Sunday, May 6, 2018

Mother's Day at the Mennello Museum of American Art

I  went to the the Mennello Museum of American Art, (900 East Princeton Street, Orlando, FL 32803) to sketch the Free Family Day on the Second Sunday of the month. This just happened to line up with  Mother's Day. At the front desk, there was a free rose for every mother who came to the museum on that day. On display in the entry gallery were fairly large twisted metal sculptures along with the preparatory drawings on the walls. I decided to sit on a bench and sketch the sextant who greeted guests and handed out roses to the moms. Quite a few museum guests brought their mom along for  a day at the museum.

On exhibit in the museum now is, "When the Water Rises: Recent Paintings by Julie Heffernan", who uses the power of paint’s materiality and immediacy in the Mennello Museum’s exhibition. She brings form to the reality of our environmental and sociopolitical problems. This exhibition debuts nine new works by the artist.

Heffernan’s work explores the imagery of the mind’s eye to create complex environments. Her recent paintings create alternative habitats in response to the environmental disaster and planetary excess. With rising waters, she imagines worlds in trees or on rafts in which undulating mattresses, tree boughs, and road signs guide the journey. Construction cones interrupt the landscape signaling places to stop, enter tiny interior worlds, and reflect on the human condition—its hopeless activity, violence, failure, and redemption. Heffernan tends these alternative environments to safeguard bounties we cannot live without. In other moments, she names and points fingers to those people and activities implicated in recent calamities of both the physical and socio-political environment. Intricately wrought, Heffernan’s paintings evoke the fantastical allegory of Hieronymus Bosch and the sublime of Thomas Cole and Albert Bierstadt.

Also on exhibit in the Marilyn L. Mennello Sculpture Garden outside are two large sculptures, "Waltzing Matilda" and "Twin Vortexes" by American sculptor Alice Aycock. The Mennello Museum inaugurated the Grounds for Exhibitions with these beautiful works which were originally part of series of seven sculptures in Aycock’s significant outdoor exhibition on Park Avenue in Manhattan entitled Park Avenue Paper Chase. Grounds for Exhibition features year-long large-scale sculpture exhibitions by nationally renowned American artists who otherwise would not be shared with Orlando audiences. The sculptures will be on display through September 2018.

Prints are available for each sketch for $250 and many originals can be purchased for $400. White museum grade shadow box frames are $100 more. You can e-mail Thor at

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