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Museum to show 19th-century weaponry

Tuesday, November 9, 2017

With guns dominating the news cycle, it may seem odd for an art museum to present an exhibition focused on them, but that’s just what the Georgia Museum of Art at the University of Georgia is doing. An exhibition largely consisting of longrifles and titled “Artful Instruments: Georgia Gunsmiths and Their Craft” opens at the museum December 2 and runs through February 25. The project of the museum’s curator of decorative arts, Dale Couch, and guest curator Sam Thomas, of the T. R. R. Cobb House, in Athens, the exhibition includes 18 19th-century longrifles as well as two pistols, powder horns and a miniature cannon on loan from private and public lenders.

Decorative arts, as opposed to traditional fine arts like painting and sculpture, focus on functional objects. Most often, they include furniture, silver, pottery and the like, which range from the plain versions of these items that would have been found in a yeoman farmer’s home to highly refined and decorated versions from the wealthiest estates. It may seem strange to include weaponry in this category, but early gunsmithing incorporated many crafts, including silversmithing and casting as well as woodworking.

Less prosperous than its neighbor states immediately to the North, Georgia produced decorative arts that have historically been overlooked. Couch points out that these rifles represent “the quintessence of craft in 19th-century Georgia” and says that “the objects in this exhibition are some of the finest artistic achievements in the state at the time.” The museum’s Henry D. Green Center for the Study of the Decorative Arts attempts to shed light on Georgia craft, particularly items that have received less attention.

Thomas points out that, in 1979, one of the Foxfire publications wrote, “These finest pieces work as intricately as Swiss watches, are as rugged and durable as Rolls-Royces, and are comparable artistically to fine paintings, music, or sculpture. Interestingly, they have the additional dimension that comes from their being, almost paradoxically, instruments of death—the tools by which enemies were slain, the frontier was conquered and tamed, and the table was filled with game. The fascination they hold for us is undeniable.”

Nearly 40 years later, that phrasing may now seem insensitive, but the longrifle remains a uniquely American art form. Developed in the early 18th century, it was more accurate than a musket but slower to load, and the rifles in this exhibition predate technological advances that led to quicker loading firearms. Its role in key battles in the American revolution and its association with the frontier have led to considerable mythology surrounding it, including James Fenimore Cooper’s novel “The Last of the Mohicans,” which features a character nicknamed “longrifle.”

Although they began as more purely functional objects, the human impulse for decoration prevailed, and the rifles on display in this exhibition feature elaborate inlay in brass and silver. Gunsmiths engraved patchboxes, trigger guards and other areas with scrollwork that often served as a kind of signature.

Thomas writes, “The history of firearms is full of examples of invention and evolution, but no gun bridges the worlds of history, technology and art like the American longrifle. Nowadays it is rare to encounter an original longrifle outside of private collections which makes it all the more important to document the ones in small museums or sitting in barns and attics.”

This exhibition is sponsored by the Community Foundation for Northern Virginia/the MOTSTA Fund, the Watson-Brown Foundation, the W. Newton Morris Charitable Foundation and the Friends of the Georgia Museum of Art. It is accompanied by a fully illustrated catalogue published by the museum and available for sale through the Museum Shop.

Programs related to the exhibition include 90 Carlton: Winter, the museum’s quarterly reception (free for members of the Friends of the Georgia Museum of Art, $5 non-members) on February 1 at 5:30 p.m. (the exhibition opens to the general public the following day), and public tours on December 6 and January 24 at 2 p.m.

Museum Information
Partial support for the exhibitions and programs at the Georgia Museum of Art is provided by the Georgia Council for the Arts through the appropriations of the Georgia General Assembly. The Georgia Council for the Arts also receives support from its partner agency, the National Endowment for the Arts. Individuals, foundations and corporations provide additional museum support through their gifts to the University of Georgia Foundation. The Georgia Museum of Art is located in the Performing and Visual Arts Complex on the East Campus of the University of Georgia. The address is 90 Carlton Street, University of Georgia, Athens, Ga. 30602-1502. For more information, including hours, see http://www.georgiamuseum.org or call 706-542-4662.

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The City of Lights to light up the big screen

Monday, October 30, 2017

During the month of November, the Georgia Museum of Art at the University of Georgia will present a film series focusing on 20th-century American artists in Paris in conjunction with the exhibition “Louise Blair Daura: A Virginian in Paris” and Spotlight on the Arts 2017. Louise Blair Daura was an American artist who lived and worked in Paris during the late 1920s, and this is the first exhibition to focus solely on her work.

