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Julius Rosenwald: Businessman and Philanthropist

Jan

17

WRITTEN BY SARAH JACKSON, ADVANCEMENT INTERN

On February 1, the Cummer Museum, in collaboration with our colleagues at MOSH and more than 40 northeast Florida organizations in “Voices of Hope,” will present the film Rosenwald, about philanthropist Julius Rosenwald. This film sheds light on the silent partner of the pre-Civil Rights movement and his ties to Jacksonville and artist Augusta Savage. There will be a discussion following the film, led by retired Director of New York’s Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, Howard Dodson.

Julius Rosenwald was born in 1892 to Jewish parents who emigrated to America from Germany during Abraham Lincoln’s presidency, in a house just a block from Lincoln’s home in Springfield, Illinois.

When he was 16 years old, Rosenwald was apprenticed to his uncles, who were clothing manufacturers in New York City, where he learned the trade. By the time he was 30, he had obtained moderate success as a business owner making ready-to-wear men’s suits. This led him to becoming a partner in Sears, Roebuck & Company. He eventually purchased the company, implementing a rational management philosophy and a diverse product line. In 1908, Rosenwald was named president of the company, and after 17 years was appointed Chairman of the Board, a position he held until his death in 1932.

In 1911, Rosenwald met Booker T. Washington, and the two became friends, even visiting each other’s homes. Soon thereafter, Rosenwald made his entry into large-scale philanthropy by establishing the Rosenwald Fund, which donated millions of dollars in matching funds to support the education of African American children in the rural south. Together with Washington, he built more than 5,000 state-of-the-art schools for African American children across the south, which became known as “Rosenwald Schools”. After a long philanthropic career, Rosenwald died at his home in Highland Park, Illinois, on January 6, 1932.

Howard Dodson, retired Director of the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture will be leading the discussion following the screening. The Schomburg Center is one of four research libraries within the New York Public Library and is recognized as one of the leading institutions of its kind in the world. An international research and cultural icon located in Harlem, the Center has collected, preserved, and provided access to materials documenting black life, and promoted the study and interpretation of the history and culture of peoples of African
descent. The Center attracts scholars from across the nation and the world who utilize the Center’s comprehensive collection of general, rare, and unique materials to deepen their knowledge of and scholarship about the African American experience and the African experience in the Diaspora.

Mr. Dodson served as Director of the Schomburg Center for 25 years. During his tenure, the holdings grew from 5 to 10 million items, and the attendance tripled to around 120,000 visitors a year. He secured the collections of Melville J. Herskovits, John Henrik Clarke, Lorraine Hansberry, Malcolm X, and Nat King Cole, among others.

Rosenwald, directed by Aviva Kemper, documents his life and philanthropy. To learn more about the film, and to watch the trailer, visit www.rosenwaldfilm.org. For further information or to register for the viewing, please call 904.899.6038 or register now.

 

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FREE TUESDAY LECTURE: WHY DOES WAR NEED ART?

Jan

17

WRITTEN BY KELSEY GOGA, MARKETING INTERN

Tuesday, January 17
7 to 8 p.m. | Free

James McBey (British, 1883 – 1959), ‘Unknown Frenchmen’, 1917, Drypoint, Gift of Mrs. James McBey, AG.1961.1.70

War stories have often been told through song, dance, writing, and especially the visual arts. When stepping through Heroes & Battlefields: World War I Prints by James McBey, one is sure to feel the empathy McBey had for his fellow soldiers during his time in the British army, when he was drawing sketches of the devastated streets and harsh realities of World War I.

The McBey prints on view highlight the distinct ugliness of war, as can be seen in Unknown Frenchmen and The Carpenter of Hesdin. These two works are seemingly connected, with The Carpender of Hesdin portraying a man making wooden crosses to honor the dead, which then hauntingly define the landscape in Unknown Frenchmen, with soldiers resting in the abandoned trenches.

James McBey (British, 1883 – 1959), ‘The Carpenter of Hesdin’, 1917, Drypoint, Gift of Mrs. James McBey, AG.1961.1.72

With this exhibition, the Museum commemorates the 100th anniversary of America’s entering World War I, and has invited G. Kurt Piehler, author of several U.S. Military History books to speak on this topic. He is also Director of the Institute on World War II and the Human Experience, as well as Associate Professor of History at Florida State University. He will be speaking on Tuesday, January 17 at 7 p.m. about the unshakable relationship between war and art.

