Museum Series Will Feature American Art Song

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On October 27 from noon to 1:00 pm in the Grand Gallery, the series will present a free concert by soprano Jennifer Piazza-Pick with pianist Cheryl Cellon Lindquist. The program is titled, “An Afternoon of American Song.” More information about the performers can be found on the event page.
Gifts from Gene & Carol Bramlett, Sharon Czarnecki, Wanda Dobie, Julia Fesperman, Peggy Stelpflug, and anonymous friends of the series helped to make this concert possible.
For Piazza-Pick, a college professor and professional choral singer, American art song has become a focus of her solo repertoire. While living in San Antonio, she met Lindquist who introduced her to Ruth Friedberg, author of “American Art Song and American Poetry.” Many of their musical selections come directly from the research and suggestions of Friedberg.
“I found it fascinating,” said Piazza-Pick. She noted the diversity of cultural backgrounds of American composers, and the diverse types of song. Though not all American art songs use American poetry, she said it is a unifying force, and in large part has helped define the genre.
European art song has been around for centuries and is well-established in the repertoire, said Piazza-Pick. But she said American art song is often overlooked because it is so much newer. “We really didn’t have our own identity until the 1900s,” she said.
The genre of American art song is so new that many of its best-known and most prolific composers are still alive. Among these are Emma Lou Diemer, Juliana Hall, and Lori Laitman. The duo will perform a set of songs from the works of these three and from Florence Price, an African-American composer who, at age 14, enrolled at the New England Conservatory in 1902.
Thursday’s program will feature the music of John Duke, 1899-1984, who was an extremely prolific American composer, having written over 250 art songs. Piazza-Pick and Lindquist will perform three of them.
The duo will perform composer Vartan Aghababian’s 2002 song cycle, “When We Were Very Young.” The four songs set to music the poetry of A. A. Milne, the author of the Winnie the Pooh stories. Lindquist became familiar with Aghababian’s music while working with CMASH (pronounced like “smash”). CMASH stands for Chamber Music Art Song Hybrid and is a repertory group focused on new works. It fosters long-term relationships between composers and performers.
Bookending the program will be two funny songs. One, “I Hate Music,” by Leonard Bernstein, is from his cycle, “5 kid songs.” The text is written from the point of view of a child who says she hates music, but she likes to sing. One line reads, “Music is a lot of men in a lot of tails…with a lot of chairs, and a lot of airs, and a lot of furs and diamonds!”
The final piece is a comedy song by Ben Moore, “I Love Teaching Voice.” It is sung from the perspective of a great performing diva. She has left her adoring audiences and is facing challenges that a person like that would find teaching at a college. Piazza-Pick said she is not so much like the character in the song, but can draw from her experience. “I know plenty of people like this, and I try to channel them.”
Piazza-Pick has been active in oratorio, concerts, and opera in the United States and Europe. She is the winner of Hawaii Public Radio’s art song contest, the George Cortes Award for Classical Singing by the Artist Foundation of San Antonio and was a finalist for the American Prize in the women’s art song division. She is currently adjunct instructor of voice at Virginia State University.
Considering herself a champion of new music, Lindquist has worked with such notable composers as Tobias Picker, John Harbison, and Jake Heggie. She currently serves on the faculty of both the University of Texas San Antonio and the University of Incarnate Word. She maintains an active performing schedule with the San Antonio Symphony, Opera San Antonio, and CMASH.

Museum Homecoming Tailgate 2016

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The Auburn Tigers took on Louisiana-Monroe this year for Homecoming and our tiny tigers put on their game faces. Face-painting and coloring were just some of the fun activities before kickoff.

For those of you who attended our event, download your picture as a memento from the museum’s Flickr account. Click on the picture below, select your image, and then select the download arrow from the image bank menu on the bottom righthand of the page.

Museum Homecoming Tailgate 2016

Call and Response: Listen to Carolina Parakeet by Rose McLarney

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“Call and Response” is Auburn’s Art Museum’s latest exhibition. JCSM called nine members of the university community to respond objectively and subjectively to art from JCSM’s growing collection of natural history prints. The resulting exhibition is an orchestrated chorus of diverse voices responding to the art, science, and wonder of representing the natural world.

