Last week I had the most delightful time reconnecting with the wonderful artist Irene Neal and her husband Paul in Merritt Island, Florida. We first met when I was the Chief Curator at the Appleton Museum of Art and were introduced through another artist, Graham Peacock, who contacted me about donating his work to the museum. Graham, Irene and others formed a group that began in the late 1970s that is called the “New New Painters” because they made use of the “new” acrylic gel paints (iridescent, glitter, fluorescent) developed by the paint chemists Sam Golden. The New New Painters were championed by Dr. Kenworth Moffitt, the former Curator of 20th century art at the MFA, Boston and Director of the Fort Lauderdale Museum of Art and they continue to exhibit collectively and individually throughout the world.
Irene and Paul are wonderfully kind people with a down to earth sensibility that make you simply enjoy spending time with them and listening to their stories of traveling and living on various continents. Undoubtedly these experiences and sensibilities influence Irene’s work, but not always in an obvious way. Irene’s creations are organic, a free-flowing process culminating in mostly nonobjective paintings but often with descriptive titles that allow you to see through her eyes.
Irene is a petite lady and seeing her massive works tower beside her puts it all into perspective. Unfortunately images to not justly replicate the experience one has being in direct view of one of her works. These are three dimensional paintings with physical depth and texture that makes a Van Gogh painting look flat. The oozing, undulating surfaces invite your participation while the intense color palette cannot help but make you smile.
Previously Irene used wooden panels on which to create her paintings but now she is experimenting with lighter surfaces like watercolor canvas, paper and a polycarbonate resin called Lexan. What has not changed however is the flow of her creative spirit and process which is in perfect balance with the vibrant colors and materials she uses. While each makes a statement in its own right, the communion with one another sings in perfect harmony.
While many of my friends and colleagues are currently indulging their artistic and hedonistic side at Art Basel Miami Beach; I am crunching time with end of the year requests for donation appraisals. This year end crunch is not uncommon, but this year it is especially critical as donors are scurrying to beat the “fiscal cliff” clock.
As of this writing, there are no specific proposals from democrats or republicans targeting charitable deductions. Nevertheless, as the days pass and talks continue to stalemate it is not unlikely that these deductions will not be ignored as an option for addressing the impending spending cuts and tax increases. Nonprofit organizations are not taking any chances either. Many continue to lobby congress to retain the status quo.
Countless nonprofits rely on monetary as well as personal property donations for subsistence, building resources, not to mention collections development. Some donors do give for heartfelt reasons but others only make charitable contributions because they will receive some level of tax deduction.
If you are considering making any contribution to a nonprofit institution and your intent is to gain tax deductions as a result, please contact your financial advisor regarding your specific case; details matter.
If you are planning to specifically donate personal property you are not required to have an appraisal completed by December 31st but the item(s) is required to physically be located at the intended institution. That being said, an appraisal for donation purposes does have a shelf life. In other words, an appraisal must be completed within a specific window of time relative to the actual donation for it to be valid.
So if you are concerned about potentially losing your option to take advantage of the current tax deductions for charitable contributions,
Back in full swing in the states and body clock adjusted; this past week I was in Door County, Wisconsin; a peninsula flanked by Green Bay and Lake Michigan. As in Florida, I love being surrounded by bodies of water.
The mission of the trip was to inventory a large collection of Native American Plateau Cornhusk bags. These bags were typically used as a type of saddle bag to carry foodstuffs and smaller ones were designed as pouches and handbags.
Certainly the focus of my trip was work but I was still excited to experience a bit of Door County which is known as an enclave of cultural offerings in the visual and performing arts. Although brief, exposure to the sights, sounds, and tastes of the area certainly whetted my appetite for a return to explore further.
A few highlights included the Fine Line Designs Gallery and Sculpture Garden in North Ephraim and in Fish Creek I took in visits to the Peninsula School of Art, the Edgewood Orchard Galleries, and a tour of the Peninsula Players Theater in a Garden.
The most memorable impressions included the installation “Primordial Shift” by Michael Meilahn at the Peninsula School of Art. Meilahn’s work consists of 32 giant, hand-blown glass and bronze ears of corn. With a video projected behind, these ears of corn seem to gently sway in the fields.
Another bright spot in an otherwise rainy day was exploring in and around the Edgewood Orchard Galleries. Not only were the gallery spaces eclectically displayed with a variety of media and styles for a diversity of personal tastes; the owners were warmly welcoming and the sculpture walk was inviting despite the weather. I especially loved the encouragement to participate within the sculpture walk environment were local stones were set out for impromptu sculpture construction.
No trip to Wisconsin would be complete without dairy farms dotting the rolling landscape. While Marion County, FL has its horse farms, Wisconsin’s fields are filled with the black and whites that supply us with that tasty treat that makes one smile and just say “CHEESE.”
Yes, it has been too long since I have posted; forgive me. Much has transpired since, but some of the highlights include an art packed trip to Jacksonville in April involving many museums, galleries and meeting new people and reconnecting with others; a large, challenging but exciting job for a religious institution; and the very difficult time of saying goodbye to my father.
Now in Greece, I am deeply buried amongst the hundreds of pottery fragments I have the honor of studying for publication from the Mt. Lykaion Excavation & Survey Project. Greece, of course continues to be a very interesting place not only archaeologically, but also economically and politically. I was here for the most recent elections and it was civilized as it is now but quite unlike it was this time last year. On the surface at least, Greece appears pretty normal.
This summer, as last and next, we are conducting a “study season.” As a part of our permission to work in Greece, we are required to write a “preliminary report” that provides an overview of the discoveries to date and this is also required to obtain an additional permit to continue excavations.
The preliminary report will be submitted to and published in the journal Hesperia, a publication of the American School of Classical Studies at Athens and the entity through which we work to obtain permission from the Ministry of Culture and the Greek Archaeological Service.
My “study” of the miniature pottery consists of a thorough gathering of data about the pottery’s key characteristics. This encompasses look at each and every sherd (over 700), whether it is a whole vessel or a tiny fragment. I first determine what I am looking at – a complete vessel, complete profile, rim, base, handle or body sherd. Next, what is the shape of the vessel; is it an open or closed shape; drinking vessel, container (bowl, jug, etc.), or other? Once the identification is established, I take measurements, document the fabric type, describe the decoration, make sketches and take photographs.
From this data, my goal is to answer questions about the miniature pottery specifically but also how it contributes to the larger picture of the site in general. Here are just a few. What shapes are used and how can this tell us about what was taking place at the site geographically and chronologically? How does the distribution miniature pottery relate to archaeological features or buildings on the site if at all? Was the miniature pottery made locally or imported from other regions? Do patterns emerge from the data collected (shapes, decoration, fabric, etc.) that lead to other conclusions?
Many questions will soon lead to answers and we all hope to continued excavations at Mt. Lykaion in the not too distant future. I will keep you informed for sure.
Previous entries are available in the archive.