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The Cummer Museum of Art & Gardens is committed to engage and inspire through the arts, gardens and education. A permanent collection of nearly 5,000 works of art on a riverfront campus offers more than 95,000 annual visitors a truly unique experience on the First Coast. Nationally recognized education programs serve adults and children of all abilities.

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Cummer Museum Pieces Loaned to Epcot




From Hello Kitty to Pokémon to Harajuku girls, there’s no doubt that modern Japanese culture revels in pop culture. The Museum has loaned several works to Epcot for its current exhibition in the Japan Pavilion. Kawaii: Japan’s Cute Culture shows the origins of kawaii and its dominance across modern Japanese culture. From entertainment to clothing to mannerisms, kawaii isn’t just a trend; it’s a way of life. The exhibition opened last year and will be on view for the next four years in the Bijutsu-kan Gallery. Pieces from the Museum include: Ando Hiroshige (Japanese, 1797 – 1858), 100 Views of Famous Places in Edo: Susaki and the Jumantsubo Plain near Fukagawa, 1856, woodblock print (AG.1998.4.13); Turtle netsuke with crane inro (AG.1974.13.4, AG.1974.13.52); Rat netsuke with abstract inro (AG.1974.13.269, AG.1974.13.38); Sleeping Dog netsuke (AG.1974.13.330).  epcot-blog-1

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Folk Art: Mixed Media Class





Thursday, December 8
6 to 8 p.m. | Members $30, Non-Members $40
Registration required

Join us for a unique craft class led by local artist, Sharla Valeski. Sharla is a professional artist with a BFA in Studio Art from Jacksonville University, where she graduated Magna Cum Laude in 1994. At JU, she was the recipient of several awards, including the Award of Excellence in Painting and the Whatley-Nied Art Award for Outstanding Merit. She has more than 20 years experience working in multi-media practices such as drawing, painting, cloth sculpture, and installation.

Valeski also has 10 years experience managing gallery spaces and organizing art exhibitions. She facilitated events for the Beaches Fine Arts Guild “Ocean Gallery” (1994-96), the Ponte Vedra Community Center (1997-99), her own gallery “The Next Gallery” downtown Jacksonville on Laura Street (2009-11), and CoRK Arts District, West Gallery (2011 – present). At CoRK, she’s been the innovator of several ground-breaking art exhibitions, most notably “Cut, Paint, Draw” in 2013.

Presently, Valeski has a studio at CoRK Arts District, where she has spent the past four years creating large-scale, cloth sculptures utilizing traditional quilting techniques. These sculptures are soft and 3-dimensional. Valeski hangs her large sculptural spheres from the ceiling, and they are designed to be stuffed or inflated on site.

In the class, Sharla will demonstrate how to make her special plushies (fabric designed, cloth sculptures). All supplies will be available along with wine, beer, and light nibbles. Sign up today HERE; we are looking forward to seeing you!

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Curiosity… continued



ann-carll-coverlet-blazing-star-and-snowballsDid you read the blog Curiosity (posted November 16, 2016)? Here is the story of the inspirational folk piece for Gary Graham’s coat we spoke of, the Ann Carll Coverlet, Blazing Star and Snowballs.

The coverlet is indigo-dyed wool and natural cotton from 1810 and in itself a piece for conversation. A coverlet is a bedspread that is designed to cover the top of the bed and is typically less than floor length; where a quilt is made from sewn together fabric pieces, a coverlet is made from scratch. This particular coverlet was woven on a loom for and owned by Ann Carll in 1810; her name and March 31, 1810 is woven into the pattern (and can be seen in the circled areas in the photo below). This double-layered cloth was constructed one row at a time and, as part of the process, the pattern was woven in.


