Thursday, October 27, 2011

Meet the Dixon Garden Staff - Ian!

Name:  Ian Anderson         

Position:  Nursery & Plant Collections Specialist

Hometown: Montgomery, AL

How long have you worked at the Dixon?
I started as an intern February of 2010.  

The best thing about living in Memphis is……

The diversity of people and cultures here.


What’s your favorite public garden outside of Memphis?
The Atlanta Botanical Garden; they have a canopy walk that is amazing.

What experience initiated your interest in horticulture and gardens?
Both my Grandmother and my Aunt maintained a beautiful garden in Ft. Wayne Indiana. I was influenced by their gardens, but I think visiting Johnny Appleseed’s grave is what stuck in my head. Ft. Wayne is where John Chapman “Johnny Appleseed” is buried.

Do you have any pets? If so, what are they and what are their names?

I have one fat tuxedo cat named Harvey, one skinny tuxedo cat named Spottswood, one tiny Maltese dog named Winifred, and one guinea pig named Guinifred. They are often blogged about at


What’s your favorite plant?
Smooth Sumac (Rhus glabra). It’s a Southeastern native. Its seed heads can be steeped in water to produce a brew that is similar to lemonade in taste. Its botanical name is the first plant name I ever committed to memory.

What do you like most about working at the Dixon?

Though the Museum and the Garden make for a good mix here, I’m garden biased. There is always something new to grow. The gardens offer a learning experience every day.





Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Meet the Dixon staff - Melissa!

Name: Melissa Bosdorf

Position: Gallery Secretary

How long have you worked at the Dixon? 
I’m in my 7th year here.


The best thing about living in Memphis is……

I love a lot of things about Memphis: The people are warm and friendly, the River, Beale Street, the beautiful trees and plants that grow here, but mostly because it’s my home town.  I grew up here, and have long-time friends here…It’s my home.


What famous artist (deceased or living) would you want to be for one day and why? 

Hard to say…first I thought Van Gogh, but he was a bit nutso.  I adore Claude Monet’s work; guess I’d have to say him.  He put such thought and work into his paintings.  I’d love to have that much dedication.


How old were you on your first visit to a museum (art, science history)? How did it shape your interest in museums? 

I was about 6 or 7 when mom and dad took us to the Pink Palace.  I remember going into the room where they had all the taxidermied animal heads and the big polar bear, I was in awe of all of it.  The bug collection kind of creeped me out, but I loved going through all the exhibits.  I thought that must be the biggest, most beautiful house anyone ever built!  It gave me an appreciation for older things.


Do you have any pets? If so, what are they and what are their names? 

I don’t have any pets now.  We had a dog named Spooky, part German shepherd, part English shepherd, part Collie.  He was so friendly that I used to kid that if we ever had burglars, he would take his football to the window and want to play.


What was your favorite piece in Jean-Louis Forain: La Comédie parisienne?

I love both of the mosaics.  They are so colorful and I love the movement.


What do you like most about working at the Dixon? 

I think that we’re all part of something that benefits the entire community, young and old, and enriches all of our lives.  Also, I love coming to work in the spring.  I drive a little slower and enjoy the daffodils and all the other plants coming to life for the season.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Jean-Louis Forain: La Comédie parisienne is closing!

This summer has been filled with Forain, more Forain, and even more Forain! With the closing of the show only 2 days away, I thought it would be nice to recap how it all started and how Forain got here in the first place. 

The prep work for this extraordinary exhibition began much earlier than this summer for this once in a lifetime retrospective on the French artist. The Dixon Gallery and Gardens acquired the bulk of our Forain acquisitions in 1993 and became an "essential destination" of Forain's corner of the Impressionist movement. However, it wasn't until 2008 that the Dixon began conceiving a show based solely on this artist. After months of planning and preparation had taken place for a traveling exhibition of Forain's works, in 2009 the Petit Palais in Paris requested 10 works by Forain in the Dixon's collection. This request along with much communication and many meetings with the Petit Palais, staff, and board of the Dixon is what eventually led to the partnership with the Petit Palais in exhibiting this show.

The partnership with the Petit Palais was not the only historical collaboration underway for that summer. The Brooks and the Dixon had always desired a partnership in some aspect. and the Forain retrospective was a perfect match to compliment their exhibition, The Impressionist Revolution. 

2010 and the first half of 2011 were a busy time here, as staff members prepared for the most important and biggest exhibition in the Dixon's history. Not only were there installation and traveling concerns for the paintings, drawings, and other Forain works, but there were also issues surrounding programming and related events to accompany the show. Every department in the museum had to bring its share of suggestions and plan how each idea would compliment the other along with the proceedings for each. Ideas for Cafe Forain, Forain After Dark, Forain Family Day and Forain Sunday Lectures and all other educational programs were birthed in these months, along with each program's fruition, including an invitation only Gala that was the talk of the town weeks before and prior to the event. And now each program, event and idea has begun to come to a close.

Jean-Louis Forain: La Comédie parisienne never lost steam, drawing record audience numbers and media coverage, and although slowly but surely our events and programs have ended  (September 18 was our last Forain Sunday Lecture. Last night was the finale of Forain After Dark. Cafe Forain will be closing on Sunday, October 9), our audience has continued to support the show and the Dixon, and for that we are grateful.

Our closing weekend already started with an exciting visit from the French Ambassador to the United States, Excellency Mr. François Delattre on Friday, October 7. This weekend will offer visitors a chance to see the opening lecture by Forain's granddaughter and curator of the show, Florence Valdes-Forain, with a screening of the lecture in the auditorium from 10 am - 4pm on Saturday, October 8. On Sunday, October 9, enjoy tours by Valdes-Forain at 2pm, Associate Curator Julie Pierotti at 3pm, and Dixon Director Kevin Sharp at 4pm.

We hate to see him go, but we have enjoyed him while he was here. Say farewell and send him off in style this weekend!

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Meet the Dixon staff - Chantal!

Name: Chantal Drake
Position: Communications Associate
University of Alabama at Birmingham, BA     
University of Memphis, MA
How long have you worked at the Dixon? 10 months and counting

The best thing about living in Memphis is……

Shelby Farms/Levitt Shell! There are so many great things to do and places to go for free!

What famous artist (deceased or living) would you want to be for one day and why?

Elizabeth Catlett – she is in tune with herself and her culture beautifully and it shows in every piece she does. Her work is powerful and poetic. To have that much insight into yourself and others is something I would love to have, along with her talent and feistiness.

How old were you on your first visit to a museum (art, science, history)? How did it shape your interest in museums?

The first visit I can remember is when I was 16 – I went with the art club in high school. Yes – I was a member of the art club! I remember thinking, ‘hmmmm, a place to go and look at things I like – cool’

Do you have any pets? If so, what are they and what are their names?

My 5 yr old son has an American Staffordshire that he named Mutant (after the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles)

What is your favorite piece in Jean-Louis Forain: La Comédie parisienne?

In the Wings

What do you like most about working at the Dixon?

The events! From Art After Dark to Family Day – they don’t get much better anywhere else in the city!