Info meeting for Morocco study abroad!

Marrakech

There will be an informational meeting for the Morocco study abroad in Winterim 2019 tomorrow, May 2nd at 11:00 AM in ART 184. We are now accepting deposits for the course. For further information about the meeting, the courses or the deposit, contact Professor Kelly Monico at kmonico@msudenver.edu or Leila Armstrong at armstrle@msudenver.edu.

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Winterim in Morocco

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Study abroad in Morocco in Winterim of 2019 and earn 6 upper division credits (mostly) before the Spring 2019 semester even begins!

 

Professor Leila Armstrong will teach Moroccan Art, Architecture, and Urbanism 750 – 1950, a course in which we examine the art, architecture and urbanism of the imperial cities of Marrakesh, Rabat, Fez, Meknes, Chefchaouen, and Casablanca, spanning the period of the first Islamic dynasty in Morocco and continuing through the colonial/French Protectorate period. Through on-site lectures, you’ll learn the basics of Islamic religious, civic, and palatial architecture, regionally specific Moroccan architectural styles and debates about the “Islamic” city. We’ll examine the way styles from Islamic lands and dynasties outside of Morocco influenced art and architecture, how they were modified by local concerns and traditions, and how colonial architecture both took from and imposed itself upon local traditions. You’ll also learn about ceramic and textile production, both as they relate to architectural decoration and as luxury objects. Finally, through visits to the souqs and the Djemaa al-Fna in Marrakesh, we explore Orientalist fantasies, the realities of the “Orient”, and the intersections between Orientalism and commodity. This is a three-credit upper division art history course.

 

In conjunction with ARTH 321D, Professor Kelly Monico will teach the Patterns and Networks course, which introduces traditional texts on ornamentation and pattern theory as well as seminal texts on networks and city planning as the basis for making artwork. Employing a research-based practice, students make creative work of varying media that shares an exploration of patterning, ornamentation, and additional organizational structures. Lectures examine and demonstrate traditional strategies and the role of this subject in contemporary art, craft and design practice. This is a three-credit integrated media course.

 

Approximate cost for the study abroad (includes airfare, room and board, all entry fees, and tuition) is $4,918.00. For further information or to be placed on the email list, please contact Professor Leila Armstrong via email at armstrle@msudenver.edu, or Professor Kelly Monico at kmonico@msudenver.edu. You can also read about the previous study abroad in Morocco (and feast your eyes on some lovely scenery) here: https://msudenverarthistory.wordpress.com/2017/03/05/winterim-in-morocco/

 

Pink Palace: An Homage to Casa Bonita

If you grew up in Denver, it’s likely you’ve been to Casa Bonita at least once. The restaurant is legendary, with its waterfall and lagoon, cliff divers, gorilla act, Black Bart’s Cave, the strange Wild West section, the terrible food, and the endless sopapillas. My childhood memories of the restaurant are decidedly positive – even the food! – the interior seemed cavernous and full of wonders, Black Bart’s Cave was a terrifying delight, and I loved watching the divers. Returning recently as an adult, the only reassessment was the food, which is indeed terrible. The interior was just as cavernous as I remembered, and honestly there are many things about it that are still wondrous – why is there a wild west section in a Mexican restaurant? How can a restaurant with food this terrible survive? How can the food be so terrible and the sopapillas be so delicious? Who thought dining while enveloped by the scent of chlorine was a good idea? And yet, Casa Bonita persists. The Lakewood location (it began as a chain) opened in 1974, and in 2015 the city designated it a historic landmark.

 

Next Gallery’s current exhibition, Pink Palace: An Homage to Casa Bonita solicited artistic responses to this local landmark. If you’ve been to Casa Bonita, many of the works will resonate immediately. The works are reverent, tongue in cheek, funny, and at times critical. Kelly Clements’ work Wonderful Whiz opens the show and sets the tone. It’s a Cheez Whiz fountain, likely a comment on the quality of food at the restaurant (although I might argue Cheez Whiz is even a little too high class for Casa Bonita). Speaking of cheese…Laurie Adams’ Velvet Night is a black velvet painting of Casa Bonita at night. The work speaks perfectly to the grand architectural stylings of the building itself and the decidedly less grand, but rather incredibly kitschy interior through the use of black velvet, a painting technique/style that is itself considered kitsch.

Arlo White’s Chiquita’s Revenge, is a mixed media mash-up of Casa Bonita’s squirrelly gorilla (the gorilla act is rife with shenanigans and he always eludes his would-be captors) with King Kong, as Chiquita has ascended the pink tower triumphantly à la Kong while the building goes up in flames. Stephanie Kuhne’s Casa Bonita in a Box has the gorilla as a jack-in-the-box, covering the exterior of the box in locales you find inside the restaurant. Merhia Wiese and Stuart Semples’ Pantone – Pinkest Pink, Pantone Casa Bonita Waterfall Blue looks at first like a color-field abstraction, but the colors are a spot-on match for the actual building and the artificial blue of the waterfall and lagoon inside. The colors instantly evoke the restaurant despite the complete abstraction of the work. Finally, Dale Sawin’s Table Flag is a grossly enlarged version of the table flag used to summon the waitress for endless sopapillas, the best part of a visit to the Mexican themed funhouse.

