Friday, October 10, 2008


The Georgia Museum of Art is currently displaying an exhibition titled The Ring Shows: Then & Now and Putting the Band Back Together.

The ring exhibition has inspired a minor run on wedding engagements in the display.

The Athens Banner-Herald has two articles: "Ring show inspires man to surprise fiancée" and "Ring show held surprises."

Thursday, August 21, 2008


* August's edition of Southern Living has lots of information on Athens, including bits about the State Botanical Gardens and area shops and restaurants. But the issue also includes a 1/3-page blurb on the award-winning exhibition catalogue for Amazing Grace: Self-Taught Artists from the Mullis Collection.

According to Southern Living's Joe Reda, the "colorful worth browsing. ...[O]ther surprises await."

* The Red & Black has an article on the museum's new/old ring exhibition: "The Ring Shows: Then & Now and Putting the Band Back Together."

* "Art Notes" in the Athens Flagpole also visited the museum. The museum-relevant section:

South of the Border: Perhaps to welcome its new neighbor - the massive and labyrinthine art school - but certainly to mark its expansion, the GMOA has put out a lot of the good stuff from its permanent collection, including some big names - Matisse, Bonnard and Dufy to name a few - as well as some regional favorites and a room of paintings and works on paper from the European Renaissance and Baroque eras. Many of these selected works from the permanent collection will be put on long-term display when the new, 30,000-foot addition to the GMOA is completed in two years' time. Also on view is a traveling exhibition from California, “Everett Gee Jackson/ San Diego Modern: 1920-1955,” that traces the American artist’s career from his Impressionist beginning to his mid-century Modern style. Indeed, one can see the trajectory of much of the first half of the 20th century within Jackson’s oeuvre that bears the traces of the influence of the American Regionalist and Mexican muralists. Accompanying this traveling exhibition is a selection of in-house paintings, prints and drawings from both Mexican muralists David Sisqueros, José Clemente Orozco and Diego Rivera, as well as a wide-range of artists they influenced.

Freshly Picked: Tucked away in one of the museum’s smaller galleries is a collection of new acquisitions donated in honor of late UGA art history professor Andrew Ladis. Reflecting his own extensive collection of art and his intellectual and artistic contributions to the GMOA, there are examples of American paintings, prints and drawings from the 20th century; a delicately-rendered small red-chalk drapery study from a Sienese late-Renaissance artist; and a still from one of Jim Herbert’s black-and-white films, featuring two nude youths who look as if they could have been lifted from classical statuary.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

"Plant-balloon business blossoms into vast collection of art"

Read Lee Shearer's Athens Banner Herald story on museum donor and great friend C.L. Morehead [here].

A bit:

"The Dodd paintings and drawings, along with hundreds of items of Dodd memorabilia, one day will go to the Georgia Museum of Art. So will the African art collection and much of the rest of Morehead's collections.

Morehead's art collection grew out of a friendship with Dodd that developed over decades - as did Morehead's resolve to give it all to his alma mater's art museum, he said."

Monday, July 21, 2008

...and we're open...

for now.

The Georgia Museum of Art has been closed since May for bringing our fire suppression system to state-of-the-art levels. We will again close, likely for more than 18 months, beginning this November as we expand another 30,000 sq. ft.

I was included on Newsmakers with Tim Bryant last Friday on News-Talk 1340 WGAU to talk about the re-opening. Link to the podcast of the interview, which includes U.S. Senate candidate Vernon Jones and Mr. McGuinty, is [here].

As mentioned in the interview, we open with a special, temporary exhibition organized by the San Diego Museum of Art: Everett Gee Jackson/San Diego Modern, 1920-1955. The display is "the first comprehensive look at Jackson's artistic output since his death in 1995. As a pioneer of progressive art in southern California, Jackson held a lifelong interest in vanguard aesthetics and formalist compositions. The exhibition chronicles his career, from his youth in east Texas to his early training at the Art Institute of Chicago to his extended Mexican sojourn -- where he encountered the influential work of the Mexican muralists -- to his long and distinctive presence in the art community of southern California. During his travels and work, he encountered numerous other American artists, including Jean Charlot, Fritz Winold Reiss and Edward Weston. An exhibiting artist, book illustrator and important teacher, Jackson reflected the broader understanding of 'modernism' in American art in his work." Everett Gee Jackson features about 50 of the artist's paintings and works on paper.

