art · life curation

My Art Highlights for 2018

After a fantastic year of enjoying art, I thought it would be good for me to post some of my highlights from the last 12 months.

There really are too many highlights to cram into one post but I’m going to do my best!

I started this year off with viewing the terracotta army statues from China. As you all know, I visited China a few years ago and fell in love, so seeing the statues was like getting a taste of authentic China. I loved it and had a great time viewing the exhibition.

Next, nothing could top seeing Kenyan art while in Kenya! I wrote a post about Tom Mboya as well as some other Kenyan artists that I enjoyed. Getting to see art overseas is always a treat, since there is no guarantee that I will see these artists’ works stateside.

Paintings by Tom Mboya

I viewed Portuguese contemporary art at the Virginia Museum of Fine Art and was reminded of my goal to visit Portugal within the next 2 years. Just so you all know, I’ll be resuming my Portuguese language lessons in the upcoming year. I mean it: I’m going to speak Portuguese so that I can enjoy my trip and get around a little better than the average tourist.

At the Smithsonian American Art Museum and Archives of American Art, I viewed the exquisite and timeless work of Edmonia Lewis. I’m still impressed by her masterful handling of marble and her amazing ability when it comes to depicting her subjects with dignity and full of emotion. I was so impressed with her work that I recently did a comparison of her work with a similarly themed piece, because I simply can’t get tired of discussing Lewis’s work!

IMG_3570

The Death of Cleopatra by Edmonia Lewis

I thoroughly enjoyed seeing Amy Sherald’s work at the National Portrait Gallery. Her portrait of Michelle Obama is a beautiful and unique interpretation of the former First Lady’s beauty, quiet resilience and charm. Seeing the painting in person impressed me far more than I expected, especially since Sherald’s signature technique forgoes capturing the rich tones of the subjects’ natural complexion and paints skin tone in greyscale, forcing art appreciators to focus on the expressions, posing, and attire depicted. I’m going to view some more of her work and maybe I’ll do an analysis of her style.

I also took a trip to Philadelphia and enjoyed the Philadelphia Museum of Art. There was so much art that I had to make a Part 1 and Part 2 to capture all of what I saw with my visit. I was delighted to see a Jean Leon Gerome painting that I’d never seen before.

img_5715

Night Flight by Howardena Pindell

I ended my year with the Howardena Pindell exhibition, that I loved so much that I had to visit it multiple times. Pindell is a living treasure, and I am thrilled that I got to see such a comprehensive retrospective of her work.

Those are my art highlights for 2018. I’m looking forward to bringing you all more art and more adventures in 2019!

 

 

 

art

Leaving Soon – Smithsonian Exhibitions Leaving in January 2019

Happy Sunday! It’s a dreary, rainy Sunday in central Virginia but here’s hoping the weather is more pleasant wherever you are.

If you are planning any trips to the Northern Virginia/District of Columbia/Maryland area during January 2019, then you’ll want to carve out a little time to visit the Smithsonian Institute, one of the most extensive museum collectives in the world. And, if you’re an art lover (like me), you’ll probably want to know which exhibitions are leaving so you won’t miss them during your visit.

npg-1968opening

Visitors at the National Collection of Fine Arts touring a gallery of contemporary art by Unidentified Artist, Photo Blow-up, 1968, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington, D.C. (as seen in the Celebrating Fifty Years exhibition)

So, for your visiting convenience, here is a list of Smithsonian exhibitions slated to leave the Institute in January 2019. They are organized from early in January to the end of January, so you know which ones to check out first. Enjoy!

January 1 – In Memoriam: George Herbert Walker Bush (National Portrait Gallery)

January 4 – Pushing the Envelope: Mail Art from the Archives of American Art (Archives of American Art Lawrence A. Fleischman Gallery)

January 6 – Celebrating Fifty Years (National Portrait Gallery)

January 6 – UnSeen: Our Past in a New Light, Ken Gonzales-Day and Titus Kaphar (National Portrait Gallery)

January 6 – Trevor Paglen: Sites Unseen (Smithsonian American Art Museum)

January 6 – Let’s Get It Right: Work Incentive Posters of the 1920s (National Museum of American History)

nmah-work-poster

One of the work posters in the Let’s Get It Right exhibition

January 21 – No Spectators: The Art of Burning Man (Renwick Gallery)

