Midrash has hosted monthly art viewings and discussions for several years, but recently
these have really gained popularity. We call these “ArtTalks” and they are for people
who love art and don’t, for people who want to discuss art and don’t, for people who
enjoy classic art but not modern, and vice versa. In general, we pick an exhibit at one of
the galleries or museums around town, spend some time with the art, and either discuss
while we’re strolling and viewing, or gather after the exhibit to discuss it. ArtTalks are
led by a team of talented practicing artists from drastically different perspectives who
love to dialogue over art of all kinds.
We generally want to open up the art just for itself… to enhance the experience of what
we have seen. We also want to gain a better vocabulary to discuss the impressions the art
has made on us. Finally, we often get into deeper dialogue by talking about the themes
involved in the work and what the artist is communicating, directly or indirectly.
The latest ArtTalk was a special event created for a special exhibit. We gained a few
dozen tickets to the St Louis Art Museum’s “Impressionist France” show, viewed
the exhibit and gathered at a nearby home for French wine and cheese and a spirited
discussion. Here’s a micro-summary of that discussion.
The ‘Impressionist France’ show was a great opportunity for a wonderful night out to
soak in some beautiful works of art and take a deeper look into what that art represented.
France and Paris of the mid-1800’s continues to be an intriguing time and place to
many of us, even 150 years after the fact. The show and our discussion proved to be a
great opportunity to — in true Midrash style — engage the art on show, and engage those
around us in meaningful ways for the purpose of building bridges of communication
about things that matter.
Here are some of the questions or discussion points from the recent discussion:
1.) 1800’s France/ Paris remains exciting even today… Eifel Tower, Hunchback of Notre
Dame, Impressionism, Les Miserables… Why do you suppose this era-place-subject
is and remains so intriguing to so many? The historical context is fascinating to us, as
is the creation of new styles of painting that arose for interesting reasons and lead to
experiences of great beauty.
2.) Midrash touts that it has ‘conversations that matter’, especially in regards
to ‘commentary on culture’. What conversations that matter did these artist’s have with
you? What was your favorite piece and why? What artwork or artist touched you? It’s
fun, and educational, to put into words the reasons why we enjoy a particular piece, and
to hear how others agree, or disagree, with our views.
3.) If 1800’s Paris, the city, or France, the country, were metaphorically the physical
body then the French people of this era were its soul… What did this exhibit say about
the city? The country? It’s people? This was a fun part of the conversation, connecting
the art we saw — paintings and illustrations and photographs — with a people, a culture
and a place in time that all converged to result in the great things we saw hanging on the
Hopefully this gives you a small taste of the fun we have with ArtTalks, and whets your
appetite to try one out. Your next opportunity is the first Friday in May, when we head
for an outing with art and nature at Laumeier Sculpture Park (12580 Rott Road). This
unique ArtTalk goes outside of the museum and gallery walls to discuss topics specific to
art outside. We will explore many works throughout the park, as well as the new works
on display for Mound City, an exhibition that explores the traces of native culture in our
contemporary world ranging in topics of disappearance and destruction, resurrection
and monument. Our discussion will take place as we walk around, so wear your walking
shoes and be prepared to walk through trails in the woods. We will meet at 6:45pm by the
large "Eye" sculpture near the estate house (can be seen from the main parking lot off of
Rott Road) and will be walking around until sunset. Free, and open to absolutely anyone.