Speaking of icons, Bill Cunningham, a fixture in New York City, passed away at the age of 87. If you don't know, Bill was a legendary fashion photographer for the New York Times for over 40 years.
He was easy to spot, on his bicycle, wearing his signature blue jacket and always with a camera - spotting and capturing fashion trends up and down the sidewalks of NYC. He inspired me to see the great diversity of humans and having the guts to get out there with my camera.
A really charming and interesting documentary to watch is Bill Cunningham New York (available on Netflix) - you'll love it.
On my recent trip to the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, I spotted this young lady - she really impressed me with her genuine interest in the art. I suspect she was taking personal notes of the pieces she really liked.
The painting she is studying is 'Landscape' by Robert Seldon Duncanson. The artist, at 20 years of age, decided he'd rather paint canvases than houses, which he'd been doing up until then. He was largely self-taught, had a long career as an artist until his death at age 51.
Shortly after the Civil War broke out, Duncanson exiled to Canada, seeking out a place where racism would not get in the way of his profession as an artist. There he studied the landscape paintings of Canadian artists, moved to the UK and toured with his artworks - he was well received and the prestigious London Art Journal declared him a master of landscape painting.
Duncanson had an important impact on American art. His father was Scottish-Canadian, his mother was African-American and it was said Duncanson had infused his paintings with an African-American sensibility although he once wrote 'I have no color on the brain; all I have on the brain is paint.'
Duncanson's 'Landscape' depicts, very small, loggers floating rafts of timber down the Saint Lawrence River near Montreal with the glow of the sunset, a signature subject of the artist's, of a mundane workday activity in a beautiful setting.
I wanted to start this first week of summer with a highly-recommended trip you must take - to the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art. I've wanted to go for a while and just packed a bag and took a long road trip to the small town of Bentonville in Arkansas. The red star shows you where Bentonville is....
Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art was founded by the Walton Family Foundation - the Walmart Family as we know it. The philanthropist and arts patron and collector, Alice Walton, is to thank for this amazing museum.
On arrival, I parked my car right in front of this banner - featuring one of my very favorite American painters, Wayne Thiebaud. I was soooo excited.
The museum is part of a 120-acre park, with nature trails and sculpture gardens throughout.
Did I mention it was free? And parking is free too.
I am very partial to American Art and this museum takes you in a timeline of our country, from colonial times to contemporary - just outstanding. A few of my favorites were....
Alexander Hamilton by Giuseppe Ceracchi
Ward by George Tooker
Provincetown by Richard Estes
Haystacks by Martin Johnson Heade
Ambulance Call by Jacob Lawrence
About the town of Bentonville, Arkansas -
It is a charming, middle-America, safe and friendly place to visit. I recommend staying at the 21c Museum Hotel in downtown, a block from the town square and very near Crystal Bridges. I loved my stay and wanted to spread the good word.
My homage to one of my all-time favorite movies Ferris Bueller's Day Off, on its 30th anniversary. At the time it came out in 1986, I was still missing my life in Chicago as a teenager just a few years back. There's a scene in the movie when Ferris, his girlfriend Sloane and his best friend Cameron go through the Art Institute of Chicago - something I'd done dozens of times and even cut school to do so. The three friends stop and stand in front of the three Picassos - here's a snapshot from the movie....
Well since then, many people have mimicked the pose - it became a tradition. And their visit to an art museum proved to be an inspiration for young people to do the same. That's a good thing.
I read a good article this week How Ferris Bueller's Day Off Perfectly Illustrates the Power of Art Museums - and a portion of the article, referring to Cameron's fixation on Seurat's A Sunday on La Grande Jatte, I really likethisquote from the curator at the Smithsonian American Art Museum - "I think that absorption of diving into a picture is as though you have seen yourself looking back at you and you have dived in so deeply you cease to exist," she says about life changing art. "What I tell people when they go through art museums is there will be a moment where you are dumbstruck in front of something and it changes your life forever."
About the Picassos - from left to right is The Red Armchair, Portrait of Sylvette David and Femme Assise, 1949, which was sold on auction.
"You should keep on painting no matter how difficult it is, because this is all part of experience, and the more experience you have, the better it is... unless it kills you, and then you know you have gone too far." ~ Alice Neel
"If I had the energy, I would have done it all over the country" - Edward Hopper
"It's what you carry to an object that counts." - Andrew Wyeth
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"When I'm old and gray, I want to have a house by the sea. And paint. With a lot of wonderful chums, good music, and booze around. And a damn good kitchen to cook in."