September 6, 2017

The Palette is available to all interested with an e-Subscription


In this issue:

Colorado Artist Uses Solar-Powered Paintbrush
Canine helps patients of Mercy’s art-therapy program
The Early-20th-Century Painter Who Captured Solar Eclipses
Loyal customers helped save this Modesto store. Now they can follow to its new site
Make-A-Wish helps 11-year-old open her own art show
In Rebuke to Trump, President’s Arts Committee Resigns En Masse
Vandals ‘ransack’ Wichita State student’s painting studio, leave signatures, shoeprint
The 19th-Century French Novelists Who Wove Painting into Their Fiction
Landscapes fertile art field for retired Baylor professor
University of Arkansas to Establish New School of Art With $120 M. Gift From Walton Family Foundation
Atlanta Mural Crackdown Could Be Back
Merchants donate wall space for street art
Texas Arts Groups Gather Resources for Artists Impacted by Hurricane Harvey

 

 

 

 

Colorado Artist Uses Solar-Powered Paintbrush

Amid hikers and bikers along Boulder Creek, artist Mike Papadakis is working on his latest commissioned piece -- a detailed mountainscape.

But next to his canvas, you won’t find any paint or paint brushes. All he needs is a mildly sunny day and a magnifying glass.

But instead of torturing ants or practicing his survival skills with fire starting, the Golden-based artist uses the lens and the sun’s rays to burn a design onto a wooden canvas.

“For years, people that have been painting with magnifying glasses,” Papadakis said. “It’s come to be known online as solar pyrography.”

However, the negative connotations that come with the term “pyro” got him looking for another way to refer to his work.

“So I decided to call it heliography,” he said. “Helios -- which is the Greek root for sun and -ography, which can mean so many things. It can mean writing, it can mean communication.”

Originally, heliography was a form of communication. The military used it back in the 1800s to communicate from far away.

“People would stand on the sides of mountains with mirrors, and they would reflect the light down on the infantry to let them know who was friendly and who was not,” Papadakis said.

Depending on the size of the lens he’s using, he can produce temperatures in excess of 2,500 degrees. That’s hot enough to melt glass, steel and stone. It’s hot enough to turn granite into obsidian, almost instantly.

But what happens when it’s cloudy?

“The sun is the greatest stopwatch,” Papadakis said. “So rather than looking at a cloud as a hindrance, I look at a cloud as somebody saying, ‘Hey Mike, take a break.’”

And when a once-in-a-lifetime total solar eclipse arrives?

“The eclipse is telling me: ‘Experience me,’” Papadakis said.

Which is why on Aug. 21, Papadakis will be in Wyoming -- along with an estimated 600,000 other people -- to experience the total solar eclipse.

“I have this draw -- this attraction to the idea of this eclipse -- that I can possibly paint with the shade,” he said. “And that there is possibly even more energy in that black dot than in this bright white dot that I’m painting with every day and so I’m kind of curious to go discover that, to see if it’s possible.”

He’s not sure what will happen, but Papadakis said he’s always up for trying something new. It’s how he got into heliography in the first place.

“This started with me leaving the country and literally going on a one-way trip and trying to see all the places on Earth that I knew nothing about,” he said.

But Papadakis got tired of lugging all his art supplies with him. While visiting a friend at an artist commune in China, he got an idea.

“He had a magnifying glass on his table and I literally looked at it and it was an instant love at first sight, right,” he said. “I looked at it, and I looked outside the window and I double-taked and I said, ‘Hey, I could probably take this outside and draw with it.’”

He ditched the paint and brushes and focused solely on making art with the magnifying glass. His canvases became whatever people brought him. Wood. Stone. Cloth. Bread. Yep, bread, like toast.

“In Central Asia, you’ll find some of the best bread in the world,” Papadakis said. “A lot of it is flat, like pizza dough […] and so it was a perfect canvas.”

He gifted his art to the people he met along the way, perfecting his new-found craft and creating an almost performance-like aspect to it. When he came home, Papadakis realized he didn’t just want to keep painting with the sun: He wanted to teach others to do it, too.

“With all things in life, everything’s better when it’s shared,” he said.

Which is why whether he's working on a piece for himself or a commission for his solar printing company, Sunscribes, Papadakis works where the people are -- parks, plazas, street corners -- wherever he can share his process -- start to finish.

Boulder mom Mandy McLane and her 2-year-old son, Colton, spotted Papadakis working from across the park.

“I was expecting a painting of some sort,” McLane said. “But I was not expecting it with the magnifying glasses.”

Papadakis grabbed some extra welding goggles (he always has some on hand) so they could watch the process.

