About Nannette Maciejunes

Nannette Maciejunes, Columbus Museum of Art Executive Director

2017 Columbus City Schools Day for Families at Columbus Museum of Art

Research tells us that creativity in this country is declining, most severely in children ages 6-12. One essential component of creativity is critical thinking. Critical thinking skills are the focus of a nearly 50-year partnership with Columbus City Schools (CCS), the largest district in the state of Ohio. As part of the partnership all Columbus City School fifth graders participate in Artful Reading, a three-part program that features a classroom visit, a museum visit, and a studio project. Museum educators work with CCS art teachers to provide professional development throughout the year.

Further recognizing that a child’s curiosity and learning must be supported by parents, CMA also launched Columbus City Schools Day for Families in 2009. CCS Day for Families is an annual day-long event at the Columbus Museum of Art, welcoming all CCS students, families, CCS teachers, and administrators. This free event highlights the partnership between CMA and CCS and reinforces the importance of the arts in the school while also seeking to make CCS families feel welcome at the Museum. On April 2, 2017, the Museum hosted more than 5,200 visitors for this annual celebration – many for the first time. CCS student groups performed music and dance throughout the building, Artful Reading student projects were on display, and a special visitor gallery experience led families on a self-guided exploration. See below for a highlight of snapshots from the day.

Share YOUR photos from CCS Day for Families: @columbusmuseum #myCMA #spiritofccs.

Women Artists Who Changed the Art World: Honoré Sharrer

If Honoré Sharrer is an artist you’ve never heard of I’m not surprised.

Sometimes the artists who have the most impact are not the artists dominating the headlines. This is especially true for women artists.

Columbus Museum of Art has an international reputation for presenting exhibitions on underrecognized American artists who deserve to be introduced to new audiences. A Dangerous Woman: Subversion and Surrealism in the Art of Honoré Sharrer, an original exhibition now on view at CMA is one of those exhibitions.

Honoré Sharrer had a brilliant early career which saw her work included in important exhibitions of emerging talent in New York with shows at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Museum of Modern Art, and even having one of her paintings become part of the collection of Museum of Modern Art while she was still in her 20s.

Even with that early recognition Honoré Sharrer spent much of her life as a painter working against the grain: a woman painting in what was still very much a man’s art world; a figurative painter at a time when the art world was dominated by Abstraction; and a painter with a perspective of a social and political progressive during the height of the Cold War and the McCarthy era.

At the heart of Honoré Sharrer’s humorous surprising paintings…ones that can present us with a figure from Greek mythology and Elvis Presley’s parents on a single canvas… was her concern for people and our shared human experience.

Nursery Rhyme by Honoré Sharrer

Nursery Rhyme, 1971 by Honore Sharrer. Collection of Adam Zagorin and the late Perez Zagorin.

In paintings such as Nursery Rhyme, Sharrer incorporated rather surreal imagery from a classic Mother Goose nursery rhyme. Tableware has come to life, and the dish has not only spoons, but forks, and a knife to accompany its getaway. Animated and humorous, the pieces of tableware behave like sidekicks to the women in her paintings. And, just like her women, Sharrer’s forks and spoons often step out of their role as objects.

Learn more about how Honoré Sharrer made her mark on the art world. A Dangerous Woman is on view through May 21, 2017.

-Nannette Maciejunes, Columbus Museum of Art Executive Director 

George Washington Lives Here

As we celebrate President’s Day Columbus Museum of Art is proud to announce the acquisition of a folk art carving called George Washington in Masonic Apron. The sculpture is carved walnut, 21 inches high, and dated about mid-twentieth century. It depicts President Washington clad in his Masonic apron, standing next to a short pedestal that is a Masonic symbol, holding a stonecutter’s hammer in one hand and partially un-rolled scroll in the other, which represent the US Constitution. The sculpture is signed by Sylvan Levy. Not much is known about Levy but because the work celebrates Washington, the Father of the United States and the Washington the Freemason, we assume that Levy was himself a Mason.

George Washington in Masonic Apron is a tremendous addition to the permanent collection of the Museum. It represents an iconic American figure easily recognizable to visitors with obvious patriotic and historical content. Moreover, the carving has considerable presence and demonstrates a level of craft that is unique in the folk art genre while the form and sophistication of the piece challenges traditional notions of what folk art is. Lastly, the iconographic reference to Freemasonry adds a level of intellectual and cultural history that makes the work of particular fascination now and for generations to come.

