I found a building in Bloomington that had a great structure, but the light was at the wrong angle In the afternoon. I returned the next morning for better light. Thinking particularly of my students, light makes all the difference.
Some of Thomas Hart Benton’s most well know large paintings are murals in University buildings in Bloomington, Indiana. They dominate a hall in the Auditorium of the Performing Arts Center. The day I was there a wedding was being set up to take place right beneath them. (the room was too dark for great photos without a tripod, but you can see professionally made photos and read the story of the murals by following this link…the fancy ones don’t, however, include wedding decorations!)
I went into the gallery in the art department. Indiana University is one of the top art schools in the US. The gallery is as large as a small museum, very high ceilings and open floor space with repositionable walls. The current show is based on jewelry and metals. Most of it used jewelry as a concept and the pieces were not really designed to be wearable, rather, the artists used techniques, materials and forms from jewelry making to make small sculpture. The metals show broadly defined metal to include etching (made with metal plates and printed on paper), found objects and sculpture. College galleries are usually free to visit and exhibit innovative art. The work is usually for sale at prices that are as low as they will ever be in an artist’s career.
Indiana University Art Museum in in a building designed by I.M.Pei (same architect as the East Wing of the National Gallery). In front of the entrance is a monumental sculpture in red, by Charles Perry
Indiana Arc, 1995
Cash running on the IU soccer fields
I’m looking to photograph light for painting reference and it rained most of the time I was passing through West Virginia and Kentucky. Light defines what I see, the way a spotlight does, and changes the structure of things. I know I miss things when there is no direct light. Still the leaves are changing so there was some brilliant color anyway. I look for altered landscapes, signs, barns and trailers. West Virginia: Abandoned Factory and Whirlygig was the first painting in this series.
My first visit to Kentucky was with my parents when I was in high school. The trip was centered around meeting my hero, Secretariat. When I was looking for Kentucky images for this series I chose Secretariat’s barn.
Not as small as one may expect, the Taubman Museum of Art has a new building, as modern as any, with an open design and lots of light. The work on display is also progressive. There was a show up of photographs from the 1963-65 Civil Rights era in Alabama and Mississippi and an interactive work by Yoko Ono about peace. They have a good collection of outsider art prominently displayed and an exhibition of works from the permanent collection. One of those is The Cotton Picker by Thomas Hart Benton. Roanoke is a city with a lively downtown area but it is manageably small.
- Virginia Tech Arts Director Curates Yoko Ono Exhibit at Taubman (theroanokestar.com)
About this trip: Paintings from the American Road