Field of Dreams (well light, really)

I have had about 45 minutes to reflect on the last month, which included the installation of Bruce Munro’s Light, so it seems only appropriate that I share my feelings, thoughts and hopes for this show while I am still numb.

“It is almost over, Colin.” This quote is in reference to nearly 50 different people (parents included) who were quick to ensure me that by finishing the install we were almost done. Brrrrrr!!! (buzzer sound?) Try 1/4 of the way through…with a staff the size of a Soho boutique we have a lot of ground to cover through January. Now, this is not to say we are dreading any of this, quite the contrary. Each member of staff (Lil, Melissa, Alanna, Yolima, Tom, Pat, Jennifer and Carrie) are so on top of their game that it is frightening. You could not ask for a more dedicated group of people to work with. They have abandoned their lives for four months to make sure there are Lights for all of Virginia to see. So the next time you talk to them, enjoy the show, the grounds, whatever, make sure you thank them for their hard work.

So what happened during install?

Short answer: beers

Long answer: Something between spontaneity, simplicity, abandonment, detachment and enlightenment.

It was one of the most amazing car accidents of friendship and self-loathing worth rubber necking to witness. Truly a brilliant thing to behold. Bruce’s install team (Mike, Maurice, Lauren, Duncan and Ben) are without question bros now. We broed down so hard that I am having bro withdraw as I type this. Professionals down to the last drop of Tecate. Should you ever have the good fortune of having Bruce’s works at your museum or home (custom orders are available) make sure you request these dudes and dudette.

We built, stemmed, lifted, balled, threaded and drilled our way to a magnificent exhibit that the city of Norfolk should be salivating over that they didn’t have to spend a dime to get here. (Drops the mic and walks away)….

(returns for mic realizing he must rap more)….It appears as though Norfolk is entering an age of enlightenment. Richmond may want to go ahead and start burning itself down again (1865 must have been fun) to make way for the port city that could. But seriously, what a refreshing emergence of culture in the state, Tidewater and Norfolk.

The entire process was like a moderately attractive caterpillar (maybe poisonous) going in its cocoon and then coming out a dragon. It is amazing to see the Hermitage transform from a place where people let their dogs poop wherever, to a garden with gorgeous art blocking those same areas where dogs relieve themselves. Metamorphosis…stunning.

My hope is that this, along with all of the other good we are doing, will help to elevate the position of the Hermitage as a serious cultural institution. Junk blogs like my own won’t change this, but hopefully curators to come will have more to work with because of the changes we are making now.

If this works I will take some credit. If it doesn’t, well….it’s Obama’s fault.

It won’t fail, we won’t fail, the Hermitage has finally opened.

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Mike at the beach.

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Craftsmanship, bro

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Field of Lights. Courtesy of Colin Brady Photography, LLC, trademarked 2014, University College University Polytech Press (Accredited). 2014. Shot with a Samsung 3 Ver4GLTE and a beer in my hand.

Buy your tickets for Bruce Munro online now!

The title isn’t asking you. It is telling you.

 

In case you have yet to be informed the Hermitage will be hosting  Bruce Munro’s LIGHT this Fall. It will run from October 12th to January 10th. There are dates, times and stuff that are all important, but this isn’t the place for that, this is : http://lightathermitage.com

 

So what does this exhibition look like…glad you asked.

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I added a pinkish sky to make it look like twilight. I really think it brings out the autumn colors in the trees, no? The brown line represents the horizon as it fades into a mud flat. genius.

Their PR team might actually read this so, as a precaution, I have included 100% sanctioned images of the exhibit below.

 

Field of Light 2

 

Water Towers 2

 

This kind of awesomeness will be all over the property! Perfect for all ages and more entertaining than anything else in Norfolk from October to January (yeah, I said it).

 

Questions from the Wall

Two posts in one day is hardcore for me. 

There is a nice pile of comments and questions on our wall, which means it is time to answer them with some sarcasm. Per usual we will start with the comments first.

-Organ inners are “way cool” – J. Koury

-Wonderful and beautiful collection! This place is a hidden gem :)

-I like all the flowers and benches 

-Have more hentages! (I don’t know what this means, is it bad?)

-I am getting married here today :) Danny (May 24) – Congrats! I hope you didn’t touch any of the art…cause I will find you if you did.

Questions:

Q: Why does Abe (Lincoln) look SO OLD?

