Valentine’s Day, and what do you do? Well, if you are my husband and me, you go to the Tour Of Love at the Allentown Art Museum in Allentown, PA.
You may remember a couple of weeks ago we visited the museum to see the recently restored and reattributed Rembrandt painting, but today we were going to focus on the theme of Valentine’s Day with an art scavenger hunt along the lines of the Mystery at the Museum we attended here back in October.
In that event the artwork came alive via a character or theme in each artwork who stepped out on to the museum floor in human form. Today, the artworks spoke for themselves through their depictions of love. Let’s get going and I’ll show you what we saw.
We arrived in Allentown on a cold day. There is still a lot of snow on the ground. I’ve shown you a view of the arts park across the street. Not a place anyone is going right now!
We entered and checked in for our timed ticket. Museum volunteers were there to greet us, and we learned we had won a prize in the raffle. We received our prize bag but I decided not to open it until after we had done our tour, so we checked it, and we picked up info that would help us on the Love Tour. Excuse the crumpled look of this paper! I did refer to it often and it suffered a bit.
Between this info sheet, a map, and an activity sheet, we had what we needed to find the artworks. Even more helpful, they were marked with a heart on the wall next to them. I’ll show you what we found and what we thought.
I’m not a big fan of Keith Haring but I always like seeing this sculpture. It reminds me that sometimes love is heavy lifting, but keep a good attitude and you will find a way. Or, that love can fall on you and you can catch it, just be ready. Or, bend your knees, flex, and toss your heart into the world to add your little bit of love to it. There are a lot of meanings to this image and that is why it is always illuminating to see it – I think it changes each time with every new outlook I can find in it.
Right next to it was this picture below, Chicken Coop, by Greg Weaver. It wasn’t part of the love tour but both my husband and I were really struck by it. I’m not that interested in chickens, or farms, or sometimes even scenery, but this scene is lively and fresh and really drew me in. I love the interplay of the colors. And look at the thickly-applied paint. You know, I might not have noticed it in such detail if we had not stopped for the adjacent piece. Maybe a little bit of love spilling over?
Next up, Pilgrim’s Grace, by Henry Mosler. This picture illustrates the love within a family. I do believe there are a lot of emotions among the various members of this family, and some of them look even a bit despairing, but they are here together and that is something, isn’t it? I will admit I was most taken with the cat sitting over there on the stairs. That detail tied it to today for me – a cat could be found looking just like that in any home from today, and it reminded me that people feel and think much now as they did then, no matter what the clothing or setting changes.
These next portraits depict a married couple, a very well-off pair. It’s easy to get caught up in the clothing and accessories again here – I think these outfits are ridiculous and the ruffs in particular make my neck itch to look at them – but…the people are individuals with strong personalities that shine through, past the fashion distractions. The portraits make me wonder what their voices sounded like, or if they laughed at jokes with a giggle or a belly laugh, or if they liked to travel or were happier at home. That is the magic of portraits. A little window to a past person, long gone, maybe, but here and alive in front of me.
I showed you this picture in my previous post – it’s Mother and Child by Thomas Hendricksz Keyser. The title tells you all you need to know – this image depicts the love between the two. I like this picture very much. The pose is one that has been repeated in innumerable baby/mother portraits, isn’t it? And it makes the scene feel fresh and familiar.
I do think the baby’s outfit is wildly impractical, but then, this is a special occasion, isn’t it? I also like the details of the baby’s cradle and the wicker basket.
I’ve walked by the next picture in the past, giving it a quick glance, but today, I focused on it, and it came to life for me. It’s called Mary and the Studio, by Sidney Edward Dickinson, and it depicts young love – the protagonists being the artist depicting himself here, and the sitter, Mary, first his subject and muse, and then later the woman he would marry. What a romantic story.
I also noticed the portrait of the older couple in the back. I thought of how that couple was once a pair of young people in love, too. My husband then read the information card on the wall and told me the older couple were the parents of the artist. So there are two generations of love here, or so I choose to believe. I know I will be visiting this painting again, now that I have an insight into it beyond its deatiled depiction of an artist’s studio of the 1920’s.
These two paintings are a diptych by Kay WalkingStick, called Blame it on the Mountains III. I can’t say the image appeals to me at all, but I was interested in its story – it commemorates love that was later broken, showing a location where the artist shared a romantic getaway in a relationship that later failed.
What I found most interesting is that this artist often pairs paintings that show different viewpoints or aspects treating the same memory, feeling, incident, or idea. I found that concept interesting and it gave me something to think over for later.
The last work on the art tour was this one, Dona Negra, by Rigo Peralta. It depicts his beloved grandmother, illustrating the love of family and friends. This painting is very detailed – my photo does not do it justice – and you feel this lady’s big personality and presence from across the room. I would have liked to meet her.
We finished up the day by visiting the Rembrandt portrait again and then we went upstairs to see again the New Century, New Woman exhibit of dresses from the era 1890-1920. I love this exhibit and we spent quite a bit of time examining the dresses. Again, I am amazed at the workmanship and style this clothing has. (If you want to see photos, look here at the post from my previous visit – please. You will really enjoy these dresses!).
On our way out, we talked with Museum staff and then I opened my raffle prize. I was thrilled. This glass heart paperweight! I love this iridescent green color. I’ve brought it home and set it on my desk; I am looking at it right now.
That wraps up our visit. I am appreciative of all the work the Museum puts into these events. I enjoy them, I learn, and I relax and escape into many different worlds in just one afternoon’s time. Thank you, Allentown Art Museum! We will be back soon.