Exhibition Extras: Don’t Look Back

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Orpheus and Eurydice – The Lovers That Inspire

Egyptian tapestry roundel with Orpheus and Apollo, 5th–6th century CEThe tale of Orpheus and Eurydice is one of the most famous in Greek mythology. The story of the two lovers has inspired paintings, plays, operas, and songs throughout history. Though there are many versions of the tale, there are few differences that exist between them.

Orpheus, son of Apollo and Calliope, was the most talented musician in ancient times. With a voice that was gifted by the gods, he was able to charm anyone who heard him sing, man or beast. He even played a vital role on the voyage with Jason and his Argonauts, putting the sleepless dragon to sleep and saving the men from the sirens.

While performing one day, Orpheus saw a young woman (or wood nymph), Eurydice. She too, like all the others in attendance, had been drawn to his voice. The two fell in love instantly and were soon married.

Sadly, their happiness did not last long. A young shepherd, Aristaeus, desired Eurydice and set forth with a plan to kill Orpheus. As the couple ran, Eurydice tripped and was bitten by a deadly viper. Within moments, she died.

Distraught with grief, Orpheus traveled to the underworld to see his wife again. There he played his lyre and sang for Hades and Persephone. They were so moved by his lament that Hades promised that Orpheus could take Eurydice back to the land of the living. The one rule, he was not allowed to look at his wife until they were fully in the light.

Orpheus agreed and the two began their ascent out of The Underworld. As they approached the light, Orpheus could no longer stand it. He turned to look at Eurydice, but was only allowed a fleeting glimpse before she was pulled away back into the darkness.

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Giuseppe Cesari – From Votive Painter to Cavaliere

Giuseppe Cesari, b Jan 1568, was the son of an Italian votive image painter. After moving to Rome around the year 1582, Cesari was an apprentice toPortrait engraving by Ottavio Leoni (1621) Nicolò Circignani where he developed his skills and studied other artists’ styles. Under Circignani’s direction, he participated in the decoration of the Vatican itself as well as numerous other projects.

Cesari was giving his first independent commission at the age of 20, painting frescos in S. Lorenzo in Damaso. These works have been lost through the years, but are preserved through copies. It was at this point that he broke from the style of Circignani and began developing his own. He continued to paint frescos and altarpieces throughout Rome and Naples throughout the 1590s. In addition to these large commissions, Cesari also specialized in smaller paintings for private investors. These works were often painted on copper, slate, or panel and were quite unlike those of his Roman contemporaries.

Cesari’s talent, and close ties to the papal court, quickly made him one of Rome’s most prominent painters. Pope Clement VIII gave him the title of Cavaliere di Cristo for his supervision of the decoration of the Lateran Basilica, where Cesari.  himself painted the “Ascension” over the altar.

Cesari continued to receive commissions until his death on July 3, 1640. Though he had no followers, both Caravaggio and Andrea Sacchi studied with him at the beginning of their careers. They, and the countless others that studied his artistry, continued to express respect and admiration for his work.

“Orpheus and Eurydice” at The Jule

Giuseppe Cesari, called "Cavalier d'Arpino", Orpheus and Eurydice, 1620-25, Oil on canvas, Couretesy of Collection Lemme, Palazzo Chigi, Ariccia.  “Orpheus and Eurydice” hangs in the “History Paintings: Between Classicism and Realism” section of the exhibit. This piece falls under the “classicism” style, as it depicts the scene in the classic Greek and Roman style.

What about the tale of Orpheus and Eurydice makes it a great subject for various art forms?

What point in the story does this painting depict?

Mythology tells us that Orpheus played the lyre. Can you think of why Cesari would paint him carrying the violin?

Mythology themed paintings like this one often had settings that celebrated the utopian myth of “Arcadia,” where man and nature coexisted in perfect harmony. How is that harmony on display here? Does the subject of the painting contribute to that? Will that harmony last?

