Thursday, January 18, 2018

How Small is the World to Phillip Bond?

Bond with some works from the museum's permanent collection 
Do you remember the last time you said “It’s a small world”? Maybe it was when you ran into an old friend at Starbucks or found out that you share an acquiantance with a friend. For Phillip Bond, a security guard at the Georgia Museum of Art, that phrase carries a larger significance.

Recently, the works of Louise Blair Daura were on display at the museum. Coincidentally, Bond has some personal knowledge of her husband, Pierre. Known for their artistry and creativity, Mr. and Mrs. Daura were both excellent artists, and we asked Bond to tell us about his connection to them.

Can you tell us a little about yourself and your family? Where are you from?

I grew up in an art family. My father was a chairman at a small college in Virginia called Stratford College. He knew quite a few people in New York; he studied at Cochran University in Washington D.C., and in the 1940s he traveled to New York, where he met my mother who studied at Parsley School of Design. When I see the different artists being featured at the Georgia Museum of Art, like Clinton Hill, I get a particular connection. I feel like if my dad didn’t know him personally, he certainly would have known of them, including Pierre Daura. He was at Lynchburg College—a women’s college similar to Stratford.

What connection do you have to the state of Virginia? Were you born and raised there? Did you move because of work?

Yeah, I was raised there. My parents were in Brooklyn Heights when I was born. They had part of a studio for painters around the lower part of Manhattan. We moved to Denver when I was 2. There was a person named Harriet Fitzgerald, who graduated from Randolph-Macon Women’s College. She probably [knew] Pierre and Daura. But it was her and her sister, Ida Fitzgerald—who was the dean of Stratford College. They got my dad and mom onto the faculty.

Do you have a background in art?

I didn’t go to school for art. I have a master’s degree in Museum Education and worked for 16 years. In college, I did ceramics instead of drawing. I picked up drawing in the last few months, and with my terrible handwriting, I never thought I could draw. But being that my family is so proficient in art, I learned that my drawing skills are pretty genetic.

Did you realize that Pierre was Louise Blair Daura’s husband before now?

I think as I read the description of the show they brought her relation to Pierre Daura forward. I could also tell that she was from Virginia from her name “Louise Blair.” That’s a big Virginia name.

How does it feel to know that you knew the husband of the artist whose works are being hung in the museum? I would honestly think that it’s such a funny coincidence.

I never knew him personally, but when I see his work I feel there's a connection. There are also similarities between my mother’s and father’s work. My mom liked to do a lot of Post-Impressionist paintings, so I have a better appreciation for her work. I have them all hanging up in my house. Growing up, you see it—but to come into the museum and see other artists doing that same type of work…there’s just a feeling and a connection.

Marquan Norris
Intern, Department of Communications 

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Thinking Outside and Inside the Box: Clinton Hill Exhibition at the Georgia Museum of Art

Clinton Hill Installation
On a typical Tuesday at the Georgia Museum of Art, Todd Rivers, Elizabeth Howe and their new intern Sara Katherine package up pieces from one exhibition to prepare for the next. The tacky snap of tape on cardboard creates a rhythm of productivity. As the sound echoes off the walls of the gallery, the building itself almost hums along to the tune. This activity is normal for the museum, as exhibitions rotate through these galleries about every three months.

Todd and Elizabeth, as preparators, organize this rotation to make sure the process runs smoothly and efficiently. Preparators work alongside curators and artists to create the best experience for museum visitors to see the works of art, which find their way to the museum. They decide how to frame, hang and label the works displayed in the museum.

Most recently, the museum’s director, William Eiland, organized an exhibition of the work of Clinton Hill, an abstract artist working in the 20th century. Rivers explained that Eiland charged him and Howe first to “transport the viewer into an alternate reality” and then to help the viewer “understand the purpose of abstraction without words.”

With these goals in mind, Rivers and Howe chose atypical methods for presenting Hill’s work. They responded to the jagged and freeform nature of Hill’s works by placing them in diagonal, tilted and even disjointed, lines. The orange lining of an artist-made box for a work titled “Duo,” an accordion-style book, inspired the complementary orange that accents the exhibition. Hill experimented with various techniques in papermaking, so techniques like glowing lightboxes and smooth wood tables highlight the three-dimensionality of Hill’s work. By understanding Hill’s “paper constructions” and not just two-dimensional paintings, this installation elevates the viewer to the realm of abstraction as an invitation to explore color, shapes and form alongside Clinton Hill.   

