Have you noticed the mention of Impressionism here and there this summer? The celebration of this artistic movement has taken center stage in Memphis, thanks to a collaboration between the Dixon Gallery and Gardens and the Memphis Brooks Museum of Arts. The two distinctive shows on display through early October give a solid overview of how the Impressionist movement brought a new vision to the art world.
With the opening of these dynamic exhibits, Jean-Louis Forain: La Comedie Parisienne, and Monet to Cezanne/Cassatt to Sargent: The Impressionist Revolution, viewers get a chance to explore this interesting period. Both are firsts for Memphis, the Dixon retrospective of Forain’s work will only be seen in Memphis, and the Brooks exhibition brings together masterpieces never before seen together, by Monet, Degas, Renior, Pissarro, and more. Guided tours via iPod technology enrich the experience.
Better, kids are accommodated, too. Both museums have interesting art activities that are available to children who view the shows. The Brooks has created Cafe des Enfants, a cafe-style room designed to let children explore art with their senses. Here you’ll find art easels for drawing, hats for dress up, tables filled puzzles, breads and cheeses, and scent boxes. The objective is to match the fragrance with featured pictures. It’s a clever, engaging way of making art come alive for kids.
When Melanie Walters arrived with her family the day the Brooks exhibit opened, she was delighted with what she found. Having lived in Paris, it was exciting for her and her husband to share the artwork with their children. “When we got into the gallery, everyone got hushed and absorbed by it all,” she says. Her 15-year-old son Logan was particularly impressed, since he loves art and participates in the Michelangelo Project at Lausanne Collegiate School.
Both museums have also extended invitations to other arts organizations, bringing dance, film, and even fashion to audience members. The collaborative nature of organizations joining hand-in-hand makes this an event worth remembering. Be sure to take the kids and do some exploring of your own. The exhibits are open through October 9th. — Jane Schneider