Thursday, September 29, 2011

“Birds and Beasts in Beads”

By Eva Fognell, Curator of the Eugene and Clare Thaw Collection of American Indian Art

On the weekend of September 17 through 19, Colgate University hosted an Iroquois beadwork conference in conjunction with their exhibition Birds and Beasts in Beads.

Samantha Clink, my student intern extraordinaire when she is not hard at work at SUNY Oneonta, joined me for a day of beads, bags and birds.

First we went upstairs to the Longyear Museum of Anthropology, to take a look at the exhibit.

There was lots of beautiful beadwork in the exhibit. The low light levels in the space (to preserve the textiles) makes the photographs a bit dark.

We enjoyed an interesting program with presentations by bead workers, scholars and collectors all day long.

The first talk of the day was by Karen Ann Hoffman from the Oneida Nation of Wisconsin. Her talk was titled “Written in Beads: Iroquois Stories in Raised Beadwork.” She is a teacher as well as beadworker. The stories that she told, beaded into her work, were so fascinating.

On a light blue bag she beaded a turtle. A pearl in the corner is Sky Woman and Turtle is the land - these are part of the Iroquois Creation story. Here is Karen Ann holding her “Fall Map”, in her Council Map series:

The story she tells in this map is about 4 brothers and their dog named Four Eyes that hunts and kills a bear in the sky world. They butcher the bear and he bleeds, blood falls from the sky and that is why maple leafs turn red in the fall. Later the brothers have a great feast of bear meat and the fat sizzles down. That is why we have snow in late fall. The hunters’ slept the winter away and in early spring the bear constitute himself and he was off again for a new year. That is how the world continues.

Next up was Dolly Printup Winden, Tuscarora, a contemporary bead worker. Here she is talking about the familiy tradition. The photo in the background is of her grandmother selling beadwork:

There were also bead-workers there selling their amazing creations as well as a beadwork competition. Look at these photos of some of the amazing creations:

I also learned a lot about dating and styles of beadwork - information that will come in handy when working with our collection.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Cider time!

By John Hart, Assistant Curator of Collections

All around New York State, apple orchards are opening up for people to pick every conceivable variety of apple you could imagine. Whether you’re making an apple pie, drying them for a snack, or some other culinary concoction, apples in New York are a perfect fall treat.

Places like Middlefield Orchard or the Fly Creek Cider Mill are busy offering U-Pick apples or making enough cider to stock up and have enough for all next summer. It’s really nice to walk into the Fly Creek Cider Mill and grab a gallon of cider in July!

Cider Making On Long Island, ca. 1870, by William M. Davis ( 1829- 1920),
Oil on Canvas, H: 17 1/8” x W: 27 ½”, N0368.1955.

I still remember my first trip to an apple orchard when I was in either preschool or kindergarten and ever since I’ve been hooked. Whether I’m going to pick some of my favorites or just grab some cider or warm apple cider donuts, every fall I make it a point to make sure I find an orchard, farm stand, or mill, and stop in and support the local growers and sellers. I’m just glad making cider is easier today than it was around the time William M. Davis painted Cider Making On Long Island (seen above); I’m not sure I could be patient enough to wait ! !

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Tips from the road

By Chris Rossi, Associate Curator of Exhibitions

After packing and installing our traveling exhibition, Art of the American Indians: The Thaw Collection  six times I've picked up a few things. Curator Eva Fognell and I like to think that by the time we finish the tour we may have perfected installing and packing the 111 American Indian objects we have been traveling.

At each venue we have had the pleasure of working with talented preparators who have taught us a few new tricks about art installation. The Cleveland Museum of Art staff tipped us off on new ways to coat and pad our brass mounts.

Minneapolis Museum of Art staff introduced us to the use of magnets for hanging textiles. That technique was just the thing for installing the unframed canvasses by Awenheeyoh Powless in the 8th Contemporary Iroquois Art Biennial: 4 Artists Under 30 exhibit now on display at the Fenimore Art Museum:

Our last venue, the Dallas Museum of Art, ended with preparator Mary drawing a level mark on one of our more difficult to hang mounts. A seemingly simple act, but we have struggled for ages to get the Box and Border robe consistently hung at just the right angle. All we were waiting for, apparently, was a fresh perspective from a kind colleague at another venue:

We have one more stop in our tour. I am looking forward to meeting the staff at the Indianapolis Museum of Art and have no doubt they will add something new to my toolbox!

Friday, September 16, 2011

What a difference a day makes!

