Southern Oracle: We Will Tear the Roof Off, Heather Hart

Part of African-American artist Heather Hart’s “Rooftop Oracles” series of temporary installation art, Southern Oracle: We Will Tear the Roof off is the fourth in the series.  An interactive work, it’s meant to be climbed on and in, and it’s especially popular with children.

Each of the four works in the series are life sized rooftops that look as if they were either dropped from the sky or is emerging from the earth.  Not surprisingly, the series gets its name from the Parliament-Funkadelic song “Mothership Connection.” Each work is unique.  With this work, Hart allowed museum staff and volunteers to paint the exterior in bright stripes.

It’s a popular, though temporary, addition to the Museum Park.

Southern Oracle

Standing Figure: Knife Edge, Henry Moore

Standing Figure: Knife Edge, by British sculptor Henry Moore, is yet another of the many great works of art on display at the North Carolina Art Museum in Raleigh.

While an abstraction of a human body, the nearly 12-foot tall bronze is based on the shape of a bird’s breastbone.  During the planning stages of the work Moore would pinch clay onto a bone to develop the shape of the sculpture. Once Moore was happy with the shape, a head and base was added.

I love the placement of this work.  The natural bone-like shape and the beautiful green patina of the bronze contrasts nicely with the clean angular lines of this space outside the West Building at the museum.

Standing Figure

Abstract Fish No. 4, James Prosek

This beautiful bronze sculpture is located in a reflecting pool in the North Carolina Art Museum’s North Garden.  While it’s an abstract work, there’s no doubt that it’s a fish, a subject that’s near and dear to the artist.

Prosek is an American artist, writer, and naturalist.  An avid fisherman, Prosek co-founded World Trout, a conservation effort to preserve native trout species worldwide.  His first book, Trout: An Illustrated History, was published while he was still a student at Yale University.  His paintings of fish are collected in several books, and his documentary about 17th century author and angler Izaak Walton won a Peabody Award in 2002.

If you’re a fisherman and would like to learn more, World Trout can be found at Patagonia.

Abstract Fish No. 4

Lunar Bird, Joan Miró

I love the North Carolina Art Museum.  There’s always something that I haven’t seen before, both inside and outside.  I took a walk around the West Building and discovered a sculpture that’s new to the museum.  Lunar Bird, by Spanish artist Joan Miró, is a wonderfully whimsical work of art on loan from the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden in Washington, D.C.

Miró’s work is, to my mind, magical.  While he never associated himself with a style, Miró is most often described as a surrealist, with French poet and co-founder of the surrealist movement, André Breton, describing Miró as “the most Surrealist of us all.”

Lunar Bird

The Three Shades, Auguste Rodin

This sculpture is my favorite work of art by Auguste Rodin.  Despite the dark inspiration behind the piece, I find it strikingly beautiful.

The Three Shades are a representation of the tortured souls of the damned, or shades, who stand at the gates of Hell in Dante’s Inferno. The three identical figures point to an inscription that reads “Abandon hope, all ye who enter here.”

Originally created for Rodin’s monumental work, “The Gates of Hell,” several versions of the Three Shades were created, both in plaster and in bronze.  While the plaster versions of the work are quite beautiful, I think the dark patina of the bronze is more appropriate to the darkness of the subject.  This one is located in the Rodin Garden at the North Carolina Art Museum.

Three Shades

The Weight of the World

Here’s another photo that was better in black and white than in color.  Atlas, an art deco sculpture by artist Lee Lawry, has stood in front of Rockefeller Center in New York City since 1937.  In the original photo, the statue was a bit lost in all the tan of the building and the shadows creeping in from the left.

I like the black and white version much better.  The shape and details of the sculpture show much better, particularly the muscles as Atlas struggles to support the world on his shoulders.  I also think the the way  the windows and doorways reach upward while the angles of the buildings center their weight on the globe are an interesting contrast. Finally, I like the way the tree branch frames the top of the photo and brings a bit of nature into an otherwise man-made environment.

AtlasInNYC2

River Arts District, Asheville

Not far from downtown Asheville, the River Arts District is an old warehouse district that has been reclaimed by the art community.  Chockful of artists studios and great restaurants like Summit Coffee and 12 Bones, it’s a great place to sit and enjoy the buildings which have been turned into works of art by the artists who now use RAD as their base.  We visited on a beautiful August day in 2018.  Here’s a sample of the wonderful wall art that makes RAD special.

