Oct 30, 2018

Cool Weather a great time to visit an Art Museum

Let’s face it.  Winter is coming.  Happens every year but that doesn’t mean the traveling has to stop.  There are many great
indoor places that are warm, snugly and interesting to visit. You don’t have to be an art enthusiast to enjoy an art museum; in fact, I am willing to guarantee even those who usually shy away from art museums will find something of interest and, who knows, maybe, learn to like something new. When I took my grand kids to the art museum in Cleveland we signed up for the children’s tour. It was fascinating.  We all learned.  A docent tour is important as they point out things one might not normally notice.

On our recent trip to Ithaca we visited the Johnson Museum of Art. We often take docent tours but this time we started on the top floor and worked our way down.  The museum has something of interest to everyone – trust me. The top floor of the unique building (can’t miss it as it is the tallest building around) has excellent views of Cornell and the surrounding area. Their collection is eclectic featuring art from all area and time periods.  We spend a lot of time in Asia and I am still trying to unravel the mysteries of the Hindu iconography and pantheon.  I do recognize Ganesh and know why he has the head of elephant.  I am not telling… you can look it up – great story. Ganesh is considered the remover of obstacles, patron of the arts and science, god of intellect and wisdom. 

I enjoy art museums but I am not even remotely art savvy. I do like Botero’s works because I can easily identify his non-svelte figures plus there is always some sort of humor even if I miss his message.  In this case the bulbous figure dressed like a child is smoking a cigarette aptly titled “Little Girl Smoking a Cigarette.” Several of his pieces show people smoking so I decided that he is trying to say it is foolish for people to smoke but I guess it is open to individual interpretation.

Interpretation is one of the fascinating aspects of art – and life!
Such was the case with the 18th century painting, “View of Roseau Valley” by Agostino Brunias. It is the island of Dominica showing Africans, Carib Indians, and Creole Planters. Cornell professors of four different disciplines were asked to view the painting and give their interpretations. Brilliant! One saw it as an example of Imperial Social Engineering (slavery to the benefit of the governing country). Another saw the economic relationship between raising sugar and agriculture while yet another focused on the textile making and trade.  Another saw the gentrification of the elite society juxtaposed with the violence of slavery. I would like to see more museums do this.  I think it is important to see all sides of an issue and looking at art is a good way to start. Wonder what the artist was trying to portray.

One does not have to go to Ithaca to see great art. Oswego’s Tyler Art Gallery has three locations: on the SUNY Oswego campus, downtown Oswego, and on their Syracuse campus. Their collection represents a wide range of artistic voices and points of view.  The Everson in Syracuse, an I. M. Pei design, is home to an internationally recognized ceramic collection. Don’t forget local artists. Check out the Art Association of Oswego and visit the Common’s Riverside Artisans.