Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Updates from Ronnie

We’re thrilled to start sharing with you “Updates from Ronnie” (Ronnie Green, Superintendent, Holder Construction). We are documenting GMOA’s expansion, and while it’s still early in the process, big changes are rapidly happening.

On our Flickr account you will find the collection "GMOA Expansion" with week-by-week folders for you to follow at your own leisure.

Yesterday, Ronnie briefly informed us about the progress of these first three weeks. If you look closely at Week 3’s pictures, you can see the stakes extending out from the building. These stakes outline where the new expansion, which will hold our permanent collection, will stand. You’ll be able to walk up the existing indoor stairs that will lead you into the beautiful, new expansion or the existing galleries, which will continue to show temporary exhibitions. Underneath the extension will be parking for docents and volunteers, as well as handicapped parking.

In Week 3’s pictures the bulldozer is scooping out what will be the sculpture garden. This area will serve as a serene spot to view sculpture from GMOA’s permanent collection, relax, eat lunch or just enjoy the museum’s presence.

Although we can dream of relaxing in our sculpture garden, for now it’s only bulldozers and hard hats – check back next week for more updates from Ronnie!

In the News

After a weekend full of fun, music and extreme heat, the Athens Banner-Herald has posted a gallery of AthFest Images. We came across one photo of GMOA’s table at KidsFest, and soon we’ll post our own slideshow of Family Day: Silly Sun Visors.

Not only were the visors fun to decorate, but they also kept the radiating sun out of the kids’ eyes -- keep checking back for the slideshow, and hopefully you can find someone you know modeling a custom-designed visor!

Summer Film Series, Part Two: Bergman

Tomorrow (Wednesday, July 1) we will show the second installment of our four-part summer film series, “Ingmar Bergman's Trilogy and The Seventh Seal: Questions of Faith and Spirituality in Film,” in room 151 (the large auditorium) of the Lamar Dodd School of Art at 7 p.m. "Winter Light" ("Nattvardsgästerna"), will be introduced by Dr. Janice Simon, Josiah Meigs Distinguished Teaching Associate Professor in Art.

In the second film in Bergman's trilogy, the minister of a small church is troubled in both faith and love, one problem perhaps exacerbated by the other. Tomas trusts neither the affections offered him by Marta, a local schoolteacher, nor the reliability of God. The winter landscape of the film reflects the frozen and bitter state of the protagonist's soul.

We had a great turnout at the last film with over 70 people in attendance. We hope you can make it out to this one as well. Check out the trailer here before tomorrow evening.

Monday, June 29, 2009

More from Alexis, GMOA's Young Dawg intern

I can’t believe that I only have 2 weeks and a day left here at the Georgia Museum of Art. Even though I don’t have long here, every day is still worth coming to my internship. The other day I helped out with the arts and crafts activity for the little kids for AthFest. It was very fun; I had to cut up different materials used to make silly sun visors. Then another intern and I made our own sun visors, which are going to be used as examples so the kids can get ideas how to make their own. Then yesterday my supervisors were gone for the rest of the day, and I was in the publications department by myself. It was so quiet, and I was just scanning books until 4:00pm. That was the first time that I was the only one here for 2 hours. It really made me feel like a real employee and more independent. Other than that today has been just like any other fun day here. I am very glad that I am doing my internship with the Georgia Museum of Art this summer; every day is worth getting out of bed to come here for four hours.

In the News

A particularly relevant question for GMOA: What role should the museum play in the rapidly changing world of arts journalism? At the Art Newspaper, an article by András Szántó on the current crisis in arts journalism explores how the field must reinvent itself during this period of upheaval in the newspaper business. For a long time, the task of informing the public about local art happenings has fallen to local papers. But with so many newspapers either folding or drastically reducing their coverage (one local example being the Atlanta Journal-Constitution), its becoming increasingly hard to find strong coverage of the arts. In his article, Szántó lays out three possible solutions to the problem: the job of reporting on the arts will either fall to individual bloggers, to non-profit news sources like NPR or to cultural institutions.

