Archive for the 'Permanent Collection' Category

Back to School: Art Appreciation at the Gibbes

Museum Educators at the Gibbes Museum

Museum Educators Elise Detterbeck, Pat Burgess, Martha Criscuolo, Barbie Kratovil, and Mary Droge.

Once the school buses have parked, their exuberant passengers spill out onto Meeting Street and over the steps of the museum. We, their guides, are the first face of the Gibbes, and set the tone for their ensuing adventure. After negotiating 45–50 rambunctious students into 2 or 3 somewhat orderly lines, we’re ready to start the journey through our galleries. For most, it’s the first time they’ve been to the Gibbes, and therein lies the challenge. If this is to be successful—and hopefully spark an interest that may not be kindled were it not for this opportunity—how do you grab their imagination? How do you intertwine South Carolina and Charleston history, with its art and artists, in a memorable way in just 45 minutes?!

The collection is presented in chronological order, so usually we split groups: one starting with the earliest eighteenth century works; one in the nineteenth century; and one in the modern and contemporary galleries. It’s always so interesting to hear the children’s comments as they march along, gazing left and right down the hall of portraits; weaving around that dazzling silver soup tureen; entering the large room with the huge reclining figure of a woman in green; veering left, and finally heading up the stairs. Once settled in front of our first object, the fun begins when I ask the students questions to elicit their ideas about what they’re looking at.

Museum Educator Elise Detterbeck and students in the galleries.

Museum Educator Elise Detterbeck and students in the galleries.

Together we start a dialogue. Why is it important to actually see works of art up close and personal; to look at the brush strokes and notice how the paint or watercolor is applied, lines drawn, and shapes created? I ask the group to notice the subject’s face and hands: are they realistic or abstract? And what about the landscapes: do they appear detailed or impressionistic? We compare and contrast the different techniques. The hope is to instill in these young onlookers an appreciation for the everyday beauty of life. This visit may start the journey for some, who will discover a creative outlet to express themselves. For others, the experience may heighten their awareness of the artistry in one’s surroundings.

As funding for the arts nationwide has diminished, it is more and more difficult for schools to take field trips like these to museums. So this fall, some of the museum educators at the Gibbes will be heading out into surrounding South Carolina schools to take the museum on the road with the “Eye Spy” program, generously sponsored by the C. Louis Meyer Foundation. Each of us will be assigned to a different elementary school, where we’ll visit the third-grade art class once a month during the school year, ending with a visit to the museum. The concept is to familiarize students with art elements, techniques, and mediums by studying works of art from both the Gibbes collection and those of other museums. The hope is that multiple sessions with the same group of students will re-enforce and encourage an interest in art; and as I alluded to before, engender an appreciation of the artistry in everyday life. Sharing great works of art with young learners is both the joy, and the challenge, that makes what we do at the Gibbes so never-endingly rewarding.

Barbie Kratovil, Museum Educator, Gibbes Board Member, and guest blogger

From the Archives: Artist Sketchbooks

Alice Ravenel Huger Smith sketchbook, ca. 1920s

Cover of Alice Ravenel Huger Smith's sketchbook, ca. 1920s.

An artist’s sketchbook can offer intimate glimpses into his or her creative process. These graphic experiments and doodles reveal interesting aspects of an artist’s training, travels, and sources of inspiration. Currently three artists’ sketchbooks are on view in the Gibbes galleries alongside their finished works including those of Charles Fraser (1782–1860), Prentiss Taylor (1907–1991), and Mary Whyte (b.1953; sketchbook on loan with the exhibition Mary Whyte: Working South). Sketchbooks are as varied as the artists who create them and the Gibbes Archives is fortunate to have a broad selection representing key artists in the permanent collection.

A View of the Church in Saint Andrew's Parish, from untitled sketchbook, 1796–1805, by Charles Fraser (American, 1782–1860)

A View of the Church in Saint Andrew's Parish, from untitled sketchbook, 1796–1805, by Charles Fraser

The Gibbes owns several of Charles Fraser’s sketchbooks. Known primarily for his compelling miniature portraits these sketchbooks—begun when Fraser was just fourteen years old—are mostly comprised of watercolor or pen and ink landscape sketches depicting the plantation homes of friends and family, and rural parish churches.

