Tag Archives: art museum

Adventures of a Museum Intern

My name is Hannah Ensign-George and for the month of January I have been interning at the museum with Director Aldy Milliken. As a junior art history and religion double major at Centre College in Danville, having an opportunity to work at KMAC has been wonderful. Because of KMAC’s smaller size my internship has encapsulated multiple facets of museum life from being the public face of the museum down at the front desk to solving the puzzle of packing the materials from the Eero Saarinen show for shipment.

Putting My Best Face Forward- sitting at the front desk is an opportunity to interact with the public and get a sense for why people visit the museum. Some visit because they were walking past and the exhibit caught their eye. Others have been planning to come to the exhibit since hearing about it. Another duty of the desk is to answer the telephone, which is always interesting. Telephone calls are another form of interaction just as important as greeting someone when they come in the front door. I found the first few calls to be nerve-wracking, but once I figured out a system that worked for me, they were a breeze. Still that didn’t stop me from nearly jumping out of my skin when the phone rang; it rings really loudly.

Valuable Research- when preparing for a new exhibit: research begins months in advance and doesn’t end until the exhibit is over. Each piece a curator plans to show has to have extensive background information to explain how it fits into the central idea or theme. Sometimes connections between pieces don’t become clear until more is known about their history and their creators. When I was researching for an upcoming show, Press, I found a wealth of information about the printing industry here in Kentucky. There is a remarkable printing press community in this state, from Larkspur Press in Monterey, Kentucky to King’s Library Press at the University of Kentucky. Connections can then be made from these press businesses to William Morris’ Baskerville Press in late 19th responsible for initiating the private press movement. Without research these types of connections wouldn’t be made.

It Pays to Get Out- museums depend on generous grants from a variety of government organizations including the National Endowment for the Arts. In order to keep museums funded elected officials must be kept aware of issues regarded the arts. This is done by bringing them into the museum and developing strong relationships. Part of my work was contacting state senators and representatives in preparation for 2014 Arts Day in Kentucky. Arts Day in KY is organized by the Kentucky Arts Council to bring together people with their political leaders. Awareness days like this help to foster a community between the elected officials and the organizations whose interests they work to promote. On the national level museums must strongly advocate for their importance with members of Congress, to ensure funding continues, but also to help promote museums as a vitally important industry.

KY Arts day
KMAC Director Aldy Milliken and KMAC intern Hannah E. Ensign-George in Frankfort to attend 2014 Arts Day in Kentucky

Pack it Up, Ship it Out- one of the most exciting times in my internship was packing a closed exhibit for shipment. It was also the most exhausting part because of the manual labor and planning involved, but handling art that you have only looked at is an exhilarating experience. After the pieces have been taken down they have to be carefully wrapped in tissue and bubble wrap. Bubble wrap is the unsung hero of the wrapping process. Then the tricky part arrives: arranging the carefully packaged pieces into their crates. This part becomes an intense Tetris game, with very expensive and fragile blocks. All of the difficulty is forgotten when you look at a well packed crate and know that you solved the puzzle; those pieces are not moving an inch. Though the best part is probably when the crates have been picked up and sent on their way to the next museum, and everyone revels in the calm before setting up the next show.

I came to KMAC in an effort to determine if I wanted to pursue museum work as a career. As annoying as the “What are you going to do after college?” questions are, they remind me to think about myself and what I want to do next. After four weeks at the Kentucky Museum of Art and Craft, this seems like a possibility. Museums combine scholarly research with outreach and working with people.And it doesn’t hurt that I get to spend all day surrounded by art; that is definitely awesome!

Read Hannah’s spotlight feature of being an intern on Centre’s Blog.

KMAC Donors Tour Mayor Jim Gray’s Art Collection

In November, the Kentucky Museum of Art and Craft Donor’s Circle visited the magnificent art collection of Lexington Mayor Jim Gray.  Mayor Gray’s home is situated in the Gratz Park Historic District, one of the most beautiful areas of Lexington, Kentucky.

Lexington Artist Louis Zoellar Bickett offered us a tour through Mayor Gray’s well-appointed rooms, several of which feature Bickett’s assemblages and containers.  In the entrance hall, we admired a large black-and-white piece entitled Welsh Oaks (#3) (1998) by Vancouver School photographer Rodney Graham.

rgraham

Our group especially enjoyed becoming acquainted with the work of Lexington-area artist Mark Goodlett, who assembles ornate picture-boxes out of wadded paper while lying in bed.

