Monday, August 29, 2011

De Wain Valentine

We're sure many of you are familiar by now with De Wain Valentine's "Gray Ring" (seen above), which has a home in the overlook of GMOA's new wing. We are in the middle of planning a major show of Valentine's work, which will open late next year, but in the meantime, please enjoy the following video produced by the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego (MCASD), which focuses on another of his sculptures, featured in its exhibition "Phenomenal: California Light, Space, Surface."

This longer video, also produced by MCASD, explains the exhibition in greater depth and shows some of the other works of art it includes.

Friday, August 26, 2011

GMOA in the News/Video Redo

The Red and Black ran an article yesterday on our student docent program that we hope will encourage even more students to apply for it, especially as today is the deadline to apply for the year. Student docents, like community docents, must commit to one year of involvement with the program and 20 hours of service during the course of one semester. Click here to apply online.

We also had some small edits to make on the Family Day video that was up on the blog briefly before disappearing. Here it is again, courtesy of Larry Forte.

Thursday, August 25, 2011


With Hurricane Irene bearing down on the Northeast, the great Long Island Express hurricane of 1938 will get mentioned many times over the next few days.

[above: Philip Evergood (American, 1901-1973), My Forebears Were Pioneers, 1939. Oil on canvas, 50 x 36 inches. Georgia Museum of Art, University of Georgia; University purchase. GMOA 1974.3190]

An excerpt [ed: links, obviously, not in the original] from 100 American Paintings, our book on the permanent collection:

Philip Evergood’s My Forebears Were Pioneers was on display in the Contemporary American Art Exhibition of the New York World’s Fair in 1939. In her review, noting that “American art and artists have come into their own,” Elizabeth McCausland described the painting in some detail:
In the background is a macabre Victorian Gothic dwelling; across the front yard lies an uprooted tree; in a fantastic rocking chair sits an old women, of the character typified by the phrase ‘D.A.R.’ The compositional integration of these elements and the final unification by a brilliantly bizarre palette of acrid purples, greens, and yellows would suggest that this is an invention of the painter’s fancy. Actually Evergood saw this subject in real life soon after the New England hurricane and through creative imagination transmuted the observed fact into mordant comment.
In many of his paintings, including My Forebears Were Pioneers, Evergood made use of actual events, often layering the image with symbols and allegory that intentionally transcended the precise happening. Ostensibly, the backdrop event for the painting was The Great New England Hurricane, also called The Long Island Express, of 1938 which struck the northeastern United States in late September and resulted in 564 deaths, 15,000 damaged homes, and 3,300 damaged boats. Evergood writes:
We were driving from Cape Cod to New York, going through a little village with all the trees blown down, lying on the lawns, and there was a beautiful, austere old lady—beautiful because she was so ramrod straight—sitting in her chair with an old dog at her feet and a Bible on her knee calmly looking out at the cars going by with the complete destruction of her house and trees lying all over the beautiful lawn. I was impressed by the way that old lady of pioneer stock was unperturbed by anything. Her grandfathers had fought Indians and come over on the Mayflower, and there she was with her Bible, not changed by all that turmoil of nature.
Discussing his reasons for the symbolic and allegorical tiering of meaning, Evergood continues:
Julian Levi, the painter, gave the picture its title. He and [fellow artist] Bruce Mitchell came into my studio while I was struggling with it, and one of them said, ‘It’s funny, Phil, how you seem to deal with topical subjects. I don’t see things that way.’ And I said, ‘Well, it is topical now because we’ve had a hurricane and I saw the old lady sitting there on her lawn, but I don’t like to feel that it will always be topical. I don’t paint to put over topical ideas. I feel very conscious when I develop a theme that it must have universal connotations before I want to put it down in paint.’
Those collective subtexts were noticed by critics when My Forebears Were Pioneers went on display in the late 1930s and 1940s. For example, McCausland, cited above, notes the “D.A.R.,” in this case a specific reference to Grant Wood’s Daughters of Revolution (1932; Cincinnati Art Museum) and the critical understanding of that painting as a populist but satirical comment on the absurdity of xenophobia in a nation of immigrants. Oliver Larkin, in an essay for A.C.A. Gallery’s 1946 show of Evergood’s paintings contrasts My Forebears Were Pioneers with “the crisp immediacy of Hopper” and “the warmly felt picturesqueness of Burchfield.” Larkin asks whether the woman and the scene remain one “of bleak pride, or refined decay,” with the house having “the same battered dignity as the lady” or “something quite different?” Perhaps, Larkin argues, the painting serves as a comment upon “contrast between pioneers to whom trees meant something to be cleared away” and their descendants for whom an old home means “respectable privacy.” Lastly, Larkin notes that perhaps Evergood “has felt and expressed the tragic-comedy” of averting complete destruction for man, but just “by the skin of his teeth.” Herman Baron contended that the painting contained “as much poignancy and social philosophy as is to be found in Chekov’s ‘The Cherry Orchard.’”

