Archive for March, 2014

Presenting the Art of Healing

I recently had the opportunity to attend the South Carolina Federation of Museums (SCFM) annual conference in Camden, SC, both as a participant and a presenter. Zinnia Willits, Director of Collections Administration at the Gibbes (and now the president of SCFM!) suggested that I submit an application to present on our Art of Healing program sponsored by Roper St. Francis Healthcare, and I was thrilled with the idea! I knew this conference would be a great chance to meet other museum and cultural professionals from South Carolina as well as gain feedback on the Art of Healing program from my colleagues.

Amanda Breen, Rebecca Sailor, and Zinnia Willits

Amanda Breen, Rebecca Sailor, Curator of Education, and Zinnia Willits, Director of Collections Administration, at the South Carolina Federation of Museums (SCFM) conference.

Since the fall of 2012, I have been fortunate enough to help organize the Art of Healing Lending Collection, now up and running at the Roper Rehabilitation Hospital. Inspired by a patient’s request to have artwork displayed in his room while staying at the rehab hospital, the lending collection is comprised of 22 works of art by 16 local artists including Lese Corrigan, Rick Reinert, and Brenda Orcutt, who were generous enough to lend their pieces to the hospital. Upon admittance to the rehab unit, patients are allowed to choose a piece from this collection to have displayed in their room during their recovery. This collection compliments the Art of Healing lecture and workshop series at the Gibbes Museum. I’ve truly enjoyed working on this initiative, and wanted to be able to share this exciting program with attendees. I also hoped to gain ideas from those attending the workshop on their perspective of the program and suggestions for improvements.

A New Day, 2013

“A New Day” by Rick Reinert.

This year’s SCFM conference was held in the charming and friendly town of Camden, SC. The conference began the evening of March 12, and concluded on Friday, March 14. Each day was divided into several time slots, of which registrants were asked to select one of three workshop options to attend. After attending a session at the Camden Archives and Museum on the morning of March 13, I gave my presentation at another historic building that the city of Camden was gracious enough to let us use. After giving some background on the Art of Healing and explaining how the program began, I wanted to open the session up for discussion. I was very impressed with participant’s enthusiasm and the great ideas on how to improve the program. Suggestions such as complementary programming for children or veterans were just some of the interesting ideas that came out of the conversation portion of the presentation.

<i>Art of Healing</i>

Artist Brianna Stello with a patient who chose Stello’s photograph, “Wetlands,” to hang in his hospital room in 2013.

After the presentation concluded, conference participants met at the historic Robert Mills Courthouse for the Awards Recognition and Business Luncheon. The afternoon consisted of several more sessions which opened my eyes to what wonderful work other museums and cultural in the state are doing. I had the opportunity to learn about a program that Historic Columbia has created that pairs high school students with retired alumni from the school. The alumni mentor the students and encourage them to get involved with the community. That evening, attendees were invited to a lovely reception and the National Steeplechase Museum which gave everyone a chance to talk and get to know colleagues from around the state.

In the museum world, it is extremely important to reach out and learn from our sister institutions on how to improve our programs. We can learn so much from other museums that have faced the same challenges we may have, and we in return and teach others what has and has not worked for us. Overall, the SCFM conference was a great experience and I’ll definitely be going back next year!

Amanda Breen, Membership Coordinator, Gibbes Museum of Art

Pastel – Expressive and Brilliant

No Agenda by Tammy Papa

No Agenda by Tammy Papa, the painting that was accepted into the Appalachain National Pastel Society 2012 Show.

“What is Pastel?”

I am asked this question a lot.

People think of soft, light colors when they hear the word pastel.

I like to explain that the origin of the word pastel comes from the French word pastische, via the Italian word pastello, meaning paste.  As pastels are made, powdered pigment is combined with water and binder, which turns into a paste. The paste is then rolled out into sticks and dried. The softer the pastel, the more pigment it has and the less binder. Pastels are made from the same pigment used in other mediums such as oil, watercolor, and acrylic, but the pigment is held together with a light glue or binder called methylcellulose.

Many people confuse soft pastels with oil pastels. Instead of the light glue, oil pastels are made with beeswax, pigment, and other chemicals and have a waxy, crayon-like character.  Soft pastels and oil pastels are not the same and cannot be combined.

Whenever I do a pastel demonstration, I often get the question, “Is that chalk?”  I say, “Well, it may look like chalk, but it isn’t. Chalk is made of limestone and dye. Pastels are almost pure pigment.”

pastels

A colorful array of soft pastel (not chalk) in an artist’s tool box

This is one of the reasons people love pastels . . . the pure, brilliant colors. In fact, under the microscope a particle of pastel pigment has facets like a diamond. They have light-scattering properties and practically shimmer!

