Contact Us

Use the form on the right to contact us.

You can edit the text in this area, and change where the contact form on the right submits to, by entering edit mode using the modes on the bottom right. 

West and West Hill Streets
Nassau, N.P.
The Bahamas

(242) 328-5800

Bahamian art: Presenting. Uniting. Educating.

Mixed Media Blog

Filtering by Tag: Highlights

Art of the Month: Shanty Town Tea Service


On my way to work, I noticed that a familiar town had been demolished. Boards and other forms of structure that once housed a community lay broken on the ground.

I’ve always known that the town enclosed by trees and bushes was there, but when it was exposed, the size and difference of the town was a shock. I was looking at another way of living, another standard of living; how certain groups of people lived.

July 2nd, 2014, Tracy-Ann Perpall, also known as TAP, released a documentary on YouTube called Bwapen: Village Documentary. This documentary gave insight on the burning of a ‘shanty town’ village off of Joe Farrington Road and the Haitian-Bahamian situation in the Bahamas. Perpall’s investigation into this tragedy unearthed tensions between Bahamian landowners and ‘shanty town’ residents, the true conditions of said ‘shanty towns’, and ended by questioning the public. “Does real change occur with dismantling Bwapen, or is it just a band-aid attempting to cover the symptoms of underlying problem” – Tracy Ann Perpall.

Over the past year and a half, the government has been working to effectively address and act upon the issue of growing shantytowns within New Providence. Over the past year and a half, the island has experienced a mass exposure of those towns, several fires of buildings in the towns, and demolition and plans of demolition for some areas. These issues of immigration and the living standards of some immigrants and poor Bahamians in the Bahamas have not popped up over night.

In 2011, Jeffrey Meris, a graduate of the College of the Bahamas and a Popop Junior Prize Winner, constructed Shanty Town Tea Service, which is on display in the Bahamian Domestic exhibition. As a Haitian-Bahamian, Meris comments on the Haitian-Bahamian situation and the view of said people through the manipulation of clay. The class of a tea service is not often compared or associated with standard of shantytowns. Contradictory in some senses, some may say. The standards of shanty towns deemed as “environments that incubate horrible, horrible health challenges,” by Duane Miller does not compare with the dainty, polished China set utilized during tea parties.

In 2011, Jeffrey Meris was concluding his studies at the College of the Bahamas. He commented on the social structure of shantytowns within the Bahamas. In 2014, Tracy-Ann Perpall exposed the social structure of a forgotten shantytown in her documentary. At the later part of 2014, the relevance of the conversation still prevails. During the late part of 2014, on my way to work, I noticed that a familiar town had been demolished.

Shanty Town Tea Service
Jeffrey Meris
Dawn Davies Collection

Written by NAGB Gallery Assistant, Jodi Minnis for the Art of the Month.

Feature From The Exhibition: Side Spaces

The idea of the apocalypse has been around for a long time. In most religious ideology the term refers to an end of time the end of the world. End of days and everything that is, will cease to exist. Universally the apocalypse spells doom and gloom for the extinction of mankind and the world as we know it, historically however this should have happened may times over.

In modern society this idea is being less recognized as a possible factual prediction for the mankind’s future but rather as term or a metaphor to describe a change or transformation; an age of enlightenment. How this is interpreted is based on the individual’s ideology, religious beliefs, environment, knowledge and perceptions of truth.

Lillian Blades installation, Mystic Veil, indicates such ideas of revealing the hidden. Lillian work represents a barrier, which can obscure the viewer or present a revelation. Shifting perspectives as the viewer walks through the assemblage both sides of the veil reveal the known and unknown. In Jonathan Bethel’s painting the unknown is in the distance. The storm represents an impending apocalypse in lurking in the dark, of what is to come. In another perspective it is post-apocalyptic and now everything is calm, the worst is over.


What A Maggot Calls The End Of The World The Master Calls A Fly by Christina Darville

In similar fashion Christina Darville’s installation, What A Maggot Calls The End Of The World The Master Calls A Fly, hints to the same ideas. The event after the apocalypse; a new beginning. However in works such as Del Foxton’s piece, Kingdom Come ... Moving into the Light, the artist describes the event as a time of possible enlightenment. Instead we move around in circles making the same mistakes and are the architectures of our own demise. But the work is still hopeful that mankind can find their way.