Soon Todd and Elizabeth will box these works back up again. The walls will be painted. The future repurposed. And a new exhibition will fill the gallery. Before then, you do not want to miss the chance to see what reality you might find in Clinton Hill’s work.

Clinton Hill is on view January 6 – March 18, 2018 in the Virginia and Alfred Kennedy and Philip Henry Alston Jr. Galleries. 

McKenzie Peterson
Intern, Department of Communications

More views from the Clinton Hill installation

Thursday, January 04, 2018

Artful Conversation: Varied Discussion on Joan Mitchell’s “Close”

Kincaid leading a discussion on Mitchell's "Close"
The first Artful Conversation program of 2018 inspired participants to get diverse perspectives and impressions on Joan Mitchell’s 1972 painting, “Close.” Sage Kincaid led this slow-looking program, inviting guests first to examine the painting with a set of opposite words in mind. Each participant received a different pair: warm/cold, expand/shrink, bold/timid, loose/tight and more. After a longer inspection of the work with these words in mind, the group discussed how the painting was filled with contradictions, making it more detailed and introspective than many had believed at first sight.

Kincaid then informed the group that color was extremely important to Mitchell over the course of her life, as she was affected by the phenomenon of synesthesia. This condition caused her to have close associations with colors, letters and emotions. Green, for example, was linked to the letter A, and white, in Mitchell’s words, “is death . . . it is absolute horror.” Other influences on the artist’s life included her proximity to the Art Institute in Chicago growing up, Van Gogh’s sunflower paintings and her proclivity for skydiving as a pastime.

Kincaid led the group in two more exercises to help inspire other realizations about the work. First, they examined distance’s effect on perspective, walking from the back wall of the room to immediately in front of the painting. One participant noted, with great fondness, that he “liked it more the further he was away,” while another stated that she instead liked how noticeable the details were when standing up close to the work. The larger group then broke up into smaller circles of three to discuss any other impressions that were brought to mind as their positions in the room changed.

As conversations wound down, and the program came to a close, Kincaid ended with a quote from the book “Joan Mitchell: Retrospective: Her Life and Paintings”: “When looking at a great painting by Joan Mitchell, in fact, nothing really needs to be said at all.”

Artful Conversation is a monthly program led by the museum’s education department that focuses on a single work or small group of works over the course of an hour. The next session will be held on Wednesday, February 14, at 2 to 3 p.m. and will focus on Frederick Carl Frieseke’s painting “Girl Sewing (The Chinese Robe).” For future dates, please see the Georgia Museum of Art calendar.

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Georgia Museum of Art Provides Entertainment for Community During Holiday Season

The holidays are upon us, and many relatives are in town from all over the country to be with family and friends. For those looking to entertain out-of-town guests, the Georgia Museum of Art is the perfect place to spend an afternoon. With several events, tours and exhibitions on display, the museum has offerings for all ages and interests. Because both Christmas and New Year’s Day fall on Mondays this year, those two holidays will not affect the museum’s normal schedule. We will be open to the public Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays, 10 a.m. 5 p.m., Thursdays 10 a.m. 9 p.m. and Sundays 1 5 p.m., with the museum closed on Mondays as usual.

In addition to our normal hours, there are several public events coming up, which are convenient and fun ways to spend some time with loved ones. Tonight, visitors can enjoy coffee, dessert and a gallery tour at the museum prior to the performance in Hodgson Hall by the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra and Chorus, performing selections from Handel’s Messiah. You can purchase tickets for the concert at, but they are not required to attend the event at the museum. This event will run 6 8 p.m., with the tour beginning at 6:15.

Make It an Evening
Third Thursday also takes place tonight. This monthly event takes place at seven of Athens’ established venues for visual art. Full schedules are posted at, with this month featuring galleries open and events at the Georgia Museum of Art, Lyndon House Arts Center, Ciné, Hotel Indigo and the Classic Center from 6 to 9 p.m. Admission to all venues is free of charge, and this event is a great opportunity to visit a few Athens venues in one evening.

On Wednesday, December 27, our weekly Tour at Two begins at 2 p.m., featuring highlights from the permanent collection. Docents lead this tour every Wednesday, and it is free of charge. Come back in the future for a chance to go on tours of different exhibitions and selections from the permanent collection.