Mayor Gray’s residence houses work by many world-renowned contemporary artists, such as Joseph Kosuth, Yinka Shonibare, Kara Walker, Richard Long, Vik Muniz , Claes Oldenburg, Yayoi Kusama, Robert Mapplethorpe, Gerhard Richter, and Fred Tomaselli.  Bickett informed us that Mayor Gray regularly rotates pieces in the house with others from his vast collection.

Great favorites amongst this art loving group were two pieces by English artist and Turner Prize winner Rachel Whiteread.  While viewers may be familiar with Whiteread’s plaster casts of vacant/negative spaces, the sculpture Untitled (Trafalgar Square Plinth) (1999) surprises with its use of resin to create a ghostly double.

r.whitehead

Another of Whiteread’s works, “Switch” (1994), creates a more subtle, playful effect.

On that perfect fall day, the group ventured on to galleries around town.  We are grateful to Mayor Gray and to Bickett for their hospitality.  Please join us on a future trip!

–Leslie Millar
KMAC Board Member
photos courtesy of Jody Howard

Bucking the Trend: Art Innovators on KMAC Radio

Tune in Mondays to KMAC Radio on ArtxFM from 11am to 12p where we use radio as a vehicle for exploring art, music, and social ideas. It’s simple to listen: Go to artxfm.com and click PLAY on the embedded player located in the upper left corner of the website. Monday’s show will be hosted by KMAC’s Communications Director Julie Gross and she’ll be discussing Bucking the Trend: Art Innovators.

On my recent trip to Rome and Florence Italy, I got more than the brain can handle in terms of sensory overload. Beauty lives in every corner and facet of these cities and I discovered more than just the art from the Renaissance masters.

"Portrait of the Dwarf Morgante" by Agnolo di Cosimo, called Bronzino. Uffizi Gallery, Florence
“Portrait of the Dwarf Morgante” by Agnolo di Cosimo, called Bronzino. Uffizi Gallery, Florence
Marcel Duchamp, In advance of the broken arm, 1915. Galleria Nazionale d'Arte Moderna e Contemporanea, Rome.
Marcel Duchamp, In advance of the broken arm, 1915. Galleria Nazionale d’Arte Moderna e Contemporanea, Rome.
Marcel Duchamp, Fountain, 1917. Galleria Nazionale d'Arte Moderna e Contemporanea, Rome
Marcel Duchamp, Fountain, 1917. Galleria Nazionale d’Arte Moderna e Contemporanea, Rome
Duchamp, Re-Made in Italy Exhibition at the Galleria nazionale d'arte moderna, Rome
Duchamp, Re-Made in Italy Exhibition at the Galleria nazionale d’arte moderna, Rome
Urs Fischer, Bed/Horse 2013. Gagosian Gallery, Rome
Urs Fischer, Bed/Horse 2013. Gagosian Gallery, Rome
Eero Saarinen, Tulip Chair blueprints, 1957
Eero Saarinen, Tulip Chair blueprints, 1957

Photo as Document on KMAC Radio

Tune in Mondays to KMAC Radio on ArtxFM from 11am to 12p where we use radio as a vehicle for exploring art, music, and social ideas. It’s simple to listen: Go to artxfm.com and click PLAY on the embedded player located in the upper left corner of the website. Monday’s show will be hosted by KMAC’s Communications Director Julie Gross and she’ll be discussing Photo as Document. Documentary photography can serve as a historical marker in time or spur social and political change. The captured images are painstakingly raw and equally beautiful in their candor, which is testament to the artful eye of the photographer. Photographer Bob Hower and Artist Todd Smith will participate in an in-studio interview to talk further about this topic. They are both part of the Louisville Photo Biennial happening this month and are exhibiting at Swanson Contemporary (Hower) and Bernheim Arboretum and Research Forest (Smith). This topic was derived from KMAC’s current exhibit of Gene Spatz photographs that document the celebrity social life of 70s New York. The artwork discussed on today’s radio hour will be:

Bob Hower, Couple with White Cadillac. Jefferson County 1977
Bob Hower, Couple with White Cadillac. Jefferson County 1977
Bob Hower, Family in Perry County KY, 1977.
Bob Hower, Family in Perry County KY, 1977.