Kingdom Come ... Moving into the Light by Del Foxton

Other artists such as Jessica Colebrooke and Allan Wallace discuss the coming of the Kingdom from a literal and religious perspective. Wallace’s painting depicts the heavens opening up and the return of the lord in the end of days.


Thy Will Be Done by Jessica Colebrooke

In the video installation by Jackson Petit, Progress: Under Construction, Petit presents the idea in a real world practicality, where we move through this existence unaware of the impacts we impose on the environment, each other and nature. An impending darkness lies beneath the surface of the video and we feel uneasy and the video reveals many things about the society’s negligence and unwillingness to discuss particular matters.


Progress: Under Construction by Jackson Petit

The works in the NE6 are vast and diverse and the depiction of the theme by many of the artists is quite unexpected and revealing. In this section of the exhibition the artists discuss the theme both personally and in a social context; both subjectively and objectively.

-JP

National Exhibition (NE) 6: Kingdom Come is currently on display in T1 and T2.

Feature From The Exhibition: Northeast Gallery 2

Jodi Minnis

The triptych by Susan Moir Mackay, Anthropology 2012: Human, System, Object breaks the reality of human life into these three specific categories. It examines the relationship between people, their social networks and the apparatus of everyday routines. Mackay’s work offers a means of location and charting the diversity of society through a kind of modern excavation that reveals the symbols of collection preoccupations that ultimately obstructs us from a much meaningful existence.

Read More

Feature From The Exhibition: Northeast Gallery 2

The triptych by Susan Moir Mackay, Anthropology 2012: Human, System, Object breaks the reality of human life into these three specific categories. It examines the relationship between people, their social networks and the apparatus of everyday routines. Mackay’s work offers a means of location and charting the diversity of society through a kind of modern excavation that reveals the symbols of collection preoccupations that ultimately obstructs us from a much meaningful existence.


Anthropology 2012: Human, System, Object by Susan Moir Mackay

Heino Schmid’s, This Is Remembering takes the viewer to a space of dreams where the suggestion of reality gets turned upside down. The large-scale mixed media piece becomes a portal through which our minds find new perspectives and possibilities outside the gravity of the mundane. Possibly through our levitation we will find a sense of balance and realignment.


This Is Remembering by Heino Schmid

Ascension, Suspension, Descent, Scharad Lightboune’s triptych looks into one’s identity and through mentioning Joseph Campbell it is said that a heroic crossing over or through water was usually a pivotal scene in a myth or epic, since it signals the hero’s encounter with his own unconscious. Lightbourne explores submerging oneself into water and its significant to a kind of death and a sense of rebirth.


Ascension, Suspension, Descent by Scharad Lightbourne

Never Again Shall This Beautiful Land Experience The Oppression Of One By Another, Lavar Munroe’s sculpture investigates how chaotic the world is or has become due to human manipulation. It deals with the societal, physical and psychological ways it has all come together. Munroe’s piece scrutinizes how our impact and the natural disasters have recreated it all to what it is today.


Never Again Shall This Beautiful Land Experience The Oppression Of One By Another by Lavar Munroe

-AW

National Exhibition (NE) 6: Kingdom Come is currently on display in T1 and T2.

Feature From The Exhibition: The Pathways

NAGB

Jace McKinney’s work visually echoes the Biblical narrative of the Hebrews being delivered by God from the hands of the Egyptians where they sang a song of praise that became known as “The Song of Moses”. Mckinney’s choir is constructed from plaster molds made from the heads of young children from a grass-roots community and subsequently turned into 21 makeshift lamps. McKinney’s work acts as a metaphor for the innate divinity of the culture of youth and a call for us to elevate ourselves from our collective cynicism.