Joseph Jackson sketchbook, ca. 1847, by Joseph Jackson (American, 1796–1850)

Sketches of sitters, ca. 1847, by Joseph Jackson (American, 1796–1850)

A bound scrapbook, in which miniature painter Joseph Jackson (1796–1850) collected sketches of his sitters, provides important information about Jackson’s working methods. Some sketches appear as the initial sketch in pencil and concentrate primarily on the facial features. Others, on cards and occasionally on ivory, are more fully worked up. Jackson may have used this latter group to entice prospective clients, as he stated in an announcement in the Courier, “. . . he will be happy to exhibit specimens of his painting, to those Ladies and Gentlemen who may favor him with their calls. Miniature likenesses highly finished on ivory of the smallest sizes, suitable for lockets, breast pins, etc.”

Henry Benbridge sketchbook, ca. 1765–1769, by Henry Benbridge (American, 1743–1812)

A page from a sketchbook, ca. 1765–1769, by Henry Benbridge (American, 1743–1812)

The drawings found in Henry Benbridge’s (1743–1812) sketchbook were made between 1765 and 1769 while the artist traveled through Italy. They reveal his interest in antiquity and depict images he took from antique cameos, vases, statuary, and architecture. Meanwhile, Prentiss Taylor’s sketchbook contains numerous pencil drawings he made during his first trip to Charleston in 1933. He later claimed in a letter, “I arrived on the Clyde-Mallory Line Steamer about the end of May 1933… I was lent the Pink House on Chalmers Street & I was able to stay until Labor Day. I spent most of my time sketching, up one side of the street & down the other.” Many of the sketches seen in his book are reflected in his final lithographs.

Magnolia Leaves from an Alice Ravenel Huger Smith sketchbook, ca. 1920s, by Alice Ravenel Huger Smith (1876–1958)

Magnolia Leaves from an Alice Ravenel Huger Smith sketchbook, ca. 1920s

Alice Ravenel Huger Smith (1876–1958) kept numerous sketchbooks that she carried on long walks through the countryside to record different topics and locations. She closely studied all aspects of nature from leaves and grasses to birds in flight, and made drawings of each from various perspectives.

Gallery View of Mary Whyte: Working South

A gallery view of Whyte's tools and sketchbooks on display in Mary Whyte: Working South.

For art historians these sketchbooks are a window to an artist’s inspirations and processes. I am personally fascinated by the artist’s notes to themselves that accompany many of the drawings, as well as their steadfast focus on capturing certain elements of a subject through repeated sketching attempts. Sketching is integral to an artist’s development and I love walking through our galleries seeing young artists with their own sketchbooks finding inspiration in the paintings on view. Do you carry a sketchbook or journal to capture ideas or occurrences in your day-to-day life?

Sara Arnold, curator of collections, Gibbes Museum of Art

Make way for Minis: My Summer with the Miniature Portrait Collection

James Butler Campbell, Jr., 1845, by Charles Fraser    Eliza Huger Dunkin (Mrs. Percy Gamble Kammerer), 1923, by Leila Waring    Nathaniel Russel, 1818, by Charles Fraser
As this summer’s curatorial and collections intern I could not believe my luck when I found out I would be spending part of the summer getting acquainted with the Gibbes’ miniature portrait collection—the highly esteemed collection is the third largest in the country and I was getting the opportunity to see every single piece. I knew that part of my summer internship would be focused on collections inventory and, for some, the prospect of inventory may seem dull, but I found myself excited by the prospect of spending time in painting storage, surrounded by so much art, methodically inspecting miniature after miniature. I loved looking at the individual details of each portrait, getting to study the different historical outfits and hairstyles while imagining the personality of the subjects. Like looking through an album of old photographs, these small faces gave me a glimpse into another time, a time before digital cameras or Facebook albums—if someone wanted a portable image of their mother, father, spouse, child, or even themselves, these portraits were it!