Luckily, Athens still has many traditional sources of arts coverage (the Banner-Herald, the Flagpole, Blur magazine, etc.). Even so, with our blog GMOA provides another source for the promotion of local arts, much in the way that Szántó envisions the role of cultural institutions. GMOA, like museums across the country, is taking “the lead in creating an alternative media infrastructure” with new media sources like our blog and our virtual museum in Second Life. While it may be a difficult time for arts journalism, the GMOA blog certainly is working to help the arts thrive in Athens and throughout the state with its coverage of events both local and global.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Digging Daura pt. 1

This is the first in an ongoing series of blog posts that I dreamt up yesterday afternoon as I was digging through the Pierre Daura archives once again in preparation for my visits to museums in Spain and France with significant collections of Daura’s art. I was thinking about all of the great finds I hope to make and share, and it occurred to me that I should be sharing some of the exciting things I come across in our archives.

My choice for this first post was easy, as this drawing has been omnipresent in my mind since before I even got this job: Daura’s preliminary designs for the Cercle et Carré (Circle and Square) logo, 1929, pen and ink on paper, approximately 28 x 21 cm (sorry for the poor image quality; for this to work, I'm having to lower my standards a bit, at least for now).

This is only half of the picture. Daura also created a second page of logo designs on which appears the version adopted by the group. The second page is currently lost, a fact that will vex me until it’s found—I won’t say “or until I die” because as naïve as it may be, I’m not going to give up on finding it. It may be bad form of me, as a museum professional, to “rat out” another institution, but I’m an historian first and foremost, so here’s the story:

In 1974, Daniel Robbins, then director of Harvard’s Fogg Museum, was writing a book on Joaquín Torres-García. Robbins wrote to Daura asking for information on the founding of the Cercle et Carré group in 1929/30, and Daura obligingly answered his questions and his request to see Daura’s drawing of the logo. Daura gave him the drawing, asking that Robbins send him a photograph of it. Unfortunately, both Robbins and Daura passed away shortly thereafter, and the photograph was never sent. Worse still, the drawing--and Daura’s answers to Robbin’s questions--have never been seen again.

The Fogg has been helpful in ascertaining that these items are not in their possession, but attempts in the 1990s to track down these documents elsewhere were unsuccessful. The hunt will continue. Possible moral of the story: Don’t take your work home with you if your work involves irreplaceable documents.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Letter from AAM

We got the following update from American Association of Museums (AAM) president Ford Bell late last week:
United We Serve

AAM is staunchly behind “United We Serve,” the White House initiative to be launched June 22 [future tense reflecting our lateness, not Bell's] and slated to run through September 11th, urging Americans to volunteer their time, energy and ingenuity to solve problems in their communities. Museums of all types and sizes and in every state are urged to upload their volunteer opportunities at www.serve.gov, the Web clearinghouse for volunteer opportunities across the nation.

Museums have long been beacons for Americans’ spirit of generosity and engagement. The latest Museum Financial Information survey (available from the AAM Bookstore in July), revealed the following startling nuggets:
--95% of responding museums said they rely on volunteers;
--The median number of volunteers at each museum is 65, or six for each full-time staffer;
--We estimate that volunteers contribute at least one million hours a week to U.S. museums.
--And we estimate that those one million hours a week are equivalent to $1 billion a year. Let’s marshal this spirit in support of the president’s “United We Serve” initiative.

The Essentials

We encourage your staff to sign up for our latest Webinar series, Museum Essentials, beginning July 1. Covering the basic tenets of museum operations, the series content was inspired by feedback we received from members. These Webinars are a productive staff activity - all for one $25 admission fee. Details are on the AAM site at www.aam-us.org.

Ford W. Bell
President, AAM
We certainly receive amazing amounts of time and input from our volunteers, from library volunteers to interns (both high school and college), docents, Friends and many, many more, and we know what they can do for us. We encourage you, even if you're not in the Athens area or interested in art (although we'd be sad about the latter) to check out www.serve.gov and either volunteer your time or provide an opportunity for someone else to.

