December 16, 2017

Galleries & Museums

Please DO NOT TOUCH the Art

Study for El Jaleo by John Singer Sargent [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons.

Touch is an instinctive quality to gain information about an object and that ability to perceive sensations through touch gives our brain an abundance of information. It is understandable that the desire to touch is sometimes overwhelming. The colors and textures of a painting in a museum can be as alluring as candy; the urge to possess an actual artifact of history can be innately tempting. But the vast majority of museums on earth require that patrons DO NOT TOUCH the Art. But even with a no touching policy, museum visitors continue to do so, whether by accident, by ignorance, or by sometimes …continue reading

Art in Washington DC

Richard Milhous Nixon by Norman Rockwell, 1968, National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution; donated to the people of the United States of America by the Richard Nixon Foundation.

I was in Washington DC last week to visit a friend—I had not seen Elizabeth Arledge since we graduated high school, and having never been to DC looked forward to a tour of her stomping ground. When asked what I wanted to see I suggested a couple of monuments and a few wine bars; but I also hoped to see some great museums while there. And boy did we! I was asked upon my return how I liked the art in Washington DC. And I can offer a simile in answer to that inquiry: Art in Washington DC is like walking into …continue reading

The new Bryan Museum has WOW factor

The Bryan Museum, Galveston

Welcome to the newest museum on the block, the Bryan Museum. Opened just a month ago in Galveston the Bryan Museum is located in the magnificent old Galveston Orphan’s Home on 21st Street. The museum is home to the largest collection of Southwestern art and artifacts in the world. I visited this week. J.P. Bryan is the founder and CEO of Houston-based Torch Energy Advisor and he’s a descendant of Moses Austin, the father of Stephen F. Austin. Over the years he and his wife Mary Jon Bryan amassed a vast collection of over 70,000 pieces spanning 2,500 years of …continue reading

Seeing big Shadow Monsters at a big museum

Shadow Monsters at the Museum of Fine Arts Houston.

The always glamorous Stacey Abbott accepted my invitation for an excursion to the Museum of Fine Arts Houston the other day which we would follow by a bite of lunch. Of course Hapsburg Splendor: Masterpieces from Vienna’s Imperial Collections is the main event this summer. But I also knew that there was an exhibit called Shadow Monsters of which, admittedly, I knew little about. Shadow Monsters is an interactive art installation by artist Philip Worthington. When the museum visitor steps in front of the artist’s camera a digital version of a traditional shadow-puppet theater show is projected onto the walls, …continue reading

The revered Rothko Chapel

Photo by Hickey-Robertson, the Rothko Chapel, Houston.

One of the first attractions I heard about when I moved to Houston was the highly revered Rothko Chapel. But back in 1987 I regrettably knew little about Mark Rothko; I was green enough to stick in the ground and grow. I studied up on Rothko a bit and looked forward to the excursion. So imagine my chagrin when, for the first time, I walked into this esteemed sanctuary and wondered where all the paintings were. But I did find the paintings, they were right in front of my face, and I have been back for many visits… “But nobody …continue reading

The Rubens are Spectacular in Houston


Given 100 people picked at random, I would venture to guess that you’d be lucky to find one who could identify a painting by Peter Paul Rubens. But I would also venture to guess that a good number of those would indeed recognize the name of Rubens as an important artist. We on the Gulf Coast now have an opportunity to brush up on our Baroque because the Rubens are spectacular at the Museum of Fine Arts Houston. Sir Peter Paul Rubens (June 28, 1577 – May 30, 1640) was a Flemish painter known for his extravagant Baroque style. Most of …continue reading

Tallahassee house museums: Knott House & Goodwood

The Knott House, Tallahasse, photo courtesy of Museum of Florida History

Tallahassee, the heart of Leon County, is one of the most beautiful cities I’ve seen. With rolling hills, moss-draped oaks, and columns on every building, the city seems more like an extension of Georgia than Florida—absent are the beaches, ocean breezes, palm trees, nightclubs, and shell shops which are commonly associated with the Sunshine State. Tallahassee is a big small town that seems to find itself in national spotlight often, certainly every presidential election at least. I have visited Tallahassee numerous times. Sisterwoman’s family had a three-acre estate in the ritzy Rose Hill subdivision. From Houston’s Bush International to Tallahassee …continue reading

Monet and a river, in Houston

Claude Monet The Thaw at Vetheuil [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Claude Monet said, “I have painted the Seine throughout my life, at every hour, at every season. I have never tired of it: for me the Seine is always new.” And the latest exhibit at the Museum of Fine Arts Houston (MFAH) is a testament to that lifelong obsession. Oscar-Claude Monet (1840-1926) was perhaps the most revolutionary artist of the 19th Century. He is one of the founders of the French Impressionist movement and was the most consistent practitioner of that artistic philosophy. His body of work based on the Seine is the repetition of plein-air scenes at not only times of …continue reading

Art & fine dining in Houston: La Colombe d’Or

La Colombe d'Or, Houston, Texas

I enjoy getting together with Sisterwoman (Julie Boggio) every week for dinner. Last week she was headed in from Memorial on a Friday night—we had plans to attend art openings and then have dinner. In the meantime I received a call from dear friend Shannon Schrader. He and Charles Leigh III were dining at La Colombe d’Or and requested that we join them. Located in the heart of Montrose, La Columbe d’Or occupies the historic Fondren mansion which was originally built in 1923—the Fondrens being the founders of Humble Oil, which with Standard Oil would become Exxon. On the first …continue reading

More on Rembrandt, like where to see one…

Portrait of a Young Woman by Rembrandt van Rijn, Museum of Fine Arts Houston, photo Google Art Project (public domain)

It is not an easy feat to eyeball an original Rembrandt. (Recommended reading: Troysart “And then to Rembrandt’s House” September 18, 2014.) Oil paintings by Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn (1606-1669) are so rare that only the best museums count one amongst the permanent collection. For decades (since 1977) the only Rembrandt painting that I know of on public display in Texas was housed at the Kimbell Art Museum in Fort Worth. “Bust of a Young Jew” 1663, oil on canvas, is considered a character study rather than a portrait commissioned by an individual. The artist captures the sitter in a …continue reading