January 21 – Diane Arbus: A box of ten photographs (Smithsonian American Art Museum)

dianearbus

One of the prints shown at the Diane Arbus exhibition (Diane Arbus, A woman with her baby monkey, N.J. 1971)

January 24 – Japan Modern: Photography from the Gloria Katz and Willard Huyck Collection (Arthur M. Sackler Gallery [Sackler Gallery])

Daikon Embankment Woodblock print

Kawase Hasui, Daikon Embankment (from the series Twelve Scenes of Tokyo), 1920 (as featured in the Japan Modern exhibition at the Sackler Gallery)

January 24 – Japan Modern: Prints in the Age of Photography (Sackler Gallery)

January 27 – Charline von Heyl: Snake Eyes (Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden)

 

I hope this list helps you plan a fun and art-filled trip to the Washington, DC area! Take care, and enjoy your Sunday!

art

Online Courses for Creating Art

Happy Thursday, beloveds! I am getting excited for the upcoming weekend – how about you? I hope your day is going well and I also hope that you have a lot to look forward to in the days ahead.

I know that I write a lot about the arts, because art is one of my passions. However, I tend to write from the perspective of the art appreciator/collector. As a result, I think that I may have neglected some of the aspiring artists that might be reading this blog and wanting more information about honing their craft.

art2

Well, that comes to an end today! This post is all about free online courses for aspiring artists. Yes, the art instruction that you may need to close the knowledge gap for certain techniques and skills can be found online, for free. This is especially useful if you are trying to keep educational costs low while you practice your art.

The first link I’m sharing is Artyfactory, where aspiring artists can learn techniques for working with different media (pencil, charcoal, acrylic and more) as well as how to create different types of art (portraits, still drawing, animals, etc.,). The website looks very minimal, but since the courses are free, I’m sure the owners of the site would appreciate visitors clicking on the ads and supporting in any way that you can.

art1

The next site, Art Prof, was first highlighted in this article on Artsy (one of my favorite sites!). I really like the format of Art Prof, and the courses are especially useful for artists that are trying to master more advanced techniques (like oil painting, working with balsa wood, stop motion animation, and more). Art Prof has a Patreon page so it’s easy to donate and keep this website free for all users.

I hope you all find these resources useful! Enjoy, and I’ll talk to you all tomorrow.

art

Art Basel Miami 2018: Beginner’s Guides from All Over the Web

Happy Sunday, friends! I’m currently watching snow fall outside of my window (an unseasonably early snowfall for central Virginia) and wishing I had made the trek to Art Basel in Miami! 81 degree temperatures sound like heaven right now!

art

I couldn’t make the trip but I’m living vicariously through the videos I’ve seen and articles I’ve read about the event. If you too couldn’t attend, here are some of my favorite Art Basel Miami guides for this year. Enjoy!

Here’s a basic guide for those new to Art Basel:

And here is an etiquette-specific guide for newbies:

A recent article by Vox provides a great written summary of what to expect from Art Basel Miami 2018. I sometimes find it helpful to have a written guide that I can compare with audio/video information and that I can scribble on to capture additional notes.

Do you have any Art Basel guides to share? Please feel free to post them in the comments below!

 

art

A Tale of Two Cleopatras: Comparing and Contrasting Art

Happy Thursday, friends! After a recent trip to Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, I found myself with a few art photos that I wanted to share with you all, but I wanted to do something a little different. Instead of sharing the photos and simply telling you what I think about it, I decided that it would be more fun to compare the art with a similarly themed piece that I’ve also viewed in person. That way, I can describe the similarities, differences, and which piece I favor most.

(from left to right) Edmonia Lewis, The Death of Cleopatra; William Wetmore Story, Cleopatra

As you can see from the title, I’m comparing two marble Cleopatras today. The first work was part of my review of Edmonia Lewis’s work at the Archives of American Art (housed in the Smithsonian American Art Museum). Lewis’s The Death of Cleopatra was easily one of my favorite marble works of art at the museum.

IMG_3574

Photos of Lewis’s version of Cleopatra

The second Cleopatra is by William Wetmore Story, and is located at VMFA. This Cleopatra – his earliest version of the tragic Egyptian queen – is located in the American galleries at the museum. The massive work sits imposingly in the gallery and, in true queenly fashion, all other art in the room are dwarfed by the stunning Cleopatra.

img_5822

To keep this focused strictly on the works themselves, I avoided reading up on Wetmore Story. So there won’t be a comparison of the artists’ lives or legacies, but we will get into these pieces and discuss what they have in common and how they differ.

