Boca Raton Museum of Art
501 Plaza Real, Boca Raton, FL 33432
In Mizner Park
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Wednesday, October 7, 2009
The Obamas get Abstract in the White House

If you were one of the political junkies who clamored to know what was on President Obama's summer reading list (or even someone who yawned at Obama's relatively "safe" choices) you might be interested to learn about the aesthetic proclivities of the Commander-in-Chief and the First Lady.

The Obamas - like every first family - were given the opportunity to do some redecorating in the private chambers of the White House. This includes the authority to choose new works of art to display in quarters that are off-limits to the general public, such as the living areas and offices.  

Being in-control of the highest office of the land comes with some interesting perks; the Obamas have access to a tantalizing range of deeply important works of art. According to the Huffington Post, "the Obamas have borrowed dozens of works from various Washington museums and galleries, being sure to use only items that weren't already on display."

What's on Obama's "art list"? The Huffington piece says that the Obamas' selections include far more modern and abstract pieces than seen in previous administrations, as well as pieces by contemporary African American and Native American artists. These replace the traditional landscapes and portraits that have dominated the White House walls for generations.

You can find a slideshow of some of their choices here and even vote on your favorite piece. Do you agree with New York art dealer Richard Feigen who deemed the Obamas' list "highly sophisticated"? Or do you think they got it all wrong?


Posted by: Tricia Woolfenden @ 3:20:37 pm  Comments (0)
Tuesday, October 6, 2009
Oh, the places docents go!

(L-R) Museum Educator Annette Seitles and docent-trainees Dr. Carol Weissman and Leslye Gellert look on while Registrar Martin Hanahan shows them our flat file cabinets.

Docent-trainees Linda Schottland, Dr. Carol Weiessman, Leslye Gellert, and Museum Educator Annette Seitles view a Divination Tray from Africa in our art storage room.


Above are photographs of a recent tour that Museum Registrar, Martin Hanahan, gave to our new docent-trainees.  Becoming a docent allows one to see behind-the-scenes and day-to-day activities within the museum. Boca Raton Museum of Art staff are very excited about the 2009 docent class. Currently, the docent-candidates are undergoing rigorous training, learning the museum's collections.

To become a docent, one must become a member of the Museum. Docents and members receive the same perks, such as 10% off in the Museum Store, free entry to movies and lectures, the membership magazine, and invitations to openings throughout the year. Besides becoming a member, the only prerequisite is a love of art. Of course, background in the fine arts, art history, teaching, or public speaking can be beneficial as well. 

Docent candidates must complete six months of training before they may give tours to the public. Claire Clum, Curator of Education, and Annette Seitles, Museum Educator, teach a course comparable to college-level seminar in order to adequately educate the docents.  They talk about the BRMoA collection specifically and also situate the works within broader movements and styles.  They teach how to utilize the Socratic method, the correct vocabulary when speaking about visual art, age-appropriate topics, and so on. This period of study and practice builds a knowledgeable staff of docent-trainees, ready to ameliorate our guests' experience. 

While the docents are trained in every aspect of our collection, they have the freedom to construct their own tours of the museum, based around a theme of their choosing.  The themes can be anything, such as formal elements like the color red, to historical periods like the Abstract Expressionist movement, to theory, like Poststructuralism.  If you see a docent in the halls who is not giving a tour, feel free to approach them for an interesting conversation on any number of topics. 

If you are interested in becoming a docent, you can contact the Museum Educator Claire Clum. If you have the available time, becoming a docent can add a new dimension to your understanding and outlook of the world. 


Posted by: Kelli Bodle @ 3:39:17 pm  Comments (0)
Thursday, October 1, 2009
NAJP Summit Addendum

As a postscript to the entry on the National Arts Journalism Summit, I would like to offer you the opportunity to watch it all streaming LIVE via our website. You can tune in Friday, October 2, from 9:00 AM to 1:00 PM PDT (Noon to 4:00 PM EST) to see the ten projects from across that nation that will be presented as new, sustainable models for arts journalism. 



Note: If you experience technical difficulties using the above posted link, you may also try this link or this


Posted by: Kelli Bodle @ 2:51:24 pm  Comments (0)
A classic stand-off - Elvis vs. The Beatles

Last week, Erica Landau, a music blogger for Broward-Palm Beach New Times posed a familiar, but hefty, question to her readers: Elvis or Beatles? As Landau said, it's a decades-old argument and both sides give compelling arguments.

Why are we talking about this on a visual arts blog? Well, the impetus for Landau's good-natured rabble-rousing was two upcoming photography exhibitions at Palm Beach County cultural institutions - Elvis at 21 at the Boca Raton Museum of Art and Give Peace a Chance: John Lennon and Yoko Ono's Bed-In for Peace at Old School Square Cultural Art Center in Delray Beach.   

Landau used the two exhibitions - which both include important and iconic images of the two biggest icons in rock history - to ask her readers "who was the most popular artist," the most influential, etc. If the comments are any indication, the readers recognize the cultural significance of photographer Alfred Wertheimer (American, 1929- ), but music-wise, they tended to side with the Fab Four above the King.

