This past Thursday, the LEAP Center hosted the opening reception for our fifth art exhibit…
…in an attempt to bring in both students and Huntsville residents alike to show off the artists that the Ambassadors have had the pleasure of meeting over the years.
In total, we had 12 artists exhibited with over 100 displays in the LSC art gallery, including two arts (Mark Burns and Lee Jamison) in person!
The artists included: Mark Burns, Lee Jamison, James Surls, David Adickes, Jesus Moroles, Robert Indiana, Ed Wilson, Arthur Turner, Anish Kapoor, Stanley Lea, Allan Houser, and Dan Dunn.
The LEAP Ambassadors spent approximately 45 hours planning and putting together the exhibit complete with original pieces (with many thanks to the Wynne Home Art Center, Ralph and Linda Pease, and Mac and Leanne Woodward), photos of them with the artists and their art, and a small wall dedicated to them as a means of promoting the Center to any art enthusiasts.
On opening night, we arrived early in the day to add any last-minute touches to the gallery before the reception at 5. Once the evening arrived, students, faculty, and friends alike all stopped by to enjoy the art.
Among these people was Lydia Montgomery, former Mayor Mac Woodward and his wife Leanne, Dr. and Mrs. Pease, Dr. Bob Biles, Una Grace Nash, Lee Jamison, Dr. Lee Miller, Dr. Frieda Koeninger, Candice Wilson, Dr. Rhonda Callaway, Cathi Gillette, Mark Burns, and several members of our heART of Huntsville crew.
All who entered were enraptured by Burns’ display of photography and most chatted with him about his photographic methods.
Lee Jamison arrived a bit later, and also had many admirers.
His “Hurricane Harvey” pastel was one of the clear favorites of the crowd, and it was a piece that was done in the LSC Art Gallery one year ago!
Overall, the LEAP Center’s Art Gallery Opening Reception was an overwhelming success and we thank all who took time out of their day to stop by and share a passion that we care for so deeply.
While a current LEAP Ambassador enjoyed six days in Austin as part of the New Leadership Texas program, two recent graduates were spending days in San Antonio as elected delegates to the State Republican Convention.
For those who have never been to a state convention, it’s an experience. While many delegates meet on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday to attend committee meetings, most of the rank-and-file delegates show up on Thursday to participate in votes, listen to speeches by the state’s leading public figures, and to enjoy special events hosted by the party and its leaders.
For Karla Rosales and Christina Perez, it was an opportunity to move into leadership positions. Karla, who was making her second appearance as a delegate, was appointed delegate counter for Walker County, at least for the first day. For Christina, a first-time delegate, it was a chance to make new connections, learn about the process, and do some work for her new boss, Congressman Kevin Brady, at his Saturday “Kolaches with Kevin” event.
The official business began on Thursday, June 14, when delegates met in General Session for a “get-acquainted session,” but also to hear speeches from the two candidates for State Party Chair: (1) the incumbent James Dickey and (2) challenger Cindy Asche. Both spoke in the general session, asking for votes and laying out a vision.
When the general session convened, delegates headed to rooms sorted by Senatorial District. Walker County delegates headed to Senate District 5–a district more or less controlled by the populous Williamson County–where business was tended to.
The business included electing permanent officers for our senate district meetings; and electing members to the credentials, rules, platform, legislative priorities, and state nominations committees. When these positions were contested, they involved taking votes, and Karla had a chance to perform her duties as “vote counter.”
During this process, the Senate District voted in Walker County’s own Madeline Loosier as a member of the Legislative Priorities committee.
This “get-acquainted” day ended early, leaving delegates the opportunity to attend various social events or to do their own thing. For Karla and Christina, this involved heading to the McNay Art Museum in San Antonio, where much fun was had.
One of the key exhibits was “Immersed,” which included four artists–including Andy Warhol’s film “Sunset”–whose work involved immersing yourself in the experience of art. The first of these, “Pleasure Principle,” by Chris Sauter, was quite an experience, with odd lights shining through holes in a “home” that was unusually decorated.
Perhaps the most fun of the installations was Phillip Worthington’s “Shadow Monsters,” which allowed visitors to be part of the art. Visitors stood in front of a light, which transmogrified the visitor’s appearance, while also allowing them the opportunity to access numerous props, which were similar transmogrified by the screen.
Also intriguing was Yayoi Kusama’s…
… “Aftermath of Obliteration of Eternity,” a hall of mirrors type installation, which also included lighting effects.
This was another of our favorites, and was doubly interesting because we had seen a similar work by this artist at the Phoenix Art Museum.
Our least favorite was “Sunset,” by Andy Warhol, which was a 33-minute abstract-like film of a sunset.
In the midst of these installations were fun interactive “art” games that we quickly jumped into, while also branding LEAP at the McNay.
The McNay isn’t as large as the major museums in Dallas or Houston, but it has a very nice collection, with a smattering of works across diverse times and regions. There were 19th century European masters such as Van Gogh…
Plus, much modern and contemporary art, such as Picasso…
…Pollock (far left, below)…
…OKeeffe (center, above; and below)…
…and SHSU alum Danville Chadburne.
Their sculpture garden is smallish, but has a very nice collection of artists such as Lois Jimenez…
…the aforementioned Robert Indiana…
…and Joel Shapiro….
It was a fun start to the convention and site-seeing, and a nice way to mix art and politics.
On our second day in Denver, we were greeted by a nice, chilly morning breeze that woke us right up as we headed to our 8 am panel sessions. Today, the Leapsters would separate and attend two different sessions: “Public Policy Changes” and Local Government and Engagement.”
Public Policy Changes by Karla Rosales
Christina, Bianca, and I began our day with the first panel of the day, “Public Policy Challenges,” presented by three doctoral students and one graduate student.
The first presenter, and our favorite, was Neomi Frisch Aviram, a Doctoral Student from the University of Haifa, Israel. She discussed the topic of Policy Entrepreneurship Behavior and focused on the fact that bureaucrats do not employ uniform strategies to push policy as politicians do. In addition, she explained the Multiple Stream Approach (MSA) framework and how the combination of three separate streams of MSA (political, policy, and problem) opens a policy window for policy entrepreneurs. However, it was found that there is a need for an increase in civic engagement and media coverage in the private sector for public policy to succeed.
The next three presenters presented on the topic of the relation of human behavior to public policy and focused on the importance of exploring human behavior to understand its effects on public policy. Humans tend to make satisfying decisions to solve problems short term, but the problem will ultimately arise in the long run. Logical reasoning is slower, our decisions are biased and guided by emotions, our first instinct. Understandably, the conclusion was that our human nature is to hold on to existing beliefs to remain in societal groupings and retain social status which is a challenge when it comes to policy making.
Local Government and Engagements by Victoria McClendon- Leggett
The topic of policy making continued to the other groups panel as well.
Beatriz and I attended the panel titled “Local Governments and Engagement”. The first presentation was about “Public Engagement by Local Governments,” and it went over the many different ways that local governments keep citizens engaged such as online engagement platforms, 311 systems, and turning over more authority to neighborhood associations. This study found that governments that placed higher importance on meeting public engagement goals ultimately had higher participations in engagement practices. The second presentation was “Citizens’ Academies: Motivations and Meaning for Public Administrators,” and it found that citizens’ academy programs have a strong correlation with public engagement and organizational adaptability in government. The third presentation was “The Impact of Collaborative Leadership on Encouraging Citizen Engagement,” and it found that citizens are more likely to be engaged when they are presented with strong responsive leadership, specifically on social media. We thought it was interesting how both the first and third presentations mentioned social media and how it can be a useful tool for local government engagement from citizens.
Both panels were very interesting to all of the LEAP Ambassadors, especially since most of us want to work or have worked in the government system. All of the policy making made us even more conscious about the importance of being a decision maker. So, we made the important decision to go eat.
The restaurant’s extensive menu offered us some of the most traditional Mexican dishes, from menudo (a spicy tripe soup) to fried tacos. Some of us, in fact, many of us, ordered a plate that included a little bit of everything: one enchilada, one fried taco, one tostada, and some beans and rice. Others adventured into tasting their hot and spicy menudo. The Mexico City Restaurant has, for 51 years, been serving citizens of the Larimer district in downtown Denver. On a side note, Larimer district was named in honor of General William Larimer, who was a pioneer and one of the founders of the City of Denver. Our lunch was a thoroughly enjoyable experience and the perfect fuel to begin our art exploration!
Clyfford Still Art Museum by Beatriz Martinez
The Clyfford Art Museum was our first stop on our art tour as we got out of our panel sessions. Even before Rothko and Pollock, whose art we have seen many times on our travels, Clyfford Still was among the first generation of Abstract Impressionists after World War II. However, he did not start out that way.
Still first began with representational painting that showcased the Depression Era with one of his first themes: the human experience.
Slowly, he lost the definitive form of his earlier paintings to evolve into what he is now known for: Abstract Expressionism.
Interestingly enough, Still did not believe in titles. In fact, he stopped titling his paintings after 1947 so instead they were labeled by the year that they were created. Part of the reason that Still did this was because he believed that the person that looked at his art should not restrain their interpretation of the piece because of his title. His bright colors and jagged lines allowed him to become one of the first artists to set the tone for the future generation of artists.
