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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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On the Road: ‘Return from the Harvest’ Tours the Country

Apr

10

Written by Registrar Kristen Zimmerman

William-Adolphe Bouguereau (French, 1825 – 1905), ‘Return from the Harvest’, 1878, oil on canvas, 95 x 67 in., Purchased with funds from Membership Contributions, AP.1964.2.1.

One of the Cummer Museum’s largest, heaviest, and most important paintings, which has not left the walls of the Museum since 1995, is now on a three-venue tour as part of a major exhibition, Bouguereau & America. The painting, William-Adolphe Bouguereau, Return from the Harvest, c. 1878, will travel to the Milwaukee Art Museum, Memphis Brooks Museum of Art, and the San Diego Museum of Art through January 2020. The Milwaukee Museum of Art has put together an interactive website to map the provenance of the works included in the exhibition.

The Museum has a rigorous and thoughtful process when it comes to lending works of art to other Museums and institutions. Our Curatorial team must consider the safety of the artwork, the thesis and scholarly merit of the exhibition, and whether the borrowing institutions are accredited by the American Alliance of Museums or are museums with which we have established relationships.  While the decision to participate in an exhibition is not one that is made lightly, it can often further the research on the work of art and provides the opportunity for audiences around the country to have access to a piece they would not otherwise experience.

The painting being placed into the travel frame, where it will be secured.

Bouguereau & America explores Bouguereau’s popularity in the United States during the late 1800s and the desire of serious collectors to add his work to their growing collections. Return from the Harvest was commissioned by Alexander T. Stewart in 1874. Stewart was a self-made millionaire of the Gilded Age and is very typical of the type of patron for whom the artist painted. In addition to these commonalities, Return from the Harvest illustrates the remarkable ability Bouguereau had in adapting the work of Italian Renaissance artists into more modern concepts. Here, Bouguereau depicts a scene that can at once be seen as having themes that are both distinctly Christian and distinctly pagan. If not for the title, it would be easy to wrongly assume the subjects to be that of Virgin and Child. All of these factors make our painting a crucial component to the exhibition’s thesis.

The painting, now secured in its travel frame, will be placed inside a larger wood crate for transport.

Of the 50 paintings in the exhibition, our piece is the second largest, coming in at a stifling 10 x 7 ½ ft. One of the most daunting challenges with lending a work of this scale is to ensure the painting is packed and transported safely to each venue. Simply to remove the painting safely from the wall takes a team of six art handlers. Due to the weight and ornate style of the frame, the painting is then secured into a travel frame before being placed in the outer crate. Each time the piece is moved, the Museum sends a courier from its Curatorial team to oversee the removal from the wall, packing, transportation, unpacking, inspection, and re-installation at each venue. Prior to the piece being hung on the wall at a new venue, a conservator must inspect the piece thoroughly to review its condition, check for damage, and note any changes since the last time it was inspected.

Onto the truck it goes. Bye bye Bouguereau!

 

Over the coming year, Return from the Harvest will make its way across the country and back home to the Cummer Museum. If you happen to be traveling to Milwaukee, Memphis, or San Diego, stop in to view the exhibition, learn more about William-Adolphe Bouguereau’s impact on the art world, and visit with a familiar work of art from home.

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New Name, Same Incredible Program!

Apr

09

Written by Museum Educator Mary McBride

Arts4All, formerly the VSA Festival, originally launched in 1995. The Museum’s annual festival, underwent a name change this year to align with Florida’s leading arts access organization, Arts4All Florida, formerly VSA of Florida. Developed in alignment with the guiding principles of VSA, the International Organization on Arts and Disability, part of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, the Cummer Museum’s Arts4All Festival has become a national model, receiving consistent local and national recognition in its field.

The annual Arts4All Festival at the Museum, presented by Citi, invites students with different abilities from the greater Jacksonville area to visit the Museum to experience art through all of their senses. Over the course of four days, nearly 1,600 children and 700 teachers and chaperones from three counties will visit the Museum to experience art-making, movement, and music throughout the campus. In addition to Museum staff, nearly 1,200 volunteers will fill the Museum to lead groups through the Museum and provide one-on-one interactions with students.

In the galleries, gardens, and studios, students are able to express themselves creatively through hands-on art-making, music, and movement, themes that have been at the heart of the Festival since it began. Unique to the Cummer Museum, art-making activities are not just for the studios, but take place directly in the galleries surrounded by original works of art, as well as the Museum’s historic gardens. Musical storyteller Ajamu Mutima and multi-instrumentalist Arvid Smith use music as a powerful tool to engage and inspire children at the Festival. They create unique interactive musical experiences, inviting visiting students to get involved in the performance by dancing, clapping, singing, and trying out the instruments. Students are also given time to independently explore the Museum’s interactive area, where they can create art, handle art reproductions, dance, and play at their own pace.

