Friday, February 26, 2010

A Collection of Links

We've just discovered the Georgia College Curator blog, run by Shannon Morris, who works at the Georgia College and State University Museum, in Milledgeville and posts her thoughts about artists, upcoming events and exhibitions and more. It has far more information than the museum's Web site and some interesting investigations into artistic production.

This article from the Wall Street Journal's arts and entertainment section discusses those cases where facts and accuracy are necessary in art, which tends not to be a situation we think about very often.

If you've been wondering what Michael Rush, former director of the Rose Museum at Brandeis, has been doing to occupy his time, this piece from the Boston Globe on an exhibition he's organized at MIT will clue you in.

We also really enjoyed flipping through this Flickr gallery of visitor responses to an exhibition on WPA art (something GMOA specializes in) at the Detroit Institute of Arts. People were asked to imagine what they would produce if they were a WPA artist working today, and the range of responses (as evidenced by the one we selected above) is odd, amusing and inspiring all at once.

Finally, we've been meaning to post this link to the Art Newspaper's article about whether U.S. museums will be able to reinvent themselves in the current economic era. Although it ran in mid-January, its questions are by no means outdated a month and a half on, and they are serious ones to consider.

Art Around Athens

This evening, check out the opening reception from 7 to 9 p.m. at the Lamar Dodd School of Art for "Side Effects May Include: New Work by Imi Hwangbo's Expanded Notions of Sculpture Spring 2010 Installation Class," which includes work by the students listed above on the poster.

Sunday, February 28, from 1 to 6 p.m., ATHICA will hold a closing day of events for its exhibition "Nurture." A day of fun for all ages, it will feature a panel discussion on alternative education, magic by magician Rick Franceschini, a shadow puppet show by A Creaky Theater Company, kindertunes by Noogeez and a live performance by Nanny Island. Low cost childcare available for ages six months and up.

On the other side of town, from 2 to 4 p.m., the Studio Group will hold an opening reception at Athens Academy for an exhibition of silk painting, metalwork, jewelry, pottery, fused glass, books and more from a dozen artists involved with the local collective.

Calls for Entries

We've seen a bunch of these lately, so here are the latest three.

The Child Development Lab at the McPhaul Center of UGA (which is the birth to 5-year-old preschool) is looking for art.
The directors at the Child Development Lab are planning on having a small art show in the spring to show off some of the children's art. This is an opportunity for parents and grandparents to order the children's art which can be placed on mugs, mouse pads, and so on, as a means of raising funds. In addition to the children's art, the directors were hoping to raise additional money by selling some more advanced art work. If anyone within the art department at UGA has any artwork they are willing to donate to the show please contact Melissa Vann (contact info below). They would be extremely grateful for all types (paintings, ceramics, drawing, sculpture, jewelry, etc). Please let Ms. Vann know if any type of donation you would be willing to give. -- Melissa Vann The University of Georgia Advertising and Spanish 912.220.9981
We're sure they'd be interested in all kinds of donations.

The Athens Human Rights Festival is, as always, looking for artists to design a logo.
This year's festival needs a logo. If you have an idea for this year's logo, draw it and drop it off, or send it to: Jeff Hannan, LS Design, 1160 South Milledge Ave., Athens, GA. 30605 or e-mail to, 706-353-9995

Your design is entirely up to you. The festival organizers only require that it contain the text: 31st Annual Athens Human Rights Festival, May 2nd and 3rd, Athens, GA, somewhere in the design. If your design is chosen you will need to create a large copy of it to become the backdrop for the festival stage set up in downtown Athens the weekend of the festival.

Deadline for submitting logo designs is March 10, 2009.

Good Luck! Your creation will become part of an Athens tradition.

Questions? Call Jeff 706-714-5751 for more details.
Last but certainly not least, Hotel Indigo is accepting works of textile art for the exhibition "Material World: Art Meets the Runway." Submit a photo and a description of the work by emailing low-res jpgs to with the altered subject line: YourName: CtA2010 by April 9.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Happy birthday, Mary Brown!

Diane Barret, who works with GMOA's Senior Outreach Program and contributed an essay to our most recent Green Symposium publication of papers, "A Colorful Past" (available for purchase from the Museum Shop), on African American quilters, recently attended the 100th birthday celebration of Mary Brown, one of the quilters she profiled in her paper. Here's Diane's report on the party:
Well, I wish you could have been at Mary Brown's centennial birthday celebration last Sunday. It was an AMAZING experience for me! -- so interesting to see how a large African American family celebrates something like that! The mayor of Decatur read a long proclamation and declared Feb. 18th "Mary Brown Day" in Decatur. The mayor of Greensboro presented Mary with a key to the city. One of Jimmy Carter's grandsons read a congratulatory letter from his grandparents....then Mary's daughter Elizabeth Wilson (former mayor of Decatur) paid a very moving tribute to her mother. She talked about Mary chopping cotton, working in the households of people in Greensboro, raising 9 children, making innumerable quilts, being a mother of the church, etc. Then she said: "I want to praise my mother for her voting record. She voted at a time when voting wasn't easy, and she taught her children the importance of casting their vote. She just cast her most recent vote for the first Af-American president, Barack Obama." Well, I was very moved by all of this......

They had the quilt I had made of Mary on an easel at the entrance of the Solarium, and I presented Mary with the book "A Colorful Past" on behalf of the museum. She was pleased, but her children were absolutely THRILLED to have their mother's story in print. I'm sure you will sell a number of copies to her family. I certainly felt honored to be a part of it all....

I think just about every one of her 6 living children, 26 grandchildren, 70 great grandchildren, and 28 great great grandchildren were there and were in the line to speak to her. Her two "baby" sisters, age 88 and 90, were there. I've never seen so much longevity. There was some very tiny little woman in a wheel chair near Mary--I never did ascertain who she was, but I did find out that she was 99!! One room was filled with Mary's quilts and handwork plus a treadle Singer sewing machine. There was lots of food -- including tea cakes which Mary asked for...Anyway, I know you would have loved being there!

We certainly do admire Ms. Brown, and we thank Diane for sending along pictures and for passing along the book!


