American Impressionism

You have until May third to view the exhibit, "Transcending Vision: American Impressionism 1870-1940" at the Gilcrease Museum in Tulsa. You will want to pack a gourmet picnic hamper and your camera, so as best to enjoy Stuart Park down the hill from the Gilcrease, unless it is Sunday. The museum's Osage Restaurant offers a fine Sunday brunch buffet. The dining room overlooks the ravine and Stuart Park where redbuds and naturalized narcissus bloom in mid-March.

"Transcending Vision" is an extensive exhibit of art in Bank of America's corporate collection, augmented with some pieces from the Gilcrease collection. Unfortunately, most of the art is displayed in a warren of dark rooms painted a milk chocolate color. Works hung in the light and spacious central court of the Gilcrease are shown to better advantage. With over one hundred paintings by seventy-five artists, you may wish for a gallery brochure with artist names, artists' colony explanations, and examples for later reference. I found only a "gallery guide" with scavenger hunts and crossword puzzles for children, and nothing related to the exhibit for sale in the gift shop.

Two of my favorite American Impressionists, Edward Redfield and Birger Sandzen are represented in the exhibit. I'm hoping to track down a documentary film, "Art Colonies in America: The American Impressionist" the museum showed recently to increase my understanding of the resident artist colonies:

This film studies four colonies: Cos Cob and Old Lyme, Connecticut; Shinnecock, Long Island; and Laguna Beach, California. Each colony had a devoted core of resident artists working in distinctive geographic locations, connected by the rise and spread of Impressionist practices in America. Painting en plein air, these artists explored the landscape around them, whether domesticated or primitive, taking the emerging style of European Impressionism and making it uniquely American. Directed by Albert J. Kallis, 2004, 46 minutes. Documentary, not rated.

Birds and turtles were enjoying the sunshine last Sunday afternoon, as were a great many photographers. Tulsa's Audubon Society offers a birding guide to Stuart Park.

It would have been fun to sketch the photographers!

© 2009 Nancy L. Ruder

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