Docent Facts

Docent Facts

1. Andrea Kowch (American, b. 1986). Sojourn, 2011.
Acrylic on canvas, 72 x 60 inches. Grand Rapids Art Museum, Museum Purchase, Booth Collection, 2012.52. © Andrea Kowch
Docent: Nancy Clouse | Paintings often start as drawings
In planning her very detailed paintings, Kowch photographs landscapes for possible backgrounds as well as the models, their clothing, and various arrangements. She makes a detailed sketch with pencil on paper, then enlarges that sketch onto a huge primed canvas using a projector. This saves her time and results in the transfer of her pencil drawing accurately to the large canvas.


2. Elizabeth Nourse (American, 1859–1938). Humble Menage (or A Humble Home), 1895–1897.
Oil on canvas, 39.5 x 39.5 inches. Grand Rapids Art Museum, Gift of Mrs. Cyrus E. Perkins, 1911.1.4

Docent: Carol Greenburg | Featuring the importance of families
Humble Menage is among the first paintings to enter GRAM’s collection and was a gift of one of the founders and first president of the Museum, Mrs. Cyrus E. Perkins. The artist often featured the dignity of peasant women and children in her paintings, emphasized here by the centrality of the mother’s role within the family by reflecting her face in the mirror.


3. & 7.
William Merritt Chase (American, 1849–1916).  Lady  in  Opera  Cloak  (Portrait of Miss C.),  c. 1893.

Oil on canvas, 48 x 48 inches. Grand Rapids Art Museum, Gift of Emily J. Clark, 1935.1.


Robert Henri (American, 1865–1929). Portrait of Gertrude Kaska, 1904.
Oil on canvas, 31.6 x 27.6 inches. Grand Rapids Art Museum, Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Hyman J. Bylan, 1962.1.84

Docent: Bruce Bailey | Artists share personal views
Robert Henri’s relationship with William Merritt Chase began with mutual admiration and ended in full-blown animosity. Henri was hired by Chase to teach at the New York School of Art. During that time, both were considered among the country’s most influential art teachers. Their philosophical differences soon emerged and played out on a national stage and forced a generation of artists to address the issues. Chase prized accomplished brushwork and technique, while Henri encouraged unrefined brushwork and embraced less traditional subject matters. This philosophical debate went beyond their classrooms, and Chase eventually left the school he had founded.


4. Monir Farmanfarmaian (Iranian, 1924–2019). Tir (Convertible Series), 2015.
Mirror, reverse-glass painting, plaster on wood, 63 x 63 x 6 inches. Grand Rapids Art Museum. Museum Purchase, Wege Fund, 2018.1a-f. Photo by Robert Divers Herrick. © Monir Farmanfarmaian

Docent: Joy Uddin | Monir’s favorite shape is the hexagon
Tir is part of the artist’s Convertible Series, meaning the 6 quadrilateral shapes can be reconfigured into 10 different configurations. Inspiration for this work came in 1966, when the artist traveled to Shiraz, Iran, and visited the Shah Cheragh mosque, which translates to “King of the Light.” The artist turned aspects of ancient Islamic architecture into geometric abstract sculptures.


5. Lewis Lumen Cross (American, 1864–1951). Bird’s Eye View of Passenger Pigeons Nesting, 1934.
Oil on canvas, 28.625 x 47.8125 inches. Grand Rapids Art Museum, Gift of Ruth Skwarek in memory of Elsa and Henry Mueller, 1983.1.20

Docent: Rae Lampen | The extinction of Passenger Pigeons
A historic report described the flight of Passenger Pigeons as a mile wide, taking up to several hours to pass overhead and sounding like thunder as they approached. The birds migrated in flocks of millions throughout midwestern North America and east of the Rocky Mountains during the 1800s. The birds were hunted out of existence in the early 1900s, and their extinction became a significant marker in wildlife conservation awareness and laws.

6. Asher B. Durand (American, 1796–1886). View in the Valley of Oberhasle, Switzerland, 1842.
Oil on canvas, 32 x 45 inches. Grand Rapids Art Museum, Museum Purchase, 1986.1.3

Docent: Sharon McGowan | Artist’s influence on U.S. currency
This majestic landscape is one of four paintings Durand painted after a trip to Switzerland in 1840. His graphic work for Federal Bureau of Printing and Engraving was influential in establishing the design tradition and many of the pictorial and ornamental devices for U.S. paper currency. 


7. Frederick Carl Frieseke (American, 1874–1939). Reflections, c. 1912.
Oil on canvas, 25 x 32 inches. Grand Rapids Art Museum, Gift of Emily J. Clark, 1935.1.9

Docent: Sharon Lantinga | Claude Monet as a neighbor
This scene is of the artist’s house and garden, next-door to Claude Monet’s house in Giverny, France. Frieseke moved from the U.S. to join an artists’ colony. The artist created his work en plein air, meaning out of doors in the surrounding gardens.


8. Anila Quayyum Agha (American, b. Pakistan 1965). Intersections Teal, 2016.
Embroidery and encaustic on laser-cut paper, 29 x 22 inches. Grand Rapids Art Museum, Museum Purchase, 2016.28. © Anila Quayyum Agha

Docent: Ann Zoellner | Art bridges cultures
In Intersections, the geometrical patterning used by Agha is found in Islam sacred spaces. Agha was inspired by the palace Alhambra in Granada, Spain, not unlike the mosques of her homeland. The palace was a place where “Islamic and Western discourses met and co-existed in harmony.” Intersections relies on the “purity and inner symmetry of geometric design, the interpretation of the cast shadows and the viewer’s presence within a public place.”


9. Mathias J. Alten (American, 1871–1938). The Broken Mast, 1910–1911.
Oil on canvas, 31.75 x 41.625. Grand Rapids Art Museum, Gift of Peter C. and Pat Cook, 1998.1.2

Docent: Nancy Clouse | Local artist goes abroad
Grand Rapids native Mathias Alten visited the Netherlands in August 1910 with his family and one of his students. He spent a year in Katwijk and other coastal towns, producing seascapes and beach scenes almost every day. It is tradition in the Netherlands for three horse teams to pull in boats for repairs for the season.