Arts & Culture

Savannah excited to host 'Monet and American Impressionism'

Claude Monet (French, 1840-1926). Champ d?avoine (Oat Field), 1890. Oil on canvas, 26 x 36 7/16 inches. Samuel P. Harn Museum of Art, University of Florida. Gift of Michael A. Singer. 1999.6
Claude Monet (French, 1840-1926). Champ d?avoine (Oat Field), 1890. Oil on canvas, 26 x 36 7/16 inches. Samuel P. Harn Museum of Art, University of Florida. Gift of Michael A. Singer. 1999.6 Submitted photo

The next time Beaufort County residents visit Savannah, they may notice something's in the air.

That's because Monet -- as in Claude Monet, founder of Impressionism in 19th Century France -- is coming to the port city.

And all of Savannah seems to be celebrating.

"It's a big deal," said Lisa Grove, director and CEO of the Telfair Museums.

"And it's the first time in our 130-year history that Monet paintings have been here," Grove said.

The once-in-a-lifetime exhibition -- "Monet and American Impressionism" -- brings four paintings by the French master to the center where they will each be paired with a group of American Impressionists. The groupings will then be organized into themes.

It's an innovative way to present Monet to those who may only be familiar with the name. It's also a way to introduce American painters who were working during the period or who were influenced by the master himself, Grove said.

"It's an area that's been under-recognized," she said.

It's also one Telfair's primary strengths.

As the oldest public art museum in the South, Telfair holds numerous major works from American Impressionists in its permanent collection.

"We've been working on collecting Impressionist works since 1906," said Courtney McNeil, Telfair's Curator of Fine Arts and Exhibitions.

In fact, six such paintings from the museum's collection will be on display in the exhibition which will feature roughly 40 works of art in total, McNeil said.

The opening of "Monet and American Impressionism" has been so heralded that many businesses in the area are getting in on the fun.

Horticulturalists with the Coastal Georgia Botanical Garden have created the "Spirit of Monet Plant Collection" which will be featured around the city's squares and the Savannah/Hilton Head International Airport is following suit with its own colorful plantings.

And while everyone outside the museum is abuzz with excitement and working to beautify the city, things inside the museum are looking pretty colorful as well.

"This one I promise is just dazzling," McNeil said.

If You Go

"Monet and American Impressionism" will be on display at the Jepson Center, 207 W. York Street, on Telfair Square for the Arts Friday, Oct. 16 through Jan. 24, 2016.

A French-country themed opening celebration will be 5-10 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 15. Tickets for the opening celebration -- or "Monet Soiree" -- are $15. Free for members. To reserve, call Lauren Flotte at 912-790-8807 or visit www.telfair.org/monet.

In addition, a lecture on the story of Impressionism will be offered at 6 p.m. during the opening celebration in the Jepson Center's Neises Auditorium.

An online reservation and printed e-ticket are required to attend the lecture. For reservations, visit www.telfair.org/monet.

Telfair will offer a variety of lectures, family days, painting workshops and other activities during the run of the show.

Museum hours are noon-5 p.m. Sunday and Monday and 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday.

Individual and family passes are available for each of Telfair's three properties, or visitors can purchase a $20 triple-site pass. The pass expires a week after purchase and gives one-time entry to the Jepson Center, the Telfair Academy and the Owens-Thomas House. A facilities preservation fee of $1 is added to all admission prices.

Group tours are available for groups of 10 or more.

For more information, call 912-790-8800 or visit www.telfair.org.

Follow reporter Mindy Lucas at twitter.com/MindyatIPBG.

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