Monday, September 15, 2014

Iron Horse Celebrates 60th Anniversary

Athens and the University of Georgia share a history richly saturated in art and, usually, art appreciation. But, as a notable Athens moment proves, this has not always been the case. This year marks the 60th anniversary of the Iron Horse, one of the most infamous artistic disasters in both UGA and Athens history.

On May 25, 1954, Chicago artist Abbott Pattison's large iron sculpture, depicting an abstracted horse, was revealed on the quad outside of Reed Hall. The sculpture was one of five that the art department had commissioned Pattison to create for the university's campus (the first in this series, "Mother and Child," is still on display behind the Fine Arts building).

The very night the horse was installed, mischievous UGA students immediately began the work of defacing it. They shoved hay in its mouth, dropped manure around it, vandalized it with paint, and eventually lit a fire underneath it. Art, especially modern art, was a new focus at the university at this time, and many thought the delinquent behavior was a response to its introduction on campus. Others attributed it to negativity toward the artist himself. Pattison had written an article in the Red & Black (UGA's student newsaper), shortly before the installation of the Iron Horse, criticizing what he viewed as substandard academics and the student body's lack of appreciation for culture. In either case, the students had a perfect target for some personal expression.

Unsurprisingly, when Pattison found out about the destruction and disrespect he was both insulted and infuriated. He complained to publications such as the Atlanta Journal, saying, "I wanted Athens, Ga., to have a piece of sculpture to look at. And I think the least I could have expected, even if they didn't like it, was a little Southern courtesy." Word about the incident spread quickly, with publications such as Time Magazine reporting the story and interviewing Pattison.

Only a few days after the horse was unveiled, it was quietly taken into hiding. Four years later, in 1958, a university professor of horticulture named L.C. Curtis offered to take the horse to his farm, where it could be viewed by people driving by on the road. The horse would still be considered university property, but it would be out of the way from pranksters until the university decided it wanted it back on campus. Although the idea of returning the sculpture to UGA property has been discussed on occasion over the years, it has remained in Watkinsville with the Curtises.

In honor of this piece of local history, the Georgia Museum of Art and the Walter J. Brown Media Archives will co-host a free screening of the 1980 documentary "Iron Horse," directed by Atlanta filmmaker Bill VanDerKloot. The event, which starts at 4 p.m. and will be held in the Richard B. Russell Building Special Collections Libraries auditorium, as part of UGA's 2014 Spotlight on the Arts, includes interviews with alumni who were involved in the incident and will end with a discussion with VanDerKloot, Lamar Dodd School of Art faculty and Georgia Museum of Art staff.

Sources: OnlineAthens, Roadside America, Brown's Guides

Saturday, September 13, 2014

NY Fashion Week nods to Pucci's bold designs

With New York Fashion week upon us, there are plenty of notable looks on and off the runway. The Spring 2015 collections flaunt bold floral prints, dreamy pastels and strong lines for days. The colorful, fun garments combine the conceptual with the conventional as we ooo and ahh at the creative, theatrical runway shows.

Here are some of our favorite looks from 2014 NY Fashion Week:

Zero + Maria Cornejo Spring 2015

Cushnie et Ochs Spring 2015
Jason Wu Spring 2015
Victoria Beckham Spring 2015
Carolina Herrera Spring 2015
These inspiring looks from Fashion Week resemble the sleek designs and bold patterns of Emilio Pucci, whose designs will be featured in an upcoming exhibition at the Georgia Museum of Art.

"Emilio Pucci in America" will be on view Oct. 18, 2014 - Feb. 1, 2015, in the museum's Charles B. Presley Family and Lamar Dodd galleries. The exhibition celebrates of Pucci's short tenure at the University of Georgia as well as his 100th birthday.

The Italian designer's easy-to-wear, comfortable fashion may be a few decades old, but his designs still retain relevancy in the fashion world.

Friday, September 05, 2014

"Machine Wall Drawing" Exhibition Combines Order and Chaos

Tristan Perichs “Machine Wall Drawings” are one of the first exhibitions visitors to the Georgia Museum of Art encounter, on display on the Patsy Dudley Pate Balcony from March 20 to Nov. 18, 2014. Repeat visitors may notice something particularly unusual about these works of art: they change over time. The New York-based contemporary composer and artist has created a uniquely self-directed work of art that combines the control of a coded machine and the randomness of the influence of physical elements to highlight the role of both in visual compositions.

