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Tag: birmingham art

Summer Nights, BMA-Style

Image via Art on the Rocks

It’s easy to think of art museum events as belonging to a certain class, but Art on the Rocks proves that isn’t so. In fact, the Birmingham Museum of Art has proved itself a hip destination and a place to connect with arts beyond the visual. The secret to their success? Making the museum stand in for a great night out, while offering the kind of ambience no mere venue can match.

The art museum’s grand, modernist facade is a statement piece befitting Birmingham’s downtown center. At the edge of Linn Park, it has a presence to rival the courthouse and a similar level of stature in the community. For a long time, though, the art museum was only a city-wide institution, not a neighborhood one. These days it’s becoming a strong example of both, and we’re convinced that’s where its future lies.

If you’ve never attended Art On The Rocks, the museum describes it thusly: “Featuring the best of Birmingham culture, Art On The Rocks collaborates with local artists, downtown businesses, and breakthrough musical guests to offer three Friday nights of art, performances, giveaways, food, and drinks.”

This year, though, they’re upping the ante. Besides their classic formula of after-hours art and live music, they’ve given us more reasons to attend this year: sneak peeks at a new exhibit, food truck eats, VIP access, and a next-generation photo booth. We’ve even partnered with them to keep the party going (#AfterRocks) and bring it back toward our craft cocktail end of the neighborhood.

Vibrant events like these need new draws of course, but they also need points of continuity. We talked about Dave’s as a timeless anchor in Five Points, and we think the museum is a great example of that effect downtown. The Birmingham natives among us grew up with this museum, but we’re also seeing it grow with us.

The BMA has managed the tightrope walk of adapting its methods without losing sight of its mission. And that is no small feat. We know we’ve already praised them for making art matter, but it bears repeating. We think art museums make great neighbors.

Bham Events: Warhol at the AEIVA

UAB’s Abroms-Engel Institute for the Visual Arts (AEIVA) looks nothing like the rest of the campus’s solid brick buildings. The wonderfully wonky modernist balancing act doesn’t even look like a museum. After all, museums are built purely to show and house art, but the AEIVA looks like a place where art lives on campus. It looks like a place for exploration.

Image via Warhol: Fabricated

The good news is that exploration is open to the entire community, not just to UAB students. The institute’s Warhol: Fabricated — which opened this month and will stay open through the end of February — showcases works by the icon of the American pop art scene. Besides its Warhol collection, the exhibit also offers broader commentary on the artist and his art, including a portrait by photographer Bob Adelson and the Denied series by Charles Lutz.

“I wanted to paint nothing. I was looking for something that was the essence of nothing, and that was it” – Andy Warhol, on the Campbell’s soup can.

It feels right that the institute’s first high profile show features an artist who consistently used ambiguous icons to explore popular culture. If his Campbell’s soup art was an attempt to create something stunning from the flat but catchy symbols of American mass marketing, we can’t help but imagine how he’d handle the ephemeral information of the internet age. After all, Warhol didn’t simply comment on culture, his work often used the most immediately reproducible tools – screen printing, photography, video – to articulate his vision.

“His prolific ‘factory’ production process meant that he was able to mass-produce prints and other pieces in an almost-instantaneous response to the cultural conversation of the day,” AEIVA Curator John Fields explained. “From political leaders, movie stars and rock icons to household items, wallpapers and three-dimensional installations, Warhol’s art offered immediate commentary on the evolution of American society and its growing fascination with consumption: of goods, of media and of information.”

All of which makes us wonder what he would have produced in this age of screenshots and snapchat. But we’ll settle for a sense of wonder at the collection Birmingham has gathered in its newest cultural institution. Welcome, AEIVA!

Bham Events: Art Crawl

We’re always fans of Art Crawl – the monthly loft district event highlighting local artists and venues every first Thursday from 5-9 p.m. – but never more so than when the holiday season is upon us. The local artists at Art Crawl have you covered, with affordable goods from prints to pottery to handmade jewelry. And if the thought of shopping makes you feel faintly itchy, remind yourself that Art Crawl allows you to enjoy fine adult beverages while you shop, and your attendance will be rewarded at the after-party hosted by Pale Eddie’s Pour House.

To whet your art appetites, we’re previewing some of our favorite items from the artists’ online portfolios:

Contemporary folk artist Kunkle crafts his colorful pieces on scrap wood, specializing in pop culture and literary references. We love his A Clockwork Orange head, Honest Abe, and “eat a book” series. Our current favorite is this special commission piece he made for a friend with a misbehavin’ cat.

Image via Art by Kunkle

Stoneface Ceramics creates small storage items that look pretty on a dresser or desk. This one probably needs to store our office candy.

Image via Stoneface Ceramics

Chris Davis creates pieces we buy for all the kids in our lives, then secretly keep for ourselves. His work has the kind of simple, bold shapes and colors that feel kid-friendly but hold their appeal at any age.

Image via Christopher Davis

Ever wondered about the trippy, anthropomorphized Miss Fancys on the back wall at Avondale Brewery? Paul Cordes Wilm is the guy who’s responsible. Besides larger works and the occasional art print tee, he tends to offer postcard prints of his work.  Pair these with small frames for your own budget art accents – we’ve seen a loft dweller use a framed bienvenidos print to dress up an otherwise generic condo door – or as small holiday gifts.

Image via Paul Cordes Wilm

When it comes to wearable art, you’ll find great copper pieces from Kat Griffith. This coiled copper bracelet feels modern and fun, especially with the soldered detail at the ends.

Image via Funky South Gallery

Silver Cicada Designs also makes wearable pieces, though maybe not in the way you’d imagine. We’d most likely use this soulful fox as wall art, but we can imagine repurposing it for next year’s Halloween costume.

Image via Silver Cicada Designs

And of course, some of the venues are great shopping spots in their own right. What’s On Second has all the vintage treasures you never knew you needed, until you did. Sojourns, which stocks gorgeous fair trade items from around the world, is our go-to for handmade greeting cards, children’s toys, and housewarming gifts. Charm is the very best costume jewelry store in town. Plus, we like to visit the semi-toothless small cat taxidermy, and we daydream about buying the hand-beaded deer head.

Go forth and crawl (handy event map here). Let us know what you saw/loved/bought.