Read More

Feature From The Exhibition: The Pathways

Jace McKinney’s work visually echoes the Biblical narrative of the Hebrews being delivered by God from the hands of the Egyptians where they sang a song of praise that became known as “The Song of Moses”. Mckinney’s choir is constructed from plaster molds made from the heads of young children from a grass-roots community and subsequently turned into 21 makeshift lamps. McKinney’s work acts as a metaphor for the innate divinity of the culture of youth and a call for us to elevate ourselves from our collective cynicism.

 
The Song of Moses by Jace McKinney

Jeffrey Meris’ Cradle explores human notions of death and finality. Meris’ coffins are reminiscent of standard coffins used in funeral practices. However, upon entering the piece and closing the two doors, visitors are confronted with their own eternalness as their image is replicated to infinity through the use of visual trickery and mirrors. Once your experience is over, you are able to exit the coffin through a different door. Meris’ work acts as a passage, one that forces the individual to confront their understanding of death. By exiting the coffin, Meris metaphorically speaks on spiritual continuity and the opportunity for a new, different life after the finality of death.


Cradle by Jeffrey Merris

In Lillian Blades’ Mystic Veil visitors experience a partial view of the Gallery. Large sections of Blades’ four veils are obscured by patchwork fabric designs, whilst smaller sections of sheer tulle allow visitors a glimpse of their surroundings. The veil’s random construction explores human understanding of the known and unknown- by randomizing the sections of the tapestry, Blades comments on the human need and effort to compartmentalize, order and construct knowledge, the known and unknown.

 
Mystic Veil by Lillian Blades

-AK

National Exhibition (NE) 6: Kingdom Come is currently on display in T1 and T2. 

Feature From The Exhibition: Northeast Gallery

NAGB

This gallery delves into the sub-theme of balance, which in matter of Kingdom Come itself is tied to spirituality; be it societal, individual or the lack thereof. Finding Balance, Tyrone Ferguson’s aluminum sculpture distinctly focuses on this theme. The balancing of a white disc and a black disc shows the constant point of equilibrium that we all try to find in our lives on a daily basis, and seeing that the figure is on a tight rope this stability is reiterated with other things that may be occurring in the world/society, that we walk the tight rope in hopes to survive.

Read More

Feature From The Exhibition: Northeast Gallery

This gallery delves into the sub-theme of balance, which in matter of Kingdom Come itself is tied to spirituality; be it societal, individual or the lack thereof. Finding Balance, Tyrone Ferguson’s aluminum sculpture distinctly focuses on this theme. The balancing of a white disc and a black disc shows the constant point of equilibrium that we all try to find in our lives on a daily basis, and seeing that the figure is on a tight rope this stability is reiterated with other things that may be occurring in the world/society, that we walk the tight rope in hopes to survive.

 
Finding Balance by Tyrone Ferguson

Toby Lunn’s Alchemy and Samadhi makes the connections to spirituality; directly points to heaven and hell, with the language of the title alone being from a Psalm and the lightness/whiteness of the heavens in the top of the diptych and hell being in the darker colors at the bottom. Lunn’s piece speaks directly to the biblical words of the coming of the Kingdom.


Alchemy and Samadhi by Toby Lunn

Night and Day-O looks at the correlations between living and dying inside Bahamian society. The images that we reflect to the world and some social issues that actually occur at an alarming rate. Dave Smith’s message in this piece is very strong and the balance of good and bad, right and wrong is seen blatantly. The justice of it all and our attempt at survival looks directly into our identity.


Night and Day-O by Dave Smith

-AW

National Exhibition (NE) 6: Kingdom Come is currently on display in T1 and T2.

Feature From The Exhibition: Northwest Gallery


Resurrection by Claudette Dean

Claudette Dean’s Resurrection explores our societal understanding of human identity. Metaphorically, Dean’s piece speaks to the sameness that we are all born into. However, in the passage of life our very being becomes fragmented through the use of labels. Visually, Dean speaks personally to the visitor as she dissects her fragmented identity by boldly stating that she is “more than” each societal label ascribed her to her body. This notion of fragmentation is echoed in Candis Marshall’s Pilgrimage. Upon a cursory glance, Marshall’s piece appears to be a close up of a plant, with the plants body in the faded background. Metaphorically, the piece speaks to the passing of time, as two human-like figures appear to be making a pilgrimage together. Through the use of bold colors the two beings are made part of a large collective whole, and in their pilgrimage they are fragmented and made different from the whole.

