Eye on Art:
Local collector reveals art nouveau treasures
Mike Roberts, firstname.lastname@example.org
4:06 p.m. CST December 4, 2015
Another one of Dr. Patrick M. Rowe’s collections is on exhibit at the Pensacola Museum of Art, 407 S. Jefferson St. The sprawling show, titled “Mucha: Master Artist of Art Nouveau,” runs through Jan. 2.
Born in the Czech Republic in 1860, Mucha helped spearhead the art nouveau movement in late 1800s France. A choir singer as a child, his secret love was drawing, which he studied later in Paris, followed by work designing posters, magazine covers and other ephemera. In 1894, his advertising design for a Sarah Bernhardt play was his big break, and it secured him a seat at the table of art nouveau. The term was an aggregate for decoration, illustration, pre-Raphaelite-inspired figure drawing and applied arts. It crossed the Atlantic more easily than other paralleling genres (such as Cubism, which was shunned at the infamous 1913 Armory Show), with help especially by Louis Comfort Tiffany’s eponymous lamps.
What Mucha had to offer was the human form, usually sumptuous models in diaphanous dress. Magazines were in their prime, and a stimulating cover was a guarantee for readership. Not to be mistaken for smut, the covers bore literary geishas like “Le Courrier Francais,” where his topless central figure poses with mini-nude personifications of the four arts: poetry, paint, music and dance.
But there was plenty of flora with the flesh, as winding vines and branches weaved intricately endless patterns. “La Passion,” from 1904, advertises a French play, staging a levitating Christ with an oculus of thorns in the backdrop. In other works, flowing hair from statuesque femmes fatale adds to this blatant fecundity, a symbolic harbinger of Modernism, whose magnitude shone brightly until Europe and a larger chunk of the world, succumbed to war.
A smaller portion of Rowe’s Mucha collection was shown at the University of West Florida’s Japan Center several years ago. His catalog of wartime drawings by Bill Mauldin was on exhibit in 2012 at TAG, The Art Gallery, and a year later, the PMA presented his prints for its blockbuster show, ‘Daumier: Art for the Masses.” Rowe taught art history at Pensacola State College and UWF from 1983-2010. He also owns works by Japanese artist Katsushika Hokusai, and Aubrey Beardsley, another card-carrying member of art nouveau.
Also at the Pensacola Museum of Art is “Collection in Context: Women Creating,” a group of women’s works from its permanent collection. The documentary “Finding Vivian Maier” will be shown at 7 p.m. Thursday. Maier, an American photographer, has three works in the show.
December 3, 2015
Since ancient time, women have contributed in some form to the visual art; however, their work was largely excluded from art history. They were regarded as inferior to their male counterparts.
It wasn’t until the modern age, specifically the wave of feminism in the 1960s that the art world started to rework its thinking. And it’s only made the study of art and artists more interesting and diverse as feminist artists often embraced non-traditional mediums, broadening the definition of fine arts.
At Pensacola Museum of Art, the latest exhibit explores its permanent collection, showcasing modern and postmodern female artists. “Collection in Context: Women Creating” explores the artwork of women through various mediums including photography, oil on canvas and etchings.
“Artist Georgia O’Keefe once stated, ‘The men liked to put me down as the best woman painter. I think I’m one of the best painters,’” said Alexis Leader, director of curatorial affairs for PMA. “This exhibit places women artists into the spotlight and showcases O’Keefe’s attitude in that these are not simply the museum’s best works by women, rather some of the museum’s best works.”
The installation is anchored by artists such as Miriam Schapiro, Louise Nevelson, May Stevens and Vivian Maier. Leader dug into the 600-plus piece permanent collection to find the woman artists acquired during PMA’s 61-year history.
“I have been digging in the museum’s Permanent Collection for well over a decade,” Leader said. “For this project, I have enjoyed working with old favorites coupled with new acquisitions—seven are being featured for the first time in this exhibition.”
“Women Creating” has been something Leader wanted to do since she returned to the museum as chief curator in 2013. The exhibition goes beyond gallery walls with a lecture from Barbara Larson, PhD, professor at University of West Florida, and a screening of the documentary “Finding Vivian Maier.”
“I am thrilled to finally have an opportunity to share it, and its accompanying exhibition-related programming, with our members and community,” said Leader.
While piecing the exhibit together, Leader said she wasn’t confined by categories — periods of art history, cultures, geographic regions or even mediums. Since the museum collection has grown to include artists such as Kathe Kollwitz, Juane Quick-to-See-Smith, Clementine Hunter, Emery Clark and Diana Kan to name a few, she had a lot to choose from.
