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The Cummer Museum of Art & Gardens is committed to engage and inspire through the arts, gardens and education. A permanent collection of nearly 5,000 works of art on a riverfront campus offers more than 95,000 annual visitors a truly unique experience on the First Coast. Nationally recognized education programs serve adults and children of all abilities.

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Equality for All: Celebrating the 50th Anniversary of the Signing of the Civil Rights Act



The Civil Rights Act of 1964 was enacted on July 2, 1964 outlawing discrimination based upon race, color, religion, sex, or national origin. The full title of the act reads:

“An act to enforce the constitutional right to vote, to confer jurisdiction upon the district courts of the United States of America to provide injunctive relief against discrimination in public accommodations, to authorize the Attorney General to institute suits to protect constitutional rights in public facilities and public education, to extend the Commission on Civil Rights, to prevent discrimination in federally assisted programs, to establish a Commission on Equal Employment Opportunity, and for other purposes.”

This act put a stop to discriminatory use of voter registration requirements and segregation within schools, at the workplace, and in public accommodations.

On June 11, 1963 President John F. Kennedy made his famous “Civil Rights Announcement” spurring change towards equality in the public spectrum. Kennedy questioned the ethics of the United States preaching freedom when citizens within its own borders suffered from the bonds of injustice. He said,

“The heart of the question is whether all Americans are to be afforded equal rights and equal opportunities, whether we are going to treat our fellow Americans as we want to be treated. If an American, because his skin is dark, cannot eat lunch in a restaurant open to the public, if he can not send his children to the best public school available, if he cannot vote for the public officials who represent him, if, in short, he cannot enjoy the full and free life which all of us want, then who among us would be content to have the color of his skin changed and stand in his place? Who among us would be content with the counsels of patience and delay?”

Kennedy’s address was an integral step in taking the issue of Civil Rights from a seemingly legal one into a debate of morals. Martin Luther King Jr. himself applauded the president’s initiative.

Image credit: Steve Schapiro (American, b. 1936), Andrew Young, Martin Luther King, Jr., and John Lewis, Selma, Alabama, 1965, gelatin silver print, High Museum of Art, purchase with funds from the H. B. and Doris Massey Charitable Trust, 2007.219.  © Steve Schapiro.

Steve Schapiro (American, b. 1936), Andrew Young, Martin Luther King, Jr., and John Lewis, Selma, Alabama, 1965, gelatin silver print, High Museum of Art, purchase with funds from the H. B. and Doris Massey Charitable Trust, 2007.219. © Steve Schapiro.

After Kennedy’s assassination, his successor Lyndon B. Johnson continued the fight for civil rights in the United States. In 1960, Johnson spoke about his own interpretation of the origins of discrimination to a colleague. He said,

“If you can convince the lowest white man he’s better than the best colored man, he won’t notice you’re picking his pocket. Hell, give him somebody to look down on, and he’ll empty his pockets for you.”

Johnson broke a filibusterer by Southern Democrats in March of 1964 and was able to sign a stronger version of Kennedy’s bill into law by June 2, 1964.

The Cummer celebrates the 50th Anniversary of the Civil Rights Movement with the exhibition A Commemoration of the Civil Rights Movement: Photography from the High Museum of Art, Atlanta. The photographs in this exhibition capture the courage and perseverance of individuals who challenged the status quo, armed only with a philosophy of nonviolence and the strength of their convictions. The images were made by committed artists, activists, and journalists, who risked injury, arrest, and even death to document this critical moment of growth in our nation. The tenacity of these dedicated and gifted individuals—on both sides of the camera—continues to inspire social justice advocates today. Be sure to check out this exciting and beautiful exhibition that highlights this important time in history.

Click HERE to find out more about the Museum’s Civil Rights programming!

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Collector’s Choice: Featured Collector, Jordan Bock



Written by Caitlyn Cooney, Curatorial Intern



Each collector featured in our exhibition, Collector’s Choice, collects art for his or her own reasons; while some may collect within a certain movement or stylistic era, others may collect in order to enrich the community, facilitate learning, preserve history, etc. Jordan Bock, however, collects based on his relationship to various art pieces, and their ability to communicate a story to their audience. Each of the five pieces exhibited from Bock’s collection, though all created within the last century, each present different cultures, ideas, aesthetics, and media. Yet, what ties each of these pieces together is the way they have created a dialogue with Bock, intrigued him with the story each of them tell. He states, “Every time I see a painting, I think of it as a conversation, a story. What happens before this moment? What happens after? You have to be willing to think about another point of view.”

