Monday, February 28, 2011

Museums Advocacy Day

Today (Feb. 28) and tomorrow (Mar. 1) constitute Museums Advocacy Day 2011, when those who believe in the power and necessity of museums converge on Washington, D.C., to let congress folk hear their voices. Here's how the American Association of Museums describes it:

* Museums Advocacy Day is your chance to stand side by side with fellow advocates from your state and congressional district.
* Museums Advocacy Day is your chance to get valuable training and information about how to effectively engage with your representatives and make the case for museums.
* Museums Advocacy Day is your chance to share a powerful message with your Members of Congress and their staff members on Capitol Hill about policy issues affecting the museum field, and the ways your museum impacts your community.

Now, we know it's probably too late for you to go if you haven't already registered, but this economic impact form is a good thing to know about regardless. Yes, museums affect their communities in a multitude of intangible ways, but not everyone is won over by that kind of argument. AAM provides these figures:

On a national scale, museums are economic engines:

* Museums employ 400,000 Americans, according to the American Association of Museums.
* U.S. museums contribute $21 billion to the American economy each year (2008 estimate), encouraging economic growth in their communities.
* Museums rank among the top three family vacation destinations.
* Trips including cultural and heritage activities comprise one of the most popular and significant segments of the travel industry, accounting for over 23% of all domestic trips.
* Visitors to historic sites and cultural attractions, including museums, stay 53% longer and spend 36% more money than other kinds of tourists.
* Quality of life issues contribute significantly to decisions businesses make in choosing to relocate, including access to cultural resources that includes a dynamic museum community. In fact, according to research by the National Governors Association, “It has been shown that the nonprofit arts and culture industry generates over $166 billion in economic activity annually, supports over 5.7 million full time jobs, and returns over $12 billion in federal income taxes annually. Governments which support the arts on average see a return on investment of over $7 in taxes for every $1 that the government appropriates."

Here's hoping MAD '11 is a tremendous success!

Friday, February 25, 2011

Be An Artist: Get Involved In Participatory Art!

The Christian Science Monitor has an interesting article on the increasing trend of participatory art. Participatory art, which the Monitor calls “crowdsourcing,” creates a new era of inclusiveness for the art world: “It . . . can inspire creativity in people who might never dabble in art. If we open the public to the nature of the creative process and allow them opportunities to experience it, a great humanistic service will have been done.” By definition, participatory art is an approach to making art in which the audience is engaged directly in the creative process, thereby allowing them to become co-creators of the work. Participatory art began in the first half of the 20th century, with the performative and often political projects of the Dada artists, but reached its peak in the 1960s with artists such as Alan Kaprow, who coined the term “Happenings,” and Nam June Paik and Yoko Ono, who were part of the Fluxus network, which embraced performance, mail art, sound art and video.

One of the local art galleries in Athens, Athica, is currently hosting an exhibition concerning the increasing communication between artist and viewer that creates such art titled “Taking Part.” The exhibition includes works by six artists who employ a range of approaches to incorporate input from the public. One interesting piece in the exhibit is Michael Lease’s “Send Me the Pillow That You Dream On,” which involves more than 40 participants who were asked to send the artist four images: a class picture between the ages of 15 and 17, a current picture, a picture of their pillow and a view out a window in their home. The resulting images serve as portraits of individuals—their past and present appearance, their intimate lives, and their environment. The photographs’ accessibility instantly creates a bond between viewer and art, with the viewer easily placing him/herself within the project as a participant by virtue of recognition. Lease’s interest in shared experience and the vernacular reveals the artist’s fascination with the day-to-day lives of others but, more important, stems from his desire to orchestrate a communal experience. The participants in this project are all friends, family and acquaintances of the artist; thus, this collective portrait also serves as a view into his life.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

This Thursday: Lecture and Book Signing with Peter Wood

This Thursday, Feb. 24, Duke University historian Peter H. Wood will present a lecture at GMOA in the M. Smith Griffith Auditorium. His lecture and a book signing will take place from 5 to 6 p.m.

One of Winslow Homer’s most striking paintings, a wartime image of an enslaved black woman in Georgia (above), disappeared for a century after its completion in 1866. The revealing original title, “Near Andersonville,” was not discovered until 1987.