“There was a freedom in organizing this exhibition,” she said. “Although these women have very different styles and ideas, they have all established themselves as prominent artists in a field usually dominated by men. I have pulled every work from the first woman artist purchased by the PMA, Louise Nevelson, to the most recent work acquired by the contemporary painter, Eleanor Ray.”
As a female art historian and curator, Leader has spent her career advocating for women artists.
“It is important to celebrate these artists, from all time periods and nationalities, to combat the gender bias that so often has swept these women’s achievements and talents beneath a rug of male-dominated art history,” she said.
This isn’t the first time PMA has produced an exhibit solely on female artists, but it is the first time the work has been plucked from the permanent collection, which is comprised of nationally and internationally recognized artists.
“I am proud to say that the museum has highlighted women artists in previous exhibitions,” said Leader. “However, certain works of the PMA’s collection have been featured in exhibitions, such as the museum’s 2003 ‘Divas: A Selection of Women Artists of the 20th Century,’ a remarkable exhibition curated by the PMA that paired collection pieces by artists such as Miriam Schapiro and Kathe Kollwitz with works on loan by artists such as Judy Chicago and Helen Frankenthaller.”
The PMA has also showcased solo exhibitions by notable artists such as Annie Leibovitz, Janet Fish, Jayne Holsinger and Lin Emery, Leader added.
According to the National Museum of Women in the Arts, women run about 42 percent of the museums in the United States, although they are typically the ones with the smallest budgets. In Pensacola, several local galleries are led by women.
Suzanne Robbert, president of the board at Artel Gallery, says the number of women submitting their artwork has even grown in the six years she’s volunteered as president.
“If anything, the number of female artists that enter our shows is slightly higher,” she said. “Our current exhibition, ‘Cinco Banderas,’ has 33 female artists and 27 male artists.”
While Artel blindly selects works, Robbert said recognizing female artists and exhibits such as “Women Creating” is important “to keep our historical record accurate.”
“Art is a snapshot in time capturing the culture and people,” she continued. “It is essential to recognize women in the art community; otherwise we are erasing or ignoring a part of history. What sense does it make to snub any artist based on sex, sexual orientation, race or physical or mental ability?
Recognizing women artists of today is ensuring that future generations are viewing a complete history, not a censored one.”
Leader said “Women Creating” won’t correct the gender imbalance in the art world. It still does exist — only 27 women are represented in the current edition of H.W. Janson’s survey “History of Art,” which is up from zero in the 1980s. But it is a step forward — a beautiful one at that.
“It is an important step in a progressive shift through museums worldwide in educating and inspiring their visitors to make note of these women and the part, whether large or small, that they played within the timeline of the arts,” she said.
CONTEXT IN COLLECTION: WOMEN CREATING
WHAT: An exhibition presenting the diversity and growing strength of the Pensacola Museum of Art’s Permanent Collection, highlighting female modern and postmodern artists through a variety of media including photography, oil on canvas and etchings.
WHEN: Now- Feb. 27
COST: $5-$7; Children under six and museum members are free
WHERE: Pensacola Museum of Art, 407 S. Jefferson St.
Accompanying exhibition-related programming:
PMA PRESENTS: FINDING VIVIAN MAIER
WHAT: Screening of the critically-acclaimed documentary about a mysterious nanny who secretly took more than 100,000 photographs that she kept hidden in storage. This event is hosted by the Feminist Society of Pensacola.
WHEN: 7 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 10
COST: $5; Free for museum members
WOMEN IN THE ARTS WITH BARBARA LARSON
WHAT: A lecture from Barbara Larson, PhD, professor at University of West Florida WHEN: 5:30 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 14
Local art series closes at Pensacola Museum of Art
Brooke Johnson, News Journal correspondent
November 28, 2015
An extensive collection of works from artists all over the world, present-day and past, can be viewed at the Pensacola Museum of Art, including artists from Northwest Florida.
For the past two years, the museum has presented a series that has given local artists a chance to display their talent in the museum. Each artist had an opportunity to display his or her work at the Museum for more than a month.
The Pensacola Museum of Art is the only museum in the area accredited by the American Alliance of Museums (AAM).
“It is actually a very prestigious honor to be an AAM-recognized museum," said Alexis Leader, director of curatorial arts for the Museum. "To say that you are a local artist that exhibited in an AAM-accredited museum is quite an accomplishment. Many of the local artists may have exhibited at the Artel Gallery, the University of West Florida or an art festival, but to list a museum, especially an accredited museum, makes a world of difference to a lot of these artists. If a showing is something artists want to grow their work or develop exhibitions that they can present to other museums, they can say that their works have been displayed at the Pensacola Museum of Art. Such a statement gives the artists a little bit of street credentials. This recognition is meaningful, and is rewarding as a curator to provide them with such an opportunity.”
