Thursday, June 28, 2018

Georgia Museum of Art Staff Works Together on a Very Good Puzzle

In any office environment, it is easy to get lost in your screens and pages for eight hours each day, chatting only with those in your immediate vicinity. This pattern has recently been broken at the Georgia Museum of Art thanks to 2,000 pieces of cardboard.

The Very Good Puzzle Company is an Athens business that specializes in creating puzzles from artists and journalists whose work they find interesting or compelling. Michael Lachowski, who received their first two puzzles as a gift from co-owner Brian Dixon, brought them to the museum for the staff to enjoy. The two puzzles both feature works by Lou Kregel (“Chrysanthemums” and “Five Star Day”), and while the finished products are beautiful, the construction is anything but effortless.
Staff members and volunteers work on the second puzzle from The Very Good Puzzle Company
Putting together these puzzles has become a refreshing break from the routine for staff members and volunteers at the museum. Shawnya Harris, Paula Arscott and Ashlyn Davis all shared their thoughts on this communal activity, stating that it helps them de-stress from hectic workdays and feel a sense of accomplishment as the picture from the box starts to become clearer.

“[The staff has] bonded over the puzzles,” Arscott stated. She explained that she has had the opportunity to talk to people with whom she doesn’t normally interact on a day-to-day basis. Harris and Davis quickly expressed similar sentiments. Davis, who is a relatively new intern at the museum, stated that she has met a lot more of the staff because of the puzzles.

By watching the puzzle construction in action, it is clear that this is a great shared experience. As each piece is put into its proper place, exclamations and congratulations are not far behind, and strategies are discussed with thoughtful consideration.

Is it better to complete the edges of the puzzle first? Do you look for each piece primarily by color or shape? Is it acceptable to work on the puzzle instead of going out to lunch? These questions have all been debated within the course of the last few weeks, but the answers are less important than the unanticipated amount of fun the staff has had putting these images together piece by piece. Conversations that would seem absurd two weeks ago – “I’m looking for two prongs in blue with just a smudge of black.” – are now uttered without a second thought.

If you would like to purchase these puzzles to try them for yourself, you may purchase them at Avid Bookshop or the Very Good Puzzle website.

Thursday, June 21, 2018

Works by Cheryl Goldsleger on View at Georgia Museum of Art

Goldsleger's work is currently on display at the Georgia Museum of Art

Cheryl Goldsleger, a native of Philadelphia, received her training there, in Rome and in St. Louis before coming south to teach and to create. Many viewers have responded to her early work (which is architectonic and features numerous empty chairs scattered throughout physically impossible buildings) with feelings of desolation. Is the viewer encountering the aftermath of a party or meeting or something post-apocalyptic? To Goldsleger, however, these spaces are just that: spaces.

Although “construction” is a word rarely used in the context of “fine” art (outside constructivism), it’s a good locus for Goldsleger’s process. The artist utilizes an inherently layered approach and has experimented extensively with 3D printing since the mid-1990s. Starting with encaustic (hot-wax) painting, she built layers of color and line on the supports. Wanting to investigate further the idea of built space, she built her paintings out from the wall by incorporating printed architectural models. The 3D-printing process Goldsleger uses dates from the early 1990s and creates wax objects. Blending these wax objects with encaustic painting was a natural progression.

Interest in architectural and construction plans brought a renewed interest in the gesture and act of drawing, as seen in the works currently on view at the Georgia Museum of Art. They began as large panels of stretched canvas, which Goldsleger primed until they were comparable to a traditional paper surface. The resulting drawings can be displayed without protective glazing and offer a much larger scale beyond the traditional limitations imposed by papermaking. 

The works on view at the museum originated in a 2012 project with the National Academy of Sciences, in Washington, D.C. Goldsleger began the series with archival blueprints of the academy, at a time when it was undergoing restoration to return the building to its original form. Bertram Grosvenor Goodhue drafted the original plans, and Goldsleger was able to examine critically not only the plans, but also building reports, invoices, bills and correspondence. She steeped herself in the history of the building to such an extent those involved with the physical restoration contacted her for information!
Details from Goldsleger's work
That said, these works are not literal plans of the building. Goldsleger has abandoned the pristine skin that is the hallmark of contemporary spaces to reveal more complicated environments. Her layers of graphite build a “poetry of lines in space and a geometry of analytical spaces,” as she writes. The works invite us to consider how space impacts us, how it unconsciously can force us to behave in certain ways, fostering or prohibiting actions and ideas.

These two works will be on view in the main lobby of the museum until July 23. You can learn more about the artist and her work here.

Joseph Litts
Assistant to the Director

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Seeing the Museum Through the Eyes of Security Supervisor Michael Dean

Portrait of Michael Dean by Christie Newman
We recently met with Michael Dean, security supervisor at the Georgia Museum of Art, for a conversation and impromptu tour through the galleries. As part of the security staff, Dean has spent hundreds of hours in the galleries, which grants him a unique perspective on the museum and its collection. Read on for the compelling insights and joy he finds in working and living surrounded by art.

