Marcus Connolly/The Paisano
Free food and admission to the McNay Art Museum’s “Intimate Impressionism” exhibit lured students from universities throughout San Antonio to the McNay’s second annual College Night on Nov. 21.
“We (haven’t been) serving the college audience, so this event is how we are taking baby steps to changing that,” explained Rosemary Hickman, a museum educator.
Towering glass windows revealed a glimpse of the events inside. As students entered the McNay, two museum employees stood next to a large dry-erase board with UTSA, Trinity, Incarnate Word, Alamo Colleges and St. Mary’s written in blue marker. They asked each student where they attended school and gave the appropriate university a tally mark to keep track of all who attended.
To the right of the entrance room, a catered buffet table lined the glass windows. “It smells like apple pie in here,” a girl wearing a maroon Trinity sweater shrieked as she neared the buffet. The smell of simmered fruit filled the room and drew curious people toward the tables where they found a waffle buffet. Intimate tables and plush sofas near the food line gave students a chance to mingle and meet visitors from surrounding universities.
Just past the seating area was the entrance to the “Intimate Impressionism” exhibit.
“The small scale of the pieces was really surprising to me,” said UTSA student Chris Breakell. “I thought they would be much bigger.”
This exhibit housed impressionist pieces from influential artists such as Edgar Degas, Claude Monet, Eugène Boudin, Pierre-Auguste Renoir and Édouard Manet. The smaller scale reflected the intimacy of the pieces, which ranged from landscapes to portraits. The intricate details of each piece told individual stories that could be openly interpreted by each viewer.
“It’s important to have students see what other artists have left behind for them,” shared security guard Kathleen McGinty. “They get the opportunity to see all the beauty that was so ahead of its time.”
As they backtracked to the entrance room, students walked by a three-dimensional mural of birds made out of warped vinyl records. They could hear music by local San Antonio band, Deer Vibes, coming from the Blanche and John Palmer Leeper Auditorium.
A line of tables set up in the entrance of the auditorium allowed students to create their own screen prints. A colorful selection of bandanas was offered, and it was easy to spot the UTSA students based on their choice of bright orange.
“The screen printing was so much fun and everyone seemed to enjoy that the most,” said UTSA student, Melinda Benedict. “As an education major, I think it is so important for students of all ages to be exposed to this kind of creativity.”
For the final activity, children selected a small print-out from famous impressionist pieces and covered it with a clear plastic sheet. Then they took blue painter’s tape and secured the combination to the table. Using paint pens, participants recreated the famous impressionist piece while adding their own style.
Deer Vibes wrapped up their set around 10:30 p.m., and students began trickling out of the auditorium. After one final stop at the waffle bar, students left the McNay full and with souvenirs from their College Night experience.
“Intimate Impressionism” will remain at the McNay until Jan. 4, 2015. For more information about the exhibit and ticket prices, visit www.mcnayart.org.