"Light Reflects" by Margaret Biggs was shown during her solo exhibit at the Pensacola Museum of Art. (Photo: Special to the News Journal)
The museum outsources the local artists who have had works displayed at the museum. This outsourcing serves as an avenue of recognition for artists, eliminating the time and effort of promoting themselves. Some works are displayed at the request of board members who collect or would like to see certain works displayed. Some artworks are discovered at local art shows, such as the Great Gulfcoast Arts Festival, or one of the museum’s art festivals.
“The museum reaches out to local talents to see if they are interested in displaying at an art show, and we never have had anyone say no,” Leader said.
Once an artist is discovered or suggested, Leader arranges to meet with the artist to see the personal studio and works. Through collaborative sessions, Leader and the artist develop a concept and way to display the works. These are neophyte artists with no display experiences, so nurturing is essential.
“The museum staff did a wonderful job," said Margaret Biggs, one of the artists featured in the series. "I was very pleased with how the curator, Alexis Leader, chose to hang my work.”
A photo from Dottie King's exhibit "Out of Light: A Contemporary View," part of a series of local artist exhibits at the Pensacola Museum of Art. (Photo: Special to the News Journal)
Dorothy King, another local artist featured in the series, agreed.
“Of course, hanging at the PMA was a thrill," King said. "Visitors seemed to like what they were seeing and asked a lot of questions. I had the opportunity to give a talk, and that was rewarding, too.”
Currently, the museum is featuring "Life Forms," an exhibit by local artist Don Manderson. With his series, he employs the term “Simultaneity” to encapsulate the body of work displayed within this exhibition. “Simultaneity” refers to the simultaneous and insistent nature of the daily sensory experience in an increasingly technical society.
"Roots & Rememberances" was part of Pat Regan's solo exhibit at the Pensacola Museum of Art. (Photo: Special to the News Journal)
With Manderson's exhibit, the local artist series is coming to an end. There are five galleries within the museum, and Gallery 5, the smallest space, has been used for the series. But with a constantly growing permanent collection of more than 600 pieces, the space is needed to showcase works from that collection.
In addition to Manderson, King and Biggs, the series has featured Pat Regan, Nina Fritz and Filipe de Sousa.
Eye on Art: Lincoln lives at Pensacola Museum of Art
Mike Roberts, email@example.com 1
October 13, 2015
The Pensacola Museum of Art, 407 S. Jefferson St., tries its hand at history with “Lincoln: Inspiration through the Ages,” on view through Nov. 7. Works by about a dozen artists curated by the museum’s collections committee were pooled to romanticize our most celebrated president.
The exhibit’s impetus is a bronze likeness of Abraham Lincoln by the sculptor Daniel Chester French, acquired by the museum in 2014 from a local collector. The casting was commissioned by the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston in 1991 and was most likely based on the original 1916 model. French isn’t exactly a household name, but his magnum opus, Lincoln seated inside the namesake memorial in Washington, D.C., is a national — if not global — icon.
Paul Jackson painted a facsimile of the pose, the President’s right leg pushed forward to suggest his intention to stand and address the people, in blood-red watercolor. Similar to his handling of church interiors, a spotlight beams down, as if diffused through stained glass.
With idolizing monikers like “Honest Abe,” Norman Rockwell comes to the rescue with “Lincoln the Railsplitter,” as the young Abraham, who’s just finished chopping wood, stops to immerse himself in a book, a double entrende of knowledge and scripture.
A late print by Salvador Dali, on loan from the Vero Beach Museum of Art, is a female nude (based most likely on his wife, Gala) stranded in a landscape of gridded cubes. At the bottom of the image, Lincoln just happens to appear as a tiny, pixellated afterthought. Bill Mauldin, the celebrated post-World War II newspaper cartoonist, reprises French’s pose as Lincoln weeps in his chair at the news of President Kennedy’s death in 1963.
The show has a lesser aim with novelty works like Nathan Sawaya’s flat Lego blocks portrait and an enclosed case of tchotchkes, i.e., a paperweight, dolls and a glass bottle with Lincoln’s face, intended as a piggy bank.
There are two opening receptions of note this week. The Plein Air Painters of Pensacola’s annual show debuts at the Wright Place, 80 E. Wright St., from 1 to 3 p.m. Sunday. The Pensacola Interstate Fair’s “Fine Arts Exhibition” has its opening at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday in building 7. A catalog of awards — or in fair parlance, “ribbons” — will be presented at the opening. The exhibit runs from Thursday through Oct. 31.