Learn more about the Exhibit

Bernini and the Roman Baroque: Masterpieces from Palazzo Chigi in AricciaA logo for International Arts and Artists



Installation of Leo Twiggs at Auburn

Museum Live: Sept. 8, 2017

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“Immanuel: A Symposium” was recorded and streamed live at JCSM on the afternoon before the opening of “Leo Twiggs: Requiem for Mother Emanuel.” The symposium provided the opportunity to discuss the African American church, and its historical and contemporary role as both sanctuary and location for civic and political activism.

“Under Their Own Vine and Fig Tree: African Americans and the Church in Southern History”

Presented by Dr. Richard Bailey, Alabama historian and retired research specialist

“We Are Charleston”

Presented by Dr. Bernard E. Powers, Jr. Professor of History, College of Charleston

Following this presentation, there will be a break.

“‘The Most Segregated Hour in America’: Churches and Social Justice Across the Color Line, from the Civil Rights Era to the Present”

Presented by Dr. David Carter, Associate Professor of History, Auburn University, and Dr. Johnny Green, Assistant Vice President for Outreach in Student Affairs, Auburn University

Following this presentation, there will be a panel discussion and a break. 

“Requiem for Mother Emanuel,” Dr. Leo Twiggs, Professor Emeritus, South Carolina State University

Please note that this lecture is sold out. A limited amount of seating will be available in the Museum Cafe for a live-stream of the program.

Dr. Twiggs’s lecture will shed light on his conceptualization and resolution of works in his exhibition of nine batik paintings he made in response to the June 17, 2015 massacre in Emanuel AME Church in Charleston and to its aftermath and far-reaching consequences.

Opening reception for Requiem for Mother Emanuel immediately follows.

Taking the exhibition as point of departure, the objective of the symposium will be to explore the history of the black church in the U.S., and to open a discussion about the historical intersections between the Christian conversion of enslaved Africans, and the metaphorical and real church as location and catalyst for spiritual and political redemption. “Immanuel,” the Hebrew word for “God is with us,” gave Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church its name, and the concept of “Immanuel” offers a powerful point of departure for both the artwork of Dr. Twiggs and the broader themes the symposium will explore. The symposium will consist of four talks and a panel discussion leading up to the opening artist talk. JCSM has been deliberate in choosing a scholar who can address the history of the African American church both nationally and in Alabama, a scholar from Charleston, and scholars from the local community.

The symposium has been made possible in part by a grant from the Alabama Humanities Foundation, a state program of the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the Auburn University Special Lectures Fund.

Guest Writer: “Fifty-Three Stations of the Tokiado.”

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The exhibition, Along the Eastern Road: Hiroshige’s Fifty-Three Stations of the Tokaido is on view in the Bill L. Harbert Gallery until January 10, 2016.

From "A Little Art Talk" on November 4, 2015

Written by Andrew Kozlowski, assistant professor in the AU Department of Art & Art History.

When I first heard that this exhibition was coming to the JCSM I was very excited. Hiroshige has been a favorite artist of mine since I discovered his 100 Famous Views of Edo years ago. Admittedly though, upon first seeing 53 Stations of the Tokaido Road I was a bit disappointed. This series, often admired as one of Hiroshige’s best, is also very early in his career and at first glance feature some remarkably standard compositions. The pictures themselves do service to the story presented, but for me fail to showcase what I think are the more adventurous pieces found in his later works.

However knowing Hiroshige’s importance historically and his importance as an influence on my work, I wanted to give this collection a chance. As I looked I started to find the hints that to me stand out as the precursors of the oddness found in his Views of Edo that I so admire. A composition of snow, a man bending over, a mythical bolder, his sensitivity to light, and an ability to stuff a picture full of carefully selected details all creep out if you give them time.

What I found curious about this series isn’t exactly found in the pictures, but in the accounts of the work itself. What we know about Hiroshige and his relationship to the trip down the Tokaido is a little faulty. We know that Hiroshige was born in Edo in 1797, his family were in the fire brigade, and when he was 13 his parents died and he assumed his role as part of the brigade. However at 15 he began to apprentice with the artist Toyohiro, who passed away in 1828. After Toyohiro’s death Hiroshige began to play around with the landscape and “flower and bird” pictures for which he would eventually be famous for. In 1831 he produced a small series of landscapes that was received favorably, but didn’t lead to mass recognition, that would come later with the publication of the 53 Stations of the Tokaido Road. 

