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Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Atlanta: An Underground High

You know I started writing these blog titles in the beginning so I would know exactly what was in the post. Descriptive titles that were helpful. Now I just write titles that make me smile, or that are a play on words, because this is my 2,053 post and really WHO am I kidding finding something that I wrote just by a descriptive title… those days are long gone. On the flip side now I ignore all those silly rules and just be how I want to be.

Today, Mrs. Painter had a full day planned with just us girls. One of the things that we ADORE to do together is visit a museum. I think we have managed to do this most times we have gotten together and it slowly feels like a tradition in the making. Since the museum we were going to, The High Museum of Art, is in downtown Atlanta Mrs. Painter added a few touristy stops into our itinerary. We woke up early and headed out to the door to the Marta, Atlanta’s public transportation rail.

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Our first stop was the High. The building reminded me of The Getty in LALA land. The award winning building designed by Richard Meier and Renzo Piano was modern, all white, a curving beautiful house to hold the renowned collection of classic and contemporary art. I am such a dichotomy, I either like very old well preserved architecture OR I like super modern gorgeous works like this. Anything in between and I am always feeling that something is missing.

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Although Mrs. Painter and I both went to art school and we both know quite a bit about various artists we have very different tastes. We usually can agree on the pieces we like but in general we can never agree on things that we don’t like. I tend to like the classics, or pieces that shimmer with color, or pieces that evoke a strong emotion. Mrs. Painter tends to see the beauty behind what most artists were trying to show and as well as liking the classics she also adores modern art which in general I cannot stand. We however have agreed to disagree although we still snicker occasionally at something the other likes. It is after all art, and art is highly personal and can never please everyone.

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I had over forty pieces that I took photos of that I wanted to share with you. I know I lost my mind. In the editing process I narrowed it down to fourteen. Although this museum didn’t have a ton of the big name classics what it did have were some fantastic pieces that I had only seen in books, and then there were a few artists that I couldn’t recall but loved their work. I think one of the best things for anyone who is an artist, who is a visual creator, or who simply loves beautiful things is to go to museums often. They are such a great muse to get your creative juices flowing or they are perfect to trigger your happiness gene.

Usually there is a statue or two that really catches my eye but I have to say that the statue part of their collection at the High is incredible. Not only did they have a ton of statues that I loved they also had a way of peppering the statues through the entire museum placing them in shafts of natural light rather than in one room all together. This is how statues were intended to be and I think that the placement of specific pieces really gave you the opportunity to really feel its presence.

My first favorite was The Veiled Rebekah by Giovanni Maria Benzoni an Italian artist who carved this delicious sculpture out of marble. First of all not only was the piece stunning, and carved in marble, my favorite medium, it was created with a draped cloth of the veil so perfectly over the statue. Getting a statue to look alive out of marble is difficult enough, getting a layered cloth look like this to feel real made me stand up and applaud.

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THE VEILED REBEKAH, 1864 WHITE MARBLE
BY GIOVANNI MARIA BENZONI (1809-1873)


Sometimes, after seeing so many beautiful things, you may feel a little desensitized to the awesomeness you are seeing. I couldn’t carve something even remotely beautiful from playdoh let alone marble. So sadly sometimes technique falls as something expected and we look for something more in the artwork. Both of these statues for instance, Cleopatra on the left and La Penserosa on the right both caught my eye by the flow of their motion. Both statues feel like a quick capture in mid movement; Cleopatra shifting in her chair for a better position and La Penserosa pausing for a moment in reflection.

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LEFT – CLEOPATRA, 1878 MARBLE
BY WILLIAM WETMORE STORY (1819-1895)
RIGHT – LA PENSEROSA, 1856 MARBLE
HIRAM POWERS (1805-1873)


Both of these next statues show women in stories where their greatest success were strong, brooding mythological figures. The woman on the left depicts Pandora’s curiosity just moments before she opens the vessels lid and brings evil to mankind. The second statue on the right shows Medea, the greek sorceress who punished her unfaithful husband. I liked both for their balance just before doom, the anticipation of the event frozen in marble. They both make me anxious because I know how their stories end.

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LEFT – PANDORA, 1867 MARBLE
BY CHAUNCEY BRADLEY IVES (1810-1894)
RIGHT – MEDEA, 1866 MARBLE
WILLIAM WETMORE STORY (1819-1895)


William Wetmore Story, the sculpture for both the La Penserosa and Medea (above) is a new artist for me. Obviously with two of his works making my top ten list he was WELL liked. I am going to have to do some more research on him. I love finding a new artist to cherish!

