Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Raleigh Weekend~Pt2: North Carolina Museum of Art

Think the fun was over after seeing the live music?

Think again!

Chuck and I were watching 'The Antiques Roadshow' on PBS one night, and there was an ad for the Norman Rockwell exhibit at the North Carolina Museum of Art in Raleigh. We asked Helen if she'd like to go with us while she was in town, and she agreed.

When we arrived in Raleigh on Saturday morning, we took a trip out to where the museum was to make sure we could find the place on Sunday. The parking lot was freakin' packed. PACKED. We thought that there must be something going on across the street (there are some big fairgrounds there). I love Norman Rockwell's art, but I couldn't believe there was THAT much hubbub over it.

I was wrong. The next day we came back around noon to attend the exhibit, and the parking lot was packed again. We had to park really far away in an overflow parking lot. Couldn't even see the museum from there.

There are two main buildings. One of them looks like a huge brick office building. And the other one was massive and silver and blocky, with sweeping white sheets hanging in all of the huge glass windows.

There were sculptures all along the walkway, like this silver tree below and a huge replica of Rodin's "The Thinker" that I posted above.

We went inside and bought tickets for the Rockwell exhibit, which were priced at $15 each.

The exhibit was in celebration of the grand reopening of this particular building. Everything was on loan from the Norman Rockwell Museum in Massachussetts. Taking pictures was not allowed.

It was awesome, there was a lot more to see than I thought there would be. It took us a couple of hours to get through it. The exhibit included his original paintings that the covers of the Saturday Evening Post were printed from, plus all of the original covers (many with the library or personal address stickers of the people who had owned them still on them), plus some of his later works unrelated to The Post.

Rockwell lived from 1894-1978. The man was a master of the human expression. If you look at various paintings through history, you might notice that most of the portraits are painted with the subject's mouth closed, or only slightly open as to hide the teeth. It is very difficult even for the most advanced artist to paint a subject's teeth and make them look natural and not creepy at the same time. Rockwell was talented enough to paint any human expression, teeth or no teeth, and make the subject in the painting come alive.

Here are my most favourite Norman Rockwell pieces:

And Chuck and I even had the chance to be in one of Rockwell's most famous paintings...

I learned a lot about the Saturday Evening Post. For example, I didn't realize that Benjamin Franklin was its founder in 1728.

I also learned a lot about Norman Rockwell that I would have never expected. I believe people get the wrong idea about him.

People seem to think Rockwell was deluded about American society because of the way he depicted it. Like he really thought America was that 'way'. Families smiling over the Thanksgiving turkey, baseball, apple pie. But he just painted things like he wished they were, not how he actually thought they were. If you look closely at most of his works, they have a hidden meaning that you have to think to uncover.

The Post placed restraints on his creativity, and I had never even known that until I filed past all of his covers up on the wall in the gallery. I came to one with an African-American child on the cover, and I realized that was the first one I saw to do so. Then I came upon this painting and the Little White Card next to it explained that Rockwell was not allowed to include black people in his illustrations for The Post, unless they were clearly in a servile position.

Rockwell grew increasingly more angry with racism the older he became. Eventually he refused to go along with convention and depicted what he felt like depicting. He painted this one, entitled 'The Golden Rule' during the desegregation of schools in the South, in 1961.

He started working for Look Magazine around this time, after 47 years with the Post. I didn't realize how moving some of his paintings would be. I stood in front of 'The Golden Rule' for a long time.

'Southern Justice (Murder in Mississippi)' was the last painting in the exhibit, just before the exit.

He painted this in 1965 in outrage over the murders of three young civil rights workers in Mississippi. He usually had several projects on the go at once, but this one he worked on exclusively for 5 weeks straight.

All three of us enjoyed ourselves very much, but there was a downside. The sheer amount of people attending the exhibit. People were rudely edging other people out of the way. Some people would just come and stand right in front of something I was looking at, like I wasn't there. One guy even blew his nose REALLY loudly and at length in the midst of the crowd, which was really gross. Everyone turned to stare, and Chuck said,'NICE' really loudly and the guy glared at him. I love Chuckles for that.

After taking a short break in the downstairs Rockwell Cafe (where we enjoyed some Cokes...we decided to eat later on, I didn't feel hungry enough for a $9 cheeseburger), and walking through the rest of the building, we decided to check out the big silver and glass, industrial looking building.

What a surprise that place was!

Contained every sort of art imaginable.

There was the abstract, modern art.

