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#5WomenArtists – Augusta Savage: ‘Gamin’ and ‘The Diving Boy’

Mar

27

Augusta Savage (1892 – 1962) was an internationally renowned African American sculptor in the 1920s and 1930s. Born in Green Cove Springs, Florida she and her family moved to West Palm Beach.  In 1919, she entered the West Palm Beach County Fair, and her work was awarded a special prize. As a result, Savage was encouraged to pursue her art career. She moved to New York and enrolled at the Copper Union School of Art. During her time in New York, Savage sculpted Gamin, which is thought to be a portrait bust of her nephew.  Savage was awarded a Julius Rosenwald Fellowship to study in Paris in 1929.

Augusta Savage (American, 1892 – 1962), ‘Gamin’, c. 1930, painted plaster, Purchased with funds from the Morton R. Hirschberg Bequest, AP.2013.1.1

When she returned to New York, she established the Savage Studio of Arts and Crafts in 1932 and became an inspiring and influential teacher in Harlem. In 1934, she became the first African American member of the National Association of Woman Painters and Sculptors. Following her appointment as the first director of the Harlem Community Art Center, Savage was commissioned by the 1939 New York World’s Fair to create a sculpture, which is considered one of her most important and significant pieces. Titled The Harp, it was inspired by the lyrics of James Weldon Johnson’s poem, Lift Every Voice and Sing. Sadly, due to a lack of funding, she was not able to cast the completed sculpture in bronze, and its original plaster version was destroyed at the close of the fair.

Augusta Savage at work on ‘The Harp’, 1935-1945, New York World’s Fair (1939-1940). Photographs and Prints Division, Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, The New York Public Library, Astor, Lenox and Tilden Foundations.

Savage taught children throughout her career and considered them hope for the future. She has been quoted saying, “I have created nothing really beautiful, really lasting, but if I can inspire one of these youngsters to develop the talent I know they possess, then my monument will be their work.”

Gamin, which is part of the Cummer Museum of Arts & Gardens’ permanent collection, was a pivotal piece in Augusta Savage’s career. In this bust, the artist cleverly captures her subject’s personality. This sculpture is also important because it depicts a Black youth in a humane way, challenging the visual culture of the period that presented African American children as dirty and ragtag.

The Diving Boy was owned by Museum founder Ninah Cummer, where it was originally placed at one end of a reflecting pool in Mrs. Cummer’s Italian Garden. It is typical of Savage’s interest in combining realistic details with powerful expressiveness.

Augusta Savage (American, 1892 – 1962), ‘The Diving Boy’, c. 1939, bronze, 32 ½ in., Bequest of Ninah M. H. Cummer, C.0.602.1

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#5WomenArtists: Marie-Victoire Lemoine – Portrait of a Youth in an Embroidered Vest

Mar

26

Via Wikipedia

Marie-Victoire Lemoine (1754-1820) was a French painter who was born in Paris. She led a surprisingly quiet life in one of history’s most violent and chaotic eras. She was brought up along with her three sisters, two of whom also became professional artists. Unlike her sisters, Lemoine never married, instead concentrating on her career and remaining single throughout her lifetime. She became one of the few contemporary women artists to make a living thorough her painting. Lemoine is known for her concentration on the painting of portraits, miniatures, and genre subjects.

Lemoine studied with the history painter François Guillaume Ménageot (1744-1816) who was a member of the Académie royale de Peinture et de sculpture. She is rumored to have also taken lessons from Élisabeth Louise Vigée-LeBrun (1755-1842), who along with her husband owned the home where Ménageot lived. She exhibited at the Salon, the official annual exhibition in Paris, irregularly from 1796 to 1814. This was a milestone achievement that could not have been possible without the French Revolution.

Her most important work, Interior of an Atelier of a Woman Painter, was exhibited at the Salon of 1796. Although it is not likely, some critics say that this painting is a portrait of or homage to Vigée-LeBrun, whose own work inspired Lemoine. It is currently on display at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.

Portrait of 18th Century black youth in an embroidered vest and silk shirt

Marie-Victoire Lemoine (French, 1754 – 1820), Portrait of a Youth in an Embroidered Vest, 1785, oil on canvas, 25 5/8 x 21 ½ in., Purchased with funds from the Cummer Council, AP.1994.3.1.