Here, we can hear artist Rose McLarney read the work she created responding to Audubon’s print “Carolina Parakeet.” McLarney is an Assistant Professor teaching creative writing in the Auburn University Department of English.

This recording, as well as recordings from other artists, are on display in the exhibition.

Carolina Parakeet by Rose McLarney

Green and red and yellow and yammering,
Carolina Parakeets once flashed in the forests.
Flocks so big they blocked out the sun.
Flocks so faithful, when one was hurt, hundreds
would fly back to hover with her.

Which made it fast work to shoot them all.
Which was done, for feathers for hats.
And by farmers whose fields their appetites
had fallen upon. Splitting every apple, every pear,
looking for a kind of seed that wasn’t there, yet eating
none. None is how many survive extinction.

There is one print Audubon made of them, paper
tinted tropical colors, in a museum I can go to.
And often I do, seeking brightness, seeking birdsong.
But the image is a warning call, is about waste.
There’s a dwindling woodland beyond the window
turned away from, by me in my admiring, by art
finding its ending. Our tending to head back to the dead.

Summer indoor art projects: Learn, Create, Share!

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JCSM has something for every crafty kid!

Rainy afternoon, or just too hot to be outside?  Keep the kids engaged while minimizing screen time with KIDZAW art kits!  Your little artists can put their own creative touch on a famous masterpiece.  The JCSM shop has three types of art kits to choose from:  Master Kitz,  Master Sculpz, and Art On-the-Go

The Master Kitz contains important information about the artist and the masterpiece, along with everything needed to complete the picture – all in a handy reusable box.  Each Master Kitz will discuss one technique and the artist who created the memorable masterpiece: Starry Night, Waterlilies, Sunflowers, The Great Wave, to name a few.

For the sculptor in training, try Master Sculpz kit.  This is the perfect kit for the “builder”: over 70 pieces can be combined in hundreds of  ways using an easy locking system; the reusable pouch can be used to store the pieces for the next sculpture.

Looking for something to do in a small space -car or airplane?  Try the Art On-the-Go kit.  This kit comes complete with clipboard, sturdy carrying case, and art supplies to make 8 different projects inspired by Vincent van Gogh, Georgia O’Keefe, Henry Matisse, and more.

12-hour “Takeover” in less than a minute

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On Monday, May 23, 2016 from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m., 18 students in grades eight through 12 produced artwork for “Teen Takeover.” Watch 12 hours of work edited down to less than a minute, and experience the exhibition May 26 through May 27 and May 31 through June 5.

The “Teen Takeover” program and exhibition is supported in part by a charitable gift from J&M Bookstore, Inc.

AU Student Writing Competition Winner: Bailey Griffin

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Based on the exhibitions featured at the museum during the 2015-2016 academic year and works from the permanent collection, students submitted written work responding to individual pieces of art experienced first-hand at JCSM. Entry was open to graduate and undergraduate students. Prizes of $500 were awarded for two academic essays and two creative submissions. For information on  the writing competition for the 2016-2017 academic year, contact Scott Bishop at 334-844-7014.

310 Miles in 55 Steps: Along the Eastern Road: Hiroshige’s Fifty-Three Stations of the Tokaido

by Bailey Griffin

Last fall in the Harbert Gallery of the Jule Collins Smith Museum of Art, there was an exhibit titled Along the Eastern Road: Hiroshige’s Fifty-Three Stations of the Tokaido created by Utagawa Hiroshige. It contained fifty-five images representing different posts along the Tokaido road, the road between the starting and ending cities of Edo and Kyoto, respectively. Hiroshige recreated these through woodblock prints, which were most often used to create images of ukiyoe or images of the floating world. These images are slightly taxing and impenetrable at first because they all appear to be very monotonous; many have similar subjects and backgrounds, and it took a while before I began to notice differences in the pieces. However, after I spent a bit of time in the gallery, I gradually allowed my mind to be freed into the “floating world” rendered in these images. I came to realize that each individual print has a distinct reason why it was created besides just being a stop on the road—they all share something about the journey, Japanese culture, woodblock prints, or about Hiroshige himself, and just as any other form of art, they are a connection between the past, present, and future.

