Over the past week, a team from New York has undertaken the meticulous reinstallation of a site-specific piece by Tara Donovan which is composed primarily of thousands of styrofoam cups.
Donovan, an American artist and 2008 recipient of a prestigious MacArthur Fellowship, frequently incorporates mass-manufactured media in her work. She originally created this site-specific work for the Museum in 2004. Donovan chose to build the sculpture on the ceiling in the back of the Museum's Cafe, above and in front of the large wall of windows, to take advantage of the staggared surfaces and bountiful natural light.
The original installation was removed due to age, and new materials are being used to recreate Donovan's concept. Completion of the installation is scheduled for Friday, September 23rd.
As the beginning of the school year approaches, the Museum is excited to offer a new academic program to the third grade teachers and students in the nine Birmingham City Schools served by the Straight A Program. Designed to explore the impact of arts-integration on literacy and math in fourth grade achievement, Straight A will serve the following Birmingham City elementary schools over a three-year period: Avondale Elementary, Council Elementary, Glenn Iris Elementary, Hemphill Elementary, North Roebuck Elementary, Robinson Elementary, South Hampton Elementary, Central Park Elementary, and Whatley Elementary. To build on the momentum of the Straight A program and to increase preparedness in rising fourth graders, we have selected the third grade for this new pilot program.
Using the Museum’s Start with Art program as a model, participating third grade students and teachers will experience visual arts integration through six comprehensive encounters with the Museum. A Museum educator will visit each classroom three times during the academic year with sequential in-classroom instruction designed to provide students with skills and knowledge in the visual arts in accordance with high national, state, and local standards. The three Museum visits will include a curriculum-based tour of the collection followed by a studio art activity. In addition, the Museum conducted an intensive teacher workshop on September 2nd to generate enthusiasm for the project and give teachers insight into the myriad possibilities of incorporating art into their daily teaching experience.
The program primarily supports the visual arts, language arts and math curricula. Emphasis on close observation and using those observations to analyze and question works of art to help students construct meaning also supports both science and history habits of mind. The program supports important 21st-century learning skills that students must master to succeed in work and life—a blend of content knowledge, specific skills, expertise and literacy. As much as students need to learn academic content, they also need to know how to keep learning — and make effective and innovative use of what they know — throughout their lives. We believe that art is a powerful catalyst to generate advanced-level thinking and creativity in our society, and are delighted to be able to offer such a robust program to the students of Birmingham City Schools.
In addition, the Museum is developing complimentary community-based programs in these same nine communities. To truly affect change, we believe we must educate the whole child. By connecting to not only the students, but becoming a part of the students’ life outside of school, we can situate the Museum as a true partner in education. Although not fully developed, this community-based outreach will target families, community organizations, churches, libraries, and neighborhood associations.
Do you ever wish your doctors would spend more time talking to you, examining you (well…maybe not), and building a relationship with you—instead of looking at charts and paperwork to make a diagnosis?
The Museum’s Education Department is partnering with UAB Assistant Professor of Internal Medicine and Pediatrics, Stephen Russell, MD, on a new pilot program designed to help emerging doctors become better communicators and diagnosticians. A new course, Art in Medicine: Using Visual Arts to Improve Clinical Observation Skills, will be offered to second year medical students beginning October 17, 2011. The course, which will be conducted in the Museum galleries, explores the relationship between observation and diagnosis by exposing students to works of fine art and teaching them critical skills of observation.
Taught by Museum Education staff members Samantha Kelly and Suzy Harris and the General Internal Medicine Faculty at UAB, the course focuses on close looking to improve skills of description, interpretation, and how to discern emotional clues based on a given context. By the end of the three-session course at the Museum, students will have an improved skills set for clinical diagnosis, and in so doing, an improved appreciation for art and the Museum.
Who Shot Rock & Roll: Sunday Encore!
