New York New York at the Nassau County Museum of Art thru Nov. 5

I’m a member of several museums and the one nearest and dearest has been the Nassau County Museum of Art, where my mother and I were joint members and where I brought her in a wheelchair last time, pre-2015.  The Ashcan artists, also known as The Eight were on display along with other art and photographs focused on the New York City, primarily Manhattan.  The Ashcan artists were rebels against the academic painters from Philadelphia who came to Manhattan depict life as it was in New York City. The dirty and gritty realness of city life in early 20th century.Primarily newspaper illustrators, the Ashcan artists were known for paintings and etchings and lithographs portraying scenes of daily life in New York, frequently in the city’s poorer neighborhoods. “The most famous artists working in this style included Robert Henri (1865–1929), George Luks (1867–1933), William Glackens(1870–1938), John Sloan (1871–1951), and Everett Shinn (1876–1953), some of whom had met studying together under the renowned realist Thomas Anshutz at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, and others of whom met in the newspaper offices of Philadelphia where they worked as illustrators. The movement has been seen as emblematic of the spirit of political rebellion of the period.” (Wikipedia).  The exhibition included much more, including an Glamour exhibition about the cosmetic industry’s design of perfume bottles and possibly more. I missed the presentation and it did not interest me.

A docent who informed the group incorrectly that  a peg-legged figure at the lower right in the painting “Manhattan Cocktail” by Francis Luis Mora was Peter Minuet. My friend who taught Social Studies for 35 years in NYC took her aside and gently corrected her, telling her Peter Minuet did not have a peg leg, but Peter Stuyvesant did, and instead of thanking her for the correct information and not embarrassing her in front of the group, the docent was annoyed and insisted it was Minuet. There was another point when she demonstrated her stubborn ignorance.

by Francis Luis Mora

The same docent  (likely a good-intensioned volunteer) led the tour through the New York New York Ashcan exhibit . It was so simplistic, I had to flee to another area of the exhibit. As if that wasn’t bad enough, there was a film about art in New York.Unfortunately, the film stopped before it was finished and when asked for help restarting it, there was no one around.  Everyone got up and left disappointed. A security guard made no effort to assist.  We were out of luck. Later, when hungry for a snack we were informed there were no longer accommodations for purchasing a meal, but there was a snack machine. Sure enough where tables and chairs echoed with the emptiness of people and resources, the snack machine bore a handwritten sign, “Out of order.”  Where was the new director, I wondered.  When I asked for a book about the New York New York Exhibit, I was told they didn’t have one for sale, and the museum no longer offers exhibition catalogues.  I asked if the museum was getting enough grant money and I was told they did, but they could always use more. The reason they don’t have a cafe is because there wasn’t enough traffic to make it worthwhile for anyone to operate it.  Nonsense. I felt like I was on a sinking ship. Something must be done to save and improve the Nassau County Museum of Art before we lose it. Fortunately, tour buses arrived, with visitors and the museum store was well stocked with souveniers and gift items. I did buy a few things, but wanted  a catalogue that didn’t exist and a copy of my artist friend’s (Caroline Gassner Kaplowitz’s) Portraits catalogue that was stocked there last year. No one knew anything about it, nor where such a book would be archived. Gee…I hope the new director knows what’s going on and will be effective and successful. Please support the Nassau County Museum of Art! (And, make sure to bring your own lunch.)  Here are only a few samples of the Ashcan Art Movement…

Members of the Ashcan School, a.k.a. The Eight.(Shinn, Henri and Sloan are included above)

 

George Bellows “Both Members of the Club” 1909. He painted the darker side of the city’s life.

 

 

The members would meet at McSorley’s Bar. This painting of the bar interior is by John French Sloan, 1912

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Everett Shinn’s “Cross Streets of New York, 1899
William Glackens, Italo-American Celebration, Washington Square Park, 1912
Members of the Ashcan Movement

 

George Luks, “Houston Street” 1917

 

 

 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *