Monthly Archives: July 2011

Family Days: In Our View

By Julia Einstein
Coordinator of Youth and Family Programs

This week the Museum’s blog presents the perspective of Cleo Barker, Katarina Nixon, and Nyalida Deng, our Yourspace summer interns from Deering High School, Casco Bay High School, and Portland High School. Yourspace, a three-week studio art and Museum summer internship program, provides six of Portland’s most talented young artists with professional art educators, intensive art-making, and a paid internship to help them prepare for their futures. This week the interns assisted educators in collecting data as families experimented and tried out special activities during Family Days.

Family Fun and Summer Days at the Museum
By Cleo Barker, Deering High School

During the hot, humid days of summer, my siblings and I would have considered it a treat to be taken on a trip to the Portland Museum of Art with its air-conditioned galleries. If we happened to go on a Family Day, the half-price admission would have made it a treat for our parents as well! If we were to venture as far as the 19th-century room, our visit would have lead us to a gallery filled with blue labels of fun facts. One label, beneath two portraits of Mary Edwards and Julia Dearborn reads, “A serious expression was considered better back then – wouldn’t want to be considered silly. How long can everyone in your family keep a serious expression on their face?” After reading this label, I imagine my brother and I staring at each other, willing ourselves not to burst out laughing. I noticed families like my own enjoying those labels. It was fun to watch as they hunted for them, hoping to catch sight of one of the bright blue cards inviting them to take a longer look.

Making Art and Memories
By Katarina Nixon, Casco Bay High School
On Family Days, my job at the Museum is to observe families walking and interacting in different parts of the Museum. One of the areas has a drawing and reading table. This table is in one of the quieter galleries, because there is not a whole lot of artwork in it, so people go through it quickly. But throughout my observations of watching families, it seems like the drawing and reading table got the families to talk to each other more and made it the loudest out of all the stops. For instance, I had a mother with her young daughter and baby son come to that table. The whole time the daughter was telling her mother every single detail about what she was going to draw. “And how about that mom, do you think that is good?”, the daughter would ask. The mother would reply with either a nod or “Yes, that sounds like a really good idea.” The daughter would go back to her drawing, then a few seconds later, she would ask her mother the same exact question. It was nice for me, because it reminded me of when my sister was younger and would do the same exact same thing to me “Kat, does this look right?” or “Kat, do you like that?” Though at the time I thought the questions would never end, now I miss them. So being able to observe that little girl was a nice reminder. Though I observed a few more families at that table, who interacted with each other, I think the family with that little girl was my favorite.

Family Voices
By N
yalida Deng, Portland High School
On Family Days I was observing people while they listened to the Family Voices cell phone tour in the large Contemporary Art gallery on the third floor of the Museum. I took notes and wrote down their comments. There was one family with a little girl and her father and they did the cell phone tour for the Mussel Dress by Brian White. I liked how the little girl was taking the lead and asking questions. I tried the cell phone tour myself to hear what the families would be listening to. What I liked was that the people giving the cell phone tour sounded like they were talking to each other, as if they were having a conversation about the painting and sculptures while you listened. They asked questions to get you to think. I especially liked how they compared the painting to others nearby. The mother said, “The artist used scraps from her studio to make the sculpture.” She was talking about Untitled by Louise Nevelson. When the young girl said, “Even though the sculpture is black, you can see different shades of black made by the shadows.” I thought that was interesting because I hadn’t noticed that before.

Trunk Show for Your Home at the Museum Store

By Sally Struever
Store Manager

The First Friday Art Walk on August 5 will feature an extra special stop at the Portland Museum of Art – the Museum Store will be hosting a trunk show for your home! The trunk show will be highlighting items by ceramicist Ingrid Bathe, pillows featuring the work of Dahlov Ipcar by Classic Rug Collection, and many more. Stop by from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. to check out the new items in the Store and take advantage of the Museum’s free admission!

To get you geared up for this special event, we’re excited to share this article by Bob Ipcar about the story behind the Classic Rug Collection’s collection of pillows depicting the work of Maine artist Dahlov Ipcar, for sale at the Museum Store!

Classic Maine Artist Meets Classic Rug Collection –by Bob Ipcar

At the age of 93, Dahlov Ipcar, considered Maine’s best kept secret, still spins out a cornucopia of animal-themed oil paintings on the average of one a month. When she’s not painting, Ipcar is huddled with her publisher, Islandport Press, who is bent on re-releasing a 30-year backlog of her children’s books at the rate of two a year. The artist takes the scheduled book signings at the local Borders or L.L. Bean in stride, though they have learned to cut the line off after 100 people.

Now it’s rugs and pillows. Barbara Barran, rug designer and owner of Classic Rug Collection, discovered the “World of Dahlov Ipcar” while exchanging “mother” stories with Ipcar’s son, Bob, during off-leash hours in Brooklyn’s Prospect Park. As a result, Barran’s newest collection is based on images from Mrs. Ipcar’s children’s books. No stranger to folk art, Barran designs and sells a line of rugs based on the work of the Gee’s Bend Quilt Collective from Alabama.

Barran worked up a selection of four pillows and four rugs based on images of dogs and cats from the books The Cat at Night, Black and White, and The Art of Dahlov Ipcar; then she had hand-made samples produced of wool and cotton crewel work in a region of Kashmir that is noted for its handicrafts. The final step was making a trip to Maine to show the samples to Mrs. Ipcar and get her approval for the collection.

Expecting to find an affable, grey-haired, nearsighted old lady, Barran’s first encounter with Mrs. Ipcar began with a tart, “You’d better not apply the word ‘cute’ or ‘interesting’ to my work!” It was love at first sight. From her work with the quilters, Barran understood the importance of fidelity to the artist’s vision; as a custom rug designer, she also brought a passion for quality to this project. When Mrs. Ipcar looked at the samples and smiled, Barran knew that the collection was a go.

For her own home, Mrs. Ipcar chose “Celeste,” a rug that features an image of her first Dalmatian. The rug sits next to her bed, so the faithful Celeste is always there to greet her mistress in the morning. “It’s such a thrill to collaborate with an artist of Mrs. Ipcar’s stature,” said Barran. “I’m delighted that she wanted one of my pieces in such a private setting.”

Future collections will be issued every six months and will include images from the full range of Mrs. Ipcar’s body of work. “She has produced so many spectacular drawings and paintings,” notes Barran, “that I may be coming out with new Ipcar collections when I’m 93!”

“Don’t We Live in Amazing Times?”

By Vanessa Nesvig
Coordinator of Special Projects

When Dana Baldwin, our Director of Education, and Stacy Rodenberger, our Coordinator of School Programs, were in the galleries last week testing out our latest experiment in education, a patron turned to them and said, “Don’t we live in amazing times?” This is definitely true, as you will experience if you come to the Museum’s McLellan House for a visit.

This week we posted 10 QR Codes around the House that link to videos made when we restored the House in 2002. What are QR Codes you ask? You may recognize them as the square graphics that you may have seen on your last flight boarding pass, on advertisements, or on business cards. This graphic can be read by a QR reader…something very easy to download onto your phone and links to any url. By taking a picture of the graphic, your phone will automatically link up to the videos that we have uploaded on You Tube.

When we saw how easy the QR reader was to download, we realized that it had great educational potential here at the Museum. These videos that we had beautifully made in 2002 have been given new life. Go through the House and view the man who restored the trim on the Palladian window, or the chief curator at the time talking about wallpaper in the 1800’s and how we choose what you see today.

Technology is always racing forward, but here is a great way to use it to be able to look back. I hope you can enjoy these next time you are in the museum. Enjoy!