All-You-Can-Eat

All-You-Can-Eat

As a museum Director and Curator I often hear that my “minimalist” approach to presenting work is often in conflict with what many are accustomed to. My personal theory is that often too many works in a gallery or an entire museum can be overwhelming. Have you ever been to an all-you-can-eat restaurant with the expectation, accompanied by near giddiness, of having no restrictions on quantity or choice? Regardless of the quality of the offerings, I quickly discover that too many choices can lead to indecision resulting in merely sampling many items. By the time I discover what I truly like and where to focus my gluttony, I’m too full and exhausted to return to what I truly desire.

For me the “all-you-can-eat” mindset can apply to museum exhibitions. I want the viewer’s menu to be restricted, focused, and thoughtfully prepared so you have the time and energy to enjoy what is offered. Granted, not everything “on the menu” may be to your taste. But I am confident in the fact that there is always something somewhere in our museum that is sure to please and enlighten. The hope is that you can concentrate on works that appeal to your taste visually, and then discover what the works can offer intellectually. By confronting a work you didn’t initially like, you may discover something new about it or yourself…or, at the very least, you may determine specifically why you don’t “like” a work, which in turn provides a better understanding of what you do like.

Currently our small museum has 175 individual works of art on view along with 114 archival objects. If an individual spent just 30 seconds viewing each work it would take them 2.4 hours to see everything in the museum. This does not seem to be a minimal amount of work on view in proportion to our gallery spaces. By the way…30 seconds is twice the amount of time many studies find that people spend at a work of art!

Patrick Kelly

Newly Accessioned Works by Artist Heyd Fontenot

Newly Accessioned Works by Artist Heyd Fontenot

The OJAC recently accessioned six works on paper by Austin artist Heyd Fontenot (b. 1964). The suite of drawings were received as a gift from Stanley W. Light of Dallas through the suggestion of the artist. Fontenot's creative vision has found expression in many different artistic roles including designer, art director, producer, filmmaker and painter. Among his many clients are theater companies, retail businesses and media production companies. In the 1990s, Fontenot produced a significant body of work as an experimental filmmaker. This period was crucial to his growth as an artist and continues to inform his work as a painter. Fontenot was born in 1964 in Lake Charles, Louisiana. He currently lives and works in Austin, Texas.

As described by the artist, “The paintings and drawings are essentially portraits, despite the frequent inclusion of embellishment or exaggeration. Using my friends as models allows me to meditate on their individual qualities and uniqueness. Academic-style “accuracy” is not the goal. I seek to achieve a particular intimacy. My focus is on the unique qualities of the individual, which are not limited to physical information.”

 

Talking Back- Student Art Show 2017

Talking Back- Student Art Show 2017

Since 2008, the museum has celebrated Youth Art Month by hosting a Student Art Competition for ages 13-18. This competition, named “Talking Back” provides local teens the opportunity to both explore the OJAC collection of art and artifacts and create their own work in response.

In January, OJAC educators visit Junior and Senior High Schools throughout Region 14 and present five artists from the museum collection. Students explore the work of each artist, focusing on the process as well as themes/ideas behind each piece.  Next, they are challenged to “Talk Back” with a response piece which communicates with the original.

The OJAC Student Art show is also unique as it is both created AND juried by teens. Each Spring, the museum’s Junior Docent Corps jury and curate the Show, as well as organize for prizes and an Exhibit Opening Reception. With help from Education Department Staff, the Junior Docents consider various criteria as they critique each piece. This is one of the most important experiences in our Junior Docent program, as the students gain valuable Visual and Critical Thinking Skills! They choose one winner for each response category and present certificates and prizes that they have secured from local businesses.

Needless to say, March is a very special time at the OJAC. Our Stasney Center for Education is a popular place for families and the museum staff is delighted to view the collection through the eyes of our youngest visitors

Take a sneak peak at the five collection pieces (below) that were chosen for the program this Spring, then visit us during the month of March to view the show! 

This month in Art-To-Go..

This month in Art-To-Go..

Art-To-Go is the museum's free, school outreach program- available to any campus K-12 within an hours-drive of the OJAC. Museum Educators visit each participating campus once a month and present a different social or cultural awareness issue through the lens of the museum collection. 

