Happy Birthday, Stella Snead!

Written by: Emily Sabens, Public Relations Intern

Stella Snead, Surrealist painter, photographer and collage artist, was born on this day in 1910. To celebrate her birthday, here are five fast facts about Snead!

Stella Snead. Advancing Monuments, 1946. Oil on canvas. David Owsley Museum of Art. Gift of Stella Snead, 2001.005.000

1. Snead had a bit of a late start

It wasn’t until Snead was in her mid-20s that she pursued a career as an artist. Before then, she had taken a few secretarial courses, but she was unable to hold a daily work schedule due to her mental illness. But she did become infatuated with art––specifically painting. Snead eventually studied with Amédée Ozenfant, a leading French abstract painter, at the Ozenfant Academy of Fine Art in London.

2. She decided to move to the United States

In 1939, when war broke out against Germany in World War II, Snead fled from the Europe to the United States. Throughout the next 10 years of her life, she moved back-and-forth between New York City and Taos, New Mexico.

3. Snead’s paintings look like something out of a dream

Snead created most of her works during the 1940s. Her paintings mainly feature dreamlike landscapes, filled with whimsical animals and fantastical human creatures.

4. She actually gave up painting

Around the 1950s, Snead abruptly stopped painting. She later said this was due to her depression ––which, at the time, was worsened by a bad breakup. While this took away her desire to paint, she found a new love of photography during this time period.

5. Snead became fascinated with India

Throughout the 1960s, Snead began taking long trips to India. There, she photographed nature, street life and Hindu sculptures. She ended up publishing eight books, which featured photos from her travels.

We house two of Snead’s works here at DOMA: “Tornado,” painted in 1946, and “Advancing Monuments,” also painted in 1946 and currently on display in the Ball Brothers Foundation Gallery.


Happy Birthday, Norman Bluhm!

Written by: Emily Sabens, Public Relations Intern

On this day, we celebrate artist Norman Bluhm, who passed away in 1999 and would have been 97 years old today. In honor of his birthday, here are five quick facts about the abstract expressionist painter.

Norman Bluhm. Chandelle, 1966. Oil on canvas. 90 x 72 inch. David Owsley Museum of Art. Gift from the family of Norman Bluhm, 2005.010.000

1. Bluhm was incredibly smart and originally wanted to be an architect

Throughout his childhood and teenage years, Bluhm excelled in school. At the early age of 16, he attended the Armour (now called Illinois) Institute of Technology, where he spent time with famous architects such as Mies van de Rohe and Frank Lloyd Wright.

2. He fought in World War II

Bluhm was drafted into the U.S. Air Force during World War II. He later returned home, though, severely injured and emotionally devastated––both from the scenes he saw overseas, and from losing his brother, who died while also serving in the Air Force.

3. Bluhm traveled to Italy to study art

After recovering from the trauma of the war, Bluhm gave up his dream of being an architect to pursue art because he wanted a “life that was his own” rather than a career he felt was chosen for him. He decided to move to Florence, Italy, where he studied fine art at the Academia de Belle Arte.

4. He later moved to Paris to further his studies

Bluhm went to Paris, France after completing his studies in Italy; there, he attended the École des Beaux-Arts, one of the world’s most famous art schools. While in Paris, Bluhm met other artists such as Paul Éluard, Alberto Giacometti and Pablo Picasso.

5. His works are featured in numerous museums across the country

Bluhm’s works currently reside in the Smithsonian American Art Museum, the Museum of Modern Art and the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Visit the David Owsley Museum of Art today to see both “Chandelle,” painted by Bluhm in 1966, and “Oz,” which spans the back wall in Sculpture Court. 

Work of the Week: Girl in Blue Dress

Written by: Emily Sabens, Public Relations Intern

William Glackens accomplished many feats throughout his life. He worked as a newspaper illustrator for numerous publications on the East Coast. He traveled to Cuba to cover the Spanish-American War for McClure’s Magazine. He was one of the founders of the Ashcan School of American Art. And maybe most importantly, Glackens helped introduce a matter-of-fact realism into the American art scene in the late 1800s and early 1900s.

Glackens was part of “The Eight:” a group of artists who wanted to show contemporary American life in their artworks. These artists eventually played an important role in Ashcan School, which focused on immigrants and working-class life rather than the upper class. For Glackens, his works depicted street scenes and middle class urban life, which were contrasts to the 19th century European academic art style.

