Category

News

Collection Spotlight: Dale Kennington

By | News, Spotlight | No Comments

JCSM fondly remembers artist, patron and friend, Dale Kennington, at her passing in this special edition of Collection Spotlight.

Funeral Services will be at: First Methodist Church, 1380 West Main Street, Dothan, AL 36301, Friday May 5, at 11:00 a.m. Visitation will be at the church from 9:30 a.m. to 11:00 am.

Dale Kennington
(American, 1935–2017)
A Question of Survival, 2005-2007
Oil on wood panel, skeleton-key lock mechanism, and hidden text in graphite
Gift of Dale Kennington

By Dennis Harper, curator of collections and exhibitions

The folding screen is perhaps the best of all possible vehicles for Dale Kennington’s art. Its very nature as a pleated, 3-dimensional object allows subtle and transient visual effects to take place, enhancing the complex objectives Kennington pursues in her “flat” work. Kennington’s narrative tableaus have always operated on multiple levels. She evokes a feeling of certain familiarity with the subjects of her paintings, of identification with a place or group or time. “I’ve been there, I know those people,” are comments often heard uttered before Kennington’s work, even when the painting is a compilation of disparate elements or a recreated private memory of the artist. Yet, it’s not only her compositional details—places, people, objects—that elicit that kind of déjà-vu experience in their viewing. Kennington’s evocative portrayal of light and atmosphere, one of the means by which she summons a mood, brings about a more visceral sense of shared experience. “I’ve felt that” is a response in many viewers. Her images often emerge from pervasive darkness in scattered bits and pieces, with Kennington guiding the viewer’s awareness of the composition’s features through careful choice and placement of colors. She directs a viewer’s perception of a painting through both skillfully rendered realism and deliberate ambiguity.

In A Question of Survival, one side of the six-panel screen presents a desolate landscape distinguished chiefly by an apparently abandoned, yellow automobile in the corner of an empty parking lot. The car’s doors are flung wide open, suggesting a hurried departure by its occupants. The painting’s nearly impenetrable mass of dark green foliage is oppressive and foreboding. Other landscape elements, stormy-blue clouds and blacktop pavement, offer equally negligible cheer. Lines painted across the tarmac and curbing echo the widely scattered, spindly light poles, each contributing to the painting’s overall bearing of forlorn unease. With a stage set thusly, Kennington’s composition on the opposite side of the screen takes on correspondingly ominous overtones. There, a vacant interior’s emerald-green walls now seem grave and obstructive, like their landscape counterpart. Box flaps and yellow closet doors in the room are ajar, revealing the absence of contents. The interior’s gold-hued moldings recall the empty grid plotted across the screen’s exterior vista. And finally, the painting’s solitary figure, a young girl dressed in a sky-blue top and asphalt-black slacks, stands alone in the deserted room. Her attire invokes an association, in color at least, with the troubled landscape.

The screen’s dual or flip-sided nature is all-important. Kennington cleverly weaves the two compositions together, back-to-back, necessitating a playful cat-and-mouse game by the viewer to chase the meaning of the entire work. Were the paired images separated for display flanking each other, as a diptych on a wall, much of the work’s intrigue and challenge would be lost. As a two-sided screen, Kennington proscribes no definite order or sequence for their viewing: no front and back, nor first and last. A viewer might draw a very different reading if he studied the interior scene containing the figure before encountering the landscape. Additionally, Kennington exploits the folded screen façade to produce a result that cannot be appreciated in a flat reproduction on the printed page. It must be experienced dynamically. The screens’ accordion-like surfaces reveal different aspects when approached in the round. Seen from a particular angle, Kennington’s painted figure drops from sight into a fold of the screen, only to reappear with a change in the viewer’s position. Architectural planes such as floors, walls and staircases make similar shifts, transforming perspectives as the observer walks around each screen.

