Cheapskate's Guide to the Finer Things in Life
Art is a "relative" thing at MFAH weekend lecture series
This morning, while driving, I read a fine piece of advice on the vanity plate of the car in front of me: “LEARN.”
That’s always been my favorite thing in life — to learn, and to share what I learn with others. I’m most comfortable in settings where I can do both, which explains my lengthy experience as a scientific editor in academia, and as a newspaper reporter before that. Like many other Houstonians, after the long, hot summer, I’m excited about the arrival of fall and its promise of cooler days to come, along with the opportunity to learn new things in our city’s wealth of educational and artistic venues.
We’re all going back to school this fall, in different ways.
During the Houston school year and arts season, there’s an abundance of informative lectures on all kinds of interesting subjects at institutions here – not just those of higher learning, but at museums like our Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. Many of these lectures are free and open to the public; just check the individual institutions’ websites.
One such learning opportunity that I’ve been eagerly awaiting is the resumption of the Friday and Saturday afternoon lectures at the MFAH – specifically the first fall lecture presented by David E. Brauer, senior lecturer at the Glassell School of Art.
Last Saturday, my great expectations were more than amply rewarded when I joined other Brauer acolytes in a packed auditorium to hear his brilliant lecture on “Painters as Sculptors: Picasso and Matisse.” Now I can hardly wait for him to return to the podium this afternoon and Saturday to speak on “Paris 1910: Modigliani, Soutine, and Utrillo.”
What makes Brauer such a popular teacher is his ability to make his topic so appealing to cross-section of the public.
Having grown up in London, he spent much of his childhood rambling around the British Museum, a short walk from home, and made side trips to the National Gallery and Tate. After graduating from St. Martin’s School of Art in London, Brauer moved to Oxford, teaching at two institutions and periodically working at the Museum of Modern Art there. He first visited the United States in 1972, to attend the Apollo 17 launch to the moon and to work with NASA artists here. After a trip to Russia, he returned to Houston and joined the MFAH in 1976.
A seasoned world traveler, Brauer told me at a post-lecture reception that whenever he goes to London, he visits the British Museum and seeks out the art objects he learned to love as a child, as he now views them as “relatives.”
It’s exactly that kind of comment from a teacher that opens up whole new perspectives of the joy that a learner can take in following his path of knowledge. Having learned a great deal about art and artists at MFAH lectures over the years — particularly about the beneficent influence of the masters — I now feel the same way as Brauer whenever I make my “pilgrimages” to certain beloved MFAH paintings and sculptures.
The Friday and Saturday afternoon lectures, along with many other lectures by excellent in-house and guest speakers during the year, are free to MFAH members. General admission tickets for adult nonmembers are only $7 for a one-day visit.