William Glackens. Girl in Blue Dress1936. Oil on canvas. 28 1/2 x 19 1/2 inches. David Owsley Museum of Art. Gift of the William Glackens Foundation and John H. Surovek, Class of 1968. 1998.021.000

While Glackens did paint many landscapes and scenes, he also created many portraits throughout his career––for example, “Girl in Blue Dress,” which is housed at the David Owsley Museum of Art. This particular painting shows a woman wearing a brilliant blue dress. For Glackens, his portrait subjects were studies rather than just introspective portraits. He also paid careful attention to what his subjects were wearing and their surroundings. In “Girl in Blue Dress,” for example, Glackens accentuates the blue in the woman’s dress and creates a contrast by emphasizing the bright orange chair she is sitting in.

To see Glackens’ “Girl in Blue Dress,” visit DOMA and venture upstairs to the Ball Brothers Foundation Gallery. 

Work of the Week: Critter

Written by: Emily Sabens, Public Relations Intern

What is this creature? A bear? A dog? A hippopotamus?

Researchers aren’t entirely sure what “Critter” represents. They do know, though, that it was made by the ancestors of the Bamana people.

Unidentified artist. Critter, 1550-1650. Formed and sculpted terracotta. 5.06 x 4.19 x 10.5 inches. David Owsley Museum of Art. Loaned from the David T. Owsley Collection. L2009.009.065

The Bamana live in Bankoni, located about six miles from the capital of Mali in Western Africa. Most Bamana are farmers, but many also choose to specialize in commerce, hunting, herbal medicine and even the arts.

The group has a rich artistic history. Artists over the years have produced woven cloths and wrought iron figures. They also create traditional masks, which are then used in community and educational events.

The Bankoni also frequently make sculptures and pottery. Male sculptors traditionally work in iron and wood while female sculptors generally work in clay.

While Bankoni is the city in which the Bamana live, it also can refer to the style of art the Bamana’s ancestors made. Bankoni art refers to a style of figure with tubular shapes, rounded edges and fluid contours. Bankoni art reflects the properties of the soft clay that is used to form these objects.  

“Critter” is a perfect example of a Bankoni work. Its legs, body and head all are made of tubular shapes. All of its edges are rounded. And its limbs and body form fluidly together.

Visit the David Owsley Museum of Art today to see “Critter,” lent to the museum by David Owsley. And be sure to check out the rest of our vast collection.



Written by: Emily Sabens, Public Relations Intern

In March of 2016, the National Museum of Women in the Arts launched a social media campaign in honor of Women’s History Month. They asked what seemed like a simple question: “Can you name five women artists off the top of your head?” But many were unable to––even those who worked in the arts. The challenge brought shock, elicited a challenge and started a global conversation about female participation in the arts.

The museum continued the campaign in 2017, with 520 arts and cultural organizations from all seven continents and 30 countries recognizing the works of female artists. The challenge began again this March, with museums and organizations across the world shining a light on women who have made significant impacts in the arts.

Here at the David Owsley Museum of Art, we are honored to house many artworks produced by talented female artists who have made significant strides. In honor of the #5WomenArtists challenge, here are five inspirational women whose art is available to see at DOMA.

Christina Ramberg

Christina Ramberg (1946-1995) is an American painter who was part of the Chicago Imagists, a group of representational artists who attended the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in the 1960s. Ramberg’s works often featured female bodies, constricted by clothing and forced into odd, irregular poses. The New York Times called Ramberg’s works “comic, formally elegant and erotically sinister.”

Photo provided by Women Artists on Facebook

Debbie Ma

Born in the Phillipines and of Chinese descent, Debbie Ma (1957-    ) is both a fine artist and graphic artist whose works have graced products of many major cosmetic companies. For many years, she has worked in her studio in New York City. Ma has painted since she was a child, and her experiences in graphic design often translate into her paintings.

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Photo provided by DMD Contemporary

Lee Krasner

One of the most well-known artists in our collection, Lee Krasner (1908-1984) helped break gender stereotypes during the male-dominated Abstract Expressionist movement. Although sometimes better-known for being artist Jackson Pollock’s wife, Krasner was a highly talented artist who painted boldly and expressively.

Photo provided by the Begovich Gallery on Facebook

Esphyr Slobodkina

Russian artist Esphyr Slobodkina (1908-2002) was a highly recognized artist, author and children’s book illustrator. She is most well-known for writing and illustrating her book “Caps for Sale,” which is regarded as a children’s classic. Slobodkina also created unique abstract paintings, which are housed in numerous institutions across the U.S.

Photo provided by Caps for Sale (Official) on Facebook


Stella Snead

Although Stella Snead (1910-2006) didn’t begin her career as an artist until her mid-20s, she went on to become a highly successful painter, photographer and collage artist. Her works mainly feature dreamlike landscapes, filled with whimsical animals and human-like creatures.

Photo provided by Her Art on Facebook

We are honored to celebrate these five women, along with the other brilliant female artists in DOMA’s collection, through the #5WomenArtists campaign.