The drawings take up a 60-foot wall, on which they are completing themselves over the course of six months, using a machine designed and coded by Perich to introduce the impact of a carefully planned system while allowing physical elements to interfere at random and alter the final creation.

Perich explains on his website: “Varying levels of randomness — the probability the pen will change directions — produces the difference between straight lines or dense frenetic motion. While the motors’ movements are the result of the code executed precisely by machine, the final drawings come from the motion of pen on surface, and are wedded to the effects of the physical world: the ripple of the string connecting pen to motor, the gradual depletion of ink, the texture of the paper.”

This month, on Sept. 17, the museum is offering a Tour at Two focusing on “Machine Wall Drawings” for visitors interested in learning more about this exhibition. The museum is also hosting a special event the following day at 5:30 p.m. to premiere director Russell Oliver’s documentary about the drawings. The screening will conclude with a live Q & A with Perich.

Thursday, September 04, 2014

Ancient statues fall victim to selfie trend

Living in a time of technology and social media, the selfie craze is nearly impossible to escape. From young to old, anyone with access to a front-facing camera has dabbled in the art of selfies —including art itself.

At least it would appear that way after Reddit user Jazus_ur_lookin_well took four pictures of statues at Ireland’s Crawford Art Gallery at some particularly interesting angles.

The clever Reddit user strategically placed the camera to look as if the statues were taking selfies, and the expressions on the faces of the statues only add more humor. 

The statue selfie became so beloved, other Reddit users hit the museum to take similar shots, and an entire subreddit dedicated to the trend was born. 

Now, the original user has launched a website and a crowd-funding campaign to raise money to travel, visit more museums and create more selfie masterpieces. The cheeky pictures have successfully brought ancient artifacts into the modern age, and the trend has encouraged hundreds of people to visit museums and take a closer look — at some unique angles  at art.

Wednesday, September 03, 2014

Infamous hat now on view at Newseum

Every now and then, someone does something that captivates the world through social media and becomes a national, or even global, phenomenon. Such was the case when Pharrell Williams showed up to the Grammys last February in a now famous, oversized Vivienne Westwood hat. 

The hat sparked thousands of conversations on social media, most notably Twitter, where fans made multiple comparisons, photoshopped parodies and masterfully crafted memes. The Internet community also couldn’t help but notice similarities between Pharrell’s hat and the Arby’s logo. The fast-food restaurant did not miss the opportunity to engage in the global conversation. Arby’s took to Twitter to tease Pharrell about “borrowing its hat.” 

After wearing the hat to a number of events and sparking endless conversations, Pharrell chose to use the notoriety to publicize his charity and raise some money. Pharrell put the famous hat up for auction through eBay, challenging Arby’s to get its hat back. 

Arby’s took the bait and bought the hat for $44,100, the proceeds from which went to Pharrell’s charity, From One Hand to Another, which develops educational programs for kids in at-risk communities. 

The hat is now on view at the Newseum, a Washington, D.C., museum is dedicated to showcasing history made by news and journalism, on loan from Arby’s through October 26. The museum is displaying the hat to highlight the abilities of social media to sensationalize even the most mundane of objects. 

The global conversation that resulted from the hat not only engaged fans with Pharrell and the famous brand, but also raised money for a worthy charity. The object’s ability to spark widespread conversation shows the power of images and their potential to provoke conversation around the world through channels like social media.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Newcomb Pottery exhibition ends with curator lecture

Spread throughout multiple galleries of the Georgia Museum of Art are a variety of hand-crafted and beautifully decorated objects that range from pottery and metalwork to bookbinding and textiles. These objects all have one special thing in common.

They all originate from the Newcomb Pottery, where women were not only able to create these objects to sell and to support themselves financially, but also to make great contributions to American art.

The Newcomb Pottery was a social and artistic experiment from 1895 until 1940 at the H. Sophie Newcomb Memorial College (now part of Tulane University) in New Orleans. The program allowed women to support themselves financially while they trained to become artists.

In addition to producing highly coveted, iconic art, the program helped facilitate the betterment of women as well as the New Orleans community through art education.  

The current exhibition, "Women, Art and Social Change: The Newcomb Pottery Enterprise," is part of a national tour organized by Tulane and the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service. The exhibition, which is the largest comprehensive showing of the pottery in 25 years, will travel to nine different cities through 2016.

And although the exhibition will close at the Georgia Museum of Art after Sunday (Aug. 31), there is still opportunity to see it and learn about it. The museum will host the lecture “Newcomb’s Designers: A Conscious Revolution” by Sally Main, senior curator at the Newcomb Art Gallery at Tulane University, this Thursday at 5:30 p.m., followed by a reception.

Main will speak about the societal and artistic impact of this revolutionary social experiment. The event is the perfect opportunity to experience this unique exhibition before it continues on its tour.


Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Artist uses electricity to make shockingly original works

"Blossom and Moon" by Cory Hunter
Miami artist Cory Hunter has found a new way to integrate science, nature and art with his electrifying artwork.

Hunter uses his background in science and chemical engineering to harness the power of electricity. He uses an insulated electrode as a special brush that interacts with a stationary electrode inserted into the canvas. Hunter uses different levels of voltage to create interesting, branching patterns.

Hunter explains on his website:
"Fractal is derived from the Latin word 'fractious,' defined as broken or shattered glass, and is a mathematical articulation of form, chance, and dimension. A pattern is fractal if it is self-similar on different scales, equally rough from near as as from far, and is difficult to measure. My work explores the spontaneous organic form as it occurs in naturally occurring fractal patterns."

Using his interest in classical and oriental art, Hunter wanted to focus on exemplifying the stroke of the electricity.

He uses electricity on a variety of surfaces including cardboard, wood and corrugate panels and to imitate lightning striking any other non-conductor. The resulting patterns, called Lichtenberg figures, resemble a tree struck by lightning. Hunter's Vine account shows close-up looks at how the fractal patterns are formed. He then paints around the electrified etchings to create interesting, mixed-media works that range from Chinese cherry blossoms to depictions of the burning Twin Towers. 

Hunter’s work has been shown around Miami, but he has been performing live paintings for the public. In the future he plans on studying more about the science behind electricity and experimenting with other mediums such as glass.

"Green Tree" by Cory Hunter
"Stripes" by Cory Hunter
Sources: Studio360, WLRN Miami

Monday, August 04, 2014

Artist uses 3D printing to make museum art "touchable"

Museums serve a very important role in housing, caring for and displaying the world's art. Museums make art accessible to the public and provide resources to learn about the works.

Some people, like Dutch art historian and designer Maaike Roozenburg, believe that displaying art so conservatively removes works from their daily functions, isolating the objects from the lives of visitors. Many believe that not being able to touch and interact with the objects on display limits visitors' ability to appreciate those works.

In an effort to remove the distance between object and viewer, Roozenburg set out to create her Smart Replica project, with touchable 3D replicas of fragile teacups that caught her eye during a trip to the Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen in Rotterdam, Netherlands. 

Roozenburg partnered with the Delft University of Technology to build 3D printing models of the objects. Because of the fragile nature of the teacups, Roozenburg and TU Delft used non-contact, medical CT scans, which the university students converted into 3D models.

Then, with the help of Wim van Eck of the Augmented Reality Lab of the Royal Academy of Art and the creative agency LikeFriends, Roozenburg added extra layers to the replicas. By using the smartphone or tablet app Junaio, museum visitors can use their devices to access the augmented reality layers of the objects they are touching.

The extra layers give the visitor access to the ornate design of the original object as well as information on the works.

Roozenburg is continuing the project with her partnering organizations to make more works accessible to viewers, and, with the growing use of 3D printing, we may see this trend applied to museums in the U.S. soon enough.

Sources: PSFK, Core77, Dezeen

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Down to Basics: Printmaking

Carroll Cloar, "The Making of a Drawing"

Printmaking is one of the oldest forms of technology to help artists produce images, with some types dating back to the 9th century. There are four main categories of printmaking: relief (woodcuts), intaglio (etching), planographic (lithography) and stencil (screen printing).

The Georgia Museum of Art presents great examples of printmaking in two current exhibitions, "The Lithographs of Carroll Cloar" and "The Prints of Mary Wallace Kirk."

The former, on view in the Boone and George-Ann Knox Gallery II, features detailed lithographs depicting a surreal perspective on the stories of people and places from Cloar's childhood, biblical narratives and popular culture.

Lithographs are a type of printmaking developed in the in 18th century based on the fact that water and oil do not mix.

The original process involved drawing an image in oil, fat or wax on a limestone plate. The plate is then treated with acid and gum arabic, which etches the portions of the stone not covered by the image. These etched areas are then wetted. As the etched areas retain the water, oil-based ink is applied. The water on the etched portions of the plate repels the oil-based ink, leaving only the drawn image covered in ink, ready for printing.

