This isn't my first time in South Florida. You might remember my trip to the Flagler Museum, but seeing as I'm here in West Palm for a whole month, I figured I should take in the local arts and culture.
So this past weekend, The B Man, my glorious BFF, Kellen, and I headed to West Palm's own, Norton Museum of Art.
The Norton Museum was founded in 1941 and his one of Florida's top cultural institutions and their collection boasts some of the most notable artists of the last hundred years.
We were drawn to the museum for a specific exhibit called The Summer of '68: Photographing The Black Panthers.
There were no pictures allowed in this particular exhibition, but I did manage to sneak one from the corner of the room to give you a sense of the space.
The exhibit featured photographs by husband-and-wife team Pirkle Jones and Ruth-Marion Baruch of The Black Panther Party during the summer of 1968. The photographs are incredibly moving and show a very different side to a political party that has been painted as a violent, militant group. Jones and Baruch's photographs contradict the popular media portrayal of The Black Panthers and show a more peaceful party focused on social justice.
Obviously I was not alive in 1968, but the photography of this time of social and political unrest is some of the most informative and inspirational for me. You can see all of the photographs from this exhibit and a whole bunch more this the book, Black Power * Flower Power- Photographs by Pirkle Jones and Ruth-Marion Baruch. The book contrasts photos of the Black Power movement in Oakland, California with photos of San Francisco hippies and is well worth spending some time with.
After taking in The Summer of '68 exhibit, we marched up the stairs to see what else the Norton's collection had to offer.
The museum is set up a bit like a wee version of The Guggenheim in New York, with most of the exhibits off of a main staircase.
One of my favorite things about the museum is the staircase. As you walk up there are light fixtures with famous quotes from artists.
Me too Rodin, me too.
The Norton has a wonderful collection of 600 Ancient Chinese works..
Kellen and I found ourselves wondering if these might just be from IKEA. Obviously, they are not, but sometimes it's hard to believe art can survive in such pristine condition for centuries.
Look at those gorgeous bracelets! I'd like to see the fashion-forward lady who wore those a few thousand years ago.
The Chinese were into white and blue long before the rest of us.
Look, Dad! Ancient horse racing!
There is also a fantastic collection of European Art.
This was probably my favorite piece. So many classical paintings only show women in propped up, dolled up, mannequin poses and I love seeing a classical artist embrace the candid and natural.
Truth be told, the set up of The Norton is a little odd for a museum. The exhibits lack any natural light and the artificial light is pretty harsh and created glares. With such gorgeous natural light in Florida year round it seems like a lost opportunity for a few skylights or windows. I also found the brightly painted walls to be distracting (I'm a weirdo who finds yellow to be highly offensive).
Not all the walls are brightly colored though and The Modern Collection is definitely easier to view with it's blank backgrounds.
XOXO, Gossip Girl.
Instructional poetry, just like Yoko! Also, kind of a great idea.
Perhaps Lady Gaga's next outfit?
There is also a small sculpture garden where you can sit and enjoy the gorgeous weather, sunshine, and geckos amongst some delightful sculptures.
Can I have a kiss?
Oh hey, Kellen!
I have a collection of pictures of The B Man taking pictures.
As well as the pictures he has taken, like this lovely one below.
He's a much better photographer than I am.
The Norton Museum of Art is a West Palm Beach gem and a fantastic place to relax for an afternoon. If you're a South Florida resident check out their website there are several ways you can get free admission and take advantage of their Art After Dark series.
If you happen to be just passing through West Palm, I highly recommend spending an afternoon here. The collection is impressive and you won't have to fight the big city crowds to lay your eyes on a Jackson Pollack or a Matisse!