art · culture · life curation · luxury

Artful Moments

It’s Women’s History Month, and I wanted to share some art created by a female artist of yesteryear: one that is especially meaningful when considered through the lens of current issues.

Artemisia Gentileschi is (I believe) the only female Renaissance artist with surviving pieces credited to her. She painted in a style similar to Caravaggio (my favorite Renaissance artist) and was brilliant and skilled in her own right: she was particularly gifted when it came to portraying the female body and in her use of light and colors. Unfortunately, most of what we were originally told about her was related to the fact that she was raped by fellow artist Agostino Tassi (who was convicted of rape after the case went to trial). It’s a shame that this gifted artist was, for many years, known as a victim that transferred her own trauma into art.

Gentileschi is so much more than what she experienced, and I’m glad that art historians are finally giving her story the balanced interpretation that it deserves. As someone that just learned about her in the past few years, I never thought I’d get to see her work in person (there really aren’t that many Renaissance art pieces by high profile artists outside of the major museums in large cities) without traveling outside of my city.

However, there was a surprise for me, waiting right at my local museum, Virginia Museum of Fine Art. As I browsed the Renaissance section, I stopped at a lovely painting that I hadn’t noticed before. I looked at the identification card and, lo and behold, there was a Gentileschi painting!

I’m so glad that I got to experience the creative genius of Gentileschi right in my own backyard. I really liked her use of light in the painting: it looks like someone had just opened a window and let it stream across Venus’s body. I also love that Cupid remains only partially in the light, emphasizing him as minor (secondary) to his mother Venus, the goddess of love. In this portrait, Venus (the embodiment of all sorts of love, prosperity and fertility) is the star, and Cupid (a symbol of erotic and passionate love/lust) is in a supporting role. I interpret this as the passion of lust is unable to outshine the vastness of real love, and I suspect that even the source of light depicted wouldn’t shine quite so brightly if Cupid was the only subject of this painting.

Another thing: I really enjoyed the depiction of Cupid fanning his mother, showing him in service to her. It makes me think of how lust and passion are at their best when they are in service to higher forms of love. (Just a personal takeaway).

I just wanted to share that moment with you, because I still love art and find inspiration in it. I hope this post inspires you, too! Have a great day, and I’ll talk to you all tomorrow!

art · travel

Getting My Art Fix in Raleigh, NC

While I haven’t personally driven a long distance  since late 2018, I still travel via plane, train or as an automobile passenger. A few months ago, my family visited Raleigh, NC, so I tagged along. One of the days while we were there, we got a chance to tour the North Carolina Museum of Art (NCMA). I mentioned NCMA before (back when I toured the sculpture garden) but the last time I was there, I didn’t have enough time to tour the inside of the museum. I was delighted that I finally got a chance to see some of the artwork housed at NCMA!

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Exterior of the museum

I had a great time checking out the contemporary art, and I finally got to see Amy Sherlad’s award-winning painting, Miss Everything. You all may remember how much I love Amy Sherald’s work: I’m always excited when I can see one of her paintings in person.

I also got to see some pieces from artists I’d never known before. I love how I always learn something new when I go to a museum!

Gerhard Richter’s Station (577-2) (1985)

Sean Scully, Wall of Light Peru (2000)

Skunder (Alexander) Boghassian, Night Flight of Dread and Delight (1964)

One of my favorites referenced the three graces, some of my favorite mythological beings. These goddesses rule realms such as charm and elegance (some of my favorite topics!). Three Graces, Les Trois Femmes Noires, by Mickalene Thomas, was a show-stopping piece that was both grand in size and impression it left upon me. It was probably my favorite of this trip.

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Three Graces: Les Trois Femmes Noires (2011) Mickalene Thomas

Those are my highlights from my most recent trip to NCMA! I hope you enjoyed it, and I’m looking forward to returning and taking some more pics for you. Take care!

 

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art · life curation

My (Not So) New Hobby – Painting!

During my time away, I had a chance to resume one of my interests: painting! There is something so therapeutic about applying paint to a canvas . . . The brushstrokes, the blending of color, the magic of taking a concept and turning it into a tangible work of art. I love to paint and I can’t wait until I have more time to devote to my craft. Until then, here are a couple of pieces that I’ve created:

Me with a piece I completed earlier this year: I premiered it in Los Angeles in June 2019

Recent piece in progress

I’m so eager to see where this curiosity leads me. I would love to continue developing my skill, take a few classes, and work with some new techniques and materials. This hobby relaxes me and gives me a much needed creative outlet, so I’m sure I’ll have more paintings to share in the future!

 

 

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!

 

 

 

art · hollywood glamour

More Disney Princess Art

Recently I posted some fan art of my favorite Disney princesses depicted as film noir heroines. I was entranced with the beautiful depiction of the cartoon damsels, re-envisioned as powerful protagonists in their stories.

