I can’t believe that I’m writing a review of the Akron Art Museum, but have you been there lately?
The renovation is finished and it is amazing how great it looks and how easy it is to access this very REAL museum right in the heart of Akron, Ohio.
Just recently it has come home to me how helpful and informative this relatively small museum has been in my life.
We went to the Baltimore Art Museum for a couple of hours whilst waiting for Blythe’s plane to come in the week before last. They had an interesting perspective on Edgar Allan Poe- mostly of the illustrations done by Manet and a drawing by Henri Matisse of Poe that captures the brooding melancholy the author and poet manifested. You can see much of it online here.
(not quite Manet- these are MY renderings of the Raven on an envelope I had in my purse!)
But I was so happy to see my old friend, The Thinker, in his largest form displayed there. I was first introduced to Auguste Rodin’s sculpture through the deep and intellectual show- “Dobey Gillis” in the early ’60’s. If you are too young to remember, each show would begin with the troubled Dobey sitting in front of this statue and contemplating the woes of his teenaged life. ( It was really a kind of goofy show- not deep or intellectual- I just realized that MOST of you reading will have never seen this show and not get the tongue in cheek humor I was attempting.) Over the years, I discovered that this statue was not a stage dressing but an actual work of art- and I have always been attracted to the story behind the statue.
The Akron Art Museum, ( or is it called institute?) had a wonderful show of Rodin’s work several years ago and we spent an afternoon there looking and reading and discovering much about this artist and his work and innovations to the art world. Originally it was commissioned as a piece of a larger work by the Museum of Decorative Arts in Paris. Based on the characters of the Divine Comedy by Dante, the Thinker was originally entitled,” The Poet”, and was meant to represent Dante himself. There are three sizes of this bronze sculpture, small, original size and monumental- the molds were made by Rodin and there are quite a few pieces that were cast by him and his family. I learned all this and soaked in a lot of atmosphere in Akron, so when I saw “him” in Baltimore, it was with a feeling of meeting an old friend.
I just sat and thought with him at first,
and then I played around a little- since I couldn’t look over his shoulder, I just looked through his folded arm.
Anyway- last week when I was in Columbus, we went to the Franklin Conservatory- read about it here. And there I ran into the art of
Dale Chihuly, premier glass artist- displayed throughout the gardens and displays throughout the gardens. I again felt like I was encountering an old friend, because I had seen his work first in Akron.
So I just wanted to give some long overdue credit to Akron- not often perceived as a city of culture- for offering some very interesting and in depth programs on art and artists over the years. If you get a chance- come to Akron and take a look for yourself.
( I bet you thought all I did was bake and babysit, didn’t you?)