art · beauty · culture · hollywood glamour · luxury

Opulence . . . Because We Deserve It

Here are a few images of the most opulent things I’ve seen in the past week. Just thought I’d share these divine Faberge eggs that I saw at Virginia Museum of Fine Arts. The eggs are exquisite works of art that capture the idealized beauty and fragility of the Russian monarchy. I love that these objects represent the intersection of history, art, and culture. Cheers to opulence and abundance!

art · culture · relaxation

Flowers At The Museum

Hi friends! I know that I missed the Writers Wednesday post yesterday, but since it’s the first couple of days of NaNoWriMo, I don’t have much to say. I’m still figuring out exactly what I want to write, so an entire update post was sort of unnecessary. I figured this paragraph would be more than enough to explain what’s going on. Now, back to the topic at hand …

Recently, I went to Virginia Museum of Fine Art (VMFA) with a group of brand new friends. After enjoying tea in the museum’s garden, we checked out the Fine Art and Flowers exhibition. This was a 5-day long exhibition that featured fresh flower arrangements inspired by some of the museum’s current art installations.

I only wish I had more time to see all of the arrangements (it would take at least two visits to make sure that I saw all of the flowers). But what I saw, I enjoyed immensely. Here are some pictures from the exhibition:

Display in the atrium
Close up of the atrium display
Arrangement influenced by Dragon-Shaped Pendant (artist unknown) by Laura Brooks and Lisa Vawter of the Garden Club of Middle Peninsula, King William County, VA
Arrangement inspired by Deer in Landscapes of Summer and Winter (Mori Kansai) by Helena Arouca and Julie Madden of Ikebana of Richmond, Sangetsu School, Waynesboro VA
Arrangement inspired by Queen Anne of Denmark, Wife of James I (Workshop of Marcus Gheeraerts) by Diane Burgess, River Road Garden Club, Crozier, Richmond Designers’ Guild
Arrangement inspired by Piazza San Marco (Francesco Guardi) by Gladys Lewis and June Hambrick, Leesburg Garden Club, Leesburg VA
Another angle of the arrangement inspired by Piazza San Marco

I saw a few more arrangements but didn’t have the chance to photograph them. The flowers were such a bright, welcome addition to the museum. I didn’t bother getting the map of the locations of all of the arrangements: I preferred to discover them on my own. I loved how it was almost like a scavenger hunt to locate the arrangements! If this year is any indication, then I can comfortably say that the creativity of the floral artists will wow us for years to come. I can’t wait to see the floral arrangements next year!

art · culture

Celebrating the Arts

One of the greatest joys of my life was visiting museums. Prior to 2019, I regularly worked in Washington, DC, which meant that I could easily go to a major museum during my lunch break or after work. I loved walking those corridors and taking in art from all around the world, as well as art that documented the history of America. Nothing was as soothing to me as spending time at the Smithsonian and checking out the latest exhibitions.

However, things changed drastically at the end of 2018. I was unable to walk more than a few feet without getting winded, I could only sleep for an hour or so at a time, and the unrelenting body aches that I experienced left me frustrated and frightened. As someone that was used to being far more active, I was terrified of these mysterious symptoms that took away my basic abilities to navigate the world like I’d previously done. As it turns out, I had fibromyalgia, and I immediately started a telework schedule that would allow me to rest as needed throughout the day. Unfortunately, my condition made traveling to DC absolute torture. So, I had to put my museum mini-trips on hold until my health improved.

I still haven’t gone back to visit the museums in DC, though I have spent some time at my local museum earlier this year (I was thrilled to finally be able to walk around a bit without experiencing excruciating pain). However, it’s National Arts and Humanities Month, and I just want to take a moment to share some of the amazing things happening at the Smithsonian in honor of this month-long celebration.