While researching the Tokadio road prints I found several scholars who placed his trip in the Summer of 1831 or 1832 when Hiroshige is permitted to tag along with the annual gift of horses from the shogunate to the Emperor. This seems to be the accepted story, despite apparently there being no written account of the journey. Hiroshige III stated 60 years after the series first being published in 1832–3 that the drawings did in fact come from sketches Hiroshige made during the journey, but scholar Andreas Marks contends, “most of [Hiroshige’s] designs are undoubtedly inspired from illustrations in guide books like the Tokaido meisho zue” (Marks, 132).

Utagawa Hiroshige (Japanese, 1797 - 1858), 26th Station: Kawegawa, circa 1833-4 from Fifty-Three Stations of the Tokaido Road, woodblock print, courtesy of Reading Public Museum, Reading, Pennsylvania

Utagawa Hiroshige (Japanese, 1797 – 1858), 26th Station: Kawegawa, circa 1833-4 from Fifty-Three Stations of the Tokaido Road, woodblock print, courtesy of Reading Public Museum, Reading, Pennsylvania

Regardless, the story goes that upon returning with a case full of sketches from the trip, Hiroshige teams up with two publishers, refines his sketches into the 55 designs for the suite, and they begin to be published throughout 1833, and appear as a complete set for the first time in 1834. When you read the scholarly descriptions of the works, including the didactic wall texts found here in the JCSM, they are often written in a kind of deflating manner. What I mean is that their language suggests the pictures are true, that they are faithful recreations of the scenes depicted. And yes, these prints can be attached to real places, to actual stops along this well known route. But when you really look at these pictures, they become so much more than just a pictorial recreation of one of these stops along the Tokaido Road.

What I find fascinating is the conflict of the story itself. The sources I found that promote the story of Hiroshige taking the trip begin to expand upon the inventiveness of the pictures almost immediately:

Ichitaro Kondo as translated by Charles S. Terry states, “Since the entire series was drawn from sketches made in the summer, it is certain that Hiroshige was relying to a large extent on his imagination…. In drawing such events as the horse market at Chiryu and the horse chasing festival at Miya, he must have relied on published accounts, such as those in the illustrated guidebooks” (Kondo, 7).

Muneshige Narazaki as translated by Gordon Sager adds: “Meisho-e… expressed a strong interest in the beauty of the four seasons….consider what Hiroshige did… It was summer… when he completed his journey…They should all…be imbued with the beauty of that single season, but such is not the case. As with meisho-e he incorporated into his drawings the ever changing beauty of the various seasons to do which he had… to draw on his imaginations. Thus although the prints based on his sketches must be classed as realistic, they are at the same time highly imaginative” (Narazaki, 12).

As a westerner, raised in a western tradition of art making, I can understand the sentiment that expects Hiroshige to have made the trek, seen the sights, drawn them with his own hands, and then translated those drawings from life into prints that fall in line with a mimetic sentiment that faithfully representing the natural world is the highest form of beauty. But as an artist and a teacher who is compelled by art that tells a story I find it critical to remember that Hiroshige’s training and culture is far from my own. His world is poetic, more about feeling and memory to create a sense of place, than on constructing a world based purely on how it looks. Now when I look at these prints what I see is a young man who for the first time is experiencing a world outside of everything he has ever known, whether done through experience or imagination, but most likely some combination of both. He wants it to be filled with beauty, and he moves mountains and rivers to accomplish this, he turns the sun and moon on and off at will, he brings the wind and snow and rain like movie props. Hiroshige drops us into the scene not at the point at which we actually experience it, but the one from which it is best experienced. Looking at these pictures in the 21st century, we have the benefit of photography and satellite imaging to understand the landscape as it is, but as viewers we gain something from them if we recognize that 1) they are pictures and 2) they are idealized.