 

Portrait of a Youth in an Embroidered Vest was once thought to be a portrait of the well-known Louis Benoît Zamor. He was protégé to King Louis XV’s mistress, Madame Du Barry (1743 — 1793). Zamor fell out of favor for sympathizing with the French Revolution and his testimony against his former patroness at the Committee of Public Safety lead to her execution by guillotine in 1793. Given the richness of the subject’s attire, another hypothesis is that the young man may be one of the two servants of the house of the Duchess d’Orléans (1753-1821) for whom the artist worked.

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Extinction is Forever

Mar

12

In the 19th century, passenger pigeons numbered nearly 4 billion individuals. Massive hunting and habitat destruction were the main causes of the species’ demise. “Martha,” the last passenger pigeon, died in captivity on September 1, 1914. Image from Smithsonian Institution Archives.

Extinction is defined by Merriam-Webster as the condition or fact of being extinct or extinguished; no longer existing. There are many species of plants and animals that have become extinct, and many more are expected to become extinct. Gone from our planet. Forever. Think about that.

The Carolina parakeet was the only parrot species native to the eastern United States. Its forest habitats were removed to make space for agriculture, and they were hunted heavily to provide feathers for ladies’ hats. The last captive Carolina parakeet died in captivity on February 21, 1918. Painting by John James Audubon

Even though extinction is a naturally occurring phenomenon, the normal “background rate” for the loss of species is one to five per year. Unfortunately, scientists predict that we are currently losing plants and animals at a rate of 1,000 to 10,000 times the background rate, translating to dozens being lost every day, and we could see many as 30 to 50% of our species head toward extinction by the middle of this century. This crisis is almost entirely due to the actions of mankind, through the loss of habitat, the introduction of species not normally part of a landscape, environmental pollution, the spread of disease, and climate change.

‘The Lost Bird Project’ on display at McCall City Park, Portland, Oregon in 2010. Photo from toddmcgrain.com

Todd McGrain: The Lost Bird Project is an exhibition on view in the Museum’s J. Wayne and Delores Barr Weaver Community Sculpture Garden & Plaza through October 21, 2018. The exhibition features five large-scale sculptures and is supplemented by the presentation of preparatory drawings in the Bank of America Concourse, a gallery inside the Museum. As a chronicle of humankind’s impact on our changing world — excessive hunting and fishing, commerce, deforestation — and a record of dwindling biodiversity (the variety of life), The Lost Bird Project memorializes North American birds that have been driven to extinction. The great auk, Labrador duck, passenger pigeon, Carolina parakeet, and heath hen were birds that once filled unique niches in the North American landscape from the shores of Labrador and New York to the Midwestern plains. Moved by their stories, American artist Todd McGrain (b. 1961) set out to bring their vanished forms back into the world. More importantly, these sculptures ask us not to forget, and remind us of our duty to save fragile habitats and prevent further extinction.

The heath hen lived in abundance along the Atlantic Seaboard from Massachusetts to Virginia. Because of overharvest and habitat destruction, by the mid-1800s there was only a single population left on Martha’s Vineyard. Despite efforts to save the species, the last bird was seen there in 1932. Photo courtesy of The Vineyard Gazette

The species on earth don’t live in a vacuum, and it is not known how the loss of one species will affect the other species within its ecosystem, but it is known that the removal of just one species from an ecosystem can set off a chain reaction among all the remaining plants and animals. This, in turn, negatively affects the natural processes or the species composition of the ecosystem. But why should we care? What do all these species mean to humans, anyway?

The great auk was plentiful until the mid-16th century, when European sailors began the exploration of the oceans. Over-harvest of eggs, meat, feathers, fat, and oil was the main reason for its extinction. Painting courtesy of Smithsonian Magazine

Many advances in medicine have come from plants and animals; more than a quarter of U.S. prescriptions written each year contain chemicals originally discovered in them. About half of currently available medicines have been derived from a few hundred wild species, including antibiotics, cancer treatments, pain killers, and blood thinners. Every living thing on earth has its very own genetic makeup and biochemistry that has been evolving since they first came into being. Only a small number of species have been examined, and scientists have just begun to unravel their secrets to find benefits to humans. If we lose any single species, that information is gone forever, and that information could have been a treatment or cure for a human disease.

In the field of agriculture, farmers are using insects and other animals, such as bats, that eat pests detrimental to food crops. Plants with natural toxins are being used to repel some of these pests. In most cases these alternatives to synthetic chemical pesticides are less expensive and safer to use, both for the environment and for the people (including consumers) who interact with the crops.

