While I had been to the Riverside Arts Market, a popular Jacksonville weekend activity, 3 different times, I had never stopped by the museum that is right next to the bridge. I saw pretty signs, a manicured lawn area and a large building, I hadn’t taken the time to visit. Isn’t it funny how we often do things when visiting other cities, but forget to look in our own backyard for inspiration? This Saturday I said okay. Let’s see what whispers the paintings of this museum might have for my soul. About a year ago I visit the High Museum in Atlanta and it was a wonderful adventure. It was time to take a March afternoon and see what was here.
From Andy Warhol to Norman Rockwell, the Cummer did not dissappoint.
Free tickets on Certain Tuesdays and Saturdays
Now my roommate suggested I wait until the one day a month when it was free, but knowing that I’d skipped out on more than a year of free days, I figured I could swing the price of entry. Plus I looked it up online and saw it was only $5. Now when I got there I found out that it was ACTUALLY $10 and I was looking at a museum in another city. But I was resolute. It was time to make this happen.
I forked over admission and got a map. The woman at the front desk told me were the main collections were. I asked if they had a guided headset tour, but they did not. So I decided to head to my right and just start exploring what was near me. The first room had these Japanese block prints. Because it was just prints, there wasn’t texture or many color details that really intrigued me. The way water was depicted was interesting though. I also liked the stories by the paintings. One was like a twist on Little Red Riding Hood. Others told stories of courtesans, families, and outdoor workers. My brother is living in Japan so I thought I might have more of a connection with these images. I did like some of the temples that reminded me of visiting there, and stories mentioned Kyoto and Tokyo, which I also visited.
Ninah First Impressions & Impressionists
The next room was dedicated to the Cummer family. It was modeled after the original home of the family who wanted to start the museum and shared their art collection. The room was the kind of regal sitting room that creates a lasting first impression. You don’t have to see the rest of that type of home to know it will be all that is elegance. It was a cozy room with heavy wooden furniture and a painting of Ninah May Holden Cummer, who envisioned all of this .It was cool to see slightly more modern looking person that seemed to be captured in an older painting style.
Now, I could go room by room, but that might rob you of the experience of visiting yourself. Now there is a room with many impressionist and 20th century paintings. That was my favorite. Some of the 19th century paintings were hit or miss. There is a room with porcelain china, which my initial thought was wow so boring, but upon closer inspection the pieces were exquisite and I found it curious that there was some dishware that we don’t use today. There was a room full of navy sketches which was interesting for the first 2 but then I pretty much had the gist. I coulda skipped the room with photos of flowers and plants. The room with religious paintings was full of stories and emotion.
Thoughts of Grandma Flowers
I loved this Rockwell painting of an older couple I found. The woman looks very much like my maternal grandmother – both her face and her expression. The story of the painting is bitter sweet. A husband and wife are going to get treatment for his terminally ill wife. However, neither has admitted to each other that they are aware of the severity of the illness. The treatment was planned before either knew the prognosis. Prior to treatment they had planned a vacation together. They decided to go on this vacation anyway, go all out. Neither spoke about the reality of what was coming. This is them leaving for vacation at a train station I believe.
There was a room with artifacts, limestone carvings and items from the 4th century BC. There were gold earrings. I was thrilled to see earrings dating so far back. It’s the little things. There was a more modern and abstract collection with vibrant colors and 8 Andy Warhol paintings. I explored the gardens a little, though most were closed because of damage from hurricane Irma. You could still see the fountain beds and how the landscape was artfully carved out beside the river, but the garden still needs a lot of work. Oh, and the 200 year old oak is still standing and pretty breathing on its own. The last thing I checked out before leaving was the kids explore art room. This was really neat! All this tactile stuff, learning areas and and small pictures even. The best part was a walkway tracing art history through time. I went through this slowly, hoping to retain some for my next trivia game.
Next time I hear a friend say they want to go on one of the free days I am definitely in.