Sunday // September 18 // 12pm -- 5pm
It's the final act of Who Shot Rock! Don't miss out on Dylan, Tina, Tupac, Radiohead, and other rock royalty. Who Shot Rock & Roll opens at 11am its last day. Show's over for good Sunday at 5pm.
Sunday Encore! Brunch
Sunday // September 18 // 11am - 2pm
Enjoy a lively brunch at Oscar's with rockstar favorites like Bob Marley's Jamaican Me Crazy Smoked Salmon, Axel Rose's Texas Style Ribs, Tina Turner's Crispy Fried Chicken, and more! Live music will be performed by Frankie Velvet and the Mighty Veltones.
Click here for reservations.
The Museum and the Indian Cultural Society present a FREE concert with renowned Indian musicians Ritesh and Rajnish Mishra (The Mishra Brothers), eminent tabla player Subhen Chatterjee, and harmonium player Sanatan Goswani.
Sunday, September 11, 5-7pm, in the Museum's Steiner Auditorium
FREE! and open to the public
Join the Museum for a FREE Family Day on Saturday, September 10 from 11am to 3 pm! Whether it's modern rock, drumming from ancient lands, or folks just getting jiggy with it, the Museum is filled with artwork celebrating music and dance from around the globe. Discover the energy of movement and sound through visual art. Live music, art activities, and dancing turn an ordinary Saturday into a rockin' event!
Bubble Mania Dance Party
Get Rhythym! Drum Circle
Face Painting and Glitter Tattoos
Live performance by the Red Mountain Theatre Company
12:30pm and 2pm
Story time with the Alabama Symphony Orchestra
Family Day is sponsored by Honda Manufacturing of Alabama, LLC.
Bob Gruen, one of the most well-known and respected photographers in rock & roll, will present the 2011 John Morton Lecture in Photography. From Elvis to Madonna, Bob Dylan to Bob Marley, and John Lennon to Johnny Rotten, Gruen has captured the music scene for over 40 years in photographs that have earned him worldwide recognition.
The lecture is FREE and open to the public, and begins at 6pm in the Museum's Steiner Auditorium.
To read more about Bob Gruen, check out this article from Black and White City Paper.
Friday, August 12 // For one day only, BMA offers FREE admission to the popular blockbuster exhibition, Who Shot Rock & Roll for anyone who comes to the Museum ticket counter during normal opening hours dressed like a rock star!
Glammed up or grunged out, if you step up to the ticket takers and proudly proclaim, "I am a rock star," you will receive one free ticket to see the show. Remember, this is Friday only.
Who will you be?
Vanity Fair magazine and the Today Show are spotlighting one of the most famous photographs in Who Shot Rock & Roll, as the identity of the woman in Albert Wertheimer's photograph of a young Elvis is revealed. In the article, Diane Keaton refers to it as the "sexiest picture ever taken in the whole world." Read this story then come see the actual photograph in Who Shot Rock & Roll!
The Birmingham Museum of Art proudly presents RESPECT - A Tribute To The Queen of Soul, a production of the Red Mountain Theatre Company, at the Museum’s Steiner Auditorium Thursday July 28, at 7 p.m.
The acclaimed show stars Belinda George Peoples, in a soaring tribute to iconic soul diva Aretha Franklin – one of the musical legends on display in the ongoing BMA Year of Photography exhibition Who Shot Rock & Roll: A Photographic History, 1955-Present.
Peoples is a native of Birmingham who has performed in numerous productions, including Big River,Ain’t Misbehavin, Sophisticated Ladies, Annie, Smokey Joe’s Café, Beehive, the world premiere of RESPECT - A Tribute to the Queen of Soul(written especially for her), and the world premiere of Back to the Dream with Red Mountain Theatre Company. She has also performed with the Alabama Symphony Orchestra (in the concert version of Carousel), the Smithsonian Institute, the city of Atlanta’s “A Night in Atlanta” New Year’s Eve Festival, the Birmingham City Board of Education (theme song “For Our Children, For Our Future”), the National Black Caucus held in Washington,D.C., and last year’s Sickle Cell Foundation Gala.
