Saturday, 4 July 2009

A Visit to the Portola Art Gallery

I originally went to the Portola Art Gallery to view the featured artist, Alan M. McGee. McGee took photographs of Auguste Rodin’s sculptures at Stanford University. The statues were primarily based on Rodin’s Dante’s Inferno. Being the nerd that I am, I was excited about seeing photographs from the collection –especially when I heard that McGee manipulated lights and shadows in order to get different perspectives of the sculptures. Manipulating a Rodin statue! I was flabbergasted. You can’t change something that an Art God created for all of us to cherish and adore. I wanted to know what McGee was up to, so I went to Menlo Park to investigate.

The Scene: I didn’t realize upon my arrival that the gallery was part of the Allied Artist Guild. There were little shops with crafts, clothing, jewelry, and furniture being sold by the artists. Once I entered, I felt like I was in a Disney cartoon where everything was so cute, perfect, and surrounded by trees. This place is so pretty and cozy that I even saw a wedding reception taking place.

More Specifically, the Scene of Interest: To my surprise, the gallery was compiled with artwork from the other artists in the guild as well. However, my mission was to first observe these McGee photographs, and then I can dilly dally.

Photographs were on walls and a book consisting of each photograph had quotes from Rodin. Inspecting each photograph, I realized that McGee was able to bring to life a Rodin statue in a two-dimensional world.

Pierre de Wissant. Black and White Photography.

His Pierre de Wissant was my favorite.

Who?: Pierre de Wissant was a wealthy burgher* who, along with five other burghers, volunteered to sacrifice himself for the town of Calais, France during the Hundred Years War between England and France.

*definition of burgher: wealthy French guy who lives in a specific town

Back to the Art Piece: The juxtapose between light and dark, smooth and rough, graceful and stiff were clearly defined. The light shining on the statue’s neck becomes the climax while the statue’s clothes are almost monotone in shadow. Accentuating the light on the skin enables one’s eyes to flow with ease over every muscle and vain in the statue’s arms and chest. The light creates a liquid effect that emphasizes motion as if the statue was twisting and contorting itself in a painful pose.

Yes, it was a show that should make Rodin smile. Not only does this show-off a beauty that can only be seen with manipulated light, but it also enhances Rodin’s original intentions of beauty and beast.

For More Information:

To see more pictures from the Portola Art Gallery, you can visit my blog:

If you would like to learn more information about the Portola Art Gallery, visit the website:

Happy reading,

Leslie Ann

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