For starters, the subject is the same with both pieces. Both depict Queen Cleopatra, and (interestingly) both of the pieces portray her as having traditionally Greco-Roman facial features (kudos to the artists for remaining historically accurate when it came to her face). Both statues are massive: Lewis’s is a bit taller, but the posture is different, so they are actually very close in size. Amusingly, both also depict Cleopatra with one breast exposed. Perhaps they knew something about traditional Egyptian dress that I don’t?

While both of these Cleopatras are regal and elegant, the theme of the works couldn’t be more different. Wetmore Story’s Cleopatra is pensive and in deep contemplation: she is troubled by something and has probably just asked her servants to give her some privacy. Is she thinking about lost loves, or the impending downfall of her rule? Her mind may be racing over any number of things.

img_5821

Lewis’s Cleopatra has just committed suicide and is dying on her throne as her last royal act. She has just closed her eyes and her left arm has fallen limply to her side. Even in death, her face is struggling to relax comfortably: this queen is pained to the grave.

IMG_3571

As far as fine detailing on the pieces, I’m a fan of Wetmore Story’s version. To be fair, Lewis’s work had been exposed to considerable environmental elements and poor handling, so the sculpture isn’t as impeccably detailed as it (likely) once was.

My favorite Cleopatra is probably Lewis’s version, for this reason: she captured death and pain without making it grotesque or unnaturally pretty. This Cleopatra is finding it difficult to “rest in peace” but, ever the royal, she makes us feel pride, and not pity, for her. Wetmore Story’s Cleopatra is enchanting, for sure: I loved how well he captured her troubled mental state behind her stoic, regal expression. His Cleopatra is alive with emotion; however, Lewis’s Cleopatra moves us even in death.

That’s my not-so-quick comparison of two Cleopatras. I hope you all enjoyed and will make it a goal to see both of these beautiful works at some point in time. Enjoy your day, and I’ll chat with you all tomorrow!

 

art

A Few More Pictures from “What Remains to Be Seen”

I have a few more pictures from the exhibit, “What Remains to Be Seen”, featuring the works of Howardena Pindell. I wrote about the exhibit previously, but I returned to see it one more time before it left. Pindell’s work left a huge impression on me, if you couldn’t tell!

I hope you all enjoy these final glimpses of the exhibition. I will treasure the time that I spent learning about Pindell and marveling over her work. Stopping by VMFA one more time before the exhibition left was a wise decision: I’m glad that I did it!

art · culture

Howardena Pindell’s “What Remains to Be Seen” at VMFA

A few months ago, I went to a special event at Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, announcing an upcoming exhibition. That exhibition was a retrospective of the creative career of Howardena Pindell, multimedia artist, activist and professor. “What Remains to be Seen” is an impressive ouevre that showcases Pindell’s evolution as an artist, and is broken down into the different phases of her life and creative journey.

Today (November 25) is the last day to see the works, so I’m heading to the museum shortly so I can enjoy them one last time before they leave. However, I’ve got a few pictures for you all in this post, some additional commentary (of course LOL!) as well as a YouTube video of Pindell’s most famous short, “Free, White and 21”. Enjoy!

img_5688

Howardena Pindell

img_5689

Pindell’s use of grids and numbers created some of her most riveting work. I love seeing how she turns numbers and otherwise sterile, math-related tools and objects, into art.

img_5692

The 3-d grid below is a good example of the blend of art and math. It’s probably one of my favorite works by her.

img_5695

 

img_5696

The tiny individual circles affixed to many of Pindell’s pieces reveal her love of mathematic perfection reinterpreted. These pieces, attached to the grids she loved to work with, were occasionally numbered individually.

Like many artists, Pindell sought to promote cultural shifts through activism. Her works also featured socio-political themes that were near and dear to her.

img_5701

 

One of my favorite themes explored by Pindell was that of science. Closely related to her mathematics fascination, her interpretation of natural phenomenon and wonders created some of her most aesthetically charming works (though, to be honest, I love all of her work and find it all aesthetically pleasing). I especially loved “Nautilus” and “Night Flight” (pictures are below).

img_5706

 

Finally, here is “Free, White and 21”, Pindell’s video experiment where she aims to repair her memory loss (caused by a serious car accident) by recalling memories from earlier in her life.