Each of the featured pieces in Bock’s collection have their own story to tell, be it in their subject matter or their relationship to the artist. Since the age of six, Bock has sought out pieces that intrigued him, each serving as mere snapshots meant to allude to larger narratives. When speaking about the first time he saw an etching of a pond in East Hampton done by Mary Nimmo Moran at an auction he attended with his parents, Bock stated, “It was mysterious, it told some sort of story, but I wasn’t sure what. I was a big reader as a child, and it intrigued me.” This same interest has fueled his passion for collecting art pieces over the years, seeking out works that speak their own language and  tell a story past that of the obvious, that beg for a second look and deeper investigation.

BockPool1 Compressed

Tim O’Kane’s Pool #1 (1984) serves as a clear example of Bock’s taste in its film still composition and subtle suggestion of a larger context. O’Kane, both a photographer and an artist, frames his compositions as a film director would with the suggestion of a human presence, yet a lack of figurative representation. The scenery suggests an intimate environment, yet the composition is void of the characters in which we expect to inhabit it. In this way, we are forced to approach it from a different point of view, and just as Bock has prompted us to do when viewing the piece, we ask, “What happens before this moment? What happens after?” therefore creating a moment of captivation and reflection for the us as the viewer.

For Bock, art is not only a visual experience, but  instead a way of communicating, a story or a language.  Just as each piece  creates a dialogue with its viewer, The Cummer serves as a dialogue center for the community. Bock considers the process  of viewing art as a moment of communication, transition, and self-reflection. He states, “If you don’t have conversation      nothing ever happens. The only way to create change is by listening, then by doing. Looking at art can make you look at your life. We can all change the world.”




The exhibition Collectors’ Choice: Inside the Hearts and Minds of Regional Collectors will be on view from May 17th to September 14th, 2014.

For more information, please visit the Cummer’s website at

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Letter from the Director: Cara Bowyer, Director of Events & Programs



We are less than half way through the year and 2014 has already proven to be scintillating.  From a programming perspective, the Cummer has offered 6 lectures, 28 docent led tours, 6 musical concerts, and numerous other programs surrounding the exhibition calendar.  We enjoyed a lively and well-attended Garden Month, and continue to welcome great crowds to Tapas Tuesdays in The Café as part of Free Tuesday nights.  From an external rental perspective, we continue to connect with our community and beyond as a premier venue for special events.  To date, we have been home to 10 weddings, 20 meetings, and over 25 special events.

The summer looks just as bright.  We are excited to host Canary in the Coalmine, Four Families and Jacksonville Old Time Jam for an evening of Americana music in the Cummer Gardens on June 28th.  In honor of the 50th Anniversary of the signing of the Civil Rights Act, we will have a free celebration on June 24th, with Mama Blue and The Sanders Singers performing a special rendition of Lift Every Voice and Sing.  And, due to the wildly successful Pitmen Painters performance held at the Museum last year, we have partnered with The 5 & Dime Theatre Company again to bring you 33 Variations, a play inspired by the work of Ludwig van Beethoven. The performance will run for two consecutive weekends,  July 18th – July 20th and July 25th  – July 27th.

We invite you to visit our website for more details on the highlighted programs above, as well as many others planned throughout the course of this year.  Whether you join us for a concert or play, celebrate an important milestone, or stop in for lunch in The Café, we hope your summer plans will include many visits to the museum to truly experience all the Cummer has to offer.

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The Cummer Store: The Art Collector by Jan Wahl



Hardcover $15.95

Oscar loves looking at the art Great-Granny creates. But his own drawings never look the way he wants them to. So instead of making art, he decides to collect art. Over the years Oscar’s room becomes filled with beautiful paintings and drawings in every style and color, and he loves looking at it. From acclaimed author Jan Wahl, Oscar’s story illustrates the value of art for everyone, not just for those who create it.

Shop new books on art collecting and the various art forms represented in Collectors’ Choice. For further information, please contact The Cummer Store at 904.899.6035.

