Monday, February 7, 2011

Time at the Museum and food for the intellect...what a beautiful world!!!

Do you like hanging out at the museum?!
I love hanging out at the museum, nothing like learning something new, seeing something again that I have seen before only with a different eye, running into enthusiastic people and entering into the world of the artists.
I remember the first time one of my big brothers took me to an exhibition. It was at the Centre culturel Francais in Abidjan. I watched a live presentation of a traveler talking in a huge auditorium about his travels to Tibet. I was fascinated by the huge projections on the screen, the tone of his voice and his knowledge of a far and distant region.  I remember walking around once the presentation was over, looking at photographs and artifacts taken and collected from his " voyages".  The very last exhibition I visited in Africa  was in 1995 and it was a collection of paintings from various artists of West African. I love art.  And even more paintings with vibrant colors. So yesterday I had a visual feast and delicacies for my intellect.

I love museums and exhibitions and think they are great for our mental health and our intellect...
Anyway,  yesterday was a fabulous sunny day and I am grateful I took full advantage of it. I just wanted to share some pictures of my time at the museum, take you on a little visual and cultural tour...Hope you enjoy it!

                               View of  the Hunter Museum of American Art from afar.

Approaching the Hunter museum crossing the glass bridge.

  There was a beautiful exhibition of the works of painter Lois Mailou Jones,  an African American painter born in Boston in 1905. She  went to Paris in 1937 to
study at the Academie Julian. She was the only African- American female painter of the 1930's- 1940's  to receive fame abroad. She later spent time in Haiti and in West Africa. The art at the exhibition revealed more about her time in  West Africa and in Haiti.

 I was very disappointed that pictures are not allowed in the Exhibition area because the art was full of vibrant colors and such beauty that I would I loved to capture for a future enjoyment. Being bilingual,  it was interesting to me that many of her painting held French titles like, "Marche" ( painting of a Market in Haiti), "Nature Morte aux melons", a still life painting of watermelons just to name a few.
My favorite works were her Cretonne textiles. In addition to being a painter, teacher she is also a textile designer. Her cretonnes textiles displayed at the Hunter Museum were very gorgeous with bright tropical colors and flowers.Since I could not take pictures at the museum I did some research online to find some arts that I remember seeing yesterday...

Lois Mailou Jones, Traveling Exhibitions This image here is actually the image of the Exhibition banner using one of her painting depicting a Mother from Senegal doing a child's hair.  There was a similar banner yesterday at the entrance of the museum and at the entrance of the Exhibition room.

Banners at the entrance of the Hunter Museum.
Nature Morte aux Melon, 1989, acrylic on canvas Nature morte aux melons,1989, by Lois Mailou Jones.
 Nature morte means Still Life in art lingo but the true translation if we were not to consider the art vocabulary would be dead nature...

 The French title she had for this painting was I believe " les porteurs d'eau" I remember explaining my oldest son yesterday that translating the title in English would mean " The water carriers".
Peasant girl. Haiti 1954.  " Jones's numerous oils and watercolors inspired by Haiti are probably her most widely known works. In them her affinity for bright colors, her underpersonal standing of Cubism's basic principles, and her search for a distinctly style reached an apogee" (" Free Within Ourselves" by Regenia A. PerrySamella S. Lewis and Ruth G. Waddy, Black Artists on Art (Los Angeles: Contemporary Crafts Publishers, 1969).

When I first saw the painting of the " Peasant girl"  the first artist I thought about was Cezanne!  If I did not know that she was the author of this one I would have easily credited the French artist for painting this beautiful oil on canvas. I think that clearly see Paul Cezanne's influence in "Peasant Girl"! What do you think?!
  I love this one! When I saw it yesterday at the museum, I felt like it was very feminine and very elegant.  It's probably the most 'elegant' art displayed at her exhibition. The colors are not as vibrant was the rest of the art that was displayed yesterday.
The art I liked the least were the collection of paintings that were somewhat abstract and representing the West African culture in a more 'spiritual' sense. Like   Ubi Girl from Tai Region 1972 Ubi Girl from Tai Region 1972 (acrylic on canvas, 43 3/4 x 60 in., Boston Museum of fine Arts).
Ode to Kinshasa, 1972 (mixed media on canvas, 48 x 36 in. Gift of the Artist. National Museum of Women and the Arts). President and Mrs. Obama are patrons of the National Museum of Women and the Arts

"Les Fetiches" below is one was one of them. I personally do not like the darkness of those masks. I am far too familiar with the term fetiches but I can not think of an accurate English translation. In simple terms it refers to witchcraft activities. I love African art but I strongly dislike anything representing creatures or practices pertaining to witchcraft and occult because I find this to be dark and scary and it's not the kind of art I would ever put into my home as I love things to lift me up, not remind me of an horror movie. But to the artist's credits she was the first female African-American painter to depict African imagery in her work.
Les Fetiches, 1938"Les Fetiches" 1938 This one is available at the Smithsonian American art museum.
"Skillfully juxtaposed are five African masks, a white pendant charm, and a standing, red anthropomorphic figure. Rendered in monochromatic tones and boldly silhouetted against a dark background, the faithful representation of the artifacts is a result of Jones's firsthand study of African masks and ritualistic objects as well as those from other non-Western civilizations since the 1920s. A keynote work of her career, Les Fetiches is a poetic synthesis of the spirit and meaning of Jones's ancestry." ( Free Within Ourselves" by Regenia A. Perry Samella S. Lewis and Ruth G. Waddy, Black Artists on Art (Los Angeles: Contemporary Crafts Publishers, 1969).

Even though I do not like artifacts I found her others painting of masks such as "Symboles" which means " symbols"  to be less scary and much more delightful

The picture here       is a self portrait of the artist and I saw that very same painting at the entrance of the exhibition room yesterday afternoon.
I wish I could find the exact pictures of the cretonne textiles I saw yesterday but I just found those online, so it will illustrate what some the painter's Cretonne textiles look like.

Cretonne drapery prints by Lois Mailou Jones.
I like the one with the Asiatic lily. I think this print would fit perfectly in my tropical Asiatic lily theme kitchen and  living space.

                                  View from inside the museum : Tennessee river and Walnut street bridge connecting to the North Shore area.

Below are a few pictures offering you a glimpse of the museum's surroundings. I will add pictures of the inside later on.

Walnut Street bridge spans the Tennessee River in Chattanooga Tennessee.

Facing Walnut Street bridge.

Facing the walnut street bridge, the longest pedestrian bridge in the world.  This bridge is a fantastic hang out during the warmer months of the year.    People of any age love to walk and run on the bridge.

Heading toward the Bluff View Art district

Well, as you can see, the weather was nice enough to get out and about, walk around and feed our intellect.  (smiles).   I hope you have enjoyed your little tour here and that this tour will inspire your next visit to a  museum or to learn more about this talented artist if you were not yet familiar with her. I never heard of her till Sunday but intend on digging more about her.  Have you been  to an Exhibition lately?! What did you learn and see?! Wouldn't you agree that we feel better after spending some time around some form art?!  I think art is a form of therapy.Wouldn't you agree?!