What’s the big deal about touring the Brooks in 3D?

Membership Manager Dr. Genevieve Hill-Thomas explains how 3-D glasses are relevant to the museum’s permanent collection.

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Dr. Stanton Thomas gives his stereoscopic analysis

Since American Paper Optics was kind enough to donate 3D glasses to the museum, what else could we do but organize a member’s tour through the permanent collection that uses these optical devices? Gimmicky? Perhaps. Ironic? Definitely! Regardless, we’ll explore the science of art and optics throughout history, from the Renaissance to present day.

Although 3-D shades seem like a new thing, or at least new since the 1950s, complementary color (red-cyan) anaglyph glasses, or 3-D glasses, actually were invented in 1852 by Wilhelm Rollmann in Leipzig, Germany.[i]  Yep, 1852, not 1952. Rollman realized that the human brain uses stereoscopic processing to compile two distinct images from each eye.  Materials for 3-D viewing are printed as two overlapping images corresponding to the perspective of each eye, each using contrasting colors (such as red and cyan). They are superimposed upon each other so that when the proper filters are placed over each eye, your mind combines them in a manner so that you perceive depth.  Of course, these types of images are specially designed to be used with anaglyph glasses—something that is not true of most art in major metropolitan art museums.

So what’s the point of wandering through the galleries with 3D glasses? Continue reading

West Side Story in Memphis

©Amy Boyle Photography

For everyone who has been engrossed in Hispanic Heritage along with us at the Brooks, to those who cannot resist a narrative as old as time (this pretty much covers everybody, now), Memphis’ Grand Opera House, the Orpheum, has the perfect dénouement for fall.

Before it was Romeo and Juliet, it was Tristan and Isolde–two fated lovers whose origins were Persian, or Celtic, depending on who you ask. For purposes here, the tragic tale started on the Upper West Side and is now running on Main and Beale Street, in Bernstein and Sondheim’s West Side Story, through November 10th.

Betwixt and between Maria and Tony, West Side Story‘s  Romeo and Juliet, are the “Sharks” from Puerto Rico and the Polish-American “Jets”. The opposing groups are defined by their respective roots and mutual dislike of one another; a strong use of color delineates this on stage. The “Sharks” appear clad in shiny purple, lit by cool blues turning fuschia when passion is at play. The “Jets” are a working-class ruffian crew, and the yellow and orange of sun-up follow them as they shuffle to the sounds of the orchestra, leap, sing, and shout. Of course the moral of the story is what happens when the two groups, themselves of light and dark skin tones, meet and mix, attract and repel. Continue reading

Rhodes CODA Stages Takeover Of Brooks’ Instagram Account

Rhodes College senior Annie Herman on her plans to mobilize Memphis’ Spanish-speaking community–online and off.
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Do you “Instagram”….or have you always wanted to learn?  I hope you will join me this Saturday November 2nd at the Brooks for the Día de los Muertos Community Day celebration.  My name is Annie Herman and I am a fellow at the Center for Outreach in the Development of the Arts (CODA) at Rhodes College. The Center aims to foster leadership, vision, and innovative thinking in Rhodes students with a passion for the fine arts. CODA fellows complete ten hours of community service each week in the Memphis Community related to arts outreach.

Utilizing the social media tool “Instagram”, we will be using the tags “#BrooksDia” and “#CODARhodes” to create a unique real-time photography exhibition of the Dia de los Muertos Community Day celebration. Attendees can help out by joining forces and capturing images of the days’ events on their smartphones and then sharing these shots on Instagram. Rhodes College student volunteers will be joining me to answer your Instagram questions and help create the live feed.    These students, all currently enrolled in Professor Elizabeth Pettinaroli’s upper level Spanish Literature classes at Rhodes, will be wearing special # BrooksDia T-shirts.  We all look forward to interacting with Community Day participants and helping to create this real-time event. Continue reading

Let’s Build Some Visual Literacy: Conversation with Coriana Close

In a conversation with blogger Erin Williams, the 29 year-old Ohio native let us in on her influences, thoughts on if film photography will forever be a thing of the past, and why it takes more than a cell phone camera to call yourself a true photographer.

shared vision tour.Coriana Close

When it comes to explaining why artists do what they do, sometimes the best points of view can only be understood by a fellow artist. Coriana Close, photographer and assistant professor at University of Memphis will attempt just that on Thursday, when she leads a guided tour of Shared Vision that explores the changes of the history of photography as seen in photos from the exhibit. An Oberlin College and University of Arizona Alum, she most recently showcased a collection of her photo and video work at Wrong Again Gallery, in an exhibition titled Solar that focused on time spent in Vieques and Puerto Rico. Continue reading

