NORMAN — by Caitlin Schudalla
Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art is an ideal place to spend a relaxing, introspective lunch hour on any weekday, but museum faculty and staff have added an extra incentive with Art After Noon.
Scheduled for the third Tuesday of each month, Art After Noon is a casual discussion of a particular piece or artist in the museum’s collection, hosted by FJJMA Director of Education Susan Baley.
“We have a lot of events during the noon hour on Tuesdays, namely Tuesday Noon Concerts. With Art After Noon we’re trying to allow visitors to attend both if they like and build an audience for both programs,” Baley said. “The summer and fall Art After Noon discussions focus on Latin American artists in the collection because our fall exhibition opening in October will be of Latin American art.”
The next Art After Noon session takes place Aug. 20 at the museum, 555 Elm Ave. Visitors are encouraged to bring a sack lunch, and the museum will provide cookies and beverages.
Most recently, the inaugural Art After Noon examined Luis Jiménez’ “Mesteño,” the distinctive 8-foot fiberglass sculpture of a mustang with red eyes that was formerly displayed on the north lawn of the museum facing Boyd Street.
Due to strain on the sculpture from extreme temperatures and precipitation, the wiring in the sculpture’s hollow interior was compromised and Baley said the decision was made to restore it and move it indoors.
“People were really interested in the restoration that had been done on the sculpture and glad to see it back at the museum,” Baley said. “When we first moved the piece indoors to expand the Lester Wing years ago, someone put a little child’s stick horse in its vacated spot, which Luis loved — the mustang has become a very identifiable landmark associated with the museum.”
Visitors to the Jiménez Art After Noon had the opportunity to learn about the controversy surrounding the mustang’s materials — painted fiberglass — considered cheap and garish in the classical sculpture community.
“Jiménez was wanting to make art that was ‘working class.’ He was trying to take away the distinction between high art and low art and used a material you’d find in a carnival,” Baley said. “This is so different from what people expect with sculpture and when artists use new things or ask us to look at things differently, people aren’t comfortable with it.
“French Impressionism is widely revered now, but at the time of its introduction it was very shocking and women were advised against seeing it because it was considered too upsetting.”
In keeping with this examination of Latin American artists whose work is often misunderstood or even reviled, the next Art After Noon will focus on Fernando Botero’s “Sphinx,” displayed in front of the museum’s main entrance.
“We want to address what our visitors find interesting about works in the collection,” Baley said. “With Botero, people want to know why his figures are so enormous and inflated, so that will definitely be something we address. These discussions aren’t so much scholarly lectures as tours or conversations that address common questions.”
To find out more about Art After Noon and other museum programs, visit ou.ed/fjjma or call 405-325-3272. Admission to the museum is always free.