Candida Höfer in Mexico, NC Art Museum

German photographer Candida Höfer has been exhibiting her large-scale photographs of building interiors since 1975.  In 2015, she toured Mexico, photographing beautiful spaces of iconic Mexican buildings including the National Museum of Art in Mexico City, Teatro Juarez in Guanajuato and UNESCO World Heritage Site Hospicio Cabañas in Guadalajara.  Her photos constituted the Candida Höfer in Mexico exhibit at the North Carolina Museum of Art.

hospicio cabanas ii
Hospicio Cabañas, in Guadalajara, 2015, by Candida Höfer

An interesting aspect of Höfer’s photographs is that the interiors are usually devoid of people.  Considering that the buildings are very busy public structures, she’s presenting an unusual view of them.  Another aspect of her photography is that she usually shoots the interiors straight-on rather than from an angle.  This provides a formal a formal composition to the spaces.

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Teatro Juarez, Guanajuato, 2015, by Candida Höfer

Not all of her photos are large format or large scale.  This photo of a simple doorway is a great counterpoint to the majesty of her larger photos.

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Passage II, 2015, by Candida Höfer

As a photographer, I find a lot of inspiration in Höfer’s work. Being a bit of an introvert, I’m much more comfortable photographing buildings than people.  I also started college as an architect student before changing direction.  Höfer’s photos give me a quality and beauty that I can strive for in my photography.

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National Museum of Art, Mexico City, 2015, by Candida Höfer

The exhibit was organized by Galería OMR in recognition of the Mexico-Germany Dual Year and is touring the United States.  While the exhibit is over at the North Carolina Art Museum, it moves next to the Sean Kelly Gallery in New York City, where it will be on exhibition from February 2nd through March 16th.  If you’re interested in photography, you’ll like the exhibit.

 

 

Cynthia Daignault, Light Atlas, NC Art Museum

We had the opportunity to view Cynthia Daignault’s wonderful large-scale artwork, Light Atlas, as part of the Georgia O’Keeffe exhibit, the Beyond, at the North Carolina Art Museum.  Daigault is an American painter known for multi-part installations of paintings that follow a theme.

cynthia dagnault- light atlas 2015
Light Atlas by Cynthia Daignault

Light Atlas began when, during a conversation, Daignault realized that she could name the works of 100 men whose work defines America, but couldn’t think of a single woman whose work did the same.  In 2014, she started off on a year-long journey to explore America and to create a record of her experience.  She traveled along the outside border of the country, stopping every 25 miles to document, through sketches and photos, what she saw.  The trip covered 30,000 miles and created a virtual 360-degree portrait of the United States.

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Detail of Light Atlas by Cynthia Daignault

Daignault used her sketches and photos to create 360 small paintings that show all aspects of America, both the beautiful and the, at times, mundane.  It’s an interesting work of art and one the proves the adage that the whole is greater than the parts.  Light Atlas could easily keep your attention for hours, which, in these times of short attention spans, is not an easy task.  If you have the opportunity to view Light Atlas, it’s well worth the time.

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One section of Light Atlas by Cynthia Daignault

George Rickey, Three Red Lines, NC Art Museum

One of the North Carolina’s Art Museum’s newest pieces, Three Red Lines is a kinetic sculpture by American Sculptor George Rickey.  The graceful red arms slowly move back and forth in an arc.  It’s a beautiful sculpture and the slow arcs of the arms can be mesmerizing.

During World War II, Ricky worked worked in aircraft and gunnery systems and became interested in mechanics and movement.  He combined his art training with his love of mechanics to create large kinetic sculptures that moved with air currents.  His work has been exhibited around the globe including in Germany, Japan and the Netherlands.

The work, along with sculptures by Spanish artist Joan Miró and American artist Ellworth Kelly are on loan from the Hirschorn Museum and Sculpture Garden in Washington, D.C.

george rickey- three red lines

Cigar Store Indians

Cigar store Indians have an interesting history.  Because many people in the 17th and 18th centuries could neither read nor write, store owners used emblems or totems to advertise their wares.  A great example that still exists today is the striped pole seen outside many barber shops.  Because American Indians introduced tobacco to Europeans, the image of a Native American became the symbol of tobacconists.