In his lecture, Dr. Wood will delve deeply into this picture for the first time, expanding our view of this great American artist and challenging American culture’s lingering reluctance to confront its own painful past.

Dr. Wood has written extensively on Homer and on black Americans in the colonial South. He taught history at Duke from 1975 to 2008 and recently received the Asher Distinguished Teaching award, given annually by the American Historical Association.

Click here to read more about Dr. Wood, and visit this site for more information about his book “Near Andersonville: Winslow Homer’s Civil War.”

The lecture is organized by the UGA Department of History and co-sponsored by GMOA. Free and open to the public.

Monday, February 21, 2011

CAA New York

Last week I attended the 99th annual conference of the College Art Association (CAA) in New York. The main impetus for my attendance this year was an invitation to participate in a session on technologies used for teaching art and art history called “Digital to Analog: Changing Technologies.” My fellow presenters were Cherise Smith, from the art history faculty at the University of Texas at Austin, and Wendy Redstar, a studio art professor at Portland State University. My paper gave an overview and evaluation of the Georgia Museum of Art’s use of technology for education, as well as our presentation of new media art. Items I covered included our new website and some of its in-the-works additions; our forthcoming smart phone apps; the Second Life version of our museum; our Kress Project and its potential for new media submissions; our collections database and our plans to upgrade it; the digitization of our Pierre Daura finding aid; digital didactics I’m considering for our galleries; and our new media and time-based exhibition programming in our Alonzo and Vallye Dudley Gallery (currently featuring a video by Anthony Goicolea). The audience seemed duly impressed with our many initiatives, and I’m pleased to say that my paper was very well received.

More important, my solicitation for other ideas on how to use technology to further our mission was met with enthusiastic feedback after the session. Perhaps the most exciting idea I heard was from Matthew Lewis (London Metropolitan University), who told me about an iPhone app developed by the Learning Technologies Research Institute, London. This app offers a real-time/real-space digital overlay of what various historic building components looked like in the past and/or their interior construction. One way this might be applicable to us would be to use it for our Menabuoi altarpiece reconstruction in our Kress Gallery, where there is currently a wall drawing that suggests the original ensemble. Building on our wall drawing and incorporating the dismembered Menabuoi panels, such an application might begin by providing information about typical trecento iconographic programs (the placement of saints, for instance). It could then show you images of some of the elements of the altarpiece that have been identified and explain how their exact placements are uncertain (e.g., the three-quarter-length saints in the second register, or the roundel figures at the top). Then you could decide where you think these elements should go: You would hold your iPhone or similar device up, and, on your screen, you would see what the whole thing might have looked like as you move your phone around in front of you. How cool is that!?

This year’s conference offered many other useful sessions, and I was especially gratified to see that more museum-related topics were offered than in the past. Of particular interest to me was one entitled “Making Museums Matter: Integrating Collection and Exhibition Programs with College Curriculum.” Colette Crossman from the Blanton Museum of Art at UT Austin discussed ways to engage chemistry, studio art and art history majors in the galleries through conservation studies programs, which included unframing paintings in the gallery to allow students to further their understanding of technical and stylistic issues. Carin Jacobs (Graduate Theological Union) focused on faculty use of museums’ collections and ways to encourage repeated visits and sustained close looking. One of the best suggestions I heard was to solicit extended label text (the descriptions that sometimes follow the basic label information) from professors in multiple departments. That way, a single work of art might have two, three, or even more labels addressing connections to a wide range of different academic disciplines, all with the authors’ information given. According to Jacobs, this method helps break away from the single, authoritative, institutional voice common to this type of text.

Another particularly relevant session for me was entitled “Recurating,” in which one of the topics was the recreation of historical exhibitions. As I am currently preparing something of a re-creation of the 1930 exhibition of the group Cercle et CarrĂ© (Circle and Square), Reesa Greenberg’s discussion of similar projects involving El Lissitzky’s 1927 Cabinet of Abstraction offered valuable insights about the issues involved in such undertakings. Another noteworthy session (although there were many others of scholarly interest to me) was called “Beyond the Slideshow: Teaching the History of Art and Material Culture in the Age of New Media” and was a good complement to my session. David Jaffee discussed the Digital Media Lab at the Bard Graduate Center, which is a wonderful model for using technology for teaching. Its use of wikis for course materials was especially inspiring. Donald Beetham from Rutgers University presented art-historical uses for Second Life, where GMOA was used as an example of what museums are doing in the virtual world.