Kennington’s pictures are never what they seem at first glance. They are cagey constructions, reticent to disclose their meaning despite a proliferation of clues. Adding further to their mystery, Kennington incorporates hidden vaults within the screens. She has carved a secret chamber into one panel on each of the works. Therein, behind small locked and camouflaged doors, Kennington placed handwritten notes on paper with comments relevant to each painting. The message hidden away in the clouds on A Question of Survival reads:

I am kind

to animals

He is polite

to strangers

She is distracted

with family

They are convivial

with friends

We are a danger

to ourselves

and to others

Serebryany Will Perform Beethoven’s “Hammerklavier” Sonata

By | Music, News, Uncategorized | No Comments

On Thursday, March 23 from noon to 1:00 pm, the series will present a free concert in the Auditorium by pianist Vadim Serebryany. The concert will feature Ludwig van Beethoven’s “Hammerklavier” Sonata (Op. 106) and music by Béla Bartók.

A gift by anonymous friends of the series is helping to make this concert possible.

Serebryany will open Thursday’s program with a short, four-movement suite by the Hungarian composer Béla Bartók. Typical of Bartók’s work, the piece draws its influence from the folk music of Eastern Europe.

But Bartok is only a warm up. The main event will be Beethoven’s famous Sonata in B-flat, Op. 106. “It’s just really notoriously hard for the pianist,” he said. At 40 minutes long, he added that it can even take some work from the listener.

Serebryany described the sonata, nicknamed “Hammerklavier,” as extremely complex, dense music. For instance, it includes a fugue section that he described as “relentlessly, densely contrapuntal all the way through for ten minutes.” And he said its slow movement is easily Beethoven’s longest, outside of the string quartets he wrote during the same later period of his life.

“His late music is unique as far as how deeply personal it is,” said Serebryany of Beethoven’s last ten years or so of compositions. “It’s not unfair to say that they are all uniquely strange pieces of music,” he added.

Beethoven is often painted as a tortured person. Some connect his complex and intense music with the struggles of his life. But Serebryany doesn’t see it that way.

Serebryany acknowledges Beethoven’s troubled life, especially during the last years. In addition to the composer’s famous loss of hearing which forced him to stop performing, Serebryany noted the extreme toll taken on him by turn-of-the-century European politics.

Beethoven took much hope for mankind from what was happening in France after its revolution, said Serebryany. He said the composer was a great believer in the steps Napoleon was taking, moving forward in the new democracy of the French Republic. But when Napoleon declared himself Emperor in 1804, Serebryany said Beethoven was crushed.

The subsequent Napoleonic Wars that included two campaigns through Austria put further stress on Beethoven, said Serebryany. Though a proponent of universal brotherhood, the composer’s closest friends were in the Viennese aristocracy. The wars forced them to flee the country.

Despite all of this, Serebryany sees Beethoven’s art as less affected by his troubles and more by his artistic temperament. Unlike Beethoven’s contemporary, composer Richard Strauss, who wrote his waltzes in his signature way until the end, Beethoven was always looking for solutions to musical problems, said Serebryany.

“He was the epitome of the idea of never being satisfied,” said Serebryany. “He pushed the boundaries of the harmony he inherited.”

In fact, the “Hammerklavier” sonata was the first piece Beethoven wrote after a ten-year period of producing nothing. Serebryany said Beethoven felt he had nowhere to go, so didn’t see any reason to write anything at all.

But even if Beethoven’s work, and especially his later work, seems at times dark and brooding, Serebryany said there is evidence of hope. He referenced Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony setting of Friedrich Schiller’s poem, “Ode to Joy,” as evidence of the composer’s persistent faith in people’s ability to come together for the sake of a better world.

Serebryany said Beethoven’s life and music support the idea that all was not gloomy for the composer. “Beethoven ultimately doesn’t have a pessimistic worldview,” he said, adding that there are always glimpses of Paradise, even in the intense and complex “Hammerklavier.”

