Our annual 4th grade Art Field Trip featured a visit to The Mennello Museum of American Art. This wonderful museum, at 900 East Princeton Street – just minutes from Orlando Junior Academy, is home to the Folk Art of Earl Cunningham (1893-1977). This outstanding collection of paintings, by the self taught artist, capture scenes from life along the eastern seaboard of America from Maine to Florida. The brilliantly colored landscapes tell stories of Cunningham’s interest in boats and wildlife and many paintings also show scenes of Florida’s Native Americans of long ago.
The students and several parents who joined us for the visit, were also able to enjoy the special exhibit on Pop Art. Pop Art took the American art scene by storm approximately 50 years ago. Artists started using familiar subjects in their work that we use in our everyday life such as a toothbrush, a can of soup or comic strip and images from popular culture such as famous people and landmarks. These were drawn using flat forms, bright colors and a printing technique called “Ben-Day dots”. The exhibit showed a selection of 37 prints from the Smithsonian American Art Museum’s permanent collection. It was good to be able to have our students see important artwork from our nation’s national art collection. Artwork on exhibit included work by Jim Dine, Robert Indiana, Jasper Johns, Roy Lichtenstein, Robert Rauschenberg and Andy Warhol.
At the end of our tour, docents led the students in reflecting on their visit by drawing scenes of places that are important to them. If was a happy time, sitting together in the museum drawing. We were surrounded by beautiful and thought-provoking artwork, enjoying restful views of Lake Formosa. The museum gardens provided a perfect spot to spread out blankets and enjoy our picnic lunches, with interesting sculptures as our companions.