Saturday, April 27, 2013

Wealth of Art at the Naples Art Museum, Part 1

Expectations, as always, are a dangerous thing.  For months, I've been trying to get down to the Naples Art Museum to see the "Painting Women" show that was organized by the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston.  I finally made it there--on the very last day of the exhibit.  The show was mobbed.  (Okay, I'll admit that "mobbed" by Southwest Florida standards--meaning there were maybe 20-25 people there to see the show--doesn't really compare to trying to see a show at the Met on its last day, but it was still pretty crowded.)  The docent who was scheduled was a no-show, leaving me to roam around and take in the exhibit on my own. 

Aimee Lamb's Snow Storm (1954)
I'm sorry to say that, despite a couple of nice Mary Cassatts and Georgia O'Keefes, I found the show pretty uninspiring.   My favorite painting was a small work entitled Snow Storm by Aimee Lamb, an artist I'd never heard of before.  There was  something very appealing about the colors and the mood in this work.  (In fact, the painting reminded me of a giclee I bought by Sam Toft at the Art Expo in New York a few years back.   You can check out her work at   I'm not wholly certain, though, why a painting from the 1950s--or the works by O'Keefe for that matter--were in the show, which focused primarily on female artists from the 19th century.  Nor do I understand why a show that consisted of only 80 works had a section of paintings done by male artists of their female counterparts.

Notwithstanding my disappointment in the paintings, I did find the commentary about the show interesting.  It was noted that the mere fact that a show about 19th century women painters is being held is a statement about what a rarity female professional artists were at that time.  There of course is no need for a show that focuses on paintings done by men, since that was the norm.  (This calls to mind the riddle about a boy and his father who are in a car accident.  When they get to the hospital, the doctor says, "I can't operate on this child.  He's my son."  It's baffling, isn't it?  Eventually, though, you realize that it's the mother who's the surgeon.  Perhaps our expectations about gender roles haven't progressed quite as far as one would hope.  But I digress.)

Any number of obstacles faced women who did paint during this era. Needless to say, it was difficult for women to pursue their creative aspirations at a time when they were expected first and foremost to be wives and mothers.  But have you thought about the restrictions that women's clothing put on their ability to paint freely, especially on a large canvas?  Or about the fact that women didn't have the opportunity to take anatomy or other classes that would have helped them hone their craft?  Or that those women who were brave enough to be artists were generally encouraged to paint domestic scenes that focused on children and flowers?

Pas de Basque by Philip Jackson
So, while "Painting Women" wasn't the thrill I had hoped it would be, it wasn't a total bust.  And I took the opportunity to explore the rest of the Museum's shows while I was there, each of which had works that sparked my interest.   The Museum sits in a complex with the Naples Philharmonic.  Unbeknownst to me, the Philharmonic building has some galleries as well, one of which currently houses some stunning sculptures by Philip Jackson.   I came upon this life-sized bronze in the hallway outside the gallery, and it really got my juices flowing.  If I had an extra $98,000 lying around, I would have snapped it up!  It has such a wonderful sense of elegance and movement; it's really a perfect sculpture for an arts complex.

Gale Force Nun II by
Philip Jackson
Once I entered the gallery, I was surrounded by Jackson's sculptures, some of which were cast in bronze and others of which were made from fiber glass.  There were both  small bronze and full scale fiber glass sculptures of Gale Force Nun II.  The works immediately called to mind Sally Fields as the Flying Nun.  Jackson is Scottish, however, so I suspect that she wasn't his inspiration.  Jackson also did some Darth Vader-like sculptures that weren't my cup of tea.  Overall, though, his work was a very cool discovery.

In my next post I'll tell you about the other exhibits that I had the chance to view.  As you'll see, it was an extremely varied day of art, with something for everyone's taste.

1 comment:

  1. so did this remind you of our Philip Jackson sculpture in our living room - the dogerina's progress? we really wanted to buy the life-size version of the cloister conspiracy (we'd seen it at a cathedral exhibit in southern England), but it was already sold out (and wicked expensive!).


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