1001 Bissonnet Street
Houston, TX 77005
January 2004–My initial visit to the Museum of Fine Arts Houston has left a lasting impression in my mind as a magnificent place to gain an understanding of all types of art forms. Even though it has been several years since I first encountered the museum in the sixth grade, it has not ventured from its high standards of visitor appreciation and educational stimulation. The museum has offered endless ways to view sculpting, painting, as well as all types of modern and abstract art. A plethora of artistical geniuses embrace the boundaries of this establishment, and I am able to share a first hand account of my experience with their masterpieces, as well as my experience with making masterpieces of my own.
The background of the museum is enriched with the culture of Houstonians. The vision for the museum began with a group of civic leaders who organized the Houston Public School Art League for the “encouragement of art and culture in the public school system” (Raynor) These men then founded the Museum of Fine arts in Houston, Tx . The original building by William Ward Watkins was completed in 1926. After the museum started getting recognition many people started donating there services to the Museum such as painting, artifacts, and different historical items. In 1966, an addition to the museum called Bayou Bend Collections opened its doors. “Also, a married couple donated their house to the museum in 1979, and it is now called Rienzi. This home was the influence for the European era at the museum. In 1999, the Rienzi finally opens its doors to Houston .”(Silher) .
During my first visit to the museum, I was able to view various art forms and learn about native Houston artists. Now several years later, living up to my promise to revisit the museum, the transformation has been tremendous. The building has been enlarged to house more art work. The architecture has been embellished with shrubs and plants, as well as modernized tinted windows. The hours have changed, and they are now open from Tuesday through Sunday from twelve noon to nine at night. The general admission for a student is three dollars and fifty cents including children eighteen and younger, and adults tickets are seven dollars person, just a minute increase from my first visit. Those who are members of the Museum of Fine Arts have free admission. There were so many different things to see. The museum included Caroline Wiess Law Building , Audrey Jones Beck Building , Cullen Sculpture Garden , Glassell School of Art, and Hirsch Library.
I decided to do the newest addition to the in house exhibits, the 17th Century French Art exhibit. It had paintings by the most prominent French artists such as Francois Bouchon’s “Lover’s in the Park”. It was an oil on canvas that depicted a man and a woman without distinct facial features enjoying a day in the park. It had realistic trees, birds, and a lake. My favorite of all the painting was “Christ Healing the Blind” an acrylic mural by Phillipe de Champagne. I am very spiritual and the glow that was presented in the painting really displayed Christ as a true deity. I encountered many nude sculptures, and to me they all resembled one another. My favorite sculpture was “Butterfly Woman” by Claude Joseph Vernet. It was a woman with beautiful butterfly wings holding a flower in her right hand.
The other in house exhibit is a Modern Art exhibit that featured some of the newly emerging artist from around the country. Many of the art works were completed by Houston artist. It is the museums way of giving back to the community. The Modern Art exhibits have different mosaics and paintings that really did not have a central theme. It captured madness, anger, love and insanity. An anonymous artist painted a picture of a bleeding moon with dark eyes all around it. The tour guide asked for you to try and interpret the painting, but no one really knew what the artist had in mind. One of the spot light paintings in the exhibit was Frida Khalo, self portrait that portrayed her delivering a stillborn child. She was lying in a hospital bed with blood streaming from her and a deceased child on the floor. The exhibit was definitely thought provoking.” Further research provided the fact that she was never able to conceive and the painting was a bitter outcry to her husband and famous painter Diego Rivera” (Boyd).
After all this excitement it was time for lunch. Down in the Audrey Jones Beck Building there is a lunch spot called Café Express, quite a change form the sack lunch in sixth grade. It is also one of the additions to the museum that has made this event more memorable. This place has all your normal foods with an artistic flavor. Even though the food seems to present itself so tastefully, I decided to have a cup of coffee and a sandwich. It had to be the most expensive turkey and Swiss sandwich I have ever had. It was very tasty and very enhancing. Also, the atmosphere was very diverse and encompassed many different works of arts down in the café. Ethnical diversity showed that many people of different races enjoy art. The café also displayed some of the museums in the world who also display fine arts. From the pictures, I could see that we have one of the best Art Museums in the country. It had modern steel tables and chairs that gave the place the sheik look of the 21 century.
After lunch, the best part of the tour was going to Glassell again. This time we made homemade paper from pulp. The paper was blended in a blender then dried on a strainer. We were welcome to come back and pick it up the next day but I did not have time. The other project was the stained glass pottery. Different pieces of stained and broken glass were impressed in clay to decorate pottery. It was arts and crafts week. I learned the origination of pottery and how cultural diffusion caused what used to be a technique of building houses into a profitable work of art. Most of the people in the class with me were teachers from the visiting schools whose students were next door doing Ink Washes. I went over to spy on their creations. They were each given a piece of thick card stock and the black ink is dropped on the paper until it makes a figure and with plain water different shades of grey are displayed. It can be enhanced and given form with pencil and black marker. Lastly, we where shown the color spectrum and taught about primary colors. When learned what to mix with what, and what colors are complementary. After building my own color palate, it was time to say good bye to the world of art.
After a long day at the museum, I was not ready to go. Even though the construction of the Light Rail down town made it very confusing to maneuver, I enjoyed my self tremendously, and learned so much information about the world of art. The museum created an emotional catharsis that is not achieved by any other place. The Museum of Fine Arts was only a temporary stress reliever, but it helped me to realize the only permanent remedy is to introduce Art back into my life. As I was exiting the museum, I saw the wall of donors that listed the financial background of the museum and different organizations and companies that have donated to the place that brings so much comfort and joy to me. I reminisced on the days when finger painting was my favorite pastime. Art was my escape from the worries of the world, making it a vital part of my life. I encourage all people to never forget the impact that art has had in your lives. Everyone had an inner Picasso and Michelangelo at one time. The expansion of the art museum has really benefited the experience of touring the museum, making it significantly more enjoyable. Not only do you have the opportunity to view art, but you learn how to create your own “Mona Lisa.”