The Webinar series from AAM is equally useful, a valuable resource for learning about collections care, making visitor experiences as good as possible, strategic planning and much more. Here's how AAM describes the current series:
Museum Essentials is based on the standards and practices of the Museum Assessment Program (MAP) which is designed to ensure the highest museum performance in governance, administration, responsibility and accountability to both museum collections and museum audiences. Administered by AAM in conjunction with the federal Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS), MAP has for 25 years empowered museums to excel in all aspects of operations, collections management, public programs and strategic planning. Participants in the Museum Essentials series will benefit from the experiences of MAP leaders and practitioners.

Summer Film Series: Bergman

Finally, the museum's four-part summer film series is beginning, with the first film, "Through a Glass Darkly" ("Såsom i en spegel"), being shown tomorrow (Wednesday, June 24) at 7 p.m. in room 151 (the large auditorium) of the Lamar Dodd School of Art. The series is titled "Ingmar Bergman's Trilogy and The Seventh Seal: Questions of Faith and Spirituality in Film," and each film will be introduced by Janice Simon, Josiah Meigs Distinguished Teaching Associate Professor in Art, Lamar Dodd School of Art, who is teaching ARHI 6520: Spirituality in Modern Art this semester, a course that addresses many of the same issues as these films.

The title of "Through a Glass Darkly" derives from 1 Corinthians 13 and describes the limited capacity of the living to understand God ("For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known"). The film covers 24 hours in the life of a motherless family after their daughter, Karin, is released from a mental hospital. Are Karin's communications with God manifestations of her insanity? The film won the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film in 1962 and was highly acclaimed. Here's the trailer:

Bergman has become a shorthand for gloominess and incomprehensibility, but if you've never seen one of his films, you really should give him a shot. He's an especially appropriate director for an art museum to feature, considering the strongly composed images he uses, creating beautiful and complex scenes in black and white (and color, in his later work). Dr. Simon's introductory words, too, should help neophytes think about some themes as they watch. Finally, spending some time in a cool, dark auditorium, for free, should provide a nice contrast to the scorching, humid weather we've been having lately in Athens. We hope to see you tomorrow and at all our summer films over the next few weeks. The museum's visitor lot is now closed for construction, so park in E11 or anywhere else you can find a spot around the East Campus area, which is full of earth movers and bulldozers at the moment.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Young Dawgs: Alexis Richardson

Alexis enjoyed her first blog post, and her supervisor in the Young Dawgs program was impressed, so she decided she wanted to keep writing about what she's learning here. You can expect to hear from her more often. Here's what she wrote today:
For the past three and a half weeks at GMOA, my internship here has been better then I thought. At first I was very nervous on the first day that I would mess up on scanning books. But I shocked myself when my prints turned out to be good. In the Publications department I enjoy my supervisors and the other interns that I work with. I am learning a lot of work skills that will help me in the workforce; for instance in the Publications department what shocked me was that I wasn’t doing office work, like answering the phones or getting mail. I am really doing things that you don’t normally do in an office. That’s why I really enjoy coming to GMOA every day because there is never nothing for me to do. I am always busy till it’s time for me to go home. This experience has showed me to be more responsible and to be more accreted. Day after day I am learning more things to get me ready for the real world on my own as a young adult.

Guggenheim Forums Launch Today

Both Art Daily and The Moment (a New York Times blog we're very fond of) have articles about the Guggenheim Museum's launch of a series of online forums that will allow for live chats with experts and submission of visitor comments on a number of topics. The inaugural series, which begins today, focuses on the museum's celebration of Frank Lloyd Wright's work, Between the Over- and Underdesigned, on the 50th anniversary of its iconic building in New York. Curator Aric Chen is already asking some great questions:
Taking us into the present, when we in much of the world are coming down (or at least taking a pause) from one of the biggest design binges in memory—from our love affair with megaprojects, iconic architecture, and designer, well, everything—has there been a disconnect between intention and effect? Has design, which has been championed in a way perhaps not seen since Wright’s era as a vehicle for social and environmental good, a wellspring of innovation, a driver of economies, a mover of product, a shaper of cities and, yes, a means of expression, become so omnipresent as to verge on oppressive? Are we overdesigning our homes, our cities, ourselves? Or are we not designing them enough? Are we simply misguided in how we design—or are we doing a fine enough job as it is?
This kind of connectedness is, even more than searching for things, what the Internet is for.