Intern Allison Murphy examines miniatures from the Gibbes collection.

Intern Allison Murphy examines miniatures from the Gibbes collection.

The sizes of the works were captivating. Some of the portraits are small enough to have been worn as jewelry, a fact that gives the works an additional layer of allure: I couldn’t help but think “who wore these” and “for what occasion?” Handling the portraits also gave me an opportunity to see the backs of each one where intricately braided locks of hair are sometimes framed.

With the upcoming renovations and expansions to the Gibbes Museum, a large portion of the miniature portrait collection is going to be moving out of storage and into the public eye, so viewers will be able to experience, in greater volume, the charm of these small works. Especially built open storage cases are going to be designed for each work in the collection—a fact that has given me even more face time with these little guys. It has been part of my job this summer to re-measure certain portraits in the collection—ones with larger frames or cases so those measurements can be updated in our records. I have been entrusted with the handling of these works—taking them out of storage and to our prep area where I re-measure and photograph each one.

Once the Museum renovations are complete, visitors will be able to spend more time getting to know the miniatures, so they, too, can discover what I have this summer—that the Gibbes’ smallest works have some of the biggest personalities!

Allison Murphy, curatorial intern and guest blogger

Artist Spotlight: Prentiss Taylor

Experience Meeting, Macedonia A.M.E., 1934, by Prentiss Taylor
Experience Meeting, Macedonia A.M.E., 1934

This summer a small exhibition of works by the fascinating American Scene lithographer, Prentiss Taylor, will be featured in Gallery H at the Gibbes. Born in Washington, D.C., Prentiss Taylor (1907–1991) began his art studies at the Corcoran Gallery of Art, followed by painting classes under Charles Hawthorne in Provincetown, Massachusetts, and training at the Art Students League in New York. In 1931, Taylor joined a lithography class at the League and quickly discovered great satisfaction working in this graphic medium, later recalling, “with the first magic feeling of the crayon on the fine grain of the stone, I knew that I was at home in lithography.”* He produced 142 lithographs over the course of his career.

Carpet Bagger's Grandeur, Sullivan's Island, 1937, by Prentiss Taylor
Carpet Bagger’s Grandeur, Sullivan’s Island, 1937

In addition to his interest in the visual arts, Taylor interacted and collaborated with many writers and musicians. His time in New York during the late 1920s and early 1930s coincided with the emergence of the Harlem Renaissance and Taylor was one of a few white artists active in this literary and artistic movement. Among his close friends and collaborators during this period were photographer and writer Carl Van Vecthen, and poet Langston Hughes.

Charleston Battery, 1934, by Prentiss Taylor   Prentiss Taylor, 1933, by Carl Van Vecthen
Charleston Battery, 1934                                     Prentiss Taylor, 1933, by Carl Van Vecthen

At age twenty, Taylor met Charleston novelist, Josephine Pinckney, at the MacDowell artists’ colony in Peterborough, New Hampshire. Their ensuing friendship prompted Taylor to visit Charleston in 1933; “I arrived on the Clyde-Mallory Line Steamer about the end of May 1933…I was lent the Pink House on Chalmers Street & I was able to stay until Labor Day. I spent most of my time sketching, up one side of the street & down the other.” Taylor returned to the city in 1934 under the auspices of the Public Works of Art Project (PWAP) a predecessor to the Work Progress Administration’s Federal Art Project. He executed numerous prints and several watercolors of Charleston and the surrounding Lowcountry—some for the PWAP and some for himself. He maintained close ties to the city for the remainder of his life.

This exhibition featuring several of Taylors lithographs and watercolors of Charleston will be on view until September 1, 2012.

Sara Arnold, curator of collections, Gibbes Museum of Art

*Prentiss Taylor to Gwen Davis, June 1, 1981, Artists Files, Prentiss Taylor, Gibbes Museum of Art.

The Gibbes Goes Global!

