by Christopher Agostino www.agostinoarts.com
In Cincinnati for the National Storytelling Network Conference, I got a chance to go to the Cincinnati Art Museum. A special exhibit on musical instruments included a “Mayuri” from India, a stringed instrument fashioned in the shape of a peacock in reference to the goddess Saraswati — combining two of her iconic representations. Nice to see her again, so soon after painting her.
At the museum, a minor kerfuffle. I had particularly wanted to see the current exhibit “The Collections: 6,000 Years of Art“, displayed in an old-fashioned cabinet style, with lots of unlabeled stuff side by side in jammed glass cabinets. Towards the end I saw a piece of painted pottery from ancient Greece depicting Heracles in a particularly stylish rendition of his iconic Lion-Helmet-Mask. I took out my camera to photograph and the guard stopped me, “no photos”, and offered the explanation that some things in the gallery were borrowed from other institutions, so there were copyright issues. I asked if that still applied to an ancient pot that would have no such issues, figuring the policy was in reference to the more recent items of the 6,000 year history. She said the policy was gallery wide. When I acquiesced, she offered to call a supervisor if I wished and I said, “no, it’s ok” and took out my sketchbook instead. “No sketching.” “Really? No sketching either?” “Yes.” “Now I want to talk to a supervisor.” And, as she made the call, I added that my sketching could in no way violate the copyright of anything, let alone a 3,000 year old pot.
I was done with the sketch by the time the supervisor arrived. He was surprised to hear me say I was told that sketching wasn’t allowed, asked the guard about it, who confirmed the policy as ordered by someone else. He turned to me and told me I could sketch, on his authority, so I did a little more, made a few of the lines stronger.
A policy fluke, no doubt, as I am sure the museum would encourage artists to sketch and engage with their exhibits.
- Saraswati – Body Painting at FABAIC 2012 with Kryolan Aquacolors (thestorybehindthefaces.com)