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Featured Artwork: Stela of Iku & Mer-imat



This stela depicts a nobleman named Iku and his wife, Mer-imat. One of the principal purposes of the stela is explained in the vertical inscription located in front of the striding Iku. This written “appeal to the living” asks those who pause in front of it to read the text aloud, providing the deceased with “a thousand of bread and beer, a thousand of beef and fowl, and of everything good, for the high official, the honored Iku.” The text above Mer-imat’s head describes her titles as “king’s [ornament], priestess of Hathor, honored one, beautiful of ornament, overseer of oasis-dwellers.”  The wealth of the couple is underscored by their fine dress that includes intricately beaded wigs, jeweled collars, armlets, and anklets. Iku’s staff and scepter are traditional symbols of position and authority.

This funerary stela is almost certainly from Naga-ed-Deir, a village in Upper Egypt on the bank of the river Nile. The stela closely resembles nearly one hundred relief carvings found in the offering chambers of tombs in the vast cemetery at Naga-ed-Deir. Despite its fragmentary condition, the expertly carved surface and the original polychrome are well preserved.

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Collectors’ Choice: Featured Collector, David W. Foerster



Written by Caitlyn Cooney, Curatorial Intern

Foerster French Canal

Michael Kenna, French Canal, TYBW, Loire-et-Cher, France, 1993, Toned Silver Gelatin Print

Foerster Tree Canopy

Michael Kenna, Tree Canopy, Shosanji, Tokushima, Shikoku, Japan, 2010, Toned Silver Gelatin Print

Throughout art history, photography has often been the one medium holding its own standards. Unlike painting, drawing, sculpture, and the like, photography has carried the assumption that it is able to capture the “real world”, or that a photograph serves as an honest portrayal of what it depicts. David W. Foerster’s featured collection is strictly composed of photography. Within his collection of five photographs, four were created by Michael Kenna, a contemporary photographer who captures surrealistic landscapes and dream-like compositions.

Kenna’s photographs border on what we consider to be real or unreal, surreal or ordinary. His photograph Tree Canopy, Shosanji, Tokushima, Shikoku, Japan (2010) embodies the sublime, featuring a worm’s eye view of a tree canopy immersed in a deep fog. Though the subject is somewhat ordinary, Kenna’s vision and ability to capture the surrealistic elements of the composition pushes the photograph past that of a simple landscape, evoking an emotional, visceral response from the viewer.

Foerster Wolf

Michael Kenna, Guardian Wolf, Courances, France, 1997, Toned Silver Gelatin Print

When speaking about his interest in Michael Kenna’s work and his motive for collecting, Foerster stated, “(His) work attracts me on multiple levels. His capacity to simultaneously and mystically capture a moment in time and the life and history behind it is remarkable. My favorite Kenna quote directly speaks to this reality, ‘I try to photograph the invisible behind the visible.’  Through his lens he has the unique gift of embracing your intellect and heart, as he brushes your soul. In doing so each of his images reflect not only intrinsic beauty, but also offers a statement of grace.”

Foerster’s passion for photography lies in his ability to obtain an emotional response from something seemingly mundane, made extraordinary through the artist’s vision. The composition, tonality and framing of the subject allow one to become immersed in the scene, causing a surreal and sublime effect. Kenna’s photographs possess a sublime quality, serving as the very reason why Foerster connected with them on an emotional level.

Foerster lion

Michael Kenna, Winged Lion, San Marco, Venice, 2006, Toned Silver Gelatin Print

In speaking about the way he experiences Kenna’s photography, Foerster stated, “The four Kenna photographs in this exhibit are my favorites. But every Kenna in my collection is a favorite.  Each Kenna I have been fortunate to collect has captured me in that moment and continues to move me each time I view the image. It becomes a favorite because is some very real way I can see the invisible behind the visible.” Foerster collects his pieces based on the premise that he can experience the reaction intended by the photographer. Through this, Foerster is able to relate to the artist and the image on a deeper level than that of a purely aesthetic attraction. His definition of art becomes more than just the image, incorporating his relationship to the artist, the artist’s intention, and a greater understanding of himself.

The exhibition Collectors’ Choice: Inside the Hearts and Minds of Regional Collectors will be on view from May 17th to September 14th, 2014.

For more information, please visit the Cummer’s website at


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