Friday, August 20, 2021

Finally…The Family Together Again!

Following our trek along the interstate highways and back roads through Tennessee, Kentucky, Illinois, Missouri and Iowa, Laurie and I finally reached our destination in Omaha Nebraska!  We had a nice dinner waiting for us and plenty of time for visiting…and then it was time to get out and about in Omaha.

Our first family adventure was a visit to the Joslyn Art Museum.  As the primary photographer, I am able to avoid most group photos.  In this instance, from left to right are Emmett (youngest grandson, Laurie (my better half), David III (oldest grandson), David II (#1 son) and Amy (DII’s better half) 

The museum was opened in 1931 in memory of George A. Joslyn by his widow, Sarah.  George Joslyn became wealthy by creating a virtual monopoly in the ‘auxiliary’ printing business.  His company, Western Newspaper Union, supplied standardized, preprinted news to more than 12,000 newspapers throughout the USA.  At its peak, WNU had 31 plants in 25 states and Joslyn was the wealthiest man in Nebraska.

The Joslyn Art Museum is the primary fine arts museum in Nebraska.  It is housed in a striking Art Deco building that is constructed with pink marble from the State of Georgia.  The decorative panels around the outside of the building, (note the upper right of the photo), were designed by sculptor John David Brcin. (1899 – 1983) The decorative panels on the exterior of the museum refer to the peoples of the plains…from the original Native Americans to subsequent European explorers and settlers.

The Joslyn Sculpture Garden is a relatively new addition to the museum.  It opened in 2009 and it features works from local and national artists.  The first photo shows a sculpture by Tom Otterness entitled “Large Covered Wagon” (2004).  Otterness is one of America’s most prolific public artists.  His works are on display in parks, plazas, subway stations, libraries, courthouses and museums around the world.

The statue entitled “Sioux Warrior”, on a rearing horse is based on a model by previously mentioned Serbian-born sculptor John David Brcin.  He completed a model of this sculpture in the late 1920s…for the entrance to the museum.  He never took this project to the next step and in 2009, sculptor Matthew Placzek was commissioned to create this eye-catching 15 foot tall, 5,000 lb. bronze sculpture.  The warrior and his horse sit on top of a 6 foot base of concrete that is encased in Lake Superior green granite.

If you’ve visited any art museum, formal botanical garden or other artistically inclined venue in the last few years, you have seen blown glass works by Dale Chihuly (1941 - ) They seem to be everywhere!  

This giant glass creation was completed in 2000 and it’s entitled “Inside et Out”.  Still, this isn’t Chihuly’s largest permanent exhibit.  His biggest artistic glass creation is found at the Oklahoma City Museum of Art.  Chihuly is more than an artist…he is also a bit of an entrepreneur.  He has 2 retail stores, one in the Bellagio in Las Vegas and the other at the MGM Grand Casino in Macau.

Charles Marion Russell (1864 – 1926) along with Frederic Remington, are perhaps America’s pre-eminent artists as regards depictions of the old American west.  This work by Russell is titled “A Serious Predicament” (1908).  Russell worked as a cowboy in his youth and he lived in Montana for most of his life.  He took a lot of pride in the accuracy of his ranch scenes and his works are usually full of action and adventure. 

Note: I took many, many more photos of the various exhibits than are posted here.  This is just a representative glance at the total collection at the Joslyn Art Museum.

This next painting is titled “Sunlight and Shadow”.  The artist was William Merritt Chase (1849 – 1916) Does the painting tell a story?  The man fiddles with his teacup and a cigarette while the woman in the hammock peeks over her shoulder and peeks out at the viewer as if involving us in this little drama.  The painting was originally called “The Tiff”.  This painting was completed in Holland where Chase was staying for the summer.

Chase was a model for progressive American artists of his time.  He spent as much time traveling abroad as he did in the USA.  He studied art at the National Academy of Art in New York City as well as at the Munich Royal Academy.  With exhibits in Munich and London, he was already well known by the time he returned to America.

This beautiful Native American Indian jacket made from hide, silk and bone was created by an unknown artist/craftsperson ca. 1850.  Unlike traditional Plains hide clothing, coats and jackets appear to have been adapted from Canadian or US fashions, often from military styles. 

This particular jacket is reputed to have belonged to Logan Fontenelle (1825 – 1855, a notable figure in Omaha Indian history.  His father was a prominent French trader and his mother was the daughter of Big Elk, a well-known Omaha Chief.  Educated in St. Louis, Fontenelle was fluent in English, French and Omaha and he frequently served as an interpreter.  He moved with his people to a new Omaha Indian Reservation in northeastern Nebraska, but his plea for US Army protection against attacks by the Sioux were ignored.  Fontenelle was killed by the Sioux raiding party in 1855.