Serebryany has performed in Europe, South America, Australia and throughout the US, Canada and Japan. He has been a guest soloist with the National Arts Center Orchestra, The Kingston Symphony, the Osaka Century Orchestra, and the Montgomery Symphony Orchestra.
In 2005, Serebryany founded Trio+ with violinst Yosuke Kawasaki and cellist Wolfram Koessel. The trio has performed to critical acclaim throughout North America and Japan.
Serebryany is a graduate of the Royal Conservatory of Music of Toronto, the Juilliard School and Yale University. From 2008 to 2016, he was professor of music at Huntingdon College in Montgomery, and in 2015 was named Huntingdon’s first ever Belcher-Cheek Artist in Residence. He joined the piano faculty at the Ithaca College School of Music in 2016.

One-day sale for members!

By | Museum Announcements, Museum Shop, News | No Comments

New spring accessories, unique gift selections inspired by “Jiha Moon: Double Welcome, Most Everyone’s Mad Here,: books and toys to spark your little one’s creativity await you in the Museum Shop.

As a member benefit, you can take 20% off all regularly-priced items during this one day sale. Stop in Thursday, March 9 between 10 a.m. and 8 p.m. to get a jump on Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Graduation, or “just because!”

A pearl ncecklace on display.
Mens' ties folded.

The Bunnies are Saved!

By | Art, News | No Comments

Thank you for your support!

Jule Collins Smith Museum of Fine Art would like to thank you, for saving the bunnies! With 112 donors raising $8,330, and reaching 104% of our goal, Alex Podesta’s “Self-Portrait as Bunnies (The Bathers)” is now added to our permanent collection. Please listen to our project ambassador, Tracy Awino (senior), send a personal thank you to everyone who made this possible.

Exterior photo of buildlng

Museum Improvements Project – Summer 2017

By | Museum Announcements, News | No Comments

Guided by a comprehensive strategic building plan, and with the management of Auburn’s Office of the University Architect, JCSM is addressing the need for improved educational, storage and public spaces necessary for a 21st-century museum. During the summer of 2017, contractors will renovate collections storage areas to accommodate current holdings and plan for future growth, as well as rectify acoustic, lighting and temperature concerns in the Grand Gallery, Rotunda, Dwight and Helen Carlisle Lobby and Museum Café.

Project Timeline

April 17

Permanent collection galleries close

Curatorial staff begin preliminary work

April 30

Closing date of Jiha Moon: Double Welcome, Most Everyone’s Mad Here

May 5

Last café service until fall

May 8

Museum closes to public

Susan Phillips Gardens & Lethander Art Path remain open

Sept.

Operations resume

New exhibitions open: Raoul Hague, Leo Twiggs, Permanent Collection

Oct. 6

Opening reception of
Out of the Box:
A Juried Outdoor
Sculpture Exhibition and exhibition with Jean Shin

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: What is the last day I can visit the museum galleries, cafe and shop?

A: The last day to view permanent collection artwork is Sunday, April 16. The closing day for Jiha Moon: Double Welcome, Most Everyone’s Mad Here is Sunday, April 30.

The museum and Museum Shop will close to the public at 4:00 p.m. on Sunday, May 7. The final Museum Cafe service for the summer is Friday, May 5 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. The Museum Shop will have select items available online for purchase via Auburn University Marketplace. Please call 334-844-3084 for assistance.

Q: When can I visit the museum again?

The construction inside the building is expected to be completed in the fall of 2017, with regular operations resuming on Tuesday, Sept. 5 at 10 a.m. Exhibitions on view will include work by Raoul Hague, as well as permanent collection selections, and the exhibition Leo Twiggs: Requiem for Mother Emanuel. Our community celebration of Out of the Box: A Juried Outdoor Sculpture Exhibition is slated for Friday, Oct. 6. Juror Jean Shin will also exhibit her work inside the museum.

Any date changes will be posted to our website and publicized within the community. We hope you will continue to enjoy our grounds, including the Susan Phillips Gardens and Lethander Art Path. There are seven sculptures on our grounds.

Q: Will I be able to contact university art museum staff members?