I was delighted to come across another article, which takes the “art” concept a bit further. Artist Heather Theurer has taken Disney characters and turned them into timeless oil paintings. Yes, you read that right: oil paintings. Behold!

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Heather Theurer, Dig a Little Deeper (Tiana from The Princess and the Frog)

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Heather Theurer, We’re All Mad Here (Alice in Wonderland)

These beauties are museum quality and they can be yours! Theurer sells her works on Wildstar Tempest, where you can check out her Disney themed oil paintings as well as her other works, including wildlife and fantasy paintings. I’m particularly fond of her fantasy pieces.

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Heather Theurer, I Am

Theurer does an insanely good job of blending magic and realism. I’m so glad that Buzzfeed profiled this incredible artist! Please make sure to check her out on Instagram and support her work.

art · life curation

Trying My Hand At Painting . . .

Happy, happy, happy Friday! I am so happy to see this week finally come to an end. It hasn’t been a stressful week but I haven’t had as much downtime as I usually enjoy. As a result, I’m far more exhausted than normal. But with the weekend upon us, I’m looking forward to getting some glorious rest!

A few weeks ago, I stopped by Barnes & Noble and walked around for nostalgia’s sake. I can’t tell you how many days and evenings I spent in this bookstore, just inhaling the scent of paper and possibilities . . .  On my way out, I saw an art kit and picked it up. I found myself wanting to buy it, which is funny, because I’ve gone to Michael’s and Hobby Lobby who knows how many times, and I’ve never been moved to buy painting supplies. Following inspiration, I decided to buy the kit.

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My new art kit – such a bargain!

I’ve always been creative, but painting is a whole new world for me. And before anyone thinks that I’m trying to be Monet or Picasso, trust me, those aren’t my aspirations. At all LOL! However, I do think that practicing my hand at painting will give me a deeper appreciation for the art and skill involved with creating some of the masterpieces that I love so well. So, I figured I’d start painting a bit when I have downtime again. I also think this will be a good thing to do while listening to some soothing music or even a podcast (because I’m always trying to multitask. . . )

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Inside of the kit

After taking so many online classes and participating in umpteen webinar trainings to maintain one of my certifications, I figured it was time to enjoy an activity that doesn’t feel like “school”. It’s time to do something strictly for the pleasure of it, and that allows me to “learn” in a different way. So, painting seems like a good idea. I’ll post my “masterpieces” as I complete them. Here’s hoping that I can start painting and sharing my finished works in October and November.

That’s all for today. I hope you all have a great Friday, and I’ll check in tomorrow. Take care!

 

art · Uncategorized

Want to Learn About New Artists?

painting

Make sure that you’re following me on Instagram, so you can see the daily artist spotlights that I’m featuring this month. I’m taking the time to share what I’ve seen on social media and (hopefully) bring additional attention to these talented artists. Who couldn’t use more art in their lives?

Here are a few of the artists I’ve featured so far:

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Henrietta Lacks, An Overdue Tribute

Recently, the National Portrait Gallery and the National Museum of African American History and Culture jointly acquired a painting of Henrietta Lacks, as portrayed by Kadir Nelson. Lacks died from cervical cancer at the age of 31, and her cells were subsequently studied and used over the past 60+ years. Lacks’s cells (named HeLa, for Henrietta Lacks) were instrumental in developing treatments for a variety of illnesses, such as polio, AIDS and Parkinson’s Disease.

I was familiar with Lacks’s story from many years back, as she was a Virginia native and never forgotten here, in her state of birth. Thus, I knew that I had to see the painting, titled “Henrietta Lacks (HeLa): The Mother of Modern Medicine”, for myself.

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Henrietta Lacks (HeLa): The Mother of Modern Medicine, Kadir Nelson, oil on linen, 2017

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Information card as displayed in the National Portrait Gallery

The painting is large and breathtaking: Lacks smiling sweetly and posed with her bible. Nelson incorporated some very special details that refer to Lacks’s legacy. As stated on the National Portrait Gallery press release:

“Commissioned by HBO, Nelson used visual elements to convey Lacks’ legacy. The wallpaper features the “Flower of Life,” a symbol of immortality; the flowers on her dress recall images of cell structures; and two missing buttons allude to the cells taken from her body without permission.”

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Close up of the background, featuring the “Flower of Life”

Henrietta Lacks’s story raises issues surrounding ethics, right to patients’ genetic information, and privacy. The fact that she died but her cells made it possible for other people to live is heartbreaking, but what’s even more tragic is the fight that her family had to undertake to challenge the medical industry that used HeLa cells without Lacks’s, or her family’s, consent.

