Final preparations for hanging day – 13

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After a week of holidays, I am ready to go back to the Marietta/Cobb Museum of Art to finish preparing for my big retrospective, opening on January 12, 2013.  When I say holiday, I don’t mean taking time off.  I mean having uninterrupted time in the studio.


I’ve been getting ready to go back in with the repaired objects all week. There were a few things that needed repairs, and had to come back to the studio to be fixed.  There were also several things that came back from the gallery that shows my work, and I thought they’d look good in the show, so I spruced them up as well.  And I had to make a few frames for things I’d decided I wanted to swap out with paintings already up at the museum.


This is one of the skeletal figurines of acrylic and wire.  The base was all broken up, and I had to build it out with acrylic molding paste and then paint it.


This is one of the things I brought back from the gallery, a bronze I did years ago, which, because of unorthodox foundry methods, is a one of a kind – they broke the mold.


And this is one of my shaman sculptures.  It has been at the gallery for awhile, and it’s just too strong not to have in the show, so it’s going in on my lap tomorrow, because I don’t dare try to wrap it and lay it flat, and there won’t be any room other than on top of me by the time we’re finished loading my little trucklet.

Altho the curator sent this next painting back, because it truly didn’t fit in with the rest of the paintings, it represents current work, and the show as it is at the moment neglects the work of the last three years.  Once I decided to submit a few of my latest works, this picture didn’t seem so outré, so it’s coming back tomorrow.


Along with the new paintings.  This next one is part of my recent mythic women series, which includes Medusa, Mary Magdalene, Judith (and Holofernes), and Kali.  I call this one Ophelia.


Ophelia is part of an ongoing series of paintings of my model underwater, something that I’ve wanted to do for some time.  First I painted the most realistic shots of several hundred I took over two days.  But after half a dozen, I find I”m interested in the more abstract figures, like the one below.  And it gets even more interesting with the pictures you can’t even tell what are.


I’m quite fond of this next painting, which stars my neighborhood, an old, working-class part of Atlanta that still retains its character into the 21st Century.  The scene out the window is a composite of five different locations, and all the furniture is sitting around my house being used even now.  The model is almost thirty years older, however.


Another of the Dance of Death series that I did last year, both in celebration of the ‘end of the world’ theme they had going around, but also because I was recently given a lifesized skeleton, and couldn’t resist indulging my love of the grotesque and bizarre.


And I was very glad to decide to include one of the larger dragon paintings that I did in 2010, after being asked to show at Dragoncon.  It resulted also from a tour thru the Kerry mountains in Ireland that year, on which I developed the notion that there must be dragon breeding grounds just off the southwestern shores.


So now everything is framed, with hanging wire, and all the frames are well built and reinforced, and the edges are mended and all the same color now.  And the sculptures are all cleaned and repaired, oh yes and there’s a tiny miniature portrait of a Venetian Carnival lady that I don’t have a picture of yet.  And everything is sitting ready to be packed into the truck tomorrow (including the camera, which I forgot last time).  And I’ll be going up to Marietta Museum first thing after the dogs are walked in the morning.  It’ll take all day long, I’m sure, but by the end of the day, I should have a show hung up on the walls, almost ready to open.

The opening is Saturday, January 12th, from 6-8 pm, at the Marietta/Cobb Museum of Art.  Admission is $8 at the door, and there’ll be light refreshments and a cash bar.  Art sales will benefit the Museum.

I hope you can come to the show.  The opening is only ten days away.  And boy are my arms tired.

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Switching paintings – 12

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Getting ready for the Marietta/Cobb Art Museum show on January 12th, I decided I didn’t like one of the walls very much, so I’m proposing a few other paintings for that wall, which happen to be paintings I’ve done in the past two years, none of which are represented in this show.


This is the wall as it currently stands

I have sculptures in the show already, and limited the selection to those that would fit inside a glass case.  But since they’re not using the case for them, I thought I would suggest some larger acrylic sculptures which I think are more interesting.


The first batch of sculptures range from 24-36″ high


The second batch are all about 25″ high


Then there’s a lovely dragon painting in egg tempera, 48×60″


And a charming dance of death painting, this one called ‘The string quartet of death”


And finally a painting with the buildings of Cabbagetown and Grant Park in the background, egg tempera, measuring 36×48″

That’s my idea of a wall.