Interviewer: What led you to work at the Georgia Museum of Art in particular; had you worked for other museums or galleries in the past?
Dean: I’m a long-time Athens resident, and I was [previously] working on North Campus for the graduate school – a sit-down office job that involved staring at a computer all day. It could be stimulating at times because I was reviewing dissertations, but after a while I wanted something that got me on my feet and moving around more like a museum or library. Someplace where there’s some beauty, knowledge and interest.

What does a normal work day look like for you and the other guards?
What we do is pretty varied. I do a fair amount of paperwork, it’s still more or less an office job, but I get to get out on the floor as well. Essentially I’m a supervisor.

How do you stay engaged while working in the galleries themselves?
When I’m out there; if there are patrons, you’re required to be where they are to keep an eye on them without being intrusive, but if there are no patrons, I’ll typically look at the art.

As we walked through the galleries, Michael pointed out paintings; some because he enjoyed them and others for their value as talking points with patrons. We went to the Kress Gallery, which holds Italian Renaissance paintings of mostly, if not entirely Christian religious figures, for an example.

There are patrons for whom the presence of the guards makes them nervous, they don’t like being watched. So it’s nice to come up with conversation points to break the ice a little bit. One of them that I use is this work right here (“St. Paul and St. Augustine”). What strikes me about this work what I think sets it apart from everything else in the room, is that the artist actually used men of color. Everyone else in here is lily white, but there’s almost no chance any of these figures were caucasian. That work always jumps out at me because it probably is much closer to what those men looked like in real life.

"St. Paul and St. Augustine"
What is your favorite part about your job?
Being able to get up and move around and interact with people. At my old job, I was delighted when the phone rang because I got to speak to another human being, but here I get to be social every day.

Which traveling exhibition have you found the most memorable?
Actually, it’s up right now [through Sunday] – the Buddhist exhibition. I’m always amazed that I’m standing in there with craftsmanship and art that was created in the 3rd century. The age of it in and of itself is awe inspiring to me.

Which painting or paintings in the permanent collection are your favorite(s)?
Paul Cadmus's "Playground"
(In reference to Paul Cadmus’sPlayground”) I was a Cadmus fan before I even came here. I’ve always liked Cadmus because when he does these urban cityscapes and magical realism thing, every figure seems to have a story. There’s something going on with everybody in here. What I like is the variety of each figure and the notion that everyone’s got a narrative.

Jared French's "Music"
(In reference to Jared French’s “Music”) The first time I looked at it I thought to myself: these, to me, look like celestial figures. From the colors, I think of the center figure as the sun, the right as the earth and the left as the sea.

How does art fit into your life outside the museum?
I’ve always had an interest in it. I always used to confuse my roommates; in my first year of undergrad the poster merchants came through Tate, and all my friends would buy, say, Cindy Crawford. The first one I bought was [an Albert] Bierstadt print. I would put this up and whoever I was rooming with would always be confused because I had a Bierstadt landscape on the wall.

What’s the value of seeing works of art in person?
My first response to art is always immediate, visceral. Or it takes me someplace. When you work in a museum, and you’re around it every day, I think it broadens your appreciation. This is colored by my job because part of what we do is we’re meant to protect the art. Our old guard Ed [Tant] used to say, “our job is to protect art from art lovers,” because that’s the number-one threat out there. They want to get right up to the painting; it always breaks your heart a little bit because the people you usually want to correct are the people who love it the most. Yet, as for the value of being able to see art in person, there’s a star quality you could say. In a sense, you’re in the same place as that artist.

Savannah Guenthner
Intern, Department of Communications

Thursday, June 07, 2018

Georgia Museum of Art Seeks New Volunteer Docents

Docents at the Georgia Museum of Art help lead tour groups of all ages
In addition to the programs, exhibitions and special events that visitors enjoy at the Georgia Museum of Art each week, there is currently another unique opportunity to get involved at the museum. We are accepting applications for volunteer docents, who help lead museum tours. Through these tours, docents help museum visitors feel welcome and comfortable, enhance their educational experience and facilitate relevant connections with works of art.

The ideal candidate for our docent program has a passion for art and is looking to share that passion with groups of all ages. There are no age or education requirements for this position, as we have had docents ranging from students to retirees. All of our volunteer docents are key in contributing to the success of the museum.

Applicants do not have to worry if they do not have a strong background in art or education, as all training is provided. This program requires a 2-year commitment, 12 tours per each year and continuing education attendance on select Monday mornings. The training program allows docents to learn tour techniques, shadow experienced docents and eventually practice their own tours.

If you are currently a student, you can apply for our student docent corps, which requires a fall and spring semester commitment, 12 tours and continuing-education attendance on select Thursday evenings.

If you are interested in becoming a volunteer docent, you can contact Sage Kincaid at or 706.542.0448 for more information. You may also click here to fill out our online docent application or here to fill out our student docent application.