We certainly try not to live up to all feminine stereotypes here at GMOA, but the fact is a lot of us are ladies, and we were just talking about shoes this morning. Come to find out, today's Art Daily references an exhibition on heels and platform shoes, "On a Pedestal: From Renaissance Chopines to Baroque Heels," at the Bata Shoe Museum in Toronto. We didn't even know there was a shoe museum. The array of shoes included in the exhibition includes some that we suspect even our own Friends president Paige Carmichael, famed locally for her commitment to outrageously high and awesome shoes, might not be able to walk in. At least not without assistance...

Art Around Athens

What to do tonight? How about checking out painter Zach Bucek's open house in studios #22 and 23 at 112 S. Foundry St. from 8 to 11 p.m. The entrance is near the railroad tracks on East Broad Street. See more of Bucek's work here.

Also, RPM (on W. Washington St. downtown), is hosting a free opening reception from 7 to 9 p.m. for "One Revolution Per Minute," an exhibit featuring sculpture and paintings by Jen Colestock, Andrew Ferrer, Peter McCarron, Ben McKee, Sy Dowling, Hoke Johnston, Jimmy DeRoth, Lindsay Ethridge and Travis Christopher.

A Soulful Celebration: Photos and More

What a wonderful time we had last night. The dinner catered by The National was delicious, and the performance by Ebenezer Baptist Church West was great! We'll be putting up photos over the next few days, so keep checking back here to see the slideshow expand.

Our director, Bill Eiland, sent along a copy of his remarks, and here is an excerpted version, in case you weren't able to attend:
President Adams, ladies and gentlemen, on behalf of the Friends of the Georgia Museum of Art, I want to welcome you to an evening of the visual and aural arts, and equally an occasion of honor for our esteemed friends the Castenells. For many years now the Georgia Museum of Art and its Friends have recognized the achievements of African American artists, in music and literature as well as in the visual arts. Just one example would be our touring exhibition of the work of Leo Twiggs, an exhibition enormously popular but not without controversy over his use of the Confederate battle flag, so successful that we had to add venues across the country. The catalogue has long been sold out and out of print. Just last year our Friends hosted their first Black History Month dinner at the Georgia Museum of Art in conjunction with an exhibition of works from the permanent collection. The high point of the evening was a public lecture and discussion by Amalia Amaki, a professor of the history ofr art at the University of Alabama and a member of our board of advisors; her topic was the collection of the recently deceased and by me much lamented Paul Jones, also a member of my board. Tonight's event, "A Soulful Celebration," is the Friends second event in honor of Black History Month.

As you all know, even the notion of Black History Month is not without controversy, with some critics believing it amounts to a kind of re-segregation, even the ghettoization of knowledge. We at the museum do not agree. Otherwise we could equally be accused of feminist or Latino apartheid.

Our curator of American art, Paul Manoguerra, who is white, and our deputy director, Annelies Mondi, who is white, and I, who am these days a little jaundiced, are just back from a visit to a major collection of African American art in Connecticut. The collector is articulate about her ideas on these subjects, as she explained somewhat patiently to us three Georgians. She believes in the balance both literally and figuratively denoted in the notion of African American art: black history as a recognized and recognizable field of study, of learning, of knowledge, and American history as the context in which it resides and from which it sprang. Or as some suggest, vice versa, with humankind so rooted in the soil of Africa that it is erroneous and foolish to conceive of such an insular context as North American, when African traditions inform and define world culture.

Amalia Amaki, about whom I just talked, addresses these issues in both formal and casual discourse with students and lay folk alike. She sees a kind of Jungian Geist--what some call "soul"--if you will, in the very compositions of paintings, drawings or prints by African Americans, whose palette is likewise distinctive, an observation we ourselves may make tonight in the works by John and Yvonne. The very controversial artist Georgia's own Kara Walker said, "I think for a long time I resisted making anything that had anything to do with race simply because it was what was expected."

My point in this lengthy welcome is to remind you that we are here tonight to break bread together, to bestow the appreciation of a grateful community on the Castenells, to hear some great music after dinner, and to listen to our guests, who may indeed be said to document black experience but who ultimately, through their honesty, as artists, describe our shared human condition, in effect, our collective soul.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

A Soulful Celebration: The Installation

The preps and some assistants have been installing the works of art that will be on display at tonight's dinner, so we wandered over to the gallery where the dinner will take place and snapped a few amateurish photos of it all. We miss being able to see scenes like this on a regular basis!

Photographs of food at the Getty Center

William Eggleston's "Memphis"

The J. Paul Getty Museum will present “In Focus: Tasteful Pictures” on view at the Getty Center in Los Angeles beginning April 6. This exhibition will investigate technological and aesthetic developments in photography of food. All images are drawn from the Getty’s world-renowned permanent photography collection. Some are new to the collection and this exhibition will be their first time on display.

The pieces in the exhibition go from the mid-19th century until the present and are from such artists as Roger Fenton, Adolphe Braun, Edward Weston and Bill Owens. Many different photographic processes are included. Virginia Heckert, curator, said that the title of the exhibition “refers both to the subject of food and aesthetic preferences, particularly how the latter may have shifted over time.”

William Eggleston’s image “Memphis” (above) shows a freezer with stocked with various items. According to an article in ArtDaily, the characteristics of the image “[transform] the promise of plentiful choice into the compromise of convenience.”

“In Focus: Tasteful Pictures” will be on view through August 22 and is the sixth exhibition of the Getty Museum’s “In Focus” series. “In Focus: Still Life” will open in September and “In Focus: Trees” will be on view in a year.

Art Around Athens

If you're not making it to "A Soulful Celebration" tonight, and we certainly hope you are, here are some other events going on around Athens this evening...

At 3:30 p.m. in room 100 of the Lamar Dodd School of Art, Frances Van Keuren will deliver the next Visual Culture Colloquim (VCC) lecture, "Drawings of Figures in Ancient Costumes by Thomas Hope (1769-1831): Their Sources in Engravings from Books in Hope's Library."

From 5 to 6 p.m., in room S150 of the Dodd, UGA Costa Rica is sponsoring a presentation by art professors Scott Belville and Kinsey Branham and local artist Mary Engel on the Maymester 2010 Costa Rica study abroad art program. The program offers five courses in studio art and, as the Web site says:
Students will experience and reflect upon the nature and culture of Costa Rica through study, direct observation and interaction with its people, natural and built environment, and institutions of culture. As a result of their experiences and reflections, the students will create a process-portfolio of works of art, journal entries, sketches, and exhibition that demonstrates the ways their art and ways of thinking have been informed by their international study experience.