Another question people frequently ask is “Do you teach art lessons?” The answer is “Yes!” Teaching art started organically for me. As it turns out, I love to share information. I studied Studio Art at the University of South Carolina and worked as an Art Director for Rawle Murdy for years before dedicating myself to painting full time in 1996. During art shows and gallery openings, I found myself sharing more and more information with anyone and everyone that asked. My friends encouraged me to start an art class. So, I started doing demonstrations and workshops, and my classes grew. I have taught many classes locally and internationally including in Charleston, the Southeast, and in Spain.

Since art is my passion, I am gratified to share my knowledge and help people explore their authentic ‘art spirit’ and voice. I feel each person has their own artistic voice, just like everyone has their own handwriting. And each of us in the arts has an art spirit. I think teachers can squash a student’s art spirit pretty easily if they are overly critical too soon. It takes a lot of bravery to even go to an art class. I don’t want to teach people to paint like me. I want them to paint as themselves, their expression. One of my favorite books is the Art Spirit by Robert Henri—my approach comes from his amazing teachings. So many people say, “Oh, I can’t even draw a stick figure.” I always say, “You are probably more creative than you know. Anyone can learn to draw!” In short, I love to learn and I love to share what I have learned.

As an artist and a teacher, I continue to seek new information and inspiration. One of the most inspiring events for me was the Pastel Society of America’s 2013 National Show – Enduring Brilliance. From over 1,000 pastels entered, the judges chose 175. I was over the moon to be included in this competitive show. The show is held each year at the National Arts Club at Gramercy Park in New York City, and judged by master pastelists. It is a diverse and exciting show featuring a wide range of styles from highly representational to abstract.

Tammy Papa in New York

Tammy Papa at the National Arts Club in New York. The artist’s pastel painting, “Morning Mist on the Edisto” (above) was included in the Pastel Society of America’s 41st Annual Open Juried Exhibition in 2013.

My daughter, sister, and niece accompanied me to New York to see the show. We had a girls’ weekend, attending the reception and basking in the excitement. As I was entering the beautiful and sumptuous Grand Gallery of the National Arts Club, I could barely contain myself. The pieces were inspiring, diverse, and moving. Master pastelist Richard McKinley, PSA, gave a critique during the reception, which was a class in art appreciation itself. I oohed and aahed over the amazing works of art AND all the pastels supplies for sale—an artist can never have too many pastels! I returned to Charleston with renewed energy and perspective to share with my students.

I am very proud to be affiliated with and teach for the Gibbes Museum. Through the classes at the Hazel Parker Community Center, I am able to give back to the community and share my passion for art and the pastel medium. I have been fortunate to have amazing teachers. It is my hope to pass it on.

I am currently represented by Sandpiper Gallery on Sullivan’s Island and Edward Dare Gallery on Broad Street in downtown Charleston, SC. Please visit www.tammypapa.com to see additional examples of my work. And I hope you will sign up for a class at the Gibbes!

Tammy Papa, Artist, Teacher, and Guest Blogger

A Romance with Cuba, by Dr. Jeb Hallett

 

I have had a romance with Cuba all my life.

Havana Cathedral

Havana Cathedral

At the age of ten, I listened to the Revolution on Radio Havana via my small short-wave radio in my bedroom in West Virginia. I dreamed of visiting Havana. Riding in cool old Chevy convertibles. Maybe seeing Hemingway around town. But, the Revolution ended that dream.

Then came the Gibbes “artistic” trip in February. (Twenty-three Gibbes Fellows traveled to Cuba with Executive Director Angela Mack, Curator of Collections Pam Wall, and Membership Coordinator Amanda Breen to learn about Cuba and its art.) So well organized! So well executed! Angela, Amanda, and Pam hit this one out of the ballpark!

Classic Cars in Cuba

Dr. Hallett enjoying the ride!

Who can forget twenty five Charlestonians riding around Havana like a gang of teenagers  in ‘55 Chevy convertibles? Or, dancing to the music of the Buena Vista Social Club? Or, peering into the windows of Ernest Hemingway’s home at Vinca Figia?

Oh, wait! Angela reminds me that the trip was really about art. The amazing creativity of The Merger, Kadir Lopez, Roberto Fabelo, and Yoan Capote was inspirational for starters. And, the worn patina of the architecture that enigmatically felt both sad and beautiful in the moment. All of this culture in the context a truly resilient people who take pride in their independence and joy of life.

Roberto Fabelo's studio

Roberto Fabelo’s studio

None of this magic would have been possible without the company of so many old and new friends. My wife, Linda Austin, and I will always treasure this trip because of these friends.

So, my next dream: get back to see more of Cuba. When the Gibbes is ready for another Cuban “invasion,” count me in. Maybe on a Harley Davidson motorcycle riding toward Santiago with a Cohiba cigar in mouth and Linda in the sidecar!!

Dr. Jeb Hallett, Gibbes Museum Board Member and Guest Blogger