Today was the perfect day for a road trip! I needed to hit up the Apple Store for a replacement charger (this is charger number five) for my Macbook. My car got a tuneup yesterday, so I took the day to go handle my computer biz and explore the Portland Museum of Art, which I hadn’t had the chance to.
By the time I navigated the city, go lost (even with a GPS), and made it there via the scenic route in some 80 degree weather, I was beyond tired, but the trip was well worth it. I had been wanting to scope out Portland, as I’ve heard it’s similar to the city that I used to live in, my beloved Richmond, Virginia. I’ve been down a couple times (to the airport, and to a club to go dancing… typical) but never had a chance to walk around and take in the city.
Here’s someone’s cool picture near the waterfront in Portland:
I’d like to go back sometime to see things again and spend a little more time, but what I saw was amazing. As I walked in the door I was greeted by a lovely old man who joked around with me saying, “Hi there! We’ve been expecting you!” I let them know that I had mini-road tripped from Lewiston to get there and charmed my way into an admissions discount ; ) He gave me a map and some information, with a suggested quick route to get around and see everything before the museum closed. I never look at every little thing in a museum, I usually glance around and go back to the most intriguing objects so spend time studying/looking at. Here’s a little recap of what I found to be most interesting.
THE PORTLAND MUSEUM OF ART
“Maine’s largest and oldest public art institution”
I was mad that my camera died while I was walking around, but glad that there are better pictures all over Google Images than I probably could have taken. so you’ll see some here! Since I now work in a museum, I look more critically at a museum’s atmosphere and curatorial choices (I guess that’s what you call them) when I visit them. I won’t bore you by getting into detail about that, but I will give you a little rundown on the museum itself.
The Portland Museum of Art:
- Features “a collection of more than 15,000 objects showcasing three centuries of art and architecture”
- Has a “collection housed in three architecturally significant buildings ” including the “McLellan House, built in 1801 by John Kimball Sr., Federal period design, restoration completed in 2002″
- Has the “largest collection of European art north of Boston” and a “comprehensive collection of Winslow Homer’s graphics”
“In every block of marble I see a statue as plain as though it stood before me, shaped and perfect in attitude and action. I have only to hew away the rough walls that imprison the lovely apparition to reveal it to the other eyes as mine see it.”
-Michelangelo (Italian sculptor, painter, architect & poet,)
Alright. So first, as per my information desk friend’s advice, I made my way into the Rotunda featuring white marble sculptures. The architecture of the museum somehow invites you to want to get close to the artwork and really scope it out. Normally these kinds of sculptures are not that interesting, but these, I couldn’t help but look at.
The brochure says “Each figure has a story to tell, and together these works tell the larger story of 19th-century Neoclassical sculpture and the careers of two Maine artist.” So here’s the deal. The artists who made these sculptures are Benjamin Paul Akers and Franklin Simmons, both were born in Maine and studied in Italy. During their time, American artists would travel to Europe to study the old school classical art and come back to the states interested in the Greek and Roman style. This throwback to classical art resulted in a “new”or fresh take on the “classic”. Hence the name of the movement, “Neoclassical”
“The friend in my adversity I shall always cherish most. I can better trust those who helped to relieve the gloom of my dark hours than those who are so ready to enjoy with me the sunshine of my prosperity.”
– Ulysses S. Grant
(preach it, Ulysses! Amen. ) Out of all of the Marble sculptures, I did have one particular favorite, probably because I have a history crush on Ulysses S. Grant (what, you don’t?) For no other reason than that he looked like this:
THE DROP SINISTER
“The one-drop rule is a historical colloquial term in the United States for the social classification as black of individuals with any African ancestry; meaning any person with “one drop of black blood” was considered black”
Virginia was the second state to adapt this rule as a law in 1924 under the Racial Integrity Act. Does anyone else find it interesting that 88 years later this is still a hot topic? Even more ironic is that our President’s race/ethnicity is often the center of this conversation.
The people in this picture are all “colored;” that is to say the ancestors of all of them two or three generations ago numbered among them full-blooded Negroes. These “colored” folk married and brought to the world a little golden-haired child; today they pause for a moment and sit aghast when they think of this child’s future.
What is she? A Negro?
No, she is “white.”
But is she white?
The United States Census says she is a “Negro.”
What earthly difference does it make what she is, so long as she grows up a good, true, capable woman? But her chances for doing this are small!
Because 90,000,000 of her neighbors, good Christian, noble, civilized people are going to insult her, seek to ruin her and slam the door of opportunity in her face the moment they discover “The Drop Sinister.”