The Norton Museum of Art has set itself up as the place to be for the summer.
And it’s not just that all Saturdays through Sept. 5 are free admission for Palm Beach County residents. Or that there will be “Yappy Saturday” events in which area residents can bring along their canine companions to hang out on the museum grounds.
It’s also that the museum is staying true to its mission and opening three new exhibitions during the hot months, one of which focuses on the work of a major African-American painter active in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
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First off, though, summer at the Norton offers a host of outdoor activities, including weekly drum circles from 7 to 9 p.m. Wednesdays through Aug. 31. Each session will be led by Abasi Hanif.
There also will be weekly tai chi classes from 8 a.m. to 10 a.m. each Thursday through Sept. 1.
And the Yappy Saturdays, which will take place on the first Saturday of the month on the Norton Lawn, gives dog owners a chance to meet with pet vendors and share ideas about how best to care for their four-legged friends. The canine-focused gatherings are set for 8:30 to 10 a.m. June 4, July 9, Aug. 6 and Sept. 3.
On June 18, the Norton is slated to host a Juneteenth celebration. The holiday marks the day — June 19, 1865 — when the last of America’s enslaved people were informed that they had been freed under the Emancipation Proclamation, which had taken effect in January 1863. The noon-to-5 p.m. bash includes dance and music, gallery talks, storytelling and art-making activities.
Two other all-community events are scheduled for July: Games Around the World Family Day, on July 16, which features family programs and activities in the museum’s galleries and garden; and Bike, Art + Beer, a special bike tour on July 21 that takes in the public works of art in and around downtown West Palm Beach.
Back inside the building, there will be a special focus on the works of Pablo Picasso, the 20th-century Spanish titan whose name is synonymous in the culture with the idea of art. Six of his prints already are on view in an intimate show called “Dürer, Rembrandt and Picasso: Three Masters of the Print,” which is running through Sept. 11 and features not only some of the best-known images in Western art from Albrecht Dürer and Rembrandt van Rijn, but also Picasso prints such as the striking lithograph of his daughter, “Paloma and Her Doll on a Black Background” (1952), and the linocut “Bust of a Woman With a Hat” (1962).
Next door to the print exhibition is “A Remarkable Gathering: The Fisher Landau Family Collection,” a collection of modern art assembled by the philanthropist and art patron Emily Fisher Landau. Included is Picasso’s “Femme à la Montre” (Woman With a Watch), an iconic Cubist painting from 1932 of Picasso’s young lover, Marie-Thérèse Walter, seated and wearing a prominent watch. That exhibition also runs through Sept. 11.
Opening this weekend is a small show devoted to the artist, “Picasso in Warmer Climes: Works on Canvas, Clay and Paper.” This installation comprises 14 artworks influenced by Picasso’s visits to the south of France, the country where he lived for most of his life. Picasso’s ventures into pottery in the latter stages of his career generated a series of distinctive domestic objects such as an earthenware jug titled “Visage” (Face), made in 1955. Also on view will be a terracotta relief from 1962 called “Le Dejeuner sur l’Herbe” (Picnic on the Grass), based on the famous 1863 oil painting by Édouard Manet.
Two other exhibits will open this summer, beginning Saturday with “Summer Silk: Qing Dynasty Robes and Signs of the Season.” This exhibition features a dragon robe created in the mid-19th century for a court official during the Qing Dynasty, which was the last imperial regime in China, ending in 1912 after almost 300 years. Paired with the robe is a woman’s summer surcoat of midnight-blue patterned silk gauze. Included with the two robes is a silk-thread embroidered summer panel from a series called “Birds and Flowers of the Four Seasons.” The show runs through Sept. 4.
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On Aug. 20, the Norton opens its third summer show, “Henry Ossawa Tanner: Intimate Pictures,” exploring four works by Tanner (1859-1937), a Pittsburgh native who studied with Thomas Eakins in Philadelphia and then in France in the 1890s, where he permanently settled. Widely recognized as the United States’ first celebrity Black artist, his best-known image is “The Banjo Lesson” (1893), showing a very young boy learning to play the instrument while seated on the lap of his grandfather in a log cabin.
Tanner turned to religious subjects in his later years, and the Norton has recently acquired “Christ at the Home of Mary” (c. 1905), a work in pastel and watercolor. This image will be shown along with three other studies by Tanner. “The small size of these works highlights the artist’s exceptional ability to convey the intimate relationship of human beings to each other, their world and the divine,” the museum said in a news release. The Tanner exhibit is on display through March 12.
In addition to the other exhibits already running at the museum — including an overview of works in glass, photographs of Africa and its diaspora, and paintings by the American impressionist Jane Peterson — Norton officials opened Friday its annual Afterschool Arts Outreach show, featuring works by local students ages 7 to 17. The show closes Nov. 16.
Finally, the Norton’s regular Art after Dark series continues through the summer each Friday, offering live performances, film screenings and other events, and is debuting a new interactive art space called the Project Room. In this room, visitors can explore works from the Norton’s permanent collection in hands-on activities.
The Norton Museum of Art is at 1450 S. Dixie Highway, West Palm Beach. Hours are from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday, 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday, and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday. The museum is closed Wednesday. Admission is $18 for adults, $15 for seniors age 60 and older, and $5 for students with a valid ID. Children 12 and younger enter free. For more information, call 561-832-5196 or visit norton.org.
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