The Paik Sessions II: Music for Vide-O-belisk | Call for Entries

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Vide-O-belisk is an assemblage designed by Nam June Paik, who is generally considered the father of video art. Standing nineteen feet (6 m), this sculpture is made from twenty-four vintage television receivers stacked to form an obelisk. The television screens display three distinct video loops: One features significant art objects from the Brooks’ permanent collection and imagery of ancient Egypt—an obvious reference to the city on the Nile from which Memphis, Tennessee got its name; a second loop is devoted to the advent of television, showing the essential mechanical parts of TV technology, as well as key moments in its history, such as man’s landing on the moon and an Elvis Presley performance; the third is composed of performers that had inspired and collaborated with Paik himself. John Cage, Laurie Anderson, and Charlotte Moorman, as well as other significant composers and performing artists appear in this footage. Continue reading

Altars Made By Students and Teachers

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Maritza Davila stopped by on the 19th to give her Memphis College of Art students a tour of her show, Ancestry and Identity: Prints of Maritza Davila. We already ran an interview with her here in which she discussed her familial subject matter, but anyone who showed up for class (or was emboldened to audit for a day) was treated to vignettes of her process and anecdotes that would bring a tear to your eye. The most novel of which inspired a print featuring her mother, which flanks the left side of a gallery-altar to her parents. Her mother died suddenly, and because she had always provided her large family with plenty to eat, the kitchen was stocked with home-cooked meals after her wake. Davila and her sisters made sure to ingest every last bit of their mother’s last meals – provided for her family even after she was gone.

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Down the hallway, past the auditorium and closed special exhibition galleries, and through the door to the Education Gallery, a different group of students have created their own altars. The teachers of a few local elementary schools came to the Brooks this past week to install Ofrendas: Student-made Altars, on view now until November 10th. It is the exhibition-centerpiece of the Museum’s celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month.

All aboard, now.

Alayna Van Dervort courtesy of LUMA Foundation

A train-turned “kinetic light sculpture” with a curated passenger list is somewhere between Kansas City and Sante Fe by now. Station to Stationbrainchild of experimental artist Doug Aitken and sponsored by Levi’s deep pockets, is “a nomadic happening”. And whatever is happening will happen in a total of ten cities across the country, through the efforts of the multi-media artists on board and the general public meeting up with them along the way.

That Memphis isn’t on the itinerary could ostensibly be written off as a routing issue. The passenger line that hits Bluff City follows the Mississippi River from New Orleans, passing St. Louis, then veers off to Chicago and back before returning down river. (If only someone would revisit Banvard’s Folly, but as a riverboat rock-and-booze cruise!) Of course, if your city isn’t on the selected rails, you can still take part by dipping into the project’s depthless online presence: A Tumblr – endlessly refreshed – with blog entries and 140 character Twitter wit (twit!?), plus loads of slick video: Snippets of railway ennui, momentary “jam sessions”, and capsular pre-recorded interviews of the map’s cultural doers. All the trappings of all that’s happening. Continue reading

Interview with Jimmy Davis: O’ Brother Where Art Thou?

Brooks Blogger Erin Williams talks to Jimmy Davis about Memphis, music and where to call home. Jimmy Davis will lead an O’ Brother Where Art Thou? sing-a-long at the Brooks on Saturday, September 14.

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Anyone can say that they have seen a movie, but it’s the true fans who shush those who are speaking, talk back to the screen, and even proceed to sing along when their favorite melody comes up. In the folk-music laced film O’ Brother Where Art Thou? the soundtrack stands apart with its just-for-film trio the Soggy Bottom Boys. But you’ll have to look hard to find a ‘Man of Constant Sorrow’ in Jimmy Davis, who is making his way back to the Brooks to lead a sing-a-long as the film is screened in its entirety on Saturday, September 14. Over 25 years after recording his 80’s hit “Kick The Wall” with the band Junction, the singer-songwriter’s youthful spirit continues to shine through. “That record still has some popularity in Asia and parts of Europe, which is funny in a way,” he says,”We’re going to the Netherlands in November, and I get recognized… over there. People know that record over there.”

He may reside in Texas, where he can be found onstage as a part of the country-rock group The Mystiqueros, but Jimmy Davis stands firm in his Memphis foundation. A true Renaissance man who has continued to reinvent himself time after time, the Memphis music legend chalks up his longevity to four words:  “I just work hard. It’s work. It’s fun, but it’s work.” Continue reading

Elusive and Hostile Butterflies

If monarch butterflies are conspicuously absent from your image feed, it’s not for their lack of flying (he he…sorry, it’s Friday)…at least not in Memphis. Since the summer started to end, Overton Park has been overcome with these majestic creatures (black and yellow, black and yellow) and it has been my lunchtime, mid-morning, and mid-afternoon break’s mission to capture a couple as they dance around each other.


Along with elusive butterflies, we are marking the end of summer with a send-off, as we enter the final week of Crossroads of Memory: Carroll Cloar and the American South. On September 16th, the exhibition will be crated for travel to the Georgia Museum of Art. If there has never been groupies – such as those that followed a touring band like the Grateful Dead, traveling around with an art exhibition, there very well may be now. Continue reading

Urban Sketchers; Ghost Stories, Live in the Galleries; a Manifesto

Ghost Stories, Elizabeth Alley

Urban Sketchers is an international group of self-starters committed to documenting their surroundings through the two dimensional “essence”. Put it this way: They have a manifesto. Somewhere between the Dogme 95 filmmaking collective and plein air painters, lies Urban Sketchers.

