Well, it took a few months for us to get to Graham and see the much-talked-about Beyond the Frame exhibit at the Captain White House. I’m sorry we waited so long. It’s truly something we would go back to see again given the opportunity. Unfortunately, the last chance is Monday, Oct. 31.
The exhibit of sculptures by Seward Johnson depicting in a three-dimensional form the paintings of the French impressionists is a one-of-a-kind opportunity to not only learn more about the works of Monet, Renoir, Manet and Van Gogh. But what’s more, it’s a rare chance to lounge in the mental corners of an artist with true imagination. Not only does Johnson deliver the goods in replicating the true images rendered by the original artists, he transforms the subjects into characters. With supposition, imagination and wit, Johnson takes the subjects to new levels of consideration. Visitors can almost feel as though they interact with the sculptures — or have their photos taken that way (see above).
The amazing show, sponsored by area businesses and the Alamance Arts Council, is the kind of thing usually available only in major metropolitan areas. A few thosand made special visits to Graham to see it. On Sunday a few hundred people stopped in — the house and grounds were packed and the parking lot overflowed into the Children’s Museum area, which is still under construction. In one of the rooms of the Captain White House, where Johnson’s vision for Renoir’s Lunch at the Restaurant Fournaise was housed, a French-speaking family was just as transfixed as I. In all, I suspect close to 40,000 will have viewed the show when it closes today.
I’m sad to see it go, but excited about what might be coming next. With the Children’s Museum nearby, the future is bright for that particular spot of the county.
And for those who missed the show, here are some photos we took on Sunday.
This was my favorite piece, Johnson’s take on Renoir’s “Were you Invited.” So rich in detail, imagery and humor. Here’s an overview photo by my spouse.
The overall piece has far too much to be viewed at any kind of distance. You have to get close and peer around corners — even look down to see what’s going going on. Here are some more detailed images from this particular piece. I shot these.
NOTE: These two appear to be somewhat engaged but check her foot in this next photograph and where it rests – a detail not in Renoir’s painting, but all Johnson’s imagination.
In Renoir’s painting, the very back table can’t be seen. Johnson has filled it with the faces of other artists — including himself. He’s the center of attention and the obvious storyteller at the table. Loved it.
The Captain White House garden was filled with Johnson’s vision for French impressionist painter Claude Monet’s On Poppied Hill. And Johnson included a sculpture of Monet creating the image.
Inside the Captain White House was a stunning three-dimensional portrayal of Renoir’s Lunch at the Restaurant Fournaise. I was struck by the interaction of the images. My wife shot the first photo, and captured me getting the photos that come after.
This one is by my spouse, who probably enjoyed the show as much or more than I did. While I fixated on a couple of pieces she took in the entirety of it. This is Renoir’s Dance at Bougival.