For further information or to register, please call 904.899.6038, or register now.

 

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Lunching With the Ritz: A Lunchtime Chamber Concert

Jan

17

WRITTEN BY KELSEY GOGA, MARKETING INTERN

Wednesday, January 18
12:30 p.m. | Free with Museum Admission

Photo by Robin Holland

Spend some time with us and enjoy a concert in the auditorium from the Jacksonville-native Ritz Chamber Players. This concert includes a special performance inspired by LIFT.

This bright and diverse group draws its name from the historic Ritz Theatre and LaVilla Museum, which celebrates the rich history of the African American community that thrived in the LaVilla area of Jacksonville for more than a century. LaVilla was known as the “Harlem of the South,” and from 1861 to 1887 was an independent municipality, where African Americans held senior positions in government, the police force, and the fire department.

With the demise of segregation in the 1960s, those who were able began moving to other neighborhoods in the city. It wasn’t until the 1990s when the LaVilla neighborhood began to be revitalized. From here the Ritz Theatre and LaVilla Museum, and subsequently the Ritz Chamber Players, were born.

Founded in 2002 by clarinetist Terrance Patterson, the Ritz Chamber Players are often lauded as “a remarkable ensemble,” focusing on showcasing classical works. They have performed across the country from right here at the Times-Union Center for the Performing Arts to New York’s Weill Recital Hall in Carnegie Hall. You can view some samples of their work on their website’s Listening Room.

To register for this concert (Members Free, Non-Members Free with Paid Admission), please click here. To pre-order a box lunch from the Cummer Café (for an additional $15 per person plus tax and gratuity), view the menu and call 904.899.6022 or email cafe@cummermuseum.org. Pick up your order from the Café when you arrive and bring it into the Auditorium. Please plan to arrive a few minutes early to pick up your meal so you don’t miss any of the concert!

Future concerts with the Ritz Chamber Players will be held on Wednesday, February 22 as well as Wednesday, May 10.

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New Exhibition Showcases 19th-Century Academic Artwork

Jan

09

WRITTEN BY HEATHER STEWART, MARKETING INTERN

Jean-Léon Gérôme, (French, 1824 – 1904), ‘Working in Marble’ or ‘The Artist Sculpting Tanagra’, 1890, oil on canvas, 19 7/8 x 15 9/16 in., Dahesh Museum of Art, New York 1995.104

Academic Splendor: Nineteenth-Century Masterworks from the Dahesh Museum of Art will open January 27 at the Cummer Museum. The Dahesh Museum of Art is the only institution in the United States that is devoted to collecting, exhibiting, and interpreting works by European and American academically trained artists of the 19th and early 20th centuries.

What does the term “academic” mean when referring to art? It is used to describe those artists who were formally trained and educated in academies or private ateliers. It encourages not only a certain style and technique, but also knowledge of classical, religious, allegorical, and mythological subjects. Artists were also expected to maintain the principles of ideal beauty displayed in Classical and Renaissance art.

In the 19th century, Paris was the center of academic art, and home of the Académie des Beaux-Arts (Academy of Fine Arts), which oversaw the premier art school — the École des Beaux-Arts. The Academy also ran the official exhibitions, called the Salon, where artists displayed their works. By following the Academy’s path, hopeful artists gained entry into a world of fame, public and private commissions, and an opportunity to join an elite circle. The academic movement was strongest in France and England, attracting artists from all over the world.

The pieces included in the exhibition are what many people picture when they think of traditional art. Works like Working in Marble or The Artist Sculpting Tanagra by Jean-Léon Gérôme show us the dedication of the artist in finishing the plaster model for his famous 1890 statue Tanagra (now in the Musée d’Orsay), a personification of the ancient Greek city. Inspired by his desire for realism, and by the idea that classical sculpture was originally vividly colored, we see Gérôme delicately tinting the skin, hair, lips, and nipples of his marble Tanagra.

Academic Splendor: Nineteenth-Century Masterworks from the Dahesh Museum of Art will be on view January 27 through April 16, 2017.

A full listing of events can be found here.

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The English Garden

Dec

28

WRITTEN BY HEATHER STEWART, MARKETING INTERN

Thumbing through pictures of the Gardens from the 1920s and 30s, it’s easy to see, even in sepia tones, their stunning beauty. Brimming with hundreds of blooms from daylilies, peonies, iris, cannas, and roses, it was a spectacular sight. Petunias, snapdragons, and candytuft blossomed while white clematis, red passion flowers, and Japanese and Chinese wisteria perfumed the air.

