New Cummer exhibit worth racing to see

New Cummer exhibit worth racing to see

Great Age of the American Automobile  fun for all ages –

Staci Bu Shea, guest curator – Chrysler  Corporation and  Carrozzeria Ghia, Chrysler Turbine, 1963,  front-engine,  rear-drive hard top  coupe, Courtesy  of the Chrysler  Group, LLC

Staci Bu Shea, guest curator – Chrysler
Corporation and Carrozzeria Ghia, Chrysler Turbine, 1963,
front-engine, rear-drive hard top coupe, Courtesy of the Chrysler Group, LLC

Though art, generally, is the great imitator of life, the newest “raciest” exhibit at The Cummer Museum of Art & Gardens shows how art has influenced the life of the American automobile.
Planning ahead very early – having booked two years ago the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, collection of automotive drawings – The Cummer’s Chief Curator Holly Keris pondered during that time about how to bring the exhibit to life. “This show started with the art, showing how the hand of an artist can play a significant role in the design of a product,” she said. Keris and Staci Bu Shea, a guest curator coordinating the exhibition, worked closely with Bill Warner, founder and chairman of Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance, to bring 2D and 3D art together.

The classic automobiles on display span a short period, from 1956 to 1963, in the history of automotive design although the exhibit includes a longer period from the early 1950s to the early 1970s. “The cultural implications that cars supplied in the era after World War II have given rise to a commodity culture, with objects becoming more important than they actually are,” noted Bu Shea. “This exhibit captures how art is utilized in everyday life, how culture in general is informed by these objects.”

Bu Shea started with 130 drawings from the collection of Jean S. and Frederick A. Sharf in collaboration with the MFA, and narrowed it down to 90 drawings in three categories. The exhibit is spread out through three galleries, including drawings, photographs, film clips and, of course, the six automobiles that represent the culmination of the era’s engineering and design.

Commercials by Studebaker, Texaco and American Motors from the 1950s and 1960s will have visitors humming jingles from bygone days. Beyond that, notes Bu Shea “the gender positioning, class and style of the culture of the automobile is represented in those videos.”

Cadillac Division of General Motors, Cadillac El Dorado Biarritz, 1957 , Courtesy of William C. Warner

Cadillac Division of General Motors, Cadillac El Dorado Biarritz, 1957 , Courtesy of William C. Warner

Courtesy of the General Motors Heritage Collection, a display of reproductions will take visitors through the story of the design and production of the Firebird II, which was never marketed. The display includes a 1956 film clip with George Jetson-like vignettes of hands-free driving.

The exhibit, which opened on May 14, runs through Sep. 8, and visitors will be delighted with the interactive roadmap that provides opportunities to think about, respond to and make their own connections of art to life. “We’re poised to create a very exciting experience for visitors,” said Keris.

By Kate A. Hallock
Resident Community News

Future Retro has programming for all ages throughout the summer
Concerts, lectures, movie nights and more are in store at The Cummer this summer, making the museum a weekend destination for car and art aficionados as well as budding and amateur artists. Check out this schedule and make your reservations now.
• Motown Concert with KTG in the Gardens –
Friday, Jun. 14, 7-9 p.m. Call
(904) 899-6038 to purchase tickets or visit www.cummer.org.
• Talks and Tea with Guest Curator Staci Bu Shea –
Wednesday, Jun. 19 and
Thursday, Jun. 20, 1:30 p.m. Call (904) 899-6038 to RSVP.
• Movie Night at The Cummer –
Fridays at 7:30 p.m. includes Grease on Jun. 28,
Cars on Jul. 19 and American Graffiti on Aug. 16. Call (904) 899-6038 to RSVP.
• Sock Hop with a DJ spinning the oldies – Friday, Jul. 12, 7:30-10:30 p.m.
Call (904) 899-6038 to RSVP.
• Made in the USA Community Car Show –
Saturday, Aug. 3, 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.
• Automotive Inspiration: Create Your Own Car Design – Saturdays, Jun. 29 and
Jul. 27, 1-3 p.m., ages 7 to 13.
• Art for Two –
Saturdays, Jul. 13 and Aug. 10, 10:30 a.m. to noon, ages 3 to 5.
• Art Adventures – Saturdays, Jul. 20 and Aug. 17, 10:30 a.m. to noon, ages 6 to 12.
(For all drawing classes, call (904) 355-0630 to reserve an easel.)

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