SLOW ART AT THE MUSEUM: CHRIS CLARK
I had a great time talking to the Mountain Brook Art and Music Club on the subject of Cuban art that will be in the first exhibition sponsored by the Birmingham Weekly at the Avondale Bricks Gallery. When we looked at various paintings I told Mrs. Rushton and the other ladies assembled that we could easily spend the entire hour discussing one canvas by Olimpia Ortiz, who has shown her work in the Museum of Modern Art in New York, or Jose Bedia, who has an amazing installation that was recently on view at the Birmingham Museum of Art.
Coincidentally, the Birmingham Museum has a group that meets there called Slow Art. And their purpose is to look at one work in a collection for a solid hour and discuss everything about it that comes to mind. The group meets on alternating Saturdays and Sundays at two in the afternoon, and last weekend they met and scrutinized every detail and issue they could fathom of Tuxedo Junction by Chris Clark.
One obvious observation that may escape your attention as you are drawn into the work is that it is painted on a quilt. Chris Clark, recently deceased, grew up in the area of Tuxedo Junction’s famous jazz joints and learned quilting from his grandmother, eventually combining the two in his art.
The first time he painted on a quilt, his grandmother told him, You can’t do that. The colors will run the first time you wash it. Apparently they had different notions of the utility of the artwork, and fortunately, Tuxedo Junction never found its way into the laundry.
The group led by Museum Docent Caroline Wingate noticed a lot of the personal dynamics of the scene depicted in the painting, from the mixing of the races, to some couples dipping and dancing wildly to others seated more demurely.
Chris Clark himself was too young to experience it in its heyday, but he heard from his elders and preserved the feeling for posterity in his own unique brand of art. Some call it folk and some call it naive, and others find those terms prejudiced and inflammatory. Well, that is a subject for Speak Out! This is Instudio. But no doubt such close scrutiny of artwork is productive. Birmingham Museum of Art Slow Art schedule:
Sunday, March 4 Julia Stork Georges Merle, The Sorceress
Saturday, March 10 Marlene Wallace Carstian Luyckx, Allegory of Charles I of England and Henrietta of France
Sunday, March 18 Caroline Wingate Robert Arneson, Clay I Am
Saturday, March 24 Emily Omura The Pure Land of Amitabha (Ming dynasty mural)
Slow Art will come soon to the Birmingham Weekly exhibition, En Cada Barrio Revolucion, at the Avondale Bricks. The exhibition opens with a reception with food by George Sarris on March 8 at 5:30. A Slow Art group will convene with the collector of the art on Saturday, March 10 at 12:30 with a few goodies to eat and a wine tasting as well, for those so inclined. Stay tuned for more information on that and check the website and Facebook pages of the Birmingham Weekly till then.