This show is a perfect companion piece to Who Shot Rock, which documents through stunning, often rarely seen photos and videos, the artistry of the photographers who helped create the images of the popular music revolution which began 60 years ago.
For this one night only show, the $10 admission to Who Shot Rock (Thursday ticket purchase only) means a free pass to see RESPECT. For tickets or more information visit our web site rockbma.com and click on the events link.
Spiral: Perspectives on an African-American Art Collective will travel to The Studio Museum in Harlem this summer. Curated by Dr. Emily Hanna and Dr. Amalia Amaki, the presentation at The Studio Museum takes the Birmingham exhibition as its starting point, bringing artworks featured there together with selections from the Studio Museum’s permanent collection and significant works from New York- area collections. Organized by Hanna in collaboration with Studio Museum Assistant Curator Lauren Haynes, the Studio Museum presentation of Spiral will be on view July 14 through October 23, 2011.
“We’re so pleased that the Studio Museum in Harlem is the second venue for the Spiral exhibition,” Hanna says. “It's very fitting that the show should be in New York, the city where the Spiral group formed.”
"I was proud that we were the first museum to organize an exhibition around the Spiral collective - and that one of the original Spiral artists, Richard Mayhew, recognized us as such when he came here for his talk last year,” says Gail Andrews, director of the BMA. “Now the fact that an institution of the caliber of the Studio Museum is building on what we started is a great honor."
Spiral was the name taken by a group of artists, including Romare Bearden, Reggie Gammon, Charles Alston, Norman Lewis, Hale Woodruff, Richard Mayhew, and Emma Amos who came together in New York in the 1960s and took on the challenge of creating art that responded to the Civil Rights Movement. The collective existed for only a short time, yet each member of the group, working on their own and together, produced powerful works that testified not only to the common themes arising from the struggle for human rights, but to the divergent ways different artists would seek to address those themes.
The exhibition Spiral: Perspectives on An African American Art Collective is the first time the works of those artists, some created after the collective itself ceased to exist, will be brought together to tell their fascinating story. In its original incarnation, the exhibition in Birmingham was co-curated by Hanna and the University of Alabama’s Amalia Amaki, PhD. The BMA exhibition featured 18 works notable not only for their place in history, but also for their diversity.
One of the works in the exhibition, Alston’s Cry Beloved Country, was purchased by the BMA’s support group for African and African-American art, the Sankofa Society. The group voted to buy the painting for the Museum during its annual Soiree last year. At that event, the society honored Spiral’s only female artist, Emma Amos, and an unsung hero in the Birmingham arts community: Ella Byrd McCain, a long-time educator, and Museum supporter.
Spiral In History
In the summer of 1963 shortly before the historic march on Washington, several African-American painters in New York began meeting to discuss how they and fellow artists could engage in the struggle for Civil Rights. They decided to call their group Spiral, inspired by the Archimedean spiral, which “from a starting point moves outward embracing all directions, yet constantly upward.” Founding members of the group were Romare Bearden and Hale Woodruff. They were joined by Charles Alston, Norman Lewis, Richard Mayhew, Reginald Gammon, Merton Simpson, Emma Amos, Alvin Hollingsworth, Felrath Hines, Earl Miller, and William Majors.
“Their meetings were spirited and often contentious as they debated the question of black aesthetics, the issue of race in the art world, and their commitment to and effective engagement in the Civil Rights movement,” said curator Emily Hanna. “Almost all of the artists had come from a tradition of figural art, and were exploring some form of abstraction. Each resolved the problem of form and content differently – some referring directly to the movement in their work, and others responding more broadly, some with direct or indirect references to Africa as a source of empowerment.” The group held one exhibition in 1965, entitled Black and White.
