- Category: WAN Art Blog
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- Written by Abby DiBetta
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Community events, such as Houston's Art Car Parade, allow local culture to thrive.
- 2012 by Sarah Worthy. Licensed under Attribution-ShareAlike.
No one is a bigger supporter of your community’s culture than your locally owned and run shops. Make sure to check the phone book for local businesses that suit your needs before going to chain stores. Local stores have unique gifts or other personalized items that can’t be found anywhere else.
Boutiques, art galleries, and other local art shops are great places to look for gifts for any occasion. Also see if you have a pottery, ceramic, or glass do-it yourself studio nearby. Often you can paint, sculpt, or design your own plates, bowls, and many other things for a great, personalized gift. Not only are you supporting your town's or city’s economy, you are also supporting local shop owners and promoting shopping local. So before you drive to a chain store, make sure to shop local first!
If you don’t want to shop local, you can always give something even more valuable: your time. There are usually tons of community events going on, and all you have to do is show up. Some events that most cities and towns have include library events, craft fairs, theater productions, gallery showings, and art classes. Go to your local city hall or recreation center to get more information on local events in your area.
Spread the Word
Even better than just participating yourself is get others to participate as well. Invite your friends, family, classmates and co-workers to local events with you. The more the merrier! Not only are you promoting your community’s culture, you’re getting other involved as well, and having a good time doing it. What can be better than that?
Community events are local and usually easy to get to, and they are usually free or very reasonably priced. Community events are a great way to have fun for less.
Whether by attending an event, casting a vote,or entering a contest, make sure you are a part of your community. If you’re artsy, enter a local art contest. If you aren’t artistic, you can still help with your art community. You can start donations, help in planning an art event, help run a contest, volunteer at a gallery, or even just promote the arts to your friends, family, and co-workers. There are endless opportunities to get involved; you just have to find them! The best way to change something is by getting involved.
Don’t think there is enough culture or art in town? Ask to speak at the next town meeting. The key to getting things done is to ask. The worst anyone can say is no. So take a chance and get involved!
Join A Committee
If you want to be heard, make sure your opinion counts. Joining a committee is one of the best ways to make sure your voice is heard. There are usually many different committees focusing on different aspects of your city or town’s culture.
There are many committees that are involved in the arts. Even if you don’t want to join a committee focused solely on the arts, there are plenty of committees that influence the arts, such as town events committee and school committees. If you want more art in school, join the school committee. If you think you have a great idea for a summer event, suggest it to the committee and see if they can do it. Even if they can’t, usually someone on the committee will know someone who might be able to make it happen.
These are just a few simple steps to get involved in your community; do what feels right for you. Just make sure you do it!
- Category: WAN Art Blog
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- Written by Clare Stein
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Outside the Musée Chagall.
Museums Chagall and Matisse are on the same bus route that winds northeast through Nice, France, from a bustling downtown through the mostly affluent neighborhood of Cimiez.
It is no coincidence that Marc Chagall (1887 – 1985) and Henri Matisse (1869 – 1954), two forefathers of modern art, resided in Nice, and that two museums display their oeuvres. From the beginning to the middle of the twentieth century, Nice boasted an artistic community that flocked to the seaside city for the same reasons so many tourists do today: the sea, the heat, the light and the color.
Matisse once confessed, “When I realized that every morning I would see this light, I couldn’t believe my luck.”
Chagall, too, was inspired by the sunlight and bright tones so vibrantly mirrored in his work: “There, in the south, for the first time in my life, I saw that rich greenness – the like of which I had never seen in my own country.”
Though they lived in Nice at the same time and both held important roles in the same artistic movement, Chagall and Matisse were not great friends, and their artwork does not share great similarities. Fittingly, Musée Chagall and Musée Matisse seek to represent their namesakes in different ways, and the museums follow separate curatorial ambitions.
Buses 22 or 15 will drop you first at the Musée Chagall, inset from the road by a concrete wall and a green lawn. The work of Chagall, a Russian-born artist known as one of modernism’s pioneers and a major Jewish artistic figure, is whimsical, emotive and bold. He adopted motifs of Eastern European Jewish folk culture and absorbed the burgeoning concepts of modernism in his travels between St. Petersburg, Paris, and Berlin as a young man. Dabbling in cubism and other modernist modes, Chagall developed a mostly surrealistic style defined by a repertoire of dream-like motifs.
Musée Chagall is contemporary, with an angular, stern façade of concrete and metal. The building’s interior hinges on sunlight. Slanted windows and recessed ceiling panels create an open, airy atmosphere. Its freshness and simplicity balances the intense color and caprice of Chagall’s paintings, sketches, and mosaics.
