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Placing myself in the art!

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My love affair with museums and art started when I arrived in Brooklyn in 1966 at 16 and very quickly began to explore and absorb all of the cultural glories of New York City. In the fall of that year, I started my junior year at Erasmus Hall HS; and in true Julia fashion, I mapped out my day with an early rise to get ready for school and ended it with late night homework sessions when everything was done. 

My end of school day routine typically was me taking a Flatbush Avenue bus to the Brooklyn Public Library stop to do my homework. I often went first to the Brooklyn Museum to take in the wonderful art that adorned the walls. I can’t remember any specific exhibit but just my feelings of being in awe of all of the art. I also remember visiting the home of Ruby and Wally Nottage and seeing the art of Romare Bearden and other black artists on their walls and Ruby telling me that the portrait of her was painted by her friend Romy. I wanted to know and learn more about the art, especially Black artists, so I was thrilled when the Studio Museum of Harlem opened in 1969. I’d go and see whatever exhibit was showing. 

I began learning about Black artists like Jacob Lawrence, Elizabeth Catlett, Charles White, Betye Saar, Norman Lewis , Henry O. Tanner, and Augusta Savage to name just a few of my early introductions to African American Art in the late 60’s and early 70’s. At some point, I became fascinated with art museums, and for me especially their Modern and Contemporary Art Collections and exhibitions. Even though I didn’t have extra money for admission, I kept a list on my refrigerator of the free admission days and hours and would often go with my young daughter in the stroller to see whatever was being exhibited. One of our favorites was the Guggenheim Museum. We’d take the elevator to the top floor and meander our way down to the first floor all the white looking at art.

A couple of weekends ago, I visited the Grounds for Sculpture and fell in love! It’s been on my list of places to visit for a few years! My sister-in-law, Donna and I walked for several miles just taking in much of the beautiful landscape and the sculptures that adorn the various sites. I’ll definitely be going back time and time again. I’m sharing some of my favorite spots in this post; and of course, I was comfortably sporting one of my favorite pieces from JTL Designs as I “put myself in the picture”. 

Over the years, I’ve volunteered in museums like the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum and currently as a docent the Woodmere Art Museum, where I mostly participate in art appreciation programs with the Philadelphia Public Schools. It gives me such joy to share my love of art with young people, and it’s my hope that they will come to love art as much as I do. I encourage you to check out a local museum or sculpture garden and just take in some art! Where will you start? Place yourself in the art; I know you'll love it!

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