Finally, come celebrate the fact that you survived the holidays with our early January events. On January 3 at 2 p.m., assistant curator of education Sage Kincaid will lead a special slow-looking program and dialogue focused on Joan Mitchell’s painting “Close.” And January 4 brings the first session of our three-part studio workshop on abstraction with Athens-based artist and educator Brian Hitselberger. Read more about this great opportunity on our website.

Studio Workshop
We wish all of you very happy holidays, and we look forward to seeing you at an event or tour soon.

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Staff Spotlight: Taylor Lear Joins the Team as Assistant Editor

Taylor Lear
As 2017 projects begin to wind down and the year comes to a close, the department of communications has one last addition before ringing in 2018. Taylor Lear has joined the department in the role of assistant editor. Although she is just getting started, Taylor is confident that this position will be a great fit for both her and the museum. In the midst of settling into her new job, she sat down with us to discuss her past experiences and hopes for the future.

Can you explain what you will be doing in your new role of assistant editor?

As the new assistant editor, I am joining Hillary Brown and Michael Lachowski in the department of communications, where I will be helping to produce the museum’s quarterly publication, Facet. I will also be working on all of the exhibition catalogues that the communications department produces each year, as well as taking care of wholesale orders and other various projects as needed.

What were you doing before coming to the Georgia Museum of Art?

For the past year, I have been living in New York, working on my master’s degree in Publishing at Pace University. I was a graduate assistant for my program, and I worked at W. W. Norton & Company as well. After I finished all of my coursework I decided to come back to the South, since I am from Roswell, Georgia and most of my family lives close by.

What excites you the most about working at the museum?

The thing that I find most exciting about the museum and its publications is the range of topics that I will have the opportunity to work on. From early Georgia gunsmiths and the history of craft at the University of Georgia to modern photography and historical figures, I have a feeling that the diverse subject matter will allow me to learn about and appreciate more areas than I had ever imagined.

What are your initial impressions of the museum?

I have admittedly not been here for very long, but so far all of the other employees have been extremely welcoming and ready to help me get started in any way they can. The museum itself is also world class, and I am so grateful to be able to work in this type of environment. So my initial impression has definitely been a positive one!

Are you familiar with the Athens area?

I received my bachelor’s degrees from the University of Georgia in May 2016, so I actually lived here for four years before moving north to start my master’s program. I’ve been gone for about a year and a half, but moving back feels like coming home.

So you are excited to be back?

Definitely! I am tremendously happy to be back in Athens. I’m excited to see what has changed in the time I’ve been gone and what is just the same. It also feels great to be back in a town that cares about college football as much as I do! Overall, I am delighted that I found the perfect job in my favorite place in the world.

Thursday, December 07, 2017

"Artful Instruments": Taking a Look at 19th-Century Weaponry Made in Georgia

Henning D. Murden, longrifle, 19th century. Walnut and silver, 52 inches long. Georgia Department of Natural Resources, A.H. Stephens State Park.

With guns dominating the news cycle, it may seem odd for an art museum to present an exhibition focused on them, but the Georgia Museum of Art at the University of Georgia is presenting the exhibition “Artful Instruments: Georgia Gunsmiths and Their Craft” through February 25. Co-organized by the museum’s curator of decorative arts, Dale Couch, and guest curator Sam Thomas, of the T.R.R. Cobb House, in Athens, the exhibition includes 18 19th-century longrifles as well as two pistols, powder horns and a miniature cannon on loan from private and public lenders.

Decorative arts, as opposed to traditional fine arts like painting and sculpture, focus on functional objects. Most often, they include furniture, silver, pottery and the like, which range from the plain versions of these items that would have been found in a yeoman farmer’s home to highly refined and decorated versions from the wealthiest estates. It may seem strange to include weaponry in this category, but early gunsmithing incorporated many crafts, including silversmithing and casting as well as woodworking.

Less prosperous than its neighbor states immediately to the North, Georgia produced decorative arts that have historically been overlooked. Couch points out that these rifles represent “the quintessence of craft in 19th-century Georgia” and says that “the objects in this exhibition are some of the finest artistic achievements in the state at the time.” The museum’s Henry D. Green Center for the Study of the Decorative Arts attempts to shed light on Georgia craft, particularly items that have received less attention.

