Artist Mandy Maxwell of Earle, Arkansas shares her thoughts on the Brooks Museum taking Summer of Cloar on the road in our June 29th event, Bike to Cloar.
The Brooks has done some very impressive things this summer to promote both regional and southern art.
When it comes to art in the Delta, no one does it better than Carroll Cloar. Each of his masterpieces captures the romanticism and magic that only a true southern native could achieve. Those who've seen his work can't help but place him among America's best, yet he is still virtually unknown.
The Brooks and the city of Memphis have set out to change that this year with the Summer of Cloar. What a remarkable collection of exhibits are on display this year, especially the Crossroads of Memory at the Brooks. In addition to the incredible show, the Brooks hosted a unique, Bike to Cloar event in the small town of Earle, Arkansas, hometown of Carroll Cloar.
Bike to Cloar connected people to Cloar's work in an incredibly personal way. Over 60 riders began at the Crittenden County Museum in Earle and made their way on a 6-12 mile loop through the area Cloar portrayed in his work.
Earle is an all-but-forgotten town in Arkansas, just outside of Memphis. Cloar spent his childhood here and it provided the backdrop to his vast collection of work. Many of the landmarks he used still stand today and were on the Bike to Cloar tour.
Once we reached the Rev. George B. Washington’s funeral monument at Gibson Bayou, Dr. Stanton Thomas, Curator of the Crossroads of Memory show at the Brooks, told us all the interesting history of the angel and the man who built her.
Much to everyone’s surprise, the museum director in Earle was able to find someone to cut down the brush that had built up over the decades. (I’ve lived in Earle for 18+ years and have never seen it cleared off.) Even in Cloar’s paintings of the angel show her in fields and tangled in thorns.
The next stop on le Tour de Cloar was the Gibson Bayou cemetery, as seen in Cloar’s painting The Gibson Bayou Anthology. Dr. Stanton explained how it was a haunting tribute to the literary classic, The Spoon River Anthology by Edgar Lee Masters.
Just past the cemetery was a beautiful sunflower patch. Biking past these sunny, symbols of summer was like flying through a dreamy, Cloar painting. Nothing could have been more fitting.
I think if Cloar were here today he would still be inspired by the magical settings surrounding the road to Cloar and the Arkansas Delta on a bright summer day in June.
Every rider who Biked to Cloar took away something special and will forever have a closer relationship with Cloar’s hometown and his work. The Brooks outdid themselves by taking a chance on this unusual, but exceptional event.
As an Earle native and fellow artist, I have always seen Earle as a special place. Brooks created a way to show others exactly what this sleepy little town has to offer.
Guest blog and photos by artist Mandy Maxwell of Earle, Arkansas.
Visit her website at www.mandyatlarge.com.
See more photos of her photos in the Bike to Cloar set here.
And even more photos from the Brooks here.