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Swimmer series – 11

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These are some of my very latest work. And tho I’ve done half a dozen at this point, I”m not thru yet. I really like the abstract qualities of the paintings, and the way you realize you can’t trust your eyes to see. In fact, I was unable to recreate the types of images I saw when I was taking the photographs. They show the moments between things I was seeing, instead.

I’m posting these pictures because I’d like to switch them out for some less interesting paintings already at the Marietta Cobb Art Museum, and it seemed easier to let the staff see them all together in one place.

Because they’re confusing, I’m calling them by number.  They are pastel on board, and they measure 24×36, except for the last one in this list.


this is the only painting that is oriented portrait.  we’ll call it swimmer 7


swimmer 6


swimmer 5


swimmer 4


swimmer 3


swimmer 2


swimmer 1.  This is the large one, 36×48.

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Designing the show – 10

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Thursday.  Even in a land of extreme drought, it would pick moving day to rain all day long like a ruptured water main in the sky.  By the time I got back from walking the dogs, an hour before the moving guys were due to get here, the moving guys got here, worried that they might be late for the 9:00 appointment because of the rain, they arrived an hour early and prepared to wait.  But knowing the rain was only going to get worse as the day went by, I was very happy that they were so early, because by 9 when the heavens opened, we were all on our way to Marietta with all* of the artwork for the show.


My studio assistant had arranged all the paintings according to size, packed the smallest paintings into a rolly bin I use for Dragoncon, stacked the next smallest paintings to go in the back of my trucklet, and stacked the rest according to size, face to face, with numbers on the back in chalk.  The numbers were the spreadsheet numbers, and there were 75 of them.


In the rain, the two most efficient movers in the world, Ricardo and Marshall, schlepped back and forth from the house to the truck 75 times, while my assistant arranged everything upright in stacks against the walls of the truck, and then tied them all down to the sides with ratcheted tiedowns.  They loaded the rolly bin and the milk crates of statues, and they were off.  Then we finished loading the little paintings in the back of the truck.  Anything encased in glass – all nine etchings I just framed and several others off the wall and on loan from others – went into its own plastic bag and got taped against the water, and the whole stack got covered in a plastic tarp and tied down in the back of the trucklet, and we were off behind the mover guys.  Somehow we beat them there, which is a testimony of how careful they were with my paintings.


I pulled up to the loading dock at the Marietta / Cobb Museum of Art in a break in the rain, and we managed to get all our little paintings thru the door to the museum just as it started to rain in earnest again.  nothing got wet, but the bags dripped all over the floor.

laid out the way jim had them on the map

getting closer to the final arrangement

gallery 3 close to its final placement

By the time we got the little paintings arranged on the walls of the first gallery, the movers arrived, but it was pouring rain outside, so they just angled the truck up to the dock and waited it out.  Then we had a flurry of movement as they unloaded painting after painting, walked them thru the gallery, and put them against the wall next to the last painting they’d walked in.  Most of the paintings are light enough for one person to carry, but some of them are very bulky.

now there’s a dangerous gap.  the mover guys got very nervous when people wanted to help

Because the truck was parked at an extreme angle to the narrow dock, it was too dangerous for Jim or Jennifer to go into the truck, so it was up to the heroic guys and my hard working studio assistant to loosen the tiedowns, strip off the blankets used to protect the frames from scratches (always happens anyway), angle the pictures so they don’t all fall over into the center of the truck, then take the top painting and walk it in over the gap between the truck and the dock, into the museum’s back entrance, and thru the gallery to an open space on the wall.  By the time they were thru, there were no open spaces.


I went around, using my map, and put paintings where I originally thought they should go.  Then Jennifer Fox, who is doing the hands-on curating, and I went around and moved things to where they looked good.  This took awhile.  Then Jennifer called Terri Cole, who is on the board of directors of the museum, and a dead-on artistic eye, and she walked thru and sorted out everything in no time at all.  At least it felt like no time.


