Sonya Clark’s Woven Combs Will Live Permanently at the Brooks!

GREAT news from our chief curator, Marina Pacini: Thanks to the   many people who have generously donated funding, Sonya Clark’s Woven Combs will live permanently at the Brooks! And the artist herself will be here for a lecture on Thursday, August 30.

This blog is written by Andria Lisle Public Relations and Public Events Manager for the Brooks.

If I Can Dream Recap

The Brooks enjoyed an energetic opening reception for the If I Can Dream exhibition on view in the Education gallery until September 16, 2012.  The exhibition is a result of an international art contest in partnership with Elvis Presley Enterprises to commemorate the 35th anniversary of Elvis Presley’s death.

The artworks, selected by a professional panel of judges, were created in response to the quote “If I Can Dream.” This inspirational tune marked the rebirth of Elvis’ career when he sang it in a heart-felt performance during the final episode of his 1968 NBC comeback special, Elvis. Written by the show’s musical director W. Earl Brown, after the tragic assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in Memphis, the lyrics describe a world full of hope and free of doubt, pain, and fear.

Visitors of the exhibition have the opportunity to vote for Fans Favorite through August 18th. The winner will receive a $220 gift card to, a trophy, and a certificate of appreciation.

Congratulations to all of the artists chosen for the exhibition!

  “…while I can think, while I can talk, while I can stand, while I can walk, while I can dream, please let my dream come true…” –lyrics from “If I Can Dream”

This blog is written by Jenny Hornby Assistant Curator of Education for the Brooks.

Last Two Weeks of Wacky Wednesdays!

Get hyped up for Wacky Wednesdays at the Brooks with our Brooks Kids page! We also offer tons of family friendly events, which you can check out here!

Make sure you unwind from all of the wacky fun with our 3 new exhibitions: The Soul of a City: Memphis Collects African American Art, Elvis is in the Building, and Early Quilts from Southern Collections.

Winter, Wine, Summer, Fall…

It’s that time of year again! Beginning with the Fleming’s Wine Dinner at the end of February we kick-off what is known around the Brooks as wine season. In like a lion, we hit the ground running in March! The Memphis Wine + Food Series, now in it’s 19th year, is the premier fundraising event for the museum and the money raised goes directly to fund our award-winning education programs and community outreach initiatives. I am very proud to be able to work on the events that support such dynamic programming appealing to our diverse community and making the Brooks such a bright spot for our city.

Wine season is my favorite time of year but definitely the busiest, too. The entire wine committee works hard to insure that we have excellent auction items, the very best wine and food, and full seats at all of our events. Wine season is marked by tons of wine donations flowing it- you should see my office when I let it build up! In addition to wine, we get generous donations of other items such as jewelry, clothing, trips, art, gift certificates- you name it!

After a couple of Warm Up to Wine classes- the first of which was held at Sole last month and next Tuesday Napa Café hosts the Pinot Power themed tasting-we are ready for Brooks Uncorked on April 15th , by far the most fun party in town! Our fantastic distributors pour some of the very best wines while guests enjoy an awesome silent auction, live entertainment by DJ Raiford AND food by some of our favorite local restaurants. In addition to our distributors, we have the distinct pleasure of working with some of the finest restaurants in town again this year who are donating their time and talent for our patrons to enjoy. This year’s lineup includes: Spindini, Owen Brennan’s, Memphis Pizza Cafe, Amerigo’s, Sole, Interim, Frank Grisanti’s, Ciao Bella, Thyme, Cortona and more!

April showers or not, we don’t slow down after Brooks Uncorked. We have 3 more events after all! We salute the wines from the family of Silver Oak Cellars for our culminating events in May. Even though our winemaker, Daniel Baron and featured chef, Dominic Orsini also of Silver Oak fame clearly hail from California we are bringing a local focus to our wine + food events this year in an exciting Farm to Table effort. Together with Brooks resident chefs Wally Joe and Andrew Adams we invited chefs Felicia Willett (of Felicia Suzanne’s) and Dominic Orsini to prepare memorable dishes using local ingredients for the elegant Patrons Dinner on May 6th. Then the very next day local restaurants set up at the Brooks so serve some of their signature fare to guests at the Grand Auction. With special guest, featured artist Thomas Arvid, all of our friends from Silver Oak, local restaurants, retailers and sponsors all showing up to support our city’s museum, it is truly fascinating to see how world-class wine, food and art converge at the Brooks for the Memphis Wine + Food series, celebrating the art of good taste in grand fashion in 2011.

