Uzzle Buzz: “American Culture Studies at its Best”

“Uzzle Buzz” is a series of blog posts, written by various authors, that respond to or comment on some aspect of our exhibition All About America: Photographs by Burk Uzzle.

Townsend Ludington is Boshamer Distinguished Professor, Emeritus, of American Studies and English at UNC-Chapel Hill.

All About America: Photographs by Burk Uzzle, which opened at the Ackland Art Museum on June 24th, is one of the most provocative exhibitions the Museum has offered during the many years I have had the pleasure to live in Chapel Hill and teach at the university. “Provocative” in no way meaning salacious, but because—along with the fine catalogue of Uzzle’s photographs and an insightful essay by Professor Patricia Leighton—we learn so much about the art of photography.

Acland_2008.3.48, 7/23/14, 9:28 AM, 8C, 3476x4042 (552+1085), 58%, Feb'13, 1/25 s, R53.9, G26.0, B35.1

Burk Uzzle, American, born 1938: Family and Friends, Daytona Beach, FL, 1997, 1997. Ackland Art Museum, The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Anonymous Gift, 2008.3.48. © Burk Uzzle.

Uzzle rightly considers himself both artist and photographer; no one would challenge him. All 42 of the works on view display the visual acuity of a greatly talented professional; each has a narrative about some aspect of American life during the turbulent years 1968-2014. Ordered chronologically, the first photographs take us back into such monumental moments as the death of Martin Luther King and its aftermath; Woodstock; the Peace movement, and then—like Uzzle himself, it would seem—into a more elegiac mood in the last photographs.

But always there are counterpoints: that of young friends and raw sexuality in Family and Friends, Daytona Beach, FL, 1997 immediately preceding the pastoral, Huck Finn qualities of River Bank Dive, Georgia, 2001. Continue reading

Uzzle Buzz: Collection Connection

“Uzzle Buzz” is a series of blog posts, written by various authors, that respond to or comment on some aspect of our exhibition All About America: Photographs by Burk Uzzle.

Carolyn Allmendinger is Director of Academic Programs at the Ackland Art Museum.

Barn with Deer, 2009   Roe Deer in the Snow

When the Ackland’s acquisitions committee discusses the reasons to add a work of art to the collection, one of the things we consider is how our audiences might engage with that work. In the case of Barn with Deer, we knew that we wanted to include it in the exhibition All About America. In addition, we remembered that one of our Ackland Student Guides had designed a gallery tour called “The Art of the Hunt.” Barn with Deer, we thought, would be a great addition to that tour if she wanted to offer an encore performance. Thematically, it goes particularly well with Gustave Courbet’s painting, Roe Deer in the Snow, on view in the Museum’s collection galleries. Both Uzzle’s and Courbet’s works depicted rustic winter scenes in which deer figured prominently – in Courbet’s painting they are just off of the composition’s center and Uzzle’s a deer skin with head attached is at the lower left. Continue reading

Meet the Staff: Joel VanderKamp

JOEL VANDERKAMP is a preparator at the Ackland Art Museum.

5cde0142-46c2-4a78-92d2-dcb1ef3ca16aHow long have you been at the Ackland?
I began in August of 2013

What brought you to the Ackland?
The Ackland is at the intersection of my community and my work experience. I followed my wife to Chapel Hill and spent the first few years of my relocation commuting to the Weatherspoon Art Museum in Greensboro. I have a fairly broad art handling experience and have found that I really enjoy working with encyclopedic collections. When the opportunity arose to work with the Ackland’s collection and programming I jumped at it.

What do you do at the Ackland?
I am a preparator. That means a lot of different things depending on the museum. The primary role of the preparator is to handle the art, be it for exhibition, storage, shipping, documentation, etc. At the Ackland the preparator also creates/supports the design and construction of the exhibition spaces, display cases, signage and lighting. Because the Ackland has a diverse collection and is relatively small in scale my responsibilities are quite various.

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Meet the Staff: Brian Fletcher

BRIAN FLETCHER is a Security Guard at the Ackland Art Museum.

How long have you been at the Ackland?

Since October 2011.

What brought you to the Ackland?

I had recently come to the university as a part-time contract guard through the Department of Public Safety, looking after various parking decks, dormitories, and other campus buildings-mostly third shift, overnight hours. I was approached by one of my supervisors, Steve Riddle, about some available hours at the Ackland Art Museum. I took him up on the offer, as I have always loved art — my late grandmother was a gifted oil painter, I took several art classes during my time at Campbell University, and I paint acrylics when time allows. The prospect of no longer starting my day at three o’clock in the afternoon or going to bed with the neighborhood rooster crowing didn’t discourage me either. I quickly came to really enjoy the Ackland and the people here. I learned that there was an opening for a full-time security officer, so I applied. I became a full-time guard here in January of 2012.