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Love it or hate it, Casa Bonita is a Denver institution, and Next Gallery’s show is a fun visual journey through other people’s memories (both childhood and more recent visits). If you haven’t been to Casa Bonita, you’re in luck, Next Gallery is a mere block away – just make sure to eat dinner before you go.

Don’t Miss Art History Game Night!

Our Fall High Tea event was such a success that we wanted to sponsor another get-together for art history folks this semester. Enter “Art History Game Night,” our spring social for art history folks and their friends, April 5th @ 4:30pm in the cafe area of the Auraria library! (Okay, “Game Night” is a bit of a misnomer but “Game Afternoon” didn’t have the same ring.)IMG_2645

Grab a coffee, bring some snacks, and challenge your friends, classmates, or professors to a battle of wits. We’re keeping it old school with vintage board and card games. Mix and match cards to complete your collection of Egyptian artifacts with Mummy Rummy. Play Ur, the ancient game of Sumer, based on the mysterious gaming board discovered in the archaeological investigations of the royal cemetery. Or plan your heist of famous artworks while your fellow gamers try to catch you before you get away with the loot in The Great Museum Caper. Behead high-ranking nobles to score points in the wickedly-fun game of Guillotine, or make your fortune while bidding on art at auction in the game of Masterpiece.

Take a break from the grind of the semester and make some new friends (or catch up with old ones). There’s no cost, no RSVP, and no stress for this event- just show up and play. We hope to see you all there!

 

 

Confederate monuments: An Argument for the Importance of the Humanities.

Confederate monuments across the United States have become a flashpoint over the last year, and tragically boiled over with the Neo-Nazi protest in Charlottesville, Virginia that led to the death of a counter-protestor, Heather Heyer on August 12th, 2017. While many Civil War and Confederate monuments are products of a different era, you might be surprised to learn that the memory being enshrined in them largely postdates the Reconstruction Era (1865 – 1877), by quite a bit. The chart below, put together by the Southern Poverty Law Center shows a significant spike in the production of these monuments beginning around 1906, and coincides largely with attempts to suppress black voting and the introduction of Jim Crow laws in the South.

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Civil War and Confederate monuments and memorials are still being commissioned and built today – certainly not at the rate they were in the early 1900s, but nonetheless they are still being built. Critics of these monuments and memorials argue that they perpetuate a racist ideology that continues to affect people of color in the United States today. Those in favor of keeping the monuments argue that they are about heritage and history, while others argue that the Civil War wasn’t really about slavery but that it was a war over states’ rights and economic issues and therefore the monuments aren’t racist.

These monuments exist in the northern US as well, and as Kirk Savage argued in his article “The Politics of Memory”, in order for the two sides to reconcile after the devastation of the Civil War, a common language of commemoration had to be adopted which ignored entirely the horrifying history of slavery. The reason for this is that ultimately, the North did not go to war to abolish slavery, but the South seceded to preserve slavery. By eliding or erasing the issue of slavery altogether from the commemorative language, both sides could instill a more noble memory in the permanent landscape of the nation.

A recent report from the Southern Poverty Law Center points to why this debate may have gotten so heated, and why some may be getting history so wrong. In a survey of 1,000 high school seniors, only 8% correctly identified slavery as the reason the South seceded. According to the report, it is not so much that teachers are unaware of slavery or the hard truth of it, but rather that they are uncomfortable talking about the hard truths of slavery, because it makes students (both students of color and white students) uncomfortable, there is little guidance on how to teach such a hard subject, and finally that textbooks and teachers “accentuate the positive”.

I find it difficult to advocate for the removal of these monuments, memorials, and statues, as it is a slippery slope, and gives fuel to those who would censor Andreas Serrano, Robert Mapplethorpe, Chris Ofili, to name just a few of the more famous instances. Rather, I think Anita Moskowitz’s response to a poll by the College Art Association regarding the removal of such monuments puts it best, “Most people, including art historians and museum personnel, are used to seeing works of art out of context … It is the job of art historians and museum curators to contextualize and analyze the original function and meaning of the monuments and symbols both for scholars and the public at large”. This in turn affirms the need for the humanities at large, and art history in particular, despite the continued assault against them as disciplines at universities across the United States.

MSUDenver Medievalisms

medievalisms

During the Fall 2017 semester, students in “Medieval Art” had the opportunity to explore examples of medievalisms from visual and material culture. ‘Medievalisms’ are the evocations of the middle ages in post-medieval period, think Lord of Rings, Game of Thrones, and Medieval Times.

Some of the students built websites to demonstrate their new-found knowledge, and you can check it out at: https://msudenvermedievalisms.weebly.com/