Last month, the Gibbes, along with 151 other museums of the world, began sharing its historic collection with a global audience through the Google Art Project. Officially launched on April 3, 2012, the Art Project is a unique collaboration between Google and the world’s most respected and acclaimed museums, enabling visitors to virtually explore museums, discover and view hundreds of artworks online at incredible zoom levels, and even create and share their own collection of masterpieces with a few clicks of a mouse. The Gibbes is one of 151 museums in the world participating in The Art Project, of which 29 are in the United States, and 2 are in the Southeast.

Gibbes logo on the Art Project screen in the Musee d'Orsay, Paris.

The Gibbes logo lights up the screen during the Google Art Project press conference at the Musée d'Orsay, Paris.

The Gibbes was invited to participate in this exciting new endeavor last August. We knew that the Google Art Project would offer an unprecedented international platform to show-off our collection so our goal was to feature some of the true treasures our collection has to offer. In order to demonstrate the long history and stellar quality of art in the South, we chose a diverse, cross-section of works to represent our collection, from easel paintings to miniature portraits, sculpture, and watercolors. Over forty works from the Gibbes Museum are highlighted on the site and more will be featured in the future.

For this phase of the project, we received final specifications for uploading our data and images of works of art in November 2011. Our team worked feverishly through December to finalize selections and format our data according to Google’s program specifications for the January deadline. Thanks to our social media expert and program and events manager, Lasley Steever, who promoted the vision and helped me coordinate many of the technical aspects of the project with Google representatives; Joyce Baker, curatorial assistant, who handled the formatting of image files; and our dedicated volunteer Rebecca Hiester, who assisted me and curator Pam Wall with the details of inputting and proofing data fields, we are now virtually in the company of the world’s most revered museums!

Angela Mack, Gibbes Executive Director, at the press conference in Chicago.

Gibbes Executive Director Angela Mack attended the Art Project press conference at The Art Institute, Chicago.

Launch parties were held in Chicago, Illinois, at The Art Institute, and in Paris, France, at the Musée d’Orsay, and were attended by museum representatives from all over the world including Gibbes staff members Angela Mack, executive director, and Lasley Steever, respectively.

I hope you will take time to peruse the works of art included in the Art Project. Visitors to the site can view works across museum collections, search by artist and medium, and zoom in to images to see fine details. Make your own gallery of favorites and share it with our online community via Facebook, Twitter, or in the comments field below.

—Sara Arnold, Curator of Collections, Gibbes Museum of Art

Career Day

I recently had the pleasure of speaking to my son’s second grade class at Blessed Sacrament School as part of their 2012 Career Day. I love talking about what I do and enjoy watching people of all ages consider (often for the first time) what goes on behind the scenes in a museum. As Director of Collections Administration, one of my primary responsibilities is care of the art collection. Whether art objects are on the walls, in storage, moving throughout the museum or traveling nationally or internationally, it is my job to make sure they are safe and cared for properly. It is a great job and I was excited to share my experiences with a lively group of 7 and 8 year olds. I decided to present a modified version of the Behind-the-Scenes Program that Greg Jenkins, Operations Director and Preparator, and I have been offering at the museum for several years. My collections road show included several examples of archival storage containers which prompted discussion on how we preserve (a new word for second graders) art work in a museum. I also brought several small, easily transportable works from the collection to review the proper way to handle art. Miniature portraits were a big hit with this group; the children were amazed by the extraordinary details miniature portraitists produced using water color paint (a medium familiar to second graders).

Showing the class a 19th century miniature portrait painted with water color on ivory

Showing the class a 19th-century miniature portrait painted with water color on ivory.

As part of the program, I also had a selection of reproduction miniature portraits. Each child chose one of these pieces to examine more closely. I explained that all works in the collection have a computer record. These records contain information about the object including its identification number, title, the name of the artist who created it, the object’s location in the museum, a thorough description of the object and notes on its physical condition. The process of recording and describing an object is referred to as cataloging; references to its condition are the condition report. I asked each child to describe their miniature portrait (what the sitter was wearing, hair color, background) and also look for any condition problems (scratches to the frame, loose glass, etc.) Cataloging and creating condition reports are a daily part of my job; this exercise gave the class a basic idea of the process. With their observant eyes, the children provided detailed descriptions of their miniatures and alerted me to many flaws on the frames of our reproduction collection.