Finally, at 7 p.m. at Ciné, the Georgia Review presents a poetry reading featuring Keith Ratzlaff, whose book "Dubious Angels" is an ekphrastic work comprised of poems written in response to Paul Klee paintings.
Ratzlaff won the 1996 Anhinga Prize for "Poetry for Man under a Pear Tree." His other books include "Across the Known World" (Loess Hills Press, 1997) and two more volumes from Anhinga Press: "Dubious Angels: Poems after... Paul Klee" (2005), based on the artist’s late drawings and paintings; and "Then, a Thousand Crows" (2009). Copies of Ratzlaff’s works will be available at the reading, courtesy of Judy Long’s Byhalia Books. Of the generously illustrated "Dubious Angels," Georgia Review editor Stephen Corey has written, “Keith Ratzlaff’s long-established and distinctive voice—gentle, playful, yet snap-your-head-back incisive and moving—is both present in and altered by his deep confrontation with Paul Klee’s complex simple renderings of offbeat angels. To have these poems side by side with the artworks is a visceral pleasure and a boon to both artists.” Ratzlaff’s poems and reviews have appeared in Poetry Northwest, which gave him its Theodore Roethke Award, and in many other journals, including the Georgia Review, McSweeney’s, New England Review, and North American Review. Also, his poems and essays have been included in such anthologies as "The Best American Poetry 2009," "The Pushcart Prize XXXI" (2007), "A Cappella: Mennonite Voices in Poetry" (2003), and "In the Middle of the Middle West: Literary Nonfiction from the Heartland" (2003). Keith Ratzlaff is professor of English at Central College in Pella, Iowa.

GMOA in the News

UGA News Service is publicizing our latest release, about the lecture the museum's department of education has organized for the end of March, in conjunction with the 225th anniversary exhibition:
Georgia Museum of Art sponsors presentation by Nash Boney

Writer: Amanda Lee, 706/542-4662,
Contact: Hillary Brown, 706/542-4662,
Feb 22, 2010

Athens, Ga. – In association with the Georgia Museum of Art’s exhibition “University of Georgia Turns 225,” Nash Boney, professor emeritus of history, will give a lecture and slide presentation. Titled “Two and a Quarter Centuries and Counting: A Visual Run Through the History of the University of Georgia,” the presentation will be on Wednesday, March 31 at 4 p.m. in the Visual Arts Building. It is free and open to the public.

The exhibition will be on view March 19 to April 30. It includes works of art by Lamar Dodd, George Cooke, Charles Frederick Naegele and Howard Thomas as well as works by current art students and art professors. The exhibition also will include objects that reflect the history and the current state of the university and its campus life.

Boney was born in Richmond, Va., and earned his undergraduate degree in science at Hampden-Sydney College. After graduation, he served in the U. S. Army during the Korean War and was stationed in Germany as part of the Counter Intelligence Corps. It was there that he discovered his passion for history. On returning to the U.S., he used the G.I. Bill to earn his Ph.D. in history at the University of Virginia.

Boney began his association with the University of Georgia in 1968 and became a full professor in 1972. He retired in 1994 but continues to share his extensive knowledge in lectures like this one.

He has written many books, including "The University of Georgia Trivia Book" and "A Pictorial History of the University of Georgia," which was first released in 1985 for the university’s bicentennial. He also was commissioned by President Jimmy Carter to write "A History of Georgia."

Trecento Conference Set

If you've been wondering what's up with the museum's biennial Trecento conference, here's some news:
Conference on Trecento Art in memory of Andrew Ladis
November 11-13, 2010

The Georgia Museum of Art and the University of Georgia have sponsored symposia on Italian art for almost two decades. In 2010, to honor the memory of Andrew Ladis (d. 2007), we are returning to our original concept: art of the 14th century. The 14th century we have in mind is a long one, from roughly 1260 through 1453. Rather than focusing on a single city, style, medium or artist, the conference will be open to any topic related to art produced in the Mediterranean basin that in some way reveals the impact of, exchange among or presumed hegemony of Italian art. The conference will meet in Athens, Ga., on the campus of the University of Georgia. Opening events are scheduled for Thursday, November 11, 2010, and papers will be presented on Friday and Saturday, November 12 and 13.

The conference is free and open to the public. All are welcome.

Proposal abstracts are to be submitted by May 8, 2010.
To send proposals or for further information, contact:
Shelley E. Zuraw or Asen Kirin
Lamar Dodd School of Art
270 River Road
University of Georgia
Athens, GA 30602
email: or
The conference is a major gathering for the field, and its proceedings have been published regularly, including, most recently, in "The Historian's Eye: Essays on Italian Art in Honor of Andrew Ladis," which is available for purchase from our online shop.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Brazilian designers are thinking differently about natural resources

The forests of Brazil’s central coast are home to large root networks of pequi trees, which can grow up to 30 feet tall and bear flowers and fruit. The wood of the pequi tree is oily, textured and difficult to cut, so it was never used for industrial purposes and many of its logs and roots were left behind after loggers and farmers cleared the forests.

Designer Hugo França has discovered that he can use pequi tree roots and logs in his designs. França has produced about 60 benches (photo below) and tables from the material for Inhotim Institute, a 3,000-acre outdoor museum a few hours from Rio de Janeiro. Each bench can sell for $95,000. Collector Bernando Paz said that the pieces are “carefully crafted” and that “nothing like this will ever exist again.”


The pequi tree pieces are not only beautiful, but also sustainable. The most endangered resource of the country is its tropical forests. Since the 1980s, environmental laws and protections have caused designers to think differently when it comes to finding materials.  The use of pequi trees and other found wood is an example of sustainability because an otherwise unused material now has a purpose in design. 

Carlos Motta, a São Paulo architect and designer, used driftwood found on beaches to make tables and chairs in the 1970s. Arthur Casas relies on weathered planks for his furniture. José Zanine Caldas was one of the first to use found materials for design in the 1970s when he made stools and tables from pieces that timber companies had left behind.

França, Motta, Casas and Caldas have set a good example from which designers in other countries can learn: art and design can play a role in conservation. By using materials that would otherwise be abandoned, these designers are creating beautiful pieces without wasting vital natural resources.

