We hope to see you tomorrow for our March Tuesday Tea! After the talk, tea and cookies will be served.
Professor Coleman is a sculptor/installation artist and Associate Professor of Art and African American Studies. Originally from Southern California, Coleman received his BFA from the Otis Art Institute of the Parsons School of Design, and his MFA from the University of California at San Diego.
He has created sound installations for MOCA Cleveland, William Cannon Art Center (Carlsbad, CA), Akron Museum of Art, Hallwalls Gallery (Buffalo, NY), SPACES Gallery (Cleveland), inSITE 94 (San Diego), William King Art Center (Abington, VA), Santa Barbara Contemporary Arts Forum, Centro Cultural (San Diego), Randolph Street (Chicago), California Center for the Arts and David Zapf Gallery (San Diego). Additionally, he has performed on stage at BAM, Majestic Theater: Next Wave Festival 96, and his work is included in the permanent collection of the San Diego Museum of Contemporary Art, The California Center for the Arts, and numerous private collections.
We hope to see you tomorrow for our March Tuesday Tea! After the talk, tea and cookies will be served.
Staff Spotlight: What do museum registrars do?
To many people, a registrar is someone who signs you up for college courses. In a museum, the job title takes on a different meaning—one critical to nearly everything the institution does. Museum Registrar Lucille Stiger and Assistant Registrar Selina Bartlett are responsible for the physical care of the AMAM collection of more than 14,000 objects. They maintain a database of museum objects, including details of condition, as well as exhibition and publication history. They keep images of each work, and respond to requests for reproduction rights. Registrars also track and record the whereabouts of each object, whether in storage, on display, in conservation, or on loan to another institution. Registrars also act as couriers, safeguarding works as they travel.
Objects from the AMAM collection are highly sought after by museum exhibition organizers around the world. While many more loan requests are turned down than can be granted, the AMAM is lending a number of important paintings in 2013–14. One is Ernst Ludwig Kirchner’s Self-Portrait as a Soldier, which Bartlett couriered to Bonn in November for the exhibition The Avant-Gardes at War. It will also go to London’s National Portrait Gallery for the exhibition, The Great War in Portraits, commemorating the 100th anniversary of World War I. When such works go out, the museum registrar often takes on the important role of courier before, during, and after the transit. Condition reports are made at each of four points along the path: prior to crating, when the work is uncrated at its destination, when it is taken off display, and when it returns to the AMAM.
“Basically our job is to ensure that the shipment gets handled properly,” said Stiger. The journey begins as works are packed into custom-made crates and a registrar or curator will ride with the shipment in a truck to the airport in either Chicago or New York (Cleveland cannot accommodate large cargo planes). In the cargo area, he or she oversees loading of the artwork onto the plane. For example, Stiger has had to insist that a museum crate not be packed on the same pallet as a container carrying liquid. If the destination is international, there can be a long wait standing in a cargo area while clearing customs. “You never know what’s going to happen,” said Bartlett, who always packs granola bars and an apple just in case.
“You have to have a lot of stamina,” said Stiger, who has been at the AMAM 18 years and has accompanied artworks to Australia, England, Germany, Japan, Italy, Spain, and within the United States. In October, Stiger traveled to Tokyo with a painting by Alfred Sisley, The Loing Canal at Moret. It was one of four AMAM works—the others were denied—requested for the exhibition Impressionists at Waterside that will travel to three Japanese museums.
Couriers do not discuss their travel plans, as shipment times and contents are confidential. Bartlett made two stops on her November courier mission to Germany. After seeing the Kirchner delivered securely to the museum in Bonn, she traveled by train to Augsburg, where she oversaw the uncrating of a 1918 work by Paul Klee for the recent exhibition Paul Klee—The Myth of Flight.
When an exhibition concludes and the aircraft finally touches down on domestic soil, “you’ve still got that long truck ride of six or eight hours from Chicago or New York,” says Bartlett. “It often takes more than 24 hours of constant travel to get home.”
