Sarah Harvey

Sarah, a docent at the Blanton Museum of Art, hosts a public tour Sunday afternoon. The exhibition "Luminous: 50 years of ollecting Prints and Drawings at the Blanton" showcases 150 pieces from the Blanton's 16,000-piece collection of art on paper. 


Photo Credit: Sam Ortega | Daily Texan Staff

In celebration of its 50 years as a fixture at UT, the Blanton Museum of Art hosted a public tour of its exhibition “Luminous: 50 Years of Collecting Prints and Drawings at the Blanton” on Sunday.

The tour, led by docent Sarah Harvey, showcased 150 pieces from the Blanton’s 16,000-piece collection of art on paper. The exhibition will be on display until Sept. 15. Harvey said the exhibition, designed by Francesca Consagra, senior curator of prints and drawings and European paintings, is a thrilling and overwhelming experience. 

“Francesca set up this exhibition in a really unique way,” Harvey said. “I didn’t think it would fly with the public, but I was so wrong. People love it. They’ve been striking up conversations about the art, and that’s something that doesn’t usually happen.”

The artwork, featured in thick salon-style hang frames, appears to be jumping off the wall at guests. Another notable characteristic of the exhibit is the absence of descriptive labels next to each piece, Harvey said.

Sophomore Kelly Widder said she found the lack of labels to be a positive change from the typical museum visit. 

“I liked how they had the prints displayed in a grid pattern and without any descriptions,” Widder said. “It was a really overwhelming arrangement but overwhelming in a good way.” 

Harvey said she is particularly fond of the Blanton’s print collection, and admires the way the exhibition helps visitors to better appreciate each piece. 

“Prints can be a hard sell,” Harvey said. “It’s hard to get people to stop and look at them. They’re a more intimate form of art, and the arrangement of this exhibition encourages visitors to take a closer look at the details of each piece.”

Harvey said although most docents are wary of the difficult explanations needed to give life to the diverse styles of print and drawing that are featured, she enjoys discussing the stories behind each piece. 

Freshman Katie Lewis found the wealth of information to be a welcome addition to her visit and enjoyed the medium of the presentation. 

“I think I would have overlooked a lot of [the artwork] if I had just been on my own, reading plaques,” Lewis said. “It was nice to hear someone talking about them.”

Docent Sara Harvey tells the story of Saint Agatha, patron of natural catastrophes, and explains the restoration process of various paintings during the Restoration and Revelation art walk at The Blanton Museum on Thursday afternoon.

Photo Credit: Yamel Thompson | Daily Texan Staff

The Blanton Museum of Art gave a sneak peak into how paintings and drawings are restored during a tour Thursday afternoon. 

The tour, titled “Restoration and Revelation: Conserving the Suida-Manning Collection,” was led by docent Sarah Harvey. Throughout the tour, Harvey gave visitors an in-depth look at how museums restore and care for aged and damaged works of art.

“It’s a sight that you don’t ordinarily see when you come to the museum,” Harvey said. “It’s a behind-the-scenes tour and we’ve never done that before.”

Harvey led visitors through pieces in the Suida-Manning Collection, which contains European Renaissance and Baroque art. She also described how the different paintings had been previously painted over, folded and damaged by caustic paint.  

Museum visitor Weston Norton listened to Harvey tell the story of how conservators intricately restored and cleaned a painting called “The Death of Rachel” by Antonio Carneo for more than 500 hours. Harvey explained to tour members including Norton that restorative efforts are often quickly reversible. She said when conservators paint over cracks or alter the state of a piece, all changes could be washed off in less than an hour. 

“I didn’t know that you could clean a painting in 25 minutes of all of the restorative work after spending 500 hours restoring it, and I think it’s pretty amazing,” Norton said. “It’s a pretty phenomenal labor of trust to spend all that time doing that.”

Harvey also talked about a painting called “Saint Agatha” by Pacecco De Rosa and explained how an improper environment caused the wood panel that it was painted on to develop cracks and knots, weakening the painting’s structure.   

Amy Greenspan, a visitor and student employment coordinator for UT Human Resource Services, looked up close to see a type of stabilizer used to keep the wood from damaging the painting. 

“Without the restoration you really can’t appreciate what it looked like and what the artist had in mind,” Greenspan said. “The restoration helps modern viewers see what the artist intended.” 

After the tour, Greenspan said it was an interesting experience and her appreciation grew for the work put into conserving the art in the collection. 

“You look at the paintings in the gallery and have no idea what kind of work went into making them presentable and bringing them to their best for people’s viewing pleasures,” Greenspan said. “It gives you more appreciation for what you’re seeing.”

Published on February 22, 2013 as "Blanton tour gives insight into art". 

A woman views Portrait of George Gershwin in a Concert Hall by David Alfaro Siqueiros at the Blanton’s “Changing of American Landscapes” exhibit on Saturday afternoon.

Photo Credit: Austin McKinney | Daily Texan Staff

The Blanton Museum of Art held a tour of American landscape paintings and how they progressed, from old western art to regional art, on Saturday.

Pieces from former American Airlines CEO C. R. Smith’s western art collection, including the first painting he collected, “The Roping” (1914), began the tour. Another painting in the collection was Tom Lea’s “The Lead Steer” (1941). This depicted an unusual view of a herding expedition because it showed the front of the herd instead of the side with the rest of the herd in the background, according to museum docent Sarah Harvey, the tour guide.

The tour also explored abstract landscapes. Harvey said America’s first totally abstract artist, Arthur Garfield Dove, tried to paint sound, shown in his 1931 painting “Good Breeze.” Another artist, Ellsworth Kelly, understood the power of colors, and although abstract art was objectionable to some people, Kelly’s use of bright and contrasting colors pleased most of the public, according to Harvey.

Jazz influenced many artworks as well including “Lawn and Sky” (1931) by Stuart Davis.

“His jazzy colors and jazzy forms really bled into American advertising business,” Harvey said.

The tour also showed the work of artist Jerry Bywaters, known for 1940’s “Oil Field Girls.” Bywaters created a regional style by bringing Texas artists together. An unusual aspect of the painting was the excessive height of the girls who were based off of fashion models, Harvey said.

The docent program assembled this tour in which its members educate visitors and allow them to actively explore art, according to the Blanton Museum of Art.

“I think the docent program is an amazing program,” visitor Lizzy Smith said. “Each person has a new and different take on each piece of art.”

Harvey said it is important for docents to educate people about art because a person uses a different part of their brain when looking at art than when doing other things.

“We kind of have the keys. There’s so much art, and you don’t really know what you’re looking at ... it can be overwhelming if your field isn’t art,” Harvey said.

People who attended the tour appreciated the historical journey that it provided.

“I’m a fellow docent, and I thought it was an excellent example of an adult tour. The way [Harvey] brought in so many facets of landscapes, possibilities to span the years ... she did a great job linking one area to the other,” visitor Paula Brinkley said.

Published on February 4, 2013 as "Blanton stages western art tour".