Generally the Tokaido road was used for transportation or travel with priests, tourists, traders, and people on religious pilgrimages stopping along the way to turn onto intersecting roads, rest, or make purchases at local shops. Most citizens traveled the 310 mile long journey from Edo to Kyoto by foot, but the rich were able to go by kago, being carried in a cloth basket hung from long poles. The journey could take anywhere from a week if rushing to a month if the weather was bad, with each station serving as a rest stop where the travelers could sleep, shop, or refuel. Hiroshige travelled the road in 1832, stopping at each station to sketch the area that he would later use to make these woodblock prints. To highlight different aspects of the journey, he constructed multiple versions of the prints; the exhibit at the Jule Collins Smiths Museum displayed the first edition known as Hoeido (after the publisher), and included one image from the final edition, seen at station ten. These works and others Japanese prints later inspired modern artists like Monet and Van Gogh.

The Harbert Gallery in which the exhibit was displayed is an open, quiet, and slightly dim room with a ceiling that rolls upwards, comparable to a wave. I realize that the architecture of the room is permanent and does not change by exhibit, but I could not help contemplating that it resembles a well-known wave from another Japanese woodblock print—”The Great Wave off Kanagawa.” This gave the sensation as if I too were in the floating world of a Japanese print. In the center of the gallery were two groupings of black leather love seats to relax in and enjoy the exhibit. I appreciated these because as I was viewing the pieces, I began to feel weary just as a traveler might; it was evident that the gallery sought to imitate that atmosphere of a journey. Immediately across from the entrance to the gallery was text describing the display with the title repeated adjacent in Japanese characters. These served as a reception to welcome the viewer inside the gallery and modify their mindset and expectations to one of a different culture. There were also some examples of woodblock prints from the museums’ permanent collection, an explanation of how these prints are made and how they represent a “floating world”, and a map of the Tokaido Road, showing where each station is in Japan. From there, you start your journey along the road just as a traveler would—starting at the take-off point in Edo and voyaging around the room, viewing each station independently until you finally reach Kyoto at the end. This is likely how Hiroshige meant for it to be portrayed so that the viewer, himself, and the figures in his images would all be going on the journey together.

The works are arranged counter-clockwise, with the first starting on the gallery’s righthand wall and traveling around the room until reaching the end at the other side of the room. This was intriguing to me because in addition to the Japanese symbols and other anti-Western cultural aspects, I was traveling and seeing these images in a way that contrasted what I was used to: right to left rather than left to right. Portions of the Japanese culture and other Asian cultures have a way of thinking about time and other philosophical concepts that is circular rather than linear, being more focused on balance over truth. Thus, it is fascinating that the works were presented in way a that mimic this manner of thought, working as an intentional method to break down our Western mindset and engage us further in a new culture. Also reinforcing this idea was the fact that there was not enough room in the gallery for all fifty-five images to be hung side by side, so some were stacked on top of each other, alternating between one image and a grouping of images. I believe this to also be intentional because it seemed that if the exhibit designer could have easily used an adjoining room to expand the exhibit so that all images could be hung singly. This presentation causes you to have to move your head up and down to view all the prints, further strengthening the idea of a journey as well as blocking our traditional way of reading straight across; viewing the pieces is now an experience rather than just an observation. Also, just as the travelers would not stop at every station as there were fifty-three stations for a trip made in about two weeks, we should not stop at every image.

To more closely analyze the exhibit and force myself to learn to recognize differences between the prints, I chose to study three images that particularly stood out to me during my journey: stations fourteen through sixteen. They gave the impression of significance because they all appear to be a shift from reality, stylizations of the stations they embody and brief departures from the realism of the previous and subsequent scenes. The first shift is the revision of the geography at station fourteen—subtle but crucial. The stop at Yoshiwara was commonly know as “Fuji to the Left” because up until this point, the mountain had always been seen on the travelers’ right. As they passed this station, the road curves and they pass Mt. Fuji, a significant landmark that lets the travelers know just how far they have come and provides hope that they are making progress towards their final destination. Staying with the terrestrial adjustments, station fifteen brings a seemingly unnecessary climate shift.

