Wednesday, May 30, 2012

OGDEN MUSEUM OF SOUTHERN ART

Detail of Sculpture outside Ogden Museum 
photo by Elizabeth Gordon
Ogden Museum/New Orleans
Photo by Elizabeth Gordon
The Ogden Museum of Southern Art (click for link) in New Orleans is a unique museum.  It highlights artists of the Southern USA, past and present.  There is a permanent collection of fine artists, folk art, and outsider art.  The book store has a rich collection of art books on Southern artists, art and culture.  They also carry cd's of blues and jazz music that is particular to the South.  
When I entered the museum I asked whether I needed to check my camera and they said no as long as I didn't use a flash I could take photo's.  Big mistake for me, I proceeded to photograph almost the whole collection artist by artist, painting by painting for you, so we can take a virtual tour no matter where in the world you live!  I will do a series of post highlighting different artists and their work over the next week.  


One of the highlights for me was discovering an artist by the name of Christopher Clark who once lived and worked in Tampa, Florida. I had taken private art classes from him in the afternoons when I was in high school.  He was an elite artist of the area who painted portraits of wealthy upper class families.   Even in the 1960's his work went for $500 for a small portrait.  He had been trained at the famous art school of the Bauhaus in Germany and was an excellent artist. He trained us to draw the same way he was taught at the Bauhaus.  His paintings were awesome, as he used layer upon layer of tinting similar to the techniques of the old masters. It gave them a richness and depth that is rarely seen.  He came to New Orleans often and painted the people and scenery.  The painting that you see here is The Crap Shooter.  One of the paintings I saw in his studio in Tampa was of a cajun family in the Bayou.  It was one of his finest works.  I would love to know where it is now.  


The Crap Shooter by Christopher Clark                       photo by Elizabeth Gordon


Detail of painting The Crap Shooter          photo by Elizabeth Gordon
We were young art students from local high schools that were recommended by our art teacher for additional training if our parents could afford to pay for the tutoring.  Chris lived in a run down two story house near the river in a questionable part of town.  He was probably in his 60's then...his hair was always tousled and shirt unbuttoned with a cigarette hanging out of his mouth and ashes falling about.  There were cats everywhere and their left over tuna fish cans became his ashtrays.  There were many young men about and I was later to understand that Chris was probably a gay man, but I was unaware in those days.  Amid all of those things art was taught to young high schools students and the parents gladly paid for their children to learn from such a wonderful master artist even if the circumstances were a bit odd...after all it was an artist and artist are expected to be different!
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