A few months into my docent training at Mia, I was assigned a piece to present to my classmates. On a Sunday afternoon with the promise of a cookie in the café, my five-year-old grandson Patric cheerfully accompanied me to help me practice my presentation. I had him sit on the floor in Gallery 311 in front of Salomon van Ruysdael’s 1656 River Landscape with a Ferry and asked him to tell me what he saw in this painting. To my surprise, he first noticed a buoy instead of the cows in the boat and the horses on the banks. As a docent of twenty years, I have always been amazed at children’s first impressions and insightful comments.
It has always been a delight for the guides and staff to see the gleeful groups of school children get off their busses and pour into the museum for their hour-long guided tours.
With an endowment from Roberta Mann Benson twenty-five years ago, the Friends organization was able to help fund busses to bring children to Mia. Since then, the Friends Transportation Fund and additional fundraising have grown to provide busses for over 8,000 students a year.
During the pandemic when the museum closed and canceled all events and guided tours, Mia’s staff adapted, and in addition to its many programs, now offers virtual school tours to students, first through eighth grade. Many children have already participated in these tours and demand is increasing. Friends also adapted, and with the help of museum staff, now presents the lecture series and Friends Only programs online. Art in Bloom 2021 is going virtual, too!
Nonetheless, everyone looks forward to the day when in-person school visits can resume, and the Friends Transportation Fund is ready to provide support when that happens. Nothing compares to standing or sitting in the galleries and seeing the real thing. Students will learn from the guides and guides will learn from the students about the wonders of art as they look together at Mia’s collection.
Join us as we welcome Marcela Guerrero, Assistant Curator at the Whitney Museum in New York, as she presents Latinx Art: An American Artistic Force. Dr. Guerrero was born and raised in Puerto Rico. She received her BA from the University of Puerto Rico and holds a Ph.D. in Art History from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
The exhibition, demonstrating the cross-cultural exchange that came to influence artists of the period, including Thomas Hart Benton, Philip Guston, and Jackson Pollock, makes a case for the idea of a pan-American art (bridging North and South American cultures).
Guerrero also worked previously as a Curatorial Fellow at the Hammer Museum in Los Angeles, where she assisted in a ground-breaking 2017 exhibition calledRadical Women: Latin American Art, 1960-1985. highlighting Latin American and Latinx art in Los Angeles and elsewhere in Southern California.
With an awareness of systemic inequalities, Guerrero has stated, “It is not so much a mark that I would like to leave in the art world. I would be happy to just push the art world, at least in the U.S., to be more of a reflection of the people who are right outside the steps of our institutions.”
Like the rest of us, Dr. Guerrero is not traveling in this time of pandemic. But what a wonderful opportunity we have to get a taste of the remarkable Latin American art she brings to us virtually on February 11th. You won’t want to miss it.
Reserve your tickets online, or by calling 612-870-3000.
Explore the less savory aspects of 17th century Rome with Mia’s Associate Curator of Prints and Drawings
Wednesday, February 17 11AM
We’re delighted to announce that Rachel McGarry, Mia’s Associate Curator of Prints and Drawings, will present a virtual talk on three recent acquisitions of Italian baroque paintings from the celebrated Barberini collection, which illuminate some of the less savory aspects of 17th century Rome.
A Minnesota native, Rachel came to Mia in 2006. She studied at Colgate University and earned a MA and Ph.D. from NYU. She worked as an exhibition assistant and a research assistant at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and has taught art history at Stony Brook University and the University of Minnesota. In 2014 she completed a catalog of Mia’s drawing collection as a companion to a related exhibition, Master Drawings from the Minneapolis Institute of Art, that has toured the United States.
Rachel is a knowledgeable and engaged lecturer, so make your reservation soon by emailing email@example.com
The February book choice is the timely Year of Wonders: A Novel of the Plague by Geraldine Brooks. To encourage such a book at this time of COVID 19, Oprah said, “Year of Wonders is a vividly imagined and strangely consoling tale of hope in the time of despair.”
According to howlongtoread.com, this will take you just five hours, 12 minutes to complete!
If you haven’t joined the Book Club, please consider doing so. Not only do we discuss the chosen book, but we also enjoy a Docent-led guide through the Mia artwork, which resonates with the books’ themes. To join, email firstname.lastname@example.org to reserve your spot. The discussions are conducted on Zoom and are limited to 18.