Ackland Art Museum Security Officer Vicki R. Parriman, 1967-2016

12509855_10205608269469709_7302457302926117481_nVicki Parriman, 48, a security officer at the Ackland Art Museum, died January 14, 2016, following a sudden illness in December 2015.

Although she had only joined the Ackland Art Museum’s security team in September 2015, Vicki had already left an indelible mark on Museum visitors and staff with her cheerful and warm “Welcome, welcome, welcome!” to all who entered the Museum. She connected with Ackland visitors and staff and always had a positive attitude.

While relatively new to the Ackland, Parriman was no stranger to UNC-Chapel Hill, having worked for many years at Campus Health Services. A Winston-Salem native and a 1990 NC Central University graduate, Vicki was known for her generosity and active involvement with Durham’s Imani Metropolitan Community Church and many community organizations supporting the homeless, veterans, and those affected by AIDS.

Just prior to her illness, Vicki was instrumental in the Ackland Art Museum’s participation in a “Toys for Tots” toy drive. An avid cyclist, she also raised thousands of dollars parrimanparticipating in bike rides for the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, a cause especially close to her heart as she was a 20-year MS survivor.

A memorial service for Vicki was held in Durham on January 30, 2016.

Vicki leaves behind her partner, Natalie Rich; her brother, Charles; and three nieces and a nephew.

Those who wish to remember Vicki are may give a gift to Imani Metropolitan Community Church, the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, or a charity of one’s choice.

On “Refreshment”

This essay by Peter Nisbet was originally published in the Ackland’s Member E-Newsletter of 16 March 2015.

Today’s word is refreshment.

Over the past several months, I have been thinking especially about a project that might be called “Ackland Refreshed”: imagining and implementing ways to make the art on display look even better and our museum visitors feel even better. After rearranging and reinstalling the collection, as well as switching to LED lighting (enhancing the visibility of our art, all the while saving money and energy), we have just finished repainting our galleries, adding carefully-chosen, art-enhancing colors to the walls. I have had many visitors tell me that the galleries have never looked so welcoming and elegant, and I invite you to experience these refreshed spaces for yourselves.
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A Note from Retiring Curator Timothy Riggs

Editor’s note: In August 2014, Timothy Riggs will retire from the Ackland Art Museum after 30 years of dedicated service. On July 19th, friends of the Ackland gathered at the Carolina Inn for the Museum’s Annual Spring Luncheon, at which Timothy was the honored speaker. The following is a thank-you note that Timothy sent to guests who attended the luncheon.

Dear Friends,

Just about a month ago when we gathered for the Ackland Spring Luncheon at the Carolina Inn, I looked out across that room filled with friends, family, and colleagues, and realized again just how many people across this community care for the Ackland Art Museum and what it does.

I want to repeat here the words of Joseph Conrad that closed my talk that day:

“For life to be large and full, it must contain the care of the past and of the future in every passing moment of the present. Our daily work must be done to the glory of the dead, and for the good of those who come after.”

Museums are places where the care of the past for the future is especially direct. We cannot hear Lincoln give the Gettysburg address, but we can look at a wood engraving by Winslow Homer that a member of Lincoln’s audience could have held in his hands and looked at just as we do. And I hope that our grandchildren will have the same opportunity.

DSC_0111_croppedIn the past thirty years I have seen the Museum’s gallery space double, and I have seen the collection grow to the point where we could fill double our present space with outstanding works of art. I have seen a website and a digitization project make images of thousands of works from the collection available to millions of people. I have seen our Education department grow from one half-time public-relations-and-education person to five staff members and two graduate interns, and I have seen its programs grow far more than I can say.

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Glimpse into the Collection: Reading All Night Long

The Bookworm, 1920In honor of staying up way-way-way too late yet again to finish a book, I give you The Bookworm by Arthur Paunzen. Something about the enormous stacks of books crowding the figure just speaks to me. Also his complete disregard for the huge spider over his head. Now that I would likely notice.

I will endeavor to go to sleep earlier from now on, but I’m sure some book will inevitably keep me up.

Arthur Paunzen, Austrian, 1890-1940: The Bookworm, 1920; drypoint. Ackland Art Museum, The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Burton Emmett Collection, 58.1.1774.