Light Show by Leo Villareal
The Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art
Ithaca, New York
Push yourself away from the table after Thanksgiving and look for the right time to take the family up a hill in Ithaca, New York, to the Herbert F. Johnson Museum on the campus of Cornell University. Out the window of the museum - I can see my old studio space when I was a grad student earning my MFA in Fine Art. Even though that was ages ago the building looks the same on the outside and the physical environment around it is much the same as before. There is a new building by Rem Koolhaas, but it doesn't face the quad, and it is really his interior space that matters most. Outside the museum there is a light show going on day and night by Leo Villareal on the ceiling of the sculpture court and you can see it from the street below.
"Guanyin of the Southern Seas"
Chinese carved and painted wood , Yuan Dynasty
Inside the museum - up in the Asian Art collections we found some new selections including wood carvings from China, and Vietnam, and paintings from Tibet. The selection on this floor does not overwhelm you, but rather has a focus on select works that can come to mean a lot to a viewer. I saw ancient cuneiform tablets from nearly 4000 years ago which contain intricate lists inscribed in clay that is then baked in. There are wonderful pieces like the Korean carved wood portrait of a "Mountain Spirit" who holds onto a tiger.
Paintings from Tibet
"Mountain Spirit holds a tiger"
19th century Korean carved and painted wood
I was surprised by a wall full of carvings from Vietnam. A delightful small piece has a musician strumming a string instrument who looks like he is enjoying the moment - which is part of the point of getting out and going to the museum - learn something about another culture, and get carried away for the moment.
Wood carving from Vietnam
On the lower floor of the Johnson Museum there are study cases filled with the world's cultural artifacts. I found challenging shields from Oceania, and face masks that look somewhat evil too.
I think of all the play acting that goes on in cultures and contrast that with our opera and our cinema - not too different in the long run.
Shields from Oceania
Study center in the Herbert F. Johnson Museum
Cornell University, Ithaca, NY
After we packed and drove away I stopped in to see how Brad Butler was doing as the Director of Main Street Arts in Clifton Springs. This is one of the most beautiful gallery spaces in the area, and now they have a section on the second floor for artist residencies. There are two studio spaces and you can apply for a spot on their schedule - this allows one some public exposure as well as a work space and I took a look to see what they are doing.
Painting and ceramics at Main Street Arts, Clifton Springs
Apply for an Artist-in-Residence
Main Street Arts
Clifton Springs, New York
So, support the arts in your area, even if you are "only looking". I think it is an uplifting experience, and who knows, you might just want to engage at a higher level - think of all that is out there to see.