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!

Montreal, Quebec – Vive la French Canadians

Montreal! One of only a handful of North American cities with a genuine European flair. French is spoken as the first language in most of the city. The history of the area competes with some of the most historic European cities. It even has an Old Town.

For me, Montreal was all about culture. As our tour guide said, “…when people say they are going out, they mean they are going to the opera or a museum, not to a movie or dinner.” Although Montreal does have some outstanding restaurants to rival any top European or NYC restaurant.

Every local I came across set out each day with one goal in mind – live life to the fullest. A varying contrast to what I have experienced in France, where most French, at least in Paris seem to be unapproachable and crabby. The energy emanating from the local Québécois was refreshing and captivating. Maybe because Montreal isn’t as overrun with Americans as Paris is.

There are 68 festivals each year in Montreal, many lasting for weeks, so there is never a weekend, year-round, there isn’t something fun and unique to enjoy. The Montreal portion of this blog is dedicated to three exhibits I attended. There are too many great pictures to share within the blog post, so I will add individual galleries for each under the blog ‘Gallery’ tab.

Chihuly: Dale Chihuly, born in Tacoma, Washington in 1941. I have admired his works in my favorite restaurants, a neighbor’s home, the Botanical Desert Garden in Arizona and now in an amazing exhibit in Montreal.

Chihuly Exhibit, Montreal Museum of Fine Arts

Chihuly Exhibit, Montreal Museum of Fine Arts

Chihuly's glass ceiling exhibit at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts

Chihuly’s glass ceiling exhibit at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts

Chihuly learned glass blowing at various universities in the US, but has received awards and requests for his exhibits worldwide. An auto accident and a body surfing accident, in the late 1970’s, left him unable to do the actual glass blowing (gaffing), but through his drawings and direction his artistry lives on in fresh exhibits.

Seguin Poirier: a local artist and true francophone (French is his one and only language). I took a tour to visit his 1600’s era gallery/home/workshop, just outside of Montreal.

Seguin Poirier (which means pear in French), Montreal artist

Seguin Poirier (pear in French) – Montreal artist

Seguin Poirier's chapel lined completely with his artwork

Seguin Poirier’s chapel lined completely with his artwork

Monsieur Poirier’s médium is enamel on copper. He has been doing this form of artwork for 46 years. He takes a special paint powder and sprinkles it on different size pieces of copper. Then, using a metal tipped instrument he draws his subject in the powder. Next, this is put into a specially designed kiln to reach a specific temperature of 1500 degrees. Once this temp is reached, the artwork has to be immediately removed or it will burn. This intense heat turns the powder to vibrant liquid, and the instant the artwork is pulled from the kiln this liquid turns rock hard as soon as it is hit by air.

Mosaicultures Internationales Montreal 2013: a living exhibit displaying over 50 botanical sculptures from all over the world competing in the ‘Land of Hope’ theme. The Jardin Botanique is heaven on earth for this landscape designer and horticulturist. Add in this amazing exhibit and an absolutely perfect fall day and I wished I had scheduled to spend a full day at the gardens.

Winning Jury Grand Honorary Award - China's 'A True Story!'

Winning Jury Grand Honorary Award – China’s ‘A True Story!’

Fan favorite award winning - Canada's 'The Man Who Planted Trees'

Fan favorite award-winning – Canada’s ‘The Man Who Planted Trees’

Other must see and places to eat: The blue ceiling of The Notre Dame Basilica (old town), the views from Mount Royal and a visit to the Olympic Stadium can only be out done by taking in a Montreal Canadians game. All Canadians LOVE their hockey, but the French Canadians take that to an even higher level – like Europeans and their football.  Two higher end dining experiences – Bis Italian (center Montreal) and Gibby’s Steakhouse (old town).

Check out more pictures under the Global Gallery tab.