Gods and Heroes: Michelangelo, Montorsoli, and a Renaissance Treasure: The Redeemer as Zeus

rraOn Oct 15, the museum welcomed back art historian, fine art appraiser, and BSU alum Richard Raymond Alasko for a talk on our Renaissance period bust Christ the Redeemer depicted as Zeus. His talk focused on the art and inspirations of 16th century artist Giovanni Angelo Montorsoli. He spoke of Montorsoli’s close relationship with the great sculptor and painter Michelangelo, who helped him get commissions and consistently asked for Montorsoli’s aid on many of his own projects. Director of DOMA, Robert G. La France adds, “Montorsoli worked in Michelangelo’s workshop, and was even permitted to finish some of the master’s works….This is a wonderful work of art—and the closest you can come to seeing a Michelangelo in Muncie.”

Alasko’s talk was very friendly and intelligent. You could tell he loved learning and talking about the artist. In fact, when I spoke with him at the reception in the museum’s sculpture court after his talk, he said that he wanted to know everything about Montorsoli and is actually going back to Italy before the end of the year. He also said, when talking about the Redeemer, “I love this piece. It’s weird. I love it, and I love that it’s here.” Ball State is a school that has a sort of history with sculpture, what with the school’s commission of Beneficence in the Quad. Mr. Alasko was a great man to meet and listen to speak and it was great to hear him sing us praises about both the sculpture and the museum itself.

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Christ the Redeemer depicted as Zeus

As you can tell, this sculpture is a very interesting and highly acclaimed by DOMA staff and visitors alike. Director of Education Tania Said Schuler remarks, “the Montorsoli bust ‘Christ the Redeemer Depicted as Zeus’ draws a lot of interest from visitors. It looks familiar and is recognizable, but stylistically it is a good deal different from other portrayals of Christ…” Even if you missed the lecture last week, you can still come see the bust in the West Gallery anytime!

Great Things from Small Packages

On Wednesday, October 8, 2014 at a luncheon and presentation at the BSU Alumni Center, associate director Carl Schafer spoke about the Drawings and Small Sculptures Exhibition, which he curated.  The  Drawing and Small Sculpture Show is a tribute to Alice Nichols.  Alice Nichols came to Ball State’s Teachers College as head of the Art Department in 1947.  Always the consummate teacher, she strove to expose Muncie to modernism.  As head of the Art Museum, she began a Juried Show in 1955 in contemporary art.  Juried shows were a way in which regional museums could gain national attention.

Associate director Carl Schafer, on October 8, 2014 speaking about “Lacunae”, 1970 by Terry P. Sheer as part of an Owsley Museum of Art Alliance proram about “Great Things from Small Packages: The Drawing and Small Sculpture Shows.”

Associate director Carl Schafer, on October 8, 2014 speaking about “Lacunae”, 1970 by Terry P. Sheer as part of an Owsley Museum of Art Alliance proram about “Great Things from Small Packages: The Drawing and Small Sculpture Shows.”

As referenced in the title, Great Things from Small Packages, many small packages began to arrive to fill the small museum.  As part of her vision, Nichols exposed young, rural, teachers in training to the world of contemporary art.  The students would open the small packages, inspect and arrange the art in the limited space available (Mr. Schafer humorously pointed out that some students liked to touch the art!)  Students would come into contact with 300 or 400 items in a show.  The show became a lively, social space for students to gather and discuss the art.  For some students, it was their first experience with contemporary art.

The juried shows ran from 1955 until the 1990’s.  The shows featured a variety of artists and judges from all over the country and from various backgrounds.  Some artists went on to long, storied careers, while others are no longer working as artists.  One interesting aspect of reexamining the art collected from previous DASS exhibitions, some stands the test of time, and other works are a product of their time.

Alice Nichols developed a core group of supporters for the gallery.  She garnered donations to purchase works to become the property of the museum.  With the remaining funds, she began the museum’s first acquisition fund.  The museum’s Friends, a member group, began in 1972.

Mr. Schafer showed photos of many of the objects in the current exhibition.  The day before his luncheon talk, a group of 9th through 12th graders from the Burris Academy visited the  “Great Things from Small Packages” exhibition.  Director of education Tania Said of the museum staff asked the student to look “untitled, #280”, a small ceramic sculpture, by Barry V. Cramer. Tania asked the students what they visualized when they looked at the piece, one student answered, “Nature.”

