Tuesday, February 17, 2015

New Art Exhibition at MU Student Center

"Mise-en-scène: Artistic Interpretations of Campus Scenes" 
February 9, 2015 to March 10, 2015
First Floor, MU Student Center

A new exhibition on display at the MU Student Center examines the ways in which three different artists interpret three different scenes of our campus in three different artistic media. Mise-en-scène, the title of the exhibition, refers to the arrangement of actors and scenery on a stage for a theatrical production. Mizzou's campus is the setting of life for our students, a life that can be banal or dramatic or comedic depending on the day. These art works draw attention to the diversity of settings in which campus life plays out.

Byron Smith (American, b. 1960), "Saturday Afternoon - Memorial Union", c. 1980-82, Lithograph, 2014.060, Unions Purchase

An Artist's Vision of a Familiar Landmark 

Quick, energetic strokes form an image of a bustling campus hub, providing a glimpse of the life swirling around the campus grande dame.  The animated lines indicate the freedom with which the artist’s hand meets the paper.  Miniature figures, dominated by the Gothic tower, rush across the foreground, traversing Hitt Street, a path which has guided generations of students through their college years.  The artist takes advantage of the rough, scratchy drawing technique used in lithography to accentuate the contrasting planes of the building, highlighting the texture of the stone decorations and deeply recessed hollows of the tower’s windows.

A Columbia native, Byron Smith grew up in a cityscape dominated by the spires of Memorial Union. Displaying the versatility of an artist, he is both a painter and a printmaker. His typical subject matter is the landscape of central Missouri, which he paints on site. Smith says, “When I paint from nature, I express myself by depicting the landscape elements I both see and feel. As a result, every painting is different.” (Columbia Missourian, 2013) Smith created Saturday Afternoon – Memorial Union during his years as a student in the MU art department.

"Weingart", Under Providence Road, c. 1990s, Dry Pastel, 2012.053, Anonymous Donation

Do you know this artist?
The unknown artist, "Weingart", has captured a view of the natural beauty hidden beneath a busy street, contrasting the man-made with the organic. The scene depicts the creek alongside the pedestrian underpass that is part of the MKT Trail, a popular site for MU students seeking to exercise in a natural setting. The heavy lines of the concrete underpass frame the deep, shadowed underworld of the creek. The creek water reflects the light of an early fall day.

Pastel, a stick made of pure powdered pigment and a binding agent, is typically applied to the surface by hand. It is an unforgiving medium that does not allow an artist to correct mistakes. In this work, the pastel medium allows the artist to endow concrete and stone with soft and velvety edges. The medium is also ideal for achieving the brilliant color of fallen leaves and still-green grass.
This pastel was donated to the Student Unions sometime during the 1990’s, possibly by a student. The artist has signed it using only their last name, so information about the work and the artist is limited.

Keith Crown (American, 1918-2010), Missouri University Dairy Farm, c. 1989, Watercolor with airbrush, 2011.028, Unions Purchase

Hidden Landscapes 
In this watercolor, Keith Crown depicts views of the University of Missouri’s dairy farm in northwest Columbia. The upper-half of the painting portrays farm buildings atop a grassy hill, while inverted trees and power lines fill the lower-half of the composition. The two perspectives are divided by the slightly curving white line that runs across the center of the picture plane, which represents a road. The painting is interspersed with patches of translucent and saturated color, created by varying the amount of water mixed with pigment. Crown created the most saturated areas of color using a dry brush technique in which the pigment is not diluted. The vivid colors he chose for the landscape and the airiness he was able to achieve through the use of watercolor communicate feelings of warmth and tranquility that transport the viewer to the sunny countryside.
The Foremost Dairy Research Center is not a part of campus that most people see on a regular basis, but it is the center of innovation and exploration of dairy science.  Mizzou professors and students began the study of dairy science in the 1880s and a chair of dairy husbandry was established in January, 1901. For more information on CAFNR's dairy center, please visit http://foremostdairy.cafnr.org/about/

Blog post authored by Sarah S. Jones, Ph.D. Candidate in Art History, University of Missouri.