At each 45 minute session, students enjoy books and videos, explore artifacts from the museum, and participate in a short studio activity. 

During the month of February, students throughout Region 14 explored African Heritage- investigating various cultures in Ghana, Mali, Nigeria and the Ivory Coast. 

PK-1st Grade students listened to Anansi the Spider, a children's folktale from Ghana. After viewing the Adinkra symbols of the Ashanti people they filled Anansi's web with patterns and symbols of their own.

2-3rd Graders created stamps of Adinkra symbols and printed their own Achi Gameboards (a children's game from Ghana- similar to tic-tac-toe). They had a blast competing against one another using these personalized game-boards!

4-5th Grade investigated the Korhogo Cloth of the Senufo culture in the Ivory Coast. They filled a Ndebele ('nature' spirit') with Senufo symbolism, then added waves of energy with color. 

6-8th Grades students tried their hand at Mudcloth Designs from Mali. They enjoyed the texture of the "mudpaint" and the geometric patterns.

9-12th Grade explored Gris Gris Bags from Nigeria. In addition to decorating their bags with Nigerian symbols, beads and feathers, they filled this 'good-luck charm' with their favorite words of encouragement. 

 

Evaline Sellors

The Robert E. Nail, Jr. Archives current exhibit complements the Texas Moderns art exhibition with a display focusing on the life and work of artist Evaline Sellors.

Evaline Clarke Sellors was born August 30, 1903 in Fort Worth, Texas. As a child she was enrolled in private art classes, and later attended prep school at Texas Woman's College Academy. Following a couple of years spent abroad, Sellors returned to Fort Worth and with the help of artists Blanche McVeigh and Sallie Gillespie opened the Texas School of Fine Arts in 1932. Later renamed the Fort Worth School of Fine Arts, the school was closed in 1941 with the advent of WWII.

During the war, Sellors worked at North American Aviations as an instructor in the mockup department, which created plaster models that became casts used to manufacture plane parts for the company. After the war, Sellors continued to teach, working as an art instructor through 1980.

While teaching, Sellors continued to exhibit her work, and maintained a studio in her garage until 1993 when failing eyesight forced her to retire. Sellors died May 17, 1995 at the age of 91

OJAC Dedicates New Archives Addition

OJAC Dedicates New Archives Addition

There was a great crowd at the OJAC on Sunday afternoon for the official dedication and grand opening of the new archives addition! A short ceremony was held at 1:30 pm to honor Clifton and Shirley Caldwell for their contribution of the new wing, and afterwards the public was invited to tour the new space.

The addition includes exhibition space that features the re-installation of the Sallie Reynolds Matthews Collection, along with cases which will highlight other materials and documents from the Robert E. Nail, Jr. Archives' collections. New office space, as well as an expanded reading room provide plenty of working space for both researchers and staff. Attendees were also allowed to view the new archives storage room, which will generally not be open to the public.

OJAC Welcomes New Development and Marketing Coordinator

OJAC Welcomes New Development and Marketing Coordinator

The Old Jail Art Center would like to welcome Kenna Hogan to the team! 

Kenna will serve as Development and Marketing Coordinator at the OJAC. 

Kenna comes to us with local museum, and international experience - with work for the Buffalo Gap Historic Village and the Durham Cathedral and Castle World Heritage Site. 

She graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in History and Heritage and Cultural Tourism from McMurry University and a Master of Arts in International Cultural Heritage Management from the University of Durham in the United Kingdom. 

She and her family are from the Abilene area. 

Danse Macabre

Danse Macabre

While touring a group of students today, we made a stop at one of the most popular pieces (with the 18 and under crowd) currently on exhibit:

Skulls, c. 1989, JULES KIRSCHENBAUM, Museum purchase. 2009.002

Skulls, c. 1989, JULES KIRSCHENBAUM, Museum purchase. 2009.002

As we discussed fairly dry topics of cross-hatching and still-life composition, the conversation inevitably came back to skeletons, creepy-crawlies and the upcoming Halloween holiday. All at once, while looking at this piece, I knew of the perfect way to enhance the tour-stop.