On October 23rd, the Smithsonian will be kicking off its own craft show. The show will occur virtually, and the theme is Celebrating American Artistry. The crafts featured in the show are created by carefully selected artisans that create work that reflects American aesthetics and sensibilities. What better way to celebrate art than to purchase some for yourself? Interested shoppers can securely purchase items through the Smithsonian platform, adding a layer of assurance for both shoppers and the craftspeople that are involved in the exchange. The event ends on October 31st.

The Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, the Asian art museum within the Smithsonian, is the host of the DC Turkish Film Festival. The films that are featured in this festival are all available online for free, so anyone can enjoy from the comfort of their homes. The films will be available through the Sackler Gallery through October 31st.

The companion to the Sackler Gallery is the Freer Gallery. At the Freer Gallery, the Hokusai: Mad About Painting exhibition is a fascinating dive into the art of Katsushika Hokusai, a Japanese artist that is arguably among the country’s most famous painters. The Freer Gallery has an impressive collection of Hokusai’s work, and anyone interested in learning more about this gifted artist would do well to check out this exhibition. But hurry: it will only be at the gallery until January 9, 2022.

The National Museum of African Art (located just one block from the Free and Sackler Galleries) is currently displaying Heroes: Principles of African Greatness, an exhibition that centers on how art is used to tell the stories of heroism and the traits of effective African leaders. This one is definitely worth checking out sooner rather than later, since the end date for this exhibition is still to be announced. Nothing is worse that postponing a visit and finding out that you mistimed your travel and lost the opportunity to do something that you wanted to do (trust me: it’s happened to me, and it was no fun!)

Finally, the Archive of American Art is hosting the exhibition, What is Feminist Art? This exhibition is a continuation of a discussion that was initiated back in 1976, and some of the same artists that participated in the 1970s also participated this time around. This exhibition promises to be an eye-opening discussion on feminism and how it has changed, or remained the same, over the past 45+ years. This exhibition closes on December 31st.

Would you check out any of these exhibitions? Or, do you have other plans to celebrate National Arts and Humanities Month? I’d love to hear all about it in the comments below!

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The Met Turns 151!

Happy Tuesday, friends! On this day, 151 years ago, the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City was granted an Act of Incorporation. This means that today is the Met’s birthday!

Google Doodle commemorating the Met’s 151st birthday

Now, I’ve not been to the Met yet, and, seeing as how I probably won’t be going to New York this year, I can’t say for sure when I will visit. But this impressive museum is on my bucket list, and for good reason. The museum has over 2 million works in its permanent collection and is by far one of the most famous art museums in the United States. As a matter of fact, they have multiple works by my favorite Neoclassicist, Jean-Leon Gerome (you all remember that I wrote about how much I love Gerome’s work in this post and in this one).

However, my admiration of the Met includes a serious criticism. One thing that has made me raise an eyebrow at the Met is the decision in 2018 to start charging $25 for most out-of-state and foreign visitors. The original Act of Incorporation indicates that the Met should be free in perpetuity, but museum president Daniel Weiss decided to break tradition and start charging fees. At first glance, it seems like a shameless money grab (and in many ways, it is), but it’s a little more complicated than that. This decision to charge fees was allowed by the City of New York, in exchange for decreasing the Met’s funding from the city. These funds that are no longer going to the Met have been allocated to increasing “artistic diversity” and will support other facilities that give a platform to more diverse creatives.

However, ever so often, we get to see balanced restored in our world, and what seems like fairness reappears for a brief shining moment (if you know the reference, leave it in the comments!). Yes, the Met collected fees in 2018, 2019, and the early part of 2020. However, COVID-19 reduced the annual visitors from nearly 6.5 million per year to just over 1 million. The loss of revenue has left the museum in the awkward position of deciding whether to deaccession or sell of part of its collection, just to cover their expenses.