Evergood's painting is currently on display in the Nalley (North) Gallery in the new permanent collection wing at the Georgia Museum of Art.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

GMOA in Flagpole Magazine

GMOA's upcoming exhibition, "American Letterpress: The Art of Hatch Show Print" is featured today in Flagpole Magazine. This exhibition illustrates the fascinating fusion of art with popular culture and music history. Featuring the work of one of the nation’s oldest and continuously printing shops—Nashville, Tennessee’s Hatch Show Print—it highlights the uniquely American posters produced to advertise everything from vaudeville shows, state fairs and stock car races to the Grand Ole Opry, Elvis Presley and Herbie Hancock. This exhibition opens this Saturday, August 27 and will run through November 6.

An image of Pierre Daura is also featured today on the magazine's calendar page. Established at the Georgia Museum of Art in 2002 with a gift from Martha Randolph Daura in honor of her father, the Pierre Daura Center contains a collection of paintings, prints, drawings and sculptures by the Catalan-American artist Pierre Daura (1896–1976), who co-founded the important artists’ group Cercle et Carré.

Lamar Dodd Reception

Guests of all ages showed up at a reception hosted by the Friends of the Georgia Museum of Art last Friday in celebration of the exhibition, "Lamar Dodd Paintings and Drawings." Known as the "godfather" of GMOA, Dodd is Georgia's most renowned artist of the 20th century and the namesake of UGA's Lamar Dodd School of Art. The exhibition will be on display through this Sunday, August 28.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Edmund Lewandowski: Precisionism and Beyond

[Above: Edmund Lewandowski, American, 1914-1998, "Gas Company." Watercolor, 1937. Collection of the Racine Art

Museum, Works Progress Administration, Wisconsin Federal Art Project. 16 1/2 x 23 1/2 inches]

The exhibition "Edmund Lewandowski: Precisionism and Beyond" will open at the Georgia Museum of Art (GMOA) at the University of Georgia on Sept. 10 and will run through Dec. 4. Organized by the Flint Institute of Arts in Flint, Mich., this retrospective is the first ever of the artist's work. The exhibition will examine all aspects of Lewandowski's oeuvre, which investigated a wide array of subjects in varied styles and media.

Lewandowski identified himself as a precisionist, a movement that emerged in the United States and reached its peak after World War I. Known for its precise, sharply defined geometrical shapes, precisionism combined cubism and realism and addressed themes, including American industrialization and modernization. Valerie Ann Leeds, Ph.D., who organized this exhibition, quotes Lewandowski as saying, "Our machines are as representative of our culture as temples and sculpture were of the Greeks. They are classically beautiful and represent physically the material progress that the nation has made."

Lewandowski also was an experimental artist, and the exhibition showcases his range, from representational to nonobjective, in his interpretations of subject matter. On display will be "Dynamo," an oil on canvas that combines the strong geometric lines of precisionism with the abstractions reminiscent of cubism. Also in the galleries will be more literal works, such as "Rock Hill Textile Plant" and "Milwaukee Brewery." Leeds also quotes Lewandowski as saying, "Rather than present reality, I try to treat these observations with personal honesty and distill these impressions to visual order."

In addition to industrial-themed imagery, this exhibition also showcases Lewandowski's more vernacular scenes and marine themes. "Marina II" shows a distinct interest in nautical life, gained from his childhood days on the shores of Lake Michigan.

This exhibition is a rare showcase of Lewandowski's work and its critical reception during his lifetime. Although Lewandowski identified himself with precisionism, his work went back and forth between styles throughout the course of his lifetime. His deep interest in industrial imagery was due to an "overwhelming desire through the years" to record "the beauty of man-made objects and [the] energy of American Industry." This exhibition will not only display his works, but also his career as a whole and his impact as a painter and educator. It will be sponsored by Katie and Ian Walker, the W. Newton Morris Charitable Foundation and the Friends of the Georgia Museum of Art.

Friday, August 19, 2011

The Art of Proposal

Yesterday, August 18, Mark Chen asked his beautiful girlfriend Jing to marry him in the galleries of the Georgia Museum of Art! This marks the third engagement that has taken place in museum since the exhibition "The Ring Shows: Then & Now and Putting the Band Back Together" and the third that I have had the pleasure of facilitating.

It is a glorious feeling to watch two people, very much in love, get engaged! The nervous groom wanting everything to be perfect, the unknowing bride-to-be completely clueless then suddenly overwhelmed with excitement, anticipation and sheer joy – the whole experience is unforgettable, and one that I am honored to be included in.