The event allows each student to participate in the creative process and to demonstrate their own artistic abilities. Teachers from last year’s Festival said:

“This experience was good for student self-esteem. When they saw some of the projects, their first reaction was, ‘I can’t do that.’ But as they started to work and realized that there was no wrong way to do it, they really enjoyed the activities. They were so proud of their work. The activities help establish a sense of accomplishment, which definitely translates into learning in all areas.”

“Some of our students have never been to the museum. Having the opportunity to expose children to this incredible art, cultural, social experience is great for their self-esteem. The museum staff and volunteers do an incredible job of making the students feel successful, special, and acknowledged. They are so encouraging and supportive of each student’s effort. This has such a positive impact on the student’s self-esteem.”

“My students truly enjoyed their experience at the Festival. They loved the interactive, hands-on activities. I believe it helped them with their knowledge of what they can do on their own as well as brought out the creativity in them.”

The 24th annual Arts4All Festival at the Cummer Museum of Art & Gardens will take place Tuesday, April 30 through Friday, May 3, 2019. If you are interested in supporting the program, please contact Hannah Oberholtzer at 904.899.6028. The Cummer Museum of Art & Gardens would not be the vibrant civic and cultural resource it is without the philanthropic support of our community. It is only through this generosity that the Museum is able to fulfill its mission to engage and inspire through the arts, gardens, and education.

The 2019 Arts4All Festival at the Cummer Museum is presented by:

Festival Champions:
Chartrand Family Fund
DuBow Family Foundation
Next Generation Foundation
Duval Motor Company
Jersey Mike’s Subs
Red Coat Grant – The PLAYERS Championship
SABEL Foundation

Friends of the Festival:
Acentria Insurance
Ally Financial
Arts4All Florida
Coordinated Benefits Group
Cultural Council of Greater Jacksonville
Director’s Circle at the Cummer Museum
Duval County Public Schools
Pam and Jake Ingram

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The English Garden is Restored and Open!

Apr

09

Following the devastation caused by Hurricane Irma, the English Garden has been restored and re-opened to the public! Work on infrastructure repairs began on January 14, and we look forward to watching the plants grow and blossom.

English Garden post-Irma

In September 2017, Hurricane Irma hit Jacksonville and caused devastating flooding at the Museum. The lower tier of all three formal garden spaces, which are listed in the National Register of Historic Places, remained submerged for more than 24 hours, resulting in the uprooting of plants, detached railing along the river, broken lighting, pervasive salinization of the soil, large amounts of debris, and significant impact to much of the physical infrastructure, including drainage, electric, fencing, and the well that services the landscape. Garden restoration takes time. It is a complex process to evaluate the hardscape and infrastructure integrity, and to assess plant viability and soil health. 

English Garden March 20, 2019

Cummer Museum Gardener George Sotelo said, “We didn’t know what we had until we lost it. Through lots of hard work and generosity of the community, we have finally seen progress in restoring the English Garden portion of our local treasure. Stop by and enjoy all the work that has been done!”

Work continues in the Italian and Olmsted gardens, and we look forward to seeing the historic Cummer Gardens back to the way they once were. We are preparing to finish restoration work by the end of summer. Thank you to all the generous donors for their support to make this restoration possible.

The Cummer Museum of Art & Gardens would not be the vibrant civic resource it is without the philanthropic support of our community. It is only through this generosity that the Museum is able to fulfill its mission to engage and inspire through the arts, gardens, and education.

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Museum Receives Endowment for Garden Curator

Apr

02

The Museum has received an $800,000 gift to name and endow the position of Garden Curator, thanks to the generosity of the Lorena “Lory” Doolittle and her family. The gift allows the Museum to create The Doolittle Family Garden Curator position, which will work with the Museum team to create meaningful, impactful, and artful opportunities that share the Museum’s historic gardens with visitors in engaging and inspiring ways.

 

“With this gift, Lory Doolittle and her family help assure that the treasures of landscape architecture here at the Cummer Museum will be stewarded into the future,” states Adam Levine, Ph.D., the Museum’s George W. and Kathleen I. Gibbs Director & Chief Executive Officer. “The Cummer Museum houses masterpieces in its galleries by Rubens, Turner, and Degas, but those are equaled if not exceeded by our outdoor masterpieces by Meehan, Olmstead, and Shipman. Ms. Doolittle has embraced this view and through this gift helps provide the care that will make these gardens available to the Jacksonville community for generations to come.”

 

Lory Doolittle has been actively involved with the Museum since moving to Jacksonville in 2004 from Connecticut. She has worked as a volunteer with the Museum’s Docents since 2013, providing tours of the galleries and gardens for schools, private groups, and the general public. She has also been actively involved with the Cummer Beaches affinity group. Mrs. Doolittle has been a long-time supporter of the Museum’s mission and vision, through financial and volunteer support, including service on the Museum’s Education Committee.

 

“The Cummer Gardens were created by Ninah Cummer with care and devotion,” says Lory Doolittle. “With the help of a garden curator, Mrs. Cummer’s garden legacy will continue to enhance the Cummer Museum and educate the public.”

