The Museo de Bellas Artes de Valencia houses one of Spain's most important collections of classical art. I was there more than a month ago yet I still feel impressed on the vast amount of masterpieces it holds, among them some by Velazquez, Goya, El Greco, and van Dyck. This museum is located at what used to be a seminary back in the 18th century, the Colegio Seminario de San Pío finished in 1744 after more than 6 decades with delays caused by wars and the death of its architect. This museum holds a great collection of huge altarpieces in the first hall which date back to the 13th century and which I feel especially attracted to as they mainly represent dramatic, mysterious, obscure religious imagery characteristic of the International Gothic style. As I gladly walked and admired pieces in the different halls in this immense venue, I saw varied Renaissance and Barroque paintings mainly by Spanish artists and felt astonished by the magnificence of the museum and of its work. More was my surprise when I stepped into the hall that held a Velazquez self-portrait: its amazing the vibe you experience when you're centimeters away from something you could only admire from books. Likewise, being near a Goya or an El Greco makes you think on the importance it should have for an artist to look at art "live" so you can experience what you expect for a viewer to get from your own pieces, and mainly looking at art from those you consider your heroes!! Some other highlights of the museum is a good collection of the valenciano (and internationally known) Joaquin Sorolla among others. However, the real reason of this crónica differs from what it originally looks like.
The visit to the museum was more than worth it, including admiring the actual building which immediately took me to think, but not compare in its grandeur as there is no point of comparison, to the Brownsville Museum of Fine Art and its personality as an art museum. I should say that I have never been glad on the way the museum looks and how it is layed out. As I also know, the museum has an important tradition and has developed thanks to the hard work of a lot of people throughout the years. However, it seems sad that with so much money spent on it, something better could have come out of all those big bucks wasted on what is a conservative, boring, non-functional museum. Why make the analogy between Valencia's fine arts museum and Brownsville's? Well, there is one simple answer to that. Given that Brownsville has gorgeous downtown buildings, some of them abandoned with no hope of being reformed, a great solution to building a fine arts museum with personality, good distribution, touristic appeal, and making good use of the budget (which could also been easily used to have funds to bring more contemporary and richer art exhibits) was making a proposal to the city to purchase an old building and reforming it into a contemporary art museum. To me the term "fine arts museum" is nothing but the idea to keep things as they were back when the original Fine Art Museum was created, as in the way they run it, the useless and old-school art competitions they hold, and the exhibits they have (which might be the only thing there seems to be an attempt to modernize, and not even.) As for the rest, there is no show of progress or vision as to try to become a venue that would create real intelectual stimulation and that would blend with museums that are showing art that is thought-provoking and that is coherent with the times we are living in. Rather than going forward and striving to be contemporary, the BMFA seems to be happy with the shows they put up as people don't question anything but rather feel satisfied with what they see or just don't care about art and only go socialize and drink some wine, not to mention it is a place where you could be amazed to see a Ray Smith exhibit for its grand opening and immediately after a children international show (snif). No credibility at all. As a person who regularly attends shows there, someone who is an artist himself and who would like to see quality exhibits, and most of all someone who cares about a real progress in the art scene, I would encourage the people in charge of the BMFA (obviously when it's the right time in the near future as things haven't been easy lately) to think outside the box and consider looking at things with a different perspective and not with the mentality of a small, inoffensive crafts art museum since it has the potential to be something greater than it is, and not just a place to see nice landscape paintings and have martinis and hors-deuvres. The Facultad de Bellas Artes at the Universidad Politecnica de Valencia in the next crónica (hopefully sooner that regularly.)
TAOB NOTES: A while back I had heard BISD had purchased some land for a building that will house art exhibits by students and its faculty, which I thought was a great idea and much needed, BMFA is I think generouse to allow exhibits for the time being...which I thought reflected well among the community.
The idea of BISD having its own art gallery/building to improve their art education, it should raise UTB/TSC eyebrows, it would only mean that UTB/TSC would have no choice but to raise the standards in their facilities (gallery and paitning room, photography darkrooms, drawing classes) which is much needed.
Its a domino effect.. it really starts at the bottom, BISD, UTB/TSC, BMFA .....I don't think we can have improvement of one without the other..
Perhaps the BMFA building may be done but the direction and the prestige is still being molded, by the people of this city, its patrons, staff, board, volunteers, visitors, and most importantly exhibiting art and artists...