Aminah Brenda Lynn Robinson 1940-2015

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The central Ohio community, and the nation, mourns the loss of Columbus artist Aminah Brenda Lynn Robinson, who died on May 22 at age 75. For more than sixty years, Aminah Robinson created art inspired by the African concept of Sankofa, understanding the past in order to go forward. Her work reflects the drawing, paper-making, and needlework traditions that she learned from her parents and the training she received in art school. Aminah created sculpture, large complex work she called RagGonNons, rag paintings, paintings on cloth, drawings, and books about her family and community, African-American history, her travels, and the stories she was told by her elders. Her goal was to inspire others to research and document the history of their families and communities for the next generation.

In 2002, CMA organized Symphonic Poem, the first retrospective exhibition of her work, which traveled throughout the United States. In 2004, Robinson participated in a residency in Santiago, Chile where she was the first woman artist to have a solo exhibition at the Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes. Also in 2004, Aminah was awarded a prestigious MacArthur Fellowship, given to individuals with extraordinary originality and dedication to creative pursuits. In 2008, the Museum launched Aminah’s World, an online resource where visitors can learn about Aminah and her work and create their own online art. Her last exhibition at CMA was Songs for a New Millennium, 1812 – 2012: Works by Aminah Robinson Celebrating 200Columbus. Her work has also been presented at Akron Art Museum, the Oakland Museum, the Baltimore Museum of Art, Studio Museum in Harlem and museums and galleries around the world.

“Aminah was a beloved part of the Columbus community and the Museum family. She was a passionate artist and teacher, as well as a gifted storyteller. She had a deep reverence for her community history and cherished the oral histories that were passed down to her through her family. Through her art she recorded and shared those memories in ways that were just as beautifully complex and layered as the stories and communities they represented.”
– Nannette Maciejunes, CMA executive director

Watch for details soon of a celebration of Aminah’s life on July 18, 2015.

Credit Line: Aminah Brenda Lynn Robinson’s “The Birthplace Home of GT Woods” from the 2012 exhibition Songs for a New Millennium, 1812 – 2012: Works by Aminah Robinson Celebrating 200Columbus

CMA Partners with GCAC to Celebrate Columbus Artists with 4th Annual Exhibition

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We support local Columbus artists in many ways. One of the most exciting is our partnership for the Greater Columbus Arts Council exhibition, now in its fourth year. The 2014 Greater Columbus Arts Council (GCAC) Visual Arts Exhibition highlights the outstanding talent and ability of Columbus artists. The exhibition includes work by the recipients of the 2013 GCAC Individual Artist Fellowship Awards : Shannon Benine, Clara Crockett, Evan Dawson and Shane Mecklenburger. Two others, Kaveri Raina and Laura Alexander, were awarded GCAC residencies in Dresden, Germany this year.

These artists represent a diverse range of practices fostered within Columbus’s artistic community. Clara Crockett’s pencil drawings of human and canine figures are both sensitive and surreal, while Shannon Benine will show her compelling, somewhat mysterious photographs of Molokai, Hawaii. In his video works, Shane Mecklenburger creates weightless fields of computer-generated diamonds, while Evan Dawson’s sculptural gestures begin with the material circumstances of daily life. Laura Alexander cuts intricate patterns into layered sheets of paper, and Kaveri Raina’s vivid abstractions are painted with materials like turmeric, chili powder and cinnamon. Each with their own niche, together these artists demonstrate the region’s vibrant artistic ecology.

The 2014 Greater Columbus artists selected for this year's Visual Arts Exhibition.

GCAC’s Tom Katzenmeyer and CMA’s Nannette Maciejunes welcome the 2014 Greater Columbus artists selected for this year’s Visual Arts Exhibition: Clara Crockett, Shane Mecklenburger, Laura Alexander, Shannon Benine, and Evan Dawson (not pictured: Kaveri Raina).

The 2014 Greater Columbus Arts Council (GCAC) Visual Arts Exhibition will be on view June 27, 2014 through September 28, 2014.

What Do These Paintings Have in Common?

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Here’s a hint: This weekend is the 100th anniversary of the first Armory Show. You may have heard the Armory story on NPR recently. Still need more help?

You know I’m always saying that art transforms lives. The 1913 Armory Show was one of those transformational moments for art in the United States, but also for the Columbus Museum of Art. This is the art event that changed Ferdinand Howald’s life—turning him into a collector and an art patron. Howald’s collection went on to form the heart of our internationally renowned Modernist Collection. It literally transformed our destiny.

Now about those two paintings above. Both were in the 1913 Armory Show! The one on the right is Middleton Manigault’s Clown which we acquired in 1999. Manigault was the first artist that Howald purchased. The painting on the left is George Bellows’s Mrs. Albert M. Miller—for long-time Columbusites, she was Dixie Miller’s mother-in-law. Bellows entered the portrait in the Armory Show only two months after painting it. We acquired it in 1974 from the Arnold family.

And that’s the rest of the story.

– Nannette