Posts Tagged ‘Kimbell Art Museum’

Evening Afterglow

August 20, 2019

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Getting Ready for the Next Class

No more will I dismiss, with haste, the visions which flash and sparkle across my sky; but observe them, approach them, domesticate them, brood on them, and draw out of the past, genuine life for the present hour.

Ralph Waldo Emerson, “Literary Ethics”

A man should learn to detect and watch that gleam of light which flashes across his mind from within, more than the lustre of the firmament of bards and sages. Yet he dismisses without notice his thought, because it is his.

Ralph Waldo Emerson, “Self-Reliance”

The first class of this new semester is in the books, and I don’t know how long it’s been since I’ve felt this fulfilled in the educational enterprise. I haven’t been in the classroom for a year (I’ve taught strictly online), and the one classroom course I had last year at this time was in Logic, and I haven’t found a way to insert creativity and spontaneity into that discipline.  Today was Humanities and our material will run from antiquity to the seventeenth century.

I invoked the twin bards of Emerson and Whitman to set the stage for today’s orientation lecture, and was gratified to see the students respond with interest and enthusiasm. The focus of my lecture was the pair of Emerson texts posted above. In the Humanities class, as we explore literature, philosophy, art and music, I will continually challenge the students to speak with conviction ideas they draw from the creative works. I want them to speak courageously from their own perspectives rather than offer “correct” answers from me. Much of today was spent trying to break them from the habit of offering canned answers to challenging questions. The time flew by, and once we departed, I felt that the first revolution of the wheel was a successful one. Now I lean forward to next Thursday’s encounter.

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“Monet: The Late Years” at the Kimbell Art Museum

Immediately after class, I treated myself to a visit to the Kimbell, a short drive from the university. This was my fourth or fifth time to visit this exhibit, and the galleries were so packed with people on this day, that I could scarcely maneuver to look at the paintings without bumping into someone. The show hangs until September 15, so I decided I would give it another look on another day. With membership, I don’t have to pay admission.

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“Crouching Aphrodite” 50 BC-AD 140, Roman copy of Greek original

The Monet exhibit is on display in the Piano Pavilion of the Kimbell complex. A comfortable stroll to the main Kimbell building allowed me to view the permanent collection with only about 5% of the population I encountered earlier. The leisurely stroll through the galleries I found to be much more relaxing than what I knew at the Monet exhibit.

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Quick Sketch Attempts in my Sketchbook/Journal

I appreciated the comfortable furniture arranged throughout the Kimbell. Taking a seat after some quick sketching, I found myself scribbling out a couple more pages of my thoughts concerning the morning’s class and what I was seeing in this magnificent art collection. The museum time was a fitting reward for the university experience, and I remain grateful for that.

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“In Progress” Plein Air watercolors from Sedona, Arizona

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Working on Them in Groups of Five

This lovely, quiet evening has given me wonderful space to chip away at a large watercolor project begun in Arizona a few weeks ago. I’m also taking frequent breaks to resume reading and taking notes for Thursday’s class. It seems that the transition from summer vacation to fall semester has been a seamless one. What a gift!

Thanks for reading.

I make art in order to discover.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself I am not alone.

Sanctuary

May 8, 2015
An Evening at the Kimbell Art Museum, Fort Worth

An Evening at the Kimbell Art Museum, Fort Worth

It was a tremendous attraction, a sort of paradise found in which I was completeley free, alone, at peace.

Henri Matisse, discussing his experience while in Tangier

Last night’s excursion to the Dallas Museum of Art left me weary enough to tumble into bed well ahead of my habitual time. The surprise was waking around 4:30 this morning, rested, and unable to get back to sleep. By 6:00, I had found sanctuary in the rear of my darkened classroom, and chose to devote some quality time re-reading the second volume of Hilary Spurling’s biography Matisse the Master. Most of the volume covers his exotic travels to Ajaccio, Collioure, Tangier, Nice, Tahiti and Vence, drawing superb parallels between his artistic explorations and those of Delacroix and Gauguin. The more I read, the more I thought about that sanctuary sentiment, that within each of us is a stillness and sanctuary to where we can retreat at any time and be ourself (I read that on a school poster when I was in junior high school, and still remember the words and image). I found myself deeply gratified, having a good ninety minutes of alone time before the students entered the classroom.

The Kimbell Art Museum has extended hours on Friday, so I chose to journey there after school today and stay until closing tonight. The hours were refreshing, as I perused the galleries in the Kahn Building and the Piano Pavilion, and sat in several locations to read from a lovely birthday book given to me by a dear friend: Paintings in Proust: A Visual Companion to “In Search of Lost Time”. I was already in love with this author’s magnum opus, and could tell that he was alluding to artistic masterpieces, but this book takes the discussions much deeper than my imagination had been capable of pursuing.  I got lost in the volume, and the time evaporated quickly this evening.