USK Manifesto:
1. We draw on location, indoors or out, capturing what we see from direct observation.
2. Our drawings tell the story of our surroundings, the places we live and where we travel.
3. Our drawings are a record of time and place.
4. We are truthful to the scenes we witness.
5. We use any kind of media and cherish our individual styles.
6. We support each other and draw together.
7. We share our drawings online.
8. We show the world, one drawing at a time.
Continue reading

The Flamingos Have Flown the Coop: Or, One Flamingo Flies Over the Cuckoo’s Nest

Public Programs Manager Andria Lisle reflects on Brooks’ Art & A Movie program and interviews photographer Susan Segal.

pink9Behind the scenes, planning our quarterly Art & A Movie programs, which are part of the larger Brooks Films program, feels a little bit like training a housecat to jump through a fiery hoop. It can be done (see: Moscow Cats Theatre), but it is often a difficult process. First, we have to choose the film and negotiate screening rights. Then we have to find a suitable art-making activity that must fit numerous criteria: It has to relate, somehow, to the accompanying film. It has to be inexpensive, interesting, and easily interpreted. It has to be open-ended enough for attendees to riff on their own. It also has to pass the eagle-eyed examination of our Chief Curator and Registrar, who have strict rules on what kind of art-making materials can be used in the Rotunda, where many works of art, including Nam June Paik’s Vide-O-belisk and photographs by William Eggleston and Ernest Withers are on view.

Paint and glue are verboten, which spurs our imagination on to more creative ideas. Make working clocks out of 45 rpm records? We did that when we screened Thunder Soul. Braid chic bracelets out of sailor’s rope? Yes, when we screened Bonjour Tristesse. Fabricate miniature chairs out of champagne cork cages? Yes, along with a packed screening of Lena Dunham’s Tiny Furniture. We’ve made ransom note Valentines (and liberally poured White Russians) for The Big Lebowski, and sewn felt mustaches for City Lights.
Continue reading

The Media Cabinet of Carroll Cloar

Over yonder at Summer of Cloar.com, Dr. Stanton Thomas has put together a list of essential reading for those of you who are HARD-CLOAR. There you’ll find Southern Gothic short stories coupled with paintings by Carroll Cloar that seem to tell the same story. In the spirit of interpretation – never exhaustive, here’s one more for the books.

Where the Woodbine Twineth (aka You Never Believe Me) by Davis Grubb.

It’s some pretty creepy/fantastic commentary about the fear that some people have of other cultures, despite their close proximity in daily life. In 1965, it was adapted into an episode of the Alfred Hitchcock Hour:


Some of you may already be familiar with Davis Grubb. He wrote The Night of the Hunter. A national bestseller in 1955 and made into a movie that same year with one-time director Charles Laughton. It’s a hard-to-categorize thriller that went on to become one of Roger Ebert’s favorite films of all-time, and is responsible for all those knuckle tattoos.

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Scene from The Night of the Hunter

Continue reading

Ancestry and Identity: Prints by Maritza Davila

Brooks blogger Erin Williams talks to the artist.

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Maritza Davila, Gallo Mañanero, 2008

Though we live our lives as individuals, the choices we make and the paths we choose are all shaped by the influences of those we let in our world. Our parents, future children and spouses, long lost friends, even politicians can shed light on the ways and means we decide to follow. For artist Maritza Davila, her life has been built like a sturdy home: Her parents laid the foundation, who raised her and her four sisters in her native Puerto Rico; was rounded out by other strong females like her daughter and aunt, and cemented through the examples and ideals of other friends, family, and students she met along the way.

Davila is a professor at the Memphis College of Art who specializes in printmaking, and has exhibited her work worldwide. Her latest exhibition, Ancestry and Identity: Prints by Maritza Davila, is framed as an altar that celebrates those she has looked up to the most. “Even though this work has been developed from a very personal point of view, they’re issues that we all deal with. They are family issues, love issues, honoring issues…they are not alien, and at least I hope they are not alien to the viewer,” she says. On the eve of its opening, we spoke with Davila about the values instilled in her by her father and mother, how she identifies as a Memphian, and what it means to have faith.
Continue reading

Rome City – Still Eternal

Our Assistant Preparator went to Rome and all we got was this knowledge he dropped.

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Rome shares a nickname with my birthplace, Lisbon, Portugal, as the “City of the Seven Hills”. But this is only one of Rome’s several nicknames, and it is world famous by the magnificent title of the “Eternal City”.  At the time of Christ’s birth, Rome was the most populous city in existence. The capital of an enormous empire, Rome survived the rise and fall of the Imperium, several barbarian invasions, Napoleon’s conquest, and even a world war. Presently, it is a chaotic European city pulsating with millions of people visiting the Coliseum or the Pantheon, spending money at the Vatican Museum, and crowding the narrow streets that converge at the Fontana di Trevi. Continue reading