I can’t say that I’m not partially amused that greed came back to bite the Met, but my chuckles are tempered by two things. Firstly, this loss of revenue caused 20% of the Met’s staff to lose their jobs (this saddens me tremendously). Secondly, this is even more motivation to keep the admission fees, as the Met will need to build up its cash reserves and avoid becoming insolvent as best it can. Now, I’m sure that the Met will do just fine (I don’t foresee any long-term closures, especially now that there are safe visiting procedures in place). I’m just concerned that COVID-19 may have built a stronger case for admission fees than anything that the museum could have offered in a public statement.

So, today, I’m celebrating the Met, praying that they eliminate the admission fees, and keeping my fingers crossed that I may be able to purchase a Gerome sketch during some sort of auction of the Met’s works. A girl can dream, right?

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5 Things That Will Transform the Art Market

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As part of my personal study of the art market, I like to see if I can predict trends and spot opportunities within this realm.

I identified 5 things that are poised to cause a complete shift in the art world as we know it. Continue reading to learn about what I suspect will completely transform the art market.

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Cryptocurrency – Cryptocurrency and blockchain technology will continue to be a factor in the art market. Both the legal and black markets will thrive due to the fact that cryptocurrency makes it easier to exchange value without dealing with traditionally recognized currency. Blockchain can be repurposed to assist with provenance research and the public nature of its design will continue to transform how art is traded and sold.

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The Push for Diversity in Museum Leadership and Galleries – After the Brooklyn Museum faced tremendous backlash over hiring a White curator for its African Art department, a spotlight was shone on the lack of diversity within the museum world. Since then, there have been numerous discussions over how the art world will rise to the occasion and foster a more diverse environment. Even the New York Times has asked questions about the ethnic makeup of the world of art dealing. Obviously, there is a lot of potential here and the museums and galleries that take the lead in this regard will position themselves to stay current and relevant in these ever-changing times.

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Elimination of Section 1031 Provisions – With the implementation of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act in 2017, Section 1031 of the tax code eliminated the loophole that allowed art investors to defer the realization of capital gains for an indefinite period of time. This has sent investors scrambling to devise a new tax strategy when it comes to the sale and later purchase of art. Fortunately, there are some preliminary measures that will offer an alternative to Section 1031, though it will take some creative accounting and subject matter mastery to execute properly. It’ll be exciting to see what other innovations come along that will benefit art investors.

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Virtual Art Galleries – In this increasingly digital world, it should be no surprise that the virtual art gallery will account for a healthy portion of art sales. Virtual galleries appeal to a previously unexplored group of patrons: this virtual space combines the collectors that want to enjoy art but are too busy to go browse a gallery in person with the art lovers that may have initially been intimidated by going to a gallery in person. The flexibility and ease of purchase will continue to appeal to many art enthusiasts, and I imagine that this form of art vending will continue to grow in popularity. A few of the most popular online art vendors can be found by clicking here.

Barack Obama  as painted by Kehinde Wiley; Michelle Obama as painted by Amy Sherald

Renewed Interest in Artists of Color – Artists of color are not unpopular but have largely been ignored or relegated to “supporting” roles in art museums and galleries. However, there has been a renewed interest in artists of color, especially since these artists have many influential fans and collectors. Barack and Michelle Obama both chose Black artist to create their official Presidential and First Lady portraits. High profile collectors are seeking to carve a space for these artists that will allow the artwork to shine in its own right. Pamela Joyner has graciously allowed her personal collection to be exhibited nationwide in the Solidary and Solitary exhibition. In a recent article on Artnet, Tina Knowles Lawson gives a tour of her art collection. Collectors aren’t the only ones bringing artists of color into the spotlight. Within the past 10 years, there have been more retrospectives featuring artists of color than ever before. A retrospective of Howardena Pindell’s work is slated to exhibit at Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, and it’s already gathering lots of buzz.

 

Those are my predictions for the changes that will transform the art market. Do you have any predictions that you think may affect the art world as we know it? Let me know in the comments below: I’d love to hear your thoughts!

