Yesterday marked the official beginning of the Dixon Gallery and Gardens’ ambitious showing of master paintings from the distinctly dramatic and stylized Baroque and Neoclassical periods in European art. A great turnout came to hear Ruth Cloudman, Chief Curator of the Speed Art Museum in Louisville, Kentucky, speak about art in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, when the arts flourished in Europe amidst war, revolution, and the relentless tides of change. The exhibition comes courtesy of the Speed’s permanent collection, on display at the Dixon until April 15th.
The oldest and largest fine art museum in Kentucky, the Speed will also showcase 55 pieces from the Dixon’s permanent collection of Impressionist and Post-Impressionist paintings along with about 30 other works from their own collection and various Kentucky collections, beginning in February. The Dixon’s executive director, Kevin Sharp, will lead an excursion of dedicated art lovers to Louisville in the spring to take in the exhibition.
The museum opened in 1927, founded in 1925 by Hattie Bishop Speed as a memorial to her husband, James Breckinridge Speed, a prominent Louisville businessman and philanthropist. Although the Speed Museum’s first paintings were mainly 19th century European and Western works, the museum began seriously collecting old master paintings in the 1950s, mostly thanks to a bequest that made possible the purchase of works such as a piece by William Hogarth, an English painter and social critic who has been credited with pioneering Western sequential art.
When Franklin Page became the museum’s second director in 1963, he and key patrons had a meeting of the minds, and together made a concerted effort to acquire master paintings at a very high level. Page was also gifted at engaging supporters to buy works of art for the museum, such as the wonderful oil sketch by Peter Paul Rubens, and the magnificent, enormous court portrait by Adélaïde Labille-Guiard.
Then in 1977, a remarkable outpouring of civic pride and ambition from corporations, the state of Kentucky, numerous individuals, and literally, schoolchildren who donated their pennies, led to the purchase of the museum’s prized Rembrandt portrait.
But the Speed has become much more than an old master collection. The museum touts exquisite 19th century American and European works, such as a portrait by James Peal, a painting by Claude Monet, and a collection of decorative arts including tapestries and silver. The Speed is also currently readying construction on a new addition to house its contemporary collection and special exhibitions.
We can’t wait to see what else they have to offer from this exciting exchange. Pick up this week’s copy of the Flyer to learn more about “Rembrandt, Rubens, and the Golden Age of Painting.”
Memphis is rife with iconic imagery, from Graceland to the Lorraine Motel, but with "This Must Be the Place," the Dixon's latest foray into the world of photography, artists explore their unique relationships to the Mid-South through less conventional means.
The works consider the interconnection of one's developing identity with their environment. The diverse mix of wholly captivating images depict the different experience of each artist through nature, popular culture, and psychology, to offer an entirely new understanding of what our town can represent.
Tommy Kha had his first solo show at Five in One Memphis in October 2008, and has since been exhibited in galleries across the U.S. and China. Kha received his BFA in Photography from Memphis College of Art, where he was awarded the Jessie and Dolph Smith Emeritus Award, and is currently a graduate photography student at Yale University's School of Art.
Michael Darough received a BFA in photography from Arizona State University, and then came to the University of Memphis for his MFA in both photography and printmaking. Darough's work has evolved to focus on storytelling, creating imagery to become a visual narrative whether composing a structured scene or documenting aspects of daily life.
Frances Berry received her BFA in photography and digital media from the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa. After graduation, Berry started working as a freelance graphic designer and photographer, and now calls Memphis home.
Jordan Hood bases her work on her childhood growing up in the Mississippi Delta, directly questioning the rigid expectations of the traditional, conservative, southern society she was born into. Hood received a BFA in photography from the Memphis College of Art and now lives and works here.
Born in Omaha, Nebraska, Ian Lemmonds moved to Arkansas with his family at the age of 12, attended college in Louisiana, and then lived in Seattle. After seeing the movie, Mystery Train, he came to live in Memphis and has remained ever since with his wife and two daughters.
Anna Hollis explores alternate realities and fantasy through her photographs using images, objects, and people from her past presented in an unnatural way, to communicate a distorted perception and extraordinary qualities. Hollis received a BFA in photography from the Memphis College of Art in 2011.