 
View of the Northeastern Gallery

Steven Schmid’s pregnant female in Gedankenexperience visually echoes the works of the old masters, with a female softly clutching her swollen belly as her head is bowed in reverence and peace. Despite her peaceful pose, Schmid’s piece is awash in dark elements that speak to the fragility of one’s cultural acceptance and place in society upon birth of a child that is not societally deemed appropriate or acceptable. Apryl Burrows’ Independence 4.0 also echoes cultural acceptance and the struggle for equality. Burrows’ female is clad in a flesh colored gown of fabric strips and chains. Each strip contains an element from The Bahamian constitution pertaining to women’s rights and their right to vote. Despite the empowering words written on these strips, the gown is also awash in chains, which reflect women’s ongoing struggle for full freedoms and equality in The Bahamas.

 
Gedankenexperience by Steven Schmid

-AK

National Exhibition (NE) 6: Kingdom Come is currently on display in T1 and T2.

Feature From The Exhibition: The Ballroom

NAGB

How do you rise above life’s dramatic changes and transitions with a smile on your face or a shred of hope? Some suggest that we don’t rise above them at all but instead move with these changes, these minor and major apocalypses. Joseph Campbell philosophizes that we have to dive into the fire to find our treasure. Many of the artists in this space have dived into an abyss of some kind. Whether it be the exposure of Bahamian societal issues in Kishan Munroe’s “Beacon of Hope”, physical and emotional turmoil in Kendra Frorup’s installations “Duran Duran” and “A Constant Internal Smile” or Dede Brown’s study of rebirth in her installation “Chaos is the law of nature; Order is the dream of man”, on the most basic level these works speak to our natural human instinct for persistent survival in the midst of change.

Read More

Feature From The Exhibition: The Ballroom

How do you rise above life’s dramatic changes and transitions with a smile on your face or a shred of hope? Some suggest that we don’t rise above them at all but instead move with these changes, these minor and major apocalypses. Joseph Campbell philosophizes that we have to dive into the fire to find our treasure. Many of the artists in this space have dived into an abyss of some kind. Whether it be the exposure of Bahamian societal issues in Kishan Munroe’s Beacon of Hope, physical and emotional turmoil in Kendra Frorup’s installations Duran Duran and A Constant Internal Smile or Dede Brown’s study of rebirth in her installation Chaos is the law of nature; Order is the dream of man, on the most basic level these works speak to our natural human instinct for persistent survival in the midst of change.

Munroe explores contentious topics and issues within his painting Beacon of Hope. We are a country that is “in the way” of many Haitian’s desperate for escape to the United States. As a result, Haitian immigration has become an inevitable and chronic problem that became exacerbated by shipwrecks, capsized boats and shanty towns burning to the ground. Munroe is concerned with those whose lives are threatened to be crushed under the weight of this and similar issues. Child abuse, oil exploration and women’s rights are only a few tensions that Munroe visualizes. One may ask where is the hope? Munroe believes that those who have survived are this hope, those who have risen above the many shipwrecks that have crashed into the reefs of this country, both beautiful and deadly. Only these persons, who are indeed beacons of light, can guide out those of us with flickering flames.


Beacon of Hope by Kishan Munroe

“Where you stumble, there lies your treasure.” These words by philosopher Joseph Campbell are an ideal frame for Frorup’s double installation. Duran Duran is a visual representation of the past that forms the life of the moving man and the maze of roads one take to get to a better future. Each step is a literal and figurative weight on our shoulders. There does exist moments in time when we must fight for our future. The red foreground on one of the two panels of Duran Duran speaks to this violence and its necessity; this hustle and flow that is a must for any person intent on survival. A Constant Internal Smile addresses the micro to the macro blows that seem to strike with the force and efficiency of Muhammad Ali with a speed ball. Births, deaths, a job lost, a job gained, a love lost, a love gained; small and large calamities that disturb worlds already peppered with chaos. Frorup asks and answers the question; When the dust settles, what will we find in the end?


