Monday, November 29, 2010

The Robert Hull Fleming Museum of Art

This is what Ive been working on, so I thought I'd share.

The Robert Hull Fleming Museum of Art
By Gewel Kafka
Photographs are from the Fleming Museum's website

            The Robert Hull Fleming Museum of Art was founded in 1931 in the heart of historic downtown Burlington, Vermont. The Fleming is located next door to the Fletcher Allen Hospital off Colchester Avenue on the campus of the University of Vermont (one of the nation’s oldest universities, chartered in 1791).  The Fleming is open every day of the week except Monday and admission is affordable making it accessible to the entire community: five dollars for adults, ten for the whole family, and three for students (K-12 and college) and senior citizens. The Fleming has ample parking, but is also on the bus line and in reasonable walking distance from downtown Burlington. The Fleming offers many educational resources that cater to the University of Vermont, local high schools and the community with lectures, tours, films, workshops, artists' demonstrations and non-credit courses.  “The University of Vermont's Robert Hull Fleming Museum is a cultural treasure prized by Vermonters and visitors for more than 80 years” (Fleming website, Home page).
The Fleming Museum of Art is an irreplaceable asset to Burlington with opportunities for education as well as personal enrichment.  To experience a wide variety of art from different cultures, from all around the world, check out the Fleming for all it has to offer.
            A Friendly student receptionist greets visitors in the front lobby.  For the entire museum is staffed by work-study students who attend UVM. In the front lobby is a snack and drink station with Green Mountain coffee, chips and soft drinks.  Drinks and snacks cannot be brought into the museum so they must be consumed in the dining area. Other items that are off limits include ink pens and cameras.  These rules are meant to keep the art safe so food or drink does not get on the valuables and so the flash from a camera does not damage the older paintings.  In the front lobby a small book store compliments the museum with diverse titles ranging from Picasso: Inside the Image, by Janie Cohen, to The Serpent Power: The Secrets of Tantric and Shaktic Yoga, by Arthur Avalon. In the lobby opposite the book store is a large globe-shaped sculpture by Lars-Erik Fisk.  The sculpture is also in the form of a red barn, right down to the stone foundation. It so resembles a globe that it looks like if it were bumped, it might go rolling. A barn window in the sculpture is meant for viewers to look inside the globe into a lighted, nest-like area filled with hay. The information card says the piece is meant to pay tribute to New England life with its barn-like appearance
            Visitors show the student receptionist identification and pay an admission fee. Three different entrances lead toward the main gallery and the experience is different depending on which way is entered. The two hall entrances on either side of the lobby have permanent glass display cases.  The hall entrance to the right is dedicated to 12th and 13th Century Islamic earthenware and 19th century metal work from India. The Islamic pottery is cracked and fragile; though the glazes are aged by time, the cobalt blue hues and painted designs remain vibrant. The hall entrance to the left is devoted to Chinese bronze and ceramic arts from the 19th century as well as a display of Japanese ceramics. A Qing Dynasty marble statue from19th century China, named Guanyin, ushers visitors into the main room with a peaceful gesture. 

            The central main entrance leads into a large wooden room, presently devoted to visiting art. A collection called Metals, Materials, and Culture is on display Until December 18th, 2010.  The collection consists of metal sculptures, head garments, and utilitarian objects from around the world and focuses on the way metal has been decorated, shaped and used.  A massive, brass chandelier from 1931 is the first piece seen if entering from the lobby and looking up. The information card says the chandelier was part of the original design for Burlington’s Wilbur Library when The Fleming was built in 1931; brass fixtures, such as this, typify 1930s colonial revival rooms and buildings. Other metal works on display include an intricately carved brass arm cuff from 18th century Nigeria and a silver Mongolian bridal helmet thought to be from the 19th century. The silver bridal helmet, inlaid with colorful stones such as coral, glass and turquoise, is decorated with intricate Celtic knots. Strands of vibrant red coral beads hang from the silver cap suggesting fiery hair. 