By Eva Fognell, Curator of the Eugene & Clare Thaw Collection of American Indian Art

What a difference a day makes!

My colleague, Chris Rossi,  and I were just in Dallas deinstalling our traveling exhibition Art of the American Indians: The Thaw Collection at the Dallas Museum of Art. Dallas was dry and had a light smell of smoke in the air from the terrible fires that were burning in parts of the state. The drought was visible as I flew into the Dallas /Forth Worth airport and the city looked exhausted from the heat wave.

All went well when we took down and packed up the exhibition. I left Chris to finish up the last day of packing by herself while I flew to Naples Grand Resort in Florida to present a paper at the Embroidery Guild of America’s International Embroidery Conference. My paper was entitled THE EMBROIDERY OF THE AMERICAS AND INFLUENCE OF COLONIALIZATION.

So what difference a day makes. Look at this view out my hotel room in Naples! The Embroiders Guild sure knew where to hold a conference.

This may be where they dispose of presenters they don’t like? ☺

My talk was on moosehair embroidery on birchbark. I presented my paper on the opening night of the conference. It was followed by a dessert reception on the terrace.

The following 2 days were filled with interesting and lively presentations on various topics. My favorite might have been on the huipil embroidered blouse tradition made by Maya women in Guatemala.

Look at this beauty. Over 60 embroidered birds on this blouse. The little parrots sitting there in a row may be my favorites.

A very interesting and varied work week!

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Ready for a fall road trip?

By Christine Olsen, Registrar

For the last few weeks I have been preparing for an outgoing loan to an institution that to even those of us in upstate New York seems “way up yonder.” Fenimore Art Museum is lending Crucifix by Veronica Terrillion to the Traditional Arts of Upstate New York, which is located in Canton, for their exhibition Kindred Pursuits: Folk Art in North Country Life. The exhibition runs from September 16, 2011 – May 5, 2012. The loan has gone through all of the traditional steps that are required: the request went to committee for approval, a loan agreement was signed by both parties, insurance coverage was established, the object was condition reported and packed. All that is left is for the object to be delivered. Since it is somewhat fragile, I have taken special care to pack it well and have informed TAUNY that it should be displayed on the wall, at a 40 degree angle. It has been in storage here for some time, and it is nice to know that it will be seen by new eyes; I wonder how many visitors this exhibition will reach? If you are going to be out leaf peeping this fall, you should take a drive up to the North Country to see this show!

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Installing "4 Artists Under 30"

By Chris Rossi, Associate Curator of Exhibitions

Fenimore Art Museum's Lower Level galleries boast some very high ceilings and a sweeping staircase that one could imagine making a grand entrance on. Recently we installed some exciting new artwork that took advantage of both features.

Leah explaining how her sculptures hang

Leah Shenandoah’s vividly painted stretched cloth sculptures float before and above the staircase, suspended from the slatted ceiling. Using this vertical space is a treat for us and provides an opportunity to create a new vantage point for our visitors and truly fill the space.

The sculptures are part of our 8th Contemporary Iroquois Art Biennial exhibit titled “4 Artists Under 30.” The exhibit features work by Lauren Jimerson, Awenheeyoh Powless, Shenandoah and Natasha Smoke Santiago. Three of the women know each other from time spent studying and creating art at the Rochester Institute of Technology. You can see a shared sensibility between Shenandoah’s bright colors and the palette used by Powless in her danced canvases. Jimerson has captured schoolmate Shenandoah in pastels. Santiago is self-taught and expresses traditional techniques in a unique way.

These young artists “take their place as the latest installment of artists coming from the land of the Haudenosaunee – witnesses to the Indian Way of Life who seek visual expression for their time and place.”

Thursday, September 1, 2011

The SWAIA market and White Hawk antiques show

By Eva Fognell, Curator of the Eugene and Clare Thaw Collection of American Indian Art

I finally had a chance to go back to Santa Fe, New Mexico recently. It is the unofficial capital of American Indian art and both the White Hawk antiques show and SWAIA Indian market was happening while I was there. What a treat!

I arrived in Albuquerque and drove north to Santa Fe. It's a stunning drive.

The town is full of public art, everywhere you turn there is something else to look at:
“Redefining God I” by Bob Haozous

“ Santa Fe Current” by Colette Hosmer

“Migration" by Allan Houser

And everywhere you are encouraged to look and explore art and markets

Great little market for hot chili peppers

And yet more things to look at in the windows:

And then on Saturday and Sunday: The SWAIA Indian market. A feast for the eye and soul:

Me at the market!

What an amazing week so full with all things good!

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