Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Tradition Redefined

When the Georgia Museum of Art first opened its doors after construction of the new additions and renovations to the facility, one of the first exhibitions to grace our halls was “Tradition Redefined: The Larry and Brenda Thompson Collection of African American Art.”
Initially, the collection was a travelling exhibition from a private collection and organized by the David C. Driskell Center for the Study of Visual Arts and Culture of African American and the African Diaspora at the University of Maryland, College Park. “Tradition Redefined” comprises 72 works dating from 2007 back to the 1890s. The 67 artists, both celebrated and regional, who produced these paintings and sculptures were picked by the Thompsons for their “untraditional” narratives and conventions of presenting African American art and the African American diaspora. Little did we know, however, that the exhibition would become a prized component of our permanent collection.

Radcliffe Bailey

The Thompsons generously donated their collection to the museum in 2011, during the 50th-anniversary celebration of the University of Georgia’s desegregation, as well as providing the financial support to create a new curatorial position at the museum: the Larry D. and Brenda A. Thompson Curator of the African Diaspora. This curator will oversee the museum’s collection of paintings, sculptures, and other artistic media by African and African American artists as well as being an adjunct faculty member of the Lamar Dodd School of Art. This is not the first time the Thompsons participated in the museum’s and the university’s academic affairs. Larry, as a former U.S. deputy attorney general, has spoken numerous times at the university since 2001, and taught for a brief time at UGA’s law school as the John A. Sibley Professor in Corporate and Business Law before being recalled to PepsiCo. Brenda currently serves on the Board of Trustees for the Barnes Foundation and the Board of the Clark Atlanta University Art Galleries. She also joined the museum’s Board of Advisors in 2011. Obviously, it would be a gross understatement to say that the Thompsons value education.

Stephanie Jackson

The collection itself has given more variety and depth to the museum’s new galleries, but for the moment it has moved on from GMOA. An exhibition such as this one should be shared with as many people as possible, and “Tradition Redefined” is currently on display at the Rice University Art Gallery in Houston, Texas, as part of the university’s centennial celebration, where it will be until Nov. 18. Along with 15 other commemorative exhibitions around Rice, “Tradition Redefined” will help highlight and celebrate the 100 years of change that transformed Rice from a small university close to the middle of nowhere to an international and educational success. After that, the collection will travel to Knoxville, Tenn., to be featured in the Knoxville Museum of Art April 11 through June 16, 2013.
If you have the opportunity to see "Tradition Redefined" at Rice, the Knoxville Museum of Art or elsewhere on the road, we hope you stop by and take a look at it, as well as at any of our other travelling exhibitions on tour. As part of our mission, GMOA supports and promotes the spread of the visual arts as tools of education, but it is up to our patrons, both near and far, to use them.

Museum Mix!

If you remember July 12, then you probably remember spending at least part of the night at the Georgia Museum of Art, and I don’t mean as part of a gallery tour. We call it Museum Mix, and we’ve got another one on the night of Oct. 24!
The party starts at 8 pm and will finish up at midnight, although we do have another event at 7 if you would like to attend: Interview in the Galleries, where you can join special guests Julie Martin and Robert Whitman for a discussion of Experiment in Art and Technology (E.A.T) and “The New York Collection for Stockholm.”
 Entrance, music and the drinks are free (although we must remind you that we can only serve alcohol to people 21 years of age or older—you’ll need to get a wristband at the registration table to get cleared). The sponsors for the evening are Full Circle Realty, Earth Fare, Terrapin Beer Company, Greg Hall and Company, Fast Signs, United Distribution and Allagash Brewing/Victory Brewing/Innis & Gunn Brewing/Reed’s Ginger Ale. We also have a co-promoting sponsor, Athens Fashion Collective.
The music will be provided by DJ Black Dominoes of Atlanta, so get ready to dance the night away, but if you want to take a break from the dance floor, you’re also free to go upstairs and have a look in the galleries—along with our permanent collection, you can see the Orpheus relief, our exhibition of Belleek porcelain, the documentary on De Wain Valentine’s “Gray Column,” “The Look of Love” and everything else we have on display.
             If you’d like more information, you can follow us on Tumblr or join the event on our Facebook page. We can’t wait to see you there!

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Holbrook to Marshall

The Walker Art Center in Minneapolis has a wonderful blog post up [here] detailing J. LeRoy Davidson and his curatorial role in the Advancing American Art program at the State Department. Davidson and the 1946 exhibition are the subject of an exhibition--Art Interrupted: Advancing American Art and the Politics of Cultural Diplomacy--now open at the Jule Collins Smith Museum of Fine Art at Auburn. The show will be at the Georgia Museum of Art next autumn...

The Walker's blog post has a letter written by Daniel Defenbacher, the Walker’s director, to Secretary of State George Marshall protesting the end of the State Department's program overseen by Davidson.

In the archives in the C.L. Morehead Jr. Center for the Study of American Art at the Georgia Museum of Art, we have a letter dated 12 May 1947 from our first director/curator, Alfred Holbrook, to Secretary Marshall as well:
In it, Holbrook writes: "It would seem that the criticisms I have read, in the newspaper furor that has been created, results from an art taste that is 25 years behind the times."