            Further into the Fleming is a large main marble room. There sits a life-size marble rendition of Penelope, carved by Franklin Simmons in 1891.  Penelope is the wife of the legendary Ulysses from The Iliad and the Odyssey. To the right of Simmons’s Penelope, on the other side of the room, is a sizeable granite relief from Iraq of a winged king mounted to the wall.  The relief was carved in 880 B.C.E and found in the ruins of a palace on the banks of the Tigris River.

            The other visiting art room is behind the stone relief of the winged king.  The room is presently displaying world famous modern artists Christo and Jeanne-Claude in The Tom Golden Collection on display until December 18th, 2010. Christo and Jeanne-Claude are a married artist couple, famous for wrapping objects of all sizes in cloth and twine as a type of installation art. The Tom Golden Collection involves many lithographs of finished wrappings, plans of some of the many objects they have wrapped, and a few small wrapped objects behind glass.  Wrapped Automobile by Christo, from 1984, is a lithograph of the plans to wrap the couple’s friend’s Volvo in cloth.  The lithograph borders on sculpture; the shape of the car protrudes out of the center of the lithograph making it three dimensional.  Another lithograph called The Paris Review, Wrapped, from 1985, is a flat image of a magazine wrapped in plastic. The collection documents the plans of Christo and Jeanne-Claude’s work in a visually pleasing manner and epitomizes the couple’s art. 

            Back into the marble room and up the antique stairs is a tribute to Donatello, the sculptor (1386-1466): a metal replica of Saint George. Further up the stairs is a balcony/walkway for New England artists.  The first painting seen at the top of the stairs is an original Francis Colburn from 1937. The painting is a still life depicting a piano, apples and a lamp.  The lighting and the shapes are extreme and vibrant making the piece distinctly recognizable as Francis Colburn’s work. Francis Colburn was a Vermont artist who lived from 1909 to 1984. He is known for the cubist influence seen in his paintings.  Francis Colburn graduated from UVM in 1934 and is a Vermont state treasure. Another New England artist on display is Henry Schnackenberg with a landscape of Vermont’s Manchester Center painted in oil from 1938.  A more recent New England work on display is an oil painting by Kathleen Kolb of a snowy lumber yard called Grappling Logs at Dawn from 2007.
            There are two large rooms that shoot off the balcony/walkway devoted to Vermont artists. One room is for Egyptian artifacts as part of the Fleming’s permanent collection. A must see in the dimly lit Egyptian gallery is Mummy of an Unknown Woman from the 6th century B.C.E.  She is wrapped in linen, resting in a painted wooden coffin, behind thick protective glass.  Two mummified animals are behind glass directly across from the human mummy: a cat and bird wrapped in linen from 712-30 B.C.E among other bone and jade sculptures of Egyptian deities.

            The other room branching off the balcony/walkway is proudly labeled “The European American Gallery” and also part of The Fleming’s permanent collection.  Like the rest of the museum, this gallery is quite impressive. One of the first items seen when entering this room is a Dutch oil painting from 1684 called Couple with a Globe.  The painting captures the essence of that time: it depicts a rosy cheeked couple coddling a globe, dressed in 17th century garb.  Another remarkable oil painting from the American section of the gallery is from one of world’s most iconic painters: Norman Rockwell’s The Babysitter from 1947.  The Babysitter is an amusing image of a frustrated red-headed girl attempting to sooth a screaming infant.  

            The Fleming Museum brings art and culture to Burlington and therefore it is a great asset.  Whether looking at Metal sculpture, mummified bodies, 13th century Islamic pottery, 17th Century European oil paintings, or modern art it’s impossible to leave the museum without a better sense of the world and one’s self. 

The Robert Hull Fleming Museum of Art

Address: 61 Colchester Avenue | Burlington, Vermont 05405 USA

Museum Director: Janie Cohen



Phone: (802) 656-0750

Museum Mission Statement (from website):
The Robert Hull Fleming Museum serves as a gateway for active cultural exchange and critical thinking in our communities and an essential learning resource for the University of Vermont. Through the experience of our diverse collection, dynamic exhibition schedule, and innovative educational programming, people of all ages are inspired to discover the arts and cultures of the world.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

        I'm graduating from the Community College of Vermont in the beginning of December. I thought I would be a bit more excited than I am.

