Press materials describing the National Museum of Wildlife Art’s exhibit of field sketches from the American frontier read like the pages of a scholarly tome. So I’m thinking a scholar–namely Adam Duncan Harris, NMWA’s Curator of Art–wrote it.
So it’s quite difficult to improve upon what Harris has already told me.
May 8 – August 29, 2010, visitors to the Museum will have a chance to see “…a veritable snapshot of wildlife roaming the American frontier in the early 1830’s, Swiss artist Karl Bodmer’s detailed field studies made while on expedition up the Missouri River…”
Karl Bodmer’s Western Wildlife: Original Sketches from the Joslyn Art Museum showcases some of the earliest works depicting the American West. The sketches combine the best of two observing schools, Science and Art. In fact, the exhibition has an accompanying, complementary exhibit, Travels in the Interior of North America: Etchings by Karl Bodmer, on display through October 17, 2010.
Studies are often closeted in favor of finished works, and that’s a shame because studies can offer up lively compositions and “first takes,” unfettered by possible over-working. The show presents a fine opportunity for scholars and lay people alike; those who know these sketches exist but do not get a chance to see them will relish the opportunity; those seeing wildlife art for the first time will appreciate its roots.
These sketches represent Bodmer’s observations from 1832 – 1834, while the artist was on the Missouri River Expedition. Bodmer completed studies of animals, birds and reptiles, created either out in the wild or in studio, using deceased animal specimens. Omaha’s Joslyn Art Museum holds a great cache of Bodmer’s original work.
If you read the excellent monthly art magazine Western Art Collector, please take time to read Harris’ excellent essay (April 2010 edition) A Diverse View of the West: Works on Paper. I think Harris is one of the most passionate of curators. He loves the wildlife art genre. Time and time again he has expressed to the public–using either the written word or by giving a talk–his great ability to “see” what we may not immediately be able to describe to ourselves when looking at wildlife art. Harris acknowledges the difficulty artists face trying to keep renderings of wildlife fresh; even when “fresh” is not an element in wildlife art, Harris knows what makes great wildlife art great. And in the case of artist Geordie Millar’s large drawing “Moose #4,” it is simplicity of line and the fact that the artist pushes traditional boundaries by coming close to filling a 60 x 63 inch field with a female (not an antlered male) moose trying to stand.
First sketches often contain an Asian minimalist quality. And that is lovely indeed.
More info: www.wildlifeart.org
While we’re still in NMWA land, I will mention that former NMWA gift shop manager and plein air artist Jen Hoffman is prominently mentioned in the May/June edition of Fine Art Connoisseur, as an Artist to Watch. That is huge. And, this art blogger is proud to be mentioned at the end of that article, in relation to Hoffman’s work and Blurb catalog. Congratulations, Jen!
Artspace Main & Loft Galleries
ONE NIGHT ONLY! | May 7, 2010
An annual favorite, Whodunit is a one-night event exhibiting and selling many dozens (that’s my best estimate) of small works (6 x 6 inches) that sell for $99 each at the close of the evening. The twist is two-fold: 1) Artist identities are unknown 2) Works are sold by lottery to one of the list of bidders listing their name as wanting to purchase the art.
Familiar with many local artists’ styles? Well, you may guess correctly on who created what some of the time…but usually, there are many surprises. Artist names known, artists names not-so-known; it doesn’t matter, the talent and diversity of work is the stuff of legend.
A great fundraiser for the Art Association! Check it out. www.artassociation.org
PS: Summer Classes sign up – Do it! Lots of great classes to be taken, art to be made, creative roads to be traveled. Classes start in June, and that is SOON.