Education Director Tania Said speaking with Burris Academy high school students about Untitled Ceramic #280 by Barry V. Cramer in the Great Things in Small Packages, Drawing and Small Sculpture Exhibit

Education Director Tania Said speaking with Burris Academy high school students about Untitled Ceramic #280 by Barry V. Cramer in the Great Things in Small Packages, Drawing and Small Sculpture Exhibit

Akrem Ahmed and Josh Sholts of the school group, looking at a piece named “Lacunae”, 1970 by Terry P. Sheer, wondered about the technique used in the graphite and ink piece.  (I found this work to be one of the “princes” of the show!)  When looking at the “Orange Streak,” by Randy Wassel, Akrem said to Josh “You let the piece speak to you.”

Akrem Ahmed and Josh Sholts, students from Burris Laboratory School viewing ”Great Things from Small Packages: The Drawing and Small Sculpture Shows.”

Akrem Ahmed and Josh Sholts, students from Burris Laboratory School viewing ”Great Things from Small Packages: The Drawing and Small Sculpture Shows.”

The Alliance members are a learned, wonderful group of people curious about the exhibition. With all the world’s pressures, there is a virtue in sharing an hour learning about the joys of art.

Drawing and Small Sculpture Show

September 14, 2014-January 5, 2015

Curated by Carl Schafer, Associate Director of David Owsley Museum of Art

DOMA’s First Final Friday

Friday, September 26th, marked the start of Final Fridays, a new event series at the David Owsley Museum of Art! Every last Friday of the month the museum will be hosting an array of Final Friday events from 5-9 pm, which will focus on Pecha Kucha presentations by local arts and culture organizations and individuals. Pecha Kucha, which is short for Japanese chit-chat, consists of many short presentations which consist of twenty slides for twenty seconds each, bringing each presentation to a total of six minutes and forty seconds. Pecha Kucha presentation are meant to spark conversation and discussion while delivering information in a fast-paced and energetic manner.

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This was my first experience with Pecha Kucha presentations and I found it to be very refreshing in comparison to traditional lectures. The presentations were just long enough to spark your interest in the presenting organization and give you the information to learn more, but not enough time for thoughts to start drifting. No matter what, every twenty seconds the slide changed and very quickly we were on to the next presenter. This week there were presentations on six topics with the theme of Embark.

The presenters were:

  1. Union City Arts Festival- Immersive learning project helping Union City start up a brand new arts festival that will take place from October 10-12.
  2. Muncie Maker District- Helping fuel the “maker movement” of artists, craftsmen, inventors, and entrepreneurs in Muncie.
  3. PROJECTiONE- Design/fabrication studio started by Ball State architecture grads, which create large-scale projects that blend architectural design and art.
  4. From Curating to Creating- Muncie Public Library is breaking through the boundaries of traditional libraries by developing Indiana’s first paperless library branch, Connection Corner, that connects patrons to new media.
  5. ArtsWalk- First Thursday arts and culture events that takes place in Downtown Muncie.
  6. Drawing and Small Sculpture Show- The David Owsley Museum revisits the historical Drawing and Small Sculpture Shows through its new special exhibition, “Great Things from Small Packages: The Drawing and Small Sculpture Shows.”

One of the Union City Arts Festival presenters, Katie Norman, commented on her experience by saying, “The pecha kucha format gave a fresh new spin on a presentation that could have easily been twice as long. Having a format like this where you have very limited time to explain yourself, really makes you get down to the basics. It makes you ask yourself questions as presenters about what is really important and what do you really want the viewer to take away from this experience. I think that considering all of these elements we were able to provide an entertaining fresh look on Union City and the festival that will be happening there this weekend. “

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Caricature of DOMA Director, Robert La France

Besides the Pecha Pucha lectures, which many appreciated as a new and exciting experience, guests were able to enjoy refreshments in the sculpture court, mingling about the galleries, and have a caricature portrait drawn of them.

The Muncie Public Library Connection Corner also provided a 3-D printer demonstration that took a scan of DOMA’s “Rising Day,” by Adolph Alexander Weinman, to create a miniature version of the sculpture in plastic. Drew Shermeta, who led the demonstration, explained that the initial scan takes the volume of the object and segments it into small layers that the 3-D printer then precisely builds up by melting plastic according to the digital file. Shermata encouraged everyone who is interested to inquire at the library about 3-D printing, which is an open and inexpensive resource to the public. He said that one of the most interesting 3-D printing projects that came in recently was from a young boy who wanted to 3-D print a helmet from the videogame Halo

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The first Final Friday event went off successfully and was filled with conversation about what’s happening right now in the arts and culture scene of Muncie and the surrounding areas. We hope that you can join us for the next Final Friday event (in this case Nearly Final Friday) which is the evening of October 24th.