This blog is written by Lindsey Hedgepeth Development Assistant/Fundraising Events for the Brooks.

Go Jo Ann: Brooks Graphic Designer Creates a WEVL Pledge Shirt

As I was sitting at home with my beaux staring off into our (his) record collection, he shouted “oh, check this out”. You see, his employer plays WEVL all day, everyday and if you have a radio, you know that they are having their pledge drive right now. He has met and heard me talk about our new (not so new, now) Graphic Designer, Jo Ann Moss. She is in more than one club and has a great eye for the arts-sounds cool, doesn’t she?

So, he shouts, “check this out!” I blink and turn to see what all the shouting is about, and he says, “look what Jo Ann made”. I’m shocked that I didn’t know about this, but apparantly I’m the only one, because the very next day (or like two days later), I see a man wearing her design!
I of course start talking to him about it, and proudly proclaim that I work with the designer and tell him all about the museum!
Thank you, Jo Ann for supporting the arts in so many ways!

‘Tis (already!) the season…The Brooks Offers Green Gifts that Keep on Giving

The holidays are just around the corner and Christmas is only 5 weeks away. Want to give the gift that lasts all year? Hunting for a way to reduce your carbon footprint and save the environment? Well, look no further because RED is the new GREEN at the Brooks!

There is no better gift to give than a membership to the Memphis Brooks Museum of Art, Tennessee’s oldest fine arts museum. With 29 galleries and 9,000 works of art, there is something for everyone at the Brooks, so share our masterpieces with the special people in your life.

Memberships start at only $50 and Brooks members can purchase gift memberships for half price.

Things to look forward to as a Brooks Member:

• Twelve months of unlimited free museum admission
• Invitations to exclusive members-only openings and receptions
• 10% discount at the Museum Store and Brushmark restaurant
• Free admission to Brooks After Hours events
• Member Appreciation Days
• Reciprocal membership at over 30 museums in the Southeastern U.S.
• Exclusive members-only events, such as Brooks Books and Hello, Brooks!
• And much, much more!

Purchase your gift memberships today by calling Kiley at 901.544.6230.

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

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 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.

Fashion Mimics Art: An Urban Insight

Anyone who has ever met me once knows that I LOVE clothes. I’m not picky-I’ll shop anywhere, but I frequent Urban Outfitters quite a bit. As the Memphis readers might know, we don’t have one here (yet), so I peruse their website in search of reasonably priced treasure. As an Art History graduate and museum employee, I also LOVE art and all things creative. So when I stumbled upon tee shirts with Barbara Kruger, Egon Schiele (my personal favorite artist) and Keith Haring imagery, I not only swooned, but was, as an art person, proud.                        

The debate over fashion mimicking art and vice versa is a moot one, in my opinion-they clearly inspire eachother. But in this case, there is an obvious I put this image on a white tee because everyone loves Keith Haring thing going on here. I can’t bring myself to purchase these kinds of shirts as proud as I am, simply because I feel like maybe art is becoming mainstream. Why would that bother me?

Maybe I’m taking this too personally. Art is something every person experiences and enjoys, and i love the fact that others appreciate what i hold near and dear to my heart. Which is probably why I’m feeling a bit too territorial. So now when I see someone sporting an Egon Schiele tee, I feel like I have the inside scoop. In these now regular occurences I’ll smile and think, “man, that Art History degree was worth it”.

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

FILM:M for Mississippi: A Road Trip Through the Birthplace of the Blues

August 5 | 7pm

A documentary about Mississippi and its famous Delta blues, M for Mississippi tells the story of several artists and their cultural influences on music from the South. This film takes the viewer from one place to the next ranging from the fields and farms to the bars and juke joints to demonstrate the deep range of Mississippi music. A Q & A with the fillmakers will follow the movie.

Easily one of the best documentary films made about the blues in years.
– Blues & Rhythm Magazine

For more information about this film, or other films at the Brooks, click here.

