And by everywhere, we really do mean everywhere. In fact, we mean Art Everywhere, the largest outdoor national art show ever conceived. Starting in August, approximately 50 masterpieces of American art from the five participating museums—the Art Institute of Chicago, the Dallas Museum of Art, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the National Gallery of Art, and the Whitney Museum of American Art—will pop up on as many as 50,000 displays nationwide, including billboards, subway platforms, and on bus shelters, and the selection will be curated with the help of an online vote. Which is where you come in. Currently there are 100 artworks that will be culled down and every day through May 7, you can vote for 10. Over the years, we’ve highlighted a number of our paintings in contention, but we thought we’d take a look at one of the lesser known works, Winslow Homer’s The Water Fan.
This painting depicts a young black man intently searching for coral using a glass-bottomed bucket. Referred to as a “water glass” or “sponge glass,” this device was used to stabilize the surface of moving water in order to improve visibility. Homer may have been attracted to the subject because it draws attention to the constantly moving surface of the water as well as its transparency, aspects of the sea that especially intrigued him in the Bahamas. This work originally had more visible red washes in the water, hinting at the pink coral beneath the surface. While these areas have faded over time, the fluid strokes of darker blue over layers of transparent turquoise are effective in suggesting the play of light, both direct and reflected, over water.
So start thinking now about your summer road trip and what you might want to see along the way. And as they say in Chicago, vote early and often!
Image Credit: Winslow Homer. The Water Fan, 1898/99. Gift of Dorothy A., John A., Jr., and Christopher Holabird in memory of William and Mary Holabird.