Beacon Hill Seminars: Worcester Art Museum Trip

On May 1st, we had the pleasure of visiting the Worcester Art Museum with the members of our Beacon Hill Seminar series!  Director Emeritus Jim Welu kindly met us for lunch and took us on a personal, post-lunch tour of the museum.

Since Jim gave two lectures during the seminar, we were familiar with some of the work at the museum, however, it's Jim's stories and the history of the works that really make the museum come alive! 

Jim talking about a piece by Gilbert Stuart -- part of the American Art Collection

We loved hearing all the stories Jim has collected over the years about the pieces.  Whether it was a piece he helped bring to the museum or a work that has an illustrious history, such as the stolen Rembrandt, Jim knows the museum so well that in fact he is in the process of writing a book about its history.

Andrea del Sarto, 'Saint John the Baptist', Oil on Panel transfered to Canvas, 1517

The story behind the acquisition of 'Saint John the Baptist' by Andrea del Sarto is one of our group's most favorite. 

One of only a few Sarto paintings in America, it was brought here in the mid-nineteenth century.  Once it arrived, it spent time on loan at the Worcester Art Museum, it then traveled to the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston.  While the painting was on loan at the MFA, its owner passed away and the piece was returned to his children.  They decided to donate the piece to a church in Worcester the owner had attended.

Over time the piece was forgotten at the church -- until 1977 when the museum was contacted to take a look at some works that were being sold to raise funds.  Jim went over to the church and discovered the Sarto on the floor behind a few other things.  Though it was dirty -- Jim could almost immediately tell what it was!  He brought it back to the museum and the excellent conservators were able to bring it back to its full glory. 

In addition to all the beautiful works and rotating exhibitions that Worcester has to offer, the museum has renowned art classes and a vigorous conservation program.

Seminarians contemplating Rembrandt's 'St. Bartholomew' -- a piece that was once stolen from WAM

The glass roof and second floor balconies overlooking the Renaissance Courtyard

In an effort to get fresh contemporary work on view, the museum started The Wall at WAM -- a rotating series that brings artists into the museum to create a site specific work for the Renaissance Court's second story wall.  The 17 x 67-foot expanse overlooks the 6th-century Antioch Roman mosaics, including the Worcester Hunt.  Part of the current project These Days of Maiuma, by husband & wife team Robert and Shana ParkeHarrison, can be seen in the above right photo.

A view looking onto on of the Antioch Mosaics - The Worcester Hunt Mosaic

If you haven't been to the Worcester Art Museum yet -- it is a must!  The museum has an amazing collection of American & European art and is a hidden gem just outside Boston.  We are so thankful that Jim took the time to share his knowledge with us. 

'Saint John the Baptist' photo courtesy of the Worcester Art Museum.

Beacon Hill Seminars: Object, Manner, and Means: The Rebirth of Representational Painting

For seven Wednesdays, starting February 6, 2013, Ali will be orchestrating a lecture series through Beacon Hill Seminars.  To quote the Beacon Hill Seminars website, this is a great organization composed of people 

who have a vigorous interest in continuing their intellectual growth. It is dedicated to a concept of learning with and from peers. Members of Beacon Hill Seminars create, participate in, or lead a diverse group of courses designed to follow a seminar format of small group discussions and learning.
— Beacon Hill Seminars

Gregory Prestegord, 'Green Door', 35.5 x 37, Oil on Panel.

Here's the rundown on the course:

Aristotle used three terms to delve into the meaning of representation: object, manner, and means. Applying these terms to the twenty-first century painter, one might have a vibrant, pulsating city as the object, the desire to capture this vantage in a distinctive realist style as the manner, and a fresh palette of Winsor and Newton oils as the means. Through representational painting, the artist conjures the electricity and power of a city.

In seven sessions we will share our visual experiences with representational paintings, discuss the current reengagement with realism taking place in the art world, and hear from experts whose passions range from the techniques of the Dutch Masters to the camera obscura and from John Singer Sargent to the use of the iPhone 5 in capturing images for painting.

Expect several prominent guest lecturers and at least one excursion as the seminar advances. Open minds and spirited conversationalists desired.

James Welu, Director Emeritus of the Worcester Art Museum, has the unique perspective of someone who trained as a studio artist before entering the world of art history and eventually specializing in seventeenth-century Dutch and Flemish art. With many con-temporary representational painters focusing on the aesthetics and skills of the Dutch Masters, Jim will share his knowledge of the period and its immortal marks on the production of art. 

David H. Lowrey, 'Vermeer's Studio c. 1667', Oil on Canvas.

David Lowrey, Fenway Studios artist, preserves the tradition of Boston’s finest realists – Benson, Paxton and Tarbell – through traditional painting. David has built working models for the camera obscura, which he employs in his creative process and we will experience during his guest lecture focused on the enduring techniques of artists past. 

Joseph McGurl, a graduate of the Massachusetts College of Art, has been referred to as one of the acknowledged leaders in the current American landscape school.  Joseph's paintings are often seen in relationship to the great 19th century luminist painters but with a thoroughly modern approach to style and subject.  For him, the process, rather than the product is the most important part of a painting.  Rather than relying on photography, this method gives him the freedom to create paintings based on his imagination, memory, and his sketches. 

Joseph McGurl, 'Last Light, Winter', 19 x 33, Oil on Canvas.

Gregory Prestegord, a graduate of the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts and youngest artist featured at Sloane Merrill Gallery, will discuss his desire to paint real visual experiences and his elaborate use of the iPhone camera as a tool. Be prepared for a studio demonstration in the gallery.

Gregory Prestegord, 'Spring Garden Ridge', 16.5 x 24, Oil on Panel.

Ali Ringenburg has a strong commitment to the tradition of representational work and the artistic profession. Before opening her gallery, she worked with Nashville-based interdisciplinary artist Adrienne Outlaw, at the Cincinnati Art Museum and the Contemporary Arts Center, and most recently was the director at Principle Gallery in Alexandria, Virginia. She holds a BA in art and art history and English literature from Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee.


For more information on how to get involved with Beacon Hill Seminars, please visit their website.  Seminars are open to all Beacon Hill Seminars members.  Registration closes Wednesday, January 16th.  We are so looking forward to hosting the seminar!