Art Around Athens

Julie Phillips beat us to the punch on tonight's visiting artist lecture at the Lamar Dodd School of Art by Piper Shepard, an incredible fiber artist. It's at 5:30 p.m. in room S151 of the Dodd.

Also, ceramicist Kevin Snipes has started a 10-day residency on campus. He's in the middle of a workshop that began this morning at 9 a.m. and will be doing another one tomorrow from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. in the ceramics studio downstairs from our offices, plus giving a lecture on Thursday, February 25, at 5 p.m. in room S150 of the Dodd.
Snipes is currently an Artist-in-Residence at the Archie Bray Foundation for the Ceramic Arts, a public, nonprofit educational institution founded in 1951 by brick maker Archie Bray outside of Helena, Montana. He holds a BFA in Ceramics and Drawing from the Cleveland Institute of Art and an MFA from the University of Florida. Snipes’ work has been exhibited nationally and internationally, including in Jingdezhen, China.
Both the workshops and the lecture are free and open to the public.

GMOA in the News

The Athens Banner-Herald had a wonderful article this morning on our Black History Month event that took up much of the front page of the living section. Our thanks to Joe Vanhoose! The same event receives mention as well in Ryan Blackburn's article in the news section about the Georgia Association of Black Elected Officials meeting. Please, if you haven't RSVPed for the dinner, today is definitely your last chance, and if you can't make the dinner, remember that the concert (at 7:30 p.m. in the UGA Chapel) is free and open to the public.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Construction Updates from Holder

Here's your construction update on Phase II for the week ending February 19, 2010.

Current week - Activities/Issues:
New Gallery / Connector
· Installing the connector roofing and flashing.
· Hanging drywall walls and ceilings in gallery.
· Starting to tape and finish gallery walls.
· Framing / hanging main Gallery space ceilings.
· Coordinating MEP overhead trim out.
· Poured the connector elevated slab.

Existing Building Renovations
· Continue MEP overhead rough-in
· Tape and finish drywall walls
· Ongoing rework existing roof

Storage Bar
· Completed the exterior concrete wall waterproofing / vapor barrier.
· Started exterior brick façade.

Next week - Activities/Issues:
New Gallery / Connector
· Continue to hang, tape finish drywall walls & ceilings in gallery
· Continue to pour footings and walls in the sculpture garden area.
· Finish gallery exterior limestone.
· Start erecting the monumental connector stair.
· Install connector curtainwall system.
· Start connector MEP overhead rough-in.

Existing Building Renovations
· Tape & finish walls.
· Frame ceilings.
· Prime paint walls.

Storage Bar
· Continue exterior CMU and brick walls.
· Start new roof on storage bar
· Finish MEP overhead rough-in.

Sculpture garden progress

Interior gallery progress

Connector elevated slab

Arts Unleashed 2010

The Athens-Clarke County Leisure Services Arts Division is looking for performing and visual artists to participate in the fourth annual Arts Unleashed, a guerrilla arts program that encourages artists to develop innovative projects to be presented in such unconventional arts venues as parks, business lobbies and stores. Past projects include modern dance in a bookstore and a haiku poetry hike at the zoo.

Arts Division administrator Stuart Miller says the department is “looking for artists who are skilled in their craft, but also value and enjoy the chance to share their talent with others.” If you’re an artist, give this a shot! It’s a fun and different way of showing your art to the world.

Park a Park (above) was the first event of Arts Unleashed 2009. This interactive sculpture, hosted by the Art X Hypermedia class of the University of Georgia, took place on the top floor of the College Avenue Parking Deck. The site had a lookout to view downtown Athens, games, a live landscape portrait and a rest area.

The deadline for applications and project proposals is in two weeks (March 8). Artists can choose a date between March 22 and June 28 and will be assigned a location based on their activity and the program schedule. Call 706.613.3620 for more information. The application and guidelines can be found here.

Art Around Athens

At 6:30 p.m. this evening (Monday, February 22), in the reception hall of the Tate Student Center on the UGA campus, there will be an opening reception for "Love Makes a Family," a photography exhibition featuring portraits, testimonials and quotes from the LGBT community. The exhibition runs through February 27, and you can learn a bit more about it here.

Reports from CAA

Lanora Pierce, one of our preparators, recently attended the College Art Association 98th annual conference in Chicago, where she went to a lot of sessions and took copious notes, including some on the Field Museum's exhibition "The Nature of Diamonds," from whence the above spectacular image comes. To read Lanora's notes, click here for a pdf.

GMOA in the News

Press post-Speakeasy is starting to roll in, thanks to the wonderful press release our intern Amanda wrote, which appears below.
Speakeasy raises funds for the Georgia Museum of Art

Athens, Ga. – Speakeasy, a major fundraising event for the Friends of the Georgia Museum of Art (GMOA), was held Saturday, February 6, 2010, at the home of C.L. Morehead Jr., who also served as the largest sponsor of the event.

This rare opportunity to view Mr. Morehead’s home and extensive art collection included dinner, tours of the collection conducted by GMOA curators, a wonderful jazz performance by Faith and an exclusive silent auction.

About 100 guests attended, and the auction brought in nearly $5,000, which will be used to fund the museum’s educational programs and services. The top selling lots at the auction were a framed oil painting by Mary Hardman titled “Transition” and Jim Fiscus’ photograph “Doll Cabinet.” In all, 11 lots were donated and auctioned.

Speakeasy was sponsored by C.L. Morehead Jr., Blount Photo, Walton Media Services and Interactive Attractions.

To download photographs by Blount Photo from Speakeasy, visit our Web site at or visit our Flickr account at to view a slideshow.
Arts Across Georgia picked it up, and we expect to see a few more mentions trickle in. The museum also received a mention in the Athens Banner-Herald for its Luce Grant for "Advancing American Art," and the exhibition of works from Jason Schoen's collection at the Westmoreland continues to garner press notice. Finally, Kate Kretz, who received her MFA from UGA, blogs about the film "Who Does She Think She Is?" which the museum will be screening in association with Women's History Month on March 24 at the Lamar Dodd School of Art. Go ahead and mark your calendars for that one.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Context or Free Aesthetics?