Seated outside the Kimbell around Closing Time

Seated outside the Kimbell around Closing Time

Before leaving home for the Kimbell, I spent some more time on this watercolor that’s been developing slowly. I worked on the power plant to the right quite a bit more, and placed trees below it, then moved to the scraggly tree on the left side of the caboose and worked further on the branches. I’m always tweaking the caboose itself, enriching colors, drafting linear details, and refining the window tints as well as the trucks underneath. The foreground pavement also got some attention. I don’t think there should be too much left to do on this one. I’m ready to bring it to a close, but I’m too sleepy to work any further on it tonight. The museum tour and reading took quite a toll on me physically.

My college students are wrapping up their online final exam, and the semester there is coming to a close. Today also I saw the notice that progress reports for high school are due Monday. Charming. More after hours and weekend school work.

Thanks for reading.

I paint in order to remember.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself that I am not alone.

Cultivating the Garden

May 2, 2015
Saturday Morning, waiting for the Piano Pavilion to Open

Saturday Morning, waiting for the Piano Pavilion to Open

“I also know,” said Candide, “that we must cultivate our garden.” “You are right,” said Pangloss; for when man was put into the Garden of Eden, he was put there with the idea that he should work the land; and this proves that man was not born to be idle.” “Let’s work, then, without disputing,” says Martin. “It is the only way to make life bearable.” 

Voltaire, Candide

Driving this morning to Fort Worth for an all-day writing workshop at the Kimbell Art Museum, these words from Voltaire whispered into my consciousness, and I felt that I had found something to help me understand our role while living out our lives on this planet. I have never understood what it is to be bored (except when I’m trapped in a meeting), as there are more things to do than I can tend. But I felt that today was a Gift, because there was this opportunity to spend a day in the museum under someone else’s direction, perusing the art collection and finding new ways to write about art. Granted it was a workshop for teachers, I nevertheless wanted to stir up my own soul with these stimulants.

Arriving about forty minutes before the museum opened, I took this sweet opportunity to sit in the shadow of the Kahn building and look across the lawn at our new Renzo Piano Pavilion, where the workshop would actually take place. I brought with me Ernest Hemingway’s autobiography, A Moveable Feast, and read again the sections about him struggling to write during his early days in Paris:

I would stand and look out over the roofs of Paris and think, “Do not worry. You have always written before and you will write now. All you have to do is write one true sentence. Write the truest sentence that you know.”

That was the oracle I needed to start my task. Once the workshop began, the hours flew by, as the capable instructor never ran out of ways to inspire us to write and look at the art with different spectacles. It turned out to be a splendid day of drawing and writing about the pieces in the Kimbell.

Spilling out the Day's Work on my Desk

Spilling out the Day’s Work on my Desk

There is nothing like coming home at the end of the day, opening the book bag, and spilling out onto the desk all the material you created during the day of inspiration. Our hours were divided evenly between studying select pieces of the permanent collection and finding ways to write about what we saw and thought.

"Selim and Zuleika" by Eugene Delacroix

“Selim and Zuleika” by Eugene Delacroix

One of our assignments was to write a character profile based on one of the paintings in the museum. The key word I drew from the bag was “lively”, so my task was to find a lively painting and choose a character for composing the profile. Looking at this Delacroix painting inspired by Lord Byron, I found myself recalling Samuel Butler’s quote that every work of art is a portrait of its creator. Having spent time in the Journals of Eugene Delacroix, I saw him all over this painting, and chose to compose my profile on him, writing the following:

Name: Eugene Delacroix

Where do I live: In exotic settings

What do I do: Explore the boundaries

Friends would describe me as: Restless and Inquisitive

My hobbies are: Traveling, painting, reading Romantic literature, dreaming and journaling

My favorite place to hang out: Tangier

My secret is: I am never bored, and I am never certain.

What am I going to do next? Cleanse the eye, by looking for something new.

How did I get into this work? I followed my curiosity, refusing to obey conventions.

Our next project was to “mash up” a story by combining our work with that of another workshop participant, seeking a way to bring the two characters together in a plot.