Science has shown that human memory is faulty. Perhaps that is what makes these pictures so strong. Each one is inhabited by at least a soul or two, the figures propagate our memories with tales and stories. The scenes are small, and the figures often take precedent over the grand vistas. These people are not swallowed whole, as was occurring at nearly the same time on the other side of the world, in violent canvases like Turner’s. Nor are Hiroshige’s people overwhelmed by isolation like Friedrich’s Monk by Sea, rather they are taking part in the journey. Unlike those poor fellows caught in Romanticism’s epic riots of nature, these common, nameless folk are found in a continuum. These pictures can stand alone, but more effectively they link together. This isn’t the grand European tradition of landscape painting, all single formidable images swaddled in gold frames, this is the more common world as we see it, as we try to remember it.

I like thinking that the activeness of the figures in the prints suggest that as much as we might like to linger among the beauty of the landscape, time is

Utagawa Hiroshige (Japanese, 1797 - 1858), 10th Station: Hakone, circa 1833-4 from Fifty-Three Stations of the Tokaido Road, woodblock print, courtesy of Reading Public Museum, Reading, Pennsylvania

Utagawa Hiroshige (Japanese, 1797 – 1858), 10th Station: Hakone, circa 1833-4 from Fifty-Three Stations of the Tokaido Road, woodblock print, courtesy of Reading Public Museum, Reading, Pennsylvania

relentless and urges us on. It pays to notice the organization of the prints in the gallery, to read them first to last we walk from right to left around the space. In Japan the right was traditionally associated with the east and the rising of the sun, and the west with the left, where Paradise is, so albums and books in Japanese culture are read right to left, rather than our western left to right. Unlike Hiroshige’s later 100 Famous Views of Edo, the 53 Stations of the Tokaido Road forms a group fixed in a particular order, for me it heightens an understanding of the landscape during Hiroshige’s time.

As Narazaki states, “To the Japanese, Hiroshige speaks in their own language, for he was the first artist to give full expression in print form to the Japanese awareness of the mingled sadness and beauty of life” (Narazaki, 13). So while individual prints from the 100 Famous Views of Edo might stand out more prominently than others, Tokaido Road as a whole does something a bit more solemn through its pacing, depicting literal resting points, but always pushing the viewer along with the figures in the pictures who make their way through these landscapes. Again from Narazaki, “For a Japanese then, whether he is looking at a painted scroll or at a series of prints, his aesthetic appreciation is inevitably mingled with a subconscious sense of time. The Westerner on the other hand views each picture or print as a separate entity: for him time does not move from right to left, either in a single work or in a collection of works” (Narazaki, 12).

The connection between Impressionism and post-Impressionism and the popular ukiyo-e prints is well documented, we see the inspiration in flatness, color, pattern, and idealized picture making, in exploring the 2D plane as a playground. However I like to consider the Romantic movement occurring at nearly the same time as Hiroshige was working. Those Romantic painters work to remind us that we are small in the face of the sublime, they act to terrify us, to have us stand in awe of nature. Ukiyo-e and Hiroshige in particular work to sooth us, to place us as part of the landscape, while at the same time reminding us that our time moves on quickly, imparting a more quiet contemplation of the sadness and beauty of the landscape. But they are similar in spirit right? Landscapes aimed at bringing back some sense of what it is to be human. While Turner and Frederick both offer canvases that also feature figures, a way to encourage the projection of the viewer into the scene, I wonder about the connections between Hiroshige’s landscapes and someone like Albert Bierstadt’s paintings.   Only some 30 years after the Tokaido road is first published, Bierstadt is painting Looking Down Yosemite Valley and soon after taking tickets from the general public to see it. You can see it free of charge today at the Birmingham Museum of Art.