Miller McCune online magazine has an article up right now that summarizes and comments on a study done for the journal Empirical Studies of the Arts on the influence of context on measures of how much subjects liked different works of art. The headline bluntly puts it, "In Art, Context is Counterproductive." Well, that's one way of looking at it, but it's really necessary to read at least Miller McCune's full article to see how the experiment was conducted, which, as expected, shows the results to be applicable only in a well-defined area. Psychologist Kenneth Bordens had a pool of 172 students "look at photos of two paintings and two sculptures in one of four styles: Impressionist, Renaissance, Dada and Outsider."
All participants were given a general definition of art, and a label stating the style the works represented. But half were also provided with a definition of that style, a brief history of its origins and information on the goals of the artists who worked in that style.

They were then asked to rate, on a scale of 1 to 7, not only how much they liked the work in question, but how closely it matched their personal conception of a work of art.

. . . This notion was largely supported by Bordens’ findings. “As ratings of the degree to which an artwork matched one’s internal prototype of art increased, liking ratings increased as well,” he writes. “Dada and Outsider art were rated as matching less well with internal concepts of art, and were liked less than Impressionism and Renaissance art.”

. . . “Providing contextual information led to participants perceiving examples of the various styles of art as matching less well with their internal standards than when no contextual information was presented,” Bordens writes. In other words, they were more likely to feel a piece conformed to their personal ideas about art — and thus more likely to enjoy or appreciate it — when it was presented without interpretation.

Bordens presents several possible explanations for this finding, which somewhat contradict a 2005 study by University of Vienna psychologist Helmut Leder. He writes that the contextual information presumably led to “greater conscious processing” of the pieces, which may have “led participants to be more critical.”

“In this experiment, the contextual information was very concrete, and may have encouraged participants to think concretely,” he notes. Newly equipped with a clear, rigid definition of what constitutes a certain type of art, the students were perhaps more likely to judge a particular painting as falling outside of its parameters.
So it's not as though he was throwing half his subjects into a room with Felix Gonzalez-Torres's "Untitled (Public Opinion)" (or any of the artist's other conceptual works) and asking them to respond aesthetically on the rating scale, then giving the other half information on the artist's intentions before having them do the same. Context doesn't hurt with a lot of more traditional representational art, and it's less necessary with some Abstract Expressionist pieces, which can be more intended for gut reactions from the viewer, but with a lot of contemporary conceptual art, the ideas at play can be the most important part of the work. Failing to acknowledge this variety of possibilities when it comes to the relationship between art and education is simplistic, and it's no doubt exactly what will happen in any subsequent articles that pick up on the study. Admittedly, this sort of response is what you'd expect from us, as an institution that takes education as one of the key components of its mission, and there's certainly room for interaction with art on a less intellectual level, but saying contextual knowledge actively harms one's appreciation of art seems pretty harsh!

An Exhibition Dedicated To Broken Hearts Everywhere

A recent article in the New York Times discussed the traveling exhibition entitled “The Museum of Broken Relationships,” dedicated to broken hearts everywhere, that presents more than 70 bits of leftover romantic mementos from relationships that fell apart.

The exhibition features everything from romantic letters, teddy bears and photos to more unusual objects. Some examples of objects on display are an old Nokia cellphone with a tag that reads, “It lasted 300 days too long. He gave me this mobile phone so I couldn’t call him anymore”; a champagne bottle with the cork still unpopped from a first-anniversary celebration that did not go as planned; and a tiny container filled with tears a German man collected while he mourned the end of a four-year relationship.

Each object on display is anonymous, to protect the heartbroken, and is accompanied by a story/description related to the relationship behind it.

The exhibition is “an alternative to fancy imagery that makes you think what relationships are really about,” said Drazen Grubisic, who founded the Museum of Broken Relationships in Croatia, along with his ex, Olina Vistica, after the couple ended their romantic relationship in 2006.

The pair found it difficult to divide their beloved belongings after their split, so the friendly exes decided to gather similar contributions from friends who had been through the same experience. With the contributions, the two started the exhibition, which has traveled within Europe and to South Africa, the Philippines and the United States.

Grubisic believes that the exhibition provides a therapeutic benefit for the donors of the mementos.

“I witness how hard it is for people to give away these tokens that carry the energy of two people,” Grubisic says. “And once it’s done, they are liberated from the haunting memory of the past, given a fresh chance to restart all over again.”

The exhibition has also been presented in a book that represents two years of the project. For the book, the curators of the exhibition chose 100 items to present in 200 pages that feature pictures and stories.

“As we speak, some love affairs end while some others start. Such is life. It’s not all about consumption but our participation in love stories from all around the world through these tiny objects. It is just beautiful,” says Zeynep Yildirim, the director of marketing for the Istinye Park mall, a space that recently hosted the exhibition.

For more information about the Museum of Broken Relationships visit its Web site and for more information about the exhibition’s book, click here.

Art Around Athens

It's a busy Friday for the Lamar Dodd School of Art in particular, which has at least three events going on this evening. In the Bridge Gallery of the East Campus building, there will be an opening reception from 7 to 9 p.m. for an exhibition titled "Material Response: New Work by Melissa Walter," which is only up for a week (until February 25). We don't know much about Walter's work or the exhibition, but it's sure to be interesting.

On the third floor of the building, in the South Wing, from 7 to 10 p.m., the MFA Candidates in Drawing and Painting will host an open house, so you can see their work in progress. And in the same area and at the same time, MFA candidate Marie Porterfield will execute the the performance-art piece "Specters."

This Sunday, February 21, from 2 to 4 p.m., the Lyndon House Arts Center will host the opening reception for its 35th Annual Juried Exhibition, which is always a good time and shows a tremendous range of art in all media from across the community. "Don your finest French Quarter attire in celebration of Mardi Gras and enjoy the festive refreshments!" they say. We've always found it a great buying opportunity as well, as many of the works on display are also for sale. See you there!

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Art Around Athens (and Beyond)

We told you about "Home Is Where the Heart Is" a couple of weeks ago, when the event was soliciting donations from artists, but the actual silent auction of art in a variety of media (which you can view here in a slideshow) is tonight, from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m., at the Hotel Indigo in downtown Athens.

Also tonight, from 5 to 8 p.m. at the Madison-Morgan Cultural Center, for a charge of $50 at the door (which does include admission to the next two days), is the preview party for this weekend's big Antiques Show & Sale. Get an early opportunity to see the pieces featured in the 9th Annual Madison Antiques Show & Sale and enjoy wine, cheese and refreshments. Click here for a full calendar of events associated with the show/sale, which will include lectures tomorrow and Saturday at 1 p.m. by Daniel Ackermann, associate curator, Museum of Early Southern Decorative Arts and Old Salem Toy Museum Collection, on Georgia decorative arts at MESDA, and Steve Sherwood, the owner of Sherwood Antiques, on "American Roots: The Creation and Preservation of American Style." A list of dealers at this year's show can also be found at the above link.