A coverlet, such as this one, could act as a status symbol for early Americans, especially when the name of the owner was included in the design. The techniques used to produce these coverlets were adapted from the weaving techniques used to make carpets. In 19th-century America, these coverlets were produced by immigrants from Western Europe skilled in the complicated techniques of fancy weaving. Though the technological concerns of production and the socio-economic implications of the coverlet itself is intriguing (there is a whole museum dedicated to the American coverlet in Bedford, Pennsylvania called The National Museum of the American Coverlet), there is more to be considered.

weaving-shed-showing-power-looms-and-power-shaftsThe production of textiles in industral 19th-century America was both a producer and user of invention and technology. The cotton gin, the sewing machine and subsequent enhancements, the power loom (powered by a line shaft connected to a power source), and the the rise of water- or steam-powered mills helped to transform the nation’s overall economy from agricultural to manufacturing. Cities grew, along with all their particular needs, as people moved to work in the mills and a society became increasingly involved in the discoveries of science, technology, engineering, and math.

indigofera-tinctoriaThe coverlet woven from indigo-dyed wool and natural cotton is not only conversational seed for addressing the art of its pattern or an isolated discussion about the art and technology of its production. It also involves the agriculture, chemistry, and application of the indigo dye. During this time the coverlet was most likely dyed with imported indigo. Though indigenous North American species exist, the use of true indigo, Indigofera tinctoria, proved to yield deeper blues. A species of plant most likely originating in India, Indigofera tinctoria has been introduced worldwide making a definite claim to that origin difficult. Traces of dye from this plant have been tracked as far back 2300 BC, found on an Egyptian mummy.


Adolf von Baeyer

Today, the dye that makes blue jeans blue is synthesized on an industrial scale. First synthesized by Adolf von Baeyer in 1878 (he was awarded the the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1905, “in recognition of his services in the advancement of organic chemistry and the chemical industry, through his work on organic dyes and hydroaromatic compounds”), it was not until 1897 that a commercially-economical process was developed. Today it is estimated that the global usage of indigo is around 60,000 tons. However, in the  19th century, indigo was extracted from the leaves of the plant.

indigo-chemical-structureIn the same year that synthesized indigo became commercially feasible, it has been estimated that 19,000 tons of indigo were produced from plants. The extraction of indigo from leaves is a multi-stepped process and actually involves converting indican (the actual substance found in the leaves and precursor of indigo) into the dye or indigotin, a process that essentially has remained the same for  thousands of years – imagine the ancient civilizations of Mesopotamia, Egypt, Britain, Mesoamerica, Peru, Iran, and Africa were all using this technology.

modern-indigo-extraction-1When ready for harvesting, freshly-cut plants are placed in a fermentation vessel, steeping in warm water of the proper pH. With the addition of an enzyme, the waxy coating of the leaves is removed, releasing the indican. In this solution, indican breaks down into indoxyl, glucose, and carbon dioxide.

modern-indigo-extraction-2Transferred to a second vessel, oxygen is added to the indoxyl-rich solution, most commonly done by frothing the solution. The oxidation process causes two indoxyl molecules to join, making water-insoluble indigotin or indigo pigment, which settles to the bottom of the vessel.

The liquid is siphoned away, and the settled pigment is transferred to a third vessel. Here it is heated to stop the fermentation process, filtered, and dried, producing the blue dye powder. When used for dying, the powdered pigment is mixed with an alkaline solution, reducing (removing the oxygen) indigotin into leuco-indigotin, which is water-soluble and capable of coloring items dipped into the solution.

Though synthesized indigo is available, many still prefer the natural extracted dye for its ability to impart subtle hues or shades as the extracted pigment may also contain varying amounts indirubin (red), indigo brown, indigo gluten, and mineral matter, the latter two perhaps contributing to dye uptake.

So, there you go, the adventure presented to you, an adventure of uncovering facts that in turn fuels our curiosity to discover more. A story about the amazing technique and technology that combined to create early american folk art, technologies and art that were inspired by and an influence to invention and society. Stand once more at the east wall and see what you can discover.

Folk Couture: Fashion and Folk Art is on display through December 31, 2016.

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Written by: Julie Thieman, Marketing Intern

Photo by Ingrid Damiani

Photo by Ingrid Damiani

Marsha Hatcher is a contributing artist for LIFT: Contemporary Expressions of the African American Experience which presents a modern response to Jacksonville’s African American Heritage, while using the lyrics to James Weldon Johnson and John Rosamond Johnson’s Lift Ev’ry Voice and Sing as inspiration.