In the News

Over the weekend, in the Athens across the Atlantic, a new museum opened at the foot of the Parthenon. The New Acropolis Museum in Athens, Greece was inaugurated Saturday. This new museum replaces an older, much smaller Acropolis museum with a huge and stunning structure designed by the New York architect Bernard Tschumi.

The museum intends to protect, preserve and display the great art of classical Greek civilization, and its completion comes at a pivotal time for many of these pieces of art. After enduring a century of political instability and urbanization (many of these sculptures suffered damage from acid rain and other pollutants), this art now will have a safe, permanent home within the walls of the museum. However, one piece that is missing from the museum is generating quite an international controversy, explored in a wonderful article by Christopher Hitchens in Vanity Fair.

In the early 19th century, the British removed almost half of the frieze that decorates the Parthenon. Currently ensconced in the British Museum, this piece has long been a contentious issue between Britain and Greece. The Greeks claim that the work should be restored to its full form (at this time, there is a cast replica of the missing portion displayed in the New Acropolis Museum), to which the British counter that doing so would set a disastrous precedent in the art world, as museums the world over contain pieces obtained by not wholly legitimate means. The Greek government is hopeful that the opening of the museum will bring renewed interest to the controversy and place more pressure on the British government to allow the repatriation of the segments.

Art on Wheels: The Photos Keep Coming

Here's yet another set of photos from this event, including a lot more of the auction items.

A Piece of History

While sorting through the mountains of stuff to be moved from the museum, we came across this interesting little piece of history. Here is a photocopy of the charter document for GMOA - from 1945!

Friday, June 19, 2009

More on the Georgia Theatre

Our friend Jay Markwalter agreed to let us post these photos.

A Landmark in Flames

It’s a sad and strange morning in downtown Athens. The Georgia Theater caught fire around 7:00 A.M., heavily damaging the historic building. While firefighters seem to have the fire under control now, the smoke from the blaze can be seen wafting over the streets of downtown and north campus, even over to the GMOA offices in Lamar Dodd. So far, the extent of the damage from the fire is uncertain, but check OnlineAthens for updates and information as the day continues.

Installation Art

PICDIT directed us to two amazing installation artists this morning, as we were going through our Google Reader (and by the way, if you're much of a blog reader, setting up some kind of aggregate for feeds really helps save time and energy).

Daisuke Hirawa
creates installations out of plastic silverware punctured with thousands of tiny holes, resulting in a magical, transformative effect.

(picture from DesignBoom)

Tomas Saraceno spun this incredible web, galaxies forming along filaments, like droplets along the strands of a spider's web, at the Venice Biennale. You can see more of his work here.

Exhibition Catalogues

Here's the cover design for this upcoming publication, which will accompany the exhibition. The designer, Gina Binkley, chose a simple, text-based look, which will be embossed on thick, uncoated paper so that the text is raised, to complement the title of the show and the work of Jim Routh. The embossing suggests the process of printmaking, the tall and thin letters mirror Routh's frequent skinny verticals, the absence of a color palette reflects Routh's black-and-white work and the overall extreme simplicity matches nicely with the look of the artist's images and the aesthetic sensibility of his era. We love it when a look is so carefully thought out, and we look forward to the rest of the book, which we'll update you on as it gets closer to reality.

In the News

With the Venice Biennale in full swing, the New York Times has an extensive gallery of images and audio commentary on the best exhibitions of the festival. The United States performed admirably in this year’s festival – the artist Bruce Nauman represented the US and won the prestigious Golden Lion for Best National Participation with his exhibition entitled Topographical Gardens.

Another interesting artist to check out is Ragnar Kjartansson. In his performance piece for the Icelandic exhibition, Kjartansson is painting a portrait each day for the next six months (until the Biennale closes in November) of his friend Pall Bjornsson wearing a Speedo, smoking a cigarette, and drinking a beer. The focus of the piece, entitled “The End,” will not be the paintings that Kjartansson creates, but the detritus that arises from the act of creation – the empty beer bottles, the cigarette butts, the hundreds of empty and filled canvases. An article in the New York Times from earlier this month contains a conversation with Kjartansson and his model, both who feel a bit daunted by the enormity of their endeavor.