Although the most famous artist’s names appear in the Joslyn Museum’s European and American collection, the Western American and Native American collections may have the greatest importance as a group.  These extensive collections provide a rare opportunity to study these genres and periods of art and they allow for a critical insight into the history of the American west.

This watercolor is titled “Fort Laramie or Sublette’s Fort next to the Nebraska or Platte River” ca. 1837.  This painting is one of Alfred Jacob Miller’s many depictions of the American West.  Miller lived from 1810 to 1874.  In 1837, William Drummond Stewart (Scottish, 1795 – 1781) asked Miller to join him on an adventure into the Rocky Mountains where he could record the scenes and events witnessed.  Some of Miller’s works later hung in Stewart’s castle in Scotland and the Joslyn Museum is in possession of several works by the artist.

Some beautiful furniture from different periods and genres are on display throughout the museum.  This spectacular Massachusetts Chest on Chest, made with maple and pine, was built ca. 1750.  The craftsman is unknown.

Mary Cassatt (1844 – 1926) is the most recognized female artist who was associated with the impressionist era in art.  In a world of male impressionist artists…mostly French…this American woman was highly regarded by the public and other artists.  No less than Edgar Degas invited Cassatt to join the impressionists in a series of historic exhibitions in Paris in the 1870s and 1880s.

This particular paint is titled “Woman Reading” and it was completed in 1879.  Cassatt was the daughter of an elite Philadelphia family and she was in a position socially where she could influence friends to patronize and purchase this ‘new’ art form.

This oil painting is titled “The Vintage at Chateau Lagrange”.  It was completed in 1864 by French artist Jules Breton (1827 – 1906).  Breton was a French Naturalist painter and his paintings of the rustic life were heavily influenced by the French countryside. 

Unlike many painters of his time, Breton was both popular and a financial success during his lifetime.  His painting “The Communicants” (1884) sold for $45,000 in 1886, the same year that Breton was made a Commander of the French Legion of Honor.  FYI, the same painting sold again in 2016, this time for $1,270,000…which is the rough equivalent to the original purchase price in 2016 dollars.

Antoine-Louis Barye (1795 – 1875) was a Romantic French sculptor who was most famous for his work as a sculptor of animals.  This bronze, “Tiger Attacking an Antelope” was modeled by Barye in 1836.  Although it seems much larger, this beautifully ‘animated’ sculpture only measures 13 x 21 ¾ x 11 inches.

Barye certainly excelled at sculpture but he lacked business acumen.  In 1848 he was forced to declare bankruptcy.  All of his work and his molds were sold to a foundry that produced poor quality sculptures for 9 years, impacting Bayre’s reputation.  Finally, in 1876, a top notch foundry acquired his remaining 125 models…and the quality was superb.  Unfortunately, the artist had died the year before… 

I like action and I like paintings involving the sea and ships.  Hence, “The Smuggler’s Return”, an oil on canvas, caught my eye.  It’s the work of Philip James de Loutherbourg (1740 – 1812).  Loutherbourg was a French-born British painter who became especially well-known for his large naval paintings.  One of my favorites is “The Battle of Camperdown” in 1799.

Loutherbourg was creative…playing with lights and motion to create a form of theater called Eidophusikon, meaning “image of nature”…basically a miniature mechanical theatre.  When he first came to London he was hired at the famous Drury Lane Theatre to create scenery and costumes.  He received much acclaim for his creativity… Loutherbourg was made a member of the Royal Academy in 1781.  An eclectic man, in 1789, he began pursuing an interest in alchemy and the supernatural.  He and his wife also took up faith-healing…

This painting is titled “Portrait of Nicolaes Willemsz Lossy and his wife Marritgen Pieters”.  This oil on panel work was completed in 1633 by Gerard Donck. (Dutch – 1600 to 1650) He painted during what is referred to as the Dutch Golden Age (1588 – 1672)

FYI, the Dutch Golden Age is a period in the history of the Netherlands in which Dutch trade, science, art and the Dutch military were the most acclaimed in the world.  The birth of the Dutch Republic took place in 1588, and that marked the beginning of this amazing period in Dutch history.  In the end, the Franco-Dutch War and the War of the Spanish Succession brought about economic decline.  To learn more about the extent of Dutch dominance during this period, just go to Dutch Golden Age - Wikipedia.

The Joslyn Museum also offers a striking exhibit of religious art.  In this instance, this polychromed wood sculpture depicts Saint Stephen.  It was completed ca. 1480 but the Austrian artist is unknown.  The figure of Saint Stephen is just a little over 42 inches tall.

Laurie and love the many works of Thomas Hart Benton. (1889 – 1975) This painting is titled “The Hailstorm” and it was completed in 1940.  This painting is ‘pure’ Benton…with its rural theme, use of color, exaggerated figures and the rolling landscape.  He is depicting the drama between man and nature.  Note that Benton also included that most stubborn of creatures in people’s minds, the Missouri mule.

