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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A Trip to the Dirty South

After many months of staying inside and avoiding gathering in public places, I finally ventured out and visited my beloved local museum, the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts (VMFA). The museum reopened a while ago but it’s been well over a year since I’ve visited. It was a little eerie to return to the museum: it took me a moment to reacquaint myself with the layout. But once I started walking around a bit, it all came back to me.

For anyone that has not visited VMFA before, let me tell you, it is a gorgeous museum with incredible permanent and visiting exhibitions. If you’re in the area, it’s definitely worth checking out. And, if you’re visiting anytime before September 6, 2021, you can view a very special exhibition that highlights Southern artistry and creativity. The Dirty South: Contemporary Art, Material Culture, and the Sonic Impulse gives visitors a peak into the energy and dynamism of 20th century Southern Black American culture and artistry. According to VMFA’s website, the exhibition, “[…] chronicles the pervasive sonic and visual parallels that have served to shape the contemporary landscape, and looks deeply into the frameworks of landscape, religion, and the Black body—deep meditative repositories of thought and expression.” This fascinating exhibition combines both visual and audio art, to create a truly immerse creative experience.

Naturally, I took pictures while I was at the museum though, for this visit, I focused more on savoring the fact that I was finally visiting this beautiful space after a long year. Here’s a little bit of the Dirty South experience:

Cadillac in the museum atrium that greets visitors
Southern Landscape (1941) by Richmond’s own Eldzier Cortor (1916-2015)
House Sun Tree (Landscape with Sun Setting, SC) (nd) by William H. Johnson (1901-1970)
Saint Expedite I (1971) by Joe Overstreet (1933-2019)
Khemestry (2017) by Sanford Biggers (born 1970)
Gamin (1940) by Augusta Savage (1892-1962)
From Asterisks in Dockery (2012) by Rodney McMillan (born in 1969)

I hope you all enjoyed the photographs! And if you have a chance to visit the exhibition, I highly recommend that you check it out: it’s worth a visit, for sure!

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!

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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.

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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!

 

 

 

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Review: Nasher Museum of Art

During my trip to Raleigh, I had a chance to tour the Nasher Museum of Art (Nasher). The museum is located on Duke University’s campus and was easy to find. Nasher’s focus is contemporary art from artists of color, though there were several exhibits that covered ancient and more modern periods of time.

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I spent a few hours enjoying the exhibits and taking a few pictures for you all. I will be doing a separate post about one (maybe two) of the exhibits that really caught my eye. Until then, enjoy!

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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!

 

art · international

Portuguese Contemporary Art in Richmond, VA

Recently, I had the pleasure of visiting one of my favorite museums, Virginia Museum of Fine Art (VMFA) to view the exhibit, Contemporary Art from Portugal. As you all know, I’m currently studying the Portuguese language so this exhibit was an obvious choice. Also, last month (June) signified Portugal’s 900th anniversary of being a sovereign nation (Go Portugal!)  so there are nationwide events commemorating this incredible event. This exhibit was one of many of the commemorative events happening all over the country, and I’m delighted that my hometown participated in the festivities.

I’m beginning to really love contemporary art: this is REAL progress, as I’m a huge fan of Impressionism and Neoclassicism. I’m opening my horizons and making an effort to embrace newness and innovation, and I was very pleased with the exhibit. I’m  happy that I got to learn a little about some of the artists representing Portugal. These artists are tremendously talented and are a great representation of what this wonderful country has to offer.

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Info card from the exhibit

The exhibit featured work from Helena Almeida, Fernando Calhou, Ruy Leitão, and several other notable artists. The exhibit was small but impactful: I was fascinated by the the drawings and paintings enough to start doing my own research on Portuguese artists. As with pretty much all research that I do, I learned of a rich cultural heritage among Portuguese contemporary artists. I am fascinated by what I’ve learned and I’m eager to learn more as time goes on.

In the meantime, here are a few of the works that I viewed. If you are interested in checking out the exhibit for yourself, it will be at VMFA until July 22, 2018, so you still have time. However, if a trip to Richmond, VA is out of the question, you should check out your local museum to see if there are any Portuguese art or cultural exhibits on display. Just go to Facebook’s Month of Portugal page for details

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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):

 

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Institute for Contemporary Arts Opening Next Week!

I’m so excited, and I just can’t hide it! (Pointer Sisters reference, for those that are unfamiliar) I’ve been waiting for this since I first heard about it last year. And now we’re less than 10 days away from the grand event!

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Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) is opening the Institute for Contemporary Arts (ICA) in Richmond, VA. The ICA will feature different contemporary arts exhibits and act as an “experimental” space for art discussions and initiatives. This is one of the most exciting institutions to come to Richmond in quite some time, and I’ll be there on Saturday, April 21, 2018, when the ICA hosts its grand opening festivities!

That’s all for today. Have a great Friday, and I’ll chat with you all tomorrow!