Utagawa Hiroshige (Japanese, 1797 - 1858), 16th Station: Yui, circa 1833-4 from Fifty-Three Stations of the Tokaido Road, woodblock print, courtesy of Reading Public Museum, Reading, Pennsylvania

Utagawa Hiroshige (Japanese, 1797 – 1858), 16th Station: Yui, circa 1833-4 from Fifty-Three Stations of the Tokaido Road, woodblock print, courtesy of Reading Public Museum, Reading, Pennsylvania

So I imagine two people. One standing in a tent to see the magnificence of Yosemite, an unfathomable wild of a still relatively undiscovered America made more extraordinary by the radiant brush of Bierstadt. They are totally and completely overwhelmed by the vastness of the picture, by how small it makes them feel, knowing that this kind of grand scene exists, but for all it’s space the painting fails to leave room for anyone to inhabit. Even if you could step in it seems like you would perish momentarily on the surface of an alien world. On the other side of the world, in fact in a world still in a self imposed isolation, another person falls into an album of the 53 Stations of the Tokaido Road, at once both possessed with the difficulty of the terrain, and the stark beauty of the landscape, but all the same seeing a figure pushing hard against the rain, hat in hand, blinded by the wind as he attempts to walk up the mountain clutching their shirt closed to try and stay warm, and remembering the scene perfectly in their mind, even though they themselves had never left Edo.

I wonder if Hiroshige ever left Edo. When I teach, when I ask students to write stories, I ask them to write about something they know. People recognize the richness of a story from a life that was lived. In fiction we have a need to recognize the real world in an imagined one so that we might be able find our way in. I like to imagine that the practical compositions that make up the 53 Stations of the Tokaido Road are Hiroshige’s attempt to take the stories, poems, and guidebooks, and perhaps his own experiences and translate them into something that seemed real because they tapped into a kind of wanderlust, a false memory we invent of an ideal place. That his desire to capture that sense of both sadness and beauty is what makes these pictures great, and not their dedication to simply representing the 53 Stations of the Tokaido Road.

When you look at his 100 Famous Pictures of Edo, you can see a number of pictures that are just… well, boring. I always imagine Hiroshige, at that time an established name in the ukiyo-e business, as realizing that he bit off a bit more than he wanted to chew. 100 pictures of this familiar place, a place he was from, that we know he traveled in and around, what was he thinking? And then you see those odd moments that make 100 pictures so amazing, a turtle dangling from a string, a branch twisted in a circle to frame Mt. Fuji in the distance, the view of a landscape between a boatman’s legs. In my story I like to imagine that when Hiroshige got stuck with what to do next in his 100 Famous Views of Edo he looked to the early lessons he learned in creating the 53 Stations of the Tokaido Road, his knowledge that sometimes you have to move a mountain, or curve an otherwise straight river, to make a picture tell a good story, and put it to use to reimagine those famous views of his Edo.


Kondo, Ichitaro. The Fifty-Three Stages of the Tokaido by Hiroshige. Honolulu, HI: East-West Center Press, 1965. Print.

Marks, Andreas. Japanese Woodblock Prints, Artists, Publishers and Masterworks 1680-1900. North Clarendon, VT: Tuttle Publishing, 2010. Print.

Narazaki, Muneshige. Hiroshige: The 53 Stations of the Tokaido. Tokyo: Kodansha Int. Ltd., 1969. Print.

Last Flag #4

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Wednesday, Governor Robert Bentley had the Confederate flags in Montgomery taken down. The removal, and similar debates in other states comes in the wake of a horrific act in Charleston that appears to be racially motivated terrorism.

Signs and symbols in society are fluid. The meaning of a flag is created not by the fabric or colors, but the shared meaning between people. The Confederate flag, in certain circles, is part of southern identity. For others is it a banner of violent racism. The flag comes with meanings that include states’ rights, treason, the deaths of ancestors (as soldiers and as slaves), and is always underscored by enslavement. Its use historically was for defenders of slavery, and in most cases since the 1960s (when it was installed in Columbia, South Carolina), against civil rights for black people.

