Frida and Diego, Johns and Rauschenberg, Pollack and Krasner, Christo and Jeanne-Claude, Alfred Stieglitz and Georgia O’Keeffe, Lee Miller and Man Ray, … these names are familiar to us as famous art couples. But what about Sondra Gilman and Celso Gonzalez-Falla, Herb and Dorothy, Cutie and the Boxer?
Through exhibitions and films, and with a little serendipity, the Brooks is currently celebrating three couples who have immersed themselves in the arts: Two power couple collectors, and a spritely artist duo.
Cutie and the Boxer
Ushio and Noriko Shinohara (aka Cutie and the Boxer)
Ushio put the “action” in action painting. In the 1960s, he made a name for himself punching blotches of pigment onto large scale canvases with boxing gloves, lending credence to the moniker, “the Boxer”, as he is referred to in the title of the documentary film, Cutie and the Boxer. His wife Noriko (Cutie) had a different name for him; she called him “Bullie” in her memoir by way of graphic novel sketches. This film promises to depict all the challenges and rewards that the life of two struggling artists in love brings. Cutie and the Boxer will be showing at the Brooks on Thursday, December 12th at 7 pm. Continue reading →
Grahamwood Elementary’s CLUE class visited the Brooks on Wednesday, November 20th for a day of art-making and viewing related to Greek mythology. Their itinerary included stops at the Greco-Roman Torso of Pan, 1st century B.C.E. – C.E. 2nd century; The Slaying of Medusa, ca. 1680 and The Massacre of the Children of Niobe, ca. 1680, both by Luca Giordano; and several “everyday” items from the Greco-Roman world, such as Mirror, with Scene of Venus Victrix, 2nd c. A.D. and Finger Ring Depicting Poseidon, 1st c. B.C. – 1st c. A.D..
In the studio, the students created their own mythological creatures with additional inspiration provided by author and illustrator Eric Carle. His book, Dragons and Dragons, is full of mythological creatures with accompanying poems. Using markers, collage materials and everything they had learned, here is what they came up with:
Janie Peacock, 9th grader at Hutchison School, chimes in on what #MemphisShared means to her. Follow her @peacockjanie
Flashback to six years ago, when taking a picture required pulling out the two-inch deep camera. The film held a limited amount of room for photos, so after taking a few pictures you had to deliver the film to a store specially made for printing photos. Then you waited a few days for the order to come in. Taking a photo required a lot of effort, and therefore was not done frequently by those who weren’t dedicated photographers.
Fast forward to the present day, when taking a picture requires pulling out the less-than-half-an-inch smartphone. After taking as many photos as you want, you have countless options as to how to share the photos. You could download the good ones onto your computer (also known as the downfall of the photo printing businesses), post them on various social media sites, or you could simply keep them on your smartphone to refer back to whenever you want.
The #MemphisShared exhibition shows how greatly photography has evolved over the years; the social media sites that didn’t exist even a year ago have opened new doors for anyone with a smartphone. The beauty of photography today is that you don’t even have to be a photographer to capture the essence of any small details. At the exhibit, the wide variety of snaps all taken by Memphians proves how connected people are today, and it shows how simple it is to take a picture of something in the moment. You don’t have to plan for when you take out your camera; you don’t have to replace the film or wipe off the lense. Technology today provides anyone with the ability to capture something as it is happening. Continue reading →
Gallery Security Officer Lilian Woods has been working at the Memphis Brooks Museum of Art since last December. That’s thirty-six weeks at 40 hours a week, which roughly (art school math) equals 1,440 hours on her feet–and when the galleries are not full of visitors, looking at art. Her favorite piece is Light of the Incarnation by Carl Gutherz. Smart choice for a Brooks’ employee: It was Gutherz who first committed the idea of an art museum in Memphis’ Overton Park to paper. In 1906, as a favor to Mrs. EA Neely, Gutherz sketched what would later become the Memphis Brooks Museum of Art on the back of sheets of stationary. Later, when Bessie Vance Brooks endowed the project with start-up money in honor of her late husband Samuel Hamilton Brooks (Neely’s husband’s business partner, as it were) architect James Gamble Rogers based his design on this cocktail napkin-esque Gutherz sketch.