This event is a Friends Only Event. Join the Friends today and attend the event!
Joan T. Smith, October 8, 1923 – September 1, 2019
Our friend Joan T. Smith has given us another reason to be grateful. You may remember amention of her several months ago, not long after she passed. At that time, we received a bequest, which was applied to the Delacroix Fund. We have recently received another generous donation, this time from the Joan T. Smith Trust, which will also go to the Delacroix Fund.
Joan was a friend of mine, and I can see her so clearly, wearing one of her beautiful St. John knit ensembles, perfectly coiffed and made-up as always, following along on one of my tours, beaming with pleasure because she loved the museum and the art it contained so much and was always excited to learn more about it.
Hers was the spirit of a true philanthropist, and many local nonprofits benefitted from her beneficence during her lifetime and continue to do so. However, I do have one regret about her philanthropy, and that is that she did not tell us about these gifts while she was still alive.
I would have been so very pleased to share with her all of our paintings by Delacroix, focusing on the Friends gift to the museum, Still Life with Dahlias, Zinnias, Hollyhocks, and Plums, which brilliantly illustrates the artist’s theories of color—theories which influenced painters not only of his generation but generations to follow.
Joan was all about building strong foundations, and she would have been delighted about adding this important work of art to Mia’s permanent collection.
This month, we get to know this legacy Friend’s member better
Tell us a little about yourself.
I’ve lived in the Twin Cities my entire life except for time spent away at college. I left my position at our family business years ago and my husband retired from his financial services job this year. So we’re officially retired! We have two grown daughters and are the lucky grandparents of four adorable grandchildren who all live locally. We have many fun family weekends at our cabin in Wisconsin.
How long have you been a Friend?
I became a member in the early ‘80s when my mother was the Friends President (Phyllis Colwell 1983-1985). I was working full-time, so I volunteered every other Saturday at what was then called the Arts Resource and Information Center. This was, of course, before Google, and we had to have extensive paper files to answer all kinds of questions from visitors—everything from“I am traveling to Venice Italy next month, which museums should I visit?” to college students asking for information for an art history paper.
I took a break after I got married and had kids and in 2004 Linda Goldenberg (Friends President 2003-2005) asked me to return to become the assistant Treasurer for Art In Bloom. I reinstated my Friends membership and have been involved ever since including a stint as President from 2011-2013.
What’s the most memorable Friends Lecture or event you’ve attended?
Probably my first lecture as Friends President in 2011. It was the Keno Brothers from Antiques Roadshow. Leigh and Leslie Keno were real gentlemen but a bit of a handful. They took so long walking from the front entrance to the Pillsbury Auditorium (looking at art and chatting with museum visitors) that I joked I was going to have to put blinders on them to get them to the podium on time! Then just as I was heading to the podium, I realized that one of the brothers was missing. I sent a male guard into the men’s restroom to look for him but we could not find him. Eventually, he returned to the auditorium and the lecture was a huge success—very interesting and very entertaining.
How about a favorite artwork?
My favorite sculpture is the Veiled Lady by Raffaelo Monti. I think that it is absolutely beautiful and incredible that the soft fabric veil is carved stone. I also feel an affinity for this type of sculpture because my mother was a stone carver in her earlier life.
Finish the sentence: I love being a Friend because__________ .
Of the friends that I have made. The Friends have wonderful members who work hard for Mia.
What do you wish everyone knew about Mia?
I wish that everyone knew that Mia is for everyone. I do not have a background in art, but I always enjoy myself when walking through the museum finding new and interesting things.
How are you adjusting to our current circumstances?
I’m adjusting relatively well, but am really looking forward to the end of the pandemic. I’ve always loved to read, complete jigsaw puzzles, and watch Netflix, but I have had enough. Luckily, I play mahjong with two different groups, and luckily we’re still able to play together online, which has been a lifesaver for me. It is social and entertaining.
What is the goal of Art in Bloom in the midst of a pandemic? As always, the objective remains to support the mission of Mia, and the Friends:
” The Friends of the Institute is an organization of members dedicated to supporting, enhancing, and sustaining the collection, programs, and influence of the Minneapolis Institute of Art.”