A: The museum staff will continue to report from 7:45 a.m. to 4:45 p.m., Monday through Friday. Please see our staff directory or call 334-844-1484.

Q: What about hosting my special event at the museum?

A: Bookings will continue for the fall 2017-2018 special event season and beyond. Please contact Lauren Horton, special events coordinator, at 334-844-3488 or lauren.horton@auburn.edu.

Q: What summer art club programming will the museum offer?

A: The museum will remain active with K-12 participants through City of Auburn partnerships with Camp Kaleidoscope, Therapeutic Recreation Camps and other outreach programs. We also plan to participate in the City of Auburn’s Summernight Downtown Art Walk.

Q. If I am an area K-12 teacher or faculty member, can I still arrange my class tours for the fall semester?

A: Yes, we have an online form to assist you, you may contact jcsmtours@auburn.edu, or call 334-844-3486. All guided tours must be requested at least two weeks in advance.

Q. How will the museum keep the community engaged and informed about the project?

A: Relevant construction status updates will be posted to the jcsm.auburn.edu news page. We also invite you to connect with @JCSMAuburn on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.

Q: What will the museum staff do while the galleries are closed?

A: Staff at JCSM will still have access to the museum’s collections and will take this opportunity to focus on collections assessment and maintenance, as well as planning events to celebrate our reopening and other exciting programs.

Q. What if I need to access the museum collections?

A: The museum has an online database for the permanent collections. Because JCSM holds the permanent collection in public trust we will take every opportunity to provide researchers access to works of art not currently on view, but this must be done as a pre-arranged appointment. Please remember that some works of art may not be available due to outgoing loans, conservation concerns, or other considerations. Special access is not guaranteed, and is at the discretion of the curatorial staff.

Save the Bunnies on Tiger Giving Day 2017

By | News | No Comments

Help us add “Self- Portrait as Bunnies (The Bathers)” to our permanent collection

Auburn’s art museum needs your help to give a permanent home to Self-Portrait as Bunnies (The Bathers). This sculpture is part of a series, in which Alex Podesta of New Orleans draws parallels between imagination’s role in children and adults. The piece is the second-place winner of the biennial Out of the Box: A Juried Outdoor Sculpture Exhibition and a community award winner. The bunnies, as they are affectionately now known, tell a unique story—whether you are five or 65. But they are on temporary loan and scheduled to leave. Your gift can save the bunnies!

Jule Collins Smith Museum of Fine Art represents Auburn’s commitment to advancing the arts. The outdoor sculpture program showcases the beautiful grounds and makes art accessible. Interacting with sculpture in nature is a unique experience unlike one has within the museum walls. But often, these works are on temporary loan by the artist. Through philanthropic gifts, the museum can create an engaging sculpture park for campus, the community and visitors.

By presenting this sculpture and other works, the museum offers art experiences to nearly 40,000 visitors annually—from elementary, high school and college students, to faculty and staff, plus lifelong learners—not to mention countless others visiting the grounds for recreation and relaxation.

Your support extends Auburn’s outreach nationally and internationally through this professionally accredited institution. Thank you for believing “art changes lives!”

