Wine, Wonder, Slavery & Art

November 19, 2009 at 2:46 pm Leave a comment

STAR Supports Taubman Museum’s “Wine and Wonder” program, THURSDAY, DECEMBER 3RD at 5:30 PM

 By Bruce Bryan

Each Thursday night at 5:30, those interested gather at Norah’s Café in the lobby of the Taubman Museum of Art in Downtown Roanoke to discuss piece of art in the collection of the museum.  Believe it or not, this is a FREE event.  That’s right…the education, the admission, the interesting discussion and even a typical visit to see the actual work in person is all included.  If you want to snack on a delicious treat or taste a wonderful glass of wine you can certainly do so.

 The twist this time is that in December B. Scott Crawford, Director of Education – Taubman Museum of Art, will be examining pieces that help us understand diversity, acceptance and openness to a wide range of cultures.  Specifically on Thursday Night December 3rd, we’ll be looking at a piece from the mid forties called “The Cotton Pickers”.  It will be fascinating and you’ll really enjoy the exchange.

 Wine and Wonder has been going on since last winter and it is one of the true hidden gems in Roanoke.  I’ve been to over a dozen of the evenings and I have ALWAYS learned a lot and been glad I went.  Scott does a wonderful job making the pieces approachable and bringing information to people with a wide range of experiences and exposure to art.  He never makes me feel stupid for my lack of knowledge and he always presents a welcome that is warm and genuine.

 If you’ve been before, make it a point to kick off the December STAR diversity series on Thursday Night the 3rd.  If you’ve never been, I promise your brain cells will be exercised and you’ll appreciate one of the treasures inside one of Roanoke’s best treasures.

 Plan to join us!

Courtesy of B. Scott Crawford, Director of Education

Taubman Museum of Art

 About the Chosen Painting:

The Cotton Pickers

Thomas Hart Benton

Ca. 1943

In The Cotton Pickers, Thomas Hart Benton reacts to and against modern artistic movements including Cubism and Futurism as he embraces and idealizes an agrarian setting.  In the painting Benton depicts what could be interpreted as an African-American family unit, including older son, younger son, mother, father, and possibly a grandmother or grandfather, working in a cotton field in the south.  The work is contemporary to the period, thus suggesting the family is a group of sharecroppers, possibly tenant farmers.  From a compositional perspective, the work beautifully captures many of Benton’s defining characteristics, including color and a neo-mannerist form.  The work also reflects Benton’s regional approach to his subject matter.  Typical of Benton the work is agrarian in nature and set in the South.  The depiction of the primary worker in the foreground, with no tension in his face, no sweat on his brow, suggests an idealized setting, reinforcing a notion that agrarian life is superior to urban, modern life.  Warm, soft colors reinforce this almost utopian vision.

 However, the work serves as a wonderful launch pad to discuss race relations in the South, and the US, on the eve of the Civil Rights Movement that would begin a decade or so after the painting was completed.  While idealized in nature, with no social commentary on the plight of the sharecropper being suggested directly, the tension underlying this tranquil scene cannot go unnoticed.  Set within an historical context, Jim Crow, the Great Migration, and economic disparity lay just beneath the surface of this tranquil scene.

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Entry filed under: Uncategorized.

OPEN DOOR SERIES begins this Thursday, Nov. 12 at The Shenandoah Club STAR High School Writing Contest on the subject of inclusion, diversity and difference.

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STAR CALENDAR

MAY - Local Colors... JUNE - Juneteenth... JULY - On The Edge (Floyd, VA)... AUG - Steppin' Out (Blacksburg, VA)... SEPT - Henry Street Festival, Pride Parade... OCT - Bridgewalk, Latino Festival... NOV -Open Doors Series.... DEC - Taubman Museum/Wine and Wonder... JAN - Writer's Series... FEB - Harrison Museum - Black History Month... MAR -Interfaith Event... APR/MAY - Down by Downtown STAR Festival

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