Nowadays, printmakers take the same concept of oil and water not mixing, but with a slight upgrade to the technology. Typically, modern printmakers produce lithographs by using acrylic polymer paint to draw the image on a flexible aluminum plate.

The 31 prints featured in the exhibition beautifully show the range of how the medium can contribute to the tone and style of the subject matter.

Mary Wallace Kirk, "Cabin in Shade"

Printmaking is not limited to lithographs. On July 19, the museum opened the exhibition "The Prints of Mary Wallace Kirk" in the Martha Thompson Dinos and Dorothy Alexander Roush Galleries, featuring finely detailed renderings of the countryside of the 1930s and 1940s.

Although etching as a means to decorate metal items dates back to the Middle Ages, the technology was applied to printmaking in the 15th century.

This method of printmaking involves covering a metal plate in an acid-resistant, waxy ground. The artist then takes a pointed etching needle and draws on the metal, scraping off the ground, to form the design in the now exposed metal. The printmaker then dips the metal plate into a bath of acid called an "etchant" that eats away the exposed metal, leaving deep lines. The acid and ground are then cleaned off the plate, and the artist applies ink. As the artist wipes away the ink from the plate, the deep, etched lines retain the ink and are now ready to translate the image.

Kirk studied etching at the Art Students League in New York with Harry Sternberg and ultimately produced around 80 etchings during her career.

"The Lithographs of Carroll Cloar" is on view until Aug. 10, and "The Prints of Mary Wallace Kirk" is on view until Oct. 12.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Brazilian artists use World Cup to speak out

For many, the World Cup was the perfect opportunity to celebrate one’s nation, uniting to root for the same team. For others, it was a chance to communicate with the world through art.

The street artists in Brazil took the world’s spotlight to showcase their street art and to communicate globally salient messages. From national pride to political criticism, the street art of Brazil eliminated language barriers and sparked conversation all around the world.

Here are some examples of some notable examples of Brazilian street art during the 2014 World Cup.

This mural by Paulo Ito is probably the most circulated image of street art during Brazil's World Cup. The politically charged image highlights the poverty plaguing Brazilians.

This painting by A.Signl and B.Shanti represents the burden of hosting the World Cup on Brazilian citizens. 

Many hands are shown helping to hold up Brazil and the world in this mural in Sao Paulo. 

This work by Cranio comments on the public money spent frivolously on the World Cup. 

Street artist Jambeiro refers to Brazilian soccer player Givanildo Vieira, "Hulk," in this street mural. 

To see more views of the street art in Brazil, check out this compilation on Google Maps

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Inside Look: Life of a GMOA Registrar

As spectators admire a perfectly placed work of art in the museum's galleries, they often do not think about the tedious and strategic process of shipping, handling, tracking, inspecting and installing that work.

Truth is, every one of the 10,000 works in the museum's collection has been through this meticulous, nerve-wracking process, which is skillfully and patiently coordinated by the museum's team of registrars. The registrars are an invaluable part of the museum, working behind the scenes to rotate works in and out of the galleries seamlessly, without damaging or losing track of a single one.

While some works easily fit into shipping crates, others present our registrars with a bit more of a challenge. Whether dealing with extreme fragility, enormity or odd shapes and forms, the registrars are responsible for flawlessly and efficiently moving the items across the world for our viewing pleasure.

The museum's head registrar, Tricia Miller, took the time to give me an inside look at the exciting and somewhat hectic job of registration at an art museum.

Elizabeth Poland: What exactly does a registrar of an art museum do?

Tricia Miller: A registrar for an art museum is the information and logistics specialist for the care, preservation and management of works of art in the museum, whether in the permanent collection or on loan to the museum. There are three main areas of management for a registrar:

Collections management
Overseeing the care and preservation of the works of art in the museum, from proper storage and handling to proper display. Registrars oversee and manage the environmental conditions to which works of art are exposed in order to best preserve them for future generations.
Exhibition management
Overseeing the logistics for securing and planning for all current and future exhibitions. Museum staff work on exhibitions 1-2 years in advance and the registrars manage the logistical details such as reviewing and securing loan agreements and exhibition contracts and negotiating insurance, packing and crating, and shipping for all incoming temporary exhibitions.
Information management
Overseeing the organization of and access to information about the works of art in the collection and the temporary exhibitions. The registrars office creates and maintains a research file, called a curatorial file, for each object in the museum’s collection of over 10,000 objects. We also create and maintain a file for every temporary exhibition that has been on display at the museum from 1946 to the present. The registrars office also maintains a collections database which tracks all information associated with works of art in the collection.

