being a part of the atmosphere of the Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts.

All of these opportunities became possible through my decision to become an intern once again despite having graduated from the University of South Alabama in 2014. I refused to let my age or my pride get in the way of me learning. I now realize if you remain humble, you might even see things that you might have been too proud to see. This has been an enlightening and unforgettable experience, and being a part of the MMFA family has only added more significant meaning and value to one of my favorite childhood places growing up in the capital city.


Internship Opportunities

Curious about a career at an art museum? Click here to learn more about internship opportunities at the Museum.

Museum Statement

Some stories have appeared on social media about three missing cards from an interactive piece in Uncommon Territory: Contemporary Art in Alabama. For those who are interested here is an overview of what happened.

In the exhibition, we chose to present a work designed by the artist to be interactive. The installation included a stereoscope viewer and a number of small, digitally printed stereoscopic cards, which the public was invited to handle and swap out in the machine. Unfortunately, someone took three of the seven cards from the display. While our security team is active and alert, these objects were small and the person was quick and deliberate in their actions. When we discovered the loss, we followed protocol by notifying the artist and reviewing our security footage but were unable to clearly identify the thief due to their posture. We did not file a police report since we could not track down the perpetrator, nor did the value of the loss warrant an insurance claim. We value the artist’s art and his contribution to the exhibition and felt a responsibility to him since we agreed to show the work without tethers, as the artist intended. We have removed the stereoscope from the installation and compensated the artist for the value of the set of the cards.

We regret that this theft occurred, but these risks are part of any interactive piece with small parts. Our security team does the very best it can, 24 hours a day, to protect the Museum, the artwork, and our visitors.

Giving Tuesday 2017

Photograph of girl in a studio class

I hope your Thanksgiving was amazing and filled with family, friends, and most important, love. I hope your Black Friday was fruitful and that you managed to shop local on Small Business Saturday. Thank goodness we are given Sunday as a day of reprieve, but today is Cyber Monday, and it’s time hunt deals, followed by Giving Tuesday, a time to give back!  But you don’t have to wait until Tuesday to support your favorite non-profit (hopefully the MMFA!)

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The Calm within the Storm

There is a whole different sort of art to entertaining and doing it well. That’s been the function of our MMFA events planner since the Museum relocated to the Blount Cultural Park in 1989. This individual is responsible for ensuring that every event held at the Museum—from receptions, to dinners, to musical performances and community festivals—is a distinctive and memorable experience for our guests. Aaron Ganey recently joined us as Events Coordinator after having worked previously for our long-time caterer Jennie Weller Catering and Events. It was a smooth transition since the Museum staff had already enjoyed working with Aaron for several years, and Jennie now has an established and familiar line of communication within the Museum’s staff. I sat down to talk with Aaron about his position at the MMFA the morning after he coordinated a wonderful dinner for more than 300 guests held to celebrate Montgomery Medical Advocacy and Outreach and its 30 years of serving our community. The building was still buzzing with the excitement generated by this amazing occasion when we began our discussion.

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October: A Month of Great Expectations at the MMFA!

All month long people expect to see creepy, crawly, ghostly, and ghoulishly delightful yet fun scenes. Here at the Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts, we have a spooky treat of our own with the opening of Hans Grohs and the Dance of Death exhibition. This is just one of many ways we plan to celebrate the month of October. Check out the list of festivities below with you, our guests, in mind.

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Start Your Fall Season off at the MMFA

Jazz music featuring local talent, arts and crafts, and a reception celebrating one of the most influential and important contemporary American Artists are just a few of the events visitors can expect this month.  As the seasons change we encourage you to take a moment to check out the artwork in our galleries and enjoy the activities created with you in mind. View the September calendar now.

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