Leo Twiggs has been appropriating and using the image of the Confederate flag in his batik paintings. An African-American from St. Stephen, South Carolina, Twiggs’ experience as a southerner informs his use of the flag imagery. He describes the use of this complex symbol this way:

“The Confederate flag is an icon that many white people in the South love to remember, and most black people would like to forget. Yet, within the dichotomy of these two views is the passion within us all to remember the past and to hold on to some special moment, even if it’s just imagined.”

Twiggs began his work with the flag in the 1970s, in a series titled Commemoration. A second iteration of the series was completed in the 1990s, Commemoration Revisited. As Twiggs worked with the images, repeatedly using the blue bars lined with stars, he found an expressive voice. He reflected and considered the familial stories about his ancestors, enslaved during the Civil War. By doing so, Twiggs has claimed mutual ownership of the Confederate flag.

“As painful as this encounter was, I had to acknowledge that this was not their story nor my story, but our story.”

Other series by Twiggs have utilized symbols of targets, southern agriculture, crosses, hoods, and railroad crossings. These artifacts of the south, recognizable by anyone with roots here, and those just passing through, are a vocabulary of place. Twiggs uses that vocabulary to have us consider our mutual, shared experience.

“Like the railroad bisecting my hometown, momentarily separating us, I felt the controversy surrounding the Confederate flag also separated us. It had become something we had to cross over, like many of the trials and tribulations of living in the world we had to overcome. Sometimes, these crossings are painful, and we suffer them in silence, but we must face them nonetheless.”

As states across the South remove a symbol so fraught with racist overtones and painful experiences, we reflect on the shared experience with Leo Twiggs. Our history is marred by the Civil War, our ancestries intertwine across racial boundaries. What we can do today is share our history, and work towards dialogue across the entire community.

JCSM has recently acquired one of Leo Twiggs’ batik paintings. Painted in 2014, on a calico fabric, the image of the flag is intentionally tattered and faded, overlaid on a sheet reminiscent of the curtains you might find in a grandmother’s home. Like many works in the collection, it is a starting point for conversation, as well as an object that speaks to painful memories of a time and place. Come to JCSM today to see Last Flag #4, and the many other works in the collection that remind us of our shared humanity and grief.

Quotes from Twiggs, 2011.

2013 – October

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JCSM opened to the public on October 3, 2003. In celebration of its 10-year anniversary, the museum opened the first juried outdoor sculpture exhibition, Out of the Box, on October 4, 2013. Our  jurors for the competition, partners and accomplished artists, Carol Mickett and Robert Stackhouse, selected ten finalists who received one thousand dollars each. First, second and honorable mention prizes were awarded totaling five thousand dollars. The artists’ work was displayed on the museum grounds in a yearlong observance of the anniversary. Two sculptures from the competition were acquired for the permanent collection through gifts.on.

2013 – April

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JCSM announced that they have been accredited by the American Alliance of Museums (AAM), the highest national recognition for a museum. AAM accreditation is the industry standard for evaluating the museum profession and signifies an achievement of the highest excellence, with approximately only six-percent of the nation’s museums having this distinction.

Conserved Murals to Exhibit for First Time in Museum Setting

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John_Augustus_Walker-Wall_PhotoJule Collins Smith Museum of Fine Art, Auburn University will exhibit John Augustus Walker’s “Historical Panorama of Alabama Agriculture” from May 17, 2014 to September 21, 2014. The exhibition is timed with the 100th anniversary of the Alabama Cooperative Extension System and marks the first time the entire series of ten paintings will be exhibited in a museum setting. Curated alongside “Panorama” and running concurrently are other WPA-era art from the museum’s permanent collection in “Picturing an Era: Art from the Great Depression to the Second World War.” Prominent artists represented include Marsden Hartley and Grant Wood, alongside regional artists such as Frank Applebee, Edward Everett Burr, and Nell Choate Shute.

On May 22, 2014 at 5:00 p.m., Bruce Dupree, art director with the Alabama Cooperative Extension System, will present a gallery talk entitled “The Historical Panorama of Alabama Agriculture, John Augustus Walker, and the 1939 Alabama State Fair.” The jazz band Cullars Improvisational Rotation will perform following the talk from 6:00 to 8:00 pm with extended gallery hours and tapas with cocktail service in the Museum Café from 5:00 to 8:00 pm. Admission is free courtesy of JCSM Business Partners.