Story of Art

stOn Wednesday September 15, Barbara Alverez-Bohanon, a docent and also a member of the David Owsley Museum of Art Executive Committee, lead a fun event for a few children. This event, The Story of Art, will take place every third Wednesday of the month on October 15 and November 19. The event is planned for preschoolers as a more targeted, age specific program at the museum, but parents and older siblings are welcome!

For the first Story of Art, Barbara and a mother with two boys met in the museum’s Asian gallery in front of our Amida Buddha sculpture. There, a quilt was laid out in front

Getting a closer look

Getting a closer look

of the Buddha for the children to sit and a few folding chairs scattered around for the parents. Barbara taught the boys how to count to 5 in Japanese, read a story of Japanese folklore, and got up close and personal with the Amida Buddha. Barbara provided the children with a map, a book, and other objects that they could touch and interact with. Afterwards, Barbara and the visitors walked around the gallery to view a few more interesting works.

Resa Matlock, director at Child Care Collections, attended the program and commented that she “liked the conversations and the connections!” Although the original intent was just to view the Amida Buddha, Barbara and the visitors continued through the gallery and talked about other works. Children and adults asked questions which Barbara promptly replied to with additional stories.

The next Story of Art will take place October 15th. We hope to see even more kiddies in the galleries then!

Inspired by our abstract sculpture, "Thrusting", Barbara and Adam mimic the action of wielding and thrusting a sword.

Inspired by our abstract sculpture, “Thrusting”, Barbara and Adam mimic the action of wielding and thrusting a sword.

Adam contemplates a Japanese warrior's armor

Adam contemplates a Japanese warrior’s armor

Community Day

Sunday September 14th was Community Day here at the jazzmuseum. We offered so many great activities for people of all ages to enjoy! Throughout the afternoon, one could sit in the Sculpture Court and listen to live classic R&B and smooth jazz played by the band Pegues, Peterson, and Dunn.Their music is great and they were all really friendly people.

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Off of the sculpture court in the Brown Study room, kids could create their own works of art inspired by David Chihuly. Also in the Brown Study Room, you could create your own artistic print inspired by the opening of our new exhibition Reverse and Repeat: Master Prints from the DOMA Collection. On the other side of the museum in the Asian Art Gallery, Shodo Japanese calligrapher, Garrett Uyeno, demonstrated his skill. All you had to do was tell him your name and he would very elegantly swipe his inked brush across a sheet of paper and write your name in beautiful Japanese characters. Back in the Ethnographic Gallery, performance artist Deborah Asante told African and African storyAmerican folklores to a group of very attentive children of all ages. She told stories from Kenya and the Congo about love and respect. Late in the afternoon, docent Sigi Koehler lead an impromptu discussion of Lee Krasner’s Abstract Expressionist painting Left Bird Right to a handful of children. It was very cool. The children sat respectfully on the floor in front of the massive painting and examined it as Sigi asked them questions. This “event” wasn’t even on the Community Day program! So you never know what kind of treat you’re in for when you visit the museum!

In addition to these fun, hands-on events, the museum also debuted 2 new exhibitions and 1 new gallery. After being closed for some time, our Contemporary Craft gallery on the second floor is now open and is filled with beautiful artworks ready to be viewed by you. As mentioned before, our prints exhibition Reverse and Repeat is now open in the Brown Study Room. It displays prints made using three different techniques, relief, intaglio, and planographic. And back on the second floor was the opening of Great Things from Small Packages: The Drawing and Sculptire Shows in the Special Exhibition galleries. I would have to admit that walking around this gallery was absolute favorite part of the day. And I think a lot of visitors would agree with me. While observing the works in the galleries for my own pleasure, I overheard several people praising the exhibit saying “This is terrific!” and “This is a good show!” One of Ball State’s metal professors, Patricia Nelson, said her favorite thing about the exhibit is “…seeing all the works that the museum has purchased over the years together in one show.” This show has been exhibited by the David Owsley Museum of Art before and she remembers it as a show that was respected by the whole country. She even remembers seeing some of the works here before when she was a graduate student! Another awesome thing about this particular show, is many of the artworks were done by Ball State students or Muncie locals. In fact, artist Ned Houston Griner, who made two sculptures currently on display in this gallery and our Contemporary Craft gallery, was at the museum Sunday! Even though I talked to his wife and not the artist himself, it was very cool to see him in the museum, not only interested in his work in the exhibit, but also admiring the other works.

The Drawing and Small Sculpture Show and the Reverse and Repeat exhibits will be open through January 4th.