This exhibition presents the work of seven artists who were members of Spiral: Bearden, Woodruff, Alston, Lewis, Gammon, Mayhew, and Amos. Reginald Gammon’s painting Freedom Now was in the original Black and White exhibition, and the other seventeen works are from the period of Spiral, or the decade that followed. “Although the collective eventually dissolved, its formation allowed for a shared response to the enormous energy and courage that marked the struggle for Civil Rights in the early 1960s,” Hanna said. “The paintings that remain allow us to consider the visual response of African-American artists to one of the most pivotal points in U.S. history.”
The Sankofa Society traveled to The Studio Museum for the opening. To see images from the trip, please click here.
The first week of June 2011 found the Museum full of fourth-grade teachers, local artists, and four master artists from the Kennedy Center for the Straight A’s Program Summer Institute. The purpose of this workshop, organized by the Birmingham Cultural Alliance and hosted by the Museum, was to ignite and jump start the creative energy around Straight A’s, the city’s newest educational initiative.
Straight A’s aims to fully integrate the arts, including visual arts, dance, theater, and music, into the classrooms and teaching practice of fourth-grade teachers in nine Birmingham City Schools. The program will explore the impact of arts-integration academic partnerships between classroom teachers and teaching artists on fourth grade literacy and mathematics skills over a three-year period. The program will also support these classroom-teaching partnerships through professional development and intensive school-based curriculum mapping. The Museum was delighted to be the host site for this innovative workshop, so that teachers could experience first hand the power of the visual arts. We will continue to partner with these schools in the coming academic year.
The Birmingham City Schools and the Cultural Alliance of Greater Birmingham are partners in the program that was awarded $1.16 million from the U.S. Department of Education Office of Innovation and Improvement. The University of Alabama at Birmingham Center for Educational Accountability will provide independent evaluation of the initiative.
On May 17, 2011, Board Member Edgar Marx, Jr. and Chief Curator Jeannine O’Grody, PhD participated on a panel at the annual Association of Art Museum Curators conference in New York City. The subject of the panel was Developing Donor Cultivation Confidence; Edgar and Jeannine spoke about their experiences as donor and curator at the BMA.
In April 2011, Anne Forschler-Tarrasch, PhD, the Marguerite Jones Harbert and John M. Harbert III Curator of Decorative Arts, served on a review committee for the National Endowment for the Humanities "Sustaining Cultural Heritage Collections" grants program. Anne was invited to Washington, D.C. to participate in a one-day session to discuss the NEH program and review current applications. Later that month, Anne gave a lecture at the annual meeting of the Wedgwood International Seminar in Chicago. Her lecture, "Milkmaids and Mistresses: Wedgwood's Dairywares in the 18th and 19th Centuries," will be included in the Proceedings of the Wedgwood International Seminar to be published later this year.
In June, Anne gave the keynote address at a special symposium of the Wedgwood Society of New South Wales in Sydney, Australia, in honor of the organization's 35th anniversary. She also lectured at a meeting of the Wedgwood Society of Southern California in Los Angeles. She recently contributed an essay about the Buten Wedgwood Collection to the journal Ars Ceramica, a publication of the Wedgwood Society of New York, of which Anne was recently made an honorary member.
Anne was invited to present a lecture at the Second International Meeting of the Friends of Ornamental Cast Iron in Bendorf-Sayn, Germany in September 2011. She will discuss the reattribution of an iron statuette produced in Berlin around 1821, a promised gift to the Museum. The meeting brings together scholars and collectors from around the world to present and discuss the latest research in the field.
Graham C. Boettcher, PhD, The William Cary Hulsey Curator of American Art, recently served on the panel of judges for Birmingham Magazine’s 2011 “Beautiful People” issue. On August 5, Graham will speak at the annual New Orleans Antiques Forum, organized by The Historic New Orleans Collection. The subject of this year’s forum is “French at Heart: Continental Influence in the Gulf South.” Graham will deliver a talk entitled, “Paris on the Bayou: The French Artistic Presence on the Gulf Coast,” in which he will discuss French-born artists working in coastal Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama prior to the Civil War. For more information, see: http://www.hnoc.org/programs/AntiquesForum.html
Suzy Harris, Associate Curator of Education, presented the Museum Division Awards at the National Art Education Association conference in Seattle in March 2011. At this meeting, she also concluded her four-year terms of service on both the Museum Division Development Committee and the editorial review board of Art Education: The Journal of the National Art Education Association.