Despite the risk of damage or theft, most museums loan works of art—it’s essential to their mission. AMAM loans are carefully considered in terms of the importance of the proposed exhibition and the contribution the work would make. Decisions are made, sometimes years in advance, by the museum director, relevant curator, and registrar.
Once a request is granted, it is the registrar who goes to work in planning for any needed conservation, having a crate made if needed, and escorting the shipment. Far from a paid vacation, courier work is a necessary—and sometimes grueling—part of the museum registrar’s job description.
AMAM First Thursday - This week! Lecture by Philip Yenawine!
Frustrated when data revealed visitors learned little from his talented teaching staff at NY’s Museum of Modern Art, Philip Yenawine turned to Abigail Housen, a scholar who studied “aesthetic thought”—how people use what they know when looking at art—to try to determine and remedy the problem. Working with others, they created a method called Visual Thinking Strategies and spent over a dozen years studying to see if it nurtured the growth not seen to result from more conventional methods of teaching; it did. Moreover, from early in the research period, teachers reported on what was then found in data: VTS discussions of art can be used to teach visual literacy, language, thinking, and social skills valued in schools.
This presentation will branch from philosophical (what is art for?) to theoretical (what does Abigail Housen’s research into aesthetic thought tell us about viewing) to practical (how to create empowered viewers and effective thinkers.) A VTS discussion will help illuminate all of these topics as well as offers a unique opportunity to exercise our brains not to mention our hearts and spirits. Questions will be welcomed.
Talk begins at 5:30pm in the AMAM’s King Sculpture Court. Reception to follow - catering by Aladdin’s.
The play is set in a fanciful version of 1948, the year the Weltzheimer-Johnson house was constructed, in the fictitious town of Dryton. In this imagined world Mr. K (played by Ignatius) returns home after nearly a decade of international gallivanting. His time abroad is shrouded in secrecy, but one thing is clear: he has been frittering away the family fortune, pursuing a life of debauchery and alcoholism under the dubious guise of ‘entrepreneurship.’ Along the way he has picked up an indentured servant from South India, whom he employs as his driver, and a charming wife named Adelaide (played by Melfi), who is a stranger to the town with her own secrets to keep.
Meanwhile the town of Dryton is held together by extreme religious traditionalism and severe xenophobia. The denizens of Dryton are also remarkably self-serving. In these parts, where individuals keep their friends close and their enemies closer, nightmarish jealousy and sabotage reign all in service of their higher calling.
The house itself is the prized possession of this small, quaint town, and the residents will do anything to protect it, from backstabbing their loved ones to systematically destroying the marriages of their neighbors. And they have proven their commitment before: each time a new family arrives in town the town subjects them to their fatal “process” of evaluation, by which they determine whether the newcomers will be a “good fit” for Dryton. As of yet, nobody has passed the test.
In the rehearsal process, the ensemble has experimented with decentralized creative power structures, in which each performer is responsible for building their characters and arcs, with help from the production team. Through extended improv sessions designed to hone the group mind of the collective, the cast has been weaving together each individual storyline into a united experience greater than the sum of its parts.
More than just a theater event, the project will also be documented live with cameras each night and crafted into a cinematic experience, with Nico Hen (‘14) directing photography. The final product, which will be edited together in the months to come, is sure to entice, thrill, and call into question the communal and cultural values that hold us all together.
House opens in the Weltzheimer-Johnson house Wednesday, March 5 and runs through Sunday, March 9th at 6pm each night.
The AMAM’s two major exhibitions exploring the theme of ‘realism’ in art continue through June 22, 2014. Together, Regarding Realism and Modern and Contemporary Realisms survey the varied approaches to depicting ‘the real’ taken by European, American, and Asian artists from the mid-19th century to the present.
In the John N. Stern Gallery, more than 25 works on paper have been recently installed. These include a drawing by French Realist Jean-François Millet, lithographs by American Regionalists Thomas Hart Benton and John Steuart Curry, and etchings of American city scenes by Martin Lewis.