Then the fabulous Bob Meredith showed up to see the progress and make a few suggestions.  He no doubt had his own ideas where things should go, but you’ll only lose arguing design with a house full of women.

the crew of designers and helpers

Jim and Jennifer with the miniature portraits and an unsuitable mount

Bob Meredith and Jim Yarbrough; friends for over 50 years

Jim Yarbrough; alone in a crowd

Jennifer Fox who did all the lugging of bulky objects (behind her)

In no time at all things were as ordered as they were going to get, and everyone darted for home in the pouring rain.  I had a truck full of sodden blankets and empty bins and cases, but room for a tank of much cheaper gas and a lunch of super lengua burrito and a large horchata at El Taco Veloz on Windy Hill.  The whole thing took 7 hours.  The rain cleared as I got home.

Friday.  I’ll be back to the museum after Xmas when someone will be there, to repair dings and polish glass and arrange things.  I still have to do the large wall cards.  But I’ve finished with the small wall cards, the spreadsheet in general, and the prices (and insurance values).  And I’ve got to send out invitations.

* not really all, just most, going home with a few items for repair, and as a few rejected paintings

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Delivering the paintings – 9

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Monday.  Almost ready to deliver paintings.  This week has been a flurry of activity as my studio assistant and I get ready to take the paintings off to Marietta/Cobb Museum of Art for the show in just under a month from now – opening January 12, 2013, from 6-8 pm.


First the spreadsheet.  I’ve got almost everything filled in at this point, everything but the prices.  Like I said, it’s bargain time simply because I can’t draw as many 0’s behind the number as I used to.

First, using the map of the galleries I made (little squares representing each painting (to scale), stuck to the brown paper map with tape), I drew up a list of each painting.  Then I located the actual painting.

Several paintings were sold long ago, which I’m borrowing back for the show.  Which means I had a lovely morning with the owners.  Several others were in a local shop, so I had to find replacements and swap them out.  A bunch of the paintings were at the gallery, and I had to have help getting those back.  Finally, some of the paintings are hanging around my house on display, and even more are either in the studio or up in the attic.  So I had to go around, find them, measure them, and take pictures of them.


This took a lot longer than I would have imagined.

Then I had to think up something to say about each painting, for the wall card.  I’m not sure wall cards are a good idea, because in my experience, when you’re reading a description of a painting, you’re not looking at the painting.  Also, I’ve seen many people read the wall card and then walk away without having seen the painting.  However, there is an interesting story wrapped around each painting, and people might be amused to know it.


Tuesday.  Now that it’s time for the movers to come get the large paintings, and for the rest of them to go in my truck – two days from now – I’ve been assembling all the paintings in the main floor of the house, making sure the frames are in good shape, making sure there’s hanging hardware on each painting, making sure the measurements I took at first are still the measurements of the paintings (they change remarkably), checking them off on the printed-out spreadsheet.

In the middle of all this are the etchings.  My esteemed curator chose several etchings that had yet to be framed, so I had to spend several days framing nine etchings.  Fortunately, I’m used to framing, and have all the equipment, and a glass company literally around the corner.  So I measured each etching, added three inches on each side, cut matboard and foamcore backing board to go around and in back of each etching, and cut out the opening for the etching from the matboard.  Then I whipped out the table saw and poked thru my stash of picture moulding, picked a bunch of suitable sticks and cut them according to the backing boards.  Then I got out the vises and glue, hammer and nails, and put the frames together.  When they were built, I took them around to the glass shop for glass, and now everything’s on the clean table upstairs, waiting for assemblage into finished framed etchings.  It takes a couple of days to do all this for nine frames.  But tomorrow I will put the etching behind the mat and the backing board behind that, clean the glass one more time, then sandwich them all together and staple them into the frame, add hanging hardware, stack them in a corner of the room, and scratch them off the list.


There was a problem with part of the list.  This is what happens when you have a blank spot early on, and you think it’s going to magically fill itself in.  When I went out to Bob’s to finalize which paintings were going to go in, and he had different ideas than I had, I attempted to alter my map to show his choices, which I was prepared to do, because they were only taped on, and I had lots of extra little squares, and we sat and cut up a lot of little squares to scale and marked which paintings they represented and taped them to which spot on the wall they were intended to go.  The trouble came when I got back and tried to work up the spreadsheet.  My list included a bunch of dancer works on paper, and said “dancer i, dancer ii, dancer iii, etc.”  Bob had printed out a compilation of the paintings he was referring to, and had further starred a bunch of paintings he especially wanted, but somehow these pastel studies (for the most part) never got names, and never got selected out of the stacks.  But this evening it finally got resolved, and I now have all the spaces in the spreadsheet filled in.  Except, as I said, for the prices.