“See this dot right there? That dot. It’s a mini-mini-version of the sun. It’s like a baby sun and we get to draw with it,” Papadakis told the little boy. The toddler was transfixed by the lens sparking a small flame on the wood. “Again,” he shouted, directing Papadakis to keep turning the sun “on” and “off.”

For Papadakis, getting people to see art -- as well as the sun, itself -- differently is the goal.

“I hope that this art form can remind people to not try to block the sun out,” he said. “As much as we’re told that the sun is going to give you cancer, and that it’s harsh, and the ozone is depleting, and too much sun is not good for you. […] I guess this art form kind of challenges that.” KUNC

 

Canine helps patients of Mercy’s art-therapy program
Rally II brings ‘love, kindness, affection’ to behavioral health patients

“She sometimes passes out art supplies,” laughed Marianne Hutcheson, a mental health therapist for Mercy Medical Center, referring to her dog Rally II, “like glue bottles and pens for my expressive writing group.”

About seven years ago, Hutcheson’s 26-year-old daughter Elizabeth, who has cerebral palsy, was matched with an assistance dog, Glenn II, through Canine Companions for Independence, a national non-profit organization providing highly trained assistance dogs for children and adults with disabilities. Seeing how helpful the dog was around her daughter, she recently sought to have one work with her art-therapy patients at Mercy’s outpatient behavioral health services facility in Garden City.

“It just occurred to me that it would be a great addition to my work,” said Hutcheson, who has worked at Mercy for about 20 years. “I thought it would be a great way for patients to get more comfortable with the whole idea of therapy.”

Hutcheson and Rally, a 2-year-old black lab and golden retriever mix, were paired together by CCI, and completed a two-week training course in Medford, N.Y. in February. The two returned home to Oceanside, where Hutcheson has lived for 30 years, and began getting into a routine with the patients.

The program provides therapy to people 18 and older with psychiatric illnesses, anxiety, depression and substance abuse. Art is used as a way to help the patients express themselves in a way aside from just talking about various problems they may have in their lives.

“We’re walking through the parking lot with the dog and the patients just brighten up,” Hutcheson said. “If the patient is new, it kind of eases their anxiety about going into their first appointment with the doctor and it just changes the whole therapeutic environment for them.”

Rally has been trained to respond to more than 40 commands, including turning light switches on and off, opening and closing doors and retrieving dropped objects. More specific commands include “visit,” during which Rally will go to the patient who said it and calmly put her head on their lap. Patients will then pet her and sometimes even talk to the dog about their problems, according to Hutcheson. If a patient says “lap” to Rally, she will put her front paws and half of her body on their lap so that they can hug her.

“Love, kindness, affection,” one member of the art class who grew up in Rockville Centre said of what Rally brings to the class. She sat in the seat next to him and licked the side of his head. “She unconditionally just loves us all.”

In the art classroom, Hutcheson cheered on Rally as she tugged at a rope to open a drawer, which at first wouldn’t open. Watching the dog accomplish a task teaches the patients about perseverance and completing jobs, she said.

“You see how people embrace the opportunity…[like], ‘Ah, that’s really special,’” said David Flomenhaft, director of Mercy’s behavioral health services. “Marianne’s creative-arts therapy and the animal that’s present at the same time I think is a winning combination.”

Though a facility dog, Rally goes home with Hutcheson, where Glenn, a 9-year-old Labrador mix, has helped her daughter over the years. Glenn helps Elizabeth, who often uses a wheelchair, take off her socks, for example, and brings her things that are far away. He can even open the refrigerator, grab a bottle of water and take it to her.

“Since she’s limited, I think the fact that somebody listens to her and she has control, helps her feel better too,” Hutcheson said.

She expects to expand Rally’s skills in the future. In addition to spreading unconditional love to the hospital patients, and bolstering patients’ social skills, Rally also sets an example for those looking for one to follow. She even cleans up her toys.

“She kind of teaches the patients that it’s good to have a purpose, and she feels good about working, and we transfer that to their everyday lives and situations: how it’s good to have a routine, how it’s good to have boundaries, how it’s good to communicate clearly,” Hutcheson said. “She’s just a great role model for them.” LI Herald

 

The Early-20th-Century Painter Who Captured Solar Eclipses
In 1918, painter Howard Russell Butler precisely captured what the camera could not: the fiery colors of a solar eclipse.

“I generally asked for ten sittings of two hours each,” artist Howard Russell Butler said of his portrait process in 1926. “But all the time they would allow me on this occasion was 112 1/10 seconds.” The subject he was recalling was a solar eclipse, a fleeting celestial event he’d been able to paint in vibrant detail thanks to his quick notations on color, light, and tone.

