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Thursday, December 8, 2011

NoD: UK Art Museum Can "See Blue"

UK Art Museum - Lexington, Ky.
Gallery at the UK Art Museum - Lexington, Ky.
If you are in any way affiliated or connected to the University of Kentucky, you are aware of their "see blue" campaign. Even if your only connection to UK is watching basketball games, you have undoubtedly seen the commercial which morphs the school, the city and the world blue. Well, in the words of Oscar Wilde, we are seeing "art imitate life" through an exhibit at the University of Kentucky Art Museum at the Singletary Center.

Through January 22, works from UK's permanent collection have been turned into an exhibit centered on (you guessed it) blue. It has been many years since I last ventured into the UK Art Museum which is tucked in a corner of the Singletary Center for the Arts, but I recently ventured in for a holiday party.

Because of its hidden location, few know about the UK Art Museum. Even so, it has been part of the Singletary Center since the SCFA opened in 1979. (Note: The Singletary name was not applied until the late 1980s.) Over the past ten years, it has often been discussed that the Art Museum should take a more prominent role as a local attraction. Years ago, a move to the old courthouse on Main Street was contemplated.

UK Art Museum - Lexington, Ky.
Portrait of Daniel Boone
by John Wesley
The "See Blue"special collection contained a few great pieces that caught my eye. First and foremost is John Wesley's Portrait of Daniel Boone, a 1962 modern twist on the 1852 famous engraving of Kentucky's frontiersman. Wesley's interpretation looked toward the legend of Boone, which he found to be an "outsized... one-dimensional caricature, a flat depiction drained of color."

Wesley, born in California, is typically genred in the "pop art" category and is is best known for his appropriation of cartoons like Blondie and Popeye.

I agree with the Museum's suggestion that "it is especially meaningfully to "see blue" in a portrait of Kentucky frontiersman Daniel Boone."

UK Art Museum - Lexington, Ky.
UK Basketball Game Between
UK and St. Johns, December 17, 1977
by Leroy Neiman
Another "see blue" work which I noted was a Leroy Neiman oil depicting a 1977 basketball game between the UK Wildcats and St. John's University. Of course, UK has recently played and handily beaten St. Johns which was a repeat of this 102-72 affair featuring Kentucky greats Jack Givens, James Lee, Kyle Macy, Mike Phillips and Rick Robey.

This oil was exquisite and the short brush strokes gave it a fervor that would have been present during the UKIT and throughout the season as our Cats would go on to a record of 30-2 and a National Championship (defeating Duke)  under the helm of Joe B. Hall.

Neiman's work, primarily depicting scenes of sport and leisure, are well known to the American eye.

There are a multitude of other fantastic works in this collection and elsewhere in the museum. More information about the UK Art Museum can be found on its website, http://www.uky.edu/ArtMuseum/.

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