BSS second graders Leo Sparacino, Lauren Nadeau and Maria Alexander consider their miniature portraits.

BSS second graders Leo Sparacino, Lauren Nadeau, and Maria Alexander consider their miniature portraits.

Throughout the program I encouraged questions and was both amused and amazed by the variety of queries. Below are a few of my favorites from the Blessed Sacrament second grade.

Q: What would happen if you went to get a painting [from a borrowing institution] and took the wrong one home? (This question was in response to my description of outgoing loans and the fact that I occasionally travel with works from our collection when they are borrowed by other museums.)

A: Great question! If I took home the wrong painting I would probably be in big trouble because it would mean I was not paying attention. Every painting in the Gibbes collection has its own individual identification number called an accession number. The accession number can be found directly on each painting or work on paper. When retrieving a painting from a borrowing institution I have images of the painting as well as the accession number to make certain I take the correct work of art!

Q: Do you run the whole museum? Do you have any help or do you take care of all 10,000 works by yourself?

A: More good questions! I most certainly do not run the entire museum. We have thirteen full-time staff members at the Gibbes, several part-time employees and multitudes of dedicated volunteers and auxiliary groups. All of these individuals form “the Gibbes” and do everything from manage the staff to raise funds for museum operations, create exhibitions and educational programs, organize and manage museum events, keep the building and artwork secure, process museum memberships, oversee finances, lead group tours and much, much more! The Gibbes Museum is fortunate to have such a great team.

The short answer to the second question is yes, I do have help taking care of the art collection! While I oversee the details surrounding care and movement of the objects, there are other members of the curatorial, collections and security staff that help out. For example, Greg Jenkins, our long time museum preparator, hangs all the works in the galleries and makes sure that they are secure on the walls. Our curators contribute to the care of artwork by thoroughly researching the provenance of each piece and sharing that information with the public. They also choose what works will be hung in the exhibitions and decide how they will be arranged, keeping in mind the different sizes and types of objects and how they fit together. And of course our security team plays a huge role in helping me care for our collection. You can find the security crew in the galleries and behind-the-scenes keeping a watchful eye on the artwork.

Q: Do you take care of artwork like you take care of your children?

A: My answer to this is “not exactly.” However, there are similarities in caring for artwork and caring for children. As a parent, it is my responsibility to know where my children are and who is caring for them. Similarly, as Director of Collections Administration, I need to know where the artwork is (what gallery, what storage location, what other venue) and keep track of any location changes. As a parent I make sure that my children are always in a safe environment (at home, at school, with friends). Likewise, at work I constantly monitor the environment in which we exhibit and store the art collection. Museums maintain specific temperature, humidity and light levels to prolong the life of an object. Finally, when my children take a trip, I make sure they are prepared to travel, pack their suitcases and arrange details of how our family will get to our destination. Similarly, when artwork leaves the museum, I oversee all the details regarding packing and transportation to its destination. While I do not pack a suitcase for a painting going out on loan, I do make certain that it is clean, fit for travel, has an appropriate shipping container and is looking its best!

An example of a miniature portrait case which contains a lock of the sitter’s hair.

An example of a miniature portrait case, which contains a lock of the sitter’s hair.

Q: Have you ever seen a miniature portrait with pet hair in the back of the case?

A: This question arose after an extensive discussion of miniature portraits and the surprises that are often found on the backs of miniature cases. I brought a miniature from the museum’s collection that had a lock of the sitter’s hair in a special compartment on the back of the case. This sentimental nineteenth century tradition fascinated the children and generated much speculation as to why people did this. Regarding the question about pet hair, I have seen miniature portraits of animals (we have a lovely miniature by Leila Waring of her cat Dick) but have not come across one that contained a lock of the pet’s hair. I will keep an eye out!