Visiting International Pianists Featured on Two Upcoming Recitals

By | Music, News, Uncategorized | No Comments

Visiting International Pianists Featured on Two Upcoming Recitals

On Thursday, February 9, from noon to 1:00 pm, the Jule Collins Smith Museum of Fine Art, Auburn University, will present a free concert in the auditorium by pianist Dino Mulić, violinist Kay Lee, and pianist Sangmi Lim. Mulić will perform solo piano music by Domenico Scarlatti, Joseph Haydn, Alban Berg, and Boris Papandopulo. Lee and Lim will perform a sonata by Sergei Prokofiev.
The performance is part of the museum’s weekly series, A Little Lunch Music. Gifts from George Kent and anonymous friends of the series have helped to make this concert possible.
Drs. Mulić and Lim will also perform a piano four-hands recital on Wednesday, February 8, at 7:30 pm at Goodwin Recital Hall. Wednesday night’s concert, hosted by the Auburn University Music Department, is a ticketed event and will feature music by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Franz Schubert and Astor Piazzolla.
When violinist Kyungha Kay Lee first performed with pianist Sangmi Lim, they were in middle school in South Korea. Lee said they were close friends, and continued to perform throughout high school and college. Both moved to the US to do graduate work in music, though at different schools.
Now, both having performed throughout the world, Lee is based in Auburn as a teacher and performer, and Lim is on faculty at Texas A&M University. The two will come together again at the museum to share a concert with Lim’s husband who is also a pianist. It will be the first time the two friends have performed in public together since 2006.
On Thursday, the duo will perform Prokofiev’s “Violin Sonata No. 2 in D Major, Op. 94,” which Lee said is dramatic and lyrical. She said violin virtuoso David Oistrakh was a good friend of Prokofiev and loved the piece, which was originally written for flute. So Prokofiev arranged the sonata for Oistrakh.

Pianists Sangmi Lim

Kyungha Kay Lee, violinist

Lee said she loves to travel and to get out in nature. “When I travel somewhere, I always think of some music to blend with that scenery,” she said. The reverse is also true. She said the Prokofiev piece reminds her of beautiful scenery, which she visualizes as she plays, especially during the lyrical moments.
Lee said the sonata is one of her favorites and has a nice balance between lyricism and technical fireworks. She said the piano parts are very hard, but are no match for Lim’s talent.
“We have a very good synergy,” said Lee of her pianist colleague and friend, whose playing she described as energetic and dramatic. “When I play with her, she gives me energy to play very powerfully.”
Lim’s husband Dino Mulić is from Bosnia and Herzegovina. They met in 2009 at Michigan State University where she was a graduate student and he was a part of the US State Department’s Visiting Scholar program. He will perform the other half of Thursday’s program on solo piano. The two will perform together at Goodwin Hall the night before.
“When we met, our English was poor,” said Mulić, who said he fell in love with her immediately. Though it was hard to communicate, he said they had the language of music. Over time, they developed a repertoire of music for piano four-hands. “For me it is very special to play with Sangmi,” he said. “It’s wonderful.”
Mulić was born in Yugoslavia before the Bosnian War. He was very young when it started, and wasn’t able to go to school. He credits his mother’s encouragement to continue with his education by reading and studying. “She told me, ‘Don’t worry, when this is over, if we survive, we will start over,’” he said. And they did.
One of Mulić’s solo pieces on Thursday will be a one-movement sonata by Alban Berg. Mulić said the piece is extremely moving for him and connects him to the war. “At one point it’s so tragic. It’s devastating,” he said, still feeling that it is one of the most romantic pieces he’s ever played.
Berg was from the Second Viennese School, which is what scholars call a group of composers in the 20th century. They broke traditional rules of music, experimenting with new ways to present harmony, melody, and musical form. Mulić said Berg’s sonata doesn’t even establish a key until the very end, a tragic b-minor.
“It’s tragic, but proud,” said Mulić. He said it reminds him of what his family endured during the war, and how they came through it.
During the war Mulić moved to Sarajevo with his family into his grandfather’s apartment that had formerly been the residence of composer Boris Papandopulo. Papandopulo was opera conductor and teacher in Sarajevo from 1948-1953. Mulić said Papandopulo was called “Mozart from the Balkans,” because of his cheerful friendly character which Mozart was famous for.
Mulić said he loves Papandopulo’s music as well as his life story. When Russia took control of the composer’s home country Croatia after World War II, officials ordered him to abandon music, and he took a job as truck driver. Mulić said while doing that, Papandopulo, the son of a Croatian nobleman, got to know and love the common people of his country. Later, he was able to re-enter the world of music and became well known and loved.
Music by Mozart will open Wednesday night’s program, followed by what Mulić said is probably the most famous piano four-hands piece, Franz Schubert’s “Fantasy in F Minor.”
Still-living Serbian composer and friend of Mulić’s family Vladimir Đenader wrote his “Three Pieces” for piano four-hands one morning after dreaming it the night before. Kyoko Yamamoto arranged the famous “History of the Tango” by Astor Piazzolla which Lim and Mulić will also play Wednesday at Goodwin Hall.