Duran Duran and A Constant Internal Smile by Kendra Frorup

Dede Brown’s installation, Chaos is the law of nature; Order is the dream of man speaks to battling forces that have a mysterious existence and strange tension; chaos and order. The moment one morph into the other is Brown’s definition of an apocalypse. Rightly so since Campbell wrote that “Your sacred space is where you can find yourself again and again”. Where else can one find themself but at the tail end of a chaotic experience? A dramatic rebirth and realignment at the human and universal level are similar discoveries that Brown explores through her installation. The sum of each part of Brown’s installation is representative of a rebirth and change. Each suspended feather and their cumulative composition suggest a sense of alignment that is constantly in motion. And motion is a prerequisite for change.


Chaos is the law of nature; Order is the dream of man by Dede Brown

-NP

National Exhibition (NE) 6: Kingdom Come is currently on display in T1 and T2. The National Art Gallery Of The Bahamas will be closed on Monday, December 24th, Tuesday, December 25th and Wednesday, December 26th.

Highlight: Pictures from our Current Exhibitions

To celebrate Amos Ferguson: Bahamian Outsider, we are sharing some great gallery shots of the exhibition, as well as The Bahamian Landscape below!

Amos Ferguson: Bahamian Outsider


Permanent Exhibition: The Bahamian Landscape


Visit The National Art Gallery of The Bahamas to see Amos Ferguson: Bahamian Outsider and Permanant Exhibition: The Bahamian Landscape on the second floor! For further information on the exhibition, tours, education and cultural programs, please call 328-5800/1.

Feel free to send us a comment or email, we look forward to hearing from you.

Feature from the Exhibition: The Dragon

Natalie Willis

The octagonal shape of “The Dragon” is striking for Amos Ferguson being that it is not its normal 36 x 30 sheet of cardboard that Ferguson is known for and is aptly applied to the depiction Ferguson chose to paint. The seven-headed dragon from the book of Revelations in the bible is a phenomenal story that most will not forget based on the writers extensive description.

Read More

Feature: NAGB Mural Projects

Natalie Willis

Inside the Administrative Building of the NAGB are some not so hidden gems. Standing at an imposing and statuesque height in middle of the building are a series of four murals by prominent Bahamian artists. Each artist was given license to let the large canvases speak to them and do as they please. As a result, the NAGB hosts four very different murals, reflecting each artists particular style and concept. Below are short videos based on these murals, click on the links to see the artists at work!

Read More

Feature: NAGB Mural Projects

Inside the Administrative Building of the NAGB are some not so hidden gems. Standing at an imposing and statuesque height in middle of the building are a series of four murals by prominent Bahamian artists. Each artist was given license to let the large canvases speak to them and do as they please. As a result, the NAGB hosts four very different murals, reflecting each artists particular style and concept. Below are short videos based on these murals, click on the links to see the artists at work!

Allan Wallace:


Steven Burrows:


AJ Watson:


Daniel Coleby:


The Administrative Building is open to our guests and visitors. It also hosts a selection of large pieces by Stan Burnside, Jackson Burnside, John Beadle, Kishan Munroe and Maxwell Taylor. Feel free to drop on by to view the artwork or talk with the Curatorial or Education staff! Feel free to send Mixed Media a comment or email (mixedmediablog.nagb@gmail.com), we look forward to hearing from you!

-AK

Feature from the National Collection: Emancipation Day Boat Cruise

Emancipation Day Boat Cruise
Acrylic on Canvas
71in. x 53in.
2000
Collection of the National Art Gallery of The Bahamas

The sight of colorful faces, the rock of the music, and the sway of the boat with a boisterous, energetic crowd are all felt in John Beadle’s Emancipation Day Boat Cruise. Viewing this piece is an experience in and of itself. The analogous colors of reds, oranges and yellows are aptly applied across the canvas. The painting also includes elements of drawing, collage and quilting.