Dupree said that in the 1930s, the Extension Service was a major player on the state’s agricultural and political stage. “As in years past, in 1938 fair organizers contacted the Extension Service and Alabama Polytechnic Institute to have a large exhibit at the upcoming Alabama State Fair,” he said. “Once a theme was decided, Extension leaders sought an artist through the regional Works Progress Administration, or WPA.” Dupree said that Mobile mural artist John Augustus Walker, who also worked as a Mardi Gras float and costume designer, graphic designer, and full-time railroad clerk, was selected and worked closely with the Extension on mural content.

Walker’s ten-panel “Panorama” looks back to the area’s Native American first farmers and culminates with modern advances in farm technology and its benefits. “Much like a stage set, the murals were designed to only last for a short period of time, about two weeks,” said Dupree. “The next year would likely bring a new design.” By the early 1940s, the murals were lost and forgotten. “Americans’ thoughts were turning from domestic issues to world headlines, such as the war in Europe. With advancing technology, the message of the murals became outdated.”

The murals were rediscovered in the early 1980s in the Duncan Hall attic. “The murals were in bad shape when found,” said Dupree. “Recent conservation treatment has stabilized the paintings’ fragile areas and cleaned years of accumulated dust and dirt, thus ensuring a long life for these ‘temporary’ works of art,” remarked Dennis Harper, museum curator of collections and exhibitions. In 2010, the murals were transferred into the permanent collection of Jule Collins Smith Museum of Fine Art.

In one of the panels, Walker used the header “Farm Progress is Great.” Dupree said Alabama agriculture has changed much since 1939. “Poultry, forestry and aquaculture are leading industries, creating tens of thousands of much needed jobs in many rural counties. He cited other positive changes such as disease and drought resistant crops, agri-tourism, and long-range weather forecasting among the many advances. But much of what farmers grow, he said, is the same. “As in the 1930s, it still takes planting a seed, nurturing what we grow, and stewardship of the land and water. And, a good rain now and then doesn’t hurt either.”

Behind the Scenes of Rwanda’s Developing Film Industry

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Finding_Hillywood_MemeIn Hillywood (Rwanda’s film industry named for the country’s rolling hills) there is a blossoming film community. As Rwanda is still healing from the wounds of a cultural genocide almost 20 years ago, cinema has become a way for artists to express themselves and create cultural discussion. Finding Hillywood efficiently introduces the major players who set the beginning of the industry in motion.

Eric Kabera founded the Kwetu Film Institute, directed the first Rwandan feature, and created the Rwanda Film Festival. Ayuub Kasasa Mago is a renaissance man within the industry, equally adept at directing, acting, scouting, or “fixing” just about anything a production might need. While it is easy to see that Eric is the heart of the industry, as the film continues Ayuub comes to represent its soul with his all-encompassing passion.

Seattle filmmakers Leah Warshawski and Chris Towey have created a stirring documentary that functions as a Rwandan history lesson but also reveals the power of media as a catalyst for cultural healing. The film’s final act takes a breathtaking final turn as Hillywood connects the people of Rwanda with the goosebumps of seeing their culture represented on the biggest screen available.

About the filmmaker

headshot2_webLeah Warshawski is a first-time feature director who specializes in producing documentary-style video content, television shows and short films in remote parts of the world. To date, Leah has filmed in over 30 countries around the world. She has a BA in Japanese language from the University of Hawaii and has worked on a number of Japanese commercials as well as the network television show I Survived a Japanese Game Show. Before developing Fidning Hillywood, Leah worked in Hawaii in the marine department for major features and shows includingThe Rundown, Hawaii, Baywatch and Lost.

She is currently in development for a documentary feature about her 87-year old grandmother (and Holocaust survivor) called Big Sonia. Leah is most passionate about storytelling and adventure travel.

