Posted by: Kath Usitalo | October 22, 2010

Muskegon Art Museum: Stuffed, Not Stuffy

Grandmother Branstrom Fishing Near the Kimble Lake Bridge, Annabel Livermore (provided photo)

She’s the most prolific Michigan artist you’ll never meet. But if you hurry you can see her work in “Remembering Newaygo County: The Symbolist Paintings of Annabel Livermore” at the Muskegon Museum of Art through October 31.

The mysterious artist is a retired librarian who began painting late in life. She moved to Texas in 1981 and works from studios in El Paso and Hillsboro, New Mexico, recalling dreamy scenes of the natural world of Michigan’s Mitten where she grew up.

As real as her paintings are, Annabel Livermore is not. She was created by Fremont, Michigan native James R. Magee, a sculptor who paints through Annabel. She has her own website, and former First Lady Laura Bush is a fan who owns her work.

It’s bizarre, in a fascinating way.

Detour Art pieces fill a gallery through November 7


That’s just one special exhibition at the fine Muskegon Art Museum, which manages to pack plenty of excitement into its manageable number of galleries.

If you think art museums are stuffy, see “Detour Art: Outsider, Folk Art, and Visionary Environments Coast to Coast” through November 7.

The exhibit draws from the collection of Kelly Ludwig, who focuses on the works of self-taught and contemporary folk artists.

I love the colors and energy of the sculpture, assemblages, paintings and carvings of these creative, out-of-the-mainstream folks from across the country.

The work of self-taught artists


A third temporary exhibit, “Shout Freedom! Photo League Selections from the Columbus Museum of Art” shows stark scenes of urban life by an impressive roster of shooters that formed the Photo League in 1936. “Shout Freedom!” also closes November 7.

Just last evening another exhibition opened, and runs through January 23. “Splendid Threads, Secret Messages: The Language of Japanese Kimonos” displays a dozen of the garments and interprets the rich symbolism of their images, design, and colors.

Check the museum calendar for a lecture and screenings of Japanese films, and a family fun day of Japanese cultural activities.

All of this in addition to the museum’s permanent collection that includes (my favorites) John Steuart Curry’s Tornado Over Kansas and New York Restaurant by Edward Hopper.

I’d heard good things about the art museum, which opened in 1912 and was expanded in 1979, and am glad I finally had a chance to visit. Admission is $5 for those over age 17, but I went on a Thursday when it’s free (and open late, until 8 p.m.).

Amazing, and not at all stuffy.

See Bob Ross The Mind Reading Chicken He Knows All

Visitor Info Clicks: Muskegon Museum of Art

Visit Muskegon

West Michigan Tourist Association

Travel Michigan: Pure Michigan


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