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UMMA Art Pick: Michigan Leader Comments

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Mary Sue Coleman
President, University of Michigan

1. Boyhood of Lincoln

Eastman Johnson is an appealing artist because he chose subjects that depicted ordinary life in 19th century America. With an unflinching view, he often created ground-breaking works or explored themes such as the consequences of slavery, that retain emotional power today. This painting of the boyhood Lincoln (completed three years after his assassination), is evocative of the plain upbringing of our union's savior and illustrates how visual art of the time did influence public perception of the slain president as a national icon. The quality of light captured in Johnson's painting style draws me into this wonderful scene and makes me pause to reflect on the life of the man it depicts.

Jim Abbott
UM alum, former Major League Baseball pitcher, 1988 Olympic gold medalist, motivational speaker

19. Suit of armor, 19th century

My favorite piece in the collection was the Mistsusada Suit of Armor. I am not sure how protective the armor was back in the Edo period, but the mask alone is terrifying!

David Brandon
CEO, Domino’s Pizza

8. The Break-up of the Ice

This Monet has all the qualities and characteristics of the new UMMA. It is beautiful, timeless, and will be a source of enjoyment for generations to come.

Jim Brandstatter
Michigan Wolverines football radio analyst

Robbie Timmons Brandstatter
Anchor, ABC News

4. Mount Hood from The Dalles

Jim: Robbie and I both selected this piece without discussing our choice with each other. The one word that came to us when we saw it was, “Majestic.”

We also felt a connection to the piece because it was by an American, and the subject was in the USA. As Robbie put it, the water in the foreground takes your eyes right to the top of spectacular Mt. Hood in the background. In its own way it's appropriate for the grand opening of the museum. Michigan prides itself on being the leaders and best, and this piece puts the museum at the top of the mountain.

Lloyd Carr
Michigan Wolverines football coach, 1995–2008

8. The Break-up of the Ice

Winter is fading and spring will soon be here to bring the promise of summer and fall.

Jeff Daniels
Actor, director, and songwriter

15. St. Jerome in His Study

To live an artist's life can be rich and rewarding. That same life, however, also requires a solitary existence. At times maddening, the loneliness to which a serious artist must subject himself is the key to the soul. St. Jerome In His Study reminded me of that lonely journey every true artist travels.

Nicholas Delbanco
Robert Frost Distinguished University Professor of English Language and Literature, University of Michigan

32. Begin the Beguine

Begin the Beguine was completed in September, 1946, the year before Max Beckmann came to America, and the dance here delineated—with its frozen dynamic and arrested fluidity—has at least in part to do with emigration. They should be stepping to the music of Kurt Weill, not Cole Porter; they look resolutely away from and not at each other. What birds of paradise are these; does blood festoon their beaks? >>

Aaron Dworkin
Violinist and founder of the Sphinx Organization, which encourages the participation of Blacks and Latinos in classical music

10. Charity

This Bouguereau piece entitled Charity stood out to me even amongst some of the amazing new works in the museum's collection. While not knowing the formal title to the work, when I first gazed upon it, there was something about the manner in which it spoke to me that resonated with my work, which happens to be in the non-profit and philanthropic (charitable) world. >>

Ken Fischer
President, University Musical Society

26. Funerary Shrine Cloth

Four Reasons for selecting this work: 1) I love the piece; 2) Music, dance, and theatre are represented in the work; 3) The Global Focus of UMS in the upcoming season is Africa and the African Diaspora; and 4) the number 26 has been my lifelong favorite number. >>

Ernie Harwell
Baseball Hall of Fame, long-time voice of Detroit Tigers, and 2008 U-M honorary degree recipient

9. Roses and Flowers in a Glass

I chose this one for my wife, Lulu, a wonderful gardener. She grows roses and all kinds of flowers every year and this reminds me of her.

Sada Jacobson
University of Michigan graduate student and silver medalist in fencing, 2008 Olympics

5.Peacock Mosaic

This mosaic is my favorite...after all, who doesn't love something from Tiffany's?  The colors are so vibrant—this must have been a beautiful focal piece at the Havemeyer House.