In other College Art Association news, Georgia Strange, director of the Lamar Dodd School of Art, was elected to the CAA Board of Directors. Congratulations, Georgia! We're all glad you'll be helping lead this important organization. On a historical note, Lamar Dodd himself was the 1954-56 president of CAA.

Of course, being in New York City, it would have been criminal not to see some art too. I visited some galleries in Chelsea, where the most impressive show I saw was Christian Marclay’s “The Clock” at Paula Cooper Gallery. It’s a 24-hour montage of scenes from different Hollywood movies in which a clock appears. All of the times that appear in Marclay’s video correspond to the actual time the viewer is seeing them. The exhibition has been the rave of the New York art scene, and as Marclay is someone I’ve been following for years—I know him through his interest in music, sound, and visual art--it was great to see him get this kind of recognition.

I managed to make it to MOMA (or at least their second, fourth and fifth floors), the Met (albeit far too briefly), and the Guggenheim for its exhibition “Art in Upheaval: Modern Art from the Guggenheim Collection, 1910–1918," which was also right up my alley. I do have to say that my past adoration of these venerable institutions was diminished somewhat now that I compare every museum to our own newly renovated and expanded facility. We really do have a world-class building and collection! I had hoped to visit the Frick Collection and the New Museum while I was there, but when in NYC, there never seems to be enough time. At least I’ve always got reasons to go back!

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Reopening Reviewed

Art Expands, GMOA's weeklong reopening celebration, was a great success! The Georgia Museum of Art wishes to thank those who made Art Expands possible: the UGA Office of the Senior Vice President for External Affairs, Grant Design Collaborative, the Adsmith, Hotel Indigo Athens, the Friends of the Georgia Museum of Art and all staff members and volunteers.

Updates and Photos from Art Expands

Friday, January 28
Donor Ribbon-Cuttings
Donors who supported GMOA's Phase II expansion inaugurated the named spaces within the museum.

Click here for more photos from this event.

Saturday, January 29
Elegant Salute XII: Metamorphosis and Official Ribbon-Cutting Ceremony
Our family of supporters dined and danced the night away at a sold-out gala event to celebrate the museum’s transformation. The official ribbon-cutting ceremony with UGA president Michael Adams and GMOA director William Underwood Eiland took place during the event.

Photos by Zoomworks. Click here for more photos from this event.

Sunday, January 30
Friends Preview
Friends of GMOA enjoyed exclusive access at this private reception, during which docents and curators gave tours of the galleries.

Monday, January 31
UGA Faculty Lunch and Learn
This special session taught UGA faculty members how to use the museum’s collection as an educational tool in classes.

Physical Plant Staff Appreciation Reception
This reception honored the dedicated individuals who work hard to keep the university running and beautiful.

Tuesday, February 1
Gallery Talk with Anthony Goicolea
Photographer and UGA graduate Anthony Goicolea discussed “snowscape,” his new installation for GMOA.

Wednesday, February 2
Special Reopening Lecture with Beverly Pepper
This lecture by world-renowned sculptor Beverly Pepper in honor of GMOA’s
reopening officially recognized her sculpture “Ascencion” as a new addition to the permanent collection. The sculpture is installed in the Performing and Visual Arts Complex quad.

Thursday, February 3
Reopening Remixed: Student Night at GMOA
More than 2,000 UGA students attended GMOA’s college night, hosted by the GMOA Student Association. The event included music by Sleeping Friends, Reptar and Venice is Sinking; DIY craft projects; a photo booth and tours of the galleries by curators and student docents.

Click here for more photos from this event.

Friday, February 4
Young at Art Presented Modern Skirts
The Young At Art committee of the Friends of GMOA presented Modern Skirts live in concert. Attendees enjoyed this intimate acoustic concert that set the bar high for future Young at Art events.

Saturday, February 5
Family Day:
Reopening Celebration

This super-sized Family Day extravaganza included gallery tours and activities, art projects and an interactive program from Picasso People. More than 600 visitors attended this Family Day, a record in the museum's history.

