Contrasting exhibits in the Jepson Center

The Telfair Website

I have visited the Telfair Museum of Art in Savannah, Georgia multiple times, but I have not written about it on this blog.  Part of a series of museums, the Jepson Center consists of wood, stone, and glass with a color scheme of mostly white and off-white.  It has the occasional colored depending on exhibitions, but the halls keep up this subdued white color scheme.  The cool ambiance provides a welcome respite from the Savannah heat.  At the same time, the walls and ceilings have glass covering them to let the sun in.  Furthermore, they keep all the main exhibitions on the top floor.

The big one comes from the Psychedelic exhibition that displays work from the sixties to now.  Practically every painting featured swamps and overwhelms the viewer with their size.  In other words, the artists want to swallow you up with their colorful forms.  I am not exaggerating because the entire show revolves around bright primary colors.  Big names such as Frank Stella and Victor Vaseraly have their work in this show.  However, Deborah Remington stood out in this show.  She adds this realism to her contribution because the lack of visible brushstrokes.  Al Held has this Surreal element his work.  In other words, if Dali rendered paintings without any subject.  Susie Rosmarin’s Op Art can make your eyes see designs within her design.

The next room of the exhibition revolves around more technology based psychedelic art.  Ray Rapp channels Eadward Muybridge with his time-lapse slides of people playing sports.  When I saw the installation, I thought, “If Muybridge added color to his slides,” and the information box confirmed what I thought.  Probably the weakest part of the whole show comes from David Shaw.  His sculpture did not stand out for me at all.  I received no meaning or context from his colored tubes and clear material.  Even when I read the information box.

Other installations from the show gave a 2001: A Space Odyssey vibe from it.  Sterling Ruby’s looping footage of swirling color will make you feel that you could turn into the Star Child.  The vibe also came from Alex Grey’s Journey of the Wounded Healer.  The three paneled painting (I avoid calling it a triptych) shows a man strangled by DNA, ripped apart in a second panel, then emerges with the Hippocratic symbol in front of him.  The whole work has extravagant detail right down to the veins of the Healer.  While the caption box informed that the painting took inspiration from the idea of transcendence, it still reminded me of 2001.  Another installation combined psychedelic kitsch from Spencer’s Gifts with tools from Home Depot gives us Bon Voyage Sonambulating de Pileon. 

Created by Richie Budd, this monstrosity could seat a person, but I doubt people could do that.  As lights decorate the walls, one can hear audio of quotes and techno music play.  From George Cisneros, the last piece combines a Bridget Riley style looping film with decorations of small circular mirrors that have this sixties aesthetic.  The pulsating and moving film has this kaleidoscope quality.

 In sharp contrast comes the exhibit Winged CreaturesA show of paintings and sculpture of birds and butterflies by John Abbot and Floyd Robbins.  A tribute to nature and naturalism.  However, it does have one thing in common with the Psychedelic exhibit in that each promotes science in their own way.  With his sculpture, Robbins depicts birds flying, eating, grooming, and even dead with bullet casings surrounding it.  In short, he gives his birds character and nuance.  With his paintings, Abbot depicts the birds simply in profile.   A little more static in comparison.  On the other hand, their work reminds me of the knick knacks my grandparents collected.

The last show belonged to Ashcan member George Bellows.  With about five paintings decorating a small room, it felt anti-climatic.  However, Bellows does capture snow and water well in the paintings Floating Ice and Snow Capped River. 

Ever since moving out of Savannah, I had not visited the Telfair in a while.  Visiting there gave me a chance to relish the cool environment and the diverse art on display.

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