Extra Wacky Wednesday

About a minute into “Hot Topic”,  a song by NYC electroclash band LeTigre, artist Faith Ringgold gets a shout out. She’s in good company. The song continues, paying tribute to the artists who have inspired the band: Yoko Ono, to Aretha Franklin, to Eleanor Antin.
Not mentioned, is pioneer video artist Nam June Paik, but as Wynne Greenwood‘s music video for “Hot Topic” shows, Paik’s influence is never far away.
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Brooks Uncorked this Friday! Check Out Last Year’s Pics!

Friday, April 13 | 7 PM

Memphis’ greatest food and wine party partners world-renowned winemakers with the Mid-South’s most incredible chefs (including the Brooks’ own Wally Joe and Andrew Adams), live entertainment on the museum terrace, and a silent auction in the Rotunda for a sure-to-be unforgettable evening of eating, drinking, dancing and bidding at the Brooks. Tickets are $110, $125 at the door. VIP tickets are $150 (limited availability). Click here to buy tickets or call Laura Beth Davis at 901.544.6209 or email her at laurabeth.davis@brooksmuseum.org.

Check out pics from last year!

Memphis Wine + Food Series

The 2012 Memphis Wine + Food Series kicked off March 25th with the Fleming’s Wine Dinner featuring the wines from Chateau Montelena and a 3-course menu prepared by Chef William Kloos. Chateau Montelena is a Napa Valley winery that is well-known for beating a French wine in a blind tasting in 1976, known as the Judgment of Paris.

Joining Chateau Montelena in 2013 is Russian River Valley wines Kosta Browne, Martinelli Winery and Williams Selyem. Kosta Browne’s 2008 Pinot Noir was named 2011 Wine of the Year by Wine Spectator magazine. Bob Cabral of Williams Selyem was named 2011 Winemaker of the Year by Wine Enthusiast magazine.

On April 13th, the Brooks will host Brooks Uncorked, one of the top fundraising events of the year for the museum. With over 50 wines, a great silent auction, local fare and a live DJ, Brooks Uncorked is also one of the city’s top-ranked parties. The second weekend of May brings in our Russian River Valley vintners starting with the Private Winemaker Dinners on May 10th, then on to Vin-A-Que on May 11th and ending with the Grand Auction on May 12th. These events will welcome Dan Kosta of Kosta Browne, Regina Martinelli of Martinelli Winery and Bob Cabral of Williams Selyem.

To buy tickets or for more information about any of these events, visit MemphisWineandFoodSeries.org/tickets or contact Laura Beth Davis at 901.544.6209 or email.

Lectures, Films and Scholastic: What Museums Are Today

I work at the Admissions desk every weekend and have been for over two years. I have seen the progression of the Brooks in that short time, and realized that museums are so much more than the exhibitions they house. It is more, from my perspective, what each exhibition represents to the institution and to its audience.

The museum had a great crowd this month due to the opening of the Mid-South Scholastic Art Awards Exhibition, a Decorative Arts Trust lecture and the British Arrow Awards film. Those are three distinctive events all occurring in front of the eyes of all of the artworks the museum shows such as our extensive permanent collection that focuses on art that spans time to our traveling and in-house shows that represent so many interests…

Looking into the future, I believe that museums will offer even more to their cities. There are already so many possibilities and ways to turn an institution into exactly what you need it to be for you personally. One could come cost free on a Wednesday, have an inexpensive date on Thursday night or a picnic date on the weekend while lazily strolling around the museum with a full stomach. Or you could catch up with friends and family to eat and shop. I had no clue that museums offered so much! I look forward to seeing you here soon.

In Focus with Girls Inc.

Photographs and video from the Brooks Museum’s summer In Focus program are currently on view in the Education Gallery through Oct 23, 2011. Memphis artist Thomasin Durgin worked with 30 adolescents from Girls Incorporated, a non-profit organization with a mission to inspire all girls to be strong, smart, and bold. The focus of the program was portraiture through digital photography and included an introduction to stop-motion video.

