Saturday, January 15, 2011

Ride a Yellow School Bus to the Art Museum!

One of the chief attractions of being my own boss is setting my own schedule.  The downside of that is more late night and/or weekend work sessions, but it also means I don't need anyone's permission to take the afternoon off so I can chaperone a second-grade field trip to the art museum like I did yesterday.

Anders' class was one of the first student groups to tour the Mint Museum Uptown, which just opened in Charlotte, North Carolina in October of 2010.  We were confined to the fourth floor on our hour-long tour but we still felt rushed.  The students and adults alike could have spent a whole day at the museum without running out of things to see.

One of my favorite exhibits was this early 20th century wool bathing costume, complete with suede-bottomed, cotton sateen bathing shoes.  The Mint Museum displays this getup adjacent to an Impressionist beach painting from the same era depicting people wearing bathing suits very similar to this one. 

Can I just tell you how much I LOVE this bathing suit?!  Maybe not in wool, but the black is very slimming, and no more bikini waxing and no more situps necessary for a beach-ready body.  This suit was considered very daring at the time due to the low neckline and bare arms.  Oh, how times have changed...

Philip the Fair by Kehinde Wiley, 2006, Oil & Enamel on Canvas
 This painting was another of my favorites.  It's on loan from a private collection and it had a sign that read, "No Photography Except for Rebecca" (I swear!).  The artist is Kehinde Wiley and although I'd never heard of him before yesterday, I looked him up online and I really love his work.  He uses the technique, scale, and composition of traditional Western European portaiture, but instead of powerful white men in powdered wigs, his subjects are minority men in everyday urban street garb.  These portraits are intended to invite discussions about power and powerlessness, race, and cultural inheritances, but they are also just plain fun.  I love how the man in Philip the Fair seems to be coming out of the floral wallpaper, plucking a dainty little flower.

I'm about as far from an urban minority man as you can get, but I'd love it if someday Wiley could paint my portrait.  I'd like it to be a spoof of Jacques-Louis David's portrait of Madame RĂ©camier, except that I'd be wearing my husband's sweatpants and thermal T-shirt, I'd have a messy ponytail instead of an elegant hairdo, and I'd be holding a big Starbucks coffee cup. 
Madame RĂ©camier by Jacques-Louis David, 1800
I took the picture of that David painting when I was at the Louvre in Paris last year -- Now, back to the Mint Museum Uptown in Charlotte, North Carolina!

Einstein, 1988, by Judy Fox, Terra Cotta & Casein Paint
 This sculpture was Anders' favorite exhibit.  The artist is Judy Fox, who creates life-size ceramic portraits of historically significant people, but depicts them as small children.  According to the wall plaque, this baby Einstein sculpture is meant to convey the childlike "innocence and fearless curiosity" of Nobel Prize-winning physicist Albert Einstein.  

Still, it's more than a little alarming to come around the corner in the museum and see a life-size, very realistic looking naked baby apparently sailing through the air!

Another exhibit that the students particularly enjoyed was this huge sculpture by Danny Lane incorporating different types of glass, steel, mirror, poplar burl wood, and LED lights. 

Threshold, 2010, by Danny Lane

Side View of Threshold

Anders checks out Pacific Rose 1997, an included glass sculpture by John Kuhn

Realm of Dream 2007, by Binh Pho, Turned & Carved Box Elder, Paint, Gold Leaf & Dye
 The peacock feather motifs on this vase by
Binh Pho reminded me of my friend, interior designer, author, & fabric designer Jackie Von Tobel. 

If you live in the Charlotte area, I strongly recommend you check out the Mint Museum Uptown.  If not, go explore the museums in your neck of the woods.  I wasn't expecting much from our art museum since Charlotte is such a small city, but I was pleasantly surprised.  And if you live in a big city like New York or Chicago and you have never visited your art museum, shame on you! 


Anonymous said...

I'm totally getting a visual of you on the chaise in your husband's garb with of course, your Starbucks in hand!

Loved that vase!

Joann Mannix said...

I love your idea of your modern version of you on the chaise! Simply awesome.

What beautiful treasures, (maybe not so much the weird, flying baby, but the rest of them). Thank you so much for sharing.

And the Louvre. Oh the Louvre. I spent my entire time there weeping at all the splendor and beauty surrounding me. I'm sure everyone thought I was a total weirdo.

Unknown said...

I loved every single picture you posetd...mostly Philip the Fair and the flying baby, but seriously, what a great trip. Now I want to come to Charlotte. We can meet up and grab some coffee.