Wednesday, October 10, 2007

GMOA exhibitions in the news

The Red and Black suggests that you go see the More Than Words exhibition before it closes this Sunday.

Also, Beth Sale, in today's Athens Flagpole, reviews both Amazing Grace and the Gauntlets exhibitions. Her text that mentions the Georgia Museum of Art:

And Now I'm Found…

…Was Blind, But Now I See: “Amazing Grace: Self-Taught Artists from the Mullis Collection” is currently on view at the Georgia Museum of Art (706-542-GMOA, Three large galleries are filled with work by self-taught artists, including sculpture, paintings, drawings, a face jug, a whirligig and a quilt. The title of the exhibition is drawn from collector Carl Mullis’ statement that “the artists derive some inner grace by creating these works- an ‘Amazing Grace,’ if you will.” Without doubt, these works all have a powerful emotional quality. Theodore “Ted” Gordon’s “Large Face” (1980), is a self-portrait in pencil, pen, crayon and colored markers on paper. Gordon’s work can be compared to Adolf Wolfi; the two artists share intense attention to detail, covering surfaces with doodles. But while Wolfi created his work as a patient in the psychiatric ward of a hospital, Gordon drew in his spare time while working in hospitals. Mary T. Smith’s 1985 painting “Six Figures” is reminiscent of Abstract Expressionist art. A top row of three figure outlines is painted in red, a bottom row is painted in black. Sulton Rogers’ “Haint House” (1996) is a wooden dollhouse with a lamp placed on top and inhabited by hand-carved wooden figures. Most of these figures have distorted noses; one has three eyes; another has a snake coming out of his ear.

Alpha Andrews’ “American Eve” is a statement on contemporary political issues. The snake in this image seems to be tempting an innocently na├»ve homemaker, who stands looking through a window at the expanse of the United States’ history and future. The Statue of Liberty, shot with an arrow to the heart, is visible in the distance. Mose Tolliver’s x-ray vision is applied to “People and Dog in a Car,” his 1974 painting on plywood. “Bear Bryant” by Jimmy Lee Sudduth is a tribute to the University of Alabama football coach. The coach is portrayed with a large area of blue above his head, dwarfed by the sky of a beautiful fall football day. Jim Work’s “Streetscape, Route 688” (1979) is drawn with ink and crayon on paper. The long, horizontal paper has been folded, and strangely, this adds to the appeal of the piece. A changing vantage point shows streets from above, and lamps and buildings from the side. Minnie Adkins’ “Peaceful Valley 2” is a 2D painting of a serene pasture with small, carved animals on a ledge at the lower edge. A frame of halved wooden rounds, extending around the carved ledge, unifies the combination of media.

Sacred Works: Several works in “Amazing Grace” are based in religion. While describing Southern self-taught artists, curator Paul Manoguerra writes that they “often ascribe to God their creative gifts and employ their art on the Lord’s behalf.” A sacred work, Charles Tolliver’s “Adam and Eve as One,” is a slender, full portrait in enamel on board. Though not large, Tolliver’s image has what Mullis calls “wall power.” Tim Lewis’ “Last Supper” is carved in limestone. The low-relief image depicts the biblical scene with 12 bearded disciples seated behind a long table with Christ, an arrangement repeating Leonardo da Vinci’s famous fresco. Anderson Johnson’s “Jesus Behold the Man” (1990) uses bold contrasts to create a striking image of Jesus with a crown of thorns, resembling Fauvist Georges Rouault’s “Old King.” Karolina Danek’s “Madonna” (1991) is a mixed-media image encrusted with jewels. Charles Lucas’ “Green Angel” combines various metal objects on roofing tin. While most of this relief sculpture is a reddish-rust color, small green wings provide a pleasant complement. Mary T. Smith’s “Red Angel,” which is placed near Lucas’ “Green Angel,” was created by attaching two triangular “wings” to a vertical rectangle of corrugated tin, on which a figure in overalls was drawn in red paint. The resulting image is much more magical than might be expected from such a simple process. “Amazing Grace” will be on display through Jan. 8, 2008.

How the West Was Won: "Real Western Wear: Beaded Gauntlets from the William P. Healey Collection” is a perfect companion for “Amazing Grace” at GMOA. Steven Grafe defines gauntlets, in the exhibit’s catalogue as “protective gloves that have a flared cuff.” The gauntlets in this exhibit were intricately decorated by Native Americans from the 1890s through the 1940s, with stunningly colored beads acquired from traders and settlers. From materials to design motifs, the Native American artists were influenced by the non-Natives. The creators of the gauntlets were initiating a folk art tradition, motivated by personal expression, identity and cash reward. The gloves exude sparkle and color; history is worn into the leather. This exhibit not only delights the purely visual senses with design qualities, but also inspires romantic notions of the past. Take a few moments to consider the impact of these gloves on Native American culture. The exhibit is on display through Jan. 6, 2008.

Image: Howard Finster (1915-2001),
The Devils [sic] Vice, 1984. Enamel on wood cutout, Approx. 17 1/2 x 16 1/2 inches. The Mullis Collection.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Willie Jinks in "Amazing Grace"

There are several Georgia painters featured in Amazing Grace: Self-Taught Artists from the Mullis Collection now open at the Georgia Museum of Art.

One of the Georgia self-taught artists in the exhibition is Willie Jinks. Retired after three decades working for the Department of Sanitation in Atlanta, Jinks lives in a small apartment in that city and is no longer creating art. At his previous art-filled residence, also in Atlanta, Jinks painted on doors, tables, and other found materials. His two large paintings in this exhibition (one of which I show at the right) portray a down-to-earth, everyday event, where several lively dogs chase giant birds. Employing a palette of bright colors, Jinks places flat areas of bright blue, black, and tan against a brilliant yellow background, all daubed with spots of vivid reds, blacks, green, and white. The effect is energizing: the multicolored specks and smudges disrupt the painting’s surface just as one supposes the yaps and yowls of the barking dogs punctuate the air.

Image: Willie Jinks (b. 1922), Birds with Tree, 1998. Paint on plywood, 83 1/8 x 47 3/8 inches. The Mullis Collection.

The collector, Carl Mullis, has an essay in the exhibition book. In his essay, Mullis writes:

"I have derived great pleasure from visiting with local self-taught artists whole works I have collected. For almost a year, I went to Willie Jinks's home in south Altanta nearly every week, and after each visit, I had a meal at Harold's Barbecue, located nearby. Inside both places, one could find great treasures, although of a different nature. Good art and good barbecue--what more do you need for a great day?

Jinks was quite a character. He was a former sanitation worker, who quit riding his beloved motorcycle in his eighties only after a serious accident. He was in his seventies when he began painting, and he painted everything in his house."

Image: Willie Jinks in his yard with some of his paintings. Photograph by Carl Mullis.