Transient Effects: The Solar Eclipses and Celestial Landscapes of Howard Russell Butler, now at the Princeton University Art Museum, showcases his pioneering work ahead of the approaching August 21 solar eclipse. It was co-curated by Lisa Arcomano, manager of campus collections at the museum, and Rolf Sinclair, adjunct researcher at the Centro de Estudios Científicos in Valdivia, Chile, bringing together art and science. An accompanying online exhibition delves deeper into Butler’s work, eclipses in art history, early space art, and eclipse expeditions.

“Butler was able to take enough shorthand notes during the brief time of totality to more accurately capture the range of brightness of the corona as well as the color of the prominences — something that photography could not do at that time,” Arcomano told Hyperallergic. “His scientific accuracy in observing a transient event with the naked eye still marvels scientists today.”

While efforts were made to photograph eclipses as early as 1842, there were limits to what the camera could record in the early 20th century. The fiery color of the corona of the sun, briefly visible during the totality of the eclipse, still eluded photography. When Butler was asked in 1918 to join the US Naval Observatory Eclipse Team in Oregon, he was already skilled at recording painting the “transient effects” of the Northern Lights and sunsets. He’d also graduated from Princeton University with a science degree in 1876, although he’d subsequently pursued a career in art.

The online exhibition has a page on Butler’s methodology, with a re-creation of his 1918 lecture at the Metropolitan Museum of Art (the audio is embedded above). In it, he described his technique:

My plan for the actual drawing was to sketch in the outline of the eclipse rapidly, jot down the color value present in the sky, moon, clouds, corona, hydrogen flames; each according to its numeric value in the scale, and after the eclipse was over fill them in at leisure. I did not bother with an accurate outline of sun and moon, preferring to depend on photographs for that. I used an easel protected by wind guards, white cardboard, and pencil, and with these I had ten drills preparatory to painting the eclipse.

Butler used those notes, as well as photographic negatives and positives (and a bit of artistic license), to paint the 1918 solar eclipse. It would not be his last. In 1923, he planned to travel to Mexico with the Lick Observatory Group, but illness kept him in the United States. As luck would have it, the astronomers down in Baja and San Diego had their views blocked by clouds, but Butler witnessed the eclipse in the overcast sky in Lompoc, California. In 1925, he stood on the roof of the Arrigoni Hotel in Middletown, Connecticut, taking notes on two pieces of cardboard nailed to the building’s cupola, and in 1932, he saw the total solar eclipse from his own home on the coast of Maine.

For many years, a triptych of his eclipse paintings, a version of which is included in Transient Effects, was displayed over the entrance to the Hayden Planetarium at the American Museum of Natural History. (It was removed when the planetarium was rebuilt.) Although Butler was prolific as a portrait, seascape, and landscape artist (he made noted paintings of Zion National Park), his celestial scenes were among his most influential work. In addition to eclipses, he painted solar prominences, views from other planets, and the lunar surface. He died in 1934, decades before the first moon landing, but his extraterrestrial subjects remain remarkable in their accuracy, based on Butler’s precise eye for the details of celestial phenomena. Hyperallergic

 

Loyal customers helped save this Modesto store. Now they can follow to its new site

MODESTO, CA: Either you know Nasco and you love it or you don’t know Nasco from a box of crackers. But you just might start to love it once you find out more.

Whichever camp you fall into, you’ll be able to visit the catalog outlet store at a new location in north Modesto soon. Earlier this year Nasco, which began 75 years ago as the National Agricultural School Supply Co., announced it would be closing its Modesto warehouse and storefront on Stoddard Road.

The company, which is based out of Fort Atkinson, Wisconsin, is now primarily a catalog and online retailer that sells an array of education, arts and crafts, healthcare and farm supplies. Executives had decided to consolidate its warehouses in the Midwest.

But the Modesto retail shop, which was set to close at the end of May, was saved thanks to customer loyalty. It is one of only two Nasco brick-and-mortar shops, the other is with its headquarters in Wisconsin. The Modesto shop has been in business since the the late 1960s and at its old Stoddard Road location since 1994.

While its attached warehouse closed May 31, the shop has carried on and will relocate over the coming week to its new home on Bangs Avenue in the old site of Modesto Hobby and Crafts. (Don’t worry, Modesto Hobby and Crafts is also still open – it just moved to a few doors down in the same center earlier this summer).

Cristin Caldwell, director of human resources at the Modesto Nasco, said the store should complete its move to the new location by Monday, Aug. 28, at the latest. Inventory is being moved to the new site now, but you can still visit the Stoddard Road store until then.

