Art & Literature of Seasonal Living: The Maple Tree

The Inspiring Maple Tree:
The Art & Literature of Seasonal Living

Robert Strong Woodward

Western Massachusetts landscape painter, Robert Strong Woodward (1885-1957) was born in Northampton, MA and settled in Buckland where he painted along with a studio in Heath where he produced many works. Woodward was a landscape painter mostly depicting the rural countryside and living that surrounded him. One of the themes he explored is the sugaring season.

You can view Woodward’s works at the website run by the nonprofit Friends of Woodward.

One painting in particular, Late Sugaring, shows maple trees with red tapping buckets along Route 112 in Buckland. Painted in 1934, this image is a typical New England scene that one can still witness driving along the same road in the Hilltowns of Western Massachusetts. This beautiful region, largely unchanged throughout the decades, still offers that majestic New England experience that Woodward captures in this painting. An online gallery of Woodward’s sugaring paintings is also found at Friends of Woodward’s web site. Peruse the gallery before heading over to a local sugar shack this season for breakfast and arrive curious. What has changed over the years? What is the same?  Read the rest of this entry »

Art History: Summit of Mt. Holyoke

Thomas Cole, The Oxbow, 1836

Really want to entrench yourself in local art history?  Then paint at the summit of Mt. Holyoke!  The mountain (not the college!) is the site of Thomas Cole’s 1836 painting “View from Mount Holyoke, Northampton, Massachusetts, after a Thunderstorm” (commonly known as “The Oxbow”).  This painting depicts the Connecticut River Valley and highlights Cole’s interest in depicting two parts of the American landscape: pastoral farmland and wild forest.

For full lesson, visit www.khanacademy.org.

View an interactive image of the painting at www.explorethomascole.org.  (Can you see where the artist inserted an image of himself painting en plein air in the painting?)

Open Sesame: 5 Picture Books Present Amazing Women In History

Open Sesame: Kid Lit Musings and Review by Cheli Mennella

Five New Picture Books Present  Amazing Women In History

For Women’s History Month, here are five new picture books honoring women who made a difference in art, photography, science, sports media, and education!

One of the many aspects of the picture book I adore is that they are compact vessels of information. My children and I often have the experience of discovering little-known pieces of history and fascinating people of interest while immersed in a picture book biography. And this month has been no exception.

In the five new picture books presented here, all of which honor women in history, I was familiar with only one name. What a marvelous power the picture book holds in this regard – to tell the story of important but overlooked pioneers, to share their life and work through art and narrative, and to introduce children to the idea of dreaming big.

Here are five inspiring stories about girls who made a difference, packaged ever so delightfully in the form of a picture book.  Read the rest of this entry »

Norman Rockwell’s Civil Rights Era Works on Google Cultural Institute

Norman Rockwell Museum Shares Norman Rockwell’s Civil Rights Era Works on Google Cultural Institute

“Most people view Norman Rockwell as synonymous with American ideals, yet few are aware of his later career shift to illustrate human rights issues,” says Norman Rockwell Museum’s Director of Digital Engagement and Learning, Rich Bradway.

In celebration of Black History Month, Norman Rockwell Museum has partnered with Google to share artworks and artifacts from its permanent collection, that illustrate Norman Rockwell’s dedication to civil rights. Available through the Google Cultural Institute website, “Norman Rockwell In The Age of the Civil Rights Movement” presents Rockwell’s paintings, rarely seen studies, reference photos, and correspondence relating to his important works created during the period; the online exhibition joins over 4000 new items –including 80 exhibits and three expeditions—that document different moments throughout African American history.

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Illustration History: Online Educational Resource & Archive for the Art of Illustration

Online Resource Provides Close-Up Look at the Art of Illustration

All children are familiar with illustrations, even if just from noticing an illustrator’s name noted on the cover of a favorite picture book. Illustration as an art form encompasses much more than images for children’s books; the art of illustration includes the creation of images for everything from advertisements to comic books. Using the Norman Rockwell Museum’s newest online resource, Illustration History, families can learn about the numerous forms of illustration, notable illustrators, and the connections between the art of illustration and history, culture, economics, and technology.

Launched just recently, Illustration History serves as both an educational resource and an archive, broadening the possibilities for learning with an extensive database of images and information about artists and illustration history. Read the rest of this entry »

Clark Lifts Lid on Major 20th Century Modernist Movement

Machine Age Modernism Exhibit At Clark Art Institute Captures Turmoil & Upheaval

Clark Art Institute’s Machine Age Modernism exhibition explores groundbreaking printmaking and offers community-based learning opportunity on art history. Exhibition opens February 28, 2015 in Williamstown, MA.

The Clark Art Institute considers the history and politics that inspired many artists working during and between World Wars I and II in the exhibition Machine Age Modernism: Prints from the Daniel Cowin Collection. Influenced by such prewar movements as Futurism and Cubism, and using innovative techniques developed by artists associated with London’s Grosvenor School of Modern Art in the 1930s and 1940s, artists of the Machine Age defied aesthetic and technical conventions in order to convey the vitality of industrial society and changed printmaking in the process. Machine Age Modernism will be on view in the Clark Center February 28–May 17, 2015.
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Famed Artist, Henri Matisee Exhibit a Major Coup for Western Mass!