The basic design of the English Garden was created by Philadelphia nurserymen Thomas Meehan and Sons and still exists to this day. The centerpiece of this Garden is the large rectangular arbor covered in wisteria, roses, and clematis. Beautifully-laid brick paths alternate with grass walkways to guide visitors to the cypress-beamed pergola that overlooks the water.

The English Garden was typical of an era marked by large estates that required a groundskeeper. Annuals and perennials were planted on a seasonal rotation, and maintenance was a year-round activity. Pruning, starting seeds, and cutting fresh flowers for the home were daily chores of the gardener.

Gardener Bernd Marzulla has a long-term goal to restore the gardens, which are listed on the National Register of Historic Places, to their condition circa 1930. It’s not a simple project, as it demands spending hours reviewing old blueprints and handwritten notes. Then there is the challenge of finding out if those plants are still available. It’s a laborious process, but one born of passion, and Marzulla is up to the task.

Proceeds from Garden Month 2017 will be used to restore the English Garden. Using historic photos like this one in the Cummer Archives, Staff and volunteer Carolyn Marsh Lindsay, under the guidance of the Museum’s Garden Committee, have created a plan to restore Ninah Cummer’s first garden to its period of significance. Mrs. Cummer, an avid gardener, actively changed and augmented her gardens throughout her lifetime, but the 1930s represent a peak period of design for all of the Gardens on the Cummer campus. It is that period we seek to show when the Garden is restored.

If you would like to support this important initiative, please contact the Advancement Office at 904.899.6027.

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You Can Get It If You Really Want It

Dec

20

WRITTEN BY SHAWANA BROOKS, GUEST CONTRIBUTOR

Go across the pond and you will find the name Harewood in a grand abundance. Here in Jacksonville, there is only one that is on everyone’s lips at this moment, Professor Dustin Harewood. The name is getting much notice, and his art is a standout around our city. Murals line walls in Springfield and across the newly-formed Phoenix Arts District. In the past two months Dustin’s face has been on the cover of Folio Weekly (twice in the last six months), mentioned in the Resident, and  he was featured in a full-page spread article in JACK Magazine. He was recently interviewed at the local on-air news syndicate Channel 4. Social media fame is on the rise yet he still gets mistaken for fellow artists Overstreet Ducasse or Roosevelt Watson III. Puzzling? Though they all share similar characteristics and are artists, the only true thing they have in common is the perception of the color of their skin. Is this lack of identification because he has been focused on exhibiting overseas, like in his homeland of Barbados or that of his wife’s homeland, Japan? Or is it because he’s been shepherding sheep for the past 12 years as a professor of art at FSCJ Kent Campus? The misidentification can be troubling to the tenured teacher, but for now his mind is focused on his stewardship.

From the moment a visitor walks into Professor Harewood’s classroom it’s clear how much Dustin loves the kids. A student working an on upcoming project interrupts our interview to get his attention. No apologies are necessary, and the student is quick to give a shout-out to the readers of this blog. Dustin gives solid advice without directly telling where the creative process should take him. “We’ll see how it turns out,” he says as he constantly pulls on his beard and peers through narrowed eyes. These are all tell-tale signs that Dustin has a secure critique in mind about the work in front of him. “Oh, now see this is a little different. Let’s see where it goes. Now it’s all about how well you paint it.” The student launches into why he chose the pattern and recounts what was said in an earlier class, ready to defend or amend his choices. It’s obvious the student wants a firmer hand, but Dustin is a master at evading this trap. No Jedi Masters here, he doesn’t want to put his creative mind onto the students. He’s walking the difficult tightrope of leading without influencing.

“Every artist starts off being influenced by someone but the longer you continue to investigate and analyze how you’re doing that, you will hopefully find yourself in an original place. In my head the stuff I’m doing right now is very original.”

Coming off the success of a pop-up exhibition in San Marco it’s hard to not agree. Dustin is always looking to stay the student, “I move between three things so that the work doesn’t get boring, or feel contrived.” Two out of those three things are combined in an original way: it’s the first time he made the art speak to each other (for the LIFT exhibition) his Floating Heads, which he started very early in his career, and the non-objective abstract art (try saying that five times fast).