To go along with the Jackson exhibition, we pulled together From the Collection: The Authority of the Mexican Muralists. Numerous American and Mexican artists were profoundly influenced by the modernist work of José Clemente Orozco, Diego Rivera, and David Siqueiros. Several artists, including Lucienne Bloch, Jean Charlot, and Ben Shahn, in this display worked with Diego Rivera on his mural projects. James Guy studied with Orozco; Harold Lehman worked under the leadership of Siqueiros; Syd Brown, Francis Chapin, and Joseph Marguiles traveled to Mexico. Other artists featured in this From the Collection are Thomas Hart Benton, Dorr Bothwell, Paul Cadmus, Lamar Dodd, and Charles Sheeler, each -- like Everett Gee Jackson -- impacted by the aesthetics and philosophies of Rivera and the other Mexican muralists.

Plus, we have put up favorites: from the Kress collection to Pierre Daura to Winslow Homer's Taking Sunflower to Teacher [just back from the Homer watercolors show at the Art Institute of Chicago] to Georgia O'Keeffe to our great American landscapes, and much more.

Images: (1) Everett Gee Jackson (American, 1900-1995), Spring in San Diego, 1931; Oil on panel, 34 1/4 x 29 1/4 inches. Jackson Family Collection. (2) Jean Charlot (American, b. France, 1898-1979), Untitled (Mother with Child on Back), 1941. Watercolor on wove paper, 29 1/16 x 21 3/4 inches (sheet). Georgia Museum of Art, University of Georgia; gift of Mary and Lamar Dodd, Athens, Georgia. GMOA 1973.3180

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Visit to Toshiko Takaezu

Among the litany of tasks during a recent trip to the New York City area for (the museum's director) Bill Eiland, (assistant director) Annelies Mondi, and yours truly was a visit to the (very rural) New Jersey home and studio of Toshiko Takaezu.

Ms. Takaezu very generously donated several of her own works of art to the Georgia Museum of Art.

A few pictures from the visit:

Wednesday, May 21, 2008


Bronze, to be exact.

The Georgia Museum of Art just won an award for the catalogue for Amazing Grace: Self-Taught Artists from the Mullis Collection.

The award? A bronze medal in the 12th Annual IPPY Awards presented by Independent Publisher.

From their site: "As our contest motto, "Recognizing Excellence in Independent Publishing" implies, here is a list of 450 excellent books -- the best independently published books of the past year -- in 64 national categories, ten Outstanding Book of the Year categories, and 20 Best Regional Fiction and Non-Fiction categories. ...This year's contest attracted 3,175 total entries, with over 2,500 entries in the national categories and over 600 entries in the regional competition. Books came from 49 U.S. states (come on, North Dakota!), D.C., and U.S. Virgin Islands; 9 Canadian provinces (get with it, Northwest Territories!), and 16 countries around the world: Trinidad to Thailand, Croatia to Czech Republic, and France to Finland. It's been a priviledge to judge such a large and wonderfully eclectic collection of books. ...We were impressed with...the breathtaking artwork and photography in our fine arts and coffee table book entries."

Amazing Grace, now an award-winning catalogue, was produced in conjunction with the eponymous exhibition at the museum Sept. 29, 2007 to Jan. 6, 2008. The hardcover 12-by-12-inch exhibition catalogue features full-page color illustrations of all 90 works in that exhibition, organized by Paul Manoguerra, curator of American art at the Georgia Museum of Art, as well as essays by Carl Mullis, the collector, and Carol Crown, professor of art history at the University of Memphis. Biographies of all the artists, from Howard Finster and R.A. Miller to Sister Gertrude Morgan and Mary T. Smith, by Manoguerra, follow the exhibition catalogue section.

Thursday, April 03, 2008

MFA 2008

Each year, for 4 weeks and a day, the Georgia Museum of Art hosts the "exit" exhibition for all the graduating MFA students from The Lamar Dodd School of Art at the University of Georgia.

Now open until April 27th, the Master of Fine Arts Degree Candidates Exhibition is always a fun and intellectually-charged display.

The Red and Black had an article last week.