Adolescents typically struggle with issues of identity and control over their own lives. Through portraiture girls are able to express who they are, and to show themselves as they want to be seen by the world. Many participants began the program with an eye for glamorous shots, yet photo assignments such as composing faceless portraits or choosing to depict specific emotions helped them begin viewing the camera as an artistic tool. Photographs were projected and reviewed at the end of most sessions, which encouraged dialogue and reflection. Composition, framing, lighting, and technical aspects of photography were introduced during these discussions s well.

An exceptional group of talented girls, the participants created work that is moving, creative, thoughtful, and fun.

Viva La France!

Every now and then we get an email from our friend Elisabeth Callihan, who has been living in Paris for the last year. Elisabeth was formerly the Public Relations and Public Events Manager here at the Brooks and she is simply fabulous. She feeds us little tidbits of cool stuff going on across the pond. Her most recent email says, everyone is obsessed with florals here lately – dresses, pants, shoes – everything in florals. Also, drinking outside is big. So put on your best floral dress and come to the Brooks for a drink on the patio.

Florals and drinking aside, it’s been all about France at the Brooks this summer. We even had a Bastille Day celebration with the opening of our new show, The Impressionist Revolution. Come to the Brooks for some French inspired fun, which will continue through early October. Here’s a sampling of what you’ll experience:

-Nicoise Salad, Quiche Lorraine, and more at the Brushmark Restaurant
-95 works of French and related Impressionism paintings
-French pop and hip-hop music by DJ Leroy Trenton during Brooks After Hours
-French films
-A “Kid’s Café” gallery featuring scent games, dress up, and more
-French wine tastings
-Screenings of French operas and ballets
-Sidewalk Impressionists Chalk Festival on September 24

That’s A LOT of French fun! And for a lot less than a plane ticket to Paris. So what are you waiting for? Take a trip to France without the annoying and invasive security checks. Join the Brooks now at http://www.brooksmuseum.org/join or call Andrea Carlisle at 544-6230.

This blog has been written by Diane Jalfon Director of Development at the Memphis Brooks Museum of Art.

The Brushmark: Seasonal and Farm Fresh Summer Menus

It’s the end of summertime and the living is easy. Inspiration comes from many sources for us in the Brushmark. First and foremost, our menus are influenced by the changing seasons. As chefs, freshness is the key to our cooking. With summer comes a bounty of fresh fruits and vegetables. We are so lucky to be surrounded by farmers who bring us their goodies “fresh from the farm”. Our popular burger comes from Andrew Donnell of Donnell Century Farm outside of Jackson, TN. Most of our vegetables such as tomatoes, baby beets, green beans, & summer squash comes from Elizabeth Heiskell of Woodson Ridge Farm in Oxford, MS. She is also a good friend from our hometown of Cleveland, MS. We love the Heritage Pork that our friend Mark Newman of Newman Farm brings us from a couple of hours north of Memphis. Our accounting department’s own Debbie Sullivan’s nieces provide us with fresh eggs that are served from the popular weekend brunch menu.

As we prepared for the beautiful new exhibition “The Impressionist Revolution”, we wanted to include a few French influenced items to the summer menu. If you haven’t dined in the Brushmark in awhile, now is the time to come sample the new menu. Spend the day at the Brooks enjoying the exhibition. Take a lunch break to enjoy delicious new items such as Chicken Provencal or a Vegetarian Salad “Nicoise”. A perfect way to spend the day out of the Memphis heat.

This post is written by Wally Joe Executive Chef at the Memphis Brooks Museum of Art.

Wine and the Brooks: A Delicious History

Why Wine?

Things are starting to get a little crazy at the museum, particularly in the development department. We’re about to head into what we call “wine season.” Each spring we throw several wine-related fundraising events – The Fleming’s Wine Dinner, Brooks Uncorked, Patrons Dinner, and the Grand Auction. Starting in January we collect wine and other items from donors across the region to auction off at these events.

Lindsey Hedgepeth is the one who coordinates all of these events and life becomes very interesting for her about now. Her office starts to fill up with wine bottles, invitations, donation forms, and artwork. She’s the one who keeps track of the thousands of bottles of wine it takes to get through wine season at the Brooks.

We’ve been doing wine events here to raise money for 19 years. That’s a whole lot of wine coming and going through the museum. All in all we’ve raised nearly $3.5 million dollars since we started. Pretty impressive, huh?

