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A Trip to the Museum: Columbus Museum of Art
My daughter, Holly, pictured above (hint: she’s the one in the fur-obscured Arctic Monkeys t-shirt), is already a world-renowned artiste at the tender age of fourteen. Hey, I have Dutch friends who have seen some of her artwork! And looky here! Now you have, too!
When I saw that one of our favorite museums, the Columbus Museum of Art, was closing out its special exhibit called Beyond Impressionism, I asked Holly if we should go. Without any hesitation she agreed to the road trip! She’s not an impressionist; she’s a realist, but we hoped post-Impressionist art such as we would find on display would inspire her to take her portraiture in an exciting new direction. So it was a no-brainer to hop in the car last Saturday and drive up to Columbus.
The next morning, Sunday, we made our way to downtown Columbus, which locals call the Discovery District, and the museum. Luckily we arrived around 9:45am, because a long line was starting to form behind us in anticipation of the 10am opening.
The Beyond Impressionism Exhibit’s Star Artist, Henri Toulouse-Lautrec
The museum has a lot of great offerings, but of course we made a beeline directly for the special exhibit. I loved seeing works up close that I had learned about in high school! Especially cool were the Toulouse-Lautrec prints. Holly even snapped up a “Le Chat Noir” t-shirt.
I recalled how many times over the years I had seen the Troupe de Mademoiselle Eglantine print and its variants.
Poor Henri Toulouse-Lautrec. Though born into an aristocratic family, he lived a tough, tragic, short life. His parents split when he was only in grade school. He grew to be only 4’8” tall due to easily-broken femurs in his teen years that didn’t heal properly. He also suffered from alcoholism. Painting gave him relief from his despair. He died age 36.
Toulouse-Lautrec spent a lot of time with morally questionable characters. According to fellow painter Edouard Vuillard, “Lautrec was too proud to submit to his lot, as a physical freak, an aristocrat cut off from his kind by his grotesque appearance. He found an affinity between his own condition and the moral penury of the prostitute.”
So while other artists of his day aspired to create paintings of perfect likenesses of their wealthy patrons, Toulouse-Lautrec was perfectly happy to sketch all number of the prostitutes, dancers and other “low lifes” in his circle of acquaintances. He paid the rent by creating low-brow advertising posters, which further caused him to be looked down upon.
For a modern-day analogy, think of yourself as poor, unloved Henri: your art friends enjoy the prestige of creating fine art portraits of Bill Gates and Jeff Bezos, while you get to maybe design disposable Wal-Mart circulars. I wonder what art aficionados of Toulouse-Lautrec’s time would think about how celebrated his works have become in the years since their creation!
The Contemporary Art Gallery
Once Holly and I made our way through the marvelous Beyond Impressionism exhibit, we headed upstairs to see some of the regular collection on hand at the museum. Our destination was the Contemporary Art Gallery. There’s just so much creativity on display there! You can’t help but marvel sometimes at the intent of each artist, and wonder what was he or she thinking! Definitely do not miss this incredible gallery!
Within it, the thought-provoking Nocturne Navigator had a small room to herself. The larger than life, iridescent blue statue of a skyward-looking African American female in a lit-up skirt, illustrating the path for slaves to find their way at night to freedom, was jaw-droppingly awe inspiring.
Having seen so many paintings and sculptures that stirred us, we took our leave of the museum and headed back home. I was sad we didn’t make it to the other incredible galleries on hand, but we were kinda missing Jitterbug, our own “chat noir.” I have no doubt we will be back to Columbus soon, though, and I promise I will monitor Holly’s new artworks for any signs of inspiration!
Tips to Enjoy the Museum!
- -Allow at least an hour to enjoy the JPMorgan Chase Center for Creativity on the first floor, straight ahead and to the right after you enter the museum. This is a spacious, attractive workshop to take the kids to and have all sorts of unique fun creating art with them.
- -But take the kids to the exhibits as well. Interactive creativity stations for young and old alike are strategically placed throughout the museum.
- -There is no charge to enter the museum on Sundays. However, the crowds start pouring in early so do arrive as close to 10am as possible.
- -Plenty of parking is available on the surrounding streets, so don’t bother paying to park in the lot behind the museum.
- -Bring a pencil and sketch to your heart’s content in any gallery you like! Non-flash photography is also permitted.
- -The museum is situated right in the middle of Columbus’s Discovery District. Pick up a museum brochure at the entrance, which lists nearby attractions and places to eat!