Dick, 1910, by Leila Waring (American 1876–1964). 2008.005.0001

Dick, 1910, by Leila Waring (American 1876–1964). 2008.005.0001

Q: Why don’t you have enough space to show all the paintings in the collection?

A: I informed the second graders that at present, the Gibbes is only able to display about 2-4% of the permanent collection. The reason we cannot exhibit more works is that we are simply out of space. The existing museum building was constructed in 1905 when the art collection contained significantly fewer works. While more gallery space was added over the years the current layout can only accommodate a certain number of works. We rotate objects every six months to give the public a wider view of the depth and breadth of the permanent collection but long for more exhibition space. Thankfully, the Gibbes is headed for a major building renovation and expansion that will finally provide more room to exhibit and store the collection! We are excited to share a larger number of objects from the Gibbes collection once the renovation is complete. Stay tuned for future posts on this exciting project!

Q: Do you work on the weekends?

A: This question made me laugh but the class felt it was extremely important. No, I do not generally work on the weekends. However, there are occasions when a large exhibition installation with a tight schedule necessitates weekend hours to finish on time. There are also occasions where incoming art shipments must occur on a weekend due to the lenders schedule, the shipping route or the numbers and size of crated works. I am always front and center (along with Greg Jenkins) for those weekend deliveries.

Speaking at the Blessed Sacrament Career Day was a great experience. The children were genuinely interested in my job at the Gibbes and their enthusiasm was infectious. Describing your daily work to children and fielding their many questions is a great way to gain perspective on the importance of what we as museum professionals accomplish each day and why we do it. Many of the children told me I had the coolest job in the world. Without hesitation, I have to agree.

Zinnia Willits, Director of Collections Administration

It’s All in the Details

Second Floor Main Entrance Wall

The building design process for the Gibbes’ renovation is getting much busier these days. We are all juggling many aspects of the project at the same time but everyone is very excited about our results. Design ideas for both the Museum Store and new Café are moving into more finalized proposals. The Store will have illuminated displays in each of the Meeting Street windows and the new cabinetry and lighting will really highlight the beautiful merchandise. I have been reviewing current trends in museum gift shops all over the east coast, and I feel that we will have something very special in Charleston. The Café plan is becoming more defined—with input on the prep and service areas being provided by one of the major restaurant equipment companies in the area. The look of the Café is also changing. I want to stay true to impressive Beaux-Arts architecture of the original building but create a space that will encourage visitors to relax and enjoy the community environment of the café. I have been inspired by the numerous cafés in many of the Washington, DC museums. Our plans include a large community table at the center of the Café surrounded by a series of three or four banquettes nestled into the reopened Meeting Street windows. The Café and Museum Store will be open to visitors without paying admission, which is a key aspect of the newly renovated first floor open corridor spaces.

The first floor art classrooms are well into the planning stages—ready for the architects to insert into the final design document. We’ve invited a few artist friends of the museum to help conceptualize the professional artist studios in an attempt to guarantee that we get it right the first time. The curators and I are refining the plans for the second floor galleries to tell a visual narrative from the early history of southern art through to current developments and trends in contemporary art. And we are finally developing elevation drawings that will be used to create a 3-D model of the second floor galleries with all of the artworks in place. This next step will bring the future galleries to life so that we can share more concretely how the museum displays will be completely transformed.

Back in the first floor main corridor, beautiful reproduction pendant light fixtures will be installed down the long hallway. From old photographs in the museum archive, we know these new pendant fixtures are a similar design to the originals that hung in the corridor, and they will relate to the restored originals in the second floor colonnade. Museum visitors will be able to walk from the Museum Store and Café at the front of the building, past the classrooms and studio spaces, and into the newly renovated reception gallery and lecture hall at the garden end of the building. Flexible lighting options in the rooms at the rear of the building will increase their multipurpose functionality and we hope will create an appealing event space leading to the glass-covered back porch and the new sculpture garden.

