HAUTE COUTURE DEATH & QUIRKY PICASSOS: a day at (MOCA) The Museum of Contemporary Art-Jacksonville


My trip to Jacksonville, Florida’s The Museum of Contemporary Art late July 2011 was my first museum trip in a while, admittedly, and so was a welcome and warm reminder of the fascination that museums & their priceless (well, priceless AND price-y to be honest…I can’t afford a Picasso, but I’d LOVE to) hold for visitors. Here, I have some highlights of that visit.

(MOCA) The Museum of Contemporary Art-Jacksonville

  • This is the front of the facility. It is a handsome piece of modern art, itself reflecting the contemporary (or from our time) works inside. As we walked up to the building, I felt this was my best & only time for a good shot of the exterior, as my boyfriend was in the beginning stages of being eye-rollingly annoyed with my disease: photo-itis. Seems like no matter what your main interest is in (painting, drawing, graphics), an artist will ALWAYS suffer from this illness…

The atrium featuring the works of Melanie Pullen. My boyfriend checkin it all out…

When we made it inside, the second thing we took notice of (the first thing was the welcome desk where I picked up brochures like a brochure thief) was the star of the museum show: “Project Atrium: Melanie Pullen”, featuring many pieces from he “High Fashion Crime Scenes” series.  Appropriately placed in an atrium, these massive and impressive (the impressiveness heightened by the scale of the space it occupies) photographs are, I read, inspired by vintage Los Angeles crime photos. Creeeeepyyyy…I like! Pullen adds a dash of further interest by having had the models be their dead best in fashionable shoes and clothing. I am going to make sure I meet my end in a pair of Christian Louboutins.

What is also awesome about these photographs is the bare simplicity of them. No frills. Just straight-forward photography, but with a staging Vermeer would probably be proud of: the off-centered focusing, angled shots. Just very cool. The coloring & lighting in each is masterful & admirable. If you do not mind the “dead”-ness of it, very hip exhibit.

A closer look.

Another on a landing’s wall.

These photos, I believe, aren’t glorifying crime scenes, but the visuals of the photos inspired the artist to produce unique visuals of her own. Art is a capturer.

The Melanie Pullen exhibit runs from July 16 to November 6th, 2011.

The installation at home in the UNF Gallery.

A closer look at the same area.

  • I know what you’re thinking staring at the two images above. “Those outfits are toooo cute.” No, okay, you are reeeaaally thinking, “What the hell is that? Doll-icide?” This may be an odd installation (an installation being artwork created using the space it occupies), but it kind of drew my senses in as I pondered it. What, besides the obvious (dolls) was it? WHY was it?

First of, the exhibit is titled “What a Doll: The Human Object as Toy”, art by Christina West. It is in the UNF Gallery of the museum. As installations’ purpose is to occupy its space, I gingerly walked through it, taking care NOT to accidentally move anything with a misplaced step, and wondered at what I was looking at. The dolls, themselves, are charmingly modeled (with grimacing faces) and positioned in various, isolated or piled-on ways. I liked the exhibit for being fresh & modern. My boyfriend just thought it was weird & didn’t stay long, but I, being an artist, really sought to figure all this out. I knew it had to be psychologically-based and when I read the exhibit statement on the wall, I saw I’d gotten that part right.  From what I remember reading, the dolls are subtly displaying thoughts and feelings we all have, but that others do not see/know. Everyone is only but so exposed, the rest of us is a mystery.

The Christina West exhibit runs from May 19th to August 28th, 2011.

“America Whistles”. Lithograph. 1976. Edward Ruscha.

If you are an artist or even not one, you may have heard of the pop artist Edward Ruscha (pronounced roo-shay & born 1937-still livin’). I heard of him and that is why when I saw this piece, as part of a text as art exhibit around the corner from West’s doll installation, I pretended to faint. I wanted to faint, but I wasn’t going to, really. So I figured pretending was just as well. EDWARD RUSCHA!! Wow! And for this to be a piece from 1976, it very much fots the super modern, minimalistic approach art is taking, right now. What appears to be little specks on the paper are actually colored song notes.

