What Do You See? Talking to Kids about Art

Here in the education department we are often greeted with the familiar refrain of “I’m not sure an Art Museum is the place for my family” or “What will I do with my family in the Art Museum?” when we invite visitors out of the Midwest summer heat and into our wonderfully air-conditioned building. Maybe it’s a misconception about art being stuffy, or that people without art degrees feel unprepared to take their families through an art exhibition, or that art is just plain boring. Whichever one happens to be the case, taking kids through an art exhibit can be easy and fun! All you have to do is ask one simple question: What do you see?

Treasures from the Vault: Concert Roller Organ

This week’s treasure is a peculiar curiosity. Instead of a painting or print, this week I present a Concert Roller Organ! What is a Concert Roller Organ you ask? Well, it was only the most fashionable form of entertainment for working class Victorian Era Americans. See and listen to FWMoA's Concert Organ play you a tune in the video at the end of this post!

Confession: I’m a Chalk Walk Wimp

As sure as the sun will rise and turn Main Street into a frying pan at the peak of an Indiana summer, FWMoA will, every July, organize the area’s largest community art project—Chalk Walk. In 2007, as a first-time and unpaid intern at FWMoA, I had the privilege of stepping in at the last minute to create the artwork for the square of the event’s lead sponsor. I was markedly more flexible, heat tolerant, and responsibility-free then, making me the ideal candidate to spend 14 hours on the baking pavement rubbing my fingertips away in the name of art. I haven’t participated since.

Treasures from the Vault: Richard Müller

Our first official installment of Treasures from the Vault features one of FWMoA’s original treasures: Snails on Rhubarb. Painted in 1919 by German painter Richard Müller, Snails on Rhubarb is a whimsical study of foliage and the critters inhabiting this small ecosystem. Scattered over several large rhubarb leaves are snails, and a frog who seems to be mid-jump. A glimpse of a pond is seen in the background, which we can imagine as the home of our amphibious friend, his gastropod companions, and other creatures out of sight.

Art Term Tuesday: Glass Casting

Opening soon at the Fort Wayne Museum of Art is the 46th Annual International Glass Invitational Award Winners exhibit in which glass sculptures by the best in the world will be on display. These beautiful works of art come into being by many processes, employing techniques that the average person might never have encountered. With that in mind, let’s explore one of the more popular glass making processes: cast glass.

Off the Cuff: The Human behind the Art, Manhattan’s Mercurial Muse Audrey Munson

The history of American art is filled with little-known human stories that I find generally more fascinating than much of the art.  Today, I’m thinking about a young artists’ model, Audrey Munson, whose mercurial rise to fame was as unlikely as her despairing descent into the black void of the rest of her life. At the golden dawn of the 20th Century, Audrey Munson, an impoverished pre-teenager, caught the eye of photographer Felix Benedict Herzog as she pressed her face against a department store window and soon thereafter became the most famous artists’ model in American history.

Treasures from the Vault: General Anthony Wayne

Today’s featured work is General Anthony Wayne, a painting by Edward Percy Moran. Moran completed the work in 1923, and he’s depicted General Wayne at the side of a wounded Revolutionary soldier who is holding the new American Flag. The two are overlooking an unknown battlefield, but, since they’re holding the flag high, we can assume that it was a victory for our fledgling nation!

Drawing Inspiration: Red Grooms

Scholastic Art and Writing Awards alum and mixed-media artist Red Grooms celebrates his 81st birthday on June 7. In its 95-year history, the Scholastic Awards have played an early role in the development of myriad influential and innovative artists. In Drawing Inspiration, we’ll celebrate them through their work in the FWMoA permanent collection.

Art Term Tuesday: Horror Vacui

I first encountered the Latin-derived term horror vacui several years ago while researching outsider art from the first half of the twentieth century. Simply put, horror vacui is the fear, or abhorrence, of empty space. In the past hundred years, this term has been used in discussions of interior design (for instance, Mario Praz's critique of Victorian-era design) and artwork in which a two- or three-dimensional space is filled with detail or objects. The presence of horror vacui in visual art can stem from an artist's overwhelming compulsion (perhaps related to mental illness) to leave no space vacant or from a conscious aesthetic decision to forgo negative space.