Marsha Hatcher, Stanza I, 2016, Acrylic on canvas, 30 x 24 in.

Hatcher was born in South Georgia and received her Bachelor of Arts from Albany State University. From a young age Hatcher had a connection to the song Lift Ev’ry Voice and Sing, which translated into the pieces she created for the exhibition. Hatcher approaches paintings with an emotional sensitivity that is easily seen in the faces of the people she paints. Hatcher’s expressionistic style is seen through her literal interpretation of the song, specifically stanzas one, two, and three, in hopes that her “interpretation of this uplifting inspiring song will help others see and understand what this song means to me,” and “what giving a ‘Voice’ to people really means.”

In the words of Marsha Hatcher…


Marsha Hatcher, Stanza II, 2016, Acrylic on canvas, 30 x 24 in.

Lift Ev’ry Voice and Sing is a song I can remember singing so many times as a child. It was “our” song. The song that made you proud when it was song. It has meaning. I didn’t know at the time what it meant but eventually the meaning became clear. It’s about the struggle past present and future. Giving voice to people who want to be heard. I don’t always use my canvas as a sounding board, but this exhibit is one that I am proud to voice my opinion through my art.

To learn more about Marsha Hatcher visit her blog.

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Chasing Shadows: David Ponsler




David Ponsler (American, b. 1961), ‘Chasing Shadows Series: His Closure’, 2016, forged and fabricated steel, 96 x 26 x 30 in., On loan from the Artist.


David Ponsler describes himself simply as “a blacksmith, a metalworker,” but it is clear by this video that he is much more than that. The metal glows bright orange as it is heated to temperatures that allow him to shape and reshape it. Sparks fly like fireworks with every strike of Ponsler’s hammer. It looks deceptively easy as he molds unyielding metal into beautifully-curved arches and sculptures. Watch the magic happen here.

As a child, he began bugging the workers in his father’s shop to teach him to weld. The men finally relented, thinking if he got burned it would end the eight-year-old’s curiosity. Instead, it ignited a passion and intense focus that has lasted a lifetime. His career started with designing architectural objects, like railings and staircases, but over the years has blossomed with his ability to transform industrial remnants into elegant sculptures. Listening to music, from classical composers to classic rock, Ponsler finds inspiration in discarded objects he finds around town. He twists wrought iron, steel, and copper into works of art, sometimes using sketches and other times letting a creation form organically. His designs often incorporate circles to convey a sense of protection, and the graceful curves lend a quiet strength to his sculptures. His artistry blends traditional blacksmith tools with a modern day approach, and the result feels like a moment captured in time.

Chasing Shadows: David Ponsler is on display through October 4, 2017 in the J. Wayne and Delores Barr Weaver Community Sculpture Garden & Plaza. Take some time to view his work and get to know more about one of Jacksonville’s talented artists.

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New Board Member Elected



richardsonAt their September meeting, the Board of Trustees of the Cummer Museum of Art & Gardens elected James A. Richardson, II for a five-year term. A proud Jacksonville native, Richardson demonstrates a clear passion for engaging people and leading his community towards a better future. With his commitment to his hometown, the Museum is confident that Richardson will make a tremendous addition to the board.

For the last four years, Richardson has worked with the City of Jacksonville as Program Administrator for the Environmental Protection Board in an effort to protect the natural resources in Jacksonville and the surrounding areas. Along with his professional career, he has spent time volunteering with numerous organizations. He is proud to be the first male and first African American to serve as Chair of the Board for the Girl Scouts of Gateway Council. The organization serves over 13,000 girls throughout 16 counties in the North Florida Region and aims to help young girls discover their strengths and find their voice.

He is currently the Board Chair for Groundwork Jacksonville, and is a member of the Board of Trustees for the Museum of Science & History (MOSH). Until recently, he was also Secretary of the Board of Directors for the North Florida Region of Florida U.S. Green Building Council.

Richardson is an avid golfer and enjoys shopping and reading. He has been married to Sandra Hull-Richardson for more than 27 years and together they live in the Riverside area.

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