Drawings by Henri Matisse on view at Mount Holyoke College Art Museum now through December 14, 2014

This latest exhibition at the Mount Holyoke College Art Museum is expected to “draw” crowds: an exclusive selection of 45 drawings by Henri Matisse, the widely-known 20th century French artist known best for his colorful, expressive portrayal of the human form in paintings, sculptures, cut paper, and drawings.  The drawings on display span half a century and include both sketches and finished drawings.

Students of art and art history will be particularly excited about this exhibition because it offers an opportunity to interact with original artworks by a historically significant artist right here in Western Massachusetts.  A chance to eliminate the need for excessive travel and planning, while still showing your kids the art of one of the great masters: it’s a foolproof combination!

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Ceramic Exhibit Offers Rare Glimpse Into A Very Distant Past

Ceramics Exhibition Explores Craftsmanship Over 6,000 Years
At Mount Holyoke College Art Museum through May 31, 2015

A wonderful example of ceramics as an “objets d’art.”

Have you ever taken a ceramics class? The feeling of the clay molding into recognizable shapes like bowls and plates is so satisfying, matched only by the feeling of accomplishment once the piece has been fired and glazed and is ready to be used. The creation—and usage—of functional objects has been part of the human experience for as long as humans have existed, and the ways in which these objects are made and regarded has evolved over time. From the purely practical and utilitarian to veritable objets d’art, ceramics have served a wide range of people in an even wider range of ways. And as the world’s peoples grew, developed, and traveled, so did their tools and artwork; this allowed for further dispersion and interchange of ideas and techniques. Read the rest of this entry »

Schubert Sound Installation at Mead Art Museum

Sounding Space Experience Beautifully Dissects Masterpiece

Visitors to the Mead Art Museum in Amherst, MA, are now surrounded, not just by art, but by the music of Franz Schubert (1797-1828), in a sound installation that opens Tuesday, Aug. 26, and runs until Sunday, Sept. 28, 2014. This special installation features a five-channel recording of the slow movement from Schubert’s Cello Quintet (1828), played by the Brentano String Quartet and Michael Kannen, director of chamber music at the Peabody Institute of Johns Hopkins University. The quintet’s second movement, approximately 16 minutes long, plays once every half hour.

Special Sound Installation Featuring Schubert’s Cello Quintet at Mead Art Museum in Amherst, MA.

Five speakers are arranged in an oval configuration in the Mead’s Rotherwas Room, the ornately carved seventeenth-century English room that serves as a gallery, event and performance space, and reading room. Each speaker is dedicated to one instrument from the ensemble, which includes two violins, viola, and two cellos. Read the rest of this entry »

Springfield Museums’ New Exhibit Snapshots The Emergence of the 20th Century American Individual

Springfield Museums Explore Modern American Masterworks
Friday, June 6, through Sunday, August 31, 2014

Students and enthusiasts of art, art history, and American history will be interested to know that among the works on display in American Moderns are representations of Cubism, Synchromism, Precisionism, Expressionism, and Social Realism, as well as interpretations of folk art and early steam-punk style.

Beginning in June, the Springfield Museums’ Michele and Donald D’Amour Museum of Fine Arts will play host to a special traveling exhibition curated by and containing key pieces from the Brooklyn Museum in New York. American Moderns, 1910-1960: From O’Keeffe to Rockwell features over fifty paintings and several sculptures by well-known American artists whose works illustrate the multiple schools of thought and representational techniques that developed during the Modern period: Georgia O’Keeffe, Norman Rockwell, Joseph Stella, Marsden Hartley, Elie Nadelman, Rockwell Kent, and more. While the works in this exhibition are on loan from the Brooklyn Museum, their presence at the Springfield Museums is a good reminder of the masterworks by these artists and their contemporaries that belong to the Springfield Museums’ own collection.

Though the works by these artists may not seem to have much in common with one another at first glance, they each signify a reaction to a society undergoing rapid and dramatic change. The fifty years covered by the exhibition saw two world wars, the success of the women’s suffrage movement, the short-lived Prohibition, the Great Depression, the Civil Rights movement, and the birth of other youth and activist movements; while new technologies for travel, entertainment, communication, and household efficiency became commonplace over increasingly shorter intervals of time. The world felt smaller, and the United States had established itself as an international power, but not every U.S. citizen had achieved the American Dream.

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Art History and Music Studies at the Amherst Cinema this Fall

Vermeer and Music: The Art of Love and Leisure
Tour of London’s National Gallery Exhibition
Screens at Amherst Cinema this Fall

The latest in Amherst Cinema’s EXHIBITION screening series, Vermeer and Music: The Art of Love and Leisure, documents and deeply examines the Johannes Vermeer‘s works on view at the London National Gallery. The film, hosted by British art historian Tim Marlow, tells the story of Vermeer’s life, a Dutch painter from the 1600’s, and gives viewers a chance to experience both the exhibition – which, notably, includes several works by Vermeer that have never before been exhibited together – as well as some stunning close-up footage of the paintings themselves, accompanied by Marlow’s knowledgeable analysis of the works.

The exhibition focuses on the popularity of music as a theme in Dutch paintings, and illustrates this connection quite clearly through its inclusion of “Lady Seated at a Virginal,” “Lady Standing At A Virginal,” and “The Guitar Player,” all by Vermeer himself. To highlight the significance of the instruments’ inclusion in the paintings – and the differences between the instruments and their two-dimensional representations – authentic 17th-century virginals (similar to harpsichords), guitars, and lutes are on display along with the artwork…

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