The 17 Lamar Dodd School of Art students featured in the 2008 exhibition are: Joshua Bienko, drawing and painting; Maria Dondero, ceramics; Judson Duke, drawing and painting; Euni Figi, fabric design; Jodi Green, printmaking; Motoko Inoue, fabric design; C. Wayne Jones, interior design; Bartholomew Lynch, drawing and painting; Katherine McGuire, printmaking; Jessica Mills, printmaking; Erik Patten, photography; Gary Pearce, jewelry and metal; John Powers, sculpture; John Stidham, drawing and painting; Leigh Swift, interior design; Chris Thomas, ceramics; and Zuzka Vaclavik, drawing and painting. Encompassing 6 of the museum's 9 galleries, the display is sponsored by The Lamar Dodd School of Art, YellowBook USA, the W. Newton Morris Charitable Foundation and the Friends of the Georgia Museum of Art.

The 2008 group has their own website -- -- which includes links to some of the individual sites as well.

Last night was "MFA Speaks," an opportunity for the students themselves to (very briefly) talk about their art with the general public. The big event (the party) is tomorrow night at the museum.

Last year, I created a video slideshow of the galleries for the MFA exhibition. Although it is a very poor substitute (with my no-so-great photography skills) for visiting the galleries and seeing the objects in person, here is 2008's version as if you were moving through the display:

Thursday, February 14, 2008

"I am in the garden..."

The calendar on the wall of my
grandfather’s Room, points to a July
many years ago
I am in the garden looking at the
green stem of that tiger lily undulat-
ing like a small garter snake.

Grandfather tells me my grandmother
cut it
To wear to church on her white dress
‘It will be here again when you return
next year’ But the tiger lilies have
the trains no longer pass by ….

“I am in the garden…”: African American Art from the Collections is now open at the Georgia Museum of Art until March 16th.

Romare Bearden, reminiscing in a poem about his childhood in the South, draws upon imagery from his past and his experiences. During the twentieth century, numerous African American artists, including Bearden, created art that centers on issues of race, cultural identity, memory, emotion, history, and gender. “I am in the garden…” features works fashioned by a selection of these African American artists. The exhibition incorporates key images from the Georgia Museum of Art’s permanent collection, including mixed media works and paintings by Bearden and Jacob Lawrence influenced by the Harlem Renaissance. Other works in this exhibition are by accomplished mid-career artists, including Beverly Buchanan, Sam Gilliam, and Richard H. Hunt. Contemporary image-makers Lorna Simpson and Kara Walker address issues related to racism, identity, and feminism. The exhibition also includes works created by southern self-taught artists such as Willie Jinks, Jimmy Lee Sudduth, and Purvis Young.

Using the permanent collection as a starting point, including the original gift to the Georgia Museum of Art from Alfred Holbrook, purchases in the 1980s and 1990s, and the recent gifts by Carl Mullis, the exhibition also employs several loans. The Georgia Museum of Art is especially grateful to Paul R. Jones for the loan of works from his personal collection and to Giuliano Ceseri and Jason Schoen for the ongoing, extended loan of works from their respective collections.

Themes? How about some "dualities": past/future; emotion/reason; memory/reality; North/South; black/white; ancient/contemporary; rich/poor; urban/rural; personal/universal.

Other themes? The now, ever-popular “identity politics”; racism; gender; sexuality; defining “freedom”; abstraction and meaning.

In 1968, Ralph Ellison wrote an introduction for an exhibition catalogue and discussion Bearden’s art. A few lines from Ellison’s essay: “For as Bearden demonstrated here so powerfully, it is of the true artist’s nature and mode of action to dominate all the world and time through technique and vision. His mission is to bring a new visual order into the world, and through his art he seeks to reset society’s clock by imposing upon it his own method of defining the times. …Bearden’s art is therefore not only an affirmation of his own freedom and responsibility as an individual and artist, it is an affirmation of the irrelevance of the notion of race as a limiting force in the arts. These are works of a man possessing a rare lucidity of vision.”

My favorite work in the display? William Henry Johnson's High Peaks from the 1930s.