Lewis harnessed the aesthetic potential of everyday life in his prints, which dramatize mundane views of New York streets. This two print demonstrates Lewis’ characteristic accentuation of lighting and shadow, which he creates through repeating series of lines and dots. The Glow of the City portrays a woman on a balcony overlooking tenement houses, as lines of drying laundry sweep gracefully across the composition. The skyline of the image shows the steeple of a church, now demolished, and the recently constructed Chanin Building. By capturing specific sites in New York, many of Lewis’ prints serve as documents of the city’s transforming urban landscape.
Martin Lewis (American, 1881–1962)
The Glow of the City, 1929
Gift of Mrs. Malcolm L. McBride, 1948.69
Now on view at the AMAM: The exhibition Prints and Printmaking explores the different techniques for making prints—from woodblock impressions to lithography—as well as how prints were used in a variety of cultures and time periods. No matter what the technique or purpose, all forms of printmaking share something in common: the ability to produce multiple copies quickly and accurately. Once the only exact method of reproduction available, printmaking continues to hold great allure for artists today.
Kiyohara Hitoshi began his career as a nihonga painter under the artist’s name Sei. Nihonga (Japanese-style) painting was distinct from the Western styles also prominent in Japan at the time. By the mid-1940s, however, Kiyohara had embraced another Japanese tradition: woodblock printing. Though he designed the print here, others may have carved the woodblocks—one for each color—and printed the image using techniques developed in 18th-century Japan. Kiyohara’s medium was traditional, but his style was his own. The round-faced, short-haired children that occupy his prints may have been inspired by the armless wooden dolls known as kokeshi.
The exhibition was organized by Curatorial Assistant in the Office of Academic Programs Sarah McLusky. It will be on view through June 22, 2014.
Kiyohara Hitoshi (Japanese, 1896-1956)
Children Buying Goldfish, 1950s
Color woodblock print
Gift of Sarah G. Epstein (OC 1948), 1997.41.30
A list which includes Audrey Flack - the work represented above, Macarena Esperanza, was on view at the AMAM during the last academic year. Flack also visited Oberlin as part of our First Thursday series (click through for photos of the evening). Well done, Internet!
We hope you can make it out this Saturday. Art Rental begins at 8am, but we expect the line to begin forming sometime Friday afternoon. (And, due to the weather the art building will remain accessible all night, so you can escape the cold).
What’s it like to live with art? Watch four students and their experiences with Oberlin’s art rental program.
Our first Tuesday Tea of the spring semester takes place on February 11 - please join us for an interesting talk from curatorial assistant in the Office of Academic Programs, Sarah McLusky. Following the talk will be tea and cookies. If you are out of class, in town, or otherwise free, then we hope to see you then!
In conjunction with today’s national opening of the film The Monuments Men, please consider a donation to the AMAM’s Charles P. Parkhurst (OC ’38) Art Conservation Fund.
The endowed fund honors the memory of Charles P. Parkhurst, who was director of the AMAM and a professor at Oberlin from 1949-62, by providing a consistent base of support for the preservation of the museum’s works of art. If you are interested in making a donation, please contact the AMAM director’s office at 440-775-8665.
Parkhurst served as part of the team of art historians and curators – known as the Monuments Men – tasked with tracking down works of art lost or stolen during World War II. For his efforts, he was awarded the Chevalier de la Légion d’Honneur by the government of France.
Last November, the AMAM hosted Robert Edsel, author of the book The Monuments Men: Allied Heroes, Nazi Thieves, and the Greatest Treasure Hunt in History, to commemorate Parkhurst’s and his colleagues’ work. Your generous donation to the AMAM Parkhurst Conservation Fund would help to support Parkhurst’s vision – and that of the other Monuments Men – that the care and preservation of artworks is of prime importance for our shared cultural heritage.
Above: Charles Parkhurst during World War II
Below: MFAA (Monuments, Fine Arts, and Archives) officers at the Munich collecting point, including Lt. Charles Parkhurst, second from right. (National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., Gallery Archives)