GMOA in the News

The Franklin College of Arts and Sciences is plugging the upcoming Willson Center/GMOA Lecture on its site here.

Beverly Pepper

According to Art Daily, Marlborough Gallery, in Chelsea, is about to open a show of Beverly Pepper's small sculptures. Click around on its site for a preview of sorts of one exhibition with which GMOA hopes to open the new building.


While we miss former GMOA registrar Malissa Ryder a lot, it's nice to see what she's been working on. Malissa has a site devoted to her beautiful, delicate watercolor work that you should go check out if you need some Zen time.

We Love This Building

Much as we're looking forward to returning to our lovely offices later this year and our spectacular new building, it's been exciting to walk into the Visual Arts Building some mornings to unexpected delights, like the series of pieces up in the big, open gallery at the end of the hall. Remember Denton Crawford? Well, his flower piece is back, and we suspect that many, if not all, of these others belong to him as well.

Update: According to the postcards he dropped off, Crawford's putting together an exhibition in the building, with a closing reception scheduled for Friday, February 26, from 7 to 9 p.m.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

An "Amazon for the arts"

CultureLabel is a new online shop offering items from more than 70 museum shops, galleries, artists and culture institutions around the world. United Kingdom politicians see the site as a “tool for museums’ survival” and are backing the business. Its creators have called it an “Amazon for the arts” because of the wide array of art-related products.

The site was co-founded by Peter Tullin and Simon Cronshaw, has seven staff members and works with outsourced software and Web designers. CultureLabel has a variety of items, from simple and inexpensive to large and pricey. Such pieces as an Andy Warhol magic cube and an Anish Kapoor limited-edition print are available.

This Andy Warhol magic cube is available on CulturLabel from the Tate.

Popular brands on CultureLabel include the British Museum, the Royal Academy of Arts and the Museum of London. The company is attempting to do more than just sell museum items. CultureLabel is helping the Courtauld Gallery (London) sell e-tickets for exhibitions, developing an iPhone application for the Museum of London and digitally publishing a catalogue for Oxford’s Ashmolean.

Executive chairman David Gilbert said that CultureLabel is currently trying to get three (unnamed) U.S. institutions involved. Click here to learn more about the site and keep it in mind for the next gift-giving occasion! 

Call for Artists

We've got a few of these for you.

First off, Michael Lachowski, member of Pylon, graphic designer and artist about town, theoretical candidate for mayor and much more, is seeking artists to contribute to his 6X6 Media Events, as chronicled on this blog. Here are some of the details:
Athens artists working in experimental, digital media, film, performance, sound, or combination arts: 6X6 wants your work

The 6X6 Media Arts Events will be held monthly from February 2010 to July 2010 in order to provide a forum for submission and curation of media artworks and build a community of participation, review, and response for both audience and practitioner.

The program title “6X6” refers to the structure of the program:

* Six events
* Sixty minutes long each
* Six pieces per event
* Six minutes or less per piece
* Six curators
* Six themes

Pieces are limited in length to six minutes, and no more than six will be selected for any one event. No limitations are placed on what type of work can be submitted except: it must be able to be projected digitally, performed, played via sound system, or some combination. Electronic files and support materials can be submitted via email (up to 5 MB's), CD, DVD, or internet download. Entries with technical problems need to be resolved by the artist or will be withdrawn or rejected. Terms of submission include permission to exhibit both live and online (whether or not selected for a particular event), permission to video tape performances, and permission to include selected work in a compilation DVD. No materials will be returned. Other than these uses, the artists will retain all rights.
A submission form can be found here. In its restrictions, the project kind of reminds us of the Pecha Kucha, which hasn't made it as far as Athens but is thriving in Atlanta.

A bit less hip is the "Give Wildlife a Chance" poster contest, which is geared toward students and sponsored by the Georgia Department of Natural Resources, the State Botanical Garden of Georgia and The Environmental Resources Network, Inc. (T.E.R.N.), with a deadline of March 22. This year's theme is "The Future of Georgia’s Wildlife is in YOUR Hands." To download a pdf of the brochure, click here.

The Gwinnett Citizen just ran an article about the Hudgens Prize, which consists of $50,000 in cash and a solo exhibition for an artist in any medium as long as he or she lives in Georgia full-time and is 18 or older. Jurors are David Kiehl, curator of prints at the Whitney Museum of American Art; Sylvie Fortin, editor-in-chief of ART PAPERS Magazine; and Eungie Joo, Keith Haring Director and Curator of Exhibitions and Public Programs at the New Museum in New York. The deadline for entry is June 4, and more information can be obtained from the Jacqueline Casey Hudgens Center for the Arts Web site.

Athens Academy is looking for mail art and accepting entries of postcard-sized artwork for inclusion in an exhibition there that will be up through March. Both sides of the card will be on display as part of a permanent exhibit at the school. Mail your entries to Lawrence Stueck, Athens Academy, P.O. Box 6548, Athens, GA 30604 or email him at lstueck at for more details.

Art Around Athens

We hope you made it to yesterday's lecture at the Lamar Dodd School of Art by visiting artist Natalie Jeremijenko, even though we didn't have time to tell you about it, but you have another opportunity coming up tomorrow (Thursday, February 18) from 3:30 to 5 p.m. in Dodd Room S150, when she'll participate in a panel discussion of artists and scientists entitled "Art as Experiment." Jeremijenko will be joined on the panel by Mary Pearse, Mark Callahan, Imi Hwangbo, Michael Oliveri, Martijn van Wagtendonk and Dr. Bud Freeman from the School of Ecology. To learn more about Jeremijenko's work, check out the LDSOA Web site.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

The Art of Mardi Gras

There is so much hype surrounding Mardi Gras that sometimes we forget to slow down and take a look at how artistic the holiday really is. Being a Louisiana native, in honor of Fat Tuesday I wanted to take some time to show how much art ties in with the holiday and its festivities. From elaborate floats and costumes to even King Cake, art is an important element of Mardi Gras.