Unfortunately, many of the artisans who created the statues had never actually seen a Native American.  The cigar store Indians, for the most part, looked nothing like a Native American.  Many have dark skin and features associated more with people of African or Asian descent.

The Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Folk Art Museum, in Williamsburg, Virginia, has a nice collection of these advertising icons.

Cigar Store Indians

Atlas, NYC

This beautiful Art Deco sculpture has become one of those lasting icons that are associated with New York City.  Created by sculptor Lee Lawrie and installed at Rockefeller Center in 1937, The sculpture depicts Atlas holding up the heavens.

According to mythology, the Titans, the older gods, fought the Olympians, a younger generation of gods, in a ten-year series of battles known as the War of the Titans.  When the Olympians came out victorious, Atlas, a Titan, was condemned to hold up the heavens for eternity.

If you’re a fan of television, you may have seen this work of art on 30 Rock, where it’s been shown many times.  If you’re a reader, you may have seen an artistic rendering of it on the cover of Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged.  Atlas is is a fitting image to represent the strength and power of New York City.

AtlasInNYC2

Ruins

The slow destruction of man-made by weather makes for interesting photographs.  This photo was taken at an old cemetery in Georgia and  was shot on Kodak Tri-X film about 35 years ago.  I used Silver Efex Pro 2, part of the Nik Collection of photo editing plugins, to give it a slight sepia tone and to bring the details to the forefront.

Ruins

 

Wind Sculpture II, Yinka Shonibare MBE

The North Carolina Art Museum, located in Raleigh, has a park full of wonderful works of art.  Yinka Shonibare’s Wind Sculpture II is one of them.

Shonibare is a London-born British-Nigerian artist whose work has been exhibited all over the world.  He has a disability that has left him partially paralyzed and wheelchair-bound, but that hasn’t stopped him from creating beautiful works of art.  Unable physically to carry out the making of the art, he directs a team of assistants who help him bring his creations into being.

Though he uses a variety of materials to create his art, one of his favorites is Dutch wax cloth, a printed cotton material popular throughout Africa.  Shonibare uses the material extensively.  In the case of Wind Sculpture II, the material was formed and then covered with a heavy coating of clear fiberglass to keep it’s shape.  The result is a work of art that looks as if it’s being blown across the field by the wind.

It’s one of my favorite pieces from the Park.  I love the colors and the playful feel of it being caught by the wind.  It’s a beautiful work of art and one that makes me smile when I see it.

Wind Sculpture II (2)

 

 

 

Booth Western Art Museum, Cartersville, Georgia

It had been many years since I’d visited Cartersville, a small city of 20,000 north of Atlanta.  In October of 2017 my wife’s sister took us to the Booth Western Art Museum.  I never imagined that this gem of a museum was in the little town famous for the world’s first outdoor Coca Cola sign and the Etowah Indian Mounds.

The museum is home to the largest collection of western art in the United States and is the second largest art museum in Georgia.

Booth Museum of Western Art
Booth Museum of Western Art

The grounds contain sculptures by leading western artists, including the wonderful “An Honest Day’s Work by Fred Fellows.

The museum hosts hundreds of paintings and sculptures from artists as diverse as Frederic Remington and Charles Russell to Andy Warhol and Leroy Neiman.  The art is divided into galleries focusing on various aspects of western art.  There are also galleries dedicated to the American Civil War and U.S. Presidents.

 

 

 

The Millar Presidential Gallery is fascinating, with portraits and information about each of our presidents.  There is a trivia question for each president.  Did you know that the “S” in Harry S. Truman doesn’t stand for anything and that Ulysses S. Grant was the first president to be pulled over for speeding?  Interesting and fun stuff.