Film Series

Y'all may have noticed our summer film series, either in your newsletter or on our web site, but if you haven't here's the great flier our interns created for it. Click to make it bigger, and you can print out a copy to hang on your fridge at home to remind you. The late Ingmar Bergman, who died in 2007, was one of our greatest filmmakers, and this chance to see four of his films for free, with an introduction by Janice Simon, who's teaching a class this summer on art and spirituality that relates to the themes of these films, really shouldn't be passed up. Besides, when it's 100 degrees outside, who doesn't want to think about Sweden, where it only averages highs of 68 degrees in the summer?

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Art Around Athens

The restaurant Mama’s Boy will host a show of Mark Watkins’ original drawings for his “Cats Love Birds” comics, with an opening reception Friday, June 19 from 9–10 a.m., for free! Originals will be sold at the restaurant through July 20, and individual copies of autographed magazines will be sold at the register for $2.

Watkins studied studio art at the University of Georgia, moved to Delaware with his wife, Christy Eby, for Eby’s work as a nurse and moved back to Athens last fall with their 18-month-old son, Curtis. Time spent with his son has led Watkins to focus on human relationships rather than his previous philosophical subjects. Watkins was also inspired in 2002 at Athens' Annual FLUKE Mini-Comic Festival. The “Cats Love Birds” series of black-and-white drawings depicts friends of fur and feather partaking in activities as simple as eating dinner to as wild as striptease dancing for money. You should definitely join Mama’s Boy tomorrow in celebrating his works over coffee and brunch.

If you can’t make it to Mama’s Boy, plan to see Watkins’ more colorful works featured at Transmetropolitan’s Oglethorpe Avenue location starting July 1.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Connecting to Collections Forum: Day 2

[Top: Burchfield Penny Art Center, University at Buffalo; Bottom (added by popular demand, left to right): Susana Tejada, Albright-Knox; Lynn Boland, GMOA; Laura Anderson, Birmingham Civil Rights Institute; Monument of Rick James.]

Today’s speakers at the IMLS’s Connecting to Collections Forum in Buffalo, NY really got to the heart of the topic at hand, discussing ways in which conservation serves communities. The buzz words today were “win-win,” and examples abounded of mutually beneficial partnerships and networks, such as the Regional Alliance for Preservation (geared towards museum professionals), and the Nebraska PBS station’s “Saving Your Treasures” program and website, which has a wealth of good, general information.

Following the talks, we went to the Burchfield Penney Art Center and participants had an opportunity to talk one-on-one with the forum’s presenters. I’m happy to report that I got some great advice on strategies to address some of our own conservation needs. I also left the forum with a stack of useful handouts—and a snazzy tote bag in which to carry them—along with a much larger rolodex than I had last week.

After the planned activities, I tagged along with some of my new friends for a trip to Frank Lloyd Wright’s Darwin Martin House Complex. With a major renovation project underway, and having just come from a forum on conservation, preservation, and restoration, I felt well primed to appreciate not only Wright’s design achievements, but also the tremendous yet rewarding efforts of the Martin House. After that, we toured a bit of the city and I was fortunate to have two of the best tour guides possible: Susana Tejada, Head of Research Resources at the Albright-Knox Art Gallery, and Lorna Peterson, Associate Professor in the Department of Library and Information Studies at Buffalo State College. Lorna, a Buffalo native as well as an astute historian, spoke about the city’s history with an ease that would make you think she’d lived here since its founding.

In addition to seeing some other architectural treasure like Louis Sullivan’s Guaranty Building, we made a brief trip to the Forest Lawn Cemetery. Millard Fillmore’s grave was impressive, but the highlight of the cemetery was definitely the tombstone of Rick James, Mr. Superfreak himself. There is an extremely goofy picture of me next to it striking a Rick James pose, but I can’t bring myself to post it. Maybe with a little prodding I could be persuaded to share.