There were problems with several paintings, either because they got purchased and delivered, or because they were in not so good shape and needed reconditioning I wasn’t willing to spend time on, so there have been a couple of substitutions for the paintings I’m pretty sure Bob selected.  Plus a painting I realized Bob meant to include but that never got stuck onto the gallery map.  Plus an etching I think helps define the nymphs and satyrs series.


Right now I’ve got 73 items in the spreadsheet.  They’re mostly in stacks around the bedroom at the moment.  Tomorrow is a day for putting hanging hardware where it needs to go, painting edges black, touching up frames, and finalizing prices.

And then there are the sculptures.  Not the big bronze sculpture, but the 20-inch tall acrylic sculptures, and the smaller skeletal sculptures, and the little edge-of-a-shelf figurines.  They all had to be cleaned of years of dust collected by sitting around the house, which in most cases meant a dunking in borax and ammonia and a good scrubbing with a brush.  with the two mostly-clothed figures, however, I had to use a damp cloth and a cosmetic brush.


Oh yes, I forgot.  I still have yet to write something coherent for the large wall cards, the places I can wax philosophic about the process of painting, or tell the story of my life, or in this case, talk about how I paint and about my materials.  These will unfortunately have to wait until after all the moving.

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Finishing up the paperwork – 8

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One month before the opening of my show, and it’s busy busy busy here in the studio.  But first, a word about the showcard, which I scanned in and joined back to front.  Isn’t it a lovely card?  It’s all the work of Michael at Steem Creative, and I love what they settled on for a title.  I was thinking of calling the show ‘Jim Yarbrough, various unsaleable paintings,’ or ‘recent artshow rejects,’ but this puts it really nicely.  And a very kind sentiment it is, too.

Right now I’m busy making frames for eight etchings that we selected for the show.  Then I’ll have to make sure the proper hanging hardware is on each painting, and then I’ll have to go around and make sure the frames don’t need touching up or repairing.

one of 12 ‘nymphs and satyrs’ etchings

Then there’s the paperwork.  The lovely folks at the Marietta / Cobb Museum of Art emailed a spreadsheet asking for various bits of information, some of which is easier to come by than other bits.

Artist’s name, I got that, no problem.

Name of work, I can fudge that.  I’ll go around at the last minute and think up fancy names for everything.

Medium the work was executed in, if I can tell.  Sometimes I start with one medium and segue into another one without even realizing it.

Size – width and then length.  We had a little issue with the convention at first, but luckily I know which way is up on most of my paintings.

Then a few words for the wall card.  This is the hard part.  If left to myself, I’d just say look at the painting, but my friend Bob Meredith put down extensive verbiage on each painting when he had his show last year, and I’m trying to satisfy everybody by coming up with something meaningful.  And in fact, I’m working up mini-essays for several large wall cards, covering such subjects as my painting methods, my studio equipment, my relationships with my models, and my periods and series of paintings thru the years.  That is, if I can get around to writing them before time’s up.

Year painted.  Well, I can typically narrow it down to decade.

Sale price and insurance value.  Which is something I let my dealer handle, usually.  In this case, I’m fudging, so snap up the bargains before he gets his hands on the price list.

And then I put in a thumbnail of each painting.  Just so the museum folks don’t go crazy trying to figure out which conte crayon dance figure is which.

dancers viii
one of three conte crayon dance drawings.

The spreadsheet was actually due in a month ago, but it was a crazy month, and I got cleared to be a little late with it.  So I’m working on it now.  And, as I said, the descriptions are the hard part.

Checking my measurements twice is also crucial, because they will use this part of the spreadsheet to determine how far to space each painting from each other, which I understand is a major curatorial problem, and has destroyed many art professionals.