Henning D. Murden, powder horn, ca. 1860. Inscribed M or W. Horn, unidentified ring-porous hardwood, steel, and replacement rawhide strap, 9 inches long. Collection of Mr. and Mrs. James D. Fluker Jr.   
Thomas points out that, in 1979, one of the Foxfire publications wrote, “These finest pieces work as intricately as Swiss watches, are as rugged and durable as Rolls-Royces, and are comparable artistically to fine paintings, music, or sculpture. Interestingly, they have the additional dimension that comes from their being, almost paradoxically, instruments of death—the tools by which enemies were slain, the frontier was conquered and tamed, and the table was filled with game. The fascination they hold for us is undeniable.”

Nearly 40 years later, that phrasing may now seem insensitive, but the longrifle remains a uniquely American art form. Developed in the early 18th century, it was more accurate than a musket but slower to load, and the rifles in this exhibition predate technological advances that led to quicker loading firearms. Its role in key battles in the American revolution and its association with the frontier have led to considerable mythology surrounding it, including James Fenimore Cooper’s novel “The Last of the Mohicans,” which features a character nicknamed “longrifle.”

W.T. Fluker, miniature cannon, ca. 1877. Iron and wood, approx. 10 x 21 x 11 1/2 inches. Collection of Mr. and Mrs. James D. Fluker Jr.    
Although they began as more purely functional objects, the human impulse for decoration prevailed, and the rifles on display in this exhibition feature elaborate inlay in brass and silver. Gunsmiths engraved patchboxes, trigger guards and other areas with scrollwork that often served as a kind of signature.

Thomas writes, “The history of firearms is full of examples of invention and evolution, but no gun bridges the worlds of history, technology and art like the American longrifle. Nowadays it is rare to encounter an original longrifle outside of private collections which makes it all the more important to document the ones in small museums or sitting in barns and attics.”

This exhibition is sponsored by the Community Foundation for Northern Virginia/the MOTSTA Fund, the Watson-Brown Foundation, the W. Newton Morris Charitable Foundation and the Friends of the Georgia Museum of Art. It is accompanied by a fully illustrated catalogue published by the museum that will be available for sale through the Museum Shop around January 20.

Programs related to the exhibition include 90 Carlton: Winter, the museum’s quarterly reception (free for members of the Friends of the Georgia Museum of Art, $5 non-members) on February 1 at 5:30 p.m. (the exhibition opens to the general public the following day), and a public tour with Thomas on January 24 at 2 p.m.

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Competing with Netflix: The Georgia Museum of Art's Student Night

UGA students Gabby Victorio and Kylie Anderson at Student Night
How do you catch the attention of college students on a Thursday evening when there’s Netflix to be watched, essays to be written and concerts to go to? A combination of free pizza, amusing crafts, a WUOG DJ, a Polaroid photo booth and an innovative exhibition by an African American artist will not only capture their attention but attract them in hordes. The Georgia Museum of Art StudentAssociation put on its second student night of the academic year on Thursday, November 9, highlighting the exhibition “Muse: Mickalene Thomas Photographs andtête-à-tête.”

Students making collages at Student Night   
The student nights are put on three nights a year by the Student Association as a way to draw students in and showcase the current exhibitions and permanent collection of the museum. Each student night includes a craft that is related to the exhibition, free food catered by a local restaurant, a DJ from the student-run college radio station (WUOG), an activity involving the exhibition and a Polaroid photo booth. The craft for this Student Night involved students making collages with Polaroids and magazine clippings as homage to Thomas’ work and the activity had students using Snapchat to complete a scavenger hunt of images from the exhibition.

Student Association president Rebecca Gross said, of choosing the Thomas exhibition for the student night, “Our whole team really felt drawn to this show. We always go and take a walk through the galleries to choose an exhibit before we start planning student night, and this one was an immediate yes. Not only were all the works visually striking, but the themes addressed really stuck out to us. The show deals with things that may be uncomfortable for some people to talk about, but I think they are exactly the things we need to talk about, especially as college students. Our hope in featuring this exhibit was that the vibrancy and visual opulence would draw students in, and from that they would be prompted to think about some of these important social issues.”

Members of the student association in front of the photo booth    

The Student Association has been active for many years now and continues to grow with each passing year. Students enjoy the opportunity to be an active member in promoting the museum and its wonderful exhibitions. 

The Student Association is planning its next student night for February 8, 2018. Join them for a night of art, music and fun. 

Stephanie Motter
Intern, Department of Communications