In twentieth-century American art history, William Henry Johnson serves as an example of an American “van Gogh,” both in style and in personal biography. Born in Florence, South Carolina, in 1901, Johnson grew up in poverty and left his native state for New York in 1919. Eventually, he enrolled at the National Academy of Design, studying with Charles Hawthorne. In 1926, with Hawthorne’s help, Johnson went to Paris and became intrigued by the work of post-Impressionists like Paul Gauguin and Chaim Soutine. After traveling throughout Europe, Johnson returned to the United States in 1929. He exhibited his work in his hometown, but was unjustly arrested, fled, and did not return to South Carolina for fourteen years. He again traveled to Europe, living in Denmark and Tunisia with his artist wife, Holcha Krake. In 1938, the couple moved back to New York, and he was hired by the Works Progress Administration to teach at a community art center.

In early 1943, following his wife’s death from breast cancer, Johnson began a gradual decline into severe mental illness. In 1946, he went to Denmark to visit his wife’s family and sojourned to Norway for an exhibition. Johnson was found confused and lost in the streets of Oslo. He returned to New York, was hospitalized, and never painted again. He died in 1970.

High Peaks was likely painted in Europe during the 1930s. The work, rich with the heavy use of paint on the surface of the canvas, reflects the style of the German Expressionists and the French post-Impressionists Johnson found so captivating. High Peaks has a powerful, intense use of color, and Johnson’s individual brushstrokes heighten its emotional nature.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Decorative arts exhibitions

Two new decorative arts exhibitions to go along with the two new European art exhibitions at the Georgia Museum of Art -- New Discoveries in Georgia Painted Furniture and Selections from the Permanent Collection: Georgia Decorative Arts Highlights. Both are open now and will remain up until the end of April.

The displays are open in conjunction with the widely popular Henry D. Green Symposium of the Decorative Arts. The fourth incarnation of the symposium is set to take place February 22 and 23 with the theme of "A Colorful Past: Decorative Arts of Georgia." Through this biennial symposium series the Henry D. Green Center for the Study of the Decorative Arts seeks to foster interest in, to promote discussion of and to encourage continued research into the history and material culture of Georgia. The series is named in honor of Henry D. Green (1909-2003), an early and distinguished proponent of the study of Georgia's decorative arts. Mr. Green was called an "invaluable champion of Southern decorative arts" and is known as having been a pioneer in the movement to recognize Georgia's rich legacy in the decorative arts. Information on the symposium is [here].

The Georgia Painted Furniture exhibition is the type of display we pride ourselves on at the museum. It features tons of new primary research, a nice color booklet, and 2 clear goals: to celebrate the colorful past of painted, vernacular, 19th-century furniture in Georgia and to present an opportunity to reflect on the history of painted surfaces in the state.

At the back of the exhibition booklet, curators Ashley Callahan (of the Georgia Museum of Art) and Dale Couch, Senior Archivist and Historical Research Advisor at the Georgia Archives, provide new information about a number of prominent ornamental painters in the state, and selected and abstracted newspaper advertisements for "paints and related goods" in Georgia. Object-driven research!

The exhibition itself includes 25 doors, chairs, chests, wardrobes and the like...all dating from about 1800 to 1880.

Arguably, the highlight object of the display is a chest, dated to 1839, fashioned by an unidentified maker for Mary Cronic (1823-1883) of Walton County, Georgia. The chest, made of painted yellow pine, is on loan from a private collection.

In the adjacent, larger gallery is Selections from the Permanent Collection: Georgia Decorative Arts Highlights.

This installation, as its title states, features decorative arts from Georgia and the South made in the 19th, 20th and 21st centuries, including several recent additions to the museum’s permanent collection: a Neoclassical Pembroke table from the lower southern Piedmont, a Victorian lawn urn by Stevens Brothers & Company made near Milledgeville (see right) and a lidded jar by contemporary Athens ceramist Ron Meyers. The selection highlights the museum’s dedication to building a significant collection of decorative arts from Georgia and illustrates the increasing breadth and ongoing quality of that collection. The display also includes the Georgia-related fine art objects (see below) and some of the museum's textile collection, including quilts (detail below).

These two exhibitions, soon to be combined with another new exhibition -- “I am in the garden . . . ”: African American Art from the Collections -- in a little over a week, means lots of Georgia- and South-related art is on display.

Friday, January 18, 2008

2 new European art displays

Thanks to Dr. Giancarlo Fiorenza, our Pierre Daura Curator of European Art, and our new associate curator, Deirdre Conneely, the Georgia Museum of Art will open (tomorrow morning...for the general public) two new displays of European art: Devotional Prints from Germany and the Netherlands and Collecting European Art.