In terms of curatorial ambitions, the museum arranges itself thematically. A diverse set of temporary expositions reside in the space, often focusing on a specific medium used by Chagall or a time period in his artistic career, and spotlighting the work of Chagall’s contemporaries as well as artists who were influenced by him. Currently, the museum hosts “La Peinture Autrement,” an exposition of works from the 1980’s onward that considers painting as subject matter, and “Rares Pastels de Marc Chagall,” a collection of Chagall’s works in pastel, including many studies for his “Biblical Illustrations.”
The most impressive of the permanent collection, and what feels like the heart of the museum, are Chagall’s “Biblical Illustrations.” It is a series of twelve large-scale, eye-popping paintings based on scenes from the Old Testament. Next to each painting, the museum displays a placard thoroughly detailing the scene and Chagall’s efforts to capture it.
Chagall, obviously, is not the first artist to paint biblical scenes. However, his renderings are abundantly strange, frequently naïve, and totally unique. Chagall once said, “I did not see the Bible, I dreamed it. Ever since early childhood, I have been captivated by the Bible. It has always seemed to me and still seems today the greatest source of poetry of all time.”
Musée Chagall may be small, but it makes an impressive effort to synthesize the artist’s religious footing and poetic sensibility through his surrealistic, dream-like lens.
Five minutes further north along the bus route is the Musée Matisse, housed in the seventeenth century Villa des Arènes. The villa, bordered by rows of olive trees and a bright blue summer sky, is intensely Provençal in nature, and resembles something Matisse surely would have painted in his earlier years. Compared to the small, compact Musée Chagall, the Musée Matisse is large and labyrinthine, with several levels and an expansive layout. While the Musée Chagall has a limited collection, the Musée Matisse houses an impressive number of the artist’s works.
The artistic career of Matisse is difficult to characterize. Matisse’s paintings began in a traditional vein, progressed to impressionism, and continued to evolve through fauvist, neoclassical, and abstract phases. Perhaps because of these stylistic transformations, the Musée Matisse can feel confusing or overwhelming.
The Musée Chagall takes a thematic approach, while the Musée Matisse seeks to present a more biographical retrospective. Photographs, documents, and even furniture that belonged to the artist punctuate the large collection. In a theater inside Musée Chagall, a detailed and well-produced biographical documentary on the artist plays throughout the day. The film is long, and most people probably do not sit through the whole thing. At Musée Matisse, the presence of biographical remnants is synthesized with the artistic collection, and works to provide coherence.
Despite the biographical context, the dramatic evolution of Matisse’s work could be explained more lucidly. An uninformed viewer might doubt, even, that the same artist produced both the delicately rendered early paintings and the bold, expressive cut-out series. The museum might benefit from a re-organized layout or more explanatory placards. On the other hand, the work speaks for itself.
His cut paper collages, or gouaches découpés, particularly communicate the continuity of his vision. Created during the period after he was diagnosed with cancer in 1941 and lasting virtually until his death in 1954, the pieces exude Matisse’s creative rebirth and the creative energy that surged from what he called “la seconde vie” (second life). The cutouts are a dramatic departure from earlier work, but they continue to address the movement of bodies and the expressive impact of color and light.
The current exposition at Musée Matisse, “The Dissolution of Line and Colour,” is a study in Matisse’s exquisite and expressive use of light, line, and color, to represent, in many cases, the bright scenes and figures of the French Rivieria. Matisse, while living in Nice, perfected a certain fluidity in his depictions of water, sky, and bodies.
If Chagall’s work is the stuff of dreams, Matisse worked from daydreams: all slightly hazy, imbued with emotion, but still lucid, rooted to reality. It’s a treat to visit these museums located in the same place the artists worked, like monuments to their inspiration. And you can take the bus.
All photographs by Clare Stein.
- Category: WAN Art Blog
- Published Date
- Written by Erin Hall
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How Investment in the Arts Revitalized a Community
During a recent vacation to North Conway, New Hampshire, I had the pleasure of visiting the League of New Hampshire Craftsmen’s Conway Gallery. As I admired the unique jewelry, furniture, and sculptures decorating the walls, I conversed with the gallery’s owner, Philip Jacobs. His craft was glassblowing; many of his contributions to the League were displayed around the gallery. A purple tinted pitcher caught my eye, and I commented on the beauty of its shapely curves.
Jacobs smiled kindly, but then said, “Unfortunately most people who visit this gallery do not always find beauty in our craft.”
I shook my head in disbelief, and suggested, “I guess art isn’t for everyone - especially not in this economy!”