Born and raised in Shanghai, Yijun Liao is a fine art photographer who currently lives in Brooklyn, NY. Liao originally came to Memphis in 2005, knowing nothing of what the city would be like in her very first journey outside of China, and lived here for three and a half years. "I now think that I was super lucky in choosing Memphis as my destination among a long list of unfamiliar American city names. Memphis has a unique beauty that is untouched by time," Liao says of her experience.
Meet the artists tonight at the opening reception for "This Must Be the Place - Contemporary Photography in Memphis" at the Dixon Gallery and Gardens from 6:00 to 9:00 p.m. The Stax Music Academy Band will perform classic soul and R&B straight from Memphis during the event, which is open to the public with free admission, a cash bar, and complimentary hors d'oeuvres.
Alpha Newberry, native Memphian and documentary photographer, recently came home from South Korea due to legal troubles resulting from his activities chronicling the sensitive politics surrounding construction of a naval base there.
Jeju, a volcanic island 50 miles southeast of South Korea’s mainland comprises three UNESCO (the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) World Natural Heritage sites - places of outstanding cultural or natural importance to the common heritage of humanity - including an extensive system of lava tubes. For more than four years, island residents and peace activists have put up a determined resistance to the creation of a naval base there, in the village of Gangjeong.
In January 2011, the South Korean Navy began construction of the $970 million base, to be completed in 2014. The navy says that the base will be used to protect shipping lanes for South Korea’s export-driven economy, and also provide a new outlet for tourism. It will host up to 20 American and South Korean warships, including submarines, aircraft carriers and destroyers, several of which would be fitted with the Aegis ballistic-missile defense system.
But many villagers and activists from the Korean mainland suspect that the naval base will serve less as a shield against North Korea than as an outpost for the U.S. Navy to project its power against China, as the Defense Ministry will permit American ships cruising East Asian seas to temporarily visit the port. Opponents of the base also claim that it will cause environmental degradation on the beautiful island.
"Exile: Photographs by Alpha Newberry" will showcase Newberry's photos at the Joysmith Gallery in the South Main arts district, with an opening reception on January 13th from 6:30-9 p.m. Originally shown in Korea, the exhibition will run until January 28th. The Mid-South Peace and Justice Center will take place in the opening as part of their 30th anniversary celebration. Dr. Noam Chomsky, political theorist, activist, and institute professor of linguistics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), is scheduled to speak at the First Congregational Church on Cooper St. the next day, and, having written about the issue himself, hopes are high that he will also be in attendance.
Bruce Meisterman is advertising director for Flyer sister publication MBQ magazine. He’s also a gifted photographer with a show opening on Friday at Eclectic Eye and a book Arn? Narn. due out this fall.
While he’s currently working on a show featuring color images, Meisterman, thus far, has concentrated solely on black-and-white photography. The Eclectic Eye exhibit, “New Works,” is his first of all-digital photos.
“It’s a diffrent mode of capture — electronic versus film,” says Meisterman, who got rid of his in-house darkroom last year.
He says he does not manipulate the images in any way. “The image stands on its own.”
“New Works” features three bodies of works: floral images, a series from Elmwood, and what Meisterman describes as “his take” on Memphis ... photos that include graffiti, manhole covers, etc.
“People always say, ‘I love your work, but you never photograph Memphis,’” Meisterman says. “So here it is.”
As for the book Arn? Narn. — it’s a documentary of sorts. “Arn? Narn.,” says Meisterman, is the Newfoundland’s shortest conversation. In the early ’90s, the fish population was dangerously low. A moratorium was placed on fishing, but the fish have not returned. “Arn?” means “Any fish?” “Narn.” means “No fish.”
The book records the cultural implications of this situation.
BTW, some 40 odd years ago, when Meisterman was an art major, he wanted to be a painter.
Meisterman admits he wasn't very good. “My hands would not cooperate!”
Tomorrow will mark the beginning of the Memphis Botanic Garden's exciting new art exhibit, Incognito, running until January 31st. The show will feature 80 Mid-South artists in a collection of original, unsigned works, open and free to the public and available during regular hours in the Visitors Center Gallery. The exhibition will culminate in a dual Gala and Silent Auction on January 20th, which will give admirers and buyers the opportunity to meet with the artists, on hand to sign their work for winning bidders. Tickets to the gala event are $25 for members and $35 for non-members, benefiting the Botanic Garden's educational and outreach programs, carried out over its 96 acres with 23 specialty gardens including My Big Backyard Children's Garden, the first nationally certified Nature Explore Classroom in Tennessee. Please call 636-4131 for tickets or further information.