Here are some Don’t Miss Events
Your New Year’s resolutions might include expanding your world view with more travel. For those of you who can’t head down under, here’s another installment of “Adrian’s Art and About,” for armchair travelers.
A highlight of our recent trip to Australia was our stop at the Norman Lindsay Gallery and Museum, at Faulconbridge in the Blue Mountains, about one hour to the west of Sydney. Artist Norman Lindsay (1879-1969) worked for the “Bulletin” (similar to “Time” magazine), drawing editorial / political cartoons in an association that lasted almost to his death.
By the 1920s, Lindsay was both proficient and prolific in pen-and-ink drawing, etching, woodcuts, watercolors, oil and acrylic paintings, marble and brass sculpture, and modelmaking. My wife and I were amazed by his detail of anatomy, his painstakingly built model ships, his bold colors and his sometimes dreamy, nightmarish, often erotic, scenarios.
Lindsay was a colorful figure. He rejected Christianity and his art depicts Bohemianism and Arcadian pantheism madly enmeshed in a fantasy world. He had his detractors who deemed his work blasphemous; in 1930 his novel “Redheap” was banned and the following year the police proceeded against an issue of Art and Australia that showcased his art. Today, however, Lindsay artworks are prized by collectors
The Lindsay family home, now the gallery and museum, is housed on magnificent landscaped grounds and maintained by the National Trust. The sprawling estate includes many fountains and sculptures created by Norman. Visitors can view Lindsay’s etching studio and portrait study annex, and stop in the delightful cafe.
For me, this gallery holds special meaning because I worked on the animated feature film “The Magic Pudding” based on a classic children’s book (about food!) that Lindsay wrote in 1918. Lindsay’s wonderful words were transposed to film in 2000. Albert, the loyal but cranky character, is still just as popular with today’s younger generation who delight in Albert’s frenzied efforts to escape the “Puddin’ Thieves.” “The Magic Pudding” is probably the last fully hand-drawn animation film and comprises over 300,000 individual drawings. Imagine!
In our two most recent meetings, students in the Exploring Museum Careers High School Partnership Program have been seeing a variety of objects from the museum’s collection. In addition to discussing objects in the galleries, the museum curators are also showing the students objects in collection storage. I can’t speak for the students, but I hope they are excited about delving beneath the surface of the museum, seeing paintings hanging together on racks, decorative arts furniture tucked into stalls with label cards hanging off like toe tags, and sculpture lifted off the shelf and then carefully unwrapped for viewing.
It is sometimes difficult for those of us who work in the museum to see what we do, and especially, to see the objects, in a new way. The exhibition that the students build each year through the Exploring Museum Careers Program helps us to do this. Speaking for myself, I am happiest when a student can stop me in my tracks – sometimes in an essay, or a discussion, maybe while working on the graphics, or even while laying out the exhibition – and make me really see something differently – to see it as they do.
A couple days ago, I was talking with the art teacher of one of the students in the program. She had asked her student about the program, and one thing he mentioned was that he was learning what it is about an object that makes it a work of art, when it’s not apparent at first glance.
I wondered if it was these objects by Nina Katchadourian that he had in mind. They are surprising. They aren’t really salt and pepper shakers, but snow globes. As she showed them to the students, Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art Mary Murray frequently shook them, so the students could enjoy the effect. Maybe seeing these objects alongside several 19th-century paintings prompted this student to wonder about how strange the snow globe salt and pepper shakers are by comparison with the traditional still life paintings. Or maybe it’s the other way around. Working with the students helps to remind me to think about things being shaken up.
For more information go to Exploring Museum Careers Program
Twenty-one years. That’s how long I have been thinking about Victorian-era holidays. When I gripe about stores and malls pulling out Christmas decorations immediately after Halloween, I have to remind myself that in the Decorative Arts Department at MWPAI we start thinking about Christmas around the 4th of July.
Christmas in America is a true mixture of ethnic traditions and a topic with endless research opportunities. The decorative arts staff spends weeks investigating 19th-century American Christmases and ethnic traditions, to introduce fresh themes to the annual Victorian Yuletide exhibition in the Museum’s period rooms in Fountain Elms. Holiday meals interpreted in the dining room have included a pigeon pie and a three-tiered Christmas cake. Parties in the parlor have varied from a simple family gathering of the 1860s to the revival of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert’s 1848 Christmas tree to an 1899 New Year’s Eve ball. The best part of it all? From families and girl scouts to Red Hat Clubs and school tours, people come back year after year knowing that they will see something special, something authentic, and that they will create memories while learning history.
The Victorian Yuletide exhibition always includes several types of Christmas trees. In the United States we can thank German immigrants for introducing their custom of bringing a fir or pine tree into the home for Christmas. The first printed reference of a Christmas tree in the United States is in 1747, from the diary of a German Moravian, settled in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, appropriately enough. The first documented Christmas tree in the Utica was at Zion Lutheran Church on Columbia Street in 1845.
The Christmas tree was popularized in the States after Queen Victoria, her German-born husband Prince Albert and their children were depicted standing by their tree in an etching that was published in the 1848 Illustrated London News. By the 1850s American magazines ran illustrated stories about Christmas practices such as tree decorations and gift giving. In fact, the gifts initially were the decorations on American trees. Small, wrapped packages complemented strings of popcorn and handmade ornaments.
What are some of your family’s favorite holiday traditions? Do you have special foods you prepare during the holidays?
What is the Salon Series and who are the Salonisti?
The Salon Series is a newly formed program for Institute members who want a more engaged look at art, artists and the Institute’s goings-on. Our first meet and greet was November 10, when about 40 “Salonisti” gathered for a little wine and cheese and conversation. Director of Development Joe Silberlicht introduced the program, which included a preview of 2011 Museum of Art exhibitions courtesy of Museum of Art Director and Chief Curator Paul Schweizer, Director of Education April Oswald, and Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art Mary Murray. Mary also conducted a tour of art storage, much to the assembled group’s great interest.
We expect to have six Salons annually. Our next will be Wednesday, January 12, when Mary will talk about different printmaking processes (come up and see some etchings!). Anna D’Ambrosio, Museum of Art Assistant Director and Curator of Decorative Arts, will lead a discussion in March about identifying the “good, better, and best” in antiques. Future Salons will be guided by the interests of the participants and will likely include visits to private art collections and artists’ studios, discussions about framing, displaying art in one’s home, and a wide range of other topics intended to enhance participants’ knowledge about art and the programs offered here at the Institute.
Participation in the Salon Series is open to all premium level members (that’s Contributor and above). Think about upgrading your membership if this doesn’t include you yet because the Salons promise to be interesting and fun. Contact Theresa Murray in Membership at 315-797-0000, x2104 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thanks to JoAnne Colenzo, Events Manager, for these photographs.