Friday, July 31, 2009
The Bridge of Sighs, Venice
How did I get hooked on Italy? In 1995, I spent the summer in Scotland with my best friend's family, who had moved there in '94. I also visited my extended family and explored my roots (my Mom is from Edinburgh). In July, my friend Ally and I travelled to Aberdeen to spend time with my Aunt Loraine and Uncle Stuart. One day my Aunt and I had the following conversation:
Aunt Loraine: "Tomorrow I thought we'd go to an Italian place for lunch."
Me: "Cool – what's it called?"
Aunt Loraine: "Venice!"
Me: "Oh, is it a themed restaurant?"
Aunt Loraine: "Nooooo. It's Venice!"
Me: "I know – cool name! Do they have gondolas as the booths or something?"
Aunt Loraine: "Celeste, I'm taking you and Ally to Venice, Italy, for the day! Happy Graduation!"
After finally getting it, I jumped up and down with excitement, then packed, and the next morning we took off from Aberdeen airport. The first Italian word I heard as I stepped off of the water taxi in Venice was Attenzione!, because, of course, I was right in the path of gondoliers transporting suitcases. I immediately committed attenzione to memory, and after a day of listening to the language, taking in the sights, aromas and culture, I decided that day to study Italian at college. Learning Italian also helped out with my art history studies, not to mention my love life: eight years later, I would return with an increased Italian vocabulary and my Italiophile boyfriend, Peter, who, in 2006, I married. Thank goodness my Aunt took me to that restaurant. Viva Italia!
Celeste Fetta, Manager of Adult and Higher Education, VMFA
Ciao! An Italian Summer, a program series organized by Celeste Fetta, concludes August 8 at 2 p.m. with a lecture on Italian wine and a wine-tasting with Peter Neff (Celeste's husband), who is the wine buyer for River City Cellars. Ticket information is available at www.vmfa.museum or by telephoning (804) 340-1405.
Friday, July 24, 2009
John Ravenal, VMFA's Sydney and Frances Lewis Family Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art, is shown in a VMFA secure storage vault with works from the Ludwig and Rosy Fischer Collection of German Expressionist Art. (Photo © Virginia Museum of Fine Arts)
Yesterday John Ravenal, who is VMFA’s Sydney and Frances Lewis Family Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art, and I spent some quality time in art storage with Richmond Times-Dispatch multimedia reporter Chris Young. Storage is a highly secured place that is off limits for mere mortals. Only curators, registrars, art handlers and the director have access to these vast storage areas that currently house all of VMFA’s art as we complete the construction of all the new galleries. We were shooting video of the much-heralded Ludwig and Rosy Fischer Collection of German Expressionist Art that is stored on 15-foot mesh, rolling racks.
I was reminded of the last time John and I were together in storage with these dramatic and powerful works. Immediately after the lovely memorial service for Anna Fischer at Congregation Or Ami, John and I brought Eva Marx, Anna’s daughter, her husband, Tom, and other family members to see the art that they had grown up with. Together we reminisced about memories triggered by various works and remembered the late Fred Brandt, longtime VMFA curator who introduced us to Anna Fischer and who authored our 1987 catalogue on the collection.
The direct experience with the family who lived with this collection and the scholars who provide insight is what museums are all about. We are so fortunate to have VMFA in our midst.
Watch the Times-Dispatch multimedia presentation
Suzanne Hall, VMFA Chief Information Officer
Monday, July 13, 2009
VMFA resident potter Steven Glass works at the VMFA Studio School. (Photo © Virginia Museum of Fine Arts)
People have been making pottery for 10,000 years. It is a daunting task to add something significant in the face of such a history. However, it is from antecedence to innovation, from the Proustian to the protean, on to the incantatory – this is what interests me about working with clay and glaze. Also, it is the tension between the aleatory and the intentional, the improvisational and the calculated, that brings me back to the studio daily.
These apparent contradictions are highlighted by firing some work in an electric kiln and other pieces in a wood-burning kiln. I think it is possible to make things that are transformative and contain meaning in the larger context of Modern and Postmodern art. Most of my work is functional, and it brings me great pleasure to know that people use my work in their daily lives.
Steven Glass, VMFA Resident Potter
On July 17 at noon, Steven Glass will explore ceramics in a 45-minute demonstration and discussion of works on view in the Studio School exhibition The Alchemy of Pots & Prints IV. "How...do you throw a pot?" starts at noon at the VMFA Studio School and is free and open to the public.
Wednesday, July 1, 2009
Work by artist Steve Prince was on view for visitors to admire at the annual meeting of VMFA's Friends of African and African-American Art recently. (Photo by Aimee Helen Koch, © Virginia Museum of Fine Arts)
A few weeks ago, The Madison Sounds of Joy from the United House of Prayer for All People opened the Friends of African and African-American Art annual meeting. It was a fantastic evening! If you close your eyes and think of New Orleans (I have recently been told I should pronounce it N’ahlins), you just might be able to hear the commanding and soul-stirring brass-band rhythm that filled the Marble Hall with joyous energy. The group was the perfect complement to our artist talk with printmaker and sculptor Steve Prince, who discussed his Urban Epistles series. The contemporary images in the series are densely created and brimming with symbolism inspired by Biblical texts of the 13 letters written by the Apostle Paul.
Artists’ talks are unique opportunities for direct insights into their work, but artists learn, too – about the impact of their work outside of their intentions. At the annual meeting, there were some really interesting questions for Steve Prince. There was a question about his travels to Brazil, there was another about his use of linoleum for printmaking and there was an attempt to explore how his brain actually conceives the artwork that he creates. But his response to a question about how he publicly navigates the Christian themes in his work – as an educator and as an artist – struck me in its simplicity. “It’s who I am,” he said.
So, lately, I have been thinking about what is it that I create that offers an insight into who I am. After quickly glossing over the chaos I created in my misspent youth, I stumbled on this thought: I create the catalyst, the spark, the flame, the gasoline, the torch, the whatever-it-takes to make people connect. Some may call me a muse. As I roll on the floor laughing at this notion, I know that I am more of an elusive chameleon who summons the role necessary to get the job done. And although I think that muse would be a great title on a business card, I would say that I am just a girl who loves her job.
Be sure to check out the slideshow from the Friends of African and African-American Art annual meeting.
Felicia Moon, VMFA Friends of African and African-American Art Coordinator