The new retail space is about the same size and will carry largely the same items with emphasis on educational, arts and crafts and farm supplies. While it will no longer have a whole warehouse to pull from, Caldwell said they will be able to easily order from the company’s stock of 96,000-plus items for local customers.

“We’re trying to accommodate as much as we can without having a warehouse,” she said. “We have a lot of loyal customers and serve a lot of school customers, art students and agriculture groups like 4-H and FFA.”

The Modesto Nasco still employs about two dozen workers, 21 in the office and three in the store.

While the new store is expected to open within about a week, a grand opening celebration will be held the weekend of Sept. 8-10. The event will include gifts and prize giveaways, free hot dogs, snow cones, cotton candy and balloons. Now, what’s not to love about that?

The new Nasco retail store will be at 401 Bangs Ave. For more information call 209-545-1600 ext 124 or visit www.enasco.com. The Modesto Bee

 

Make-A-Wish helps 11-year-old open her own art show

FARGO, ND: Logan Hahn knew she could have almost anything when she was told that Make-A-Wish of North Dakota would be granting the 11-year-old a wish, but she didn't want to receive something, she wanted to wanted to give.

Hahn, who lives with cystic fibrosis, a life-threatening genetic disease that causes thick mucus to build up in the lungs and other areas of the body, asked Make-A-Wish to help her open her own art show.

"Not only did she want to create art but she wanted to spread the word about what she lives with every day," said Wish Granter Angie Lord.

The display of mixed arts will be showcased at APT Studio for a month. The pieces are for sale with Hahn planning to donate the proceeds to cystic fibrosis education and research.

"Her wish is unique because it will keep giving and giving," said Wish Granter Billie Kellar.

The APT Studio in Fargo was filled to capacity on Saturday, Aug. 19, as Make-A-Wish and the studio unveiled the display of Hahn's work which includes watercolors, sketches, oil paintings and acrylics.

"It was a huge surprise, I didn't know what to say at first," Hahn said. "It's very special to have everyone here."

Hahn, a lifelong artist who uses drawing and coloring to help as a calming therapy. Hahn undergoes treatments to her lungs every day and can undergo multiple treatments during a day, at times.

"You see your little girl grow up and it's hard with this disease but she's just blossomed" Hahn's mother, Nikki Hahn said. "It's not just art supplies and art lessons, it's seeing her do what she loves."

Hahn, who lives in Harwood, N.D., and attends Oak Grove School, was paired with Oak Grove art Teacher Vanessa Fettig to learn about different mediums. She was also mentored by local artists Barbara Nagle, Thaddeus Laugisch and Chelsea Odden.

While her subjects vary wildly, horses and unicorns are her favorite, she said.

Hahn and her 10-year-old sister, Aftyn, who created origami that was stretched across the APT studios were treated to makeovers before the gallery opening.

About 30,000 children and adults in the U.S. have cystic fibrosis, according to the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. In the 1950s, few children with the disease lived long enough to attend elementary school. But today's medical advances allow many to live beyond their 30s and 40s. INFORUM

 

In Rebuke to Trump, President’s Arts Committee Resigns En Masse

All seventeen members of the President’s Committee on the Arts and Humanities resigned en masse Friday, citing President Donald Trump’s comments ascribing blame to “both sides” for violence in Charlottesville.

In a letter posted Friday morning, members of the committee accused the president of supporting “hate groups and terrorists who killed and injured fellow Americans” by drawing “false equivalencies” between white nationalists who organized the demonstrations and opponents at counter-demonstrations.

“Elevating any group that threatens and discriminates on the basis of race, gender, ethnicity disability, orientation, background, or identity is un-American,” the members wrote. “Ignoring your hateful rhetoric would have made us complicit in your words and actions.”

The committee was founded in 1982 by President Reagan to act as an advisory group to the administration on cultural issues. Each of the current private sector members were appointed by President Obama, with First Lady Melania Trump serving as its honorary chair.

Andrew Weinstein, a south Florida attorney and Democratic fundraiser who was appointed to the committee by President Obama, said in an interview that actor Kal Penn reached out to fellow members of the panel this week to discuss taking the drastic step, with almost all immediately agreeing (a 17th member, George C. Wolfe, signed when reached later).

Text of the letter was circulated and agreed to this week, with a hard copy delivered to the committee’s professional staff Friday morning with the intent of being brought to the White House.

“There’s a lot of anger, a lot of sadness that exists. Because this isn’t who we are as a country, what we’re seeing from this administration,” Weinstein said.

Read the full resignation letter here

He criticized Trump for his tweet Thursday lamenting the removal “beautiful” monuments to prominent Confederate figures. “He’s concerned about the beauty of these Civil War monuments but not the humanities.”

