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Alex the Archaeologist visits

Below is an excerpt from a note from one of our Docents. She was so impressed with the 6th grade students from Mercy High School who came for a Passport to the Past tour. As she describes, the preparation work they did with “Alex the Archaeologist” was reflected in their tour experience. Please read on to hear about a school tour at MAG from a Docent’s perspective.

Alex the Archaeologist

Alex the Archaeologist in the Mercy classroom

We started our tour at the Ancient Middle East Gallery, which consists of cases, filled with ancient artifacts.  Normally, this is not the most exciting part of PP tour, but immediately the students were very engaged with the objects, which surprised me a bit.  Of course they had studied  Nomadic Cultures and early  settlement along the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers,  and things like cuneiform tablets.  But they were really interested in all the objects in the cases, where they came from, how old they were, what were they used for,  why did we have a broken bowl, etc.  They were very impressed with the idea that the things they were looking at had been used by ancient peoples in their everyday lives.

The students told me that they had been visited by Alex the Archaeologist, how much they enjoyed it and how much they learned.  I can only conclude that the students’  interest in and excitement about the objects in the cases and the objects they saw throughout the tour was a direct result of their experience with Alex the.  His visit really gave the artifacts meaning beyond what I was telling them and enhanced the whole MAG Passport to the Past Tour.

I hope more students have the “Alex” experience, because I saw first hand how enriching it was and how it complemented and strengthened the MAG tour experience.

~ Jane

SPECIAL NOTE:  Our newest eBook, Ancient Greece: Exploring Ancient Artifacts with Alex the Archaeologist has been published and is designed for classroom use by grades 6–12. The book, which meet Common Core standards, is available free from the iTunes Store. Read more about this book and also our first eBook, Ancient Egypt: Exploring Ancient Artifacts with Alex the Archaeologist, here.

Art Magic – The 2015 Kid’s Show

There is something so magical about kids’ art.

Allison Zon

Pastel by Allison Z

The artwork currently on view in the Winter 2015 Kid’s Show at the Creative Workshop features work from kids [aka ARTISTS] of all ages [4-15 years] with a diverse array of subject matter and medium, displayed side by side.

WWII Mayhem by Ian G.

WWII Mayhem by Ian G.

Students in our winter children’s art classes have been having fun exploring, learning, and developing their artistic skills to create some great pieces for the show. It has been exciting to see our students from the first day of class improve as artists and create a lot of fantastic work.

Clay Birds by Resse E. and Marisole M.

Clay Birds by Resse E. and Marisole M.

One of the most interesting series of works in the show is the ceramic birds from Linda DelMonte’s Clay Creations classes. Each of the birds began as a simple pinch pot. As students sculpted the wings, eyes, and legs, each bird developed its own quirky personality. Some of the birds are brightly colored with polka-dotted bodies and others have starry eyes. The funny little winged animals are scattered throughout the gallery, so be sure to look closely!

Everything in the show is dynamic, unique, and each work has its own story. The artwork created by all of our dedicated and creative young artists is exciting and inspiring – come by the Creative Workshop to see the show.  On view until March 6th!

Changes in the Wilson Gallery

New art has been installed just outside the Grand Gallery at MAG.

"Untitled" by Kuwayama
Tadaaki Kuwayama
American, born in Nagoya, Japan, 1932
Untitled, 1968
Acrylic paint on canvas with aluminum strips

When Tadaaki Kuwayama arrived in America in 1958, Abstract Expressionism, an often gestural, energetic, and performative style, dominated the art scene and he found himself rebelling against its aesthetic. His sleek, geometric paintings positioned him within the minimalist wave of the 1960s. Kuwayama’s distinctive style featured canvases with vivid fields of acrylic paint divided by thin strips of aluminum. “When I started my practice,” he said in a recent interview, “I felt the age of painting was over, and I wanted to make things that had no trace of painterliness in them, things that existed in a different dimension.”

detail Kuwayama

Tadaaki Kuwayama, “Untitled”, detail


The Carnegie Building 1911-2015

carnegie building fire 1-27-2015 (4)In the early hours of January 27, 2015, fire broke out in the Carnegie Building on the UR’s historic Prince Street Campus. The building was being renovated at the time, and was largely empty. Structural engineers will look at the building today to see if it can be saved.

