Gateway to the West: Fort Worth

by Victoria McClendon-Leggett

With Spring Break right around the corner, and the ASPA Conference upon us, we grabbed a quick coffee, piled into the van and departed Huntsville at 12:45–just after our classes ended.  It was a bit tight as we first settled into our seats, but we passed the time chatting and eating a few snacks on the way to Fort Worth, the gateway to the west.  As it turned out, this was not only true geographically, but artistically as well.

Amon Carter Museum of American Art

We arrived at the Amon Carter Museum of American Art at around 3:30pm. Normally, this would make for a limited visit, but on Thursdays, the Museum stays open late, so we were prepared to leisurely stroll through the galleries.

We were greeted by Gabriel Dawe’s Plexus no. 34, which is a large art installation with more than eighty miles of rainbow-colored thread.

SHSU, LEAP Center, LEAP Ambassadors, Amon Carter Museum, Fort Worth, Gabriel Dawe

Off to a great start, we meandered through the halls of the museum, observing many different art media, including sculpture, video,and paintings. We saw sweeping landscapes painted by Thomas Cole…

SHSU, LEAP Center, LEAP Ambassadors, Amon Carter Museum, Fort Worth, Thomas Cole

…a colorful mobile by Alexander Calder (with Louise Nevelson on the left)…

SHSU, LEAP Center, LEAP Ambassadors, Amon Carter Museum, Fort Worth, Calder, Nevelson

…Thomas Hart Benton’s Regionalist art…

SHSU, LEAP Center, LEAP Ambassadors, Amon Carter Museum, Fort Worth, Regionalism

…works by Winslow Homer…

SHSU, LEAP Center, LEAP Ambassadors, Amon Carter Museum, Fort Worth, Winslow Homer

…and Childe Hassam…

SHSU, LEAP Center, LEAP Ambassadors, Amon Carter Museum, Fort Worth, Childe Hassam

…and a pair of the vibrant flower paintings that Georgia O’Keeffe is so famous for.  But those were just some of the normal artists that we see and will continue to see on our travels. There were several interesting things like intricately shaped foam pieces, Lebanese-American photographer Rania Matar’s photographs about female identity, and the interesting sculptures by Lachaise, Laurent, Nadelman, and Zorach.

Of course, the Museum is most known for and began its permanent collection with Western art.

SHSU, LEAP Center, LEAP Ambassadors, Amon Carter Museum, Fort Worth, Frederic Remington

And these exhibits taught us the process for sculpting through the “lost-wax process,” and introduced us to Remington (and Russell’s) sculptures…

SHSU, LEAP Center, LEAP Ambassadors, Amon Carter Museum, Fort Worth, Frederic Remington

…and Russell’s (and Remington’s) paintings.

SHSU, LEAP Center, LEAP Ambassadors, Amon Carter Museum, Fort Worth, Charles Russell

Eating in The Great Outdoors

Ravenous when we left the museum, we looked around for a place to eat and decided on a sub shop called The Great Outdoors only a couple of blocks away. Orders among the group ranged from very “fancy” and “new” salads, meatball subs, roast beef sandwiches, chicken sandwiches to corn poblano soup. Everything was delicious, and once again we loaded back up into the van to continue our journey to the hotel. It was going to be a short night, so we needed to get as much rest as possible for the early morning tomorrow to go hiking at Palo Duro Canyon.

SHSU, LEAP Center, LEAP Ambassadors, Amon Carter Museum, Fort Worth

Holy Toledo–Art at the Toledo Museum of Art

By Brian Aldaco

After four days of researching the Vagabonds with Jeff Guinn and Jim Fuquay at the Henry Ford Museum, other attractions were bound to be something of a let down.  But the Toledo Museum of Art offered a surprisingly nice collection and a truly inspired special exhibit by Jaume Plensa.

With a Greek entrance of white marble pillars, artistically grand in its own right, the art within was just as impressive. However, before viewing the fine arts we examined the art of the political campaign thanks to the museum’s special exhibit I Approve this Message: Decoding Political Ads.