Warshawski will screen her film at Jule Collins Smith Museum of Fine Art on Tuesday, March 4 at 6:00 p.m. A reception will follow the film. Admission is free courtesy of JCSM Business Partners.

A Real “Monuments” Man and Plainsman

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On January 14, 2014 I had the opportunity to hear a presentation by Robert M. Edsel , founder and chairman of the Monuments Men Foundation for the Preservation of Art and recipient of the National Humanities Medal.  I had first heard Mr. Edsel speak in January 2011 when the Jule Collins Smith Museum (JCSM) and the College of Architecture, Design and Construction (CADC) hosted his lecture at Auburn University.  Mr. Edsel has devoted himself for well over a decade to telling the story of the 345 men and women from thirteen countries who accepted the assignment to protect monuments and other cultural treasures from total destruction at the hands of the Nazis in the closing days of World War II.  This allied military group was comprised of educators, museum directors, curators, architects and artists who took on the overwhelming task of tracing, cataloguing and finally returning more than five million artistic and cultural items that had been taken by Hitler and the Nazis. It has been Mr. Edsel’s hope that by telling this heroic story we continue the legacy of the Monuments Men and take responsibility for the preservation of cultural treasures in current and future wars around the world. Of course, locating the hundreds of thousands of stolen and still missing works of art and documents from WWII continues to this day, as made evident with the recent discovery in a fifth floor apartment in Munich, Germany.

Mr. Edsel is the author of Rescuing Da Vinci, The Monuments Men: Allied Heroes, Nazi Thieves and the Greatest Treasure Hunt in History, and most recently Saving Italy.  He was also the co-producer of the documentary film, The Rape of Europa.  His work served to inspire George Clooney to write, direct and star in the film The Monuments Men which is scheduled for release on February 7, 2014. The film featuring Matt Damon, Bill Murray, John Goodman and Cate Blanchett has most likely taken necessary dramatic and artistic license with actual historical events but from all reports it is a great film that will further draw attention to this exceptional moment in history.

Posey_WEBFrom a cursory look at the promos for the film it looks like shades of the story of Robert Kelley Posey will be included. Posey, a 1927 graduate of Auburn University’s Architecture program, plied his trade with a number of firms before entering the U.S. Army in 1942. By January 1945, Posey was serving as a Monuments Officer for General Patton’s Third Army, responsible for their area in France. In order to encourage the interest and foster an awareness of the historic cities of Nancy, Metz, Luxembourg and Trier where he and his troops were stationed, Posey wrote informative bulletins for the units’ men to read.

Pfc. Lincoln Kirstein was assigned as Posey’s assistant (Update: AP reports Monuments Men characters based on real people). Before joining the army, Kirstein had been one of the founders of the Museum of Modern Art and the New York City Ballet and has been described as “one of the most important influences in the development of American culture in the 20th century”. Together Posey and Kirstein discovered the Nazi Race Institute, filled with Torahs, Jewish archives and other stolen Judaic materials as well as the salt mine at Altaussee where they found thousands of art works that the Nazis had confiscated and purposely concealed including the Ghent Altarpiece by the Van Eyck brothers, Michelangelo’s Bruges Madonna and Vermeer’s Astronomer. For his extraordinary efforts Posey was awarded the Legion of Honor from France and the Order of Leopold from Belgium.

Following the war Posey went to work for the renowned architectural firm of Skidmore, Owings and Merrill in New York City. He served as part of the team for such distinguished projects as the Lever House and the Sears Tower.

Remembering the story of the Monuments Men and the work they did is important as we face continuing threats to our international cultural heritage. But I also hope that knowing that one of those unsung heroes was an Auburn University graduate makes the story all the more meaningful and appreciated. We at JCSM and Auburn University are most grateful to Robert Posey for the significant role he played in preserving our cultural legacy. I think he would be glad his university now has a museum of its own.

Read the book! See the movie! And visit JCSM!

Posey pictured above, courtesy of Monuments Men Foundation for the Preservation of Art

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