The three films will screen every other Thursday at 7 p.m. starting on November 2. The films will be shown in the museum’s M. Smith Griffith Auditorium, with each film being introduced by a guest speaker and closed with a short conversation. All films are free and open to the public and are sponsored by the University of Georgia Parent Leadership Council.

The musical “An American in Paris” will screen November 2. It presents the story of an American expatriate painter in postwar Paris (Gene Kelly). Struggling to find success in both art and love, he meets and falls in love with Lise (Leslie Caron), who turns his life upside down. This Academy Award winning musical was directed by Vincente Minnelli and features songs and a score by George Gershwin. (NR, 113 min.)

The film “The Moderns” will screen November 16 and focuses on Nick Hart, a struggling American artist in the expatriate community in 1920s Paris. He spends most of his time drinking and socializing in local cafés until he becomes involved in a forgery plot with wealthy art patroness Nathalie de Ville. It stars Keith Carradine and Geraldine Chaplin and was directed by Alan Rudolph. (R, 126 min.)

The documentary “Paris Was a Woman” will screen on November 30. It focuses on female artists, writers, photographers, designers and adventurers in Paris between the wars. They embraced France and cherished a way of life different than the one they left behind. This documentary interviews Berenice Abbott, Djuna Barnes, Sylvia Beach, Adrienne Monnier, Gertrude Stein, Alice B. Toklas, Colette, Janet Flanner, Henri Matisse, Pablo Picasso, Ernest Hemingway and James Joyce. (NR, 75 min.)

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Writer: Stephanie Motter, stephanie.motter25@uga.edu
Contact: Michael Lachowski, 706-542-9078, mlachow@uga.edu

Museum Information
Partial support for the exhibitions and programs at the Georgia Museum of Art is provided by the Georgia Council for the Arts through the appropriations of the Georgia General Assembly. The Georgia Council for the Arts also receives support from its partner agency, the National Endowment for the Arts. Individuals, foundations and corporations provide additional museum support through their gifts to the University of Georgia Foundation. The Georgia Museum of Art is located in the Performing and Visual Arts Complex on the East Campus of the University of Georgia. The address is 90 Carlton Street, University of Georgia, Athens, Ga. 30602-1502. For more information, including hours, see georgiamuseum.org or call 706-542-4662.

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Georgia Museum of Art to host last Museum Mix of the year

Friday, October 13, 2017

The Georgia Museum of Art at the University of Georgia will host its third Museum Mix of the year on October 19 from 8 to 11 p.m. All of the galleries will be open for the late-night art party. WesdaRuler will start the night with original lo-fi hip hop beats and DJ Reindeer Games will play a collage of various genres of music throughout the night. Free refreshments and snacks will be provided. The event is free and open to the public.

Ben Bradberry, who goes by the name DJ Reindeer Games, is a local deejay who has performed at venues including Little Kings Shuffle Club, the Georgia Theatre and the 40 Watt Club. He enjoys mixing popular songs and crowd favorites with new sounds and rhythms to create a unique experience. Bradberry says of the night, “My goal is to create a sonic environment that will compliment the works of Mickalene Thomas: auditory collages of hip hop, world music, and 60s living room grooves.”

Wesley Johnson, who performs under the name WesdaRuler, is an Athens-based producer and experimental hip-hop artist. He hopes to add to the eclectic mix of music in Athens and expand the beats and hip-hop scene. WesdaRuler has performed at venues such as the Georgia Theatre, Hendershots and the 40 Watt club.

Exhibitions on view include “Modern Masters from the Giuliano Ceseri Collection,” “Louise Blair Daura: A Virginian in Paris,” “Martha Odum: Art Intersects Ecology” and “Muse: Mickalene Thomas Photographs and tête-à-tête.”

Sponsors of the event include Amici, Big City Bread, Donderos’ and White Tiger Gourmet.

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Writer: Stephanie Motter, stephanie.motter25@uga.edu
Contact: Michael Lachowski, 706-542-9078, mlachow@uga.edu

Museum Information
Partial support for the exhibitions and programs at the Georgia Museum of Art is provided by the Georgia Council for the Arts through the appropriations of the Georgia General Assembly. The Georgia Council for the Arts also receives support from its partner agency, the National Endowment for the Arts. Individuals, foundations and corporations provide additional museum support through their gifts to the University of Georgia Foundation. The Georgia Museum of Art is located in the Performing and Visual Arts Complex on the East Campus of the University of Georgia. The address is 90 Carlton Street, University of Georgia, Athens, Ga. 30602-1502. For more information, including hours, see georgiamuseum.org or call 706-542-4662.