Weinstein said that under Trump the committee had not held any meetings that he was aware of, or had any substantive interactions with the White House. He noted that the president’s budget calls for eliminating funding for the National Endowment for the Arts, National Endowment for the Humanities, and Institute of Museum and Library Services — entities with which the Committee coordinates its work and that provide staffing.

That “was a pretty clear indication of their position with regard to the arts and humanities,” he said. NBC NEWS

 

Vandals ‘ransack’ Wichita State student’s painting studio, leave signatures, shoeprint

WICHITA, KS: Wichita State student artist Melinda Sudbrink said her painting studio in McKnight Art Center was “ransacked” this week.

She got a call Thursday evening when she was off campus.

“Did you see what happened?” the voice on the other end of the phone said.

Sudbrink immediately headed to her studio to see the damage. What she found “looked like a warzone,” she said.

Sudbrink’s studio space — along with at least 4 other students’ — was “completely trashed” she said. Back at her studio she found thousands of dollars worth of art supplies were stolen, damaged, or squeezed out on the floor — including five completed original works.

Sketchbooks were torn, large canvasses were missing or slashed down the middle, watercolor brushes were dipped in glue. A large roll of watercolor paper was destroyed.

“They must have been in there for a long time to do that much damage,” Sudbrink said.

Her studio space, which is on the second floor and she has been using this summer, is locked. A classroom that connects to the shared studio space through a drying rack must have been left unlocked, and the vandals must have squeezed through the drying racks to get to the studio, Sudbrink said.

According to Sudbrink, not only did the vandals destroy her things, but they also took the time to create paintings of their own. The names “Deena + Neeta” are painted over one canvas. Emojis are painted elsewhere. At least one canvas has a shoeprint.

“You can tell they had fun doing it,” Sudbrink said.

According to a Wichita State police report, the incident, which is being investigated as a burglary and vandalism case, could have occurred as early as Monday night.

Sudbrink said the custodial staff in McKnight Art Center “chased off” four teenaged girls, some in swimsuits, from the building earlier in the week. She said the teens ran off in the direction of President John Bardo’s house, which is on the corner of 17th Street and Hillside.

So many things were missing from Sudbrink’s studio, she said, that even if it were four people committing the crime, the theft would have taken multiple trips.

She said she searched all over campus and the surrounding neighborhood, checking for any sign of her missing art supplies.
She didn’t find a trace, she said.

Sudbrink said she hopes the university can help, through insurance, recover the costs of her stolen and damaged property, but that some of the items are priceless.

“Not for the fact that I couldn’t put a price on what they cost to make, but for the fact that they’re paintings I did in college, as part of my portfolio to help me get a job after school.”

Sudbrink already has one degree in painting. She’s now enrolled to get a second degree in education so she can be an art teacher.

“I work with kids. I help teach kids right and wrong and to respect each other, but also that there are consequences for your actions,” Sudbrink said.
“I know I’m supposed to be the bigger person, but if they can do that to an art studio, what path are they going down?” Sudbrink said.

Sudbrink said she would like for McKnight to have better security, while continuing to give artists access to studio space, which she said is “a rare thing in Wichita.”

“It wouldn’t be fair to them if we just locked it up,” Sudbrink said. “Especially since we pay thousands and thousands of dollars in tuition and fees and the space is supposed to be safe and secure.”

Sudbrink said she would like to continue to use the studio space but that it will be hard to feel comfortable leaving her things in there for now.

“Disrespected is the way I would describe it,” Sudbrink said about finding her studio in such bad shape. “I can’t count how many hours I’ve been in there — working, studying, doing homework — and I feel like that’s been violated.”

A GoFundMe fundraiser has been created to help Sudbrink replace her destroyed art supplies. To donate, visit www.gofundme.com/melindas-art-supplies. The Sunflower

 

The 19th-Century French Novelists Who Wove Painting into Their Fiction
In The Pen and the Brush, Anka Muhlstein mines the special relationship between writers and painters in 19th-century France.

The familiar image of the struggling artist — locked away in his studio, desperately seeking inspiration, and, perhaps more importantly, validation — was the invention of 19th-century French novelists, asserts historian Anka Muhlstein. The young bohemians of Giacomo Puccini’s famous opera La Bohème, which was based on a novel by Henri Murger, included the likes of a painter, a poet, a musician, and a philosopher. But it is the special relationship between writers and painters that preoccupies Muhlstein’s close readings and biographical accounts in her book The Pen and the Brush, published earlier this year by the Other Press.