Because I often tour with an iPad (to show images or video that may provide context for an exhibited piece) I was able to quickly find and share one of my favorite childhood memories--through a somewhat hokey but wonderful 1980's animation of the Danse Macabre by Camille Saint-Sanes. 

Each year of elementary school, my wonderful art and music teachers would gather our grade before our Halloween party. We listened to the classical piece while sketching dancing skeletons, and created mobiles and puppets with straws, sticks and dried pasta. I remember my fascination at the macabre. I loved imagining the live bodies that used to enclose the skeletons that danced through the scenes of that video. I wanted to know how each bone moved and worked as a person danced.

Looking back, I am sure that these special skeletal celebrations fueled my interest in anatomy and in turn, my love for figure and still life sketching in charcoals. Then.. (as we all seem to seek opportunities to share our passions) a desire to become an art teacher. 

As I sat with my students in the museum gallery, the music echoed badly and they laughed at the cartoon quality.. but were soon mesmerized by the way the music "sounded like dancing" and the "clicking of dried bones." We had a great talk about how fun it is to create music inspired by a work of visual art, and visa versa. 

So, in honor of Halloween I thought I would share this fun teaching moment. An unexpected conversation with 4th graders about this piece by Jules Kirschenbaum was a lovely reminder of why this holiday holds a special place in my heart, history and career. 

 

Bones!

Bones!

Currently on view in the Administrative Hallway is a portfolio of miniature photographs by Dick Lane. Specimens, 2000 is no. 9 of a limited edition of 15 portfolios containing 15 images and an artist’s statement.  The experience is much like visiting the vault of a natural history museum to see the drawers of carefully stored specimens of bones, birds, frogs, seedpods and feathers. While there is beauty in their order and in the intricacies of their forms, it is Lane’s thoughtful arrangements that elevate them from science to art.

Specimens, 2000, DICK LANE, Gift of the artist. 2001.023

Specimens, 2000, DICK LANE, Gift of the artist. 2001.023

On the opposite wall hangs Jules Kischenbaum’s Skulls, c. 1989, and the two works compliment one another nicely. Kirschenbaum’s depiction of a variety of skulls and bones mirrors multiple objects found in Specimens, but the drawing’s scale and seemingly random pile of these relics creates an interesting juxtaposition.

Skulls, c. 1989, JULES KIRSCHENBAUM, Museum purchase. 2009.002

Skulls, c. 1989, JULES KIRSCHENBAUM, Museum purchase. 2009.002

 

Today's Installation

Today's Installation

Sneak peak of Sallie Reynolds Matthews Collection items being reinstalled in the New Archives and Local History Galleries...

Formal building dedication to be held November 13, 1-3 p.m.

Courtyard in Pink

Courtyard in Pink

If you haven't been by lately, make sure to check out the OJAC Sculpture Courtyard at night during the month of October. 

This beautiful glow on the original jail building, as well as our sculpture serves as a lovely reminder. It will be lit pink each night this month in recognition of Breast Cancer Awareness. 

We're almost there!

We're almost there!

These are exciting times in the archives as we count down to the final days of construction on the new addition space! The main structure is nearly complete and the work remaining is focusing in on the details; making sure all of the finishing touches are correct and clean. The Caldwell Family building, which was made possible by a generous gift from Clifton and Shirley Caldwell, will house both the Robert E. Nail, Jr. Archives and the Sallie Reynolds Matthews Collection.

 

The large stacks area and collapsible shelving units will provide the Archives with at least four times more shelving room than it currently has, giving us plenty of room to grow into the future. In addition, it will allow the archives to expand its collection policy, which originally limited the historical materials to those concerning only Shackelford County history. Now the archives will be able to also accept materials from Stephens, Throckmorton and Young counties.

 

The exhibition space will feature historical items from the Sallie Reynolds Matthews Collection, with new case displays and exhibit label text which will help provide information and context to our many out of town visitors. There will also be space for other, smaller rotating exhibits which will highlight materials, photographs, and other historical documents found in the Archives collections.

 

Be sure to come see the new space later this fall!