Mark really had it down to an art, despite this being the first (and only) time he had ever proposed to someone. He called me a couple of weeks ago and told me his intention. I was immediately elated at the idea of another museum proposal. We met that weekend at Family Day and walked around discussing the details of the plan.

I was to pose as a security guard at the front desk and wait for them to arrive. When they did, Mark would inquire as to the location of the restrooms. After he walked off and Jing was distracted looking around the lobby, I would walk back to the bathroom hall, where Mark would hand off the ring. We executed it flawlessly!

I got the ring, wished Mark luck (not that he needed any) and hurried up to the second floor to the Radford Gallery to play the ring on a pedestal that I had placed there earlier that day with the help of the preparators. I waited in the gallery, posing as security and guarding the ring till they arrived.

Mark played it cool! He slowly moved his soon-to-be fiancée through the galleries until he brought her to the proposal pedestal. There was her beautiful, princess-cut diamond and platinum ring on display with a label bearing a tender description of the object on view that Mark had written himself.

The moment was so sweet! Mark allowed Jing to read, while they both giggled with childlike excitement, completely giddy, and Jing shook her head in disbelief. Then he slowly picked up the ring, got down on one knee, turned to his love and... well... some nerves always get in the way! He paused holding up the ring, speechless, and ever so sweetly Jing leaned forward and said, "Are you going to say anything?" He laughed, told her he loved her and asked her to marry him.

The reply – "Yes!"

GMOA's Booth at Folk Fest 2011

Mary Koon and I had an adventuresome day yesterday setting up our table at Folk Fest! But, it turned out great and will hopefully catch people's eye and attention. We want as many as Folk Art buffs as possible to know about "All Creatures Great and Small" at the Hartsfield-Jackson Airport.

Here are some pictures of the booth. More pictures to come of my adventures at Folk Fest!

– Jenny Williams, PR Coordinator

Thursday, August 18, 2011

After Hours at GMOA

In case you've missed it in our newsletter, on our website, in your mailbox, on Facebook and elsewhere, GMOA and the Lamar Dodd School of Art are hosting a free reception tomorrow (Friday, Aug. 19), from 5 to 8 p.m. at GMOA and 7 to 9 p.m. at LDSOA, to celebrate "Lamar Dodd: Paintings and Drawings" and "MMXI: Faculty Exhibition 2011." Come have a glass of wine and some snacks with us, then head upstairs to see our wonderful exhibitions and permanent collection before you cross the bridge to the art school to find out what its faculty has been up to lately. We hope we'll see you tomorrow. Remember, parking in lot E11 and surrounding surface lots is free from about 4 p.m., and if you have a UGA parking pass, you can park in the PAC deck for no cost after 5:30 p.m. Click on the invitation above to make it larger.

GMOA in the News

[above: Pierre Daura (American, b. Spain, 1896–1976), The Harp of the Winds, 1940. Oil on beaverboard, 23 1/4 x 23 1/4 inches. Georgia Museum of Art, University of Georgia; Gift of Martha Randolph Daura. GMOA 2003.299]

The Red & Black, UGA's student-run newspaper, ran a nice article this Monday on our most recently opened exhibition, "Introduction to the Centers."

Flagpole magazine mentioned us in articles about online resources for newcomers to Athens and about art around Athens in general. Its annual Guide to Athens is out now, too, both online and in print, and contains a nice blurb about GMOA.

Folk Fest

Slotin Folk Art's annual Folk Fest begins tomorrow (Friday, Aug. 19) at the North Atlanta Trade Center in Norcross and continues through the weekend. Friday admission costs $15, but you get a T-shirt and free weekend readmission. Folk Fest is always a lot of fun, and this year GMOA has a table (which two of our staff members are setting up right now) to promote "All Creatures Great and Small." Stop by and pick up a brochure!

Digging Daura: sketches

Above: Pierre Daura (Catalan-American, 1896-1976), Farm cart, ca. 1940, pen and ink on paper

This installment of the Digging Daura series comes from one of our summer interns, Paul Blakeslee, a senior at Sewanne:

I’ll be honest: cataloging Pierre Daura’s sketches for GMOA has been a startling experience. I like to think that I’m somewhat familiar with 20th-century art. It is, after all, my concentration as an art history major at Sewanee. Before showing up to my first day of work at GMOA, I had had a nagging suspicion that the usual “Gorky begat Hofman begat Pollock begat Rothko begat Motherwell” storyline couldn’t have been the only art being made in the 1940s and ‘50s, but honestly, it makes for a compelling narrative to study.

Imagine my surprise, then, when I realized that my summer would be spent working with works from an artist of whom I had never heard a single word. In first looking through the drawings and paintings I would be cataloguing, I tried to imagine them being shown as slides alongside pieces by Joan Miró or Francis Picabia in a Sewanee seminar room.