It was a great experience to be able to see the timeline of his art especially since he severed ties with all the galleries in the early 1950s and his art was not displayed until 2011 when the Clyfford Art Museum opened.
Denver Museum of Art by Christina Perez
The moment we have all been waiting for… The Denver Art Museum! The sun was shining and we were thriving. As we headed down 14th avenue we could see the “Big Sweep” by Clause Oldenburg in the distance. Some of us had waited weeks for the opportunity to visit the museum.
As we walked in, we couldn’t help but admire the fun architecture of the building. Our special treat, their special exhibit show casing French artist Edgar Degas’ work from 1855 to 1906.
Degas is known for his fascination with movement, whether it be pretty little dancers or horses.
The exhibit took us through his early work with horses through his work with his ballerinas.
We definitely enjoyed learning about his art work and life as an artist, and the exhibit not only had some of his atypical works, such as “David and Goliath”….
…as well as artists he influenced and artists who influenced him.
Following the Degas exhibit, we headed upstairs to the “Animals in Art” exhibit that included pieces by Georgia O’ Keeffe, John James Audubon, Norman Rockwell, Deborah Butterfield and many others.
We also had an opportunity to explore some western and Regional art, where Bianca found her favorite piece, one by William Sanderson…
…and we found a very atypical piece by Jackson Pollock…
…and a more typical piece by Thomas Hart Benton.
After touring the museum, we couldn’t head back to the hotel without accomplishing one of the most important components of a tourist’s experience: buying souvenirs! As we drove back to the hotel, we made a quick pit stop to the Denver airport where we were able to see the Blue Mustang created by Luis Jimenez.
After a quick picture, we hopped into the van and shared our favorite art, new artists, and our perspectives on their art.
We were very excited to have made multiple new memories! And finally, it was time to go home to grab a late pizza dinner and rest for another busy day ahead.
Following a vigorous morning at the park, we headed to one of the more than 60 art galleries in the Houston area, the Moody Art Gallery, where a special tour waited for us. As we took our first step into the gallery, Betty Moody, the owner of the gallery, was quick to give us a warm welcome to her very special art venue.
As the tour began, we learned that approximately 42 years ago Ms. Moody and her husband, Bill Steffy, embarked on a journey when they decided to acquire a property and open their very own art gallery. Over the decades of dealing art for accomplished artists, she has built a good reputation and now deals artworks by Arthur Turner, Jim Love, Terry Allen, Mary McCleary, and Luis Jimenez, to name just a few.
Her knowledge and passion have led her to not choose art because of a simple trend, but to choose it because of the meaning and the story behind the piece.
Through viewing some of the most attention-grabbing art in her collection, we discovered that each person interpreted each piece differently and that, although dissimilar, they could all be representations intended by the artist.
One of the pieces that Ms. Moody focused on was Snow Vanitas, a mixed media collage by the local artist Mary McCleary. From a distance, it seemed like a simple piece, however, the illusions created by different elements including plastic, paint, wire, and wood, created a stunning result. Additionally, each of her three-dimensional collages have a story to tell and are created to leave an impact.
It was a learning experience in every way. We learned archiving methods…
…strategies for displaying art pieces…
…the stories behind unusual art…
…and even how to use a rolodex!
To continue with our learning adventure, Betty Moody gave us a tour of her own home, located a wall behind the art gallery.
There, she showed us some of her most precious and sentimental pieces she owns.
Decorated with Pre-Colombian art as well as modern pieces by Randy Twaddle, Robert Rauschenberg, Luis Jimenez, and the like, the room was a beautiful embodiment of art. Embedded in her book shelves were not only a trove of books, but also a Campbell’s Soup can signed by Andy Warhol!
We also had the chance to see a Picasso on her kitchen shelf!
Ms. Moody’s home could easily be used as an art museum.
Although we are certain that these were highly valuable to Ms. Moody, without a doubt her most treasured objects where Bill Steffy’s visually attractive works. As a sculptor and jeweler, he incorporated silver and materials like turquoise to give each piece a unique appearance. Surprisingly enough, what appeared to be a bird sculpture, was a jewelry box, which with the click of a button released a stunning pendant from its wing. It was one of our favorite pieces in the entire collection.
There is no doubt varied talents are well exhibited at the Moody Art Gallery. Betty Moody gave us an unforgettable tour that went beyond our expectations.
The LEAP Ambassadors will treasure this unprecedented experience.
Thanks to Ms. Moody’s intimate relationship with art and her generosity in sharing, we experienced a semester’s worth of art learning in one afternoon–while spending time with a delightful business owner and lady!