Wednesday, July 28, 2010

At the Museum: Fairfield Porter

The recently re-installed Stairwell Gallery features contemporary American art from the Museum collection selected by members of the staff. Each staff member was given the opportunity to visit the vaults and choose a favorite work from the American collection for this show. The goal of this show is to bring a new perspective into the galleries, and remind our visitors that every exhibition at a museum is the result of whole team of folks “behind the scenes.”

One of the paintings selected, Fairfield Porter’s The Tennis Game, is a perennial favorite with visitors. Acquired from the artist in 1973, the large oil on canvas depicts a game of doubles on a tennis court surrounded by rich green foliage. The setting was the Porter family’s summer home, Great Spruce Head Island, Maine. The concrete tennis court, which had been built just before World War I, provides a pale color field upon which four figures are distributed. Porter began working on this composition during the summer of 1970, but did not resolve it to his satisfaction until two years later. One often thinks of tennis as a fast-moving game, but Porter’s figures are static; this is clearly a pause in the game. The figure farthest back is preparing to hit the ball; it hovers, suspended in mid-air, just above his racquet. The nearest figure (in blue) is not yet in the bent-knee position one would expect from a player preparing to return. This is a casual summer set between family members, and the languid feeling of the canvas reflects that. Porter subtly uses the repetition of the ovals of the racquets (and their shadows) to draw the viewer’s eye back into the canvas. He also contrasts the geometry of the net and the fence with the irregular vertical forms of the trees and the figures. This is a painting that seems simple, but is complex enough to bear up to prolonged scrutiny.

Porter’s work, often called “Figurative Expressionism,” followed directly upon that of a slightly older generation of artists, the Abstract Expressionists. They rejected representational imagery in favor of pure composition, color, line and gesture; whereas Porter and his contemporaries, such as Elaine de Kooning and Larry Rivers, opted to use the figure, the landscape, and other imagery as neutral elements of the composition. This is not a picture about personalities, interpersonal drama, or even the identity of the players, whose faces remain anonymous. This is a picture about the relationship between greens, whites, and blues; the complex interaction of the vertical and diagonal lines; and the feeling of the rest and relaxation of summering on a remote island.

In a way, The Tennis Game feels like the immediate descendant of Claude Monet’s Parisian vacationers, lounging at the beach side or playing croquet in the dappled shade. Porter, like Monet, depicts the tranquil leisure time of affluent city-dwellers. Another painting in the Museum collection, Kate Freeman Clark’s Return from the Shore, (currently hanging in the American Gallery) depicts exactly the same kind of summer leisure, albeit sixty years earlier. This subject matter - the everyday stuff of modern life, things of no great political or historical import - was very much the emphasis of the French Realists, who inspired the French and American Impressionists, to whom both the Abstract and Figurative Expressionists, such as Porter, acknowledged their debt.

Fairfield Porter’s The Tennis Game, and eighteen other works in the exhibition “Our Favorite Things,” will be on display in the Stairwell Gallery until November of this year.

Jill R. Chancey, PhD, is curator of the Lauren Rogers Museum of Art.

Fairfield Porter (1907-1975)
The Tennis Game, 1972
Oil on canvas
A Lauren Rogers Museum purchase in part with funds from Mississippi Arts Commission, 73.78

Friday, July 23, 2010

The Rogers-Green House

Visitors to the LRMA and Laurel locals may have noticed that the house across the street from the Museum is often the site of parties, receptions, weddings, and other social gatherings. The Rogers-Green House, built in 1903, was the home of Lauren Rogers, passed from his parents to their relatives Eleanor and Gardiner Green in 1950, and the Greens left the house to the LRMA in 2003.

Today, four full-time staff members have offices upstairs, and the ground level rooms are used for museum meetings and events. Although the Museum itself is not available for private functions, the Rogers-Green House is. We are quite busy during the late spring/early summer wedding season, and have hosted high school reunions, rehearsal dinners, baby showers, wedding showers, Christmas parties, and a variety of meetings.

For more information on rentals, call our Events Coordinator, Angie Jolly, at 601-649-6374.

For more information on the Rogers-Green House:

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Guest Blogger: Mandy Buchanan

Giving Laurel a Hand

The children of Laurel are getting an exciting new outdoor educational space. A classroom garden is being created near Oak Park School for area students to enjoy. Lauren Rogers Museum of Art has partnered with the City of Laurel to create an outdoor sculpture as a centerpiece to this new space.

The project began with the Museum Education staff casting the hands of students from Oak Park and Stainton Elementary Schools in cement. The hands will then be attached to a large metal tree our staff is preparing that will be installed in the center of the garden.

We are so excited to see this work of art come together. Watch for upcoming information about the opening of this new educational space.

Mandy Buchanan is the Curator of Education at the Lauren Rogers Museum of Art.

Image: left to right, Angie King, Todd Sullivan, and Mandy Buchanan

Monday, July 19, 2010


Lauren Rogers Museum of Art in Laurel has been awarded a $34,400 grant from the Mississippi Arts Commission (MAC). This grant is a portion of the $1.64 million in grants the Commission will award in 2010-2011 and will be used for general operating support. The grants are made possible by continued funding from the Mississippi State Legislature and the National Endowment for the Arts.

“Organizations across the state who receive grants from the Mississippi Arts Commission continue to prove that arts programs are vital to the success of their community. The grants awarded by the Commission provide funding for the staging of festivals, theater performances and many other arts-related activities,” said Malcolm White, Executive Director of MAC. “The arts provide a positive environment for learning, both in the classroom and in communities. Arts funding has a significant multiplier and for every dollar spent in the creative sector, eight dollars are realized in the local economy. That’s a good investment for any business.”