 

The Doolittle gift fully funds the $1.5 million endowment for the position, the proceeds of which will be used to support the compensation and expenses related to maintaining a garden curator. The Garden Curator will establish a strategy to create greater permeability and crossover between the Museum’s gardens and gallery spaces, develop garden-related programming, and create partnerships that will promote the visibility of the gardens in Jacksonville and beyond.

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Italian Art Lecture Series

Mar

26

Written by Membership Officer Brittany Nazario

This past year, both Cummer Beaches and Cummer Amelia collaborated with local organizations to present a three-part lecture series on Italian Art. Cummer Beaches was first to host the series in September, October, and November of 2018. The series was in partnership with the Beaches Museum, who hosted the lectures in their historic Chapel. Cummer Amelia followed with the same series on Italian art in January, February, and March of 2019. The series was hosted by the Fernandina Beach Branch Library. Each lecture filled to capacity and were thoroughly enjoyed by all who attended.

Dr. Debra Murphy, University of North Florida

The Professor of Art History at the University of North Florida, Dr. Debra Murphy, presented the lecture series. She has been the inaugural chair of the Department of Art and Design at UNF since 2004. She has been recognized for outstanding teaching by UNF, the Cultural Council of Greater Jacksonville, and the Southeastern College Art Conference. She has also been honored by the university for her founding of the department’s Italy program, which recently celebrated its tenth year. Dr. Murphy has long been a member of the Cummer Museum and has written a book on its early director, Joseph Jeffers Dodge. She has also written on the Museum’s The Holy Family, attributed to Giorgio Vasari.

In part one of the lecture series, “Florence: The Cradle of the Renaissance”, Dr. Murphy explored one of the most spectacular flowerings of creativity in the history of art against the background of such titans as Donatello, Ghiberti, Brunelleschi, Michelangelo, and Raphael. Renaissance works from the Museum’s collection such as the Madonna of Humility with Angels by Agnolo Gaddi, the Portrait of Bartolomeo Compagni, by Pier Francesco Foschi and The Holy Family by Giorgio Vasari were examined in the broader context of Florentine art.

“Rome as a Center for the Arts” was the title of the second lecture in the series. This presentation focused on the Eternal City as a source of opportunity and patronage for artists such Michelangelo, Raphael, Bernini, and countless others. The central role of Rome as an artistic and training hub was sustained by the presence of wealthy merchants, bankers, ecclesiastic figures and, of course, the Church. Artists from all corners of Europe, and later the United States, from the 15th century forward, flocked to the Italian city. Works from the Museum’s collection offer many examples, including paintings by Claude Lorrain and Charles-Joseph Natoire, which Dr. Murphy highlighted during the discussion.

“Caravaggio and the Drama of Baroque Art” culminated the three-part series. Although he died in 1610, Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio, the bad boy of Baroque art, cast a long shadow over most of the 17th century. Numerous artists were influenced by him while others rejected his dramatic and realistic approach. Dr. Murphy showed selections from the Cummer’s impressive Baroque collection, including an early work by Peter Paul Rubens, which were discussed in the context of Caravaggio’s contributions and challenges to artistic norms.

The Cummer Museum’s Affinity Groups offer members unique opportunities to become more involved in the Museum by exploring their own passions. Each Affinity Group has its own board and special events, which support the mission of the Museum. Cummer Amelia is an organization for Nassau county residents devoted to encouraging interest in and support for the artistic and cultural significance of the Museum. The purpose of Cummer Beaches is to support the Museum and enhance the membership experience for Beaches-area residents. Cummer Beaches provides significant financial and volunteer support to the Museum, promoting education programs for both youth and adults, and creating a variety of fun events for its members.

For more information on the Cummer Museum’s Affinity Groups please visit our website. We hope to see you at the next lecture series!

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#5WomenArtists – Elizabeth Catlett

Mar

21

 

Elizabeth Catlett, 1986 (photograph by Fern Logan), Photo from Wikipedia

Elizabeth Catlett (1915 – 2012) was a teacher and a successful artist. She graduated cum laude from Howard University in 1935. Catlett had not originally planned on going to Howard because she won a scholarship to the Carnegie Institute of Technology in Pittsburgh. After the college found out she was black, however, the university denied her the chance to enroll.

She focused her art on the continuous struggle for equality, Black people, and women. Catlett worked with clay, wood, and stone for her sculptures, as well as creating woodcuts and linocuts. Her work was inspired by her firsthand experience of the segregation between ethnic groups. Catlett focused on depicting African American women as strong, maternal figures.

Elizabeth Catlett (American, 1915-2012) ‘Seated Woman’, c. 1961-1971, bronze, On loan from The Thomas H. and Diane DeMell Jacobsen Ph.D. Foundation, L.2016.3.1.

An accomplished sculptor and printmaker, Elizabeth Catlett remains one of the leading African American political artists of her generation. Beginning in the 1940s, she created several sculptural representations of seated women and she returned to this theme repeatedly throughout her career. With the extraneous details eliminated, even her smaller figures are imbued with a feeling of dignity and monumentality.

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