Sam Gilliam on Inspiration

Left: Flour Mill (detail), 2011, Sam Gilliam. Right: Flour Mill II, 1938, Arthur Dove

Left: Sam Gilliam. Flour Mill (detail), 2011. (Photo by Sarah Osborne Bender) Right: Arthur Dove. Flour Mill II, 1938.

Sam Gilliam spoke to oral historian Donita Moorhus in October 2010 about his thoughts when creating his site-specific work , Flour Mill, for The Phillips Collection stairway:

“I want to make the piece completely new. I want to give myself a break and not use past ideas but sort of launch something that I want to do. … One of the things that is interesting about [Arthur] Dove is the isolation he had, living in a certain place- I think he lived in a houseboat- or living off his own garden and living with a view sort of out the window, walking each morning, communicating with Georgia O’Keeffe, talking to other artists, and things like this, so that you see mini progressions, and you see a certain kind of openness, not the way that we necessarily work today…”

Gilliam will continue to explore this work’s relationship to Dove in conversation with curator Renee Maurer at 6:30 pm tonight , March 31, in the galleries.

Dorothy Kosinski : The Museum of the 21st Century will be a Meeting Place


Visitors converge at a Phillips after 5. (Photo by Chris Svetlik)

Isabelle Spicer: Nowadays, local museum-goers don’t visit museums just to look at art. They go to social events, for networking… I think that may be why Phillips after 5 is so popular. What is your vision of the museum of the 21st century?

Dorothy Kosinski:  We live in a very dynamic environment, filled with change. At this moment, no institution can assume that people will find it adequate to communicate with a written letter. Therefore, we are on Facebook, we tweet, you can find the Phillips on YouTube. We are constantly trying to reinvent our Web site.

Our whole interface with our community is in constant transformation. That is a big challenge, and similarly, our presentation of art, our education through art, has become multi-layered. We collaborate with DJs, artists. There is a rich tradition of people enjoying conviviality and a social environment at the Phillips. The Phillips after 5 program was created decades ago, though under a different name.

It’s fascinating to see how people come to network, have a little wine, have a bite to eat; they are always in the galleries. They like the program and enjoy experiencing art in a different context. Maybe the 21st century museum has to be what Duncan Phillips envisioned, an experiment station. It has to be a piazza, a meeting place. It’s a place that brings people together. It is a very important function that the museum has to play in the 21st century.

Isabelle Spicer, Volunteer

This interview was first published in French on the blog Délit d’initié. To read the full interview in French, click here.

The Artist Sees Differently: Shelly Wischhusen

SHELLY WISCHHUSEN, chief preparator

Chief Preparator Shelly Wischhusen in her Office. Photo: Rolf Rykken

Were you an artist before you started to work at the Phillips, and how did you learn about the Phillips?

I have always been an artist – since I was little!  I was an art major in high school; I received my BFA in drawing and painting from the University of Georgia and my MFA in painting from The George Washington University here in D.C. I first learned of The Phillips Collection when my (University of Georgia) painting teachers did a spring-break field trip (in 1973) with some of the painting students up to Washington, D.C.  I had never been to D.C., and the first stop was the National Gallery of Art and then the Phillips.  After we saw all the beautiful works up at The Phillips Collection, I thought then and there, “I would like to work here some day.”

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