History of the Carnegie Building, from May’s History of the University of Rochester:

It was revealed on March 28, 1905, that the steel magnate, Andrew Carnegie, would donate $100,000 for an applied science building on condition that the U. of R. acquired an equal amount in endowment. William R. Willcox, non-graduate 1888, a lawyer and politician of New York City and an intimate of Carnegie, helped to obtain the offer. Notwithstanding Carnegie’s almost complete commitment to financing libraries, Willcox and Rhees, working in double harness, managed to get the promise of $100,000, which would be adequate not only to erect but also to equip a building for both mechanical and electrical engineering, it was optimistically supposed…

It was clear to Rhees that it would be an exceptionally hard task to match the Carnegie offer, not least because two wealthy Rochester friends of the college, George Eastman and Hiram W. Sibley, had just promised to finance other University projects…Trustees estimated that if alumni and friends living outside of Rochester contributed $30,000 to the “Applied Science Fund,” the rest could be secured within the Genesee community itself. Great reliance was placed upon the graduates in the New York City area, for whose information, primarily, a special brochure, “The U. of R.: its Story,” was prepared. In synopsis form, the pamphlet reviewed the history of the institution (not accurate in every detail) and it contained an attractive “Plan for Progress.” SitePlan1906A diagram of the college grounds depicted the existing academic structures and spotted sites that had already been selected for residence halls, an auditorium, an art museum, and other buildings without designation. Photographs of university buildings, homes of the fraternities among them, embellished the most elaborate production on the University, that had yet been printed.

It seems that New York graduates pledged about $17,500, much less than had been anticipated, and the campaign as a whole was lamed by the previous solicitation of funds and by a business recession in 1907. Hiram W. Sibley, son of a generous benefactor, told Rhees “quite kindly, but frankly” that his entire interest in scientific education was focused on Cornell. Perhaps John D. Rockefeller, Sr., would come to the rescue…

Instead of a direct approach, Rhees sought an appropriation from the Rockefeller-financed General Education Board, headed by Frederick T. Gates, class of 1877. This gambit paid off, for the Board promised $30,000 if the remainder of the $70,000 required for the Applied Science Fund were raised. By the end of 1908, three years after the solicitation began, the necessary sum was in hand.

The building opened in 1911, and was was renovated in 1930 for the study of geology, psychology, and sociology, and in 1944 the upper floors were converted for dormitory use by the College for Women, according to Melissa Mead, the John M. and Barbara Keil University Archivist and Rochester Collections Librarian. The University sold the building in 1955, after the merger of the Men’s and Women’s campuses.

Filling hearts with art

Late last week, Paul Harp lead students from Norman Howard School in a sequenced clay project in the Creative Workshop. As they made connections between what they learn at school, what they saw on their tour and what they are making one student said, “This clay project fills my heart!”

That fills our hearts, too.

Scoring the clay

Scoring the clay

letting the saucers dry

Letting the bowl-part dry

finished prodoct

Finished product


Carol adds author to her resume

The Provost’s annual celebration honors faculty and staff from throughout the University who have authored a book, or recording, or its equivalent, within the past year. Honorees may be members of the tenured, tenure-track, clinical, adjunct, or part-time faculty, or staff.  Book copies are available for sale, and authors speak about their work. The celebration will be held today, December 10 at 3:30 in the Rush Rees Library on the University of Rochester River Campus.

A Sketchbook of Cortona

We are proud to announce that Carol Acquilano’s A Sketchbook of Cortona will be featured at the University event today. The book features reproductions of 53 watercolors and drawings from Carol’s trip to Italy.

“Carol Acquilano paints the landscape in and around her native city of Rochester, New York. Her favorite place to paint, however, is in Italy, where she feels the connection to her ancestral roots. Also a printmaker, Carol has exhibited her work in Boston, Ithaca, Chicago, Philadelphia, Rochester, and Cortona, Italy.” ~ Daniel Smith

Copies are also available at The Gallery Store at MAG, and at Studio3C,  in the Anderson Alley Arts building.

Our Faces Poster

Carol Yost of our Education Department shared a note that she received from a Gates Chili teacher. Her class had recently joined us at MAG for a tour.

The teacher shared this drawing done by a young student, 5 years old. She was inspired by one of the faces on our MAG poster (cut out and shown below). It’s an example of one of the many uses teachers have found for these posters in their classroom.

MAG art and drawing

All teachers get a ‘Faces Poster’ when they come to MAG for school tours or teacher in-service workshops, and all posters include a number of curriculum-connected activities for the classroom. Here are a couple examples of the suggested related activities that can be used to bring MAG back into the classroom.

Empathetic Journaling:  Ask students to select an image from the poster. Have students imagine in writing what the person might be feeling, and what he or she may be thinking about. Ask them to write about a time when they felt the same way.

Curate a Collection: Cut apart the poster to make a set of portraiture cards. Lead students in playing a game where they sort the cards into a variety of categories.

Poetry: Have students select a work of art from the poster and use as many adjectives as they can to describe it. Ask students to create a poem with those words using 140 characters, the number Twitter allows. Then have students read their poems out loud and see if their classmates can guess which image inspired each poem.