The Florida scrub-jay is listed as a threatened species by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Scrub habitat is highly valued for development, and habitat destruction and suppression of fire in the species’ remaining range are the main threats to its existence. There are just over 5,000 Florida scrub-jays remaining.  Photo by James Lyon

Many individual plants and animals are indicators of the quality of the environment. When the number of peregrine falcons and bald eagles declined in the middle of the 20th century, scientists discovered that a common pesticide, DDT, was the cause. Eastern white pine and some lichens serve as indicators of extra sulfur dioxide, ozone, and other air pollutants. A decline in the number of freshwater mussels can indicate water pollution upstream from where they live. The Florida scrub-jay is an indicator species for the scrub ecosystem. When their numbers decline, so do those of the many other species of plants and animals that occupy the scrub habitat.

Plants are being used to remove, stabilize, transfer, and destroy pollutants that are found in the substrate in which they grow, be it soil or sediment. In this new field of study, called phytoremediation, plants remove heavy metals from soil and concentrate them in their stems, which are then harvested and disposed of properly. Some houseplants can remove indoor pollutants from the air in your home as well.

Ecotourism, through activities such as birdwatching, hiking, canoeing, camping, and kayaking add billions of dollars to the economies of countries around the world. Without the natural beauty of the environment, such tourism would diminish, damaging many economies.

These benefits are just a handful of reasons why plants and animals and their habitats should be protected. There are others, like flooding reduction, protecting pollinators for our crops and natural vegetation, buffering land against the impact of storms, and preservation of soil fertility. Many people believe that every life form should be protected simply for its intrinsic value, and that they should be left for future generations because they have been here on earth for so long. Some have compared eliminating entire species to ripping pages out of books that have not yet been read. As species are lost, so are options for the advancement of future generations, our children, our grandchildren, and all who follow behind us. We should, as humans, not be so selfish as to rob the future world of a cure for cancer or other devastating disease. Or rob the world of something that is simply unique. Extinction is forever.

Overharvest of the Labrador duck (or pied duck) and eggs on breeding grounds and habitat destruction following the arrival of Europeans were factors in the species’ extinction. It was last seen in 1875 in Long Island. Painting by John James Audubon

Sources:

Center for Biological Diversity. The Extinction Crisis. biologicaldiversity.org

The Cornell Lab of Ornithology. All About Birds. Can We Learn From The History Of The Heath Hen? allaboutbirds.org/can-we-learn-from-the-history-of-the-heath-hen/

The Cornell Lab of Ornithology. All About Birds. Even Small, Scattered Florida Scrub-Jay Groups Are Vital To The Survival Of The Species. allaboutbirds.org/even-small-scattered-florida-scrub-jay-groups-are-vital-to-the-survival-of-the-species/

Endangered Species International. Overview – Why Save Endangered Species? endangeredspeciesinternational.org/overview4.html

The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Camptorhynchus labradorius (Labrador Duck). iucnredlist.org/details/22680418/0

John James Audubon Center at Mill Grove. The Last Carolina Parakeet. johnjames.audubon.org/last-carolina-parakeet

Smithsonianmag.com. When the Last of the Great Auks Died, It Was by the Crush of a Fisherman’s Boot.

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Why Save Endangered Species? July 2005. endangered.fws.gov/

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#5WomenArtists: Marie-Victoire Lemoine – Portrait of a Youth in an Embroidered Vest

Mar

09

Via Wikipedia

Marie-Victoire Lemoine (1754-1820) was a French painter who was born in Paris. She led a surprisingly quiet life in one of history’s most violent and chaotic eras. She was brought up along with her three sisters, two of whom also became professional artists. Unlike her sisters, Lemoine never married, instead concentrating on her career and remaining single throughout her lifetime. She became one of the few contemporary women artists to make a living thorough her painting. Lemoine is known for her concentration on the painting of portraits, miniatures, and genre subjects.

Lemoine studied with the history painter François Guillaume Ménageot (1744-1816) who was a member of the Académie royale de Peinture et de sculpture. She is rumored to have also taken lessons from Élisabeth Louise Vigée-LeBrun (1755-1842), who along with her husband owned the home where Ménageot lived. She exhibited at the Salon, the official annual exhibition in Paris, irregularly from 1796 to 1814. This was a milestone achievement that could not have been possible without the French Revolution.