I’m so happy that Henrietta Lacks is being featured at the Smithsonian Museum and is taking her rightful place in American history. I really enjoyed seeing this beautiful portrait for myself, and I hope that you all get a chance to check it out, too! It will be at the National Portrait Gallery until November 4, 2018, and then it will be at the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture. You’ll be glad that you made the visit!

art

Feeding My Gerome Addiction

Part of my Philadelphia trip included a visit to the Philadelphia Museum of Art. I love to believe that the muses communicate directly with me when I’m in any museum, so I am inclined to go wherever I’m “led”, so to speak. I stepped over to the European art wing, and I got the feeling that I would quickly find something incredible. My intuition didn’t disappoint: less than a few steps into the first room I entered, I was face to face with a painting by one of my favorite artists, Jean-Leon Gerome.

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Portal of the Green Mosque (Sentinel at the Sultan’s Tomb), Jean-Leon Gerome, 1870

I’ve written about Gerome before, and back then, I struggled with expressing exactly what it is about his paintings that I love. I *think* I have the language to express myself now LOL! I love the realism in Gerome’s work. His paintings featured lots of African, Middle Eastern and Asian subjects and, unlike many European artists, he chose to depict his subjects humanely, touchingly, and accurately. For that, I’ll always be a fan.

This painting, Portal of the Green Mosque (Sentinel at the Sultan’s Tomb), was completed by Gerome in 1870. By this time, Gerome was a very experienced painter (more than 20 years experience, to be exact) and had quite a few commissions, honors, and his own atelier to his credit. He had established a name for himself and was a master at Orientalist paintings. While many may conclude that Gerome’s work objectified his subjects to the point of being lecherous, I’m inclined to take a different perspective.  The combination of “exotic”, non-White subjects and a Neoclassical or Romantic depiction of these subjects results in capturing the subjects’ humanity in ways that had never been done before.

The sentinel depicted is solemn, a little melancholy, but not to be pitied: he seems at peace with his position and dutifully stands in defense of the sultan’s remains. You can sense that this is a hot and hazy day, if the languorous hound in the foreground is any indicator. However, I sense that the dog in the background, that is standing closer to the entrance, is much like the sentinel himself: alert, solemn, ready to defend.

I enjoyed this painting, as I enjoy every other Gerome work that I’ve seen. I know that the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC has several Gerome paintings on view. I intend to make a special trip to view and photograph some of them. Look out for that post soon! In the meantime, enjoy, and I’ll talk to you all tomorrow!

 

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Meta Warrick Fuller and Lois Mailou Jones: Let’s Honor Them Both!

It’s my pleasure to honor two talented Black women artists on this day. On June 9, 1877, Meta Vaux Warrick Fuller, a gifted sculptress of Black descent was born. On June 9, 1998, Lois Maillou Jones, Black painter and teacher extraordinaire, died in Washington, DC. Because this day is full of Black Girl Artist Magic (yes, I’m tweaking the #BlackGirlMagic hashtag for my purposes), I wanted to talk a bit more about these remarkable women.

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Mother and Child by Meta Warrick Fuller (1962)

Both Meta and Lois spent time in France during the early half of the 20th century. Europe, generally speaking, was a friendlier environment for American Blacks, and it was easier to study in European ateliers than to attempt to integrate White studios in the US. Meta began at Academie Colarossi but eventually studied under Auguste Rodin, while Lois studied as part of a fellowship with Academie Julian.

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Arreau, Hautes-Pyrénée by Loïs Mailou Jones (1949)

Meta was a sculptress and used her talent to create works that captured her frustration with the treatment of Blacks in America. She explored themes such as despair and melancholy, but also touched on religious devotion and hopefulness. Meta drew upon historical accounts to sculpt some of her heartrending works. She worked primarily in bronze or plaster, and created an impressive body of work during her career. Many of her pieces are exhibited at the Danforth Museum, making it easy for anyone interested in exploring her oeuvre to view a wide variety of her pieces in one location.

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Story Time by Meta Warrick Fuller (year unknown)

She received many accolades during her lifetime but fell into obscurity for several years after her death. Toward the end of the 20th century, there was renewed interest in her work, and she is finally becoming a key figure in today’s discussions on American sculptors.

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Talking Skull by Meta Warrick Fuller (1937)

Lois, on the other hand, started out as a teacher but never gave up her dream to be an artist in her own right. She taught for over 40 years and eventually retired from the profession, while establishing herself as an artist of note. She drew inspiration from her international travels, including time spent in Haiti.

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Self Portrait by Lois Mailou Jones (1940)

These women led similar lives in several ways. Aside from both spending time studying in Paris, both Meta and Lois benefited from having White supporters during the early phases of their careers. Samuel Bing sponsored an exhibition for Meta, while Celine Marie Tabary often submitted Lois’s work to circumvent racist art competition policies that prevented Black Americans from competing.

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Ode to Kinshasa by Lois Mailou Jones (1972)

Though I’m not an artist, I am tremendously thankful for the fact that both Meta Warrick Fuller and Lois Maillou Jones shared their talents with the world. Their contributions added richly to the fabric and legacy of American art. May their work remind us – in perpetuity – of the importance of Black art!

(Photos courtesy of Pinterest, National Museum of Women in the Arts, Preston Joy blog, and Smithsonian American Art Museum)