A: Because he is super dead. 

Q: Do you wanna build a snowman?

A: No, not at all… this last winter was enough cold for a decade.

Q: Why is the house shaped so exotically?

A: The house went under a series of transformations over the course of 30 years. Each of these modifications brought new shapes to the home’s overall design. It becomes exotic because of these changes, as well as the incorporation of various artistic styles. Mrs. Sloane liked to mix things up.

Q: Identify the trees.

A: No

Q: Why is there so many doors?

A: The Sloanes liked opening things.

Q: What are you?

A: I am a male. 

Q: Was the vault part of the original house?

A: Yes. The family did have a vault to stash all of their silver and gold objects should a situation arise.

Q: Offer a hidden doors of the Hermitage tour and show the closets, back stairs, etc.

A: The hidden doors tour would last all of ten minutes. The things that you can’t see/get in are left shut for a good reason. We use many of these locked spaces for storage and places for HVAC units…no touchy for you. 

Leveling Up

There are two things that I have consistently participated in since my childhood – surfing and playing video games. Sadly, my dreams of becoming a pro surfer fell short in college. That, however, did not stop me from getting really decent* at winning in the digital world. I have dabbled in many genres of gaming but have come to love RPGs, or Role Playing Games. There is nothing quite like taking a nobody bard from a generic fantasy town and turning him ( I have played as female characters so spare me your sexism ) into the most powerful being in the land. Crushing dragons, orcs and goblins is but part of my journey, as I also pay great attention to the lore of the lands. Eventually you put down the controller and realize you have invested 100 real hours in this world and are told you should feel ashamed by your peers for doing so.

HA!

I never do.

Instead I am left with a void in my human form – I like playing as elves in the digital realm because of their intelligence stats – which challenges me to find RPG like qualities in the museum world. Odd you might say, but in reality all I do is handle treasure all day. In fact some of these objects passed through the hands of ancient kings and emperors, some were mined from the darkest tunnels and others were forged in the kilns of the greatest artisans.

Every single day in the museum is like working in the halls of Erebor…minus Smaug. There is no better position than the one that surrounds you with the treasures of hundred of cultures. So even when I am not lost in a fantasy world of magic I continue to boost my stats and level up.

So go forth and find your own quest to get lost in.

 

* There is a professional gaming league now. People are getting paid six figures to play video games.  Because of this I can no longer call myself  “good” at gaming.

Wall Thoughts

Our question wall has turned a serious corner and has become the hottest posting spot for the most non sequitur ramblings I have seen in quite some time. Here are a few charmers…

-So Abraham Lincoln was a vampire hunter after all? Amazing! (False, he is the first king of Mars.)

-I just want Skylar Lyman to marry me …. (Not happening bro, she likes Justin.)

-When can you have pizza anytime? (You can have it after more punctuation.) 

-Hear da goat? (Maybe.)

-Where are the snacks? (This is a legitimate question that I want answered too.)

-mine turtle (What?How? Who? I am so confused…)

-When was phone? (Mr. Watson. Come here. I want you.)

 

On with the real questions.

Q: What did the car look like?

A: They had several so here are two…

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Q: What’s with the tiny desk and chair in the broom closet?

A: That is where I put people who touch the art even though there is a sign that says “do not touch the art.”

 

Q: No map of the top floor?

A: Nope. If you had that you would know where my favorite bathroom is…and we just can’t have that.

 

Q: Do you have nontraditional art?

A: MMMmmm… depends on where you are going with this. What is your definition of nontraditional? Do we have melting corpses, fields of unfulfilled dreams or Mathew Barney’s CREMASTER Cycle? Nope, we do not. There are contemporary shows here if that is what you are going for.

You must remember that nontraditional to someone might be traditional to another. What does a Mongolian who has never left the steppe think of 17th century Flemish landscape painting? He might appreciate 3/4 sky to 1/4 land ratios, but that’s about it.

 

Q: Does the hermitage ever sell or lend its artifacts to other museums?

A: We do loan quite often. Sell not so much.

 

Q: What happened to the Sloane children?

A: They grew up, lived, and then died. Feeling totes macabre today. But seriously, both William Jr. and Edwin were outstanding philanthropists whose contributions to the arts in Virginia and Texas (where William ended up) are still being appreciated today.

 

Q: Was that a toaster in the dining room?

