Museums/Galleries: the artist behind the artwork

How often do you go to a museum to marvel at the works of art showcased and wonder about the artist behind the art work? As I travel the world, I find it revealing to check out the museum listings. It gives me a sense to the cultural awareness and interest of a place. The museum may or may not reveal the actual culture of a given area, but more that the city has a healthy curiosity to the multiple ways people look at life in the world around them.

A museum is defined as a place where important things are preserved. This place may be created for the specific display to share with the public like The Metropolitan Museum of Art or The Louvre. Or it might be a gallery in a private home. The medium can be anything from painting to sculpture to photos to artifacts. These pieces are the brainchild of an individual and their desire to create a tangible form of passion.

Passion is the catalyst of every artist I have had the pleasure of meeting, and others I have read about. Very seldom does an artist set out to create with the sole purpose to make money. Hence the starving artist mantra we so often hear. Even those who set out to make money from their artwork, create from a passion or deep interest in a process. An artist is born with an innate desire to craft something that speaks to them. It often isn’t until a friend or colleague see’s a piece of artwork, is wowed and convinces the artist they need to share their work with others.

Artists are often a school teacher or doctor by day and an artist by night. Or it’s their weekend anecdote to their hectic weekday life. Of course there are those artists who set out to be artists very young in life and are able to achieve a level of success early enough they can rely on the income from their artwork to live comfortably.

I believe there is an artist in all of us, and that is a major reason I am so drawn to museums or seeing artists in the throes of their passion. It is inspiring to see such commitment and desire and release of emotions into an object. And no piece of artwork has the same reaction to every person. I love watching people sit and ogle over a piece of artwork. If you ask them what they see it is often something that had not dawned on you as you looked at the same piece.

Evolution seems to be a constant for artists. One element of design leads to trying something new. Creating a new texture or color or light. Or even creating new tools to achieve a certain look or quality. I love looking at artists work tables to see everyday utensils turned into tools of the trade. Or going as far as designing and building equipment to allow the artist to take their craft to another level. I think it is all these elements why true artists are artists for life. It is generally not a passing fancy, even if you just “…dabble in it…” you usually dabble throughout your whole life.

Following are some artists I have had the pleasure of meeting and watch them create:

Seguin Poirier: born 1949; learned metal enamel artistry at age 17; designed the world’s largest kiln to bake his enamel on copper pieces. With exhibits in Rockfellar Center, NYC to collections at The Bank of Montreal, Montreal and a Royal Palace, Saudi Arabia, Monsieur Poirier has earned an international mark with his work.

Seguin Poirier working on an original for our group

Seguin Poirier working on an original with ideas he got from the audience.


Seguin Poirier enamel original made especially for our group with our input

The Seguin Poirier finished enamel original from above.

Specially designed kiln, created by Seguin Poirier to fire oversized pieces. Only kiln like it in the world.

Kiln designed by Seguin Poirier so that he could expand his work to large format pieces.

Randy Strong: started off in photography, having worked with the likes of Ansel Adams, Strong moved on to glass blowing in the 1970’s where he has worked with Dale Chihuly. His work has been on display in The Corning Museum, in New York City and The Louvre, Paris. Strong still creates, designs and teaches this waning form of artwork.

Randy Strong, world renowned glass blower, San Francisco

Randy Strong, world-renowned glass blower, San Francisco

Some of Randy Strong's masterpieces for sale at the demonstration.

Some of Randy Strong’s masterpieces including his famous flower where different colored petals are interchangeable.

Vicki O’Connornew to the world of public art display, O’Connor has been a passionate artist her whole life. But it was a bout with the often debilitating disease, Valley Fever, that Vicki gave a focus to her love of creating art on a level that finds her showcasing and selling her art with 500 other artisans (booth D-11) November 14th-16th at the Fountain Festival of Arts and Crafts (, Fountain Hills, AZ. Her works have found their way into public locations, Starbucks, Fountain Hills, and private homes.

See more of Vicki’s growing gallery of artwork:

Budding new artist Vicki O'Connor may not have exhibits and collections all over the world - yet, but her passion for the art creates is no less passionate than those have achieved widespread acclaim.

Budding new artist Vicki O’Connor may not have exhibits and collections all over the world – yet, but her passion for the art creates is no less passionate than those who  have achieved widespread acclaim.

The key to Vicki's works of art are her one-liner or one word messages. She says what we all think, or what we should all think more about.

The key to Vicki’s colorful works of art are her one-liner or one word messages. She says what we all think, or what we should all think more about.

Following are the listing of museums I have visited and artists I have learned about because of these visits:

The Metropolitan Museum of Art: New York City; classic architecture; one of the expansive and diversified exhibits in the world; historical to modern. Check out the Cloisters in Harlem.

The Guggenheim Museum: New York City; modern architecture; exhibits displayed from the ceiling and/or along walls of this multi-tiered spiral walkway overlooking an open center; modern and contemporary art.

The Frick Museum: New York City; Frick residence turned into a museum; Renaissance to the late 19th century artwork.

The Neue Galerie: New York City; once a Vanderbilt residence; now a museum to early 20th century German and Austrian art and design.

Museum of Modern Art: New York City; modern architecture; the name says it all – generally showcases some the most thought proving exhibits in the city.

American Museum of Natural History: New York City; classic architecture; natural exhibits and scientific collections; great place to take the kids.

New Museum: New York City; modern architecture; new work by living artists; five plus floors of open floor plan that encircles the freight size lime green and mirrored elevator.