After all this preparation is finished, I will be pulling all the paintings into one place from wherever they’ve been (in the basement studio, in the attic racks, on display elsewhere, in the collections of others).  That means from now until next Thursday, the spare bedroom will be stacked with paintings, and there will be paintings in my bedroom, and paintings in the front parlor.  The huge paintings (the six to nine foot paintings) will have to be wrapped in blankets and set out for movers from the museum, who will be here bright and early next thursday.  I’ll transport the rest in the back of my truck.  Maybe in several trips.  The paintings all go in to the museum on December 20, even tho the show doesn’t open for three weeks.  Much of that is Xmas and New Year’s, so it’s really not all that much time.  I will, of course, document the hanging, because I plan to go in and touch up paintings and frames at some point before the show opens, and really wouldn’t want to miss the zoo that will be varnishing day at the museum.

At this point, there are 70 pieces in the show, from drawings to pastels, oils, acrylics, encaustics, giants to miniatures, with sculptures and figurines for all.

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Working out the collection – 7

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After everybody’s had a chance to look at all the pictures, one way or the other – travelling to Jim’s studio and the gallery where his work is shown, it was Bob’s turn to shine, so Jim went out to his studio to decide which paintings will go in the show, and where to put them.

Jim had been working with a scale drawing of the gallery space at the Marietta/Cobb Museum of Art, and had taken the measurements of all the paintings he wanted to put into the show, and had been playing around the the placement, just like you’d draw a diagram to figure out how you wanted to rearrange the living room.  Unfortunately, his studio assistant lost the photos of the various arrangements he was working out, so we’ll pick up at the studio of Robert Meredith, Master Painter(tm).

Here’s Bob, with Jim’s mockup in hand, impatient to be inside and scheming over placement.  Jim’s holding the folder he’s been keeping his lists of paintings and measurements, as well as a bunch of little to-scale cutouts of all the paintings he wants in the show.

This is Bob’s studio, where he creates his wonderful paintings.  You can see his pallet on top of the chest of drawers to the left.

Bob has made photos of all the paintings he’s interested in.  As expected, his list and Jim’s were different.

Jim’s scale drawing is on brown paper, and he’s fiddling in his notebook for the cutout to-scale representations of the paintings he wants.  Bob is sorting thru the paintings he wants.

Bob has made his own scale model, painfully small, and they’re trying to figure out where to strt.

There are so many paintings to choose from, and one of the problems is identification.  There are a lot of bathers with white gowns.

Bob had things all figured out from the point of view of the largest impact on the viewer.  Jim wanted to feature his most important paintings.

Not sure if you can read this; Jim sure can’t.  But Bob knows what it says.  You can see here that he has split the works up into categories, for instance the ‘girl room’ up on the top right.

They’re such old friends.

It became apparent that Bob did not have all the latest paintings Jim had been putting up on this blog, so they went back to the computer and had a fresh look.  It’s not surprising he missed a few, there are hundreds of pictures here.

Joined for a few moments by Bob’s wonderful wife Brenda.  Jim is making new scale representations of the paintings Bob’s just saw on the blog.

They’re working thru the paintings just like Jim did at home, but this time they’re using tape to fasten them down, because this is a final step.  And boy did it take all morning and half the afternoon.

It took so long, in fact, that Jim’s hapless studio assistant was forced to stalk Bob’s peacocks and chickens (thanks for the duck mayonnaise, Bob)

These are the categories Bob had put his selections in; the trouble is that it’s very hard to categorize Jim’s work.

Tho it’s hard to read, Jim’s got the working titles written onto scale models of the paintings, and in some cases where he had no model, he has drawn an indication of the painting on the brown paper.

Here are several stages of their work.

Even tho we all know it’s going to change before it gets finalized finalized, and when the paintings are brought to the museum for hanging, it’ll change again.

Notice the lovely tronp l’oeil work Bob does, mainly antique toys and shop windows.  Exquisite work, and he’ll do you a deal if you call in the next 30 minutes.  Prices are rising quickly in this market, so act fast.

And this is what they ended up with.  The blank spots on the top left are actually marked ‘etchings’ in pencil, since these etchings must be framed, so Jim has to wait to make scale models until there’s no point in doing so.