The Beyond, Part 3, NC Art Museum

You can read Part 1 here and Part 2 here.

The Beyond, an exhibit that celebrates the art and influence of American artist Georgia O’Keeffe, was recently at the North Carolina Art Museum.  O’Keeffe’s art was on exhibit as well as the work of artists who were influenced by O’Keeffe.  This is the third part of my visit to the exhibit.  You can read the first two parts at the links above.

Just as O’Keeffe’s work spanned many different styles and subjects- from landscapes to florals to pure abstracts and even sculpture- the artists whose work is on display with O’Keefe’s are varying in style and subject.    The three artists here are interesting because of the cultural influences that come from their multi-ethnic backgrounds.

Negar Ahkami is an Iranian-American artist who mixes Persian art and cultural traditions with modern influences to create wonderfully fantastical art.  Her painting, The Source, is a great example.  You can see references to the tile art and the elaborate architecture of the Middle East as well as the storytelling traditions of Persia.  You can also find the American influence in the beach scene, where sunbathers enjoy a day with the city’s skyline behind the.  It’s an interesting juxtaposition of a Western scene that would not be acceptable in most of the Middle East against traditional Persian influences.  It’s a beautiful work of art.

 

Californian artist Anna Valdez has been influenced by her experience at archaeological excavations, where she used sketch books to record and map her findings.  The two works on display as part of The Beyond are still-life that act as a visual record or catalog of the scene.  The O’Keeffe influence can be seen in the use of the deer skull in this beautiful painting, titled Deer Skull with Blue Vase.

I love Kim Garza’s paintings.   The Mexican-Korean artist celebrates the female figure in a way that’s not often seen these days.  The figures in her work are browner and rounder than is commonly pictured.  I’m a big fan of Colombian artist Fernando Botero, and Garza’s paintings have that feel.  As I said, the paintings celebrate the female figure and, in all her paintings, the women are having fun rather than just posing as a subject for the artist.  Her painting Ping Pong is a great example.  The women, are round, naked, and enjoying life.  I love the feeling of joy Garza’s art puts forth.  We should all be this happy.

Monica Kim Garza- Ping Pong- 2016-17
Monica Kim Garza- Ping Pong- 2016-2017

While The Beyond has moved from the North Carolina Museum of Art, it’s making its way around the country and is currently on display at the New Britain Museum of American Art in New Britain, Connecticut.  It’s well worth seeing and, if The Beyond makes its way to a museum near you, I recommend you go.  You won’t regret it.

The Beyond, Part 2, NC Art Museum

For part 1, click here.

The North Carolina Art Museum recently hosted an exhibit of work by American artist Georgia O’Keeffe and and contemporary artists whose work was influenced by O’Keeffe.  There were some really nice works, some where you can see how O’Keeffe’s work influenced the artist and some that, frankly, I felt was reaching to find common ground.

Let’s start with a couple where I can actually see the influence of Georgia O’Keeffe.  First up is this wonderful painting by American and Israeli artist Sharona Eliassaf.  Eliassaf, like O’Keeffe, is fascinated by her surroundings, and the city landscapes of New York are some of her favorite subjects.  This painting, entitled Stars to Dust, Dust to Stars, is reminiscent of  O’Keeffe’s New York paintings.  I love the bright colors and the art deco influence.

It’s interesting to compare Loie Holloway’s paintings to those of Georgia O’Keeffe.  Holloway acknowledges O’Keeffe’s influence on her art, especially in the abstract sexuality in their works.  O’Keeffe’s paintings of flowers were, according to art critics, modernistic paintings of female genitalia.  Holloway’s favorite subject is genitalia, although in abstract form.  Here’s The Land’s Part, from 2017, by Loie Holloway.

 

Canadian artist Caroline Larsen’s works are quite unique.  Larsen applies the paint much the same way a baker applies frosting to cakes, using piping bags and squeezing the paint through metal nibs onto the canvas.  The result is beautiful work that is reminiscent of beading.