With Ash Wednesday and the opening of Lent just a few weeks away, the exhibition of devotional prints is particularly timely. From our web site: "Over the years the Georgia Museum of Art has amassed an impressive collection of European works on paper, one of the most important in the South. Among those works is a choice selection of German and Netherlandish prints featuring religious, and specifically Christian, subject matter. This exhibition assembles for the first time selected highlights from this group of prints, ranging in date from the 15th to the 20th centuries, by such artists as Max Beckmann, Pieter Bruegel, Otto Dix, Albrecht Dürer, Hendrick Goltzius, Rembrandt van Rijn and Martin Schongauer. While a number of artists featured in this exhibition are revered as painters, the appreciation of their combined talents as printmakers is equally commendable."

Dr. Fiorenza and the museum's exhibition team have selected a nice green wall color to offset the monochromatic nature of these devotional prints.

One of the highlights is the entire Passion series, dated to the very end of the sixteenth century, by Hendrick Goltzius...all hung in chronological order like a gallery Via Dolorosa.

I have one personal favorite among the sixty or so images...

It is Jan and Lucas van Doetecum's sixteenth century Saint Jerome in the Desert done after a work by Pieter Bruegel the Elder. The etching with engraving on paper is really a landscape print with wonderful details. The desert here is not an arid, cacti-filled space but a wooded wilderness, and finding St. Jerome requires some close looking.

Collecting European Art is truly a chance for Dr. Fiorenza to highlight some of the new European art initiatives at the museum. It focuses on some of the collecting habits and strategies of the Georgia Museum of Art from two distinct periods: its foundation (in the 1940s) and the recent past (since the current building was constructed in 1996). Visitors have the opportunity to view works from the early history of the museum (especially as collected by the museum's founder, Alfred H. Holbrook) next to some exciting recent acquisitions. Plus, several works are on loan from area private collectors and patrons.

There are some really cool objects and paintings here. One case has three unique fifteenth- and sixteenth-century objects: (1) an Imago Pietatis (pax) from 1541, made of silver and gilt bronze by an unidentified Italian artist; (2) a boxwood relief sculpture of The Penitent Magdalene by Christoph Daniel Schenck (German, 1633-1691); and (3) Pierre Reymond's Scenes from the Life of the Virgin, painted enamel on copper set in wood from the 1500s. All three are from a private collection.

There is a small sculpture by Auguste Rodin over here...a Paul Klee watercolor there...a little landscape oil sketch by Pierre-Auguste Renoir here...a drawing by Domenichino there...and on and on.

My favorite in the display, though, is by an artist that an Americanist (like me) would claim as "American": Sigurd Skou. Skou was a Norwegian-American, and painted in a style greatly informed by French Impressionism and Post-Impressionism. He was a founding member of the Grand Central Art Galleries (New York), an important "contemporary" gallery in the 1920s and 1930s, as well as a member of the Salmagundi Club, Allied Artists, the National Academy of Design, American Water Color Society, and the Palette and Chisel Club of Chicago. Skou spent much of his time in either Chicago, New York or France.

The exhibition's painting by Skou is of a French scene, likely a cottage and garden in Giverny, and dated to 1927. His impressionism uses powerful blocks of color, and then build-ups of rich impasto for a layering of textures and colors.

All that European art, plus Redefining the Modern Landscape in Europe and America, ca. 1920-1940 will be heading into its final week.

Images: Devotional Prints exhibition brochure cover; exhibition entrance in the Lamar Dodd Gallery; Jan and Lucas van Doetecum (Flemish, active 1550s), after Pieter Bruegel the Elder, Saint Jerome in the Desert, ca. 1555-56, Etching with engraving on laid paper, 12 11/16 x 16 7/8 inches, Georgia Museum of Art, University of Georgia, Friends of the Museum Purchase GMOA 1982.18; detail of the Saint Jerome; view of the Odum gallery with the Collecting exhibition case showing the three works mentioned above; Sigurd Skou (American, born Norway, 1875-1929), An Old Garden (Giverny), 1927, Oil on board, 26 x 32 inches, Collection of Mr. and Mrs. James Fleece; and detail of An Old Garden.