Click here to see all photos from Art Expands!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

GMOA celebrates Black History Month with Traditions

On Monday, Feb. 28, join GMOA in celebrating Black History Month with Traditions, a patrons’ dinner honoring Mr. Michael Thurmond. An annual event at the Georgia Museum of Art, this year’s Black History Month celebration promises to be memorable as we commemorate the 50th anniversary of the desegregation of the University of Georgia with dinner, dancing and gallery tours.

The evening will begin at 6 p.m. with cocktails in the M. Smith Griffith Grand Hall of the Georgia Museum of Art, followed by a gallery talk at 6:30 p.m. in which Brenda Thompson will discuss GMOA’s current exhibition “Tradition Redefined: The Larry and Brenda Thompson Collection of African American Art.” The evening will also include a performance by the East Athens Educational Dance Center, music by cellist Nick Ogawa and dinner catered by The National.

GMOA is proud to introduce Mr. Michael Thurmond as this year’s guest of honor. In addition to being a Clarke County native, Thurmond boasts the titles of former Commissioner of Labor for the state of Georgia and Democratic nominee for the United States Senate in 2010. In 1986, he became the first African American from Clarke County to be elected to the Georgia General Assembly since Reconstruction. After three terms in the legislature, Thurmond was selected by Governor Zell Miller to direct Georgia’s historic Work First program, an initiative that transitioned over 90,000 welfare-dependent families into the workforce.

Thurmond became a distinguished lecturer at the University of Georgia’s Carl Vinson Institute of Government in 1997. He is currently on the Board of Curators of the Georgia Historical Society and has written two books, “A Story Untold: Black Men and Women in Athens History” and “Freedom: An African-American History of Georgia.” The latter received the Georgia Historical Society’s Lilla Hawes Award and was listed by the Georgia Center for the Book as one of the 25 Books All Georgians Should Read.

To join GMOA in celebrating Black History Month and honoring Michael Thurmond, please R.S.V.P. to 706.542.0830 by Feb. 20. Tickets to this event cost $50 per person. For more information call 706.542.0437 or email For more information on Celebrating Courage: The 50th Anniversary of Desegregation at UGA, please click here.

Traditions is generously sponsored by the Athens Chapter of the Links, Inc.; Dr. Ira and Mrs. Julie Roth; Mr. and Mrs. David Matheny; and the Office of the President of the University of Georgia.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Horizons a Hit

When we decided to host Steinnun Thorarinsdottir's traveling exhibition "Horizons" in our new sculpture garden, we had no idea how popular her cast-iron figures would be in candid photographs. The above one came from Family Day, but people keep sending them to us, so we're going to create a special set on our Flickr page to showcase them. Feel free to send us your snapshots (to, and we'll put them up.

Monday, February 14, 2011


Art Daily has an article this morning about the new exhibition open at the Museum of Modern Art, New York, "Picasso: Guitars 1912-1914."
The exhibition . . . takes as its point of departure two works given to The Museum of Modern Art by Pablo Picasso in the early 1970s: Guitar, assembled from cardboard, paper, wire, glue, and string in 1912, and a second version made of sheet metal in 1914. Unexpectedly humble in subject and unprecedented in mode of execution, the two Guitar constructions resembled no artwork ever seen before. Within Picasso's long career they bracket a remarkably brief yet intensely generative period of material and structural experimentation.
But did you know the Georgia Museum of Art has one of Picasso's guitar drawings on its wall right now? It won't be up for more than about three months, due to the fragile nature of works on paper, but if you come see us soon, it's on display in the H. Randolph Holder Gallery, devoted to works of European art.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Google's Art Project

On February 1, Google unveiled a new feature called Art Project, which allows users to visit and explore some of the world’s most acclaimed museums, including the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam, the Uffizi Gallery in Florence, and the National Gallery in London. Art Project uses street view technology, first introduced with Google Maps, that lets the users “walk” around museums and galleries that they otherwise might not be able to visit. If a user sees a work of art that really catches his or her eye, he or she can zoom in to a high-resolution photo of it, read more info about the artist, find more works by that artist, and watch related YouTube videos. Art Project also allows its users to create their own collection, where they can to save specific views of their favorite works, add comments, and share with friends and family.