        I'm blaming my disenchantment on my unpreparedness: I had all summer long to decide where I want to go for my Bachelors, but like the Gemini I am,  I procrastinated until fall.  Now I feel too rushed to make a proper decision and my choices here, as far as where to go, are bleak.

        UVM Has amazing studio space and teachers who are showing at the Met, but they only offer a liberal arts degree (BA), while Burlington college offers the degree I want (BFA), but lacks in studio space and a strong visual arts faculty. Johnson has a really awesome art program, but they're in the middle of freaking nowhere. Lame. Lame. Lame.

        Some of my allies here at CCV have tried to calm my nerves about the subject insisting that there is no difference between the BA and the BFA.  I mean, after all, it's only a letter right? Wrong! I looked it up!  One thing that I learned from college is not to take any one's word on anything.  Look it up! That's what the Internet is for. I found this information on this website.

          ALL undergraduate college degrees, the BFA included, must have a general studies (liberal arts) component. The difference between a BFA and a BA is in the ratio between art and design, and general studies. In a BFA approximately two-thirds of the course work is in the "creation and study of the visual arts," with the remainder in general studies (literature, history, sociology, etc.). In a BA approximately two-thirds of the course work is in general studies, with the remainder in visual arts.
          AICAD believes that neither degree, BFA or BA, is inherently "better" than the other. The judgement of which degree is best for a particular student depends almost entirely on the student's educational goals. However, AICAD does believe that the BFA is the most appropriate degree for serious, motivated students seeking to become professional artists and designers. With its specialized focus, a BFA degree program will tend to attract highly talented students and faculty, and to generate great intensity and commitment among its students and faculty.
         Finally, it should be noted that the basic structure of a BFA degree (one-third liberal arts, two-thirds visual arts) DOES NOT change from one type of college to another. The ratio between these two curricular components in a BFA is the same anywhere; a large university, a comprehensive four-year college, or a professional art college like those in AICAD. Contrary to some impressions, one does not get more liberal arts if the BFA is taken at a university versus an art college. One gets more liberal arts by taking a BA degree rather than a BFA. It is the type of degree, not the type of college, that determines the amount of liberal arts (para.3-5).

        In response to the stress from having to make decisions too fast, I have decided to take the spring off as an in-between-the-degrees-break and return to an undecided as of yet University for the fall.  This break will officially be called "field study" and will include activities such as gallivanting through the desert, picking sage, swimming naked, collecting sun bleached bones, meditating on inner peace and making music.

       But first a lot of good old fashioned work needs to be done.  I have to bust some #ss to make a bunch of money to live on right after the papers are all done being wrote. I am a bit nervous about loosing my academic momentum, but thoroughly excited to get a lot of painting and drawing done in between some wo-manual labor. I have five paintings that are screaming for attention. I am also looking forward to being in the south for the Christmas and New Year. It will be nice to see my mother and brother as well as my southern comrades. My heart aches for beaches and palm trees.

Here are some shots of the WW1 pieces  I've been working on for my end-of-the-degree paper/project. The lighting was different for each photo.

And here it is done! Though I can't say I'm too happy with it anymore.  I don't know if other artists feel this way, but I often feel disgust for my work after its finished. It's only when it takes a really long time to finish. Not to be gross, but If I could compare this feeling to anything, it would be closest to an unwanted orgasm: inadequate, embarrassed, awkward, regretful, and exposed.

Here is the same image inverted in photoshop. This is proof to me that winter is making me crazy.

Here is a collage I made last Wednesday.  I like it. The red on her brush was left over from the soldier's eyes. It was really cheating to play around with this because there are so many other things to do to finish up the school thing. Oh well.

Back to art that makes me feel gross..... This sign. It's almost done though.

See! Almost.  Not quite though.

Are here's me looking all tough with safety goggles on.


Bite his face Molly!!

For me, enlightenment has been the process of losing the biases I developed from my past. My judgment was clouded by the very act of living. No one is exempt from their knowledge being clouded by their experience..

