Hotly disputed public art, distinct architectural styles and modern conceptual works.
Sounds like any given year in Durango. It also describes a few of the building blocks of art history that will be covered in the Durango Arts Center’s upcoming lecture series, “A is for art. B is for Bernini.”
The five-week series, which will be taught by local art historian and journalist Judith Reynolds, will offer a wide-ranging meander through art history that will make stops in protest art, Picasso and architecture. Local art and design will have a place, too.
“I’m really big on context,” Reynolds said.
The series will kick off Thursday with “Introduction & A is for Architecture.” It will continue with Thursday lectures and corresponding Friday morning seminar discussions through March 5 and also will feature a special bonus session.
Reynolds, who has taught and written extensively about the arts, launched the lecture series last year after talking with DAC Education Director Sandra Butler about the arts center’s desire to provide a pared-down history course for the community.
Reynolds put together a six-part series that touched on prehistoric art, Baroque works and the long history of art as political statement. She guessed that maybe 15 to 20 people would show up, then quickly realized she had underestimated the community’s interest in the subject.
“We averaged 50 people for every lecture,” Reynolds said. “I had a wonderful response.”
Reynolds solicited thorough evaluations from her students and designed the 2015 lecture series largely based on feedback and requests.
Instead of the linear track she took last year, Reynolds will tackle stand-alone topics: architecture, Picasso, protest art, public art, conceptual and visionary art and the influence of children’s expression on contemporary art.
(Picasso, she said, was a no-brainer. “If I were told I could only teach one art history course and try to communicate the whole art of Western art, I would teach a class on Picasso.”)
The goal, she said, is to help students look at the world – be it magazine advertisements, alley graffiti or the trim of downtown buildings – through a new lens of understanding and appreciation. A community that is curious and passionate about art creates a better place to live, she said.
“I so firmly believe that wherever you live, we create the culture in our society,” she said.
Students can sign up for the entire series or can drop in for $15 a lecture. Reynolds will donate the proceeds to the Durango Arts Center. For her, teaching art is something that’s more fun than work, after all.
“I try to make it interesting,” she said. “It’s so much fun.”