“Trying to find your voice is fine, nothing wrong with influence. Sometimes the mistake is when you present yourself as a full-blown developed artist and you have not taken the time to quietly develop your craft.”

Get Up Stand Up

Dustin has been developing his voice since coming out of graduate school and moving to Jacksonville in 2004. “These past 2 years I think I’ve been finding my stride. The work I’m making now is the best I ever made, which is exciting. I assume when I hit 80 I will be producing that fire.”

That is exciting. Several artists throughout history received more fame and recognition as they got older just like one of Dustin’s art heroes, Gerhard Richter. “Artists who take the time to mature have a different quality to what they’re making than a prodigy; it can be a mixed blessing to get too many accolades too early.”

“One of the reasons I think Jean Michel Basquit might have committed suicide/overdosed (considering your perspective) is because he believed his career was washed up. People were commenting that his best work was done. This is not discussed. I don’t think he coped well.” Dustin has the credentials to give this commentary: he came to Jacksonville right after he garnering his MFA. Born in New York, Dustin’s family moved back to their homeland of Barbados when he was eleven.

“My parents are both Barbadian but they met in New York. That was supposed to be the big move back. Get this nice big yard; everything is happily ever after but mmm…  My Dad came back to the United States.”

Dustin, his sister, and Mother stayed behind. There was a lot of competition to get in the only University on the whole island. His father valued education and wanted his children to move back to America with him in North Carolina. Dustin was accepted into North Carolina Central University (NCCU), a Historically Black College and University (HBCU). “Barbados was 95% black.” It wasn’t a culture shock to continue to be in a space dominated by other folks that resembled his identity. “My dad purposefully felt I should go to a HBCU because they would nurture me more and I’m glad he did that.”

University of North Carolina Greensboro would be the follow-up to his undergraduate studies. There he developed relationships with two students, Tonya Lee and Barrett Fiser. They were a year ahead of him and convinced Dustin to put Jacksonville on his radar. Graduate school did look different from Dustin’s youth, “UNCG is the first time I remember being the only black person in a lot of my classes.”

His dad, a better advisor than most counselors, knew it was important for his son to get the full scope of America. 12 years later Dustin looks around to see he is again an anomaly. He is the only black Professor of Arts in all of Jacksonville, Florida. Sure there are instructors sprinkled around but no other fellows for this fellow. When he first moved here it was a shock; now it’s a reminder of how much progress has not happened here. Among academics it’s barely discussed.

“I owe a debt to my parents because they were putting me in a position to succeed. They exposed me to arts which are unusual for West Indian parents – they are normally like no, no. You need to be an Accountant.”

The classes he took at Brooklyn Museum when he was seven years old have put art at his core. Dustin wants to be here in the classroom. He’s invested in the success of his students. “For a lot of artists it’s about them and what is next for me, which is understandable, but in this job it’s about this community of artists. A win for them is a win for me.”

Rebels

Being an invested art teacher among a faculty that isn’t widely diverse has isolated the professor from the black art community. The art world is nothing if not connected. Dustin is working a different circuit. He hasn’t exhibited in other black-themed artist interest shows in the past. Not that he hasn’t wanted to. “It made me realize that it was a problem and it might be time again to reintroduce myself,” but the art intellectual hadn’t found the right fit for his work in that context. Then along comes the Cummer Museum. Dustin being chosen to be a part of LIFT: Contemporary Expressions of the African Experience comes at no surprise, but his apprehension to commit at first does.

“I had to rethink about what I was doing to make sure I was adding dialogue to the show. One of the first floating heads exhibits I did was of famous reggae artists (Lee Scratch Perry, Buju Baton, Sizzla), one of the first political shows I did. I was asked, ‘Are these your friends?’ Even famous faces are misidentified or relegated to ordinary citizens when they are people of color.”

The representation is immediate entering the Jacobsen Gallery. Old and young black male images spring forward at you from works of Ingrid Damiani and Marsha Hatcher. Turning to the immediate left are three floating faces. While the Kendrick Lamar floating head and Peter Tosh are not always easily recognized most do identify the third, Nina Simone.