People from everywhere gather in New Orleans for Mardi Gras annually to take part in the celebration. Parades are a huge part of the holiday. Carnival krewes organize all parades and balls for the season. There are many krewes, and each has its own theme every year, reflected in floats and throws. Floats are very large and elaborate, and no two are the same. The floats in the night parades light up the streets when they roll. Blaine Kern Studios started making floats, sculptures and props in the 1940s, and Blaine Kern’s Mardi Gras World creates many of the best New Orleans Mardi Gras parades “from concept to completion.” Click here to see the Web site.

A Blaine Kern float

Krewe members ride on the floats throwing beads, doubloons and other items into the crowd. The krewe members wear intricate costumes on the floats and at balls. The krewes’ royal court members wear larger, more elaborate costumes with beads, feathers and yards of colorful fabric, while the other members wear simpler costumes that tie in with the year’s theme. All float riders wear masks.

Photo from Oliver the Prince of Crown Jewels, Inc.

In addition to the more obvious art seen in floats, costumes and masks, smaller Mardi Gras symbols are also works of art. One less apparent piece of art is the King Cake. The cake has religious background and is a traditional part of Mardi Gras. All King Cakes generally look similar with their oblong shape and icing with purple, green and gold sugar, but some art comes in with the taste. The most basic King Cake tastes like a cinnamon rolll however, bakeries love to come up with new, interesting flavors, including strawberry cream cheese, pecan praline, and chocolate coconut.

From a blog

Throws from floats can also be seen as little works of art. Yes, the plastic beads and doubloons (or coins) are cheap and simple, but they bear the krewe’s crest and logo for the year’s theme. Some krewes even have their own throws made (cups are popular). To me, the art in these trinkets is apparent when I think about the mobs of people at parades shouting, “Throw me something, mister!” to catch whatever float riders are tossing. Everything at Mardi Gras is very symbolic. The colors all have meaning: purple stands for justice, green for faith and gold for power.

If you’re interested in learning more about Mardi Gras, this Web site has a lot of information about the history and traditions of the holiday.

Happy Mardi Gras, everyone! Laissez les bons temps rouler (let the good times roll)!

Monday, February 15, 2010

New airline regulations impose on the art world

In a recent article, the New York Times discusses a new rule on screening cargo that may have major implications for the shipment of works of art. The new rule, which will become effective on August 1, requires that all items shipped as cargo on commercial passenger airplanes will have to go through airline security screening. It is estimated that about 20 percent of art shipped around the world travels this way.

This new rule mandated by the Transportation Security Administration will cause frustrations for those responsible for shipping and safeguarding works of art because airline security will have the option to open and search through carefully secured pieces.

For about a year now, airlines have been required to screen half of their passenger-air cargo. Several categories of cargo, one of them being art, are almost always passed over because of the difficulty of searching and re-packaging such items.

In preparation for the new rule, many large art-shipping companies and museums such as the Museum of Modern Art, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the J. Paul Getty Museum and the National Gallery have enrolled in a federal program that allows them to create secure screening facilities within their own buildings.

However, art-shipping experts say that the burden imposed by these new regulations will fall more heavily on galleries and private dealers, who are more likely to put together shows quickly or strike last-minute deals.

Many in the art world think it unlikely that galleries will set up their own screening facilities because of the space and resource requirements that accompany such a procedure. Instead, galleries will rely on art-shipping companies that have become certified screeners, which will add time and cost to shipping art. Right now, many works of art are packed at galleries or in collectors’ homes.

Another issue with the new airline procedure pointed out by John McCollum, the international shipping manager for Stebich Ridder International, an art-shipping company that has been certified by the federal government to screen cargo, is the frequent use of anonymous parties in art transactions. New rules by the federal government will require airlines to ensure that cargo comes only from known shippers. Under new regulations, hidden parties in art transactions will have a much harder time remaining anonymous.

McCollum and many others in the art world fear that these new regulations will cause many disturbances and inconveniences in the process of packaging and shipping pieces of art.

Artist Vs. Museum

Before learning about the Mass MoCA v. Christoph Büchel case, when I considered the relationship between museums and artists, I imagined a kind of content symbiosis, artist and institution working together as one operational entity. However, it would be naïve to continue to think that neither presents problems for the other. Especially when money is involved, interactions tend to get more volatile. The following story presents a disturbing and uncommon perversion of this already unstable relationship. This is not in any way, shape or form status quo, but I think sometimes we forget the difficulties in arranging an artistic production when money, deadlines and personalities are involved. Moreover, the GMOA blog rarely delves into intellectual property and art theory and this case presents the perfect opportunity to explore the extent to which an artist maintains ownership of his or her art. 

 Christoph Büchel, a Swiss conceptual artist, creates highly sophisticated realist situations where the viewer’s position is elevated to that of a participant within a carbon-copy environment. Artleak describes his work thus: “His detailed installations are three-dimensional renderings of interior spaces and/or situations that often convey extreme psychological mindsets, such as that of a survivalist, a homeless person, or an agoraphobe.” In 2007, Nato Thomson, the curator for the Massachusetts Museum for Contemporary Art, invited Büchel to organize an installation at the museum titled “Training Ground for Democracy.” From the get-go, Thomson and Büchel didn’t get along, but the project was such an exciting one that the two men kept their disagreements to a minimum. The Boston Globe writes, “And despite months of bitter arguments with the artist, the work had begun to take shape. So much had been installed: A 35-foot oil tanker, a two-story house, a carousel of bombs, and an old movie theater, rebuilt down to its water-stained ceiling tiles”. The New York Times described it as a combination of “artifacts of Western culture with scenes from a land of war and paranoia”. 

In no time, completion of the work was indefinitely postponed. The relationship between museum and artist had progressively degenerated, and the museum director and staff decided museum morale was under too much tension to continue working on the project. Due to fuzzy budget delineations, poor communication and a lack of contractual accountability, tension intensified and Büchel left the United States, leaving barely any directions for the museum, which eventually issued an ultimatum, reported in the Boston Globe: “Come back and finish no later than May 25, or pull out. But if you don't come [back to finish the exhibition you have started],” Thompson wrote, “you have two more options. Pay to remove everything in the galleries, and reimburse the museum for the $300,000 to $350,000 it has spent. Or accept that the museum will either remove the material itself or open the unfinished installation to the public.” Büchel called Mass MoCA’s tactics “black-mailing”  and, in a note to his gallery, suggested suing the institution for “a very very big amount of money.” He refused to agree to any of Mass MoCA’s terms. 