Her most important work, Interior of an Atelier of a Woman Painter, was exhibited at the Salon of 1796. Although it is not likely, some critics say that this painting is a portrait of or homage to Vigée-LeBrun, whose own work inspired Lemoine. It is currently on display at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.

Portrait of 18th Century black youth in an embroidered vest and silk shirt

Marie-Victoire Lemoine (French, 1754 – 1820), Portrait of a Youth in an Embroidered Vest, 1785, oil on canvas, 25 5/8 x 21 ½ in., Purchased with funds from the Cummer Council, AP.1994.3.1.

 

Portrait of a Youth in an Embroidered Vest was once thought to be a portrait of the well-known Louis Benoît Zamor. He was protégé to King Louis XV’s mistress, Madame Du Barry (1743 — 1793). Zamor fell out of favor for sympathizing with the French Revolution and his testimony against his former patroness at the Committee of Public Safety lead to her execution by guillotine in 1793. Given the richness of the subject’s attire, another hypothesis is that the young man may be one of the two servants of the house of the Duchess d’Orléans (1753-1821) for whom the artist worked.

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The Chef’s Canvas: Parade to War, Allegory (1938)

Mar

07

Photo by Agnes Lopez

Today’s recipe from “The Chef’s Canvas” is a delicious entree inspired by Parade to War, Allegory. Let’s walk through this recipe together and learn how to create this eclectic and unique dish!

Seared Red Grouper, Lemongrass-Scented Broth, Flageolet Beans, Baby Carrots, Fennel, Pickled Watermelon Radish, and Lemon and Tarragon Oils
Serves 2

Red grouper filets
1 tablespoon canola oil
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 pound clams
Fish stock
Flageolet Beans
Baby Carrots
Roasted Fennel
Upland cress, fennel fronds, micro sango radish, and micro basil, to garnish
Pickled Watermelon Radish
Lemon Oil
Tarragon Herb Oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Pat fish dry with a paper towel and season with salt and pepper. Add oil to a medium sauté pan and heat over medium-high heat until almost smoking. Gently place fish in pan and sear until golden brown, around 3 to 5 minutes.

Turn fish over and sear the other side until golden brown. Remove fish and place in an oven-safe pan with butter, then bake until just cooked through. Exact cooking time will depend on the size of the fish, so check it often.

While the fish is baking, heat flageolet beans in a little of their own cooking liquid and season to taste. Steam clams in fish stock.

Using a slotted spoon, place beans in the center of a large shallow bowl, then place roasted baby carrots across beans. Place two pieces of roasted fennel next to the beans, then gently ladle about a cup of fish broth into the bowl. Place seared fish on top of beans and baby carrots. Arrange upland cress, micro sango radish, fennel fronds, and micro basil around the fish. Place pickled watermelon radish on top of fish then finish with a few drops of lemon and tarragon oil.

Fish Stock

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large leek, chopped
3 ribs celery, chopped
2 bulbs fennel, chopped
4 cloves garlic, smashed
2 cups white wine
1 pound white fish bones
Lemongrass
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon pink peppercorns
1 teaspoon green peppercorns
8 cups water

Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium heat until hot but not smoking. Add leek, celery, fennel, and garlic, and sauté until translucent, about 8 minutes.

Deglaze with white wine and simmer for 6 to 8 minutes. Add fish bones, lemongrass, bay leaf, pink and green peppercorns, and water. Bring to a simmer and cook for about 30 minutes until aromatic.

Strain stock through a fine mesh sieve and skim off any fat.

Flageolet Beans

½ cup flageolet beans, soaked overnight
½ carrot, chopped
1 rib celery, chopped
¼ yellow onion, chopped

Place all ingredients in a medium saucepan and cover with water.

Simmer over medium heat until beans are tender, about 30-45 minutes. Drain beans and reserve cooking liquid.

Baby Carrots

3 baby carrots
1 knob butter

Blanch baby carrots in boiling salted water for 2 minutes. Once finished, immediately transfer to an ice bath to stop the cooking process.

When ready to plate, heat carrots in a saute’ pan with butter and season to taste with salt and pepper.

Roasted Fennel

1 bulb fennel, cored (reserve fronds for garnish)
¼ cup olive oil
¼ cup water
Salt and pepper, to taste

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Cut fennel in half lengthwise, the cut crosswise into ¼ inch slices.

