Friday, August 28, 2009

Guest Blogger: Tommie Rodgers

At the Museum: Critically Thinking with the Artist

If you visit the Lauren Rogers Museum of Art in the coming weeks, you will be amazed at the joy of color on the walls of the Lower Level Galleries. The exhibition titled Moe Brooker: Carelessly Exact presents paintings that consist of vivacious blocks of dancing, intense colors creating movement, life and visual tension. Most are created with oil pastels and encaustic (wax and pigment that become liquid when melted).

The painter, Moe Brooker, is the artist and he finds joy in all aspects of his art. He is also a teacher and community worker from Philadelphia, PA who enjoys jazz music and feels a kinship to the colorful quilts created by African-American women. He serves as a deacon at the First African Baptist Church in Philadelphia and considers his time of painting as part of his daily devotion and worship.

His paintings are abstract and created with large areas of flat color and patterns, including stripes and checkerboards. The blocks of color are reminiscent of fabric pieces placed randomly to create visual vibration. Calligraphic squiggles of lines float across the central portion of the image while small blocks of color float across the central portion of the canvas.

While his work gives the impression of spontaneity, Mr. Brooker does have a working plan. His work is defined by the use of shapes, patterns and color that involves intensity, chroma, and value. Those are not easy elements to juggle and the layers can easily create a painting of “mud” if handled without some organization.

Mr. Brooker held a day-long workshop for area artists in which I attended for a brief time in the afternoon. Mr. Brooker has quite a following from his days of teaching at the Mississippi Art Colony. He asked the students to bring along work that was in process or completed work to critique as well as some painting supplies.

The morning was spent warming up with color choices and loosening up the arm. The afternoon was set aside for critique. For those of you who have never sat through a college critique session, you would have had quite an awakening.

“Critique” does not mean that your teacher or advisor will pat you on the back and say “Great Job! Wonderful Painting!” Instead, the teacher might say: “Does that color really work there?” “What were you THINKING?” And, all the while, the student is sliding deeper into his seat and answering with a meek “I don’t know.” Of course, the student is thinking that the teacher is yelling those questions whether they really are or not.

Mr. Brooker’s session was conducted much the same way. This type of critical discussion is really the best way to teach students to improve their art. He was not there to pat the students on the back and say “job well done,” but he was right on target in asking thought-provoking questions. He discussed the good points, recommended other artists’ works to study, and provided other options to change the work and make it better.

One of the most important points that he shared was to paint large areas of color first and pursue the details last. That point is much easier said than done. As most of the artists who participated will agree, it can be scary and disheartening to have a critical discussion about one’s work. A solid understanding of design elements is essential to building on one’s knowledge of art. A teacher who avoids the discussion of them may be one who doesn’t know and understand them himself and he certainly can’t help his students improve or teach them to make critical design decisions on their own.

Moe Brooker: Carelessly Exact will be on display through Sunday, November 8, 2009. The Museum is open from 10:00 a.m.-4:45 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday and Sundays from 1:00-4:00 p.m. The Museum is closed on Mondays. For more information, call 601-649-6374 or check the museum’s website at

Tommie Rodgers is the registrar of the Lauren Rogers Museum of Art.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Eudora Welty in New York (in Laurel)

Eudora Welty in New York
August 21 - November 15, 2001
Stairwell Gallery

Opening events, all of which are free and open to the public:

5:00 Reading of Eudora Welty's "Petrified Man" by Catherine Nowicki
5:30 Lecture by Welty Scholar Suzanne Marrs
6:30 Reception

Eudora Welty in New York features fifty black-and-white photographs by Eudora Welty, one of the 20th century's greatest American authors. The photographs illuminate the artist's ties to New York City at the outset of her professional career. It includes a re-creation of Welty's first solo exhibition of her Mississippi photographs, mounted in New York City in 1936, as well as a dozen of her New York images, capturing American in the depths of the Great Depression and revealing a compassion and sensitivity towards her subject that became a hallmark of her writing.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Book Signing in the Gift Shop this weekend

Book signing by local authors Lori Leger and Cleveland Payne

Saturday, Aug. 22
1:00 pm to 3:30 pm
LRMA Lobby

Lori Leger will be signing copies of
The Night Walker

The Night Walker is a love story like no other. Written for men and women alike, this story takes the reader into the Klamoth Mts. living through the life of Bigfoot who is in fact a shapeshifter. The reader will be whisked away through the trials of murder, poaching, kidnapping It will make you wonder is Bigfoot a real hero or a monster.

