The Blanton Museum of Art held a tour of American landscape paintings and how they progressed, from old western art to regional art, on Saturday.
Pieces from former American Airlines CEO C. R. Smith’s western art collection, including the first painting he collected, “The Roping” (1914), began the tour. Another painting in the collection was Tom Lea’s “The Lead Steer” (1941). This depicted an unusual view of a herding expedition because it showed the front of the herd instead of the side with the rest of the herd in the background, according to museum docent Sarah Harvey, the tour guide.
The tour also explored abstract landscapes. Harvey said America’s first totally abstract artist, Arthur Garfield Dove, tried to paint sound, shown in his 1931 painting “Good Breeze.” Another artist, Ellsworth Kelly, understood the power of colors, and although abstract art was objectionable to some people, Kelly’s use of bright and contrasting colors pleased most of the public, according to Harvey.
Jazz influenced many artworks as well including “Lawn and Sky” (1931) by Stuart Davis.
“His jazzy colors and jazzy forms really bled into American advertising business,” Harvey said.
The tour also showed the work of artist Jerry Bywaters, known for 1940’s “Oil Field Girls.” Bywaters created a regional style by bringing Texas artists together. An unusual aspect of the painting was the excessive height of the girls who were based off of fashion models, Harvey said.
The docent program assembled this tour in which its members educate visitors and allow them to actively explore art, according to the Blanton Museum of Art.
“I think the docent program is an amazing program,” visitor Lizzy Smith said. “Each person has a new and different take on each piece of art.”
Harvey said it is important for docents to educate people about art because a person uses a different part of their brain when looking at art than when doing other things.
“We kind of have the keys. There’s so much art, and you don’t really know what you’re looking at ... it can be overwhelming if your field isn’t art,” Harvey said.
People who attended the tour appreciated the historical journey that it provided.
“I’m a fellow docent, and I thought it was an excellent example of an adult tour. The way [Harvey] brought in so many facets of landscapes, possibilities to span the years ... she did a great job linking one area to the other,” visitor Paula Brinkley said.
Published on February 4, 2013 as "Blanton stages western art tour".