The book’s introduction contextualizes the social phenomenon of art appreciation as not only a subject of literary fascination but also an activity that was indulged in by the masses in post-Napoleonic France. The many works pillaged by the military during the Revolution and at the height of the French empire would eventually wind up in the Louvre. And as the museum’s collection swelled, so did the public’s interest. “The notion that art belonged to the people was now entrenched in the French collective consciousness, and the working classes continued to visit the museum throughout the nineteenth century,” Muhlstein writes. It was with this mindset that the period’s most prolific writers — Honoré de Balzac, Emile Zola, J.K. Huysmans, Guy de Maupassant, and Marcel Proust — could so organically weave into their fiction frequent references to real-life paintings, artists, and major debates occurring within the art world.

In one of Muhlstein’s deep dives linking passages from novels to actual works of art, she recounts how Balzac drew inspiration from Eugène Delacroix’s “The Women of Algiers in Their Apartment” after viewing the painting at the 1834 Salon. Orientalist elements such as a Turkish divan, a carpet that “looked like an oriental shawl,” and a secret entrance hidden behind a tapestry would all make their way into the interior setting of Balzac’s tragic novella, The Girl with the Golden Eyes (1835). A self-described “literary painter,” Balzac earned that title, argues Muhlstein, for his ability to create such vivid tableaus in his writing.

Interestingly, she also notes that Balzac wrote about more characters who were painters than writers. He revealed a profound interest in chronicling the artistic process, as epitomized in the short story “The Unknown Masterpiece” (1831): “Of all these delicate and short-lived emotions, none so resemble love as the passion of a young artist for his art, as he is about to enter on the blissful martyrdom of his career of glory and disaster, of vague expectations and real disappointments.” These disappointments manifest in the story through the old master Frenhofer, who is driven to madness over the perceived failure of his latest work. A generation later, a young painter named Paul Cézanne would claim to deeply identify with the character of Frenhofer.

While Balzac fancied himself more of an art lover than critic, and effectively an observer on the outside looking in, Zola, a childhood friend of Cézanne’s, came of age entrenched in the world of painters — specifically among a group of contemporaries known as the Impressionists. It is for this reason, perhaps, that Muhlstein devotes a majority of her book to Zola and his social circle. Having begun his career as an art writer, he wielded considerable influence and used his position to advocate for the young artists of his day. Muhlstein details the mutual admiration he shared with other artists, and their resulting reciprocal exchange of ideas and themes. For example, the subject of Manet’s “Nana” (1877), which shows a courtesan standing before a mirror, can be directly attributed to a character of Zola’s creation, while Zola credited Degas for first introducing him to the figures of working women.

In other instances, Muhlstein considers how Zola’s proximity to well-known painters left his peers feeling exposed. Upon the publication of The Masterpiece (1886), which depicts the downfall of a fictional painter named Claude Lantier, Monet wrote a letter complaining to Zola: “You have been careful to ensure that none of your characters resembles any one of us, but in spite of this, I’m afraid that our enemies in the press and the general public will mention Manet or at least name us as a group to make us look like losers.” There was also long-held speculation that the novel caused a rift between Zola and Cézanne, although Muhlstein dispels this with a previously undiscovered letter. Her anecdotal style lends itself particularly well to retelling such back and forth correspondence between famous personas, as if it were a modern-day celebrity Twitter feud instead.

Indeed, we see how the Impressionists became so sought after that they were no longer portrayed as struggling but as successful painters. Muhlstein refers to Maupassant’s Like Death (1889) as “rigorously contemporary” in its depiction of an established yet aging artist, Olivier Bertin. At the peak of his career, he has coasted on the patronage and attention of his married lover, the Countess de Guilleroy, for years. Yet, as the novel progresses, the white-haired Bertin becomes increasingly fixated on the loss of youth, and inevitably projects that obsession onto the middle-aged countess’s teenaged daughter. Appropriately, Muhlstein informs us of the shifting tides — “The stage now belonged to the Postimpressionists” — and by the time we arrive at Proust, the heyday of the Impressionists is over.

For Muhlstein, “The last great fictional painter of the nineteenth century is Proust’s Elstir.” She contends that In Search of Lost Time marks the end of a true symbiosis between painting and literature. Although many great novelists would continue to seek inspiration from visual artists, she concludes, “The old partnership between writers and painters…had evolved into something completely different.” While Muhlstein’s book avoids drawing 21st-century parallels, she does foreshadow the evolution that would take place in the last century, describing Zola’s technique borrowed from the Impressionists as “creating something like a tracking shot in film.” The need to translate this effect into more current terminology reflects not only how ubiquitous digital and moving images have become in our time, but also the impact of these mediums on the way we see. Just as the novelists of the past could easily utilize the language of painting with their readers because of its emergence as a democratic art form, our present-day culture writers often turn to regularly consumed entertainment such as movies and television shows.

