What brought me here today:
Last Sunday, Berin and I went to the Delaware Art Museum. It was our first trip to this museum. It’s free admission on Sunday. The busses don’t run on Sunday to that particular part of Wimington, so we walked. It was around 6 kilometers (approx. 3 miles) round trip. It was a nice sunny day for a walk. It was a little windy though. My windbreaker kept me nice and warm during our time outside walking.
I didn’t realise how incredibly convenient the centrally located museums were in Jyväskylä until now. The Jyväskylän Taidemuseo and the Suomen Käsityön Museo are both less than an American city block’s distance from where the #12 bus would let me off downtown. Fridays were free museum days. With the central location, Berin and I were very frequent museum visitors. We didn’t have a lot of money, but many times purchases small items, like postcards, from the gift shop. This helped us feel like we were contributing at least a little to the museums financially.
The Delaware Art Museum is a lovely museum. It’s beautifully situated and has had larger, more modern wings (galleries) added. I was quite impressed with the exhibits that they had to offer currently. As well as the other fascillities, like the gift shop and cafe. The staff were all welcoming and helpful as well. Free Sunday admissions continue through the end of this month*. Berin and I will be walking to the museum for the next two Sundays to re-visit exhibitions and to see what we haven’t gotten to see yet.
There were exhibits that Berin and I are eager to see again. One is Afro-American Images 1971: The Vision of Percy Ricks. I don’t think I can adequately put into words how incredibly amazing this exhibit is. There’s an array of styles and mediums that are so, so, so impressive. I’m personally drawn to the more modern styles, of which there are just breath-takingly sublime offerings. Humbert Howards work in particular evokes a physical response from me. I would like to purchase a poster of his painting Black Orpheus (1969) for our apartment.
This exhibit is a recreation of the Wilmington Armory show in 1971. Originally, Percy Ricks approached the Delaware Art Museum to show the exhibit in 1971. The museum didn’t even respond to him. The exhibit went ahead and was shown at the Armory in the Little Italy neighbourhood in Wilmington. Here’s an eye-opening article from NPR with more of the history of the exhibit. I recommend reading it. The amazing contributions to visual art that so many Black MUST be acknowledged. And made part of the historical artistic record!
Belonging and separation:
I cannot remember a time in which I didn’t feel at home in an art museum. From an incredibly early age, I went to museums with my parents and family. These trips were integral in helping me to become the artist and art teacher that I am today. My eyes opened to different places, people, and time periods. All in a way that was unique to visual art mediums. I love strolling through galleries filled with artwork made by other artists. Getting to see what’s inside their creative minds. I’m surrounded by kindred minds and spirits of fellow artists.
As I’ve grown older, the feeling of belonging has becomed tempered with a feeling of distance. A feeling of belonging and separation at the same time is hard to explain. I don’t know that I can adquately explain it even to myself. Sometimes I think it’s merely the venue of the museum that’s creating these conflicting feelings. But I’m not sure.
Experiences will differ:
Being a visitor to an art museum is a different experience for every individual. Dewey’s Art as Experience covers a lot of how individuals react and interact with art. The book is not an easy read. I love Dewey too. But man! This book is a hard chew! I’m more drawn to Duchamp’s explanation of art interaction. Badly paraphrased it goes something like this: art changes according to the person viewing it.
As an art creator, I have working knowledge of many different artistic mediums. When I look at a lithograph I have practical experience. Stone lithography is something that I’ve personally done. I have the ability to actually feel what it’s like to grind a stone down. The sweet, oily smell of the ink. How the press feels when I turn the press wheel. The little ‘thunk’ noise that can happen when you’ve cranked a little too far, and the roller comes off the stone. All of this adds to my overall personal experience of the art before even considering the image or object I’m looking at.
All of these viseral reactions are a part of how I personally experience that art in museums. It can help me connect with an artist and their work. While at the same time making me question why my own art work will never be considered good enough or relavent enough to be be displayed in a museum. OH! Then my imposter syndrome kicks into high gear. All these emotions make me feel like a fat, whiny baby. And then I want to go home and crawl into my art midden to hide.
I should have gone left at Albuquerque:
I’m a person who has made art history and the creation of art a central part of my life. It should be no wonder that I do think about how or even if I become at least a very minor artist footnote. Maybe. Perhaps. I don’t know. Then I get thinky about what will happen to my artwork in the future. This is when I become mentally axle-wrapped and write a blog post about how going to a local art museum has given me a tiny existential crisis.
I’m sitting in my art midden right now writing this blog post. I’m surrounded by my artwork and art supplies. My chair is comfortable. I’m wearing my super-cute teddy bear socks to keep my feet warm. There’s a sunny day outside of my window. When I’m finished with this blog post, I’ll return to working on Eugenie, Phyllis, and Sondra for the remainder of my work day.
I will continue to think about my recent trip to the Delaware Art Museum. And how much I’m looking forward to walking over again this Sunday. Where I will stand in front of amazing pieces of artwork that make my heart and mind each sing two different songs that sometime clash and sometimes harmonize.
Thank you for reading, and I’ll see you again next Tuesday.
* The museum is located in a part of town that is quite wealthy. As much as I enjoyed my trip to this museum, I think it’s strange that the one day a week in which the museum is free is on a day in which no busses runs anywhere near it. I cannot help but interpret this as a means of keeping the museum and it’s artwork for people who don’t live on my side of town. And by ‘my side of town’, I mean a much poorer side of town. This is my own personal observation. And even admitting it to myself made me feel the incredible socioeconomic divide between the part of town where the museum is and my own apartment.