But how do we best accomplish this in a year of uncertainty—a year when we are unable to gather in-person to experience the scents and signs of spring?
While all the details of Art in Bloom 2021 are not finalized we are eager to share a few of our plans.
As usual, you can expect to see beautiful Professional and Commercial Floral artist’s interpretations of selected Mia artwork, this year on the Mia website.
New this year will be Commercial Floral Artist arrangements outside their places of business, virtual workshops, and testimonials (like the Impact Stories Mia is sharing online). These testimonials will come from Friends members, Mia staff, and the public to share what they love about Art in Bloom. We expect to see 50,000 hits on our Art in Bloom landing page over the four-day virtual event.
As we offer this gift to our community we plan to secure sponsorships, private donations, and general financial contributions. Now more than ever Mia needs our support to sustain and maintain the beautiful collections, operate the building and support essential job functions within the museum. This is a time that calls for philanthropic giving which is vital to the health and well-being of both the Friends and Mia.
We look forward to providing you with the tools needed to make a contribution in the weeks ahead. Digital Art in Bloom will be a brand new experience that remains true to the spirit of the past. We hope you will join us for the adventure!
Barb Champ Art in Bloom Chairperson, 2021
Note: Art in Bloom (virtual edition) will be held, April 28 through May 2, 2021.
A Glimpse into an Art Adventure Guide’s Virtual Tour Experience
A virtual tour is a real-time tour experience facilitated by Mia Art Adventure Guides and Docents using Zoom or Google Meet. During these tours, the guide invites students to look closely at artworks on slides, then asks open-ended questions to help the students make connections and engage in conversations.
So far, 48 virtual tours have been given to schools, PreK through University, serving 983 students from September 2020 through January 21, 2021.
These virtual artful experiences have required the guides to drastically pivot from their normal tour routines, but many have said that they have been pleased with how the students have adapted to these new tour circumstances.
For example, Art Adventure Guide Barb Mikelson has given three virtual tours. The first tour was for a group of five home-schooled children, and the other two tours were for in-person classrooms. All three were on the “Amazing Animals in Art” theme. Barb said that they have all gone well and have been well received, even though a virtual tour is nothing like being in the museum and seeing the real art. Barb also added, “One advantage to giving a virtual tour is the ability to show details and close-up views of the art, something that is not easily possible in the museum. It is also easy to add in slides of complementary images to enhance the tour.”
Under normal circumstances, in-person school tours at Mia would be ramping up at this time of year, with spring right around the corner. But for now, while we are still in the midst of a pandemic, the creative and innovative virtual tours (which are also ramping up!) are a wonderful way to switch gears while continuing to bring the schools “into” the museum and view many of the treasures that Mia holds.
A look back at a dynamo WWII era Friends President
Dorothy Bridgeman Atkinson Rood was born in St. Paul in 1890. Her distinguished father was the president of Hamline University, and she herself, a graduate of Wellesley College in Wellesley, Massachusetts. Typical of the times, she married young at age 21, to Frederick Atkinson, 26 years her elder and a milling company executive. Together they raised three children, Mary, Frederick, and William. The family lived in a 40 room mansion on five acres atop Lowry Hill, overlooking downtown Minneapolis. This house, built between 1905 and 1907, was formerly known as the Dunwoody Mansion.
Demolition of the property occurred in 1967.
While raising her family and married to Mr. Atkinson, Dorothy held prominent positions within the community. At one point, she was a delegate at a conference of University Women held in Poland. Unknowingly, she broke the currency law and found herself imprisoned in Poland. Secretary of State Cordell Hull, fortunately, intervened on her behalf. But previous to his assistance, she refused jailhouse food for two days, surviving on chocolate bars she had carried with her into the prison.
Her passion for righteous causes continued through most of the 1930s when she became president of the Minnesota Birth Control League that later became known as Planned Parenthoodin December of 1940. Dorothy’s daughter, Mary, described her mother as “strong, outspoken, devoted to the birth control movement. She tended to speak her mind and worked to make contraception available to all mothers who desire and need it.”
