Tag Archives: Alma Thomas ‘Cherry Blossom Symphony’ 1973

An Afternoon with Alma Thomas at the Tang

Michaela Harlow at the Alma Thomas exhibit, Tang Teaching Musueum and Art Gallery, Skidmore College, NYMaking notes at the Alma Thomas exhibit, Tang Teaching Museum (photo: Kelly Smith)

I’ve been in and out of many exhibits this winter, and although I’ve enjoyed all of them, Alma Thomas at the Tang Teaching Museum has been, far and away, my favorite thus far.

Although a relatively small show, the exhibit presents early works and late works in sequence. Thomas’ pivotal ‘Yellow and Blue’ 1959 —the decisive shift from figuration to abstraction— greets with saturated intensity at the entry. I was delighted to finally see a small grouping of the artist’s watercolors and other works on paper. Of course, as an artist, I longed for more. So much work begins with jotted notes and gestures.

Alma Thomas Exhibit, Tang Musueum, Skidmore. Michaela HarlowIn the exhibit entrance, Alma Thomas’ ‘Yellow and Blue’, 1959 and the commitment to abstraction.

Alma Thomas Exhibit, Tang Musuem, Michaela Harlow Alma Thomas, Untitled Watercolor (1960-1978)

I was thrilled to experience the exhibit on a quiet, Sunday afternoon; a day with few visitors to block the view or break my contemplative state with disruptive chatter. With no pressures on my time, I lingered long and experienced fully. Grateful.

My love for Alma’s late work really knows no bounds. In addition to her mastery of color, form, rhythm and motion —all thrilling when experienced in a room filled with these large canvases— Thomas’ use of the aerial perspective has always been unusual and captivating to me. It’s this omniscient point-of-view, I believe, that first attracted me to her work, years ago. Gazing upon ‘White Roses Sing and Sing’, ‘Cherry Blossom Symphony’ and ‘Scarlet Sage Dancing a Whirling Dervish’, I am swept back to a childhood afternoon in Mexico; head hanging over a bridge, mesmerized by fallen flower petals, dancing and swirling in the green current below.

Alma Thomas Exhibit, White Roses Sing and Sing, Tang Museum, Skidmore. Michaela Harlow Alma Thomas, ‘White Roses Sing and Sing’, 1976, Acrylic on Canvas

Alma Thomas exhibit, Tang Museum, Michaela Harlow ‘Scarlet Sage Dancing a Whirling Dervish’, 1976, Acrylic on Canvas

Alma Thomas Exhibit, Tang Museum, Michaela Harlow ‘Cherry Blossom Symphony’, 1973, Acrylic on Canvas

And with this exhibit opening near winter’s end, it will likely be my last museum visit for awhile. I have a few art-centric trips planned for March, but my landscape design schedule is filling up.

Good to end with such a vibrant crescendo. Thank you to the Tang Teaching Museum, Skidmore College and of course, Alma Thomas.

Alma Thomas Exhibit, Tang Museum, Skidmore. Michaela Harlow Alma Thomas, Late Work at the Tang Museum

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