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[BLOG POST 6/16/24] There really is nothing like seeing artwork live and in person! By viewing it from different angles and different distances you see different things. And usually the longer you look at it the more you see.

Recently I had the distinct pleasure of seeing in person exquisite works of art in two different museums. First the Albuquerque Museum of Art and History in Albuquerque NM, and then in the Timken Museum of Art in San Diego's Balboa Park.

Anytime I go to a gallery or museum exhibition I like to play a game where I imagine I can take any piece of art home with me. These two visits were no different and below I will share with you my top pick from each museum.

The Albuquerque Museum of Art and History has a special exhibit titled, "Making American Artists: Stories from the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, 1776-1976" on view May 18-August 11, 2024.

Featuring an iconic collection of historic works of American art alongside stellar pieces by traditionally underrepresented artists, Making American Artists explores with a critical eye the Pennsylvania Academy of Arts’ (PAFA) impressive collection. Comprising over 100 paintings and sculptures, the exhibition chronicles remarkable changes in our national artistic identity, weighing what it meant to be an “American” artist from when the institution was founded to the late twentieth century.

-From the Albuquerque Museum's website

The array of work is impressive and they are divided into sections based on the theme in the piece: history (past events), portraiture (people), still life (objects), genre (ordinary life), and landscape (nature).

Possibly because of my "Rattlesnakes" series of portraits I was most drawn to the portrait theme.

In any event, here is my overall favorite:

Years ago I saw this painting in a book that was part of the art library of my teacher and mentor Nancy Lucas-Williams at the Masters' Atelier of Drawing and Painting. In person it was captivating and from a distance it looked almost like a photograph. Below are close ups of up the woman's head and the roses, in them you can see the brush strokes are loose and the paint is thicker than expected:

I loved everything about this painting, the composition, the technique, the colors, the values, the variation in shapes and lines, the balance and harmony of every element, and how it evoked an emotional response.

As I looked at it I could imagine that the woman in the painting was my grandmother, Hortense (below).

B&W photo of  My maternal grandmother, Hortense
My maternal grandmother, Hortense

There were many other paintings that I loved in the exhibit and I hope you have the opportunity to go. If you do dear reader, let me know which was your favorite artwork!

Next up, the Timken Museum of Art in San Diego. It is small but mighty!

Affectionately called San Diego’s “jewel box” of fine art, the Timken Museum of Art in Balboa Park was established in 1965, a collaborative effort of the Timken family from Canton, Ohio, and Anne and Amy Putnam, who arrived in San Diego in the early 1900s from Vermont. The Putnam sisters spent decades acquiring European old master paintings, later establishing the Putnam Foundation, which showcased these works. Later, with funding from the Timken family, a new museum — The Timken Museum of Art — was opened in which to house the collection.

-From the web article on the "Ranch & Coast" website

Whereas I toured the Albuquerque Museum on my own this time I had two friends. We each played the game and it was fun to see which artwork each person chose. The painting below was mine - no surprise - it is from the 1600s and by a famous artist, Peter Paul Rubens.

According to the sign next to the painting, art scholars now think it was essentially a sketch that Rubens had in his studio for his students to study and reference. He may have considered it a "throw away" painting.

And now it's hanging in a museum.

Life is funny!

Anyway, I loved the composition, the colors, the variation in value, shape and line, and how the skin looks soft and subtle just like real skin while the armor looks hard and shiny just like armor and the hair looks thick and voluminous like a young person's hair. I could have stared at it for a very long time and studied every detail but alas my friends were ready to move on.

Just for fun, here are the paintings my fiends selected:

All in all it was a fun weekend of art in two different places. I wish I lived closer to both so I could visit these exhibits again and again!

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