The next step is to frame the paintings that need it – more than one or two – and make sure the paintings are in good shape, no dings in the frames, no scrapes on the paint surface.

The important next step is to write up something informational on each painting, as well as a general piece about Jim’s painting methods and his media – because Jim makes all his own paints and has unique painting methods that people will be interested in reading about.

The vital next step is to complete a spreadsheet with all the paintings and their exact sizes, so the museum staff can run them thru a program and figure out exactly where on the wall to hang them.  They also need the individual painting descriptions for the museum guide they will be producing and for the wall cards that go with each painting and here and there around the gallery.

It’s going to be a lot of work, and you won’t see much of it until the show, but we’ll chronicle it here on the blog, and will probably put up a blog-catalog of the show nearer the opening date.

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Visiting the gallery – 6

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Today Jim paid a visit to Erin Wertenberger, his art dealer at 2021 Collections/Gallery Rodin in Buckhead. Bob was scheduled to meet us there with Sally Macaulay, the head of the Marietta/Cobb Museum of Art, where Jim will be having a retrospective show in January 2013, and they were going to take a look at the paintings Erin has. But stuff happens, and we had to look at the paintings without them. So here are photos of all the paintings at the gallery. If there weren’t so many of them, we might have included sizes and media. But, if you have any questions about these works, please contact Erin with the descriptive name and picture so he’ll know what you’re talking about.

Please excuse the quality of these photos.  There might be something wrong with the computer used to color correct them, because they look funny to us on our monitor.  They look much better in person…

Venetian carnival cathedral triptych.  This is the image that will be on the announcements.

Interior with nightmares.  This is one of Jim’s older paintings, and it has been sold, but he is checking with the owner to see if they can borrow it back for the show.

Jeanne d’Arc riding to battle triptych

Pierrot and Lady in Red

John and Mary

Girls in front of St. Marks, Venice

Reflections of St. Marks, Venice

Woman in green with nun

Three figures in cathedral

Woman in red with lion carving

Those are the large paintings; below are smaller works and studies.

Woman with grille

Three masks

Pierrot with black hat

Trio in pastel

Pierrot and partner with rose

Study for Venetian Courtesan

Study for lady with two faces


She devil

Couple in red

Study for cathedral group with skull

Bishop and mistress in white

Man in ram’s mask

Couple in green

Pierrot and little pierrot

Bishop with arms raised

Venetian courtesan and friend.

Bird couple in red

Venetian trio with red sky

Study for Venetian trio without red sky

Venetian couple in black and white

Venetian trio with owl in black and white

Venetian trio with fan in black and white

Masked model

Asha in white

Study for Asha in blue

Dancer in green

Dancer in white

Asha in white veil

Asha with rainbow veil

Asha in blue dress

Conte crayon study for Asha turning

Conte crayon study for Asha in veil

Conte crayon study of Asha lifting veil

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Beach pictures

These are pastel paintings Jim did after a trip to Hunting Island State Park in South Carolina.  They are all painted using handmade pastels on nonwoven fabric, mounted on board.  They were all taken at sunset.

Looking north.

Looking off toward Ireland.

Looking off toward Spain.

Looking south.

While he was at it, he worked on several fanciful pictures featuring the maritime forest as seen thru the cottage window.  These are pastel on paper.

The study.

The final painting.

Considering the larger works – 5

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Some of the pictures Museum Show Curator Bob hasn’t seen yet were turned face to the wall in the studio, with a large 10′ easel setup in front of them.  But we pulled everything out of the way this morning, and took photos and measurements.  Here they are:

This is Moses and his brother Aaron wandering thru the desert.  Oil on canvas 70×70

Here’s Moses coming down off the mountain with the commandments, only to find Aaron having a party with a golden calf.  Oil on canvas. 66×102

This pleasant scene shows Odysseus coming back from the wars to find everyone misbehaving at home.  Like every epic party, most people fall by the wayside during the night.  Oil on canvas.  60×120

And here is Mr. Lincoln about to reach the climax of the play.  Famous actor John Booth prepares to enter from stage rear.  The left side of this painting suffers from glare, and looks much more realistic in reality.  Oil on canvas 68×96

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