Thursday, August 30, 2018

Annual Smitty Award Presented to Cyndy Harbold

Cyndy Harbold was the recipient of this year's Smitty Award

August 16 brought the Annual Meeting and Reception of the Friends of the Georgia Museum of Art, which highlighted the group’s activities from the past year and featured the presentation of the annual M. Smith Griffith Volunteer of the Year Award. First given in 1998, the “Smitty” award seeks to honor the many enthusiastic volunteers who have given their time and talents to the museum over the years. It is named for Smitty Griffith, a founder of the Friends and one of the museum’s most dedicated and generous patrons. Griffith was the first recipient, and the award has since been presented to more than 20 volunteers nominated by the staff of the museum.

This year’s Smitty Award was presented to Cyndy Harbold, a past president of the Friends and of the museum’s docents. She has given countless tours to a wide variety of audiences since joining the docents in 2009. As president of the Friends, she was instrumental in a complete review of the organization’s gift and income reporting, helping very much to ease the way into the new reporting structure of the UGA Foundation. Her understanding of accounting and her perseverance were essential to getting these seemingly mundane, but very important documents and procedures in place.

Harbold has also volunteered to help organize the Henry D. Green Symposium of the Decorative Arts, a truly monumental undertaking and one in which her assistance was most welcome. She exemplifies the best of what our volunteers can be.

While accepting the award, Harbold said, “When we talk about membership, I think we need to keep in mind that you not only ask someone to join but you take their hand and find something that you know is their spot in this place.” We couldn’t have said it better.

Past recipients of the award include Mae Castenell, Linda Chesnut and Berkeley Minor, as well as many other volunteers who have given selflessly to our organization. The Georgia Museum of Art could not succeed without the work of volunteers like Harbold, and we sincerely thank everyone who has ever donated time or resources to help us provide the best experience possible to the community.

Thursday, August 23, 2018

Museum Acquires Moina Michael Portrait

Portrait of Moina Michael

Many a good idea has been scribbled on the back of an envelope. On November 9, 1918, two days before the armistice that officially ended the First World War, education professor and Athens resident Moina Michael used the back of an envelope to respond to Lt. Col. John McCrae’s poem “In Flanders Field.” McCrae’s last verse bemoaned veterans and casualties of war when abandoned by those they protected:

To you from failing hands we throw the Torch; be yours to hold it high. If ye break faith with us who die, we shall not sleep, though poppies grow in Flanders Field.”

Michael wrote a poem in response, her phrases full of ardent sympathy. Her own last verse reads:

And now the Torch and Poppy Red we wear in honor of our dead. Fear not that ye have died for naught; we'll teach the lesson that ye wrought in Flanders Fields.”

From this moment grew an industry of charity whose worldwide contributions to veterans of WWI would, after adjusting for inflation, sum over $3 billion. Michael began to wear and champion the wearing of red silk poppies in remembrance of fallen and wounded soldiers. After interest within her community grew, she began selling poppies, with the profits benefiting veterans of the Great War. She undertook national letter-writing campaigns, and by 1920 the poppy was designated the official flower of the American Legion. Not only did the proceeds directly assist veterans, but injured veterans considered unfit for labor could be employed crafting these poppies. Michael continued her active role in Athens by teaching classes of disabled servicemen, attending Disabled American Veterans meetings and planting poppies on the campus of the University of Georgia.

Michael’s legacy as “the Poppy Lady” continues, not only in her tradition of remembrance, but in the fabric of Athens itself. The Georgia Museum of Art recently received a donation of a portrait of Michael, painted by Thomas James Delbridge. The work comes to the museum from Michael’s relative Lucia Howard Sizemore, as part of a larger donation to UGA’s Special Collections Libraries. The portrait depicts Michael clothed in white, bearing a solemn expression and a bouquet of red poppies against an austere dark background. Delbridge was born in Atlanta in 1894 and was active in the South and all around the country before his death in Long Island in 1968. His painting “Lower Manhattan” was included in the 2009-10 Smithsonian exhibition “1934: A New Deal for Artists.” His contemplative portrayal of Michael will soon hang near the museum’s exhibition “For Home and Country: World War I Posters from the Blum Collection.”

Organized by Georgia Museum of Art director William U. Eiland with the assistance of head preparatory Todd Rivers, the exhibition highlights propaganda posters from across the world, including the United States, Great Britain, France and Germany. These posters put a unified image to struggle and created a singular effort behind which all citizens could rally. The exhibition invites viewers to investigate the means by which governments on either side of the conflict gathered and maintained support from their citizens. “For Home and Country” can be found in the Boone and George-Ann Knox Gallery II until November 11, 2018. You can read more about the exhibition here.