The grids, where sectioned off with the taping method, allow for separate compositions intensifying the expressions on the faces shown. In the spaces where the tape was removed, Beadle super-imposes images, allowing them to flow into one cohesive piece. The slashes of black across the piece, simulating a sail blowing in the wind, helps one to feel the movement of the boat and carries the viewer’s eyes to the gyrating couple in the center. The added texture of layered canvas also implies the use of a sail. The geometric shapes and patterns remind the viewer of the Junkanoo culture of the Bahamas and a feeling of celebration.

In naming the piece emancipation day, which is a holiday, the sentiment of being free from work/school is synonymous with freedom from slavery and is reiterated in this piece. Though the faces are colored with exciting colors and mask-like designs, some faces are lined with anxiety, apprehension and sadness, which remind us of that exact day that slaves were emancipated.

John Beadle’s appreciation of from whence he came, his Afro-Caribbean heritage is recognized in his style and Emancipation Day Boat Cruise reflects this precisely.

Visit the NAGB today and see Beadle’s “Emancipation Day Boat Cruise” for yourself. Feel free to send us a comment or email, we look forward to hearing from you!

-AW

Feature from the National Collection: Burnside Crowns a King

Solomon
Oil on Canvas
72in. x 72in.
2000
Collection of the National Art Gallery of The Bahamas

If a visitor to the National Art Gallery of The Bahamas were to wander into the office, which is found on the second floor, and take a turn to the left, one of the first things one would see is a larger than life painting of a gentlemen gazing back at the viewer with a contemplative and peaceful expression on his face. This is Stanley Burnside’s feature piece, “Solomon”.

The viewer might ask, why is he wearing a crown? What’s with the colorful leaves to the upper right of the canvas? Why is the sea only on the right of the gentleman’s shoulder? And the purple to the left, what’s that about? To answer these questions two men of importance need to be briefly mentioned.

The first is the late Macfarlane Gregory Anthony Mackey, also knows as Tony Mackey and known to most Bahamians as the musical performer, Exuma: The Obeah Man. Born in Cat Island, Mackey wrote and sang prolific songs about Bahamian culture that continues to resonate with visitors and Bahamians today.

The second man is King Solomon, credited as the wisest and richest and most powerful king in the Bible.

The dots begin to connect as the viewer gradually sees Mackey through Burnside’s eyes. Burnside creates a bold commemorative piece of art that recognizes Mackey’s memory and status as a leader at what he did. Mackey’s face is given life with the vivid use of color. The yellows and browns seem to reflect the very light of the sun. The artist chose the color purple to fill the space to the left of Mackey’s face, undoubtedly a reference to the esteem Burnside feels Mackey deserves.

The croton leaves, a native plant grown in The Bahamas, are placed to the upper right of the canvas. It would not be too far removed to say that this alludes to the vibrancy of Mackey’s culture and his deep roots in The Bahamas. Behind Mackey’s right shoulder Burnside placed a view of the sea, another clear symbol of Mackey’s Caribbean roots. The viewer shouldn’t ignore the crown that sits snugly over Mackey’s locks, this is Burnside’s assertion of Mackey’s wisdom and kingly status in Bahamian history.

We sympathize with the viewer who pauses expectantly in front of the image waiting on Mackey to burst into song. The peaceful gaze itself readies the viewer for a calm, wise word that only a king could give. Perhaps you’ll have a different experience all together, but there is only one way to find out.

-NP

Visit the NAGB today and see Burnside’s “Solomon” for yourself. Feel free to send us a comment or email, we look forward to hearing from you!

NAGB Film Highlight: Pollock

Pollock. Dir. Ed Harris. Per. Ed Harris, Marcia Gay Harden, Amy Madigan, Val Kilmer, Jennifer Connelly Jefferey Tambor. Sony, 2000.

The National Art Gallery of The Bahamas decided to feature the particular film, Pollock, in that Jackson Pollock’s technique and style heavily influenced Kendal Hanna’s works. By understanding Pollock’s theory and reasoning, viewers can have a greater appreciation of Kendal Hanna and his work.