This 'Mona Lisa' was recreated using loads of cotton-threaded spools tied together. And that little orb was smaller than it looks in the picture. Very neat.

African art. I thought this sculpture made up of little concrete heads was neat.

"You can't see me!"

The Early Italian Renaissance Art wing was amazing. I practically skipped over to it when I saw it.

Chuck and I walked up to this 'Madonna and Child' circa 1230-1274. Chuck exclaimed, 'Are these real??' I must admit I had that thought myself even though I answered 'Of course they are!' because you just don't expect to see this kind of art in North Carolina.

Our friend Helen is quite the globetrotting lass. She's a university English professor here in the States, but she loves to travel in her spare time. One month she's in England, next month she's in Morocco, before you know it she's in Brazil...

She was just telling us earlier that the best time to visit the Vatican museum is on a Monday morning. And here we were, dragging her around a museum in boring old North Carolina. But I think she still enjoyed herself a little. ;)

Chuck with a Botticelli. He really liked that one. That's a look of reverence and awe on his face.

We wandered into the Flemish Baroque period, and I must have stayed here longer than in any other wing of the building.

I like the above picture because people are sitting down looking at that one painting, so you can get some idea of the size of them. Most of the pics I took in this wing don't show how massive these paintings are.


This is a creepy one. The Little White Card next to the painting said it's called 'A Meat Stall with the Holy Family Giving Alms', by Pieter Aertsen in 1551. It symbolically links food for the body with food for the soul, offered by Mary to the devout believers. I don't make this stuff up, People!

'The Holy Family with St. Anne' by Peter Paul Rubens.

Joan of Arc, done by Rubens and Workshop.

Another weird one, similar to 'A Meat Stall with the Holy Family Giving Alms'. It's called 'Market Scene on a Quay', by Frans Snyders and Workshop, circa 1635-1640. This one apparently has no 'higher' meaning than just to portray the delights of nature and the 'marketplace'. Although the card next to the painting is careful to point out that this is not a real representation of a market, because it is "well known that meat and fish were sold at separate markets". Thank you, Little White Card.

Standing in the midst of all of these Dutch Masters was a 1st Century headless statue of Bacchus. You may notice he's also dickless. Or you may not have noticed, but I bet you do now.

THIS one really caught my eye. It's called 'The Dentist' by Jan Miense Molenaer in 1629. There is no explanation of the meaning on the Little White Card because this one obviously needs none. Look at the look on the woman's face! Creepy and awesome at the same time. I'd love to own that one.

We've now moved into the era of Rembrandt.

These are copper etching plates made by Rembrandt. He was a master etcher. All three of us were pretty enthralled by these.

The final area that we walked through held French Impressionist art. Chuck and I particularly enjoyed the Monets. They don't show up particularly well in photographs.

'Morning on the Seine, near Giverny' 1896.

After we strolled through the paintings for a couple of hours, there wasn't much time for anything else. The museum would be closing soon, and we'd been walking around for about 5 hours.

We made a quick stop in the Egyptian Art wing.

According to the gospel of the Little White Card, this one is 'Figure of a Man', circa 2494-2345 B.C.E. That's 'Before Common Era'. That's AWESOME.

It's a 'ka statue', which is an idealized portrait of the deceased for priests and relatives to leave offerings to in the chapel after death. This one apparently suggests that the person it is modeled after was wealthy, because of the size of the statue.

Then we visited the Roman sculptures.

1st Century marble torso. Rwoar.

This is 'Head of a Woman in Guise of a Goddess', Roman, 1st Century. Love it...almost as if she is about to turn her head and start looking at me.

I found the head of Bacchus!!

But not the penis.

I wonder if this guy has it...?

Nope. And Chuck feels sorry for this poor fellow.

They say that at one time, one of the Popes had all of the naked male statues in the Vatican de-penised, and the area covered instead with fake fig leaves. I wonder what they did with all the offending members, put them in a box in the basement?

At this point, the guards at the museum were sighing very loudly and clearing their throats and such. It was closing time, and they wanted to go home. I guess if you're around this amazing art every day, you get immune after awhile.

I snapped a few last pics on the way out.

There was an area that featured the works of Rodin. This photograph is one of my favourites for the day.

'Iris, Messenger to the Gods' was my favourite Rodin piece.

Wow. She looks like a lot of fun, eh? If I could do that, I would have been more popular in high school. I bet I know what kind of messages she was delivering to the gods. Hehe.