About the Author
Lori born in Sep. of 1969, was raised in Richton, Ms. but has lived with her husband and three daughters in Laurel for over twenty years. She has always been intrigued with Indian folklore due to her Grandfather being full blooded Choctaw. She enjoys reading love stories by her favorite author Cassie Edwards. These two aspects along with her interest always being piqued by Bigfoot stories brought her to combining the three into this wonderful new love story full of action, terror, and heartbreak to reach out to all readers, man and woman alike. Lori says her dream is to have people read her books and feel as though they are there themselves.

Cleveland Payne will be bringing his latest book.

About the author:

Cleveland Payne is a lifelong resident of Laurel, Mississippi, and a 1957 graduate of Oak Park Vocational High School where he was a star athlete. As a result, he was inducted into the Oak Park Hall of Fame in July 2000. Payne received his undergraduate degree from Rust College in Holly Springs, Mississippi in 1965.

While at Rust, although majoring in the social sciences, his talent for writing was discovered by his English instructor, who encouraged him to write as much as possible. He enjoyed writing, but with his busy schedule as a basketball player and track star, there was little time to pursue this interest.

His journey as an author started to take direction while completing his graduate work at the University of Southern Mississippi (USM) in Hattiesburg. Although he had a wide range of interests, he eventually discovered a great affinity for history and research. In 1982, he became the first student to earn a Specialist in History at USM in the new degree program. His thesis, "Laurel: A History of the Black Community 1882–1962," was refined and published as his first book.

Payne is the author of nine other books. They include The Oak Park Story: A Cultural History (1988), A History of Black Laurel (1990), From Kemper to California—The Long Journey (1992), The Road to San Antonio: The Journey of Career Airman Johnny Hearn (1995), Laurel Remembrances (1996), The Defining Moment (2000), The House on the Boulevard (2002), and The Silver Pendant (2006). The Long Drive (2008) is Payne's tenth book and is his fourth novel featuring his adventurous protagonist, Slim McCall.

On February 14, 2000, his hometown of Laurel honored him with the Millennium Medallion in recognition of his lifelong commitment to illuminating the beauty of life in Laurel through his lyrical writings and memoirs.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Looking Forward to Fall at LRMA

It’s hard to believe with the August heat still going strong, but fall is right around the corner. The kids are back in school, football season will be underway soon, and there are new and exciting programs happening at the Lauren Rogers Museum of Art. Home School Fridays will start up again this month, with the first class on Friday, August 28. These free classes are for home schooled children of all ages, and take place on the fourth Friday of every month from 1:00 P.M. to 4:00 P.M. in the Museum Annex. This is a great time for kids and parents to socialize and create a fun art project.
There are two wonderful new shows up at LRMA right now. The first is Moe Brooker: Carelessly Exact, which features large, colorful, abstract works by African-American artist Moe Brooker. Mr. Brooker is a working artist, and visited the museum last week for a lecture, workshop, and the opening reception for his show. You can see these impressive works on display in the LRMA Lower Level Galleries until November 8. Starting at the end of this week, you can also enjoy Eudora Welty in New York, a show of photographs taken by Eudora Welty. This show commemorates the 100th anniversary of Eudora Welty’s birth and will be available for viewing in our Stairwell Gallery until November 15.
Next week, on August 25, the LRMA Guild of Docents and Volunteers will host its annual Guild Membership Coffee. This invitation-only event is held each year to introduce potential Guild members to current members and to acquaint them with the purpose of the LRMA Guild. The Guild is a vital part of the Lauren Rogers Museum of Art, with members volunteering for virtually every event held at the museum throughout the year. The Guild Docents also give tours every day that the museum is open. If you are interested in more information on how to join this prestigious organization, please call the museum at (601) 649-6374.
Pottery classes will be offered for children and adults this fall at the museum. The children’s pottery class will be on Tuesday afternoons in September, beginning on September 1 and running through September 22. Children who are currently in Kindergarten to 6th grade can participate. Kids will learn the basics of working in clay, both hand building and throwing on the potter’s wheel. The class will be from 3:30 P.M. to 5:00 P.M. in the Carriage House Studio on Seventh Street. Adults can enjoy pottery this October on Tuesday and Thursday evenings from 6:00 P.M. to 8:30 P.M. This class will be taught by local ceramic artist Byron Myrick and participants will work exclusively on the potter’s wheel. For more information about any of these programs, or to sign up for a class, call the Lauren Rogers Museum of Art at (601) 649-6374.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Fall Children's Pottery

If you are looking for a great after-school activity for your child this fall, sign them up for Children's Pottery at LRMA! This is a fun opportunity for your child to create original art. Participants will create hand-built projects as well as learn to throw on the potter's wheel. The class will be held on Tuesday afternoons beginning on September 1 through September 22. It goes from 3:30-5:00 P.M. in our Carriage House Studio on Seventh Street. If you are interested in registering your child, just call the Lauren Rogers Museum of Art at (601) 649-6374.