My favorite gallery was the Modern Art gallery, but all the galleries were full of beautiful works. There was a lot of art by Native American artists and African American artists as well as famous artists like Frederic Remington.  Here’s a wonderful painting by Shonto Begay titled “Our Promised Road”.

Shonto Begay, Our Promised Road
Shonto Begay, Our Promised Road

Bob Vann has a couple pieces in the museum including “The Victorio Campaign”.

Bobb Vann, The Victorio Campaign
Bobb Vann, The Victorio Campaign

Andy Warhol’s “Sitting Bull” is one of the highlights of the Modern Art gallery.

Andy Warhol - Sitting Bull
Andy Warhol – Sitting Bull

And now for something completely different.  Bill Schenk’s beautiful “From Dust to Dusk” celebrates the beauty of the western landscape with an unusual jazz theme.

Bill Schenck, From Dust to Dusk
Bill Schenck, From Dust to Dusk

We spent hours at the museum and could probably return to find new art or art that we failed to notice on the first trip.  If you’re in the Atlanta area I hope you’ll visit this wonderful museum.

Ogromna, NC Art Museum Park

Ogromna is a wood sculpture by American artist Ursula von Rydingsvard.  Starting with cedar blocks, von Rydingsvard creates works of art that are both abstract and natural. Interestingly, her works start as 4″ by 4″ cedar beams, which are then cut into blocks before being assembled, chipped and carved into the final sculpture.  Her works feel natural, rather than man-made.

This twenty foot tall sculpture reminds me of a tree turned upside down, or the face of a cliff.  It appears to have been formed by nature. Ogromna is a beautiful work of art.

Ogromna

 

San Antonio’s River Walk Mosaics

I was able to spend a couple days in San Antonio, Texas.  Most of my time was spent at work, but one evening my company took us on a tour of the city’s River Walk.  One interesting aspect of the tour was a series of mosaics by local artist Oscar Alvarado.

Most of the murals are under the many bridges that cross the San Antonio River.  I wasn’t able to photograph all of the murals, but here are some of my favorites.

The first is a portrait of José Antonio Navarro, a Texas Patriot.  Navarro was one of the original signers the Texas Declaration of Independence, was instrumental in drafting the first state Constitution of Texas, and served three terms in the Texas Senate.

SA Riverwalk Mural 4

The next is a mosaic map of the San Antonio River, with the five historic frontier missions pictured along the river.  The five missions- Mission Concepción, Mission San Jose, Mission San Juan, Mission Espada and the Alamo- are designated UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

SA Riverwalk Mural 6

This mural is a street map of San Antonio.  I’m not sure what the structure in the upper left represents.  It is interesting, though, and I like the stone bench in front of the mosaic.

SA Riverwalk Mural 3

This beautiful piece shows famous landmarks of San Antonio, including the Alamo and the Tower of Americas.  I’m not sure what the dog has to do with San Antonio, but, hey, I like dogs.

SA Riverwalk Mural 9

This beauty is a strange one to me.  I get the clouds, but I’m not sure where the hills come from.  San Antonio is one of the flattest places I’ve ever seen.  You can see for miles, but there are no hills in sight.

SA Riverwalk Mural 5

This mural is a bit different from the others in that it integrates part of the bridge structure into the art.  The center of the swirl is a cover of some kind.  My guess is the mosaic represents a hurricane or storm and the cover may be part of the flood prevention system.  A hurricane in 1921 did flood San Antonio, killing 50 people.  San Antonio’s River Walk is a direct result of this hurricane and flood.  A bypass channel was designed and built to alleviate flooding.  This man-made section of the San Antonio River became the River Walk.

SA Riverwalk Mural 10

I’ll be honest.  I have no idea what this represents.  I do, however, find it quite beautiful.

SA Riverwalk Mural 7

Oscar Alvarado’s mosaics are just one reason why the River Walk is the top attraction in San Antonio, making it even more popular than the Alamo.  The mixture of old and new architecture is quite fascinating as well.  And it’s a beautiful place to spend time.  If you’re in San Antonio, don’t miss it.