110 W. New York Ave.
DeLand, FL 32720
By Gary Monroe
posted Dec 13, 2012 - 12:25:15pm
DeLand’s cultural assets are widely acknowledged, but little is said about our town’s visual arts, especially about the re-emergence of the Museum of Florida Art.
With the exhibition of world-renowned Outsider artist Purvis Young concluding in November, I wondered what the museum would do next. I wasn’t disappointed when I learned that an exhibition of works by Duane Hanson would follow.
A sculptor of international repute, Hanson stands alone. According to Saatchi Gallery in London, which represents the artist’s estate, his creations are “startlingly lifelike sculptures of middle America accomplished through a complex process of casting from live models, recreated in resin polyester and fiberglass.”
People who fly out of Orlando International Airport may have glanced at a typical poorly attired theme-park visitor slouched on the floor; his head rests on an arm that’s propped on his shoulder bag, which supports his dozing body. That exhausted tourist, oblivious to the tumult by the main terminal security checkpoint, is Duane Hanson’s sculpture The Traveler.
If you’ve noticed The Traveler, you might concur with the museum’s press release describing it as, like all of Hanson’s sculptures, “shocking, poignant and seductive.”
Dr. George Bolge, our DeLand museum’s director, is a consummate arts administrator. In fact, he has built two of South Florida’s leading museums. I was surprised and delighted when he agreed to come to DeLand to help bring our art museum to the next level by building a world-class collection, enhancing programming, and involving the public with cutting-edge exhibitions. Given his track record, it’s little wonder Dr. Bolge would have the clout to deliver exceptional exhibitions, the kind you’d expect in major metropolitan cities.
Dr. Bolge is really turning our local museum into one our community deserves. He has nurtured a fine support staff. Robert Sindelir’s creative consult, Pam Coffman’s educational outreach, and Judy Thompson’s board involvement are among the reasons this museum will find its place at the top of people’s lists of Florida art venues of note.
Still, it takes more to attain the museum’s high goals. You, the local patron, are the other half of the equation that will make our museum what it could be under Dr. Bolge’s leadership. So, attend an exhibition and an artist’s lecture to fulfill the community-inspired museum’s mandate of excellence.
Art doesn’t speak for itself; it needs you to be its voice through your advocacy. To whet your appetite, I’ll quote Dr. Bolge about the Duane Hanson exhibition: “The best known and arguably the greatest realist sculptor of the 20th century, Hanson, for more than 30 years, created works unparalleled in their power to hold our attention, fool our eyes, confound our sense of perception, and shake our sensibilities.”
This exhibition, running concurrently with another original show, “Florida Masters I,” continues through April 7.
— Gary Monroe, of DeLand, is a professor of art at Daytona State College. He’s written numerous books, including The Highwaymen: Florida’s African American Landscape Painters and Florida’s American Heritage River: Images From the St. Johns Region.
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