Record sales could be considered an objective signifier of "importance," but these don't offer a clear-cut winner, as the numbers are subject to some limitations, including any number of bias and statistical flaws. For the sake of argument, both The Beatles and Elvis are considered in the top three best-selling artists of all time (Michael Jackson is No. 3) with claimed worldwide sales of one billion units. 

An examination of "who was more influential" is entirely subjective. Ask any well-versed music nerd to name the most influential musician of all time and they will probably be able to construct a convincing case for his or her own choice.

I say, why choose? The exhibitions don't need to compete, Give Peace a Chance starts next week and concludes later this month and Elvis at 21 opens April 20, 2010, leaving plenty of time to see both. Upload some Beatles AND Elvis tunes to your iPod - or, break out those records, if you want to do it right - and make time to see both exhibitions.

But, simply for the sake of snark, one could say that this is the first time that The Beatles have arrived on the scene before Elvis.   

ALFRED WERTHEIMER (American, 1929-), Going Home, digital pigment print on watercolor paper by master printer David Adamson, 37 x 42 inches. All rights, including copyrights, are the sole property of Al Wertheimer/Govinda Gallery. Elvis at 21, an exhibition developed by the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service and Govinda Gallery, is sponsored nationally by The History Channel.

Posted by: Tricia Woolfenden @ 11:38:18 am  Comments (0)
Thursday, September 24, 2009
ArtPrize in Grand Rapids, Mich. turns city upside-down

After months of anticipation and preparation, ArtPrize, a citywide art competition in Grand Rapids, Mich., opened its polls on Sept. 23. The colossal undertaking includes 1,262 pieces of art displayed in 159 venues around the city, including restaurants, storefronts, vacant warehouses, parking lots, pedestrian bridges and parks.  

Unlike a juried art competition, ArtPrize - a new endeavor for the city - is entirely democratic. Entry was open to all, provided an artist could secure a Grand Rapids venue, and the winners (who receive generous cash awards) will be chosen by popular crowd vote. And, yeah, ArtPrize has drawn plenty of comparisons to American Idol.

The competition drew entries from around the world, with the heaviest concentration naturally coming from Michigan. I've been casually monitoring the contest's progression since its announcement early this spring and a cursory glance reveals that quite a few Florida residents are participating in the competition, including Liesa Robarge of Big Pine Key, Robert Lebron of Viera and Eric Elliot of Naples, among others.

Full disclosure: I first heard about ArtPrize because I lived in Grand Rapids for six years before moving to South Florida this past January. The project interests me, in part, because it has utterly transformed and overtaken my former hometown, but primarily because it has started a massive conversation about art.

It's also worth noting - in light of Kelli Bodle's recent Perspectives entry about the decline in mainstream and traditional resources for arts journalism - that ArtPrize and art have consistently made headlines in West Michigan in the months leading up to the implementation of this project. Does this coverage focus more on the "hype," than scholarly critique? Sure. But how else would a (mostly) positive story about the state-of-the-arts get such press coverage?

Without seeing the execution of ArtPrize in person, it's difficult, if not impossible, to formulate a fair and accurate judgment of the success of the event or of the overall quality of the entries. Regardless, one can certainly contemplate the larger, more universal questions raised by the project, such as: 

What qualifies someone to be an artist? What constitutes art?

Is the general public capable of choosing "the best" entry from the hundreds of options?

Does such a contest - in which voters can cast votes via Twitter and the like - cheapen art, or does it serve to heighten the importance of art in everyday life?

I can see why the event has attracted some naysayers, but it's hard to look down on something that has the power to motivate lots of people to create, look at, experience, talk about and think about art. Granted, the quality of the individual entries might be all over the place, but would people's time be better spent at home, with the latest episode of Kourtney & Khloe Take Miami instead of exploring a city and viewing lots of art?    

What are your thoughts on an open art competition of this nature? Please feel free to leave comments below. We're especially curious to hear what artists have to say about ArtPrize and the notion of voting for the "best" piece.

More information:

Watch a video of last minute preparations for ArtPrize

An easily digested, firsthand synopsis of the event

Scenes from ArtPrize in Grand Rapids, Mich. Both images belong to Plounsbury. Use of these photographs does not, in any way, constitute an endoresment by the artist, who retains full rights of these images.

Posted by: Tricia Woolfenden @ 2:15:25 pm  Comments (8)
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What is a CVV Code?

CVV2 is a security measure for credit cards. Since a CVV2 number is listed on your credit card, but is not stored anywhere, the only way to know the correct CVV2 number for your credit card is to physically have possession of the card itself. All VISA, Discover, MasterCard and American Express cards made in America in the past 5 years or so have a CVV2 number. However Diners Club does not use a security code.

How to find your CVV2 number:
On a VISA, Discover or MasterCard, please turn your card over and look in the signature strip. You will find (either the entire 16-digit string of your card number, OR just the last 4 digits), followed by a space, followed by a 3-digit number. That 3-digit number is your CVV2 number.(See below)

VISA, Discover & MasterCard

On American Express Cards, the CVV2 number is a 4-digit number that appears above the end of your card number. (See below)