Savannah || Owens-Thomas House & Slave Quarters

Remember the third site of the Telfair Museums, which we had yet to see? Here it is, in all its grand splendour, starting from the humblest, the slaves’ quarters, walking our way through the garden and into the mansion.

We enter through a magnificent entrance hall into the largest room of the house, which is none other than the formal dining room; we work our way up an elegant staircase which rises to a landing, splits into two flights and, most interestingly, forms a bridge that connects the front and rear portions of the second floor – a rather unique feature, one we have never seen before (or since) in any of the mansions we visited; we peek into the various, lavishly decorated rooms, and the less-than-lavish service ones, in the front and rear halls of the second floor.

The two quarters could not have been more different.

You can find more information about the history, architecture and owners of the Owens-Thomas House, on the museum’s website.

April 5th, 2018

Savannah || The Jepson Center

Part two of our Telfair Museums round, just across the street from the Telfair Academy is the most recent addition to the group, the Jepson Center. Designed by architect Moshe Safdie (see also the National Gallery of Canada), this sleek art space was opened to the public in 2006. It is home to Savannah’s famous Bird Girl and, on the day of our visit, some pretty powerful works attempting to address the region’s atrocious past relationship with slavery through contemporary art.

Adolfo Alvarado (b. 1982)
Piece, 2018
Mixed media


Adolfo Alvarado (b. 1982)
Tweet Tweet, 2018
Mixed media


“Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil”, the 1994 publication of John Berendt’s bestselling novel with Jack Leigh’s cover photograph featuring Silvia Shaw Judson’s Bird Girl sculpture from Bonaventure cemetery, brought a tidal wave of tourism to Savannah. Devotees of the book flocked to Bonaventure, some trampling the gravesite, which resulted to the removal of Judson’s sculpture to Telfair Museums.


Gene Kogan
Cubist Mirror, 2016
Interactive installation (people standing in front of it, can see themselves as a cubist painting)


Wangshu Sun
Dream of Wings, 2017
Interactive virtual reality installation (people sitting in the chair, open their arms and dream they can fly)


Paul Stephen Benjamin (b. 1966)
God Bless America, 2016
Three-channel video installation, 54 video monitors, DVDs, cables and cords


Paul Stephen Benjamin (b. 1966)
H.Res 194, 2017
Black Light, Black T8 Fixture 32W, Black Cords

”I’m curious about the relationship of the colour black and ”blackness”. What is its visual aspect?”

Benjamin’s new site-specific black light work H.Res 194 connects the medium of black lights with the subject of House Resolution 194, titled ”Apologizing for the enslavement and racial segregation of African-Americans” and passed on July 29, 2008 by the 110th Congress. H.Res 194 suggests that shining a light, literally and conceptually, on a difficult past by acknowledging something through gesture, even if symbolic, is a positive step to change and grow as a nation.


Paul Stephen Benjamin (b. 1966)
Summer Breeze, 2016/17
Three-channel video installation, 40 video monitors, DVDs, cables and cords

Summer Breeze shows performances of the song ”Strange Fruit” by two leading African American vocalists: Billie Holiday and Jill Scott.

Strange Fruit is a poem written by Abel Meeropol, under the pseudonym Lewis Allan, a New York City poet, educator and social activist of Jewish descent, as a response to his viewing a photograph of the lynching of J. Thomas Shipp and Abraham S. Smith, taken by Lawrence Beitler on Augus 7, 1930, which became the most iconic photograph of lynching in America.


In 1850, Swiss-American biologist Louis Agassiz (1807-1873) commissioned a series of photographs for his study of ”races”. Agassiz intended to use these portraits as visual evidence to support his racist theories of the inferiority of Africans and to prepare a taxonomy of the enslaved population. He commissioned photographer Joseph T. Zealy (1812-1893) of Columbia, South Carolina, to produce a series of daguerreotypes of slaves.

Weems discovered Agassiz’s images in museum and university archives and appropriated them for her own use in 1992. In this series, Weems exposes how photography has played a key role throughout history in shaping and supporting racism, stereotyping and social injustice.


Radiance, by Teri Yarbrow and Max Almy with  Josephine Leong
Immersive virtual reality mandalas


We thought it best to leave the third site, Owens-Thomas House & Slave Quarters, for another day; three museums in a row seemed like an overkill and, besides, tickets not only give access to all three sites, but they also remain valid for a week.

Jepson Center, Savannah GA

April 3rd, 2018

Savannah || Telfair Academy of Arts & Sciences

The Telfair Academy, the Jepson Center and the Owens-Thomas House are three distinctly different buildings in close distance with each other, united under the umbrella of Telfair Museums. Each one houses an art collection that corresponds to the period it was built.

Let us start today with a visit to the Telfair Academy. Designed by William Jay in neoclassical Regency style, completed in 1819 as a residence for Alexander Telfair, it houses 19th- and 20th-century American and European art. Athanadoros, Hagesandros and Polydoros of Rhodes
Laocoön and His Sons, early first century A.D.
(cast madxe before 1893)

The original version of this sculpture can be found in the collection of the Vatican Museums, Rome.


Childe Hassam (1859-1935)
Brooklyn Bridge in Winter, 1904
Oil on canvas


Frederick Carl Frieseke (1874-1939)
The Garden Umbrella, by 1910
Oil on canvas


Frederick Carl Frieseke (1874-1939)
The Hammock, by 1915
Oil on canvas


Henri Caro-Delvaille (1875-1928)
La toilette d’Herminie, 1906
Oil on canvas


Józef Brandt (1841-1915)
Ein Gefecht (A Battle), 1888
Oil on canvas


Julian Story (1857-1919)
The Black Prince at Crécy, 1888 (detail)
Oil on canvas


Walter MacEwen (1860-1943)
The Lacemakers, c. 1885-1900
Oil on canvas


Carl Ludwig Brandt (1831-1905)
Mary Telfair, 1896

Carl Brandt was the first director of the Telfair, serving in that capacity from 1883 until his demise in 1905. His portrait of local philanthropist Mary Telfair (1791-1875), whose bequest of her home to the public as an ”academy of arts and sciences” allowed the creation of the Telfair Museum of Art, was commissioned by the museum’s trustees.


Raoul du Gardier (1871-1952)
Calme blanc, 1905-8
Oil on canvas


Gari Melchers (1860-1932)
Madonna of the Fields, c. 1895
Gouache on canvas


Telfair Museums, Savannah, GA

April 3rd, 2018