POSTED ON MAY 20, 2009:
Drawn to Scale
Present-day artist and 16th century Italian masters illustrate the power of the sketchpad in new Philbrook exhibits
Sketch Artists. "From Michelangelo to Annibale Carracci: A Century of Italian Drawings from the Prado" includes 70 works from the European Old Masters borrowed from The Museo del Prado in Madrid, Spain.
Last Sunday, Philbrook Museum of Art, 2727 S. Rockford, unveiled two stunning exhibits that document the miraculous achievements humans can make by simply putting pencil to paper.
Well, actually, not so simply.
The exhibits on display are anything but simple, and together they offer museumgoers two distinct perspectives on the drawing medium: That of a living artist, working present day, and those of 16th century Italian masters, the men who set the precedent for the sketch.
"Peggy Preheim: Little Black Book" offers a survey of the artist's work, curated by Harry Philbrick, director of The Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum in Ridgefield, Conn.
Preheim is best known for her exquisitely rendered miniature sketches. At only one or two inches in height, but drawn on large, white sheets of paper, the tiny drawings are remarkable in their detail and are rife with imagery related to memory, sexuality, aging, and the "complex relationship of childhood to adulthood."
Even with the naked eye, it's obvious how extraordinary Preheim's drawings are. Philbrook, though, has supplied magnifying glasses to enable guests to further examine the depth of their detail, and it is through this intense examination that one is further awestruck by Preheim's ability.
Displayed alongside her drawings are Preheim's sculptures and photographs. The sculptures, crafted out of white clay and found objects, exude the same intellectual whimsy as the drawings. Her photographs, atmospheric black and white images, are based on her sculptural work.
The exhibit contains 75 works, created between 1984 and 2007.
Preheim is from Yankton, S.D., and now lives and works in Hastings-on-Hudson, N.Y., where, I learned from one of Philbrook's preparators, she works on her kitchen table. Her work has been exhibited at many of the country's finest art museums.
Because Philbrook's special exhibitions gallery is so large, too large to house either one of the drawing exhibits individually, it has been partitioned in half, and the smaller space provides a fittingly intimate atmosphere in which to view Preheim's delicate but ferocious work.
On the opposite side of the gallery is "From Michelangelo to Annibale Carracci: A Century of Italian Drawings from the Prado."
The exhibit includes 70 works from the European Old Masters borrowed from The Museo del Prado in Madrid, Spain.
The museum is in possession of the works because, in 1930, Spanish nobleman Don Pedro Fernandez Duran died and bequeathed his art collection, which included paintings, sculpture, decorative arts, armor, furniture and drawings to the museum.
From his gift, curator Nicholas Turner, formerly of The J. Paul Getty Museum and the British Museum, a specialist in Renaissance and Baroque drawings, selected the works to be included in the touring exhibit.
The exhibit explores the methods of the most important and active artists in Italy from 1520 to 1620, and its drawings, both studies for elaborate commissioned work and quick, passionate sketches, illustrate the importance of the medium.
According to a release sent by Philbrook, "The 16th century was a key period for the development of a variety of regional and individual styles of drawing in Europe. During the first half of the century, the technical and representational innovations in figure drawing pioneered by Leonardo da Vinci and other Renaissance masters were consolidated and improved upon to such a degree that artists were able to put the practice to a wider range of functions than ever before, achieving exceptional technical proficiency as they did so.
"By the end of the 16th century, drawing was increasingly used to record human appearance truthfully, placing the figure within a real setting that showed actual effects of daylight and shadow."
I suggest, when visiting the museum, beginning with the Preheim exhibit, taking in the tiny details of her drawings and gaining an earnest sense of appreciation for her work and the drawing medium.
Then, amble next door to the Prado exhibit, taking in the works presented, not only as accomplished pieces of art, but also as a history lesson in the art of drawing. Understanding how the medium evolved over time and differed in various geographical regions will leave you with an understanding of the more technical aspect of the medium.
Then, one final trip through the Preheim exhibit, with the historical context you just garnered, should solidify your appreciation for the work.
That's how I did it, anyway.
The exhibits continue through July 26. Museum hours are Tuesday-Saturday, 10am-5pm. On Thursday, the museum is open until 8pm. For more, call 749-7941 or visit www.philbrook.org.
Also at Philbrook this week is the museum's monthly Third Thursday event, designed to generate interest in the museum among the young professional crowd.
The events are well-attended and a lot of fun, and this month's should be no exception.
On Thursday, May 21, from 5-8pm, Philbrook presents nationally acclaimed artist Molly Murphy, who takes traditional Native American materials and techniques to a new level, breaking convention to respond to current social issues in a way that is funny, fresh and beautiful.
At the event, patrons can watch Murphy create art on site and then learn more about her work in a discussion to follow. The evening is presented in conjunction with the Native American Art Circle.
The event is free with paid admission, about $8, and, as always, there is a cash bar on site. For more, visit the museum's Web site.
Authors and Art
Also on Friday, the recently-opened Water Street Art Gallery, at 16 S. Water St. in Sapulpa, hosts "An Evening with Authors and Art" from 7-9pm.
Eight local authors, Bob Avey, Gloria Teague, Maxwell Lewis, Jim Laughter, Peggy Fielding, Jackie King, Romney Nesbitt and Celeste Vaught, will discuss their books, offer signed copies of their books for sale and visit with gallerygoers.
The subjects of their works, which include both fiction and nonfiction, are varied, ranging from mysteries to science fiction, humor and romance to children's literature.
The event is free and open to the public, and refreshments will be served.
On Saturday at the gallery, Evelyn Petroski will offer a free portraiture demonstration at 2pm and again on May 30 at the same time. The demo is a preview to a class Petroski will teach beginning Saturday, June 6.
In the class, students will learn composition, painting concepts, values, application and more. Classes are $20 each, and beginning, intermediate and advanced painters of any medium are welcome. For more information about events and classes at Water Street Art Gallery, visit www.waterstreetartgallery.com.
On Friday, May 22, Lovetts Foundation for the Arts, the non-profit arm of Lovetts Gallery, 6528 E. 51st St., presets the May installment of its Gallery Talk Series, titled "Loloma: A Future Contoured."
The event features Diana Pardue, curator of collections at the Heard Museum in Phoenix, Ariz., and the author of Contemporary Southwestern Jewelry speaking on the life and work of iconic Hopi jeweler Charles Loloma.
With the presence of Christina Burke, curator of Native American and non-Western art at Philbrook Museum of Art, the event will offer an examination of Loloma's work seen not only through the Heard collection but also through Philbrook's recently-acquired Eugene B. Adkins collection.
"This is a wonderful opportunity to celebrate one of the most important innovators in Native American art of the 20th century. With his unique sense of design and use of such materials as gold, lapis lazuli, and fossilized ivory among other things, Loloma pushed the boundaries of traditional Native jewelry specifically and art in general. Diana Pardue offers a critical look at some of Loloma's early work represented in artists today," said Burke.
The event is from 5-7pm at Lovetts Gallery, and the discussion begins at 5:30pm. It is presented in conjunction with the Arts and Humanities Council of Tulsa and the Tulsa Community Foundation. For more information, visit www.lovettsgallery.com.
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