Exhibitions Department: Behind-the-Scenes

Did you ever want to know how an exhibition is set up? Or wonder what everyone’s doing behind the closed doors of an upcoming show? Kip Peterson, Collections Manager/Registar here at the Brooks, finally shines some light. Kip is not only super smart, but she’s also really funny and nice. Read on — I guarantee pure enjoyment.

Ever wonder what happens once an exhibition has finished its tour? Well, Mr./Ms. Art Lover, many months of planning go into the take down, or de-installation, of a show. I’ll use Venice in the Age of Canaletto as an example.

Planning for the return of the artworks to each lending institution began about a year and a half before the exhibition opened at the Brooks on February 14, 2010.

Once the doors to the public close, the behind-the-scenes work begins. First, all of the artwork is checked, or condition reported, by a registrar to determine if any changes to the condition of the piece have occurred while on view at the museum. Once that process is completed the museum preparators, or exhibition art handlers, re-pack the work in the crate provided for travel. But wait, I’m jumping ahead, I want to tell you about the many details that happen before we repack the art.

After contacting several art transportation companies for both cost estimates and possible travel dates, an art transport company was selected. Then I contacted each museum registrar informing them that my preliminary plans had their loan being returned sometime during the last two weeks of May 2010. At that time I also asked if the museum intended to send a courier (registrar or conservator) to oversee the packing of their artwork. Granted, it was a bit early, but the exhibition was scheduled to close in May…as in…Memphis in May, and a limited amount of hotel rooms are available in Memphis! Out of the twenty museums lending to the Canaletto exhibition, eight responded that they would require a member of their staff to be present at Brooks when their artwork was re-packed for the return shipment home. Working with the assistant to the director I was able to secure the hotel rooms ahead of time. Check, scratch that off my list!

Next, I determined the exact route that each of the five trucks used to return the artwork to the lending museums, keeping in mind the value of each artwork, due to a predetermined value cap allowed per truck. One of the most important parts of the return process is finding the shortest, thereby hopefully the safest, route by which the artwork will travel. Additionally I must arrange with each museum for their delivery on a particular day, at a certain time, in order to fit their schedule as well as the truck schedule. Each climate-controlled truck will also have a courier – a museum Registrar – riding with the two drivers, overseeing the delivery of the artwork to the lending institution. (Little know fact: the truck has two drivers so that the truck keeps moving along the return route, another safety precaution.) Each courier has a “release” sheet listing each museum, address, contact person, phone number, crate identification number and crate size to be returned. Additionally, there are hotel reservations to make (after days on a truck one needs a shower!) and airline tickets to purchase (each museum courier needs to come home and get back to work!). Whew….

Now, let’s get back to the actual packing of the artwork by the museum preparators. Once repacked all crates are marked with the date packing is completed and a return label is attached. In this instance, because five separate climate-controlled art trucks will transport the returning artworks to the various museums around the country, the crates will also have a “color code” label … i.e. the RED label crates will be loaded on the westbound truck, the GREEN label crates will be loaded on the northeast truck, etc. In this instance it took three separate days for the five trucks to be loaded and begin the long journey home for the artwork.

I was very sad to see this exhibition come to a close. I felt like I was sending my child to her first day of school…without me…as I waved good-bye to each departing truck. This exhibition and catalogue had absorbed most of my work day for several years and now it was gone. Well, now I can look forward to Who Shot Rock and Roll: A Photographic History, 1955 — Present. What a great work life I have!

To learn more about our past, current and upcoming exhibtions, click here.

To learn about events surrounding the Who Shot Rock & Roll Exhbition, click here.

John Salvest: The Finished Consumo Ergo Sum

This time equipped with kneepads (a quick fix to the many hours spent on the floor assembling his art), John Salvest arrived at the Brooks last Thursday to complete his installation of Consumo Ergo Sum.

I, once more, came armed with a camera and questions for the artist. As a follow up to curiosities triggered during our previous meeting, I asked, “Does your art prompt the collection of objects like bottle caps, or do you accumulate the items first and afterward conceive the art?” Mr. Salvest explained that it goes both ways.

He amassed business cards for 8 to 9 years before picturing their artistic design, the result being Nothing Endures (1998). Smoke-Free (2004) proved the exact opposite; he collected cigarette butts with the preconceived idea to shape them into a likeness of the American flag. Consequently, his creative process seems a combination of waiting, deliberation, persistence, and chance.