Political Ads, Toledo Museum of Art
Paul Oliver Examines Political Ads at the Toledo Museum of Art

As political science majors, Brian and Paul ventured through the floor to examine such ads as Reagan’s “The Bear” ad . This ad showcased a prowling bear through the forest and a man who forces the beast to retreat by standing up to it. Thanks to the exhibit’s captions we discovered that the bear was a symbol for Russia, thus the ad implied that Ronald Reagan’s strong will would be able to defeat the Russian menace of the time. So being we went over our president’s ads and those who had gone against them during the age of Television.

Toledo Museum of Art
                                            Brian Aldaco Runs for Office with Unfortunate Results

Leaving the floor we walked to the east wing to view the contemporary art. There we saw works by various renowned artists such as Pablo Picasso…

Picasso, Toledo Museum of Art
Picasso, in his Blue Period

…Chuck Close…

Chuck Close, Toledo Museum of Art
Chuck Close Artwork

…Childe Hassam…

Childe Hassam, Toledo Museum of Art

…Claude Monet…


…as well as Alexander Calder, Henry Moore, and Louise Nevelson.


There was a sense of satisfaction in being able to recognize these and other artists from within the collection.

To appreciate the sculpture garden, we stepped outside to view a George Rickey silver mobile…


…Tony Smith’s Moses…


and other sculptures…


…most notably those of Jaume Plensa (who had a whole floor dedicated to his work inside the museum.)


But before examining the indoors art, we sat on a very peculiar Polar Bear Bench by artist Judy McKie.


Not only did this sculpture offer an appropriate resting spot, it also allowed us to find a glass walled building from which the interior glistened with hues of clear, colorful glass. Upon further inspection, with a silver Chihuly hanging from the ceiling…


…we entered the museum’s annexed Glass Pavilion. Inside we found a wide assortment of glass sculptures from the quirky glass moquettes of modern venues by Emily Brock to Roman glass decor dating back to the 4th century (all in the pristine condition from when it was first blown!) It was clear that the glass blowing techniques of the time were advanced, a technique that we witnessed inside the pavilion.


Apart from the beautiful art within the exhibit hall, there is also a glass blowing workshop.


Inside the room stand ovens heating up to a temperature of about 2150 degrees fahrenheit, undoubtedly no ordinary oven. However, these high temperatures are essential for molding the crystalline medium. So much is the nicety to keep the glass at near melting condition that if its temperate cools off before the intended time, the modeling tools can break the glass and ruin the whole sculpture. As the team of sculptures, on who molded the glowing vase and another who blew at it to expand it from the rod’s other end, continued their process of inserting the glass in the oven followed by a spinning of the material to give it its shape, we left the workshop to view the rest of the museum on its main campus.

Upon entrance to the museum we turned to the opposite wing of which we had already toured. With pieces from Van Gogh, Claude Monet, Paul Signac…


…and Piet Mondrian.


…we wandered through the canvasses of bright colors, swift burst strokes, and dream-like landscapes onto a grand hall of a more a classic collection. Under the twinkling chandelier the prominence of the works exhibited were accentuated to create an effect of awe. With works by Ralph Albert Blakelock, El Greco, and   we moved through the hall into a vast room with elongated heads of women.


Even though the sight may sound a bit macabre, the warmly lit room featured the works of Jaume Plensa and created a near meditative trance.


Perhaps the most appealing may have been Silent Rain. With fragments from poems attached to wires hanging from the ceiling, creating an effect of raining phrases, we were astounded.


We felt a similar pleasure and wonder from Plensa’s See no Evil, Hear No Evil, Speak No Evil


…but whether it was a sculpture or painting from Plensa the same was true.


His works are successful in priming the viewer into a meditative reflection on the human spirit and expression.


So much were we drawn to each piece that soon the doors around us were being locked, lights were being shut off, and halls were flooded with darkness. The museum was closing, therefore we left the campus to complete our evening’s drive to our resting spot. After driving through the night scene of Rutherford B. Hayes’ home in Fremont, Ohio, we reached our hotel in Milan, Ohio. So being, we finished another exciting, educational day of our return-to-home part of the trip, with high spirits and persistent a strong will to continue our LEAP adventures.

Jaume Plensa, Tree Huggers, Toledo Museum of Art
                                                                            Jaume Plensa’s Tree Huggers