P.S. If you are so inclined, and because I couldn’t resist, I am really also loving his Angel of Grief sculpture. See here.

There were a few portraits that I couldn’t resist but love. Rembrandt Peale’s oil, the Portrait of Corneila Van Horn Lansdale, was gorgeous. When you can look at a portrait and love it for its luminescence and beautiful tone, when you can look into someone’s eyes and say YES I can see you, not because it is a beautiful woman or a model but because this woman is REAL, she has LIVED. I just couldn’t say enough fantastic things about Peale’s execution of Mrs. Lansdale. Portrait of Bessie by Albert Herter is very different in execution. It feels less portrait and more feeling. Instead of recording Bessie in her life as she is I feel like we are intruding as she feels in this one moment. The color and the execution are also very lose, pale and contribute to the emotion of the piece.

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LEFT – PORTRAIT OF CORNELIA VAN HORN LANSDALE, 1820 OIL ON CANVAS
BY REMBRANDT PEALE (1778-1860)
RIGHT – PORTRAIT OF BESSIE, 1892 OIL ON CANVAS
BY ALBERT HERTER (1871-1950)


And then, probably because I have baby on the brain and probably because I just adore little rosebud mouths, I couldn’t resist falling in love with Vinch’s Portrait of Nency Destouches. The light that falls on her sweet little checks, her angelic mouth, and her luminescent skin… I swoon!!!

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PORTRAIT OF NENCY DESTOUCHES, 1829 OIL ON CANVAS
BY AUGUSTE-JEAN-BAPTISTE VINCH (1789-1855)


Only two landscapes made it to the final cut. The first Fingal’s Cave by Thomas Moran caught my interest for his slightly similarity to Turner one of my many favorite painters. Moran did a fantastic job of capturing the emotion of the scene. Lose brush strokes, misty sea air, the water writhing on the rocks. I love that I can almost smell this painting, I can almost hear the gulls cry.

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FINGAL’S CAVE, ISLAND OF STAFFA, SCOTLAND, 1884-1885 OIL ON CAVAS
BY THOMAS MORAN (1837-1926)


The second landscape, Edward Bannister’s Apple Trees in a Meadow, is probably my favorite piece of the day. His depiction of the apple trees is moody and filled with luminosity. His brushwork reminds me of the impressionists whom I cannot get enough of. This is a perfect example of reading about a painter in a book, in a classroom, and then forgetting almost everything about him and then seeing a work of art in person and now loving him forever. And now we are at the point where inevitably I wish I could just fill my home with original oils like this. Paintings like these that would make me surely never leave my home again.

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APPLE TREES IN A MEADOW, 1890 OIL ON CANVAS
BY EDWARD BANNISTER (1828-1901)


I make no secret about it, I am not a large fan of modern art, generally when I go to museums I would much rather spend more of my time in any other area of the museum than the modern wing. However when I am dragged, as I was by Mrs. Painter, I do occasionally find a few pieces that I don’t hate, and then I find a few more that I actually like. See Mrs. Painter, you are opening my horizons with your love of modern art. Torch by Norman Lewis feels like a throwback to pointillism with a twist. Using large brush strokes and a variety of bold color choices his interpretation of fire, as a consuming waving flood of color made me happy.

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TORCH, 1960 OIL ON CANVAS
BY NORMAN WILFRED LEWIS (1909-1979)


I think that Paladino caught my attention with Room in a Tempest initially because of his use of bold red, and then I noticed the birds. Sometimes simple things can draw your initial interest which leads you to fall down the rabbit hole. I was trying to figure out what the character in the painting was doing or feeling. I was trying to figure out what the artist was trying to show with the man huddled in a small space with his birds. Paintings like this are open for wide interpretation.

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ROOM IN A TEMPEST, 1984 OIL ON CANVAS
BY MIMMO PALADINO (1984-present)


The next piece was a fantastic display of awesome-sauce. No seriously that is the only word I can think to explain it, because the closer you got the better it became. The gallery placed it at the end of a long room, filled with light, reflecting beautifully everything in its path.

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UNTITLED, 2010 STAINLESS STEEL
BY ANISH KAPOOR, (1954-present)


But it wasn’t until you got much closer that the true coolness shown through. The entire surface is cut in tiny triangles, like a diamond, and all those triangles react like mirrors reflecting back you. It made me smile at first and then laugh out loud with glee. FUN!!!!