JuDo's at the OJAC

JuDo's at the OJAC

Visit the OJAC on any day of the week and you are likely to run into a JuDo or two. (Junior Docent, that is!)

In addition to an active adult Docent Volunteer Corps, the museum hosts a Docent training program for ages 14-19. Since 2008, this program has played a large role in the museums relationship with its small, West Texas community. Children that grow up attending OJAC Summer camps or Family Festivals apply for the Junior Docent program, knowing they will help to continue those same events for younger students and families in their hometown. 

This experience of this program is part internship/ part art education and arts advocacy training. Junior Docents aid Education Department Staff in a variety of tasks- from pinning flyers around town, program supply prep and event set-up, to researching and leading gallery talks and curating an exhibit of local student art each Spring. By high school graduation, these students have had an invaluable exposure to the fine arts, as well as an opportunity practice their research and public speaking skills and invest in the cultural assets of their community.

These teen volunteers are an integral part of the OJAC family, and while they are rewarded with snacks, Appreciation Field Trips and even college scholarships, the museum views itself the true winner as it develops precious relationships with these future advocates.

What you can learn from the BACK of a painting

What you can learn from the BACK of a painting

Merger, 1957-77 EN CULWELL (1918-1992) Oil on canvas Collection of the Old Jail Art Center. Gift of the Artist’s Estate. 2005.00

Merger, 1957-77

EN CULWELL (1918-1992)

Oil on canvas

Collection of the Old Jail Art Center. Gift of the Artist’s Estate.

2005.00

Sometimes the back of a painting can peak my interest as much as the front. And Ben Culwell’s painting Merger, 1957-77 recently did just that.

 

Merger has a colorful heavily layered surface packed with visual information imbedded in unconventional combinations of media worked and re-worked over time. But when the painting was recently moved out of my office, I discovered the artist had left us with almost as much contextual information on the back.

 

It seems the full title of this painting is “MERGER” (WHEN SAN ANTONIO TRANSIT CO. SOLD SOUTHWEST GENERAL INSURANCE CO. TO PACIFIC NATIONAL INSURANCE CO.). Additional text on the back reads No. 57-12 (perhaps it was the 12th painting that Culwell began in 1957) and, interestingly enough, HANG ANY SIDE UP. To add to the mystery, the name “YANKEE DOODLE” is visible on the center support bar beneath a thin layer of white paint. 

Of course, I googled the merger to find out more...

Even though I didn’t find any information specific to the merger, I did discover that Culwell maintained two careers, one in art and the other in business. In the late 1950s, Culwell worked as the Executive Vice President of Southwest General Insurance Co. in San Antonio, Texas. With this new information, I considered the range of emotions that would naturally come with having to sell a company in which you had invested so much and gained new insight into this painting that the artist would work on for 20 years.

¡Fiesta! Celebrating Hispanic and Latin Arts and Culture

This week a fabulous group of teachers from Region 14 visited us for our Hispanic and Latin Arts and Culture Workshop.This workshop, for 5-10th grade Spanish Language or History teachers,

Teachers investigate artifacts and research from classic and contemporary Hispanic culture, enjoy games and videos then create samples of the coordinating art projects they will lead with their students this year.

It was a GREAT time to swap stories and ideas as we gear up for the Fall Semester!

Graduating Intern Reflects on her Time at The OJAC

Graduating Intern Reflects on her Time at The OJAC

Being a Junior Docent has played an important role in my life.

I signed up to be a junior docent my seventh grade year. I heard of the program through my older brother who was also a junior docent. I saw how he enjoyed his time at the Old Jail and decided I would give it a shot. I loved art class and I loved making art and hoped that the Junior Docent Program would bring me the same creative joy.  Being an awkward 12 year old, I was shy, quiet, and didn’t like to step outside of my comfort zone. Over the years, working with the junior docents has brought me out of my shell and taught me to be more social. I have loved getting to work all of the family festivals and summer art camps. When I was asked to be a high school intern my sophomore year, I was so excited. I get to work at the Old Jail every week and I honestly enjoy every minute of it. I love getting to make samples for Art-to-go and Distance Learning and volunteering at the family festivals. It’s heart warming to watch other children make art and enjoy it as much as I do. Being a part of junior docents has had a big role in my becoming who I am today. I keep telling Erin I’m going to drive back and forth from San Angelo State so I can keep working here while I’m in college. 