 

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Howardena Pindell – A Lifetime of Creation

A few weeks ago, I attended a lecture on contemporary abstract artist Howardena Pindell. Pindell’s video, Free, White and 21, was my introduction to her work. I saw the video as part of my online art course through Coursera. I found the video fascinating and have always been curious about the woman behind it.

Pindell’s work will be making a stop at Virginia Museum of Fine Art (VMFA) in August 2018. The work is part of her “What Remains to Be Seen” tour, an exhibit reflecting upon Pindell’s 50+ year career. Artists like Pindell, Betye Saar, Lorraine O’Grady and Senga Nengudi inspire me for their daring and provocative work and their insistence upon carving a space for Black, avant garde conceptual artists. Pindell’s work is thought provoking and highly detailed: it features a great deal of precision, texture and movement, all of which enhance the viewer experience. I’m looking forward to experiencing her art when it comes to VMFA!

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(photo courtesy of Nathan Keay, Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago)

 

You can watch Pindell’s stirring reflections in Free, White and 21 here (or you can just click the play button below):

 

life curation

Live Your Best Life: Hobbies to Help You Heal

Happy Friday, friends! We made it through the week, and what a week it was. The East Coast is getting some truly spring-like weather, and I’m excited for the warmer days to come!

As you all have already seen, I’ve been sharing some of the things I used to help recover after devastating life events (for me, specifically, my divorce, but also the loss of several close family members and friends). In this post, I’m going to share some of the hobbies that helped me move through my pain and heal my heart.

For starters, I want to add a disclaimer: you can and should seek professional help if you want or need a qualified individual to help you with your problems. Nothing that I’m recommending should be considered a replacement for clinical treatments and professional counseling.

That being said, here are some of the hobbies I used during my recovery and how these hobbies helped me:

  • Enjoying art: I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again – art saved me from my darkest moments. Spending time in museums, creating my own art, and learning more about artists and their works helped me tremendously during my lowest points. There’s something very magical about being able to mentally “escape”, transcending time and space, as you view a piece of art. Also, creating art did wonders for helping me to work out some of my frustrations and to take the “sting” out of my losses.

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  • Traveling: One of my best friends advised taking a trip prior to any big decision, as the change in scenery and routine does wonders for giving you fresh perspective. During those painful years, I took several trips that helped me to clear my mind and reconnect to the joys that I experienced in years prior. Physically visiting different locations impacted me on levels that I couldn’t experience if I had stayed at home. Travel was wonderful for helping me to navigate my pain.

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  • Writing: To be honest, I couldn’t always verbalize my emotions. There were a lot of days where the feeling would be in my chest, even in my throat, but I couldn’t speak the pain that I felt. When my voice failed me, my pen was ever ready to capture the emotions that I felt but couldn’t vocalize. At one point, I wanted to reread my journal entries, but I have since decided against that.  Those journals have served their highest purpose already: they were my voice’s proxy. I am thankful for the ability to give myself some relief when I felt nothing but despair.

writing

  • Exercising: I’m not obsessive about fitness, but it was a mighty powerful tool that I used during my healing process. Aside from the physical effects (the release of endorphins that lifted my mood), the repetition of certain physical movements provided me with a rhythmic experience that required that I focus on the present moment and temporarily suspend my emotions. Exercise literally took my mind off of my problems, giving me some much needed relief.

exercise

  • Fine dining/wine tasting: I’ve already shown my love and appreciation of good food and wine on this blog numerous times. However, I’ve never mentioned how much I employed these sensory pleasures during my healing phase. I learned about different cuisines and prepared 4 and 5 course meals at home. The discipline, effort and precision involved with designing and preparing elaborate meals was a satisfying creative effort. And trying new wines, while learning to hone in on the elements that I enjoy most, enhanced my dining experience. You have to be careful with this one: restraint and knowing your personal limits are key.

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Those are the hobbies that I used to help cope and heal from my pain. I hope that these may be helpful for lifting your spirits during the low times. Take care, and enjoy your weekend!