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Art Stop -

Art Stop

As the Cooper Gallery prepares to open, we created this place/channel for comments, musings, and sightings on art moments, exhibitions, events, and installations. We also feature conversations on gallery and museum practice/s, venues and facilities with our friends, partners, colleagues, neighbors, artists, and guest bloggers. Enjoy!

Posing Beauty in African American Culture

APRIL 26, 2014 – JULY 27, 2014 –

NewMarket Gallery @ Virginia Museum of Fine Arts (VMFA)
200 N. Boulevard / Richmond, VA 23220-4007
Curated by Deborah Willis, Chair of Photography and Imaging Department NYU
Organized at VMFA by Dr. Sarah Eckhardt, Assistant Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art, NewMarket Gallery
Your installation of Deb’s “Posing Beauty” is stunning! This is a fully considered and luscious presentation – from first eyes on Mickalene Thomas’s iconic  ”Sista Sista Blue” upon entering the gallery thru to the Beauty Contest Video viewing chamber at the end. The three exhibition phases of: “Constructing a Pose;” “Body and Image;” and “Modeling Beauty and Beauty Contests” were given ample space to allow these distinctive explorations to sink deeply into their distinctive features and celebrations of photographers and historical moments. I especially enjoyed the placements of Charles “Teenie” Harris’ “Mary Louise Harris on Mulford St.” within the first sets of women shining in their beauty and the juxtaposition of “Young Man in Plaid, New York City” by Scales with Harsley’s “John Lee Hooker!” Both fierce in their stance and gaze! A thoughtful and wonderful combination.  So, I don’t know how precise Deb’s specifications were for the installation but the realization was all I had hoped for since first hearing Deb’s presentations on her project at Harvard during a residency in 2011. Thank you for your and your colleagues careful and joyful installation. It was delightfully accented by the selections from your permanent collection on “Identity Shifts.”
Congratulations, Sarah. It was wonderful to hear of the success of the Jazz Cafe Series on Thursday nights in featuring the “Posing Beauty” exhibition as part of the evening. I hear you host full crowds on those Thursday nights!
I hope to connect further, as the museum’s new wing and fabulous 21st C. Galleries were stunning and spacious. Perhaps we may correspond on your processes during the renovation! The current explored vision into Ryan McGinness’ Studio provoked a few new ideas for me for the inaugural installation we are engaged with right now – where we are imagining a glimpse into a photographer’s studio!  Just beautiful. Your outdoor spaces seemed to echo the glorious Beyerler Foundation in Switzerland! You are indeed blessed here with the manifested vision of the late Rick Mather.
Finally I enjoyed a moment at the curious and significant Confederate Chapel signaling the history of the site.
Thank you for your hospitality via the many volunteers and staff at the museum. They were welcoming and full of insights and important information. Many thanks for this delightful “art stop” on my long road trip passing through Richmond, VA.
Vera Ingrid Grant—Director of The Cooper Gallery