See more images from Rough Road: The Kentucky Photographic Documentary Project

Bob Hower, Coal Miners
Bob Hower, Coal Miners
Bob Hower
Bob Hower
Bob Hower, The Parklands of Floyds Fork
Bob Hower, The Parklands of Floyds Fork
Todd Smith a la Daily Climb
Todd Smith a la Daily Climb

T.Smith2

Todd Smith, Great Prairie Weeping Beech. Photo: Natalie Biesel
Todd Smith, Great Prairie Weeping Beech. Photo: Natalie Biesel
Todd Smith. Lake Nevin Sycamore. Photo Natalie Biesel
Todd Smith. Lake Nevin Sycamore. Photo Natalie Biesel

Music Playlist:
Blue Moon of Kentucky – Ben Sollee
Red-Winged Blackbird – Kathy Mattea
Golden – My Morning Jacket
Hetch Hetchy – Father President
Drew – Goldfrapp

Art of Celebrity on KMAC Radio

Tune in Mondays to KMAC Radio on ArtxFM from 11am to 12p where we use radio as a vehicle for exploring art, music, and social ideas. Go to artxfm.com and click PLAY on the embedded player located in the upper left corner of the website.

Today’s show is hosted by KMAC’s Communications Director Julie Gross and we’ll be discussing the Art of Celebrity (or art that is inspired by a person’s celebrity status). This topic was derived from KMAC’s current exhibit Gene Spatz: The Art of a Paparazzo. The artwork discussed on today’s radio hour will be:

Gene Spatz,
Gene Spatz, A Little Night Music at Studio 54. 3/6/1978
Richard Hamilton, Swingeing London 67, 1968-69
Richard Hamilton, Swingeing London 67, 1968-69
Photo from the Daily Telegraph UK
Photo from the Daily Telegraph UK
Gene Spatz, Andy Warhol and Mick Jagger at the reopening of the Copacabana club. 10/14/76
Gene Spatz, Andy Warhol and Mick Jagger at the reopening of the Copacabana club.
10/14/76
Andy Warhol, LizaMinelli, 1979, polaroid and painting,  courtesy Andy Warhol Museum
Andy Warhol, LizaMinelli, 1979, polaroid and painting, courtesy Andy Warhol Museum
Elizabeth Peyton, Arsenal (Prince Harry), 1997
Elizabeth Peyton, Arsenal (Prince Harry), 1997

kmacradio6
Special Guest Louisville Composer Daniel Gilliam will also be on the show discussing his newest work Jesse Stuart Songs that will be performed by bass-baritone Nathan Wilson and Andrew Fleischmann on Thursday, October 10, 2013 at 7pm at the Kentucky Museum of Art and Craft. This performance is free and open to the public.

Jesse Stuart, courtesy of Life Magazine 1954
Jesse Stuart, courtesy of Life Magazine 1954

Jesse Stuart was the 1954 Kentucky poet laureate and an American writer known for his short stories and poetry about Southern Appalachia. Jesse Stuart Songs consists of five sonnets from Stuart’s largest collection of poetry, Man with a Bull-Tongue Plow.

Songs and poems featured on the show:

Spring in Kentucky Hills

Spring in Kentucky hills will soon awaken;
The sap will run every vein of tree.
Green will come to the land bleak and forsaken;
Warm silver wind will catch the honey bee.
Blood-root will whiten on the barren hill;
Wind-flowers will grow beneath the oaks and nod
To silver April wind against their will.
Bitterns will break the silence of the hills
And meadow’s grass sup dew under the moons,
Pastures will green and bring back whippoorwills
And butterflies that break from stout cocoons.
Spring in Kentucky hills and I shall be
A free soil-man to walk beneath the trees
And listen to the wind among the leaves
And count the stars and do as I damn please.

Oh Don’t You See

Oh, don’t you see the willow leaves this Spring
And bright green finger needles on the fir?
Birds choose to light among their boughs and sing;
It’s where the summer jar-flies choose to churr.
And don’t you love the silver maple leaves
Upturned by silver winds to skies deep blue.
And don’t you love the leaves on white oak trees
And beech tree leaves when winds are blowing through?
And don’t you love green whispering corn blades
And wild fern leaf where placid waters lie
Beneath a tranquil lazy summer sky.
And don’t you love the smooth-fan poplar leaves
A-wavin’ in a silver summer breeze.
I ask these questions and I don’t know why.

Harlan Hubbard, Campbell County Hill Farm, 1933
Harlan Hubbard, Campbell County Hill Farm, 1933

Music Playlist:
Spring in Kentucky Hills – Dan Gilliam composer, Performed by Nathan Wilson (Jesse Stuart author)
Oh Don’t You See – Dan Gilliam composer, Performed by Nathan Wilson (Jesse Stuart author)
Itchin’ On A Photograph  – Grouplove
New York, I Love You But You’re Bringing Me Down – LCD Soundsystem
Sympathy for the Devil – The Rolling Stones
Fine Dining – Cube Head and Mr. Smiles

A Donor’s Perspective of Chicago EXPO

The recent Donors’ Circle trip to EXPO Chicago was inspiring and stimulating. It was quite extraordinary to get personal home tours from esteemed art collectors, private viewings of new gallery exhibitions, invitation-only after parties and all the contemporary art Chicago’s Navy Pier could handle.