Like O’Keeffe, Larsen draws inspiration from the desert.  In Larsen’s case, she focuses on the little man-made oases that spot the desert.  While the two artists works are quite different, I find it interesting that, despite the different styles, the buildings in both of these works share similar colors.

Kim Keever’s abstracts are reminiscent of O’Keeffe’s floral paintings.  I like the muted colors of Keever’s photographs, which are created by pouring pigments into a large tank of water.  Because of the fleeting nature of the pigments, Keever has to work quickly to capture the smoky, dreamlike images.  His work is quite beautiful.

Matthew Ronay is a New York-based folk artist who hand-carved sculptures are both whimsical and beautiful.  Ronay acknowledges O’Keeffe’s as an inspiration.  His abstract sculptures can be rocks, plants, or body parts.  In this way, his art is like similar to O’Keeffe’s abstract works.  I love the colors and the fluidity of shape in his work.

There are so many beautiful works in the exhibit that I’ll continue with a third post soon.

Georgia O’Keeffe, The Beyond, NC Art Museum

Georgia O’Keeffe was one of the most influential artists in America.  Known as the “mother of American modernism”, she’s most famous for her paintings of flowers and her landscapes of her adopted home of New Mexico.  The recent exhibit at the North Carolina Art Museum did a great job of showcasing her art as well as the art of young painters who have been inspired by O’Keeffe.  Here we’ll focus on O’Keeffe’s work and will touch on the works of the other artists in a future post.

O’Keeffe was born in Wisconsin in 1887 and, after several years teaching throughout Virginia, South Carolina and Texas, she moved to New York in 1918 after meeting photographer Alfred Stieglitz.  Stieglitz promoted and exhibited her art and the two developed a personal relationship that eventually led to their marriage in 1924. Though they remained married until Stieglitz’s death in 1946, the couple separated when Stieglitz began an affair with photographer Dorothy Norman.   The infidelity was the impetus behind O’Keeffe’s move to New Mexico.

georgia o'keeffe

O’Keeffe career spanned many decades and, despite failing eyesight, she continued working well into her nineties.  She passed away in New Mexico at the age of ninety-eight and her ashes were scattered at her beloved Ghost Ranch, her home since 1940.

While O’Keeffe’s long career saw her work cover a great many subjects, there are a few for which she is best known.  Her flowers earned her early fame, possibly helped by art historians who felt her flowers were metaphors for female genitalia.  I guess if people can see the Virgin Mary in a piece of toast, anything is possible.

georgia o'keeffe- petunias- 1925

While married to Stieglitz, O’Keeffe spent time at his home at Lake George as well as in New York City.  Her modernist paintings from this period are quite interesting.  Her work was inspired by her surroundings, both at Lake George and in the City.  This painting of the Radiator Building is a great example of her work from the period.  The dark colors and sharp angles are a big change from her flowers.

georgia o'keeffe- radiator building, night, new york- 1927

After her move to New Mexico, her the land around her became her focus.  She loved New Mexico and her art shows it.  Landscapes, animal bones and even rocks became the subjects of her paintings.  This is probably the time period O’Keeffe is best known for.  I’m not sure what I like best from this period.  The landscapes are great but the paintings of animal bones are very surreal and appeal to me.  Here’s Horse Skull with Pink Rose.

georgia o'keeffe- horse skull with pink rose

My Backyard, from 1937, is a prime example of her New Mexico landscapes.

georgia o'keeffe- my backyard- 1937

A couple other O’Keeffe works that were part of the exhibit caught my attention.  First, an untitled sculpture stood out because O’Keeffe wasn’t known for sculpture.  The one on exhibit was striking.

georgia o'keeffe- untitled sculpture

Finally, her abstract paintings were quite stunning.  I really like abstract art and O’Keeffe’s were great.  I loved her Abstraction Blue from 1927, but I was especially drawn to the title piece of the exhibit, The Beyond, from 1972.  O’Keeffe was in her eighties at this point, and her eyesight was failing.  This painting was one of her last oil paintings and is beautiful.

georgia o'keeffe- the beyond- 1972

There were many interesting paintings by Georgia O’Keeffe exhibited as part of The Beyond.  There were also many paintings and sculptures by artists inspired by O’Keeffe.  I’ll highlight some of them in the next post.