EP: What is the most challenging part of your job?

TM: Managing multiple and sometimes varied tasks. In one week it is possible that I will work with UGA Legal Affairs on negotiating a contract or loan agreement, discuss the restoration of a work of art with a contract conservator, talk with HVAC engineers about the temperature and humidity in the building, use a pallet jack to move a heavy object in storage, work on data entry in the collections database, meet a truck driver who is delivering a work of art and examine the condition of a 17th-century Dutch etching.

EP: What is the most rewarding part of your job?

TM: Hands-on, intimate work with the objects. When an object comes into or goes out of the museum, a registrar conducts a condition report, which is a very close examination of the object to record its condition at the time of its arrival or departure. Registrars are some of the few people in the museum who are trained and authorized to handle the works of art, so we often have the privilege of being in close contact with important works of art.

EP: What was the most interesting work you saw moved?

TM: One of the more interesting things I’ve watched being moved is a 19th-century copy of an ancient sculpture at the Uffizi Palace called "Wrestlers." It is a marble sculpture on a marble base measuring over 6 feet tall. We hired fine arts moving specialists to coordinate disassembling, palletizing and moving this large, heavy sculpture with riggers.

EP: What advice would you give to a prospective art museum registrar?

TM: Museum studies programs will give you a good basic understanding of how museums operate and then volunteer in a registrars department at a museum. Registrars can always use help with the wide variety of tasks they manage.

Monday, July 07, 2014

When New Meets Old: Lithographs and New Media Technology

This summer, the Georgia Museum of Art is featuring the exhibition "The Lithographs of Caroll Cloar" but is providing new media to juxtapose with Cloar's age-old method of printing. Two iPads are placed in the exhibition and give viewers a chance to interact with the images in a new way.

One iPad contains information about the process of lithography, including a video produced by the Museum of Modern Art in New York City. The second device includes an application that allows visitors to type in their own titles for the exhibition and read the titles others have suggested. This feedback opens up the lines of communication with visitors and lets their thoughts and ideas become an active part of the display.

Responses to the iPads have been extremely positive. Exhibition viewers have been forthcoming with their thoughts about their own names for Cloar's works, with responses ranging from poetic captions such as "The Haunted Pencil" and "Dreamscapes of Memory" to simpler, straight-to-the-point titles like "Old Days" and "Innocence." The spectrum of answers demonstrates how Cloar's hauntingly beautiful works evoke powerful reactions in each individual. In the past, the museum has offered a more traditional way to respond via pen and paper, but the use of the iPads is a compact and nondisruptive way to promote dialogue, not only between the museum and its guests, but among viewers.

Mixing new media technology with art is becoming a more common trend in galleries. The quick and easy access to information, combined with the ability to tailor it to the individual observer, allows for a new way to experience the art. This year, the museum has also featured other new media exhibitions such as "Machine Wall Drawing" by computer programmer and artist Tristan Perich and the work of University of Georgia master of fine arts candidate Lyndey Clayborn, who manipulated iPhones to create technology-inspired art.

"The Lithographs of Carroll Cloar" is on display through Aug. 10. For more information on the exhibition or other new media programs at the museum, visit,

Jack Youngerman: Star II

Jack Youngerman is an American artist who was born in St. Louis in 1926, then moved to Louisville shortly after with his family. He studied art at the University of North Carolina from 1944 to 1946 then later graduated from the University of Missouri. He went to Paris, where he enrolled at L’Ecole des Beaux-Arts on a G.I. scholarship and ended up staying in the city for 10 years. Youngerman studied in Paris during an upsurge of modern art and was very interested in geometric abstraction. He was popular in the circle of artists and actors in Paris at the time and soon became the son-in-law of Henri Seyrig, the director of Musées de France.

When Youngerman moved back to New York, he introduced a new kind of American painting. His distinct style presents bright contrasts of color that explode on the canvas. The sharp, minimal edges and positive-negative schemes make his artwork appear contemporary even today. His earlier work was unrestricted and lacked any objective reference. His more recent work still shows this freedom and abstraction, but with more distinct imagery of bursting blossoms and birds. Youngerman’s “Star II,” on loan from a private collection, is currently displayed in the lobby of the Georgia Museum of Art and is an excellent representation of his style. He completed this painting in 1970 during his experiment with sculpture. For me, the contrast of cool and warm colors and wild shapes represent his abstraction style and the symmetry presents an image of a blossom.