As I started working through the objects, studying them for signs of damage and also, from sheer curiosity, trying to figure out Daura’s style, I ended up discovering something entirely different from what I expected. The thing about Pollock’s “Autumn Rhythm” or a Warhol soup can is its permanence and autonomy as an image. The works that are taught in art history classrooms exist in a state of semi-independence from their creators. Each work is at least as important as the person who made it. To a large extent, this seems to come from the artist’s efforts; the works that become famous are finished, polished, and intended to be viewed as art objects.

Pierre Daura’s sketches, on the other hand, are quick pen-and-ink or pencil sketches. Several were obviously drawn on whatever paper Daura had lying around the house. I flipped one piece over and found a picture his daughter had drawn on the back as a toddler. That moment, in particular, left me unsettled. I felt voyeuristic. Here I was, someone only recently introduced to Pierre Daura’s work, pawing through drawings he clearly never intended to display for an audience beyond his family. This wasn’t Art, that monolithic notion of human cultural achievement that I had learned about in the isolation of a college classroom in Tennessee; this was Pierre Daura drawing life as he encountered it, often probably for no other purpose than his own enjoyment.

My feelings of intrusion only intensified when I came across a sketchbook that Daura had filled with sketches of his daughter Martha as an infant. Almost every page bore a caption in imperfect English describing the Daura household from Martha’s point of view. Each picture also bore a date; most of the fifty-four sheets had been filled in the space of two weeks before Christmas of one year. A tangible sense of glee runs through the entire sketchbook.

A biography I read about Daura made it clear that he consciously withdrew from the European art world before World War Two to settle into family life in Lynchburg, Virginia. I live less than an hour from Lynchburg and, I’ll be honest, I think it’s kind of a boring place. I live in northern Virginia, within spitting distance of Washington, D.C., so I’ve always thought of the rest of Virginia as kind of a backwater. Pierre Daura’s landscapes of the countryside around Lynchburg, however, have changed my view. Everything he drew, from haystacks to headstones, is shot through with joy and contentment. Trying to title his landscapes is murderous, though; he often drew nearly identical scenes from nearly identical perspectives. I ended up nearly exhausting every combination of the words “Rockbridge Baths,” “cows,” “barn,” and “pasture” imaginable. However, it became clear as I saw more and more that the works had very little to do with the actual scene being drawn. Instead, the important aspect is the works’ almost transparent transmutation of Pierre Daura’s happiness into a landscape scene. After cataloging almost three hundred drawings, I feel confident in inferring that Pierre Daura had few, if any, regrets about uprooting his life and replanting it in rural Virginia.

My work at GMOA has given me a whole new perspective on art history in general. Studying one man’s unfiltered artistic output has been truly eye opening, and an experience that would have been impossible in a classroom setting.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Family Day Tomorrow

Join us for "Family Day: Abstract Adventures" this Saturday, Aug. 13, from 10 am to noon.

What is abstract art? Visit GMOA’s permanent collection to see some of the museum’s abstract paintings, then head to the first-floor classroom to make an abstract work of your own.

Family Day programs are sponsored by Heyward Allen Motor Co., Inc., Heyward Allen Toyota, YellowBook USA and the Friends of Georgia Museum of Art and are free and open to the public.

Ike and Jane will be open selling snacks, and the Museum Shop has great toys and books for kids. Plus our air-conditioning is first-rate!

Friday, August 05, 2011

"Prints by Women" opens at Arts Clayton

The Georgia Museum of Art, in addition to organizing exhibitions here at its Athens home, provides a slate of traveling exhibitions, available at a reduced cost to Georgia museums and galleries. We are in the process of revamping these, as the ones we had on offer had been around a long time and the works on paper featured in many of them needed some time in a dark, quiet place. The first new traveling exhibition, "Prints by Women: Selected European and American Works from the Georgia Museum of Art," opened at Arts Clayton, in Jonesboro, Ga., this week. First Lady Sandra Deal was in attendance, and she's posing above with GMOA registrar Christy Sinksen. For more on the opening, click here, and for a photo gallery, click here. "Prints by Women" will be at Arts Clayton through Sept. 23.

Wednesday, August 03, 2011

Tuesday, August 02, 2011

The National Museum of Scotland

A 47 million pound renovation, a full-scale replica of a T-Rex, and 8,000 artifacts on display. Good gracious, what could we be talking about? Why the reopening of the National Museum of Scotland, of course! After a three-year revamping, the museum has been taken back to its original Victorian glory. It first opened in 1866 with cutting-edge architecture at the time, but over the years most of its artifacts were tucked away to gather dust in cramped storage spaces. The renovation has changed this, though, said curator Alex Hayward, stating, “We just assembled objects because they were surprising, or beautiful, or thought-provoking.” The full restoration will be completed by 2020, though only small projects remain.