The project is an innovative way to expand viewership for prestigious museums and galleries, especially when the users cannot jet off to Madrid to visit the Museo Reina Sofia whenever they want to. Although Google has allowed for users to finally see up-close works from a huge variety of old masters like James McNeill Whistler, Vincent Van Gogh, Gustave Courbet, Rembrandt, Peter Paul Rubens, and Giotto, it cannot replicate the experience of seeing the great works in person. When zooming in to a high- resolution photograph of Vincent Van Gogh’s “Wheat Field with Cypresses” showcased at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the painterly strokes depicted don’t measure up to the thickness, weight and texture that would be visible to the human eye. Also, in Art View, Google’s new feature displays all the works in similar dimensions. The pieces are not compared, but all held on the same scale. This is not representative of the museum experience, in which a viewer can be overwhelmed with the grand scale of work.

Although Google Art Project cannot absolutely replicate the museum-going experience, it does increase an audience for the art world. It teaches people who have never gone through a gallery or museum about the origins and evolution of art through depictions of crucial works of art, and hopefully sparks their interest in such a way that they are inspired to visit their own local museums. So, go check out Google’s Art Project, and when you are done wandering around the Gemaldegalerie in Berlin, come experience the real thing at the Georgia Museum of Art!

Friday, February 04, 2011

Final Reopening Events

As the Georgia Museum of Art’s Grand Reopening comes to a close, remember that we have two more great events tonight and tomorrow.

Tonight, the Young at Art committee of the Friends of the Georgia Museum of Art hosts Modern Skirts live in concert! Modern Skirts have been a staple in the Athens music scene since they formed in early 2004. Initially, the band gained popularity and notoriety due to their high-energy live shows, mostly at the 40 Watt Club. In August 2005, they released their debut album, “Catalogue of Generous Men.” After the release, the album quickly became a standard in Athens and won the band their first of several Athens Music Awards. Their sound is typified by a prominent use of piano derived from the significant influences of groups such as the Beach Boys and their flexible use of song structure that is centered around catchy melodies and memorable hooks similar to those used in Brit-Pop.

The band has spent the last two years touring intensively up and down the East Coast and across the South. During the summer of 2008, they spent two weeks on a European tour, the highlight of which was opening for R.E.M. in Amsterdam and then again in Belgium. Modern Skirts most recently released album, “Gramahawk" (January 2011), reintroduces them as a band honest to their musical tastes and to their desire to create and perform both intellectually crafted and inherently catchy songs. In a review of their new album, Paste Magazine’s Rachel Bailey says that the album, “is a lo-fi, synthy romp through DUIs (‘DUI’), a love song for an ’80s one-hit wonder (‘Jane Child’) and some kind of psychedelic Renaissance fair soundtrack (‘To Be a Branch Davidian’) that, even when it nudges into overwrought territory, is just absurdly fun.”

Friends members $15, non-members $20, or join at the Young at Art membership level in advance or at the door and enter the concert FREE. Young at Art membership is $20 in addition to the regular individual or family membership price.

On Saturday, February 5, GMOA hosts its final Reopening Celebration: Family Day from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Join the Georgia Museum of Art for this super-sized Family Day extravaganza! During the event, you can visit the galleries for docent-led tours and activities, and visit the first floor to create art based on works from the museum’s collection.

At 10:30 a.m. and 1 p.m., Picasso People, an interactive program for children that includes music, mime and puppetry, will be featured in the M. Smith Griffith Auditorium. Learn more about their program at their website:

Family Day programs are sponsored by Heyward Allen Motor Co., Inc., Heyward Allen Toyota, YellowBook USA, and the Friends of the Georgia Museum of Art. They are free and open to all families. Refreshments will be served throughout the event.

Thursday, February 03, 2011

Reopening Remixed is tonight!

Reopening Remixed:
Student Night at GMOA
TONIGHT, 7 p.m.–midnight

Students are invited to GMOA’s college night, a GMOA Student Association-sponsored event. The evening will include music, refreshments, door prizes and tours of the galleries. Free and open to all students.

