Welcome to Off the Wall. We’ve skimmed the news around the museum, and want to share the highlights with you.
Written while texting my mom back to let her know I haven’t been sucked into a tornado.
QUOTE OF THE DAY
“My mother said to me, ‘If you are a soldier, you will become a general. If you are a monk, you will become the Pope.’ Instead, I was a painter, and became Picasso.” -Pablo Picasso
THE ART OF MOTHERHOOD
Sunday is Mother’s Day. It’s okay, I’ll wait here while you realize what day it is and go figure out what you’re going to do for the woman who gave you life. She was also probably one of the first people to take you to a museum, where you first reached out toward a sculpture and heard the words, “DON’T TOUCH THAT.”
Our museum, our collection, and art in general references mothers in many ways. Mothers of every kind are depicted in art, from innumerable countries and cultures. Many in our collection depict Native American mothers, like these works:
José Rey Toledo was one of a number of students who learned mural techniques under the PWAP at the Santa Fe Indian School Studio. He later went on to receive a Bachelor and Master of Fine Arts degree from the University of New Mexico in 1951 and 1955, respectively. Although he practiced as an artist for much of his life, he also earned a degree in public heath from the University of California at Berkeley and worked as an administrator of Indian health programs for departments of health in various states. Indian Mother Making Bread is one of his early paintings and may have been intended as a mural study, considering its emphatic horizontal format and decorative border.
Spencer Asah was born and raised near Carnegie, Oklahoma. As a member of the original Kiowa Five group that studied under Oscar B. Jacobson at the University of Oklahoma, Asah primarily worked in a style common to Southern Plains painters for the duration of his productive career. His work has been exhibited and collected internationally, including several permanent murals in federal buildings statewide. Mother and Son on Horseback depicts the figures in profile view and constructed through simplified field of color. The charming action of the horse moves beyond and reflects Asah’s knowledge and fondness for these creatures.
WHAT ART-MOMS CAN I SEE IF I BRING MY MOM TO THE MUSEUM?
There are many mothers depicted in artwork currently on display here at the Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art. A bronze statue on a marble base can be found in the central corridor when you enter the main floor of the Lester Wing. The Pioneer Woman is a miniature version of a 17-foot-tall statue in Ponca City. The artist, Percy Bryant Baker, celebrates the women who founded the state of Oklahoma, depicting a bold woman with books under her arm, leading her son forward to the future. In the same corridor, you can find Baby in White. You can’t pinch the baby’s adorable little cheeks because touching art is forbidden, but you’ll definitely want to. The artist, Martha White, won several prizes and scholarships that allowed her to travel and work in Europe before returning to New York to teach art. In our Weitzenhoffer Collection you’ll find Madame Hessel and Lulu in the Dining Room at the Château des Clayes. Madame Hessel was the wife of a Parisian art dealer, who represented the work’s creator, Edouard Vuillard. It is a well known fact that he is an artist with one of the most enjoyable names to say repeatedly. On the main floor of the Stuart Wing, you will find Lullaby, another painting depicting a Native American woman. This one, however, is not from the perspective of a Native American artist. William Robinson Leigh depicts a mother seated by a fire holding a cradleboard. Fun fact, the cradleboard depicted in this image is now a part of the artist’s studio collection of objects that resides at the Gilcrease Museum in Tulsa, Oklahoma. There are many other fascinating mom-related objects on display–far too many to cram into this blog post. I recommend that you visit the museum and see how many you can find.
DO YOU HAVE ART THAT WAS CREATED BY ARTISTS WHO ARE MOTHERS?
When you think about how much work it takes to be a mother, it’s pretty incredible to imagine balancing child-rearing with a prolific art career. Yet, many artists have managed to do just that. One of our favorite art-moms is Barbara Hepworth. You can’t miss her giant bronze sculpture, Two Figures, as it stands guard over the entrance of the FJJMA right through the doors. Early on in her career, Hepworth primarily carved from wood and stone. In the 1950s, she shifted to bronze, which allowed for works on a larger scale. If being a renowned artist wasn’t enough, Hepworth was the mother of triplets. Talk about having a cool mom.
DO YOU HAVE WORKS BY ARTISTS WHO HAD MOMS?
Fun fact, every single object in our collection was created by an artist who, at one time or another, had a mother. I know, it’s pretty crazy. We have a work in our collection by Vincent Van Gogh (we’ve mentioned it on the blog before). Although it isn’t in our collection, he painted a portrait of his own mother, Anna Carbentus Van Gogh. Mother Van Gogh dabbled in art herself, and Van Gogh is said to have practiced copying some of her work when he was a young child. She had her hands full with six children, including Vincent. Unfortunately, Van Gogh isn’t exactly known for his familial connections. He grew away from his parents, and rejected their world views and beliefs. Nobody reading this can relate, right?
REPEAT AFTER ME…
WHAT TO SAY WHEN YOUR FRIEND SAYS YOU HAVE TO HAVE CHILDREN TO BE A MOTHER:
NUH-UH. Georgia O’Keeffe, famous for her artistic depictions of hugely enlarged flowers, towering skyscrapers and New Mexican landscapes, never had children, but is recognized as the Mother of American Modernism. If you’re an American Modernist artist, you should consider making her a handmade macaroni noodle card, or bringing her undercooked eggs and orange juice in bed on Sunday.
THINGS TO KNOW
Free Admission: Every day the museum is open is free admission day. If you forgot about Mother’s Day up until you started reading this blog post, we’ve got you covered. Here’s the plan: take her to lunch at a quiet restaurant (preferably one with complimentary and endless chips/bread/rolls etc), then come by the Fred Jones and wander through the collection with her. It will only cost you the gas money to get here, and we promise you’ll have a lovely time. It’s a little-known fact that most moms with grown kids would trade all the flowers in the world for a little quality time with their offspring.
artists born several years ago this week:
4/27 Norman Bel Geddes | 4/28 Yves Klein | 4/29 Frank Auerbach, Jean-Jacques Caffieri, Raja Ravi Varma | 5/4 Keith Haring | 5/6 Ernst Ludwig Kirchner