I have enjoyed my time here at the Old Jail Art Center and I highly recommend joining the Junior Docents program to any student interested in art.

 

Savannah Perez
2016 Graduate of Albany High School

OJAC Welcomes new Education Coordinator

OJAC Welcomes new Education Coordinator

The Old Jail Art Center would like to welcome Molly Gore Merck to it's Education Team!

 

Molly will serve as Education Coordinator at the OJAC, facilitating programming for School, Family and Public Audiences. 

Molly comes to us with local museum, art gallery and classroom art education experience- with work for the Grace Museum and National Center for Children's Illustrated Literature, Jody Klotz Fine Art Gallery and Dyess Elementary School. Additionally, Molly is a working stained glass artist and painter.

She graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Studio Art and Art Communication from Howard Payne University in 2011.

She and her family are from the Abilene area. 

Junior Docent Spring Trip

Following each school semester, our Junior Docents (JH and HS volunteers) are rewarded for their service with a free field-trip day of museums and food. 

Junior Docents volunteer at the museum once a week, as well as staffing our family festival booths, judging/ curating an exhibit of Student Art each March, and researching/ presenting on the collection on Slow Art Day. 

This week, we wrapped up the Spring Semester with a trip to the Amon Carter and Fort Worth Modern Museums...capped off by the oh-so-important Frozen Yogurt Stop on the way home. 

Fabulous exhibits and a fun time with this group of special teens. (And a big word of thanks, as well, to the other 6 that weren't able to come with!)

See you in the Fall, JuDo's!

Tail of a Whale..

Tail of a Whale..

The Old Jail Art Center is very fortunate to be the recipient of artwork from the Larry Kleinschmidt Estate of Fort Worth. Larry was a longtime collector of Fort Worth Circle artists as well as other local artists. Just one of the many works the OJAC has accessioned, Whale, 1953 by Bror Utter, was included in the OJAC’s Texas Moderns: Bror Utter exhibition last fall.

 

Bror Utter (1913-1993) spent the entirety of his life studying, working, exhibiting, and teaching in Fort Worth until Alzheimer’s disease ended his painting career. An influential member of the Fort Worth Circle, he was a longtime teacher at both the Fort Worth Art Association and the Woman's Club of Fort Worth.

 

In the 1940s and 50s, Utter developed his distinctive “architectural landscapes,” a style that included arches and windows to compartmentalize his subjects.  At this same time, he did a series of whale paintings in response to a visit to the old whaling port of New Bedford, Massachusetts. In a 1979 interview, Utter described these paintings of suspended whales as “Roman arches upside down….Nothing scientific at all. Purely fanciful. I was painting compulsively, and did not think they were likely to sell. But there’s not one left.”

Upcoming OJAC Archives Exhibit

Bill Bomar (front) and cousin Reilly Nail, in front of the museum, ca. 1983.

Bill Bomar (front) and cousin Reilly Nail, in front of the museum, ca. 1983.

Bill Bomar

March 5-May 14

Born in Fort Worth, Texas on December 30, 1919, Bill Bomar began his life-long love of painting at the age of seven. It was at this young age, while sitting for a commissioned portrait by the artist Murray Bewley, that Bomar’s interest in the world of art was kindled. “It felt right, to a young boy,” he remembered. “It was a feeling I got from the oils, the turpentines, even the pipe Bewley smoked.” So affected was he by this feeling, that Bomar painted exclusively in oils until the age of 16.

It was through his mother, Jewel Nail Bomar, and the Nail family, that Bomar maintained a connection with the Albany, Texas area. In the late 1970s, together with his cousin Reilly Nail, the two co-founded what would become the Old Jail Art Center. Combining their collections of 20th century modern art along with art from their mothers’ collections, the museum opened in December of 1980. Today the Old Jail Art Center encompasses some 17,000 square feet and is a thriving, widely-acclaimed art museum dedicated to the visual arts and to preserving the local history of the Shackelford County area.