Portrait of Mary Anne Bloxam (later Mrs. Frederick H. Hemming)

Portrait of Mary Anne Bloxam (later Mrs. Frederick H. Hemming)

My instructor had skillfully created a character profile of this lady and her conservative, conventional, public lifestyle (the key word for her profile was “proper”). The two of us talked of ways to get Delacroix and the future Mrs. Hemming into a story, and then we wrote our pieces. Hers was better than mine, but I’ll share mine:

In the midst of the Parisian Salon, the soon-to-be Mrs. Hemming could not stop looking at the strikingly handsome and rugged gentleman standing in the back of the parlor as Brahms was being played. Eugene Delacroix immediately perceived her furtive glances. As the evening played out, neither approached the other, but neither could stop looking or remembering.

Two months later, in the heart of the Grand Tour of Venice, the pair’s eyes met with a shock of recognition, and they strode toward one another. As the conversation and romantic drama unfolded into the evening, the unraveling dawned unmistakable. He could not forsake his traveling adventures, and she could not break her conventional engagement and matrimony. But neither would be able to forget the other.

After the fun of writing our fiction stories, our next assignment proved more difficult, and we only had ten minutes, as the session was nearly over. We were handed a page from Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, and our assignment was to lift words from the text to compose a poem inspired by one of the paintings in the collection. I thought this was impossible, but standing in front of a Cezanne painting, I began underlining particular words that caught my eye from the Austen text, and this is what I composed:

Maison Maria with a View of Château Noir

Maison Maria with a View of Château Noir

A Building that Does Not Belong

The high road

          Barely discernible,

The garden sloping

          Involuntarily to the road.

The parsonage

          Stopped at civility,

Displaying the recollection

          Of furniture.

Once I got back home, I poured out my day’s work, grateful for the memories and stimulation. As the light began to wane, I moved into my studio and pushed my waiting watercolor a little further down the road:

The light is now gone, the evening has arrived, and I am in the best mood possible to read, reflect, write and enjoy the memories of this day. I am overflowing with gratitude that a local art museum offered such a rewarding study.

Thanks for reading.

I paint in order to remember.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself that I am not alone.

Avalanche

April 24, 2015
"Constellation" by Isamu Noguchi at the Kimbell Art Museum, Fort Worth

“Constellation” by Isamu Noguchi at the Kimbell Art Museum, Fort Worth

This has not been an easy day. Waking up to a dark, rainy morning does not crater my spirits, though that was the climate that greeted me at 6 a.m. and stayed throughout the day. No. Today was a day that brought me into contact with two students knocked down by serious medical issues. As a teacher, I know that I have stayed above the fray of meddling–I do not get emotionally involved with my students’ personal affairs. From my first day, twenty-seven years ago, I have felt that caution to stay away from the personal stuff–pour as much passion and intellectual material into their minds on a daily basis as possible, but do not try to be a father or big brother or guidance counselor to them. I have been consistent. But for the first time that I recall, I have spent an entire day inside this school building, fighting back tears, bitter tears. These students are too young to bear what has been dropped onto their slender shoulders. And I cannot even begin to know what their parents feel, because I am crushed beyond help as I write this.

Once school let out, I felt the need to shake off this heavy week, and decided to return to the Kimbell Art Museum in Forth Worth. The rains had brought cool winds, and I felt my tensions elide as I sat behind the Kimbell, sketching the Henry Moore “Figure in a Shelter” bronze that quietly anchors the outside corner of the museum.

Henry Moore "FIgure in a Shelter"

Henry Moore
“FIgure in a Shelter”

After the sketching period soothed my spirits, I turned to one of my Robert Motherwell books, and read his comments about one of his favorite poets, Stéphane Mallarmé:

Sometimes I have an imaginary picture in mind of the poet Mallarmé in his study late at night–changing, blotting, transferring, transforming each word and its relations with such care–and I think that the sustained energy for that travail must have come from the secret knowledge that each word was a link in the chain that he was forging to bind himself to the universe; and so with other poets, composers, and painters.

Just this morning, as I was ironing my shirt for school and listening to a DVD over the life of Frank Lloyd Wright, I thought of Wright’s analogy between the composer and the architect, how each symphony was an edifice of sound. As I sat on that back deck and mused over the synergy between all the creative souls on this earth, my eye drifted over to Isamu Noguchi’s “Constellation” in the sculpture garden below.

It was nearly time to go inside for the 6:00 lecture on the contributions of Noguchi, so I gathered my books and went inside. Unlike many museum lectures, this speaker was stunning. Alison de Lima Greene, curator of contemporary art for the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, delivered her lecture titled “Isamu Noguchi: Between Measured Time and the Vastness of the Universe.” Her scholarly erudition was first rate, and her skillful use of words kept me on the edge of my seat. Halfway through the lecture, the lights suddenly went up, and security instructed us to move directly to the underground shelter, as a tornado warning was in progress. I did not know until then that an underground tunnel connected the Kahn and Piano buildings of the Kimbell Art Museum.