I took this one on the way out the door. These giant figures looked cool when we first came in, but even cooler on the way out. It was getting dark outside and the inner lighting really started to show up and look pretty.

I walked out of that place floating on air. I was seriously jazzed.

Unlike Helen, I'm not a world traveler. Neither is Chuck. I've traveled through Canada (every province between BC and Quebec), and to a few of the Southern US states (Texas, Virginia, South Carolina, and Florida...funny that I've never visited any of the Northern ones near Alberta, eh?).

I never in my life thought that I'd get to see that quality of art exhibited. I got to see it in North Carolina! When I saw the authentic Bruegel? I think I literally squealed. The Raphael? Catch me, I'm gonna faint.

And for that part of it to be unplanned? And free? That makes it even better! So forgive me if I sound like a nerd. Some of you live in areas where this type of art is commonplace, or you have the means monetarily to jet off at whim to these areas, and could see it whenever you want to. I don't.

Chuck, Helen, and I went to stop for dinner together before we had to head back home to the Coast. We were planning on staying an extra night and coming back Monday morning, but Chuck's work has been a little squirrely this month which we didn't expect. He had to come back for work.

We ate at the Greek Fiesta, which we thought sounded hilarious the first time we happened upon the place by accident.
They make a mean authentic lamb pita with tzatziki sauce. I don't know how 'authentic' it really is, but it's oh so delicious.

We said goodbye to Helen at the hotel, and made our way back home. Exhausted and happy. It was really cool meeting an online friend, I recommend all of you do that at least once. Just make sure that they're not perverts first.


Donna said...

fabulous exhibit and mother met the woman who Norman used in his paintings and as she grew he continued to use her as the teacher etc...I have some prints that she also signed...thx for the trip!!

Bub said...

Looks like you all had a brilliant weekend, what with the music and then the exhibitions. That silver tree is beautiful.

Something that struck me while I was reading this, is your overwhelming appreciation of the art that was on show and that it's not something you take for granted. Where I live is roughly an hour and half train ride away from the centre of London where there are galleries and exhibitions galore. I know they're there and easily accessible, yet I can't remember the last time I visited any of them. Will have to correct that in the future. Thank you for the wake up!

Oh and just for future reference, I'm not a pervert. Honest. I just seem to attract them.

Liz said...

Hi Kyna,

Wonderful, I cannot say I know much about Rockwell - don't remember learning about him on my Art degree but I do love conceptual pieces which have a meaning behind them so I think I would get along well with him.
I may not understand some of them though due to being English, like the whole yellow armband thing so I may just have to go have a look for more info.

I was never a fan of fat cherubs and such, so generally don't like rennaissance, but they did usually also have a concept behind them, and I do love my stories :)

It looks like you had a great time, and certainly got your money's worth... Even if you were being barged around.
And good on Chuck for saying 'Nice' to the nose-blower. I SO would've done that myself.
If someone jumps a queue I always say nice and loud something like 'Do we not queue anymore?'
and don't care if people hear me, after all that was the purpose :D

Alison said...

What a great post! I'm a big fan of Norman Rockwell, and of art in general. You got some excellent photos of the paintings.

Thanks for posting pictures that can be "embiggened", although embiggening wouldn't do those poor dickless statues any good...

I love that you can always make me laugh!

Is the Wiz said...

Awesome. I heard a radio play recently about a couple of guys who did the plastering for Michaelangelo's frescoes. Maybe Chuck did that in a former life :-)

Kris said...

Oh great...I expected some smart alec post and what I got was KNOWLEDGE and INFORMATION and (just shoot me now) INSIGHT! Now my head is bigger (on the inside, like a TARDIS) and I have to go and THINK about what I've just read. *whine* And if anyone ever asks me if I'm a museum member, I'm probably gonna flash on all those other missing 'members'. Kyna - you are dangerous....! Keep it up. :-P

Ginny said...

I love the NC Museum of Art - just about everything about it - the new building, the outdoor theatre (fantastic concerts there), the Museum Park (outdoor art trail with sculpture). We went for some of the opening festivities and it was amazing. The Rodin Garden is my favorite. We hope to get to the Rockwell Exhibit before it closes. So glad you were able to see it!

Tatyana@MySecretGarden said...

Oh, how interesting! The pictures are superb, and I feel like I visited the museum myself. Thank you Kyna!!!

CanadianGardenJoy said...