Second Floor Main Entrance Wall (Front)

A major step in the process is the development of a completely new lighting system for all of the galleries and public spaces, which is being designed by Anita Jorgensen from New York. The LED lighting she has specified for most public areas of the building will enhance the artworks and transform the space—showing the original intent of the artists and architects. The Rotunda gallery and Tiffany Dome will be lit from above and below with LED and fluorescent lighting. I expect the illumination techniques we have planned for the stained-glass dome will result in the most perfect likeness to its original installation in 1905. Imagine the Rotunda’s original tessera tile floor, which relates to the ceiling’s Beaux-Arts architectural details and mimics the design of the dome itself, once it is restored and beautifully lit!

As I have been doing during each visit, Angela and I spoke with museum friends and supporters about the plans for the future for the Gibbes. With each event, we have received great responses and suggestions. I am impressed with our supporters ideas and their passionate concerns about the new Gibbes. As these concepts continue to develop, I look forward to sharing them with you on this blog. I honestly can’t wait until we start the restorations and reconstructions!

Jeff Daly, museum designer and guest blogger

Seven Reasons to See The Art of Alfred Hutty: Woodstock to Charleston (January 20 – April 22, 2012)

As an intern reporting to Sara Arnold, Curator of Collections, I spent the fall at the Gibbes adapting text from the book The Life and Art of Alfred Hutty: Woodstock to Charleston for the exhibit The Art of Alfred Hutty: Woodstock in Charleston. Below are my seven reasons this show is one not to miss:

1. Numbers don’t lie! A banner number—over 400—Gibbes members who came out for the opening of the retrospective cannot be wrong…

2. Alfred Hutty was a foremost figure of the Charleston Renaissance. In the second quarter of the twentieth century, a period with more than it’s share of cataclysmic activity around the world, the Holy City was a hotbed of artistic activity, both home-grown and migrant.

Jenkins Band (no. 2), by Alfred Hutty

Jenkins Band (no. 2), ca. 1933, by Alfred Hutty. Drypoint on paper, 10.5 x 9.75 in. Gibbes Museum of Art, Gift of Mrs. Alfred Hutty (1955.07.24)

3. Yet, Hutty is UNLIKE many Charleston Renaissance artists. Non-native Alfred Hutty (American, 1877–1954) drew attention to scenes and subjects that his local contemporaries did not. One such subject… the Jenkins Orphanage Band.

4. Hutty was prolific! In his lifetime Hutty produced over 230 works in print, and countless watercolors and oil paintings.

5. The artist’s technical acuity won him high acclaim. Hutty co-founded the Charleston Etcher’s Club and was the first American inducted into the prestigious British Society of the Graphic Arts, amongst other high praise.

Day's End (also known as Close of Day), by Alfred Hutty

Day

6. Genius use of tonality. “Day’s End,” with its exemplary use of dark and light is a must see painting.

7. Scale and Reach of the works on view. This is the largest show of the work of Alfred Hutty that has ever been mounted. This show will travel beyond the Lowcountry to Greenville County Museum of Art (May 15–July 15, 2012) and the Morris Museum of Art (August 4–October 28, 2012).

Susan Kridler, Gibbes Museum Intern and guest blogger

See more works by Alfred Hutty in the Gibbes Collection by visiting our online collection database.

Jill Hooper: Contemporary Realist

Portraits have always played a significant role in the art of Charleston, and the Gibbes collection. The very first work of art accessioned into the collection was a portrait of Benjamin Smith by Jeremiah Theus, an important artist working during the mid eighteenth century. Fast forward some 250 years, and the portrait tradition remains very much alive in Charleston, thanks in part to another artist in our collection, Jill Hooper.

This winter, the Gibbes is showcasing Hooper’s extraordinary talent with the solo exhibition Jill Hooper: Contemporary Realist. On view in the Rotunda through April 22, the show includes landscape and still-life paintings, but primarily focuses on portraiture. Each likeness is beautifully painted, and conveys powerful emotion. A number of the paintings are paired with preparatory drawings that reveal Hooper’s working process, and her mastery of charcoal. The drawings are simply breathtaking. Another highlight is the group of five self-portraits included in the exhibition. Painted over a span of eleven years, they shed light on her development as an artist and tackle her own struggles and insecurities. Hooper’s work is honest and full of life and beautifully expresses what it means to be human.