Nina turned her art into activism in a very less than subtle way during her heyday, but you would have to know who she is to enjoy the subtlety in Harewood’s artwork. “There shouldn’t be a novelty to exhibiting. We have to be interesting as contemporary artists period. Or you will unwillingly brand yourself as such.” A sample from Kanye West’s, “Blood On the Leaves” is what reminded him of the depth of Nina’s lyricism. “I didn’t start off thinking of Nina, and I didn’t want go to images like Billie Holiday. I was a little apprehensive.” The chills he felt when he heard her voice solidified his choice. Nina’s commitment to unapologetic blackness interfered with her artistic success, something that can be parlayed on to contemporary black artists of today. To be labeled as a black artist or not to be is always the question.

It Goes Down In The Diem

LIFT has been fantastic. I love that we are in this thing.” Harewood is exuberant when speaking about the caliber of artists who are in this group show. He has respect for each of them. The cross-connections continue to be abundant. Harewood has previously been in a group show with Rashid and Ducasse but has seen how his recognition has increased since the exhibition of LIFT debuted. “People here didn’t really know me. The Cummer Museum put me on this beautiful platform. But then, what do you do with that? I would be a fool to sit around waiting for someone to do that again. I’m very grateful to run with the ball the Museum gave me.”

Dustin is clearly no fool. While other artists are clamoring over what they view as limited artistic opportunities for a living artist here, he believes it’s important for artists to innovate their own. Carpe diem their talent and find ways to exhibit past the lack of galleries that our artistic talent craves. It’s what he did with his latest exhibition, How To Now.

“The people who complain about it need to shift their focus and think about the advantages. We are in the circumstance that there are a bunch of people here who are interested in art. Find innovative ways to introduce the art. Instead of talking how it’s (Jacksonville) not like New York or Atlanta, we can talk about the opportunities; there are so many possibilities.”

This might be why Dustin Harewood admires fellow LIFT artist Hiromi Moneyhun. Dustin and Hiromi have a lot of connections beyond art, of course the most superficial being she is Japanese and so is his wife, but it was the art that forged their bond. “You can put this down in my article that I am the biggest Hiromi Moneyhun fan!” He is not alone. Dustin was instrumental in presenting and curating Hiromi’s first solo show. “I’ve always been a huge fan of hers. With Hiromi it’s not about the glitz and glamour it is all about the work. The quality. The craftsmanship. If you are serious you are constantly developing your craft.” The studio that sits in the back corner built into his classroom decorated with new works in process that Dustin shoos my peering eyes away from shows he is that serious too.

I Am The Upsetter

The recent Art Ventures grant recipient did not grow up with familiarity with “Lift Ev’ry Voice and Sing”. He became familiar with the song once he got drafted for this show. This was the first time he even dealt with James Weldon Johnson as a subject matter.

“The emphasis of my secondary education was West Indian. Even some of my U.S. History gets sketchy now and again. When I came over here I realized I was missing something, I realized it after the fact. I would have to self educate.”

Hidden history is no mystery in our educational system. LIFT serves as the symbol of the novelty with which African American history is treated. Trotted out most during February and vapidly disappearing the rest of the year. “I love that it didn’t open in February,” although it does close that month. Dustin is aware that you have to distinguish yourself outside the protective bubbles we create for our own comfort. A lesson learned once he re-adapted to his American roots. In plain sight with no angles Dustin is always his artists’ keeper, “Do they need to know as long as I am helping them? No one needs to hear about it. I’m quietly doing what needs to be done.” It’s commendable that in an often, at times opportunistic self-serving society Harewood is fine with unsung heroics. I’m glad to shout it out for him.

As our interview comes to a close The Professor is called to arms one more time. This time he is helping a student to shape her portfolio for graduate school. He surveys the art and tells her the strongest images to submit. The help that his former graduate classmates gave him comes back up in conversation. He doesn’t forget the hand they extended to help form his life. He uses the best of the resources available to him to create art opportunities for his students and also curates shows at Kent Campus and selects specific artists around town to exhibit. That is viewed as unusual amongst artists, but Dustin is undeterred. He once made work for an exhibition out of town but it left a bad taste in his mouth. It was a missed opportunity in the fact that he created art but now he doesn’t feel like it belongs to his body of work. “I won’t do that again. I never show it.” This lesson was important to learn for visual communication. It is why Dustin shares his criticism and creativity with anyone who chooses to engage him if they are smart enough to listen. It is refreshing to see he has no fear with giving things away.

“No one can take what is mine. At this point I don’t want to regurgitate. If we are so creative, why are we so standard with our practices? Are we really that innovative?”

That is a good question Professor, but while we are waiting for the answer Dustin will be planning his next move.

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