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Autumn 2017

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Mickalene Thomas highlights her muses

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

The word “muse” conjures an image of an ethereal ancient Greek figure, but artist Mickalene Thomas has a different, more grounded set of muses, comprising strong African American women, including her mother, friends and former lovers. Thomas is best known for her large-scale paintings of women, which complicate the art historical representation of female beauty and reconsider tropes around femininity, identity and desire.

Currently based in Brooklyn, Thomas earned her bachelor of fine arts in painting at Pratt Institute in 2000 and a master of fine arts at the Yale University School of Art. She experimented with photography by taking photographs of herself and her mother. For each image, Thomas creates a tableau with furniture and fabrics that the models pose within. She uses stylistic influences from the 1970s, the civil rights movement and second-wave feminism as she puts forward a complex depiction of what it means to be a woman and an expansive definition of beauty.

The Georgia Museum of Art at the University of Georgia will present the exhibition “Muse: Mickalene Thomas Photographs and tête-à-tête” from October 14, 2017, through January 7, 2018. More than 40 works by Thomas and artists whose work she has selected will be on view.

Thomas’ work both deconstructs and reappropriates art history while it reflects a personal community of inspiration. Her photograph “Le Déjeuner sur l’Herbe: Les Trois Femmes Noires,” for example, reimagines Edouard Manet’s famed painting of a bohemian picnic with three women who are close friends of the artist.

“We are excited about the opportunity to exhibit the work of this cutting-edge contemporary artist,” said Shawnya Harris, the museum’s Larry D. and Brenda A. Thompson Curator of African American and African Diasporic Art. “We anticipate that our audiences will be engaged and fascinated with works that are both accessible and thought provoking.”

Thomas served as curator of the other artists’ works on display in the exhibition, an installation of work by fellow photographers that includes specific works of art that have inspired her. Artists include Derrick Adams, LaToya Ruby Frazier, Lyle Ashton Harris, Deana Lawson, Zanele Muholi, Malick Sidibé, Xaviera Simmons, Hank Willis Thomas and Carrie Mae Weems.

This exhibition is organized by Aperture Foundation in New York, a not-for-profit foundation that aims to connect the photo community and its audiences with the most inspiring work. This exhibition is sponsored by the Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation, Inc., and locally by UGA’s Willson Center for Humanities and Arts, the W. Newton Morris Charitable Foundation and the Friends of the Georgia Museum of Art.

Programs related to the exhibition include 90 Carlton: Autumn, the museum’s quarterly reception (free for members of the Friends of the Georgia Museum of Art, $5 non-members) on October 13 at 5:30 p.m. (the exhibition opens to the general public the following day); Museum Mix, the museum’s thrice-annual art party, with a live DJ and free refreshments, on October 19 from 8 to 11 p.m.; “Conversations on Muses,” a gallery tour and discussion with curator Dr. Shawnya Harris in collaboration with the UGA departments of women’s studies and African American studies, on October 20 at 12:20 p.m.; a screening of the documentary “Through a Lens Darkly: Black Photographers and the Emergence of a People” on October 26 at 7 p.m.; a public tour on November 1 at 2 p.m.; a Teen Studio program on November 9 from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. (a free program for ages 13 – 18 that includes a pizza dinner; email sagekincaid@uga.edu or call 706.542.0448 to reserve a spot); and an Artful Conversation on December 13 at 2 p.m. Several of these programs are in conjunction with UGA’s 2017 Spotlight on the Arts festival.

Museum Information
Partial support for the exhibitions and programs at the Georgia Museum of Art is provided by the Georgia Council for the Arts through the appropriations of the Georgia General Assembly. The Georgia Council for the Arts also receives support from its partner agency, the National Endowment for the Arts. Individuals, foundations and corporations provide additional museum support through their gifts to the University of Georgia Foundation. The Georgia Museum of Art is located in the Performing and Visual Arts Complex on the East Campus of the University of Georgia. The address is 90 Carlton Street, University of Georgia, Athens, Ga. 30602-1502. For more information, including hours, see http://www.georgiamuseum.org or call 706-542-4662.

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