If you want to learn more about Hooper’s work, please join me for a tour of the exhibition on February 16 or March 15 at 2:30pm.

Pam Wall, curator of exhibitions, Gibbes Museum of Art

An Open and Inviting First Floor Plan

Eliza Huger Dunkin (Mrs. Percy Gamble Kammerer), 1923, by Leila Waring   Ann Huger Laight, after 1855, attributed to John Carlin   Archibald Scott, after 1769, attributed to James Peale

During my visit this past December, I continued to hammer out the gallery layouts with the curatorial staff. It is amazing how so much art just keeps appearing out of the collection archives. As we always do during these visits, we tweaked the main galleries again to refine the installation and edit out some pieces to allow more room for the stars of the collection. We finalized the initial layouts for the Cabinette Galleries, which will display the museum’s collection of miniature paintings, just off the Main Gallery. I feel very comfortable about the direction we are taking and very impressed with the stamina of the curatorial staff. We have spent days in quarantine, projecting images on the wall of the office conference room and then placing them into the gallery plans. We have not started with a sketch model yet but I am certain that we will begin one during my next visit in January or February.

Guggenheim Exhibition at the Gibbes Museum, 1936

The Guggenheim exhibition, 1936, in the Main Gallery of the Gibbes Museum. The skylights overhead will be reopened after the renovations.

As I’ve mentioned in earlier posts, in the new building all gallery spaces will be located on the second and third floors. This arrangement allows the first floor to become a hive of activity for visitors with a variety of interests. At this point, we definitely know that the windows at the front of the building will open into the new Café and the Museum Store. From the front door to the redesigned courtyard garden at the rear, the new designs and lighting systems will give the museum a much more open feeling. Meeting Street strollers will be enticed to stop and walk through the first floor of the building free of charge, and we hope it will become a destination spot. The new inviting displays will encourage visitors to return to shop, dine, and meet up with friends.

Gibbes Museum of Art, 1906

An exterior view of the Gibbes Museum of Art in 1906.

I have been working with Sara Meyer, Museum Store Manager, to design all new cabinetwork and display systems, a new music system, and new lighting in the Store to make it more flexible and easier to adapt according to seasonal needs. The Café will offer a great assortment of foods and beverages as the visitors walk in the door. All of the new furniture will focus on flexible space arrangements to accommodate groups or friends who come to relax or to take their treats out onto the front plaza of the museum. With the Café project I have teamed up with Lasley Steever, Programs & Events Manager, who was a friend of mine from the Metropolitan Museum in New York.

Rebecca Sailor, Associate Curator of Education, and I have been running around the city to tour some of the newest school facilities in Charleston. We are translating what we have seen into designs for the new studio and art classroom spaces on either side of the first floor central hall. This time we spent a lot of time verifying the exact size and spaces that we have for the students, teachers, and artists who will utilize the new facilities. Of course, we dragged Greg Jenkins around with us to confirm our layouts for the new equipment and furnishings since he lives and breathes that building everyday. We finished feeling quite satisfied that we can make it all work and create fun, workable spaces for everyone.

Minnie Mikell at work in the Gibbes Art Studio Gallery, 1925

Minnie Mikell at work in the Gibbes Art Studio Gallery, 1925. New studios on the first floor of the museum will provide spaces for artists to work.

This past December’s visit was also a time for getting out on the road to talk to friends of the museum about the collection and the new plans. Executive Director Angela Mack and I attended two auxiliary group events in the evenings. What fun to go for cocktails, show the drawings and plans, and get to visit some incredible places in Charleston. A highlight was our visit to Kiawah Island, which was the first time for me. Thanks Angela! I can’t wait to see where we go to next time. A great perk is that when the weather gets really nasty at my home in upstate New York, I can always look forward to my visits to Charleston to warm my cold winter spirits!

—Jeff Daly, museum designer and guest blogger

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