Smoke-Free and his latest composition Seize the Day (2010), a medicine cabinet filled with pain pills patterned to spell the title, flank Consumo Ergo Sum in the Kraft Gallery at the Brooks. The effect proves a visually and conceptually stunning success. Together, the three works fluently articulate heedless consumption as well as fated transience, and they probe the use and meaning of repetitive, iconic imagery. Mr. Salvest’s artworks also cast back to the Tunisians mosaics just hosted at the Brooks. This reference reveals the influence of an age-old technique on contemporary artistic productions.

Posted casually in front of his accomplished work, Mr. Salvest presented a gallery talk Thursday evening, which proved the perfect capstone to his installation. What began with an engaging narration of the artist’s aesthetic progression and journeys to Tunisia and Turkey led to a fantastic roundtable discussion with the audience. Topics included the conversion of found objects into art objects, the process and psychology of collectors, the use of patriotic symbols in art, and the conservation of contemporary art and material heritage. One theme, above all, resonated: time. Acknowledging a desire to express time in tangible form, Mr. Salvest transforms everyday, seemingly expendable items into unexpected relics. By continuing to accumulate these objects, I believe he demonstrates that time is not meant to be static but rather to move, evolve, and expand—much like his art.

This striking installation will be showcased at the Brooks only through this September. For that reason, carpe diem—seize the day—and come see and consider Consumo Ergo Sum, a work unquestionably worth both the artist and the viewer’s time.

Memphis Scene: Community Curated Exhibit

Check out the talent of your fellow Memphians! Memphis Scene collected entries submitted from all over the city to compete via Flickr to gain the top spot in this diverse exhibition.

Celebrating the diversity of the arts in Memphis, the Memphis Scene exhibition now on view through August 1, 2010, harmoniously fuses music and the visual arts. From the blues, rock and roll, hip-hop, soul, and indie music to painting, mixed media, photography, and sculpture, the artworks in this exhibition capture the vitality, energy, and passion of our city.

In a historic place with a musical pedigree that is unmatched in the United States and a burgeoning art scene that is garnering nationwide recognition, the Brooks is honored to present a community-created, community-curated exhibition highlighting the talents of local artists and the music that inspires them. This showcase is much more than a display of art, it is a commemoration and a dedication to our city’s rich artistic heritage . . . and to its future.

Become a Docent at the Brooks!

Brooks is looking for a few good guides!

Would you like to learn more about art and share your knowledge with others? If yes, please read on!

Founded in 1965, the Brooks Docent Program was established by the Brooks Museum League. Serving thousands of visitors each year, Brooks docents engage their audiences with the artwork on view and foster the development of visual and creative thinking skills, often providing the first contact many children and adults have with the visual arts. We strive to provide a positive, meaningful, and relevant experience with art.

What is a Docent? A docent is a museum-trained volunteer who conducts tours of the permanent collection and special exhibitions for children or adults. The word docent is derived from the Latin word docere, meaning to teach. Volunteers receive a six-month training course in the museum’s permanent collection, art history, and touring techniques. The Brooks Education department is actively recruiting new docents for the next training program this fall beginning September, 2010.

Training consists of two half days per week during the six month program. Once the initial training is complete, each docent is asked to make a two-year commitment and select one day per week, from September through May, to conduct scheduled tours. In addition, attendance at monthly training meetings is required. Qualified candidates are interviewed and selected based on their ability to communicate information knowledgeably and enthusiastically.

Prior experience or an art background is not required. Anyone who has an interest in art and lifelong learning can be a docent. Though Brooks docents are as diverse as the artwork they present, they share the following:

• A love of art
• A passion for learning and teaching
• An ability to communicate effectively
• Enthusiasm, Creativity, and Flexibility


• Opportunities for continuing education and personal growth
• Support of an enthusiastic and dedicated docent peer group
• Ongoing training in teaching and learning theory, art and art history, and special exhibitions
• Art lectures, gallery talks, and curator tours
• Discounts on Museum membership, the Museum Store, and the Brushmark Restaurant
• An opportunity to serve the community—enriching lives and transforming others through the power of art

If you are interested in learning more about becoming a volunteer docent, call 901-544-6215, email or visit the Brooks website and download a docent application today!