Additional interests included the American Association of University Women, where she served as a national officer, president of the Minneapolis Public Library, Board of Trustees of Hamline University, and various boards representing the Minnesota Historical Society, Walker Art Center, and the Minneapolis Institute of Arts. When Dorothy retired from the library board, a Minneapolis Tribune editorial stated, “She will carry into retirement the gratitude of the people of this entire area for her contributions of time, effort, and money to this important institution.”
Continuing with her commitment to the Minneapolis Institute of Arts, Dorothy became president of Friends from 1943-1945. These were wartime years, but with Dorothy’s enthusiasm and guidance, Friends remained very relevant.
In 1943 membership stability was imperative even during difficult times. Friends members were encouraged to bring a guest to activities but not the same guest. Coffee was rationed at these gatherings due to the war.
January and February of 1944 brought large crowds from 43 states and 6 foreign countries to visit theThorne Collectionof 37 miniature rooms. Friends of the Institute sponsored this exhibition. The museum even extended its hours to accommodate the crowds. Dorothy exclaimed, “Within these walls, many have found relaxation and coveted diversion.” During those wintry days, Friends were encouraged to once again invite a non-Friend member to tea in the Fireplace Room with the fireplace glowing. This also marked the beginning of the much enjoyed and long-standing Friends lecture series.
By 1945, Friends had grown from its previous 455 members to 514 members. During this time, the by-laws were adjusted to “allow unmarried daughters of museum members to become Friends.” Dorothy was also instrumental in establishing the Louise Phelps Fund, establishing a presence of fresh flowers in the main gallery for all to enjoy.
After Dorothy finished her term as Friends president, she proceeded to become the first president and co-founder of Lowry Hill Homeowner’s Association in 1946. Post wartime found many large homes converted to rooming houses and people fleeing to the suburbs for more affordable housing. Dorothy felt it was imperative to preserve the historic character of the neighborhood with the development of the Association. She and her then-husband sculptor John Rood (Frederik Atkinson had died in 1940) designed a contemporary home at 1650 Dupont Avenue that also housed John’s art studio, becoming the center of many community cultural events for years.
In 1965, Dorothy died unexpectedly from a tragic automobile accident in Tobago, West Indies, where she and her husband had a home. John lived until 1974. The Dorothy Atkinson and John Rood collection of papers are currently housed at Syracuse University. Much of John’s art pieces may be found in Minnesota. One wonderful example is located at St. Mark’s Episcopal Church entryway which displays eight carved figures and 33 prominent carved stones donated by Dorothy and John in 1952, honoring her first husband, Frederick.
Dorothy touched many during her many endeavors. Her obituary read, “She encouraged the arts and higher education. She promoted gracious living. She contributed of her means to many enterprises, but her main contribution was herself.”
Friends History Publication Committee Pamela Friedland Linda Goldenberg Mary Merrick Suzanne Payne Connie Sommers
A Friend and Art Adventure Guide shares a touching example of Mia’s kid-friendly artworks
The rock garden is always a hit with the kids on my Art Adventure tours. When we enter the space, I invite them to sit on the mosaic stone floor and touch it. The floor is part of the artwork and is a rare opportunity for the children to touch a piece of art at Mia.
Everywhere else, we (try!) to stay at least one foot away from the art, but here, in this small space, we can touch the smooth, rounded stones and trace the mosaic shapes, which resemble lily pads in a pond. It’s kind of a thrill and a nice break for them after so much keeping-hands-to-themselves.
I ask them to imagine they’re as small as a mouse and then explore the garden. The children find amazing pathways and see wonderfully different things in these irregularly shaped rocks. And in this garden, that is the intent. Each rock and plant is placed carefully, so their shapes are distinct against the plain, white wall. In this cozy space, the imagination is inspired, and one can contemplate the vastness and wildness of nature.
We then talk about the people who would own such a garden, the literati, or Chinese scholar-officials, about how hard they studied in school, and the things they were interested in—reading, writing, painting, calligraphy, and poetry. This garden and the study next to it give us a glimpse of these learned people’s lives from so long ago. We can imagine how they would spend their day.
In Art Adventure, the children first see the art images in their classroom and then get to come to Mia and see the real art. They’re amazed and excited to be in the museum, where the art lives, for all to enjoy. Their sense of wonder is clear in their faces and the questions they ask throughout their tour. I am honored to be a part of the beauty, inspiration, and wonder of this museum and the all-important mission to share it with children.