Pollock begins with Pollock, (played by Oscar nominated actor Ed Harris), signing a Life magazine where he is featured. A crowd of people surrounds him and the look draped across Pollock’s face gives the impression that this moment of fame is all too overwhelming. Flash back to 1941; he is living with his brother in a small apartment in New York. Occasionally exhibiting at galleries in group shows, Pollock eventually meets his future wife, Lee Crasner (played by Marica Gay Harden). Pollock is introduced to Peggy Guggenheim (played by May Madigan) who he impresses with his artwork and she in return organizes Pollock’s first major show on October 16th, 1942. As his art career takes off, he encounters a host of important figures in the art world such as Clement Greenberg, a major art critic and famous American painters such as Willem DeKooning, Franz Kline and Helen Frankenthaler. Throughout Pollock’s life, he struggles with alcoholism and displays an increasingly destructive and explosive personality. Casner later asks Pollock to marry her, and subsequently assists Pollock by propelling his career forward. Realizing Pollock’s art and well-being is at stake, Crasner moves him to the Hamptons. Whilst residing in the Hamptons, Pollock works incessantly, creating amazing works that he was not able to do. His breakthrough was fast approaching as Pollock accidentally discovers his now famous splatter and drip style. Unfortunately, this critical acclaim only spun Pollock further out of control. During this period, Pollock began a love affair, drank incessantly and produced less work. When Pollock managed to produce a piece it was not very well received. In the end, Pollock along with two other female passengers, Edith Metzger and Ruth Kligman (his mistress) were in a one-car collision. Ruth Kligman was the only survivor (Nicoli 2000).

In 1949, Life Magazine posed a question “Jackson Pollock: Is he the greatest living painter in the United States )?” (White 2011). From this feature, America's first "Art Star" was born. Later, Pollock is credited as one of the most influential figures in the abstract expressionist movement. During his time, however, Pollock was called everything from a degenerate to pure inspired genius, a debate that still continues to this very day (Pollock 2000). Regardless, there is no doubt Pollock’s affect on modern art will not soon be forgotten.

Ed Harris (Pollock) wears a number of hats as producer, writer and ultimately director of this film. Ed Harris is excellent as Pollock and his direction is light, intentional and character motivated. The film does not feel episodic unlike a lot of other film biographies. Each scene moves and transitions well into the next. Harris resists the temptation to allow the art to drive the film emotionally instead the characters are the focus and the work is second nature but very present. The film also shows restraint in psychologically analyzing the artist, a decision that would have tarnished the film, overshadowing the important relationships he shared with the people around him. Marcia Gay Harden does an excellent job as Crasner. Sympathetic, patient and forceful are just a few words to describe Harden’s character. Crasner truly believed in Pollock despite his destructive behavior. One of the most powerful scenes from the film is when Pollock suggests they have a baby. Crasner rejects the notion, subsequently enraging Pollock. This causes Crasner to respond with, “I will not bring another life into that... We are painters Jackson!” (Pollock 2000).

Pollock philosophized a great deal about his work and process, “A method of painting is the natural growth out of a need. I want to express my feelings rather than illustrate them"(Falkenbury and Namuth 1951). The film paints an empathetic image of an artist who simply wanted to create original work without criticism. Pollock's experience is an emotional one. The photography is wonderfully rendered like that of a Rembrandt painting. Appropriately so, as Pollock was somewhat influenced by the artist. In the end, the film is about the artist at work, not the artist waiting for inspiration but his ability to do his work regardless. He did not wait for some external force but worked from within. Pollock is tragic but not depressing. This is what all biographies about artists should aspire to be. Triumphant, brave, honest and truthful; Pollock delivers.

-JP

Works Cited
Jackson Pollock 51. Dir. Paul Falkenberg and Hans Namuth. Youtube. 1 Dec. 1951. Web. 23 Oct. 2011. .
Nicoli, Lara. "Pollock." FilmFestivals.com. Film Festivals. Web. 23 Oct. 2000. .
Pollock. Dir. Ed Harris. Prod. Ed Harris. Perf. Ed Harris. Sony, 2000. DVD.
White, Anthony. "Jackson Pollock – Before Blue Poles." National Gallery of Australia. The National Gallery of Australia. Web. 25 Oct. 2011. .

This film is available at the NAGB Art Library.

Feel free to send us a comment or email, we look forward to hearing from you!