Perhaps another indicator of the time passed is how little a writer like Zola devoted to women artists, even though Mary Cassatt, Eva Gonzales, and Berthe Morisot would have certainly been known to him. “The women in The Masterpiece are defined exclusively by their relationships with their male partners,” Muhlstein points out, though she fails to further investigate the consequence of this male-heavy gaze. And so, we’re left wondering if her narrative of this bygone era is partially incomplete in the otherwise illuminating read. Hyperallergic

Landscapes fertile art field for retired Baylor professor

WACO, TX: At first glance, John McClanahan’s 67 landscapes in the latest exhibit at Baylor University’s Martin Museum of Art look vaguely similar.

Most of the watercolor and guache paintings feature sky and land separated by horizon. Most have similar palettes, with skies washed by blues and grays and terrain of browns, yellows and greens.

A closer look reveals differences. The ratio of sky and ground differs. Some landscapes are impressionist while others are close to abstract. Storm clouds, tornadoes and lightning appear in some.

Paper is torn on a few, adding jagged lines and texture. Charcoal lines in some are subtle shadings, others bold, dynamic lines. The artist’s signature appears in different locations. And every painting has a touch, large or tiny, of the color Cadmium Red Light — what’s up with that?

“It’s my favorite color,” explained the painter, the longtime chairman of Baylor’s art department, who retired to Dallas seven years ago after 34 years with Baylor.

For those who remember “McClanahan’s McClanahans,” his last Martin Museum show of small, almost miniature paintings, “The Velasco Paintings” surprise with their larger scale.

McClanahan thanks retirement for that: more time to paint means larger canvases to work with. It’s also a chance to explore what he’s always taught his students: to pay attention to details, to tell stories with a beginning, middle and end in their work.

The landscapes captured in “The Velasco Paintings” come from trips McClanahan made throughout his career to Kansas, Colorado and other sites in the Midwest. Most of the exhibits’ works, painted within the last three years, were done from memories, notes and photographs.

McClanahan doesn’t travel as much — he and his wife retired to the Dallas area to be close to their son — and the most familiar landscape he sees in retirement is captured in the exhibition title: Velasco Drive is the street where his studio is located.

“John McClanahan: The Velasco Paintings” will run through Sept. 24 at the museum. The artist will talk about his work — and renew his art department friendships — in an opening reception from 5:30 to 7 p.m. Thursday. Waco Tribune-Herald

 

University of Arkansas to Establish New School of Art With $120 M. Gift From Walton Family Foundation

The University of Arkansas announced it will establish a new School of Art with a $120 million gift from the Walton Family Charitable Support Foundation, the philanthropic enterprise started by the family of late Walmart founder Sam Walton. Calling the donation the largest-ever gift given to a university in support of an art school, the university characterized the future school as the first of its kind in the state of Arkansas.

The School of Art will emphasize art education, art history, graphic design, and studio art, with goals including support for students with scholarships and travel grants; expanded graduate programs in art history, art education, and graphic design; and partnership with the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art and other local arts organizations to engage in public service and outreach.

The Walton Family Charitable Support Foundation has a history with the University of Arkansas, having given $300 million to endow an undergraduate honors college and graduate school in 2002. It also figured in the development of Crystal Bridges, the American art museum open with much fanfare in Bentonville, Arkansas, in 2011.

In a statement, Joseph E. Steinmetz, the University of Arkansas’s chancellor, said, “The newly endowed School of Art will transform the university and region into an international hub for the study of art.”

Alice Walton, chairwoman of the board of the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, added, “The School of Art will shape a new generation of artists, historians, designers, and teachers with a unique understanding of the hope art can bring to communities. The unparalleled access to meaningful American art will connect the heartland to the world.” ARTNEWS

 

Atlanta Mural Crackdown Could Be Back

ATLANTA, GA: Local artists are prepared to sue the city of Atlanta. It's over proposed legislation to regulate art on private property that's visible to the public. It would be the second lawsuit over murals this year.The ordinance would require artists to get approval from the city and neighborhood before they paint murals other people would have to live near. Some artists said they're okay with that.

But, Peter Ferrari is not. He already took the city to court once over the mural he painted at the corner of Jackson and Chamberlain Streets and others like it.

That lawsuit involved an old regulation that had been on the books for more than a decade. It was never really enforced until a few months ago. That's when the city told Ferrari and other artists they needed permits for their existing murals. Otherwise, the city said, it could paint over them.

So, the artists hired a lawyer.

"Telling somebody that they have to go through any sort of body of the state before they can put art on their property, to me, is just sort of a glaring violation of the Constitution in general,” Ferarri said.