Lauren Rogers Museum of Art is the only collections-based art museum between Jackson and the Mississippi Coast, thus playing a significant role in South Mississippi as an art education resource, field trip destination, and a venue for nationally significant traveling exhibitions. LRMA has been accredited by the American Association of Museums since 1972.

The Mississippi Arts Commission, a state agency, serves the residents of the state by providing grants that support programs to enhance communities; assist artists and arts organizations; promote the arts in education and celebrate Mississippi’s cultural heritage. Established in 1968, the Mississippi Arts Commission is funded by the Mississippi Legislature, the National Endowment for the Arts, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Mississippi Foundation, the Phil Hardin Foundation, Mississippi Endowment for the Arts at the Community Foundation of Greater Jackson and other private sources. The agency serves as an active supporter and promoter of arts in community life and in arts education. For information from the Mississippi Arts Commission, contact Susan Dobbs – 601/359-6031 or

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Indelible (P)ink: The Pink Panther and Popular Culture

Lauren Rogers Museum of Art presents Indelible (P)ink: The Pink Panther and Popular Culture, on display July 22 through September 19 in its Lower Level Galleries.

The exhibition will open Thursday, July 22 with a lecture at 5:30 p.m. by exhibition curator Barbara Rothermel, Director of the Daura Gallery and Assistant Professor of Museum Studies at Lynchburg College in Lynchburg, Virginia. A “Pink Panther Party” will follow from 6:30 - 8 p.m.

Animation’s coolest anti-hero with the grooviest theme song ever, the Pink Panther was created by Friz Freleng for the opening title sequence of Blake Edwards’ 1963 film, The Pink Panther (MGM/United Artists). The movie starred Peter Sellers as the bumbling Inspector Clouseau, out to catch the thief of a legendary diamond called the pink panther. Accompanied by Henry Mancini’s mod jazz beat, Freleng’s animated Pink Panther sauntered suavely across the silver screen, straight into superstar status. This hip cat of unparalleled sophistication debuted on NBC-TV in 1964, captivating audiences in 140 cartoon shorts. A second series debuted in 1984 and continued for the next decade. This exhibition is a blast from the past, spying on the Pink Panther as an example of popular culture while uncovering his contribution to 20th century animation. The artifacts in this exhibition are in the Daura Gallery’s permanent collection, purchased through the Lauer Fund.

This exhibition is generously sponsored by Community Bank, Chas. N. Clark & Associates, Ltd., Laurel Bone & Joint Clinic, and Scruggs Photography.

Image: Cel from Service with a Pink Smile, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios, Inc., 1993.

Thursday, July 08, 2010

Asian Gallery re-opens

The LRMA Asian Gallery, which has been closed since April, is now re-opened. The gallery has been used for the last few months for storage of crates from the exhibition, NASA|ART: 50 Years of Exploration. Now that those crates are packed and shipped off to their next destination, the Japanese Prints are again on display. Education Outreach Coordinator Angie King curated this selection, which consists mostly of prints with images of animals in them.

While we ordinarily exhibit only Edo period prints, she selected one print from the Meiji period, and one from the Modern period. These prints clearly reflect the Western European influence that entered Japan in 1858, at the end of the Edo period. Also on display are our newest print triptych, The Dragon King’s Palace: The Three Treasures Presented to Tawara Toda Hidesato by Utagawa Kuniyoshi (1797-1861), and a rare preparatory drawing for a triptych that was never produced, The Hour of the Snake by Utagawa Toyokuni (1769-1825). We know this particular image was never made into a print, because the preparatory drawing is destroyed in the process of making a woodblock print.

Thursday, July 01, 2010

Guest Blogger: Holly Green

With any organization, whether "for profit" or (as in our case) "not," numerous players are necessary to make it work. Lauren Rogers Museum of Art is open to the public six days a week and is kept running on a daily basis by a staff of 10 full-time and five part- time employees. We are the faces you see most often, but there are two other groups who are tireless champions of this beloved institution. They deserve, at the very least, an official pat on the back via my little article today.

First, LRMA is governed by the Eastman Memorial Foundation Board of Directors, named for Lauren Eastman Rogers’ grandfather, Lauren Chase Eastman. The Board consists of 15 members who also serve on the Museum’s operating committees such as Collections, Programs and Exhibitions, Property, Personnel, and Finance. These committees, along with the full Board, meet quarterly in addition to participating in many of the Museum’s events throughout the year.

We have just wrapped up two busy weeks of committee and Board meetings, so it is quite fresh on my mind just what this dynamic group of individuals does for us. We are often commended on the involvement of our Board members and their belief in and commitment to the Museum. Their outstanding leadership has helped to bring LRMA to the level of excellence it is known for in the museum world today.

The second group, equally important in its own way, is the Museum’s Guild of Docents and Volunteers. Once again, LRMA is known for its strong volunteer program, a tradition that goes back several decades. We now have more than 100 volunteers and docents in our Guild, which is impressive for a small town. Museums in much larger cities have far fewer volunteers and docents.

Our docents give tours to huge numbers of school children each year, as well as collegiate art students, travelers passing through, and visiting dignitaries. Volunteers can be seen painting faces and stringing beads at our "front lawn" festivals and helping to shepherd children through the galleries. They often come on short notice when we call for assistance with a Museum mailing and bring a positive attitude with them, I might add. We are also blessed with some wonderful cooks in the Guild and are lucky enough to enjoy their culinary talents at many of our events. We are certainly grateful for all the gifts they possess and unselfishly share with us.

Both the Museum’s Board of Directors and its Guild of Docents & Volunteers give hundreds of hours of their time to the Museum each year. I fear we don’t say it often enough, so, from this Marketing Director and on behalf of the entire LRMA staff, thank you all for caring about "our" Museum. We truly appreciate all you do.

Holly Green is Director of Marketing for the Lauren Rogers Museum of Art.