Pianists Dino Mulić

Tian Xu

Lunch Music will present music by Xu and Lin

By | Music, News | No Comments

Tian Xu and Beibei Lin Will Present music for Violin and Piano

On February 2, from noon to 1:00 pm, the series will present a free concert in the auditorium featuring violinist Tian Xu with pianist Beibei Lin. The program will feature music by Maurice Ravel, Sergei Prokofiev, Bright Sheng, and Johannes Brahms.
Click here for more about the performers on the event page.
Support from Lorna Wood and Donald Wehrs and from anonymous friends of the series is helping to make this performance possible.
Prokofiev is known for the music he wrote for children, but Xu said he used simplicity in his other works as well. “Although he lived in the modern period, he always had the idea that he wanted to go back to composers like Mozart,” said Xu.
Tian Xu
Prokofiev’s solo violin sonata was originally written for a group of violinists to play together in unison. Xu said this leads to a lot of different ideas about how it should be performed. She said it is a piece with dark, heavy aspects along with sweet and lyrical moments.
Bright Sheng’s piece “The Stream Flows” is a love song sung from the streams below to a lover up in the mountains. Xu said it basically depicts the scenery of the countryside, reminiscent of an ancient, primitive lifestyle. The first movement is based on a folk song very familiar in China. “I heard it a lot when I was little,” said Xu, who grew up there.
Though she doesn’t get the chance to play music by composers from her home country very often, she loves to do it. She said the music often uses sounds from Chinese folk music and culture. “Whenever I hear the Chinese elements, it’s kind of nostalgic to me,” said Xu.
For the third week in a row, the program for A Little Lunch Music will include chamber music by Johannes Brahms. Listeners will hear Xu and Lin’s version of Brahms’s Violin Sonata No. 2 in A Major performed in January by Guy Harrison and Jeremy Samolesky.
In writing the work, Brahms was inspired by a relationship that could never be, said Xu. She said when she first starts to learn a piece of music, she tries to be inspired by its story. “It’s a love song,” said Xu, “I would think of how he would feel.” Later, the more technical aspects enter in, such as phrasing and trading melodies with the piano.
But Xu said she holds on to the feelings throughout the process. “Love has its own sound, its voice,” she said. “You won’t forget about it.”
The duo will also perform Brahms’s “Scherzo” movement from the F-A-E Sonata. In 1853, Brahms, Robert Schumann, and Schumann’s pupil Albert Dietrich wrote the piece as a gift for violin virtuoso Joseph Joachim.
Xu said playing the music of Brahms makes her want to play it again and again. “In general, he always has a very warm sound, and he is very good at writing beautiful melodies,” she said.
Having won top prizes in national competitions in China, and high honors in others, Xu is a member of The Columbus Symphony Orchestra. She recently joined the violin faculty of The William Pu Academy in Atlanta, The LaGrange Symphony Orchestra’s Educational Initiative, and The Schwob School of Music Preparatory Division as an instructor of violin. She is a graduate of The Eastman School of Music.
On Thursday, Lin will open the program with two movements from Maurice Ravel’s solo piano suite titled “Miroirs.” Also born in China, Lin debuted as a soloist with the MasterWorks Festival Orchestra at age seventeen. She recently appeared as a guest artist soloist in Florida, Virginia, and Kansas and in 2016 served as collaborative pianist for the International Double Reed Society Conference. A doctoral candidate at Florida State University, she has been appointed Lecturer of Keyboard at the Schwob School of Music at Columbus State University and Instructor of Piano for the school’s Preparatory Division.

Welcome to the Jule Collins Smith Museum of Fine Art!

We are excited that you are here with us. Feel free to look around and reach out to us by navigating to our contact page.

Upcoming Events

There are no upcoming events at this time.