Penske McCormack
Intern, Department of Communications

Thursday, August 16, 2018

Daisy Craddock to Speak at Georgia Museum of Art

One of the Daisy Craddock paintings on display at the Georgia Museum of Art

A native of Memphis, Daisy Craddock received her training in Tennessee and here at the University of Georgia, where she received a master of fine arts degree in painting. She then moved to New York City and became involved in conservation, later establishing her own practice specializing in postwar and modern art.

Her work has taken two distinct, though not unrelated, directions. One is an ongoing series of square pieces of paper drenched with color. Craddock utilizes pastel and oil stick to craft finely tuned color studies — a sort of mash-up between Josef Albers and Mark Rothko. She has recently conceived these works as a series of diptychs, with one panel representing the outside of fruits of vegetables and the other their insides, simultaneously abstract and realist. They present the world literally but so reframed through manipulating scale that the viewer is delocalized—just what are we looking at? 

A similar sense of the familiar and the unknown pervades Craddock’s landscapes, two of which are on view in the Georgia Museum of Art’s M. Smith Griffith Grand Hall and one of which (a recent gift) is upstairs, in the museum’s permanent collection galleries. Humans are absent, but the works are not lonely. Salmon-colored passages suggest winding paths, leading us into meditation with nature. The paintings are nostalgic, invoking all the sensory memories of summer days, but they are not sentimental. The landscape is also not an arcadia, but rather an intimate portrait of the artist’s favorite subject: trees.

Her seemingly impulsive brushwork provides a sense of vitality. Many of her early landscapes were painted with bits of sponge at a time when so-called “neo-expressionism” was in vogue in the marketplace and critical circles. The tools create a brushy, breezy quickness, which belies the artist’s slow and deliberate approach to creating. The oft-hectic brushwork further disguises her inherently minimalist compositions. This is the tree reduced to its most essential form.

Comparisons of her work to impressionism are easy and often made. The artist cites color-field theory and Bay Area abstraction as more prominent influences in her masses of color and pared-down forms. The foreground, midground and background merge and separate variously, creating movement and depth within the composition while invoking the proverbial debate between the forest and the trees.

Craddock’s works are on view through October 15, 2018, and the artist will speak at the museum at 3 p.m. on Friday, August 31. Her lecture is titled, “Paintings from the Early Eighties, in Context” and will touch upon her early influences as a young MFA candidate as well as her experiences living and working in New York City. You can learn more about Craddock and her work on her website.

Joseph Litts
Former Assistant to the Director

Thursday, August 09, 2018

New Acquisitions at the Georgia Museum of Art

Recently, the museum graciously accepted the Colquitt family’s donation of two representative portraits by George Cooke, which will bring the museum’s holdings of Cooke’s work to five, and the campus-wide holdings to seven. Amazingly, these two portraits have remained together in the Colquitt family since they were painted in the mid-19th century. They depict Mr. and Mrs. Walter Terry Colquitt, most likely in commemoration of their 1841 wedding. It was also around this time that Colquitt served as both senator and congressman of Georgia, and it is after him that Colquitt County, Georgia, is named.

In addition to their excellent provenance and great condition, these two portraits provide skillful examples of Cooke’s middle-period style, as well as his affinity for creating portraits of couples. Although he became involved in the Hudson River school of landscape painting, Cooke stayed true to his love of portraiture throughout his career. The museum is lucky to have examples of both aspects of Cooke’s work, landscape being represented in his oil painting “Tallulah Falls” (1841) and portraiture in his “Portrait of Mary Hattaway Curry and Her Son, John” (1847), both currently on display in the permanent collection.

The University of Georgia is privileged in its access to one of the most extensive known collections of George Cooke’s paintings in the world. The UGA Chapel is home to a Cooke masterpiece, the 17 x 23–foot oil painting “Interior of St. Peter’s Cathedral,” painted from 1846 to 1847. This work is believed to be one of the largest oil paintings created during the time period and demonstrates an exquisite use of trompe-l’oeil. Another notable work, “View of Athens from Carr’s Hill,” belongs to UGA’s Special Collections Library. It was painted in 1843 when Cooke was visiting Athens, a city to which he would eventually move in order to enjoy “the hospitality of the truly Athenian people.”