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ME ON THE LEFT AND MRS. PAINTER ON THE RIGHT

The last piece that made my short list is a work by El Anatsui who has been a lifelong artist with a wealth of works about his ancient African roots. My favorite of his pieces are the metal wall sculptures and the High had one. Tango is made with thousands of recycled metal pieces, for this it was tops of local liquor bottles, that are almost woven together into a massive large scale wall art. I think his work flows like the fabric of an old family quilt, stitched together with love, flowing like rich cultural silk.

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TANGO, 2006 ALUMINUM AND COPPER WIRE
EL ANTSUI (1944-present)


Both Mrs. Painter and I loved this artist, I know we agreed HURRAH. So you can only imagine days later when Mrs. Painter found the artist featured in her Art magazine. The screech of joy on the beach that day was loud.

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MRS. PAINTER WITH HER ART MAGAZINE SHOWCASING EL ANATSUI

Although Mrs. Painter and I could have stayed and debated works at the High for a week we had a few more stops to make and the day was getting late. We walked back to the Marta to go to our next location.

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Mrs. Painter decided to take me to Underground Atlanta. I know it sounds weird but it is true there is a little city under Downtown Atlanta. Making use of old train lines where ducts were built over the cities many railway tracks there are pockets of empty areas that were no longer needed after the railway boom ended. The area was forgotten about for decades until in the 1960s people were surprised that the decorative brickwork, granite archways, cast iron work and streetlamps were remarkably still intact. Dubbed as the “city beneath the city” a plan was made to restore and reopen the stores. Now open to stores, restaurants and nightclubs Underground Atlanta is full of fun. A real tourist trap for sure but something cool to see too.

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We wandered around a while and I kept getting distracted by things. There was a guy who would airbrush anything you wanted on a t-shirt that was quite talented. There was an old man juggling for a buck. There was some gypsy looking fortune tellers that I had read reviews on that I was tempted to try. Mrs. Painter kept dragging me along assuring me that we could stop somewhere on the way back. She is so smart because if we had stopped at all those things I would have never found the GEM of Underground Atlanta; Exotic Paradise Underground Atlanta.

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It was a stand with 14 exotic birds. Macaws and parrots I expect but in his arsenal he had two owls, an Eurasian Eagle Owl and a Spectacled Owl. I simply COULD NOT resist. I would have loved to have held both, the decision was almost too hard to make. The Eurasian Eagle owl however was small. It ended up being a male and a baby at that so in the end I picked the Spectacled Owl to hold.

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EURASIAN EAGLE OWL ON THE LEFT, SPECTACLED OWL ON THE RIGHT

The man working there put on a gigantic heavy glove (those claws are NO JOKE), posed me and then placed the bird on my hand. He was much lighter than I had thought he would be, but I guess after all they are all feathers, it was my first owl I ever held and with all the owling I have been doing recently it was even more special.

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I WAS ONE HAPPY GIRL

After visiting Underground Atlanta we headed into downtown, up the stairs from the underground and into the sunshine. Our first stop was the CNN center where we nabbed a quick bite to eat and then some yummy ice cream. You cannot believe how many screens that they had in that place. A little over the top!

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It was really strange, when we went into the CNN center the day was lovely, all blue sky and puffy white clouds. Not a half hour later we left to make our way to the Centennial Olympic park nearby the sky was covered in disaster. Storms brewing on the East Coast are no joke. That bad boy brewing didn’t look fun to get stuck in so we did what any sensible people we do, we HUSTLED to the park so I could take a quick peek.

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We made it in time for five minutes of looking around at the park but sadly the Olympic fountain that Mrs. Painter really wanted me to see was off. We finally found a sign that stated that the fountains hours had ended about 15 minutes before we got there. SAD DAYS!!! The top right is a photo I nabbed from online somewhere, it shows it actually on. AH well it was only a little snafu in an otherwise perfect day. NOW for the run back to the Marta before the skies pour down on us. It was time to get home and put the ole tootsies up for the day.

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2 comments:

Mrs Painter said...

Cute title for this post! Just to refresh your memory, you stated that your taste in art was "selective". I, however, called it "limited"....in all seriousness, I learn a lot from you. I would never have given the crystal punch bowl a second look on my own, but it was stunning! What a GREAT day that was, so energizing. Thank you for chronicling it forever in text and photos:)

Jennifer Arens said...

Looks like a lovely day! What a cool owl shot!

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