Showing and Sharing: Reconnecting at the Art Museum

By: Catie Anderson, curator of education on May 15th, 2019

Henri Bellery-Desfontaines, Visitors and Artists at the International Exposition, 1900 black conté crayon, watercolor and gouache with gridlines, Musée Carnavalet, Paris, © Musée Carnavalet/Roger-Viollet

This past weekend I visited family in Cincinnati; the trip was part Mother’s Day celebration, part long-overdue reunion. After a late-morning airport pick-up, our first order of business was lunch and an afternoon strolling the galleries at the Cincinnati Art Museum. The four of us – my mom, her cousin and son, and I – are art enthusiasts and pursue art making in one form or another, often sharing projects, pictures, and new discoveries with one another, even though our respective tastes and interests are all over the proverbial map.

We took time to point out and share favorite artworks in each gallery of Paris 1900: City of Entertainment, calling one another over to look and get second opinions. Some of my favorite exhibition artworks included Henri Bellery-Desfontaines’ Visitors and Artists at the International Exposition and Édouard Vuillard’s color lithograph Interior with a Hanging Lamp, which reminded me of the hanging lamp featured in David F. Driesbach’s print Old Birds at Home, currently on view in A Collection Medley at the Woodson Art Museum.

Left to right: Édouard Vuillard, Interior with a Hanging Lamp, 1899, color lithograph; David F. Driesbach, Old Birds at Home, etching and engraving with color viscosity on Rives BFK paper

During our visit, we delighted in the bold, imaginative, and interactive artworks of No Spectators: The Art of Burning Man installed throughout museum. I was especially taken with a towering, highly decorative and graphic archway adjacent to the museum’s entrance, which welcomed visitors and set the tone for the art encounters of No Spectators. Michael Garlington and Natalia Bertotti’s 2018 Paper Arch was commissioned for the exhibition and features layers of cut black-and-white photographs of figures, animals, flowers, and objects softened by warm gold accents and fringe. The classic architecture of the arch form provides a sense of structure and order for the exuberant and earthly tableaus that cover and crowd every surface. The sculpture’s cut-paper layers of pattern and rich imagery reminded me, of course, of Cut Up/Cut Out artworks on view at the Woodson and the stories they evoke.

Details of Michael Garlington and Natalia Bertotti’s Paper Arch, 2018, plywood, hardboard, bond paper, fabric trim, and found objects

My family visit to the Cincinnati Art Museum reinforced my belief that museum visits are moving and memorable social outings worth celebrating and sharing with others. It’s fitting that I reflect on the power of museum visits this week, as May 11-18 marks Museum Week and Arts Wisconsin’s Creative Economy Week. There’s still time to join in the worldwide effort to recognize museums this week by sharing the ways in which the arts and culture play a role in your life by posting your experiences online #MuseumWeek and #CreativeEconomyWeek. Or express your enthusiasm for museums via an old-school means of communication this Saturday, May 18, Noon-5 pm, at the Woodson Art Museum, by creating your own postcard collage (stamp included) to celebrate International Museum Day.





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