Tuesday, October 29, 2013

John Singer Sargent Visits the Visual Arts Center

Tomorrow marks the opening of the 10th Annual Fine Arts Festival at the Visual Arts Center in Punta Gorda.  This year the Festival celebrates the works of John Singer Sargent.  By this time tomorrow evening, the ribbon will have been cut, and the Festival mural will have been revealed.  (The mural features Carnation, Lily, Lily, Rose, painted by Liz Hutchinson-Sperry, and it is gorgeous.)

Dottie Mattoon surveying her task
As the Festival gets underway, themed activities as varied as a cooking class to a monoprint workshop to a book discussion are being offered to the public.  While I'm looking forward to participating in lots of the events, it will be hard to surpass the fun I had today helping Cathy Lindenauer receive the paintings from the artists.  (As a bit of background, participating artists got together a few months back and selected the work or works by Sargent that they wanted to replicate. The show is the consummation of their efforts.)   By the end of the morning, approximately 80 works perched on chairs and leaned against walls throughout the gallery. There are watercolors and oils and collages. There are charcoals and drawings and pastels. There are paintings and sculptures and even a Sargent-inspired necklace.  The talent and creativity of the VAC artists is truly impressive.

Some of the works awaiting hanging
The task then fell to Dottie Mattoon and her committee to figure out how to display the works to their best advantage.   Luckily, the committee is quite experienced, as it has responsibility for hanging all of the exhibits in Goff Gallery throughout the year.

A portion of the show
Dottie took a few minutes away from surveying the works to talk with me about how they go about hanging an exhibit.  She first explained that a show like this is a bit more challenging than the typical exhibit due to the number of works.  Goff Gallery has approximately 200 feet of wall space, and it was clear that paintings would have to be hung from floor to ceiling.

The exhibit features ten large (3' x 5') reproductions of works such as the infamous Madame X and the Spanish-inspired El Jaleo.   As in the past, the large works would serve as focal points on the respective walls.  From there the real art of hanging a show came into play.  Her group took a look at all of the works with an eye to size and color.  She noted that the way the paintings are framed is a factor as well.  Subject matter is the final consideration (with the identity of the artist not being taken into account at all).

A portion of the show
I couldn't resist going back to the VAC a few hours later to find the show hung in all its glory. The committee did a fabulous job.   As promised, the works fill every nook and cranny of the room.  The way the show is displayed reminds me of the Barnes Foundation where every room contains so many masterpieces that you don't know where to look.

Art lovers who find themselves in Southwest Florida between now and November 29th should make it a point to come see the show.  And everyone is welcome to participate in the events that have been put together as part of the celebration.  (For a list of the workshops and activities, just click on the Fine Arts Festival poster in this link:  http://www.visualartcenter.org/)  Seeing the artistic community come together in this way is yet another reminder of what a special place Punta Gorda is.  I am so glad that I live here.

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