So why wine? Why throw wine-centered events to raise money for the museum? Well, it all started 20 years ago with some very dedicated wine enthusiasts who wanted to share their passion for wine while also doing some good for the community. The Brooks was very fortunate to be the beneficiary of their knowledge and generosity. These talented individuals created the first significant wine auction in Memphis with all proceeds benefitting the Brooks. How lucky are we? Some of these guys are still involved, though not to the extent they once were. They have given so much of their time and talent over the years and we are incredibly grateful.

Over the years we have also cultivated new wine enthusiasts. Some of our events are targeted specifically to young people who are new to the world of wine. Brooks Uncorked in particular was created specifically as an introductory event. We have a host committee of young people, the ticket prices are as low as $90 for unlimited wine and food, and DJ Raiford closes out the night with a dance party on the terrace. Not bad for $90.

We also have “Warm Up to Wine” classes for small groups of 30 or so people. For as little as $25 per person, you can taste several different wines alongside cheese, bread, and fruit while hearing about the different wines in a fun, casual setting by a host who guides you through the tasting.

Wine is an interesting and multi-faceted pursuit. Whether you’re a newbie who’s not even sure if you like wine or a passionate collector who can discern berry, licorice, and tobacco just by smelling a glass of wine, there’s something for everyone to enjoy and explore. Like art, different wine appeals to different tastes. There are no right answers – you like what you like.

If you’re at all interested in wine you should check out the Brooks’ Memphis Wine + Food Series. There’s bound to be an event you would enjoy. Call a friend or two and get your tickets early. The Fleming’s Wine Dinner on February 27 is already sold out so don’t delay. Click here to learn more about all of the events in this year’s wine season http://www.theartofgoodtaste.org.


This blog is written by the hard-working and ever-inspiring Development Director Diane Jalfon.

The Tennessee Arts Commission: A Who, What, When and Why to the Arts

Last week, the Brooks was proud to host a quarterly meeting of the Tennessee Arts Commission. The TAC is one of our major supporters, and you may have seen their logo on our website and our promotional materials. But what is the TAC, exactly, and what do they do?

An agency of the Tennessee state government, The Tennessee Arts Commission was created in 1967 “to stimulate and encourage the presentation of performing, visual and literary arts throughout the state and to encourage public interest in the cultural heritage of Tennessee.” To that end, the TAC awards dozens of grants to qualified arts organizations from Memphis to Knoxville, and everywhere in between.

Some of that money helps organizations like the Brooks with general operating costs—staff salaries, utilities, maintenance, and other fairly unexciting day-to-day expenses. (Sponsors rarely like to fund general operating costs, but it’s some of the most crucial funding we receive.) Other TAC funding goes toward specific programs that fit into categories like Arts Education, Professional Development Support, and Student Ticket Subsidies.

Naturally, TAC funds aren’t just handed out to anyone who wants them. Each year, organizations undergo a competitive (and rigorous) application process. We at the Brooks are proud to be the recipients of one of the TAC’s larger grants. We’ve received this funding for years—and yet every year we have to re-apply for it, in addition to appearing in Nashville every other year to undergo a panel review. These guys aren’t kidding around.

So where does the TAC get the funds it distributes? Well, the state contributes $2.8 million, and the National Endowment for the Arts and the Department of Education pitches in another $1.3 million. But the majority of the TAC’s funding—about $5.4 million annually—comes from our state’s innovative Specialty License Plate program. Any time you see a Tennessee license plate that promotes an organization or cause (including colleges, sports teams, clubs, etc.), the TAC has benefited from its purchase. If a plate is personalized, the TAC benefits even more.

So, thanks mostly to the license plate program, the TAC disburses more than $7.5 million in grants. (The remainder of their budget goes toward operating costs, like rent, salaries, and travel.) The TAC’s income numbers place Tennessee 12th in the nation—and 1st in the South—in per capita legislative appropriations for the arts.

You can support the TAC by joining its support group, Tennesseans for the Arts, or by upgrading your boring old license plate to a spiffy new one (and emblazoning it with your nickname). You can also help them out by keeping tabs on your legislators. Are your Senator and Representative voting their support for the arts? In addition to providing enrichment and enjoyment, the arts create thousands of jobs and generate millions in revenues, so supporting them is kind of a no-brainer.