The Morgan Library and Museum: New York City; classic architecture and once private library of Pierpont Morgan, father to J. P. Morgan, Jr.; collection of rare printed manuscripts and works of art, Egyptian to Renaissance to Chinese art and artifacts.

Whitney Museum of American Art: New York City; modern architecture; 20th and 21st century American art – many living artists. Whitney is presently closed while they prepare to move into a new building in 2015.

Brooklyn Museum: Brooklyn, NYC; classic architecture; diverse collection and exhibits ranging from ancient Egypt to cutting edge modern.

Walker Art Center: Minneapolis; modern architecture; modern concept art pushing for creative expression of art, some with audience participation. Check out the outdoor Sculpture Garden.

Minneapolis Institute of Arts: Minneapolis; classic and modern architecture; one of the finest wide-ranging art collections in the country – from Matisse to Monet, from Africa to Asia, 40,000 year old artifacts to world-renowned pieces.

SmithsonianWashington D.C.; classic and modern architecture; inclusive of 19 museum and galleries – what doesn’t it include? Obviously a great place to take kids – of all ages.

Montreal Museum of Fine ArtsMontreal; classic and modern architecture; diverse forms of art from antiquity to today.

The Louvre: Paris; classic with a small touch of modern architecture; one of the world’s most renowned museums because of it’s history and collection of Masterpieces such as: the Mona Lisa, Venus de Milo and King Louis XIV.

Musee de l’Orangerie: Paris; classic architecture with simple oval interior galleries. Claude Monet designed this museum to showcase the huge panels of his Water Lilies collection.

Belvedere Museum: Vienna; classic architecture for this one-time palace that is a piece of artwork in itself; Austrian art dating from Middle Ages to present day, most notably Gustav Klimt.

Some of my favorite artists are: Claude Monet, Gustav Klimt, Edouard Manet, Vincent Van Gogh, Renoir, Dale Chihuly. I’ve always been drawn to the traditional painter whether from the Renaissance era or Impressionist era, but I am learning to appreciate some of the modern forms of art that really make you think and imagine. So turn off the TV and head to your local art museum or gallery and expand your horizons! And take time to get into the passionate mind of the artist!

To Paris with Love: rain or shine this city lights up life

Back across the pond, to a city that mesmerizes me. Paris. There is as much to do in this beautiful city as there is in any other major city I’ve visited across the world, but the culture and attitude beg you to breathe, to slow down, to enjoy. So counterintuitive to how we American’s live.

What Parisians have is unique, magical and oh so creative. The architecture, the museums, the gardens, the food, the wine – have all been created for their own enjoyment, not to lure in tourists. But lure in multitudes of tourists is what all these showcased works of art has done. Sadly, to the dismay of a lot of locals. The hurry-up go-go-go attitude of westerners must be like nails on a chalkboard for most Parisians. I was once scolded by a Parisian when talking in English to my family, “When in Paris, do as the Parisians do!” In short, do not taint our culture with yours.

I may not have learned to speak French, but I have learned after a few trips to Paris, to not hurry or force the days activities. To do Paris justice, it is best to plan on being there a week plus. Spend several days getting the rush, rush attitude of home out of your system by seeing all the major sites: the Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame, the Louvre, Arc de Triomphe’, Champs Elysees’, Versailles….

The Louvre, Paris

The Louvre, Paris

Arc de Triumphe', with the tip of the Eiffel Tower in the background, Paris

Arc de Carrousel, with the Eiffel Tower peering over the treetops in the background, Paris

Then go back and do it all over again, but this time grab a bench outside the Eiffel Tower or along the Champs Elysees’ and watch the people, take in the whole of what you are experiencing. Take a long stroll along the Seine, both sides, grab a book at one of the many kiosks along the way, or better yet book a dinner cruise and enjoy French cuisine showcasing their magnificent sauces paired with an exquisite French wine. Take that book you bought and grab a seat at one of the many city gardens or French cafe’s and lose yourself into the poetry of the book and of your surroundings, while sipping a cafe’ au lait.

Reading a book on the steps of the National Opera House, Paris

Reading a book on the steps of the National Opera House, Paris

Streak and frites, smothered in a rich thyme butter sauce, Le Relais L'Entrecote, Paris

Streak and frites, smothered in a rich thyme butter sauce, Le Relais L’Entrecote, Paris

Luxembourg Gardens, Paris

Luxembourg Gardens, Paris

One of many versions of a cafe' au lait, Paris

One of many versions of a cafe’ au lait, Paris

I do not consider myself to be an overly creative person, but in Paris I feel a desire to test that element. Being creative can be painting still life or writing poetry, or it can be simply learning to slow down enough to appreciate the true masters exhibited from past and present. Sitting in front of a Monet, allowing you to see the depth of colors, the different brush strokes, the layers of the landscape is worth every deep breath needed to force you to slow down enough to see these elements.


Where to eat: Anywhere! You can’t go wrong – whether a local creperie, a brasserie serving a baguette filled with brie cheese and jambon (ham), or fine dining on lobster at Chez Julien (circa 1780.) French macarons at Laduree’ on the Champs Elysees’ or at Pierre Herme’ (try the ice cream filled ones).

What to do: Rain or shine – and be prepared for both – walk, walk, walk. Any direction you go you come across amazing architecture, museums, cafe’s, parks….Some favorite stops: Musee’ de l’Orangerie, Musee des Arts Decoratifs, Bon Mache’ (for shopping), Luxembourg Gardens.

Check out more Paris pics in the Global Gallery.