Having pre-planned my museum visit when first reading the syllabus
, I knew that I especially wanted to go to two exhibits: Future Retro: Drawings from the Great Age of American Automobiles
and Fast, Loose & Out of Control: Bobby Allison & The Alabama Gang
. I had planned on going with a fellow Top Gear
fan dear whester
, but our schedules didn’t align. Sadly, car fanatic and yet another Top Gear fan Z had already moved to California, so I was stuck going by myself.
Now, I should note that this wasn’t my first visit to a museum or a gallery, though I hadn’t been to one in a very long time as evidenced by the fact that despite having lived in Huntsville for seven years (not counting a year’s stint in the dorms) I had not, until required to by this assignment stepped foot in the Huntsville Museum of Art.
It had been long enough from my last visit to a museum that I didn’t know quite how to behave myself. I didn’t go into the place doing cartwheels or carrying a boom-box blaring Fight the Power
. I did, however, naively take along my D70 on the hope that I would be allowed to take non-flash photography.
Having been in the mindset of thinking about Top Gear
, I thought about when the boys took over the Mima gallery in episode 5 of Series (British for Season) 14. I was expecting there to be upbeat music and lots of laughs at gaffes and an all-around hour of fun. And while I did enjoy myself at the museum, it just wasn’t the same.
The front room (I wasn’t paying attention to the gallery names) had some striking pieces. There are three worth commenting on en passant
: a painting of a rain forest that had a stick ladder protruding from the frame and hanging like a mobile, Steve Linney’s Toys #2
, which featured a college-aged boy looking at his childhood toys calling to mind the famous passage of I Corinthians 13:11 (When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things.
), and Ken Procter’s Braced
, featuring a tornado about to form against a small farm house in the middle of nowhere.
The Bobby Allison exhibit was next. Quite frankly, I wasn’t interested or impressed, though I did get to use the knowledge I learned in Photography I from the previous semester to photograph his car. I spent the majority of my time in Future Retro
And now we come back to not knowing how to behave myself. I just couldn’t stand there and appreciate the artwork. I had to photograph each piece (because I found very few pieces uninteresting) along with their description plates so I could save that information for later. (Yes, it’s true: I do work in the Information Technology industry and I am an information junkie.) While I did appreciate being able to view the artwork as displayed, I immediately had two thoughts: I was glad I was alone with these pieces (the traffic was damn-near nil while I was touring the museum) so I could photograph them for my posterity and wasn’t being hounded by a friend to move along; I also thought about how much Z would have enjoyed this exhibition and knew I had to document my experience for him photographically so I could share it with him via Facebook (oh, the conveniences of this digital age we live in!)
As fate would have it, when I was through with my tour, I found that the museum was selling books. (Actually, I knew they were selling them as I passed the wares in the concourse) but what I didn’t know was that one of the books contained every piece in the Future Retro gallery and that the descriptor plaques in the museum were lifted right out of the book! As an ironic addition, all the books sold were half price, so instead of paying $28 dollars for books that I might never look at again, I was able to pick all three up for $14. I’ve since regretted not buying two of each, allowing me to be selfish and send Z a copy of each for Christmas as they are all car-related tomes.
Ken Procter's Braced
A now a word about the image at the top of this essay as the assignment requires me to “identify at least one special piece of art that 'speaks' to you and write a 1-2 page paper describing your experience.” I have selected the image displaying the girl’s face and the interior of the interior of the Buick.
I have chosen this image for many subconscious reasons that I will not be able to exhaustively encapsulate here. Those reasons include: the girl has a simple “girl-next-door” look about her. She is attractive enough to meditate upon but does not have any unique or defining features. She is presented as coming out of the car with lines that vanish into the car suggesting that the car itself is as sexual as the girl. The door, the lines and the girl’s face are slightly curved not letting the eye rest; there’s always another thought to be had about both. Because the girl’s features are generic, the viewer can and does project onto her his or her own thoughts and ideals of the girl, whether she be someone a man would want to mate with or whether she be seen as a threat to another female as vying for the attentions of a man interested in buying the car featured. A woman may also view the girl and think that she is a slut, imagining her engaging in all kinds of lascivious activity, fully giving her body and passion over to another person in the back seat of the car. Because the girl is young and healthy, there seems to be a message to the viewer of this piece that buying the car will somehow create a link to everything this girl has going for her. In short, the girl is an illusion; an idea sold but never obtained, thus leaving the audience of this piece the option of buying the car to be as close as possible to this figment of their imagination.