A: It was not! Great find though! It is a foot warmer. Did I blow your mind?

 

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I polished the silver

You might think you have muffled your voices during gatherings at the Herm, but trust me when I say that I hear everythiiinggg….

Oh, I know what you think should be done, could be done, or think you can do better than moi. Once my tears of failure have finished drying in my pillow I try my hardest to accommodate your many thoughts and opinions on collections management.

One such neglect is that silver you all know how to clean so well and I do not. HA! 

Being a man of low standards both in the dining room and life, silver has had very little impact on my development. While it may not be my field of interest it does need to be cleaned from time to time. Over polishing is not the way to go people!

You will be happy to see that I spent the day gently caressing each piece. 

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Do you see the shine shooting out that case! Radiance!!!!

Repatriation

Welllcoomee backk. Your dreams were your ticket outtt. 

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News on the return of our (their?) painting is popping up across South Korea.  As we prepare our own U.S. press release it seems only fitting that I step in now to stamp my seal of randomness on the entire event. In truth, this has been one of the most amazing experiences I have taken part in during my young life.  The hospitality and professionalism with which the Overseas Korean Cultural Heritage Foundation demonstrated has made this entire journey as smooth as mixing soju with beer (cultural reference, check).

So where to begin…

Probably the best place to start is in Korea somewhere between 1910 and 1940 during Japanese occupation. At that time Japanese art dealers made quick work of removing objects from the peninsula and then shipping them to galleries across the U.S. and Europe. Our particular piece was cut from a temple, rolled up and moved to good’ol Merica by means of Yamanaka and Co. For those not in the know Yamanaka was one of the most prominent Asian antiquities dealers in the first half of the twentieth century with galleries in New York, Chicago and Boston. Our proprietor, Florence Sloane, was an adamant lover of Asian art. She was also a hound when it came to sniffing out deals. Quite possibly the greatest deal on Asian art came during WWII when the Alien Property Custodian of the United States of America began to liquidate Yamanaka’s stock because…well…he was Japanese and we weren’t having any of that. 

As early as 1943 this painting came up to auction at a cost of $6,000.00. It is possible that the work made an appearance at an earlier sale, however, the oldest sale catalogs we have show it available in 43.

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( I suck at scanning…get over it)

 

Apparently nobody thought six grand was a good deal because the painting was shelved and would not reappear until 1944. In our records there is mention of the price dropping to $2,000.00, but there is no discussion as to what gallery is offering that particular price.

Fast forward to May of 1944. A four day auction at Parke-Bernet Galleries in NYC brings the work back out at a Black Friday deal-buster price of $450.00 (less than an Xbox One!).  Florence quickly snatches up the painting along with a few other goods. By June 5th everything is paid for and prepped to journey to the second drunkest city in the U.S (ca. 2013)….Norfolk, Virginia.

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So then we hung that beauty on the wall, right? Wrong. It went into storage until 1954 when E.K. Sloane, Florence’s youngest son, loaned it to the Norfolk Museum of Arts and Sciences (better known as the Chrysler Museum today).  It remained in a stairwell there before it was brought down in 1973 and returned to the Sloane mansion. For close to thirty years it remained in storage before we began to look around for someone to conserve the work in the mid 2000’s. 

The Virginia Association of Museums (VAM) started an amazing endangered artifact program where we made the list! I never win anything so I am still excited to finally place in something. This little nugget of recognition found its way to the OKCHF last year where we then began the talks that would see this painting returned to the Republic of Korea. 

Here is a photo montage of what happened during that period.

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“Yep, it’s a painting of Buddha.”

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“So then she said…” (they wait with abated breathe) 

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Checking out the material it was painted on and patched with. Silk and Hemp.

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It looks like I am saying something important when, in fact, I am surrounded by some of the most well known scholars in the field of Joeson dynasty painting.

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I think we call this “getting schooled.”

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Big crate for a big painting. 

There are actually very scholarly things to say about all of this and I promise you that they will appear in time.  For now just enjoy the humor and should you have serious questions I will welcome them with open ears.

Links:

http://www.arirang.co.kr/News/News_View.asp?nseq=155751

 

http://english.yonhapnews.co.kr/culturesports/2014/01/07/41/0701000000AEN20140107005700315F.html

 

Also, if you aren’t a fan of Kotter then you can find your way to the Internets exit door.