“My Garden”. Lead intaglio. 1971. Louise Nevelson.

I’ve admired Louise Nevelson (1900-1988) since learnin of her in my early college years. Her deeply geometric and complex abstract sculptures, usually of wood, entranced my mind! How could such simple shapes become mazes of wonder?? Above is ot one of her magnificent wood pieces, but a magnificent piece all the same. So happy I happened upon this one & the intricate embossments worked into it.

At this point, my incessant stopping/picture-taking made my boyfriend disappear to look at other things. Oh, well! I caught up, later.

Imaginary Portrait. Lithograph on paper. 1969. Pablo Picasso.

  • Pablo Picasso (1881-1973)…what else is there to say besides that enigmatic, hypnotic name? These works are apart of the museum’s “Pablo Picasso: The Imaginary Portrait Series”. The museum has a great showing of them, but these aren’t NEARLY all the works in that series.

When I saw the space with his work, it was akin to anticipating meeting a rockstar! Picasso, along with many other artists, is to artists what Oprah is to alot of women-an idol. To view, in front of your face, the result of the colors he chose and the way he wielded his tools…WOW!! *sigh*

Me oggling the Picassos.

More pleasantly off-guard works in the series.

I really enjoyed these quirky, cubist pieces. Art is an escape!

A close-up of a piece with a date in his hand!!

Apparently, Picasso created this humongous series in just 1969. Look at that, above!! His very own writing! I know I sound wacky, but that is apart of the territory…besides this IS Picasso!!

“Phenomena Alchemist”. Acrylic on canvas. 1983. Paul Jenkins.

  • This was another cool work I happened upon. I thought it was oil, it’s so rich and vibrant, but it’s acrylic!

Paul Jenkins (1923-still alive, ya’ll) is an American abstract expressionist whom I might have to become a fan of right now

“Heaven is Worth it All (5004)”. Enamel on paper. 1985. Reverend Howard Finster.

  • This is yet another great exhibit in this impressive museum. “Stranger in Paradise: The Works of Reverend Howard Finster”. At first glance (literally), I thought I was partaking in some fantastical artworks with creatures of myth, then on closer inspection I realized I was looking at the complete opposite – religious works. And boy, is it sublime! Or, rather in this case, divine! Well, both. There was bluegrass music playing to accompany the exhibit and also a television playing his appearance on an episode of Johnny Carson!

He called (past tense, yes, as he passed in 2001) himself a “Man of Visions”, visually setting down his prophecies. And he did! Not only objectively (buildings, figures, etc.), but also in the text-filled with divine inspiration-lacing the work. It makes you listen. Whether you understand or agree with all of these words or not, it reminds you that God should be reverenced.

Detail of “The Crowded World (Ten Thousandth Piece) (10000)”. 1989. Reverend Howard Finster.

Detail of the same piece as above.

The Reverend Howard Finster exhibit runs from April 22nd to August 28th, 2011.

Before leaving the museum, the security guard that had been very quietly monitoring everyone and was conveniently on every floor I went to calmly walked over to me and informed me that visitors were not allowed to take photos of the work. Something my boyfriend hinted at before we progressed into the museum, but I denied his warning for my stronger need to capture & also convinced it would be no big deal! So I stopped…conveniently so, since the exhibit I have ended this article with were the LAST photos I’d taken, anyway, so I was not mad. Plus, he was just doing his job. Plus he was polite. Some museums allow photography, but I suppose alot don’t, thanks to more smarmy people whom infringe and “steal” images. The bad makin’ it bad for the good. One of those things. As you can see, no stealing, here. I look forward to crediting all work while sharing it.

I very much hope you enjoyed this post. Why not enjoy it even more by visiting this first class museum? You will definitely not regret it.

Just don’t bother bringing in a camera…unless you wanna be the hunted…

The Museum: http://www.mocajacksonville.org/

Melanie Pullen, Official Site: http://melaniepullen.com/

Christina West, Official Site: http://cwestsculpture.com/

Reverend Howard Finster, Official Site: http://www.finster.com/

Follow @SheDoesArtWow

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