The Gallery has a fantastic Education Department – which may be one of our best kept secrets. You can book a school tour, download lesson plans & classroom activities, and borrow materials from our Teacher Resource Center. Now you know.

Boundless Creativity – The 2014 Children’s Show

Children’s artwork is absolutely uplifting. Whether it is the art of your own child or a child you’ve never met before, there’s something special about seeing the creative efforts of a young mind. The Fall 2014 Children’s Show, currently on view in the Burne Gallery, highlights the impressive work from the fall kid’s classes in the Creative Workshop. After observing the students and their progress over the past few months, I must say that I am proud of each and every student who chose to display their work in the show! What a treat it has been for me to collect and display the beautiful pieces from each of the classes.

pear by James P.

“Pear” by James P.

One piece that always catches my eye is Pear by James P, a student in Johnny Lee Smith’s class, Drawing Better. The lively, complementary colors in this painting seem to be vibrating off of the wall. As I was preparing to hang this work, James and his dad happened to walk by. After meeting James, who is modest, I was surprised to learn that he’d produced one of the most daringly bold pieces in the show! I suppose this is a testament to the power of the arts as a vehicle for personal expression.

"fish" by Wendy B.

“Rainbow Fish” by Wendy B.

An exciting moment for parents and teachers is when a child sees their name on the wall of the gallery for the first time. Some are ecstatic and yell to their parents “Mom, Mom, look! It’s me!” Others are bashful, but proud of their work. I remember Wendy B. seeing her Rainbow Fish for the first time. The young artist, only 5 years old, created a charming underwater scene for her Rainbow Fish with sand and seashells. Wendy’s dad prompted her by asking, “Who made that? Whose name is on the label?” Wendy just shyly beamed, proud of her work.

The Clay-Ville Express

“The Clay-Ville Express”

“The Clay-Ville Express” train has certainly been a crowd favorite. Each student in Linda DelMonte’s class, Clay Creations for 7-9 year olds, created a car for the train. Each student named their car and decorated it accordingly. This photo highlights Joseph’s Engine, Ava’s Glitter Express, and De’Neri’s Red Caboose. Complete with a train track and a sign, all 9 students are proud of their collaborative piece.

It is easy to understand why all the adults are so taken with the kid’s art. A child’s free-flowing creativity is something that artists in any field admire. This show is a celebration of the art created by all of the talented kids who come to the Creative Workshop every Saturday. Their work is truly inspiring – if you can, drop by and take a look at what they’ve created! This exhibit will be on view until November 22nd. Also, be sure to stop by for our Open House on December 6, 11-4 pm | FREE!

Fall 2014 Brochure

Submitted by Allison Rich, Creative Workshop intern.

Celebrating our El Greco – 400 years after his death

El GrecoDomenikos Theotocopoulos
Spanish, ca. 1541 – 1614

The Apparition of the Virgin to St. Hyacinth, ca. 1605 – 1610

El Greco (“The Greek”) is the popular name of Domenikos Theotokopoulos, an artist born in Crete but who lived and studied in Venice and Rome. In 1575, he moved to Toledo, Spain, the center of the Catholic Church’s Counter-Reformation activities. During his career, El Greco developed a unique and dramatically spiritual style of painting that is often considered the forerunner of Baroque art.

In this painting, El Greco expresses spiritual drama by his distinctive use of line, light and color. St. Hyacinth kneels in awed wonder before a mystical vision of the Virgin and Child. The scene takes place in a church interior with pillars and a patterned floor; a shadowy, monochrome figure or statue of a bishop, identifiable by his hooked staff, stands behind the enraptured saint.

According to Christian legend, Hyacinth, a Polish Dominican priest who lived from 1185-1287, witnessed a miraculous apparition of the Virgin Mary on the feast day of her Assumption—the day she was “taken up body and soul into heavenly glory.” In 1594, shortly before El Greco painted this work, Hyacinth was granted sainthood by Pope Clement VIII.

Listen to “400 Years After Death, El Greco Receives Celebration He Sought”  via NPR, Morning Edition.


Creative Workshop student profile – Leonard Polizzi with Lena

Len and Lena Pollozi

Len Polizzi with Lena

“I’ve been a member of the MAG for two years now and with each passing month I keep seeing the value of membership grow and expand. Besides having a great collection and superb exhibits the greatest value has been exposing my grandchildren to all of the beauty of art both as observers and participants in the world of art. One of the things that has enhanced the world of art and all of it’s forms has been the Creative Workshops. By allowing young minds to explore and experience art on many levels we allow them to grow as creative and intuitive young people. No price can be put on that. The classes and a fantastic group of educators and mentors have made my grandchildren’s experience priceless. Thanks a million!”
~ Leonard Polizzi