Hey girl ! You and Chuckles look great in that painting by the way .. i think they should scrape the originals and just use you two for that one (with your turkey eating pants on of course! hehehe)
That was an amazing tour .. my regret while we lived in the Netherlands was that the Van Gogh exhibit was on tour .. in the States I think .. but we should have made the effort to have a peek of what was left in the museum anyways. My favorite painters are Van Gogh and Monet .. my favorite funny sound was/is how our british friends pronounced Van Gofffffff hehe .. it would crack me up every time (also controversy)Brits are funny people !
Thank you for the tour .. it was wonderful .. but now you have me wondering about where are all those "members" ??
Husband spent many months in Italy for courses and knew the Vatican fairly well after all those tours .. I think he said the same thing as your friend in fact ! LOL
Joy : )
PS Number One son is in South Carolina visiting wife right now: )

Curbstone Valley Farm said...

I like that silver tree, it's really beautiful. Would be fun to have one in the garden and see if anyone noticed. Looks like you, Chuck and Helen had quite the cultured weekend! I hadn't realized the constraints on Rockwell's work for the Post, although I can't say I'm surprised. I don't think I'd ever seen some of his later works. As for Bacchus, poor chap, I know he as a boozer, but losing his head, and all, how embarrassing :P

Kyna said...

Donna: That's really cool! :D

Bub: I know how easy it is to take things for granted. Not that this is the same thing or anything, but where I used to live had the biggest shopping mall in the world. West Edmonton Mall (lovingly called West Ed) has over 800 stores, 2 hotels, 100 restaurants, a mini golf park, a amusement park, a waterpark, and an ice rink. It used to be 'just a mall' to me, and I'd laugh at the tourists. Now I live in a city where there's nothing to do, and the stores are limited and crappy. Oh how I miss that mall.

Liz: The yellow armbands are those worn by US Marshalls, who are the 'Federal police' here. They had to escort black kids to school to prevent them from being attacked when the schools in the South were integrated with all races in the early 60's. Look closely at the grafitti on the wall behind the Marshalls. Very moving picture. Sad.

I may not have a thing for fat cherubs, but Rubens has a special place in my heart for the plump women he painted and thought were so beautiful ;)

Alison: I'm glad you enjoyed the post! I'm glad I made it so I could find out who all the other art lovers were :)

Is: HAHA! You just gave me a funny vision in my head. Chuck, a grumpy plasterer throughout the ages. :D

Kris: Well I do have to demontstrate that I've got some brains up there sometimes, don't I? :) Smart and funny can co-exist! I suspect you've got a bit of that yourself.

At least now I know who's been stealing all the penises...naughty girl.

Ginny: Like I said, I highly recommend the exhibit! I wish Chuck and I lived closer so that we could visit more often. But I know we'll go again. We want to revisit everything we saw and just sit and stare awhile :)

Tatyana: Glad you enjoyed it, thanks for reading!

Joy: See, you're one of those globetrotting chicks yourself! I'm so jealous. Every time I log into Facebook, one (or 10) of my friends are jetting off somewhere cool. I wish it was me. :)

Clare: Well, with all the partying and womanizing Bacchus has done, I'm not surprised more than his head fell off, eh? I think they should use him in STD ads.

The Idiot Gardener said...

Mrs IG is a compulsive Musuem/Gallery label reader. I just tend to stroll around, looking at shit I like. I don't really care what it is or where it comes from; I just either look at it or don't!

I didn't know she was a label reader, which was unlucky, as when I first met her I was with a friend, and we said we were art experts on the trail of a missing Delbertti masterpiece.

A couple of months later she came to London for the weekend and I took her to the Tate. She suddenly asked if they had any Delberttis (I had forgotten all about it by then). Full of crap, I pointed out a large Warhol and told her it was a Delbertti. I couldn't believe when she walked over and read the bloody label.

Mind you, later on we went down Whitehall and she asked me who the statue of Prince George on his horse was. At the time, I couldn't remember who it was, so I told he he had won the Derby in 1921. When she found out that was a lie, she copped a serious strop and for months later didn't trust anything I told her!

Kyna said...

Haha, I was just simultaneously posting on your page about how full of shit you are. Glad to see you agree with me.

I am a label reader, I can't help it. I like to know what historians think artists were thinking. Whether I agree with the analysis or not, is another story.

I love your wife, btw. Don't get jealous or anything.

Anonymous said...

You're right Kyna, that trip through the museum was fabulous, and I wasn't even there! Although I must admit that I'm picturing a box of dicks in the basement of the Vatican somewhere. Is that wrong?