A snowy mountain scene is presented in an area with a typically warm climate; in fact, the label next to the image says that snowfall is “extremely rare.” Station sixteen produces the final shift: also know as Yui, this station shows some travelers going over Satta-Toge Pass. Its’ view was considered the most beautiful of the entire highway but also the most treacherous, causing travelers to focus intently on passingly safely and prohibiting them from enjoying the view. Obviously these images were placed together because they are a chronological part of the journey, and it is important to note that they were not the only images in the exhibit that depicted separations from the actual station. However, these three were the first of the exhibit to do so, likely because this shift in representation was done to parallel a shift in the mind state of the travelers. All three of these stations are evidently more treacherous than the previous stations—a thin ocean pathway, a trek through snow (although not accurate), and a particularly dangerous mountain path. The excitement of the journey is now wearing off and the travelers are becoming aware that the trip is getting harder.

While I was in the exhibit, taking notes and enjoying my encounter with an unfamiliar culture, a few different groups of people came through, including a father with three kids, an older couple, and a single girl by herself. All of these groups entered and saw what the exhibit was on, looked intently at the woodblock prints on the left wall, glanced at the introduction but did not bother to stop and read it. They then hurried to look at the first couple of images and begin their journey only to stop and make their way to the next gallery. Not a single group made it around the entire sequence as intended. Was this similar to something people commonly did on the road—begin their journey but find themselves unable to finish? To answer this question for myself, Japanese art is not something I am incredibly familiar with. Because of the monotony of the images, I believe that people did not feel it was worth their time to view all fifty-five, especially if you do not have a background in the study of Japanese art or art at all for that matter. However, as I came to realize throughout my studies and writing, this form of art and the understanding of a new society that comes with it was incredibly gratifying. It takes a bit more application to break down the walls separating the cultures, but the view from the other side is far worth the effort.

The Golden Age of Painting

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Rembrandt, Rubens, Gainsborough and the Golden Age of Painting in Europe

October 19, 2014 – January 4, 2015
Bill L. Harbert Gallery
Gallery C
Noel and Kathryn Dickinson Wadsworth Gallery

This fall, JCSM is pleased to present a spectacular exhibition of paintings by European master artists on loan from the renowned collection of the Speed Art Museum in Louisville, Kentucky. Featuring 69 works of art created during the 17th through early 19th centuries, Rembrandt, Rubens, Gainsborough, and the Golden Age of Painting in Europe illustrates a period of great political, economic, scientific, and religious transformations that profoundly affected a continent. With paintings that range from towering formal portraiture to miniature objects of devotion, and elaborately staged interpretations of antiquity to humble still-life arrangements, the exhibition provides visitors a visual survey of the cultural issues that marked this important era, and offers a close look at the exceptional painterly skills by which artists set those subjects to canvas and wood panel.

In addition to the broadly famous Old Masters who constitute the exhibition’s title, other equally remarkable painters, though less well known, are represented in the collection with outstanding examples of their work. These include French artist Charles-Antoine Coypel’s tender depiction of The Education of the Virgin, Dutch painter Jacob van Ruisdael’s romantic Landscape with a Half-Timbered House and a Blasted Tree, and a dramatic Saint Jerome by Flemish artist Hendrick van Somer. We invite you to take advantage of this special viewing opportunity during its brief, 11-week installation in Auburn before the collection moves on to the Huntsville Museum of Art, which partnered with JCSM in hosting these exceptional works in Alabama.

Rembrandt, Rubens, Gainsborough, and the Golden Age of Painting in Europe has been organized by the Speed Art Museum, Louisville, Kentucky.

The exhibition is generously underwritten in part by Mrs. Dorothy Davidson. A donation of $5 for admission to the exhibition is suggested.

Additional promotional support was provided in part by Alabama Travel, Auburn-Opelika Tourism Bureau, and Alabama Media Group.

JCSM seeks to add works by Old Masters to the permanent collection. Learn how you can help.

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Upcoming Events

Thu 14

A Little Lunch Music: Fall 2017

December 14 @ 12:00 pm - 1:00 pm
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Museum Open: Seasonal Hours of Operation 2017

December 21 @ 10:00 am - 4:30 pm
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Museum Open: Seasonal Hours of Operation 2017

December 22 @ 10:00 am - 4:30 pm