Saturday, September 29, 2012


This is my friend, Art.

He works as a security guard at the Butler Institute of American Art in Youngstown, Ohio. 

I stumbled into him in one of the galleries there.

Okay. . . . . .

I'll admit it.

I was more than a little shocked to see him sitting in the middle of the gallery on a chair.

But then I guess that's a pretty good perch for someone in his profession.

I'm sure he doesn't miss much from that front and center perspective.

Art is a really nice guy.

He's quiet.

A little shy.

He always greets his visitors with a smile.

And a twinkle in his eye.

Oh, and by the way, he's not real.

Art is made from polyester resin and oil

His masterful creator, Marc Sijan, is, beyond a shadow of a doubt, a brilliant artist and technician.

(Seated Security Guard (Art), Marc Sijan, no date, Butler Museum of American Art, Youngstown, Ohio)

Friday, September 28, 2012


(Tea Party, George Luks, 1922, Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts, Montgomery, Alabama)

These adorable grannies have to be the cutest cluster of ladies I've ever seen.

They are filled with life!

I personally relate to the busiest granny.

The one who is holding a piece of bread – or a big fat sugar cookie! - in her left hand.

She's diving into her steaming bowl of veggie soup – or is it a gigantic dish of chocolate ice cream? - with her right hand.

This gal means business!

She's hunched over her lunch like a protective mama bear whose message to the world is:

Don't mess with me – I've got my feed bag on!”

American artist, George Luks, splashed these women onto his canvas in 1922.

He obviously knew what he was doing.

I love their perky hats.

I'll bet each one of those hats speaks to the unique qualities of its wearer.

And what about those electric blue ensembles?

You can't miss seeing them.

And you're not supposed to.

This is a feel good painting, isn't it?

It makes me happy every time I see it.

And, by the way. . . . . .

Maybe their conversation is going something like this:

MABLE: “Hey, Gertrude, would ya hurry up and pass those cookies my way?”

GERTRUDE: “Hold your horses, Mable, I'll get to it in a minute.”

HORTENSE: “Would you two give it a rest? You both are actin' like you've never seen a speck of food your whole entire lives!”

GERTRUDE: “I've seen plenty of food and I'm gonna see a lot more of it before they plant me! Just sit there and look pretty while I gorge on the groceries!”

Thursday, September 27, 2012


(Mrs. Louis E. Raphael (Henriette Goldschmidt), John  Singer Sargent, 1906, Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts, Montgomery, Alabama)

Today we have the good fortune to gaze upon this lovely portrait of Henriette Goldschmidt.

It was painted by American artist, John Singer Sargent, around the year 1906.

There are obvious similarities between Walter McEwen's “A Woman of the Empire” and Henriette's image.

Both women are wearing highly fashionable gowns of their day.

Both are standing in front of large mirrored surfaces.

And both project images of quiet, refined elegance.

Yet there are defining differences as well.

Sargent has introduced large splashes of cool, silvery blues into his neutral palette

“A Woman of the Empire” is shown mostly in soft, subtle neutral tones.

In addition, McEwen's subject is not adorned with jewels of any kind.

Sargent's sitter, on the other hand, is glistening with white pearls and sparkling finger baubles.

Our woman of the empire stands with her back facing us, her viewers.

Henriette is looking straight at us although her body is positioned in a half turn.

Painter Sargent seems to have captured the essence of Henriette's personality.

By the way, he was known for having the ability to do just that!

We see a hint of a smile on Henriette's delicate face.

She fingers her pretty strand of pearls and gently grasps her silken wrap.

McEwen's model fingers the marble top of the pier table standing before her.

Henriette is shown leaning her right arm on the classically carved mantel of the fireplace.

Sargent has expertly represented Henriette's image in the mirror just as Walter McEwen did with his subject.

Both of these women present dual images to their viewers.

In each case, we see representations of their “real life” countenances.

And we are treated to images of their reflected glories as well.

Perhaps there is a message in that for each of us.

Beauty surrounds us on all sides.

But only if we take the time to truly see it.   

Wednesday, September 26, 2012


(A Woman of the Empire, Walter McEwen, 1900, Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Richmond)

This beautiful image is titled “A Woman of the Empire.”

It was painted by American artist, Walter McEwen, around the year 1900.

The title of this piece references the model's gorgeous antique gown.

The satin dress has an elevated “waistline.”

Actually, no waistline exists at all.

What does exist could rightly be called a “bodiceline.”

One hundred years before this painting was created, Jane Austin might have been seen strolling around the city of Bath wearing a dress similar to this one.

It is known as an “empire” dress.

Artist McEwen spares no expense highlighting this lavish gown.

The dress shimmers with light.

But what I love about this painting is seen in the mirrored reflection of the woman herself.

I am intrigued by the painter's masterful ability to portray the subject's image in the mirror.

The mirrored image is subtle, of course.

Isn't that what you would expect in such a circumstance?

After all, the woman is viewed through what is in reality - silvered glass.

But the mirror is oh, so important in this painting.

It is the tool, the device McEwen uses to portray the model's face.

Even her very countenance.

McEwen has chosen a soft taupe hue for his massive mirror.

The same shade of soft grayish-brown is found on the floor.

The taupe tones serve to highlight the woman's glowing white gown.

The painting is literally covered in neutral tones.

In fact, the woman's auburn hair is the most striking of all the colors in the painting.

But even that is clearly muted.

I love the golden sheen and curvaceous lines of the mirror frame, wall sconce and pier table.

These objects bring a sense of definition and life to McEwen's painting.

All of these painterly devices combine to bring beauty and a sense of serenity to the artist's work.

In addition, the subject is beautifully and tastefully dressed.

She stands gracefully before the mirror – the tips of her fingers barely skimming the top of the table.

There is an aura of restraint and refinement about her.

She emanates elegance.

And that is why we are drawn into her world.