The Brooks depends on a whole network of supporters that enable us to do what we do. So, a big thanks to the Tennessee Arts Commission as well as to our other foundation, corporate, and individual donors for keeping the doors open, the lights on, and the art accessible to everyone who wants to enjoy it.

This post is authored by our Grants Manager Bob Arnold.

Guest Blogger Cort Percer Muses on Maquettes

Cort Percer is a freelance writer and event coordinator. He produced the Bicycle Film Festival Memphis 2009 and 2010 at the Brooks. Percer also works at the Peddler Bicycle Shop on Highland and is involved with the Greater Memphis Greenline, Walk, Bike! Memphis, and Revolutions Bicycle Co-op. Follow his blog at fixmemphis.blogspot.com.

Teeny Tiny Bike Racks

After seeing this article in the Flyer Emily and I made an appointment with the Urban Art Commission to view Gadsby Creson’s 40 Bike Rack Maquettes. For those of us who slept through Art School Vocabulary 101 a maquette (even my spellcheck doesn’t recognize the word!) is “a small model or study in three dimensions for either a sculptural or an architectural project.”

Now that you’ve learned something today, let’s look at a couple of the racks. Gadsby, who rides a bike only occasionally admits that she approached these racks from an artistic perspective. In some cases the art outweighs the functionality; there is no way to actually secure your bike to a rack like this:

The small portion of Memphians (even Americans) who use our bikes for more than recreation need to know our bike is secure. Bike racks can do this and be artistic at the same time. The best bike rack in Memphis is at the Brooks Museum because it incorporates the environment and is very secure. Gadsby does this in her work as well:

An anchor in front of The Cove: kinda kitschy but it works. It worked for David Byrne on Wall Street and New York’s fashion district. But you’re still limited with the number of bicycles you can attach without going full on bike-pile. Granted, getting people out on bikes is good but two people? Why not ten or twenty? We’ve seen the amount of people riding the Greenline. They’re out there. But in addition to giving them a place to ride we also need to give them a place to park. Gadsby nails it with this one:

Depending on the space between the bars you could potentially fit twelve bikes on that rack. It doesn’t imitate its environment but its got form, color, and functionality going for it. It looks pretty rad but maybe that’s just my affinity for orange.

To view the rest of the maquettes make an appointment via urbanartcommission.org. The exhibit runs through January 28th. But don’t wait until then: on November 19th and 20th as part of the “New Face for an Old Broad” event the UAC will be projecting the maquettes in their gallery space.

Development Department: Fashion vs. Culture

Diane Jalfon is the Director of Development and a strong, determined woman. A piece of advice: read her perspective and learn from her wisdom. Oh, and wish her a happy birthday, too!

I was driving home the other day listening to my friends at WKNO slog through their bi-annual pledge drive with a mix of admiration and sympathy. It’s admirable that season after season they summon an amazing amount of energy and optimism to reach their fundraising goals. But I’m sympathetic to the difficulty of raising money in these precarious economic times.

I mean, if you have to choose between eating out once a week or renewing your WKNO, zoo, or Brooks membership your are probably going to go with dinner out. Many of us are having to make choices like this these days. We’re re-evaluating what’s really important. Thankfully, there’s a lot of people choosing to invest in their community rather than buy designer clothing. Let’s face it – trends come and go. That Prada purse will be obsolete in a year or two but investing in Memphis has lasting effects. Things like WKNO radio, the world-class Memphis Zoo, and the always-interesting Brooks help make Memphis a more livable city.

Plus, there’s real value to investing in culture. For $75 a year, a family of 5 can come to the Brooks an unlimited number of times, receive free audio tours, participate in free Saturday morning art activities each month, enjoy complimentary hors d’oeuvres and beverages at 4 members-only receptions, see live music and special performances on Thursday nights, and get 10% off at the Brushmark Restaurant and Museum Store. You can’t even touch a Prada belt for less than $300.

Don’t get me wrong – I like fashion as much as the next gal. But these days I would rather spend my money on something more substantial. Invest in the Brooks – it will expand your world and get you a whole year of fun. Plus you’ll have the satisfaction of knowing you made a good investment in your community.