In what may have been an attempt to pay for some of the outrageously high production costs, the museum exhibited the work as-is, with some of the elements covered with a tarp (Thomson denies having done so in an interview here). Susan Cross, a curator at Mass MoCA not directly involved in the debacle, emailed Thomson about the ethical and intellectual issues at hand. Her email was used in the court case as evidence that the museum was concerned with preserving the artist’s integrity. She offers some advice to Thomson: “At what point, if at all, does an artist lose his right to owning the idea as his/her “intellectual property”? If the Büchel exhibition is not finished and thus not art, then if we show it to people as is—is it Büchel’s intellectual property—is the unfinished work still “art” or is it just “stuff”—raw materials… I think it is still art and still belongs to Büchel. (think about Huang Yong Ping and the Bat Project—when the Chinese govt dismantled his airplane and put it in the part—even taken apart, wasn’t it still Huang Yong Ping’s?).”  In 2007, the museum sued Büchel to get the opportunity to display his unfinished work or, as Mass MoCA describes it, “seeking a very narrow ruling only on the right to let the public view the materials assembled for the installation”. The judge ruled that the museum had the right to display the exhibit as long as it disclosed that the work wasn’t finished. 

After the decision, Mass MoCA dismantled the project, but the struggle is far from over. The United States Court of Appeals revisited the issue several weeks ago and discovered that the Visual Artists’ Rights Act (VARA) had been overlooked. VARA essentially protects artists against having their names associated with works “in the event of a distortion, mutilation or other modification of the work,” according to the New York Times, which recently published an article on the trial in the appeals court. “The court of appeals, in its ruling, said that evidence it reviewed “would permit a jury to find that the museum forged ahead with the installation in the first half of 2007 knowing that the continuing construction in Büchel’s absence would frustrate — and likely contradict — Büchel’s artistic vision. . . . The appeals panel found that the district judge improperly granted the museum summary judgment in parts of the case and that there were “material disputes of fact” that should be decided by a jury about whether the museum distorted Mr. Büchel’s installation by showing it to several people after making changes in it without his approval” (nytimes).

Mass MoCA’s Web site has its own interpretation of the decision:

"January 28, 2010 Update: We are pleased that the First Circuit upheld the district court's opinion on January 27, 2010, on the Büchel matter in most respects. In particular, the First Circuit affirmed that the museum did not act in violation of any law by covering the unfinished installation from public view, nor did it create any “derivative work” by our considered actions. The court also re-affirmed the district court's denial of Mr. Büchel's various requests for summary judgment.
The court did grant Mr. Büchel the opportunity to return to the district court to once again try to prove his theory that isolated viewings of the unfinished work in progress may have harmed its integrity or his reputation. While we had obviously hoped that this dispute had finally been resolved, should Mr. Büchel decide to proceed further with this case, we are confident that we exercised appropriate curatorial care and diligence in our handling of the work in progress - according to recognized practices that we and most other museums and artists follow in creating such works - and we are prepared to demonstrate that again in court."


Interview with Joe Thomson, director.

Gawker also speaks up about the case, in a funny, lighthearted way.

In the aforementioned article in the Boston Globe, Geoff Edgers includes court documents from the 2007 trial and a great video narrated by Edgers. 

You can also look at the Büchel case brief here.

GMOA in the News

The Athens Banner-Herald ran a nice story this weekend about our upcoming "A Soulful Celebration" event, which honors Dr. Louis and Mrs. Mae Castenell and Black History Month. Remember, this event is coming up in a hurry (Wednesday, February 24), and we need your RSVPs if you're planning on coming to the dinner, which will be catered by The National and cost $40. The subsequent concert is free and open to the public and doesn't require response ahead of time.

Construction Updates from Holder

Well, the snow has melted, and we have the construction update from Holder for the week ending February 12, 2010 below.

Current week - Activities/Issues:
New Gallery / Connector
· Installing 1st Floor Brick
· Continue working on connector roof
· Reworking and insulating existing roof
· Hanging Drywall both 1st and 2nd floor
· Mud and Tape Finish Drywall
· Framing hard ceiling 2nd floor gallery
· MEP trim out hard ceiling
· Installing exterior stairs

Existing Building Renovations
· Continue MEP overhead rough-in
· Continue framing of walls
· Hanging, mudding and finishing drywall
· Rework existing roof
· Demo exterior walls

Storage Bar
· Completed the exterior concrete wall waterproofing / vapor barrier.
· Framing exterior walls and sheathing
· Spray fire proofing
· Exterior brick started

Next week - Activities/Issues:
New Gallery / Connector
· Continue drywall on 2nd Floor
· Continue installing brick 1st Floor
· Curtain wall framing
· Mud, tape and finish drywall
· Framing hard ceilings
· Digging footings and pouring in courtyard
· Continue exterior limestone work
· Continue Standing walls & pouring site walls
· Backfilling site walls
· Pour connector elevated slab
· Start installing connector stairs
· Paint structural steel connector
· Start connector roof

Existing Building Renovations
· Continue hanging drywall
· Mud and tape finishing structure

Storage Bar
· Continue cmu walls on exterior foundation
· Loading new roof with materials and begin moving existing roof on the Art Building.
· Start new roof on storage bar
· Start fireproofing storage bar
· Start bricking storage bar

Interior gallery

Entrance to 1st-floor bathroom in gallery

2nd-floor gallery ceiling

Friday, February 12, 2010

Hide and Seek

Okay, so a lot of what's on Twitter isn't all that useful. We use it, and we find information that's helpful (weather updates, last-minute reminders of events, promotions) in among the junk, but we can understand why you might not be into it. Well, this story from the Chicago Tribune about artists Patrick Skoff and Samantha Brown gives some insight into its very real and large possibilities when it comes to the arts and interacting with your public. The two young painters have been leaving their art around the city, then tweeting its location. If you get there first, you get a painting for free, plus the thrill of the chase. What do the artists get out of it? Fans and publicity, which are about as valuable as cash when you're starting out. Check out their Twitter feed here, and if you happen to be in Chicago (say, at the ongoing College Art Association Conference, where two of our staff members are), maybe you'll end up with something to put on your walls.