"I’m here to tell you that the new photography exhibit at the Birmingham Museum of Art is just plain cool. After a two-hour visit on a recent Saturday afternoon, I’m already making plans for a second look — and that’s probably the highest compliment I can pay to an art show." -Mary Colurso, The Birmingham News
Click here to read the entire review of the exhibition!
"'Who Shot Rock & Roll'? Answers aplenty in stellar photo exhibit at Birmingham Museum of Art"
Published: Friday, July 1, 2011, 7AM
By Mary Colurso -- The Birmingham News
Albert Bierstadt's masterpiece, Looking Down Yosemite Valley, California (1865), has been reinstalled following several months of conspicuous absence from the Styslinger Gallery of American Art. The work was removed from public view to undertake minor conservation of both the painting and its original frame. This national treasure will now be ready for its "star turn" in the major exhibition American Art and the Civil War, on view at the Smithsonian American Art Museum in Washington, D.C. from November 16, 2012 until April 28, 2013. The exhibition will travel to one additional venue, The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, where it will run from May 21, 2013 till September 2, 2013.
Measuring more than five by eight feet, Albert Bierstadt’s Looking Down Yosemite Valley, California presents the viewer with a breathtaking view of one of America’s most scenic spots. Based on sketches made during a visit in 1863, Bierstadt paints the valley from a vantage point just above the Merced River, looking due west. A sunset bathes the valley’s rock formations in a warm, golden light, with the prospect framed by El Capitan on the right, and Sentinel Rock on the left; the spires of Cathedral Rocks are visible in the distance.
Painted in 1865, the dramatic picture is Bierstadt’s first large-scale Yosemite picture, a subject for which he would become well known. Bierstadt was born in Germany, immigrating to the United States in 1830. In 1853, he returned to his homeland, studying at the Düsseldorf Academy, a school that advocated a clear, linear style, which Bierstadt would incorporate in his own work. Looking Down Yosemite Valley possesses an almost uncanny clarity: from a distance, the painting could easily be mistaken for a photograph, and even up close, one can scarcely detect a single brushstroke. Equally absent is any sign of animal or human life. Since the work was painted at the end of the Civil War, scholars have interpreted this dead calm as a commentary on the national tragedy. Indeed, the painting’s unveiling at the National Academy of Design had to be postponed by two weeks because of the assassination of Abraham Lincoln.
After its debut, the painting was exhibited around the country before being purchased by Uranus H. Crosby in 1866 for the princely sum of $20,000. Crosby was the proprietor of a lavish opera house in Chicago, which had a picture gallery to house his personal art collection. Crosby’s excessive spending habits soon forced him to find a creative means of satisfying his debts. He held a nationwide lottery, offering his opera house as the grand prize, and Bierstadt’s masterpiece as the second prize. The lottery was so successful that Crosby was able to pay off his creditors and buy back the opera house from the winner. Fortunately for Crosby, he retained the winning ticket for Looking Down Yosemite Valley.
In 1871, Crosby’s Opera House was completely destroyed in the Great Chicago Fire, but the painting was rescued before flames engulfed the building. Over the next two decades, it was exhibited periodically in Chicago, but eventually disappeared from view. It resurfaced in 1929, when it was purchased at a Chicago auction for $300 by a Birmingham woman, who anonymously donated it to the Birmingham Public Library. It hung in the reading room of the library until 1974, when it was transferred to the Birmingham Museum of Art on long-term loan. The Library permanently donated the work in 1991. It has become the anchor of the Museum’s American collection and is among the most highly regarded American landscape paintings in the country.