Click here to read more about all the memberships we offer or join now.

Diane Jalfon
Director of Development

Seasonal Food and Beautiful Surroundings: The Brushmark Restaurant

The Brooks has changed my cooking with the power of art.

Like so many other restaurants, at the Brushmark, we change our menu with the seasons. As chefs, Wally and I plan our menu the season before, using our years of experience to guess the availability of new foods. Sometimes, it is hard to be inspired to write a menu around pumpkins and chanterelle mushrooms while still serving ripe tomatoes and melons.

The Brooks offers many outlets for inspiration. The changing exhibitions have always yielded good ideas. In 2007, the Brushmark paired Ethiopian injera and piri piri with “Power Dressing: Men’s Fashion and Prestige in Africa”. Later, when “Canaletto” was on display, it only seemed natural to serve northern Italian cuisine.

It’s not always a painting or photograph on a wall that drives our menu decisions. There are many other programs at the museum that help. While showing the British Television Advertising Awards every January, we serve British pub food. Films, educational programs, and seasonal holidays make it easy to make a decision on the day’s menu.

September 15th through October 15th is National Hispanic Heritage Month. The Brooks will be full of activities, including my favorite, a piñata workshop. The menu selections for this fall should be obvious: South American. Although most of my training is in French and Southern U.S. cuisine, I do from time to time make mole or chimi churi.

On our new menu, we will wrap Newman Farms pork in banana leaves, and roast it slowly over apple wood smoke until tender. This will be served in a torta bolillo, or Mexican sandwich similar to a mini baguette. For dessert: my take on tres leches. I have used my knowledge of French patisserie to recreate this tasty cake. For the base, we use a Jaconde or thin almond cake. It absorbs the three sweet milks very well while still holding its shape. We pair the cake with braised figs, more almonds, and a citrus fig caramel made from dulce leche (caramelized milk).

From the kitchen… we can’t wait to see what the museum inspires us to do next!

Andrew Adams, Chef de Cuisine
Brushmark Restaurant
Memphis Brooks Museum of Art

Riddle Me This: What do Brooks Members do When They’re Not at the Museum?

They put on their best dresses and ride in the Midnight Classic!
Check out Brooks member, Michael Hoots, as he participates in full form for the annual ride to benefit Meritan. Hoots started riding for exercise after an injury, but his good-deed riding didn’t start here. Hoots also participates in the AIDS Lifecycle Ride to End Aids, a 7 day ride from San Fransisco to LA. He had his amazing red dress made for the ride and he said, “he wanted something that represented Memphis”. Read more about his experiences here.

Check out how other folks represented Memphis at the annual bike ride with Piggly Wiggly, University of Memphis jerseys, and a Brooks employee’s parents!

Maggie Exner the Magnificent

Maggie works as On-Call Admissions Coordinator and in the catering department at the Brooks. When she’s not at work (rare), she’s plugging away creating new forms both sculpturally and two-dimensionally. Typically, my work explores themes of human experience in particular environments through the form of drawing. In my drawings I create strange environments that are reminiscent of the real world but heavily animated. These become the playing grounds for imaginative characters that interact with their surroundings.

Last Friday, Exner turned a typical dive bar into an art space wonderland by installing decorated sculptures mimicking clouds and heat juxtaposed with paintings, drawings, and other mediums. Her work is not only unique, but challenges other artists to go beyond their imagination into another realm of creativity.

The environment I am creating in this show is one familiar to most people spending their summers in Memphis: hot, miserable, and uninspiring. Our appetites and television sets drive most of our daily decisions. Yet, visually, the dark reality of the matter is understated, concealed by the bright, colorful, and chaotic elements of the installation: swirls of recreated sunlight, cotton candy ice cream cones, and detachable plastic limbs, just to name a few. The characters are real people who I will fashion according to the aesthetics of my work through costume and makeup. As the characters wander through this fantastic world, they add life and movement to the installation, becoming caught up in the “Heat Wave.” Essentially, Heat Wave is a fun, colorful distraction, one that will satisfy your visual and social appetite, if only for a little while.

To read an article about Maggie and her show in The Memphis Flyer, click here.

To see an extended body of her work, click here.

The artist’s website