KMAC Donors’ Circle member Leslie Millar wrote a brief synopsis of the week-end in case you couldn’t join us.
The Highlights of EXPO Chicago September 2013 
A group of about fifteen members of the Kentucky Museum of Art and Craft Donor’s Circle ventured north for a fast-paced weekend in the Windy City.  Upon our return, we feel briefly sated with new and familiar works of contemporary art.  This “food” will keep our minds and imaginations energized until our next trip, to Art Basel Miami!  Here are a few morsels from our trip for your delectation:
The Guffman Home
The Guthman Home
The Guffman Home
The Guthman Home
Friday, September 20, 2013
We started the morning by touring the private collection of Jack and Sandy Guthman. Their immaculately restored five-story home includes a canvas thread piece by Tom Friedman, an installation by Sarah Sze, and video by Kate Gilmore.  We admired a FedEx shipping box of Walead Beshty and bundles assembled by Shinique Smith.  The wide-reaching collection revolves around a strong center of photography and some Chicago artists, including painter Judy Ledgerwood. During the afternoon, we toured galleries and met with artists and curators who were buzzing about the EXPO and accompanying Gallery Weekend Chicago. That evening the KMAC group was invited for cocktails at Kavi Gupta for the opening of Roxy Paine’s Apparatus.
Roxy Paine
Roxy Paine
This diorama show offers a radical departure from the sculpture that viewers have come to associate with the artist.  Two room-sized installations replicate, in unvarnished wood, a control room and a fast food counter, right down to the straw dispensers and fry basket. We finished the night with a raucous party at gallerist Monique Meloche’s house.
Saturday, September 21, 2013
The Donor’s Circle dined on a hearty breakfast on the patio at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago.  Downstairs, we enjoyed a photo show from the museum’s collection.  Upstairs, the MCA showcases a retrospective by Chicago-born cartoonist Daniel Clowes.  On the third floor, an exhibition of installations called Homebodies features a walk-through Victorian house fabricated in nylon by Do Ho Suh.  The Donor’s Circle took particular note of constructions and video by Chicago resident Theaster Gates, as we recently exhibited one of Gates’ shoe-shine stands at KMAC during the Storytelling as Craft. Next we visited the private Collection of Howard and Donna Stone, which centers around 60s and 70s Minimalist and Conceptualist work, including:  a double-portrait wall drawing by Jim Hodges, pieces made of yarn and elastic thread by Fred Sandbach, a candy pile by Felix Gonzalez-Torres, and an installation by Sarah Sze. We spent the rest of the afternoon strolling through Chicago EXPO, on the Navy Pier viewing works by established artists like Fred Tomaselli and Leon Ferrari and site specific ampersands by emerging artist Karl Haendel.  Some revelers continued on to Late Night at the Wright Auction House.
Leon Ferrari
Leon Ferrari

Sunday, September 22, 3013
We finished our Chicago weekend with a brunch at Rhona Hoffman Gallery, where we saw Spencer Finch’s color-swatch watercolor paintings and light boxes and took in Judy Ledgerwood’s dense oil paintings.

Many thanks go to the collectors, curators, and gallerists who shared their gracious hospitality.  Even greater thanks to KMAC Director Aldy Milliken and Development Director Angela Hagan for their tireless efforts of organizing the trip and shepherding the members of the Donor’s Circle around the city. We hope that you will join the KMAC Donor’s Circle on another of these intellectually invigorating art outings!

Leslie Millar

Jody Howard, Martha Slaughter and Leslie Millar
Jody Howard, Martha Slaughter and Leslie Millar

Unlimited Making: A Panel Discussion on the Work of Adult Artists with Disabilities

September 7, 2013 @ 1pm

Kentucky Museum of Art and Craft hosted an afternoon panel discussion on the work of adult artists with disabilities  in conjunction with the current  Creative Growth: Dan Miller and Judith Scott exhibit. The panel consisted of Tom di Maria, Director of Creative Growth, Krista Gregory, Exhibitions Director and Samantha Charek, Outreach Director of Visionaries + Voices and Al Gorman, Site Manager of StudioWorks and was led by Judith A. Axelrod, M.D., Behavioral-Developmental Pediatrician and Founder of Square One. The discussion provided great insight into the work and process of the artists and the ways these successful organizations approach group studio practice.