But Light of the Incarnation is no sketch. On the museum’s entry level in the 19th century American art gallery, at over 6 1/2′ x 9 1/2′, this painting demands the room. In addition to being large, there are at least 30 gilt relief halos to account for, and innumerable details which reveal themselves as gifts for committed viewers. Mrs. Woods is one of those viewers. Hear her explain what is going on in Light of the Incarnation below:
Molly Kennedy, whose business specializes in portraits and lifestyle shots, is leading a workshop all about digital SLR photography at the Museum on November 16. Brooks Blogger Erin Williams posed a series of different photography situations to her, and got great responses as to why everyone from the new dad to the travel ‘round the world retiree would benefit from her teachings.
There is a lot going on in there….. Olympus E-30 DSLR Camera with Zuiko Digital ED 14-54mm F2.8-3.5 II. Cut model at the -30 Fair in Tokyo, December 2008, Author: Hanabi123
Congratulations! You’ve just bought your first Digital SLR Camera. It will be perfect for capturing those ideal moments – your sister’s graduation from high school, your nephew’s first birthday, your best friend’s first live concert performance in the park. But wait – you know there’s more than one setting than ‘Auto,’ right? Your camera has the power to do more with the image in front of it than you ever imagined – and that’s before you insert it into Photoshop. Molly Kennedy, photographer and owner of Good Golly Photography, is here to show you how. “A lot of people make the big leap to the digital SLR, and then keep it on Auto the whole time,” she says. “What I’m going to be doing is showing you how your camera works, how to use it and how to get the best pictures out of what you have.”
First of all, why should we bother to take our cameras off of the Auto setting? Doesn’t that take care of everything we need in a photo?
Your camera can only do so much, and when it’s on Auto, it doesn’t necessarily know what the best setting is. It’s a very smart machine, but it can…be so much greater. The Auto settings are going to let you get by with some pretty decent pictures, but unless you really know how to use your camera you’re not going to know how to get all those creative effects. People always ask me, ‘How do you get those little round lights in the back of your pictures?’ And it’s called Bokeh. If you keep your camera on Auto you’re not going to get the bokeh. Everything is going to be in focus, everything is going to be sharp, it’s not going to naturally just give you that look. I teach you how to achieve those types of looks by taking over the controls and not just letting your camera decide what the best settings are. Continue reading →
National World War II Memorial, on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. Photo taken by Kmf164 on December 6, 2005.
W. Eugene Smith is best known for his uncompromising photo essays of the battlefield, prisoners-of-war, and U.S. Marines. Working for Life Magazine, Smith photographed the front lines of World War II and was injured several times before being unable to return to the field.
The Walk to Paradise Garden, the W. Eugene Smith photo on view at the Brooks as part of Shared Vision, is of an altogether different– sentimental, variety.
The injuries he suffered during the war were so debilitating, Smith was unsure he would ever be physically capable of picking up a camera again. It was not until his two children, emerging from a dark alcove toward the light of the sun, provided him with the perfect “decisive moment” that he found the energy to give it a shot. With their backs to him, he managed to load the film into his camera and capture an all to life-affirming photograph. He was back in the game.
On November 1st and 2nd, the Brooks invited local schools and the community to celebrate the Mexican holiday of El Día de Muertos with Mariachi, Catrinas, Aztec dancers, face painting, and a lot of art.
As a theme of this year’s celebration, visitors made art and participated in activities inspired by the traditional folk art form of Calaveritas de azúcar, or Sugar Skulls. Traditional sugar skulls are quite labor intensive. They are made in small batches by expert candy makers using boiled sugar and clay break-away molds. Skull makers typically work 4-6 months to create enough sugar skulls for the Day of the Dead celebrations! After skulls are cast and cooled, they are colorfully decorated with icing, pieces of bright foil, colored sugars, and other adornments. Mounds of colorful skulls are sold in outdoor village markets. Continue reading →
Membership Manager Dr. Genevieve Hill-Thomas explains how 3-D glasses are relevant to the museum’s permanent collection.
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 →
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 College senior Annie Herman on her plans to mobilize Memphis’ Spanish-speaking community–online and off.
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 →
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.
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 →
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 →
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.
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.
A train-turned “kinetic light sculpture” with a curated passenger list is somewhere between Kansas City and Sante Fe by now. Station to Station, brainchild 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 →