Decorative arts gallery tours with curator Dale Couch (7–9 p.m.)
Special exhibition tour, Tradition Redefined: The Larry and Brenda Thompson Collection of African American Art, with chief curator Paul Manoguerra (8–8:45 p.m.) and American Scene on Paper: Prints and Drawings from the Schoen Collection, with chief curator Paul Manoguerra (10–10:45 p.m.).

Twenty at Twenty (7:20–11:20 p.m.) Student docents will give 20-minute informal tours at 20 past every hour in the permanent-collection galleries.

The following bands will play in the M. Smith Griffith auditorium:

Sleeping Friends (8–8:45 p.m.)
Reptar (9–10 p.m.)

Sound installation by Will Cullen Hart in the galleries

DIY Craft (7–10 p.m.)
Decorate your own tote bag in the collage-style of some of the artists represented in Tradition Redefined: The Larry and Brenda Thompson Collection of African American Art in the education classroom.

Photo Booth (7–midnight)
Pose with props inspired by works in the permanent collection!

here for the Facebook event. For more information, call 706.542.0437.

Clip from WNEG-TV

Check out this news clip from WNEG-TV about GMOA that includes an interview with Paul Manoguerra, GMOA's chief curator and curator of American art.

Elegant Salute XII: Metamorphosis

After being closed since November 2009, the Georgia Museum of Art has officially reopened! On Saturday, Jan. 29, the museum held its grand re-opening celebration, Elegant Salute XII: Metamorphosis.

The official ribbon-cutting ceremony was led by UGA president Michael F. Adams, along with museum director William U. Eiland and GMOA supporters.

The event was organized by co-chairs Rinne Allen and Betsy Dorminey, as well as by the dedicated members of the fundraising committee, decorations committee, and the staff of the GMOA.

The Metamorphosis motif was fully carried out through meticulous details and decorations. Guests entered the event through a white tent lit by chandeliers where they were greeted with hand-cut butterflies labeled with their table assignment. Origami butterflies were strung throughout the museum and dining tables were showered with whimsical centerpieces made of large wire wings coming from wooden tree stumps.

The night began with cocktails and hors d' oeuvres as guests trickled in to the gala. Dinner was served in the new magnificent M. Smith Griffith Grand Hall. Dinner was followed by dancing in the Jane and Harry Willson Sculpture Garden, which was revealed for the first time from behind a swooping curtain. Guests enjoyed tours of the new galleries and were encouraged to explore the new Georgia Museum of Art throughout the night.

Guests received a limited-edition blind embossed notecards stamped with an origami butterfly. Metamorphosis was catered by Epting Events, and music was provided by Grogus.

Check out Flickr for more photos of this event!

Tuesday, February 01, 2011

Catch a Behind-the-Scenes Look at the Reopening!

The University of Georgia posted a great behind-the-scenes video, produced by Dot Paul, of our staff preparing the galleries for the museum’s reopening. Get a glimpse of the process and see some more of our other new features. You can also read UGA’s article on the reopening here.

“Ascensione” Installed

“Ascensione,” a much anticipated addition to the museum’s permanent collection, descended on a snowy Performing and Visual Arts Complex quad on Thursday, Jan. 13. The site-specific work was created by world-renowned American sculptor Beverly Pepper and is on display for the first time this week during the museum’s reopening. The presence of the sculpture at the museum links Athens to Assisi, the peaceful Umbrian town where Pepper installed a larger version of the sculpture, in Piazza di San Pietro, which, like GMOA, sits atop a high hill, in 2008.

In addition to this massive sculpture, the museum reopened its doors on Jan. 31 with “Stone and Steel: Small Works by Beverly Pepper.” The exhibition features approximately 20 small-scale works in stone and such materials as onyx, porphyry, granite and marble.

“Each stone has its own life and demands,” Pepper wrote in 2010. “Though I use many different kinds, each is a part of one cognate category with many different forms.” A model of “Ascensione” will also be on display as a part of this exhibition.

Pepper studied at Pratt Institute and the Art Students League in New York. She currently works in Todi, Italy, and New York City. In honor of the museum’s reopening, Pepper will give a special lecture on Wednesday, February 2, at 6 p.m. in Ramsey Hall of the Performing Arts Center.

For a sneak peak at the installation of “Ascensione,” check out these photos on our flickr page.