Robert P. Kelch, M.D
Executive Vice President for Medical Affairs
University of Michigan
CEO, UM Health System

31. Two Girls Reading

I love many of these works of art, but the one that "really catches my fancy" is #31, Two Girls Reading by Pablo Picasso. The vibrant colors and dramatic distortions fascinate me.

Gary Krenz
Special counsel to the President and lecturer in philosophy

33.Kline, Untitled

 I love the dynamism, moodiness, and centeredness of this piece.

David R. Lampe
Vice President for Communications

33. Untitled

This bold, simple, and enigmatic painting captures some of the mystery of art and the essence of creative process itself.

C.J. Lee
University of Michigan men’s basketball team

36.Basilica do Palacio Nacional de Mafra.

The detail of the architecture in this Portugese palace is amazing. I like old buildings because of the history and symbollism that went into making them. I really like the round arches in the ceiling and in the walk-ways on each side. I am excited about the reopening of the University of Michigan Museum of Art because I love self expresssion and pieces of art that have deeper meaning.

Jerry May
Vice President for Development

4. Mount Hood from The Dalles

I have always loved Stanley's Mt. Hood from the Dalles because we have family from the Dalles and the view is breathtaking to see in person. The age of the painting gives me a sense of the hundreds of generations or more who have been able to enjoy this ancient mountain, so solitary and so strong.

David Merritt
Co-captain, University of Michigan men’s basketball team

36. Basilica do Palacio Nacional de Mafra

My favorite work of art is # 36 Basilica do Palacio Nacional de Mafra. This piece of work struck a chord with me because of the beautiful architectural lines used in the chapel. This chapel is truly beautiful and hopefully I'll get a chance to visit it one day.

Zoltan Mesko
Punter, University of Michigan football team

35. Untitled, from Suspended Sphere Series

I decided to pick Todd Hoyer’s piece from his Suspended Sphere Series, because I love the simple yet brilliant idea behind it. I have always admired pieces of art that seem to barely balance on something. I live my life with the mentality of having the right amount of balance in everything I do. If we take our life or a certain activity to the extreme and overdo it, we will fall out of balance and so will our enjoyment of life. This is the exact idea I see Todd Hoyer’s piece symbolizing, and that is why I picked it as my favorite.

Davy Rothbart
founder, FOUND magazine

7. Spring Landscape

I can almost hear Ernie Harwell’s voice from down in Lakeland in early March: “Tiger baseball is on the air!”

Suellyn Scarnecchia
Vice President and General Counsel

17. Pot

This black pot by Maria Martinez (1887-1980) of the San Ildefonso Pueblo evokes cherished memories of living in beautiful New Mexico, as well as my appreciation for the artistic wonders created there.

Laszlo and Sandor Slomovits
The performing duo Gemini

Laszlo: 16. Quilt with Central Diamond Pattern
Sandor: 1. Boyhood of Lincoln

Laszlo: Besides being struck by the utter simplicity and integrity of design and color, I was moved when I saw that the artist was anonymous. That could be any of us who create — not for fame and fortune, but from an innate human desire to lovingly create beauty. It is wonderful — and inspiring — that the Museum honors these artists along with celebrated masters.

Sandor: My pick is Eastman Johnson's Boyhood of Lincoln for a variety of reasons. Lincoln, complicated though he and his views were, has always been a hero to me, and I've been thinking of him even more than usual of late, both because of the 200th anniversary of his birth and President Obama's election. >>

Teresa A. Sullivan
Provost and Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs

26. Funerary Shrine Cloth

This funerary cloth memorializes the life of someone we don’t know but whom the artist depicts using fantastic and colorful figures. The procession of people and animals suggests a wide range of experiences. The everyday medium of cloth becomes a ritual object to solemnize life and to draw us into its contemplation.

The donor of this object was one of my professors when I was an undergraduate student.

Rhonda Walker
Morning News Anchor
WDIV-TV 4 News Detroit

18. Vairocana Buddha