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Some graffiti on Church Street in Burlington.


This installation  is  now at the Fire House Gallery. It's called Homunculus - by Steven Budington.  It's a giant pile of sperm overwhelming an egg. What makes me uncomfortable about this piece is knowing the egg is underneath, being eaten and smothered by those tiny worms. Like a feeding frenzy. Nature is violent.

This is one of Steven's paintings also on display at the Fire House. I love his fascination with anatomy.


This is my little porch at night looking all fall-ish thanks to Darby's awesome pumpkins and flowers..
Here is my friend Tara spinning some bowls. She is donating them for the benefit dinner at the Community College of Vermont happening November 17th to raise money for the Winooski food shelf. Making pottery for charity kicks ass.

Charlotte is the new ceramics work-study and she is awesome; she will be taking over my position in November.

Preparing the kiln shelves is routine maintenance; they are scraped with a hammer and chisel then painted with kiln wash. The shelves around the door are drying.

I am going to back track in time a week to when the new kiln came. The opening of the giant box is too cool to skip. On the right is Dana Lee who is the Academic Coordinator & Advisor at CCV and also a bad-ass artist. To the left is a student named Kyle and behind the giant box is Harold (one of ceramics teachers).

And there she is in all her shiny goodness.

This is the inside of the kiln. We will now be able to fire a lot more pottery at once because she is so gigantic.

                                                                    Her name is Athena.

This is our clay delivery guy.  He helped me move heavy things when he didn't really have to. I appreciate chivalry.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

I Need Art!!

So life has been really busy.  College is a lot of work.  It's not even fun work. I mean, sure I feel my mental capacity expanding as well as my options, but all I want to do is make art.

Its funny to me how going to school to accomplish your dreams actually takes a lot of time away from the dreams that you were going to school to accomplish in the first  place.

I have one commission in progress now. It's a silly commission, but a commission none-the-less. It's a sign for my local Indian food buffet joint called Shalimar of India. I've been  having a hard time getting to the half-way-done point.  It's been in my bedroom for weeks.

Oh and there's Rocky. I am getting paid in Sunday Indian  Buffet for one month upon completion.
 As I was walking away from Shalimar, with the blank sign after making my big deal, I thought ,  "4 Sundays in a month, at eight dollars a buffet, equals 32 dollars. Shit, this is a big sign".  Slave labor!

I am going to haggle him for another Sunday or two worth of buffet, but we will see. I'm not a very good haggler. Back in my drug using days I was better at it, but you can't replicate that kind of motivation. Damn, it would be helpful if you could though....

I stole batteries from the store this morning while I was purchasing dog food. There's my confession.  My only regret, other than not having enough money to afford batteries, is that I stole the cheap ones.  I mean really, if I'm going to get caught stealing shouldn't I at least get the longer lasting lithium brand?

I have to mention how f#@king cool my house is and by this I mean the people in my house.  Here is a porch shot.  From front, to left, to right: Molly, Nick Henri, Darby Laine, and Christine.

This here is my plant and her little sproutling...

The ceramics studio:

  A bunch of bisque ware pottery, and those beautiful saint statues.... ...

Here is an instructor named Susan and a student.... I am going to ask him his name next time I see him.

And here he is making some bowls ...............

Time to unload the kiln; it's like Christmas, but cooler.

Some glazing going on today..... I built that sweet glaze table with my pseudo-boss last Friday and had splinters in my fingers all week, but it was worth it, oh yes. Seeing it in use makes me feel like a rock star.
 The clay recycle station after I cleaned it. I should have taken a before picture.  I will next time.

 This is Kyle;  this is his forth bowl.  That's why he is holding up four fingers and a bowl. He is proud of himself, and for good reason.  This stuff isn't easy.

 A freaking amazing statue of a cat; this is the same artist that has been making those saint statues. She is talented and Another persons' name I need to ask and then remember.
 Another enthusiastic and talented ceramicist

Those large, vase-like vessels  to the left of the cat are for dead people ashes. Mmm Funeral Urns..

Let  us end with a crowded shelf as a metaphor for my hectic schedule...