Place fennel in a baking dish. Cover with olive oil and water. Bake for 25 minutes and season with salt and pepper.

Tarragon Herb Oil

1 cup chives
1 cup tarragon
1 cup flat leaf parsley
1 cup canola oil

Blanch the chives, tarragon, and flat leaf parsley in boiling salted water for 20 seconds and immediately shock in ice water to stop the cooking process.

Remove herbs from water and squeeze out any access liquid. Roughly chop the herbs and place in a blender with the oil. Puree for 3 minutes; the herbs should be bright green.

Strain oil through a fine mesh sieve and transfer to a squeeze bottle.

Pickled Watermelon Radish

1 carrot, peeled
1 tablespoon salt
1 bay leaf
1 watermelon radish, peeled and thinly sliced
1 ½ cups seasoned rice wine vinegar
½ cup water
1 teaspoon black peppercorns
1 serrano chili pepper, halved

Peel carrot into thin ribbons using a vegetable peeler. Place ribbons in a bowl and toss with salt, bay leaf, and watermelon radish.

In medium saucepan, boil the vinegar, water, peppercorns, and chili pepper. Remove from heat and cool slightly, then pour over carrot mixture.

Lemon Oil

1 large lemon, washed and dried
1 cup olive oil

Remove the zest from the lemon, avoiding the bitter white pith. Place the lemon zest and olive oil in a small sauce pan and warm over medium heat – do not let the oil simmer. Cook for about 10 minutes, then remove from heat and allow to cool.

Now you and a loved one can put napkins in your laps, pair the dish with your favorite white wine, and enjoy the hand-crafted meal you just made. You certainly earned it!

John Steuart Curry
American, 1897 – 1946
Parade to War, Allegory
1938
Oil on canvas
Gift of Barnett Banks, Inc.
AG.1991.4.1

Parade to War, Allegory was painted in the period of time after the Great Depression and before World War II. John Steuart Curry takes the scene of a joyous parade and morphs it into the morbid depiction of men marching to their deaths by turning the soldiers’ visages into skeletons. Parade to War, Allegory was meant to reflect the apprehension of the American people to fight in World War II.

“This painting was completed after the Great Depression, a time when people turned to growing their own gardens to provide food for their families. I wanted to create a dish that reflects that same garden-to-table mentality. My dish incorporates regionally grown ingredients and locally caught red grouper.

One of my biggest sources of inspiration as chef is my wife and family. When I looked at this painting, I saw a beautiful woman walking next to a soldier and playing children, and was instantly reminded of my family. The faces on each soldier reflect how their fates have all been predetermined by the war. When I leave for work, I am always thinking about my family and how important they are in my life.” – Ian Lynch, Executive Chef at Bistro Aix, on Parade to War, Allegory

“The Chef’s Canvas” is a cookbook created to honor the Museum’s permanent collection. The book is a treasure trove of artistic masterpieces, from the Museum’s galleries to kitchens throughout the diverse food scene in Jacksonville. This collaboration is like nothing the Museum has done before, and we look forward to sharing select recipes and the pieces of art that inspired them with you in The Chef’s Canvas Recipe Series.

“The Chef’s Canvas,” a work of art itself, was born of the idea that art fuels inspiration in all aspects of life, including in the kitchen. This unique collaboration allowed Jacksonville’s culinary experts to explore the collection and leave with the inspiration to create delicious, beautiful dishes, desserts, and cocktails. This series aims to give you a taste of Jacksonville’s culture, flavors, and artistry.

 

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British Invasion: An English Dinner Party

Jan

31

Thursday, Feb 15 | 6 to 9 p.m. | Registration required

Calling all anglophiles! Do you fancy a pint? Round up some mates, dress in your British best, and join us at the Museum for a pub crawl-style evening with a classy spin. Guests will enjoy live music with the Beatles tribute band Liverpool Live, a selection of favorite English beers plus our very own Avant Gardener by Bold City Brewery, wines, and some posh spins on classic pub cuisine! This jolly good evening will support the reconstruction of the English Gardens.

A sampling of the menu includes:

  • Scotch Eggs
  • Carved Steamship Round
  • Crispy Snapper Fillets with House Chips
  • Pub-style Chicken Curry

For further information or to register, click here.

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