He released a dry chuckle, and replied adamantly, “No, art is for everyone! In fact, art had the capability of saving New Hampshire years ago, and it will again during this economic slump.”
Jacobs pushed back a thick dreadlock from his face, and briefly recounted the history of the league’s emergence. His quick “Art in New Hampshire” overview suggested themes of suffering, resourcefulness, restoration, and steadfastness. I longed to more astutely unite the strands of this artisan’s redemptive tale.
The founding of New Hampshire’s vibrant League of Craftsmen during the Great Depression, exhibits the unifying and inspiring nature of prolonged hardship. Despite the depression’s numerous effects on the United States’ economy, this financially stressed period sparked one of our nation’s most stimulating art movements. There were pockets of poor, yet inspired artisans throughout the United States, but New Hampshire’s White Mountain area is unique in its craftsmen revival roots.
This art revival began in the quaint villages of Sandwich and Wolfeboro, by Mrs. J. Randolph Coolidge, leader of a crafts shop in Center Sandwich, and A. Cooper Ballentine, leader of a crafts enterprise. Both women, feeling bound by their budgets’ limitations, sought financial refuge in craft making. They realized the earning potential of isolated farmers banding together to expand the market for what they had the capability of creating. During their daily craft endeavors, they experienced a solace capable of restoring and renewing their hope in the nation’s economy. This hope spread, igniting an infectious art exploration throughout New Hampshire.
Coolidge and Ballentine developed a cooperative committee with assistance from the Director of the Rhode Island School of Design and from the Russell Sage Foundation. The group then visited New Hampshire’s Governor, John Winant, and requested his help to solidify the committee’s purpose and communal negotiations. Committee leaders presented the need for developing competent community leadership, locating good craft instructors and employing a properly trained and compensated director. In 1931, the governor provided seed money from the state to create a Commission on Arts and Crafts, making New Hampshire the first state in the nation to support crafts. This commission immediately provided gainful work through home industries, native crafts, and arts.
In 1932, the commission became the League of New Hampshire Craftsmen. In its early existence, the league was dependent on the utilization of local materials like river clay, forming local craft guilds such as the Saffron and Indigo Society. In 1934, the league organized the first craft fair in the nation at Crawford Notch in the White Mountains. Along with an area for artisan sales, the fair had demonstrations of vegetable-dyeing, basket-making, wood-carving, and iron-working.
Today, the League of New Hampshire Craftsmen’s mission continues to encourage communal exposure to the arts and support the adventurous endeavors of various artisans. Crafts approved by the League's rigorous Standards Program are presented and sold through a network of eight retail galleries around the state ( Jacob Philip’s gallery in North Conway is one of these eight). The league also displays approved crafts at its headquarters gallery in Concord, New Hampshire and at other league-sponsored events. The league supports community-based craft education programs throughout the state.
In the spring, the League of New Hampshire Craftsmen’s Board of Trustees announced plans to launch a capital campaign to raise a minimum of $2,850,000 in funds for the league’s new craft education center and headquarters in Concord. The campaign, called “Craft Our Future: A Commitment to Handcrafted Excellence,” will provide funds for the league’s new facility, educational programming, technology, and endowment funding. Contributing craftsmen hope that such a building will increase the general public’s appreciation of local art.
- Category: WAN Art Blog
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- Written by Caroline Martinez
- Hits: 798
Political cartoons use art and humor to help us make sense of some of the most complicated issues facing the world. While political commentators and pundits often require long essays or heated rhetoric to make their points, great political cartoonists can sum up complex issues with nothing more than one clever image.
Former United Nations Secretary General and Nobel Peace Prize winner Kofi Annan certainly agrees that political cartoons can be extremely powerful. In 2006, he invited 12 of the world’s best known political cartoonists to the UN headquarters in New York for a conference called “Unlearning Intolerance.” This event led to the creation of an organization called Cartooning for Peace, whose mission is to “promote better understanding and mutual respect between people of different faiths and cultures.”
That mission is accomplished in part through exhibitions all over the world, such as the one that took place in Geneva, Switzerland, until July 10. 100 cartoons were on display on the shore of Lake Geneva, featuring work form many distinguished international artists covering different themes, such as human rights, poverty, climate change, censorship and armed conflict.
Below are some shots of individual cartoons on display.
This piece, by Swiss artist Chappatte, comments on the Arab Spring revolutions and the potential for social media to empower people who face poverty and political oppression.
French artist Wiaz juxtaposes an American soldier in a gas mask with an Afghan woman in a burqa.
This cartoon by American artist Danziger comments on the issue of censorship in modern Russia.
This beautiful image by Boligán, of Mexico, depicts environmental damage from industrial pollution.
All photographs by Caroline Martinez.