Friday, October 12, 2012

Happy Birthday, Charlie Lucas!

Today we celebrate the birth of Charlie “Tin Man” Lucas, born in 1951, in Autauga County, Ala. Lucas was one of 14 children born to a father who was an auto mechanic and taught his children how to dismantle an engine and put it back together. Lucas’ grandfather was a gunsmith, his grandmother was a weaver and his great-grandfather was a blacksmith—it was almost pre-determined for Lucas to end up working as a sculptor with scrap metal. That much was evident from an early age, when he would make his own toys out of household items and scraps instead of playing with his siblings.
Lucas left home at the age of 14, working and travelling from town to town as a painter to support himself, even making it as far as Florida. Six years on the road passed by before he returned to Autauga County to reunite with his childhood sweetheart Annie Lykes. They married in 1971 and had six children of their own. Lucas continued to work as an artist, painting more often than sculpting, but in 1984 he sustained a serious back injury that kept him bedridden for almost a year. A devout man and poor at the time, Lucas prayed for the inspiration to do something with his work that had never been seen or done.
His prayer was answered, as Lucas returned to metalworking with a newfound fervor and passion that drove him like nothing else. He began constructing his original and unique sculptures from scrap yards and dumps, turning objects that others threw away into incredible works of art. To this day, Lucas incorporates his whimsical and personal vision in his folk art. Even though the junk metal may look crude and ugly, Lucas makes it into something beautiful as his reflection on life—there are ugly and crude moments, but it is up to us, as our own artists, to make it into something amazing. A prime example of this is "Girl with Balloons," which resides in the Georgia Museum of Art’s permanent collection.

"Girl With Balloons"
Charlie Lucas

Lucas maintains many homes, including in Selma, Ala., where he used to collaborate with his neighbor, the late Kathryn Tucker in making this “scrap art”. Additionally, Lucas has written multiple books, including “In the Belly of the Ship,” a collection of stories, and “Tin Man,” an autobiographical work.
If you’d like to have a look at Lucas’ work, then we invite you to come to the GMOA, find the girl with the bike-wheel balloons and celebrate with her today!

Tuesday, October 02, 2012

The Look of Love

September is over; already the weather is starting to cool down and the leaves are turning from green into crisp gold and starting to fall. It is time to say goodbye to summer, but with the heat starting to abate (at least a little!), I’m sure many of us would be more than happy to see it go. The Georgia Museum of Art has its own way of welcoming autumn with a new and very special exhibition.
Along with what we currently have on display, The Look of Love: Eye Miniatures from the Skier Collection will open on Saturday, Oct. 6. The exhibition is the first of its kind in that it features solely lover’s eye jewelry, an expression of intimacy between lovers created and used primarily in the late 1700s and early 1800s in England. Secret lovers would have miniature portraits of each other’s eyes made into brooches, rings, pendants or bracelets, many of them depicting the eye and a wisp of hair, hinting at an identity but never revealing it. In most cases, the painted eye could only be recognized by intimately familiar couples, while others would merely see a fancy trinket. The trend of eye jewelry was started by the Prince of Wales at the time (later George IV), possibly to maintain a form of intimacy with his multiple mistresses. Eventually, these miniature marvels came to be used for family members as mementos or for mourning pieces, containing the eye of the dearly departed.

The collection, put together by David and Nan Skier, contains more than 100 objects, making it the largest collection of lover’s eyes in the world. The Birmingham Museum of Art organized the exhibition and created an iPad app to present alongside the collection, providing additional information about and magnifications of each personal work of art. GMOA’s Henry D. Green Curator of Decorative Arts Dale Couch will serve as the in-house curator of the exhibition, which is sponsored by the W. Newton Morris Charitable foundation and the Friends of the Georgia Museum of Art.
Throughout the month of October we’ll celebrate the arrival of the exhibition; the Collectors of the Georgia Museum of Art will organize an exclusive dinner and private tour of the exhibition as soon as it opens on Oct. 6. What’s more is that Nan Skier, the collector,  will lead the tour. Space is limited, so please call 706.542.GMOA (4662) to reserve a ticket! There will be another chance to receive a tour from both Skiers on Sunday, Oct. 7, during a Gallery Talk from 1 to 2 p.m. Additionally we’ll have a Family Day event on Saturday, Oct. 13, from 10 a.m. to noon, which will involve participants making their own spooky eye miniatures in time for Halloween. To cap it off there will be another Gallery Talk, “Cult of the Dead,” on Wednesday, Oct. 31, from 2 to 3 p.m. with Tricia Miller, our head registrar,  who will discuss trends in sentimentality and mourning such as lover’s eye jewelry, needle work, gravestone imagery and cemetery design.
If you would like to see priceless works of art or make some of your own, please feel free to come in at any time during our hours or plan to come to one of our events! We would be more than happy for you to stop by and enjoy the perks of October as much as we will!