Waiting out the Storm

Waiting out the Storm

Once the storm passed, and we were allowed to return, I would have had the perfect excuse to exit the lecture. But the thought never entered my mind. Returning to my seat, I listened to the second half, equally as engaging as the first. I would drive across several counties to listen to this scholar lecture on any topic concerning the arts.

Driving home later, I felt good for the first time today, and am fortunate that this evening’s opportunities were afforded me. Twice this week, the Kimbell has provided a respite for troubled days. I tried twice today to pull some troubled souls out of the waters. In the end, I needed to be pulled out as well, and I’m thankful that spiritual healing was offered. I want to close this chapter with some words from Emerson’s Nature that Frank Lloyd Wright never tired of sharing:

Every spirit builds itself a house; and beyond its house a world; and beyond its world, a heaven. Know then, that the world exists for you. . . . Build, therefore, your own world.

Thanks always for reading.

I paint in order to remember.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself that I am not alone.

Letting the Muse Have Her Way

April 22, 2015
Sketch of

Sketch of “Crouching Aphrodite” from Kimbell Art Museum

What moves men of genius, or rather what inspires their work, is not new ideas, but their obsession with the idea that what has already been said is still not enough.

Eugene Delacroix

After a third consecutive difficult day at school, I decided at the close to take myself to the Kimbell Art Museum in neighboring Fort Worth. My birthday was Monday, and I could not even stop to think of it, thanks to the grading deadline. Tuesday featured another long day, capped with a 90-minute meeting, but two dear friends went out with me for dinner, drinks, and splendid conversation afterward–many thanks to you! Today, I decided it was time to celebrate my own birthday alone by visiting the art museum for all the right reasons–muses linger there and fuel the tired but willing imagination.

Birthday cards have been trickling in for days, all of them soulful. Today, having received yet another card in the mail, I paused in the Kimbell atrium, choosing to read it and think over its message for awhile. Then I entered my favorite gallery of antiquities, and there she was, waiting for me–my favorite sculpture from the Greco-Roman era: Crouching Aphrodite. I had my sketchbook in hand and attempted five renderings of her, choosing to post the final one above. I could not stop admiring this beautiful female form, chiseled and polished out of marble, and over 2,000 years old.

After an hour of perusing the permanent collection, I then strolled over to the neighboring Fort Worth Modern Art Museum to find a place out back to enjoy coffee and books.

I closed out the afternoon reading from my favorite birthday book: Paintings in Proust, writing my thoughts in the journal, and perusing two of my Robert Motherwell books. I couldn’t have dialed up a more perfect afternoon. The evening would bring on a crush of college grading and art history preps for tomorrow’s high school load, but the afternoon put the necessary wind in my sails to face the task.

Thanks for reading. It’s good to be back on the blog.

I paint in order to remember.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself that I am not alone.

Attempting Watercolor Plein Air over Dinner

October 2, 2011

Historic Ridglea Theater on Camp Bowie Blvd., Fort Worth, Texas

It has been days since I last posted to the blog.  I participated in the Fort Worth Music Festival, which took me away from my work Thursday through Saturday.  Today, Sunday, was my decompression day.  Though weary from the festival exertion, I chose to spend most of my day at the Fort Worth Modern Art Museum and the Kimbell Art Museum.  The Richard Diebenkorn Ocean Park Series has just opened at the Modern–an enormous show.  I have seen it twice now, and still cannot absorb what is going on in all those galleries.  What a marvelous body of work.  I purchased the museum catalogue and hope to find some quality reading time in the days ahead.  I really want to know more about Diebenkorn’s approach to abstraction.

When the museums closed, I decided it was time to eat, and preferred to be seated outdoors.  La Madeleine (French cafe) on the west side of Fort Worth was an excellent choice.  I thought I would sit outside, and while lingering over Caesar salad and tomato basil soup, see if I could get in some good work with the Diebenkorn publication.  But the slanting light of the western sun was exquisite on the historic Ridglea Theater across the street, and I found myself fishing watercolor supplies out of my shoulder bag, and before I knew it, I was attempting a sketch of this edifice once again.  There are a few things I like about this attempt that I haven’t been able to capture in earlier endeavors, most particularly the popping red colors of the sign letters facing away from the viewer on the left side of the tower.  I found a little more satisfaction with the brickwork on the tower as well.  This will certainly not be my last attempt to capture the Ridglea on paper.

Thanks for reading.