That first case ended in a settlement. A judge effectively threw out the old mural law.

If the city enacts the new measure, Ferrari and his group said they'll sue again.

Ferrari said he's fine with getting community input on his work. He just thinks formal permits are harmful to free speech and bad for business.

"People are not going to be commissioning murals if they're going to have to go through the city," he said. "It would be a real hit to my livelihood."

But, what if the mural is of a humanoid alligator eating a shark?

Councilmember Joyce Sheperd said her constituents complained a few years ago when a French artist painted that in their neighborhood. That's around the time she began work on the new law.

"Whatever art goes into a community should absolutely have input from the community,” Sheperd said. “We know, in terms of First Amendment rights, that artists have rights, but at least the community should be notified."

Sheperd consulted arts leaders before she drafted her mural proposal, and a number of artists said they support her plan.

She said one reason it took several years to draft the ordinance is that she's been learning from related court cases. Quite a few have popped up over the years, all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court. Sheperd said her plan avoids the constitutional pitfalls other regulations have encountered.

But, WABE Legal Analyst Page Pate isn't so sure.

“It's almost certain to bring another legal challenge,” he said. “The ordinance does appear to try to restrict or limit the free expression of ideas."

Pate said some elements of the measure are stronger than others. For instance, the ordinance would let the city crack down on murals it considers traffic hazards, commercial speech, or obscene. Those kinds of regulations have held up in past court cases, depending on how they're enforced.

But, the law would also take into account aesthetics and a recommendation from a Neighborhood Planning Unit, or NPU.

"It's problematic because there really are no standards, and, if you have an NPU recommendation that they say is based on how it looks, but really is an attempt to regulate free speech, then you run into a concern,” Pate said.

How the city applies the new ordinance could determine whether it's constitutional, Pate added. But, Ferrari and his group won't wait for the enforcement stage. Their lawyer said they'll sue immediately if the city enacts the regulation.

On Tuesday the Atlanta City Council’s Community Development/Human Services Committee is scheduled to discuss the mural proposal. WABE

 

Merchants donate wall space for street art
'The program builds a community-based shared responsibility to prevent crime, such as graffiti, shoplifting, and robbery incidents'

A North Bay business is teaming up with Crimestoppers to provide the area's youth with a place to display their street art skills.

Last summer saw Mac’s StreetArt Program bring street artist Magic Finnga Wong from Toronto to work with sketches from local secondary school art students to produce a mural on the back wall of the Mac’s Convenience Store at the corner of Cassells and O’Brien.

A similar event is scheduled for this morning from 10 a.m. to noon at the Mac’s Convenience Store, 2606 Trout Lake Road.

All materials will be provided to this free event and all are welcome.

"The Mac’s/CircleK StreetART Mural initiative creates strategic partnerships in an effort to help prevent crime and strengthen community relationships," says a news release.

"The program builds a community-based shared responsibility to prevent crime, such as graffiti, shoplifting, and robbery incidents–not only at the store, but on the property as well, Engaging the community, especially the youth, will empower them to make a positive difference and also strengthen relationships between the community and each Mac’s/CircleK store." BayToday

 

Texas Arts Groups Gather Resources for Artists Impacted by Hurricane Harvey
Though most of Houston’s art museums seem to have sustained little damage, many of the city’s artists are facing much more difficult roads to recovery.

HOUSTON, TX: On Friday night, Hurricane Harvey made landfall on Texas’s Gulf coast, wreaking havoc on Houston and the surrounding area over the ensuing days, which have seen record rainfall and deadly flooding. The storm’s toll on property and human life cannot be fully understood yet, nor can its long-lasting impact on the city’s economic and cultural life.

Most of the city’s museums and nonprofit art spaces — including Project Row Houses, the Menil Collection, the Museum of Fine Arts, the Contemporary Arts Museum, the Blaffer Art Museum, and the Houston Center for Contemporary Craft — reported weathering the storm with little to no damage thus far. However, the Theater District’s performance spaces have all taken on water, according to Culture Map Houston.

Meanwhile, the impact on the city’s sizeable art community remains impossible to gauge. For instance, in New York in 2012, while many museums suffered little or no damage from Hurricane Sandy, the impact on artists and their studios — which are often located in more disaster-prone places and don’t benefit from hurricane preparedness protocols — was devastating. As many Houston artists prepare to spend the coming weeks and months drying out supplies, rescuing works, and clearing out flooded studios, local arts nonprofit Fresh Arts and the Texas Commission on the Arts have both compiled exhaustive lists of resources, emergency grants, information, and contact details for artists affected by Hurricane Harvey. Texas art blog Glasstire has helpfully centralized those and many other such resources in a blog post. Hyperallergic