Sheldon Museum of Art

It wasn’t quite opening time yet. I wandered the grounds, walking in and out of the shade of the large trees, enjoying the greenery and plants so different than our own desert flora. Large metal artworks rose from the earth in various spots. Outdoor sculptures on the campus of University of Nebraska – Lincoln.

Eventually, it was time for the Sheldon Museum of Art to open their doors and I went in. I was in Lincoln attending a color woodblock printmaking workshop and wanted to see what art was on display at the museum.

The building itself it quite interesting and I posted some photos of it in a previous post when I had visited last year.

Several different exhibitions were up, some drawn from the permanent collection of the museum and some from other sources. I would like to share just a few of the pieces I found interesting and why.

You may not have guessed that this first painting is by Georgia O’Keefe. The main building is a massive shape, slightly leaning and not parallel to the edges of the work, with minimal detail of the architecture.

 

Georgia O’Keefe
New York, Night
1928-29
oil on canvas

 

In contrast, some of the other buildings and streets have more detailed areas to indicate windows, headlights and street lamps. I love how these are indicated with small geometric shapes.

 

Detail of New York, Night by Georgia O’Keefe.

 

I always enjoy seeing Jacob Lawrence’s artwork. This one leaves more evidence of brushwork behind than some of his other paintings. I like his use of primary colors here and the simple subject matter of floating paper boats down the street.

 

Jacob Lawrence
Paper Boats
1948
tempera on board

 

I am familiar with Wayne Thiebaud’s paintings and this piece is recognizable as his work with the flattened out perspective of a cityscape. What was surprising to me is that this is a woodcut. At first glance, I thought it was a watercolor. The colors are interesting and different from what I perceive as his usual palette. And I have no idea how he achieved this using the woodcut medium. It is a recent acquisition of the museum.

 

Wayne Thiebaud
Hill Street
1987
woodcut

 

The abstract geometry of this piece by Alice Trumbull Mason attracted me, as well as the high contrast of flat color and sharp edges. The large light area reads as one shape, but upon closer inspection, you can see that there are several different shapes within, all with the same value, that create that configuration.

 

Alice Trumbull Mason
Trinity #10
1969
oil on canvas

 

This next work has similar geometric shapes and high contrast, but is more of a study. I have been wanting to do another daily art project and thought these pieces presented an interesting concept. This may have been a daily project by the artist as each drawing is dated. However, there are two drawings here on the same date.

I like this idea of using the same forms, exploring different colorations and emphasizing different shapes by outlining or de-emphasizing by leaving the shape part of the negative space and, in doing so, creating different larger shapes.

Another thought to explore within this context is keeping some parameters consistent. In these pieces, the two column format, rectangular boxes and the lower left black rectangle are consistent throughout.

 

Mary Henry
September 3 & 20, 2001
Prismacolor on paper

I do not know how many of these the artist created. It would be easy to presume that there were some more between the dates of Sept. 3 and 20. But maybe not. It would be very interesting to see all of them and study the changes.

Switching to softer more organic shapes, this artwork by Norman Lewis reminds me of the sculptural body forms of Henry Moore.

 

Norman Lewis
Untitled (Blues Waves)
1969
oil on paper

And now for something completely different. One of the exhibitions at the museum was very large photos by Michael Eastman of buildings in Havana, Cuba that had once been grand places but now have been deteriorating and used as residences by the city’s inhabitants.

 

Michael Eastman
Yellow Room, Havana
2010
digital chromogenic color print

 

I feel a sense of melancholy around these pieces. The shape of the window and design details of the floor stand out in this photo. But what I find interesting is the makeshift boarding up of some of the window sections with different found objects. A juxtaposition with what I can imagine was it’s past grandeur.

Of course, there was lots more to see. If you are in Lincoln, it is well worth a visit and admission is free.

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