Benton was a Missouri native as well as an outspoken populist.  His paintings present what he viewed as ordinary American virtues.  Characters are rough-hewn and colorful and his works are full of social commentary.  Benton produced many murals and inexpensive lithographs because he believed that this effort would provide greater public access to his works.

This display is full of amazing artistic creations by Native Americans.  At the top is that amazing hide and beadwork Rifle Scabbard ca. 1900.  It was made by Edith Claymore of the Standing Rock Sioux. (1858 – 1910)

The two colorful beaded bags at the center are Utah/Ute Ration Ticket Bags…beauty for such a sad thing…from ca. 1890.  Artists unknown. 

The large Medicine Pouch at the bottom is from the Sioux in the 1800s.  Artist unknown.

The museum has an Asian arts section too…but on this occasion I scattered my photos, focusing primarily on the American West.  However, as my bride loves horses and we both love Asian art, I’ve included this outstanding earthenware with polychrome “Tomb Figure of a Horse”, Chinese, Tang Dynasty (618 – 907)

This pair of sculptures are across from each other at the opening to the central courtyard at the Joslyn museum.  The “Indian Hunter and Pronghorn Antelope” were created in 1917 by American artist Paul Manship (1855 – 1966). Manship actually gifted these works to the Museum.  These striking plaster figures are painted in bronze and they fit perfectly with the Art Deco décor that enlivens the core of the museum.

When studying in Greece, Manship found the he loved Archaic Greek art with its directness and simplified naturalism.  This work recasts the heroic mortal Herakles as a Native American wounding his western quarry.  Originally, Mandship had designed these figures as two small sculptures for the mantle in his home.  These large painted plaster figures are the plasters or bases used to cast a bronze pair for an admiring collector.  

The Storz Fountain Court with its fountain as the central focus, has so many features, many of them symbolic, that it is a bit overwhelming.  The thunderbird motif around the courtyard, the wing shaped light fixtures, the grill work on the windows…and of course the marble…amazing!  The floor tiles are Moravian and they include symbols for literature, music, architecture and painting.

The art déco design were even an influence for the corridors leading to the galleries.  As you can see, they are quite spectacular!  They were made with white Botticino marble and Badger pink floors.  A total of 38 different marbles from around the world were used to finish the interior of this beautiful building.  My one regret from our visit is that I didn’t take more photos of the building, especially of the interior.

Did I mention the admission to the Joslyn Art Museum is free?!  However, there is a very nice gift shop available that helps defray operating costs and donations are also accepted.  The museum is open from 10 AM until 4 PM Wednesday through Sunday.  Free parking is available.  Phone: 402-342-3300.  Address: 2200 Dodge Street, Omaha Nebraska.  Website:

This was a very enjoyable and educational family outing.  Just click on any of the photos to enlarge them…

Thanks for stopping by for a visit!

Take Care, Big Daddy Dave


  1. What a beautiful family! Everyone looked so happy and contented. I am really impressed with that museum. I have never seen anything like that giant glass creation...I am in awe! This is not only entertaining, also very educational, Dave.

  2. What a great visit...I'm with you, enjoying the art of American and the west, especially Native Americans! So glad to see such beautiful crafts included with "fine art." I'll tell my friend who's grandson is at an air force base somewhere in Nebraska...about this museum at least. Have a great time visiting family!

  3. Looks like the visit is off to a good start. The boys sure have grown since we last saw them.

  4. Thank you for sending the family pic, friend David! I am so happy for you! You are lucky to be able to meet with your family. Not so easy to see my mumme in Europe though. That would involve many hoops to jump through. Calgary testing for covid. KLM flight 9 hours with mask on. Testing for covid in Amsterdam. 10 days quarantine in Amsterdam. Then allowed to see my mumme behind some plexi glass window. No hug. no kiss. Then back to Amsterdam. Testing for covid. Then KLM flight 9 hours masked. Then Calgary. Testing again. 3 days in quarantine in Calgary. Then drive back to my Red Deer home. My mumme and I talk every 2 weeks on the phone. She say: Child, don't worry. I can die on my own. Our hearts will always be together. She is is 91. I don't think, I have ever met a stronger woman like her. Sigh. It is what it is, eh? cat.

  5. Thanks Dave for this "virtual" tour of the Joslyn Art Museum and Sculpture Garden. You certainly had a wonderful time there. I have heard of many of the artists you mentioned in this post, including Mary Cassatt, a PA native, who spent most of her life painting in France. It was also nice to see your family photo and glad you were able to finally reunite, after such a long wait.

  6. Dear Dave, Beautiful museum and day with the family. I love looking at the history and learning.