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The Norton Reopens for Season with a Bang

Lindsay Rubin

From September 17 through August 31, the Norton Museum of Art will present a new lobby installation: a mural titled Faux Real, by New York-based artist Mickalene Thomas. Thomas is best known for her elaborate figurative paintings that showcase ideas of beauty through compositions inspired by a variety of sources, including popular culture, the nineteenth-century Hudson River School and the collages of Romare Bearden, an artist recognized for his colorful depictions of African-American life.


Mickalene Thomas lobby installation at the Norton Museum of Art

Mickalene Thomas' site-specific mural, titled Faux Real, measures nearly 770 square feet in the Norton Museum of Art lobby.

Photo by Tom Brodigan.


   The installation, made possible by Vanessa and Anthony Beyer, is Thomas’ first mural-sized artwork created outside of New York. It is also only the third site-specific artwork for the Norton Museum lobby. Derived from her study of art history and classical genres of portraiture, landscape and still life, Thomas often utilizes rhinestones, acrylic and enamel in her work to introduce a vision of what it means to be a woman.

  • For a complete look at the lobby installation, PBI Assistant Editor Mary Gibble spoke with Thomas for our Curtain Call blog. Get the scoop here. 

   Also on display beginning September 17 is the final work in the Norton’s “Masterpiece of the Month” program, the Portrait of Yinli, Prince Guo.

   The program, which began in May and previously featured Mary Cassatt’s pastel Head of Sara in Bonnet Looking Left, and Dorothea Lange’s classic Great Depression photograph Migrant Mother, spotlights major works by iconic artists selected by museum curators from private collections. This program allows for museum visitors to view rarely exhibited works as well as attend curator-led talks that dissect the installation, exploring the significance and context of the work.


Portrait of Yinli, Prince Guo, 1717 - The Norton Museum of Art
Yinli, Prince Guo, 1717
China, Qing dynasty, reign of the Kangxi Emperor
Ink and color on silk
On loan from the Collection of Dora Wong


   Portrait of Yinli, Prince Guo, 1717 will be displayed through October 20. On loan from the collection of Dora Wong, this portrait, done with ink and color on silk, is the earliest known portrait of Yinli and the first time it has been exhibited publically. The seventeenth son of the Kangxi Emperor, who reigned from 1661-1722, Yinli held the rank of Prince Guo of the First Rank of the Qing Dynasty and later appointed to Grand Council, a position he held till his death in 1738.

   In conjunction with the “Masterpiece of the Month” and in celebration of the museum’s reopening, admission to Art After Dark will be half-price September 19. The curator’s conversation will center on Portrait of Yinli, Prince Guo, with Laurie Barnes, the McGraw curator of Chinese art, leading the tour. The complete Art After Dark schedule is as follows:

  • 5-9 p.m.: Pop-country performance by singer-songwriter Sage Lehman in the Atrium.
  • 5:30 - 8:30 p.m.: The Switzer Sound dance trio performs in the Central Garden.
  • 5:30 p.m.: A tour of the "American Masters" will meet in lobby.
  • 6-8 p.m.: The ever-popular Sketchbook Thursday is all about people with a theme of “Portraits and the Human Figure.” Artists meet in the Delacorte gallery.
  • 6:30  & 7:15 p.m.: McGraw Curator of Chinese art Laurie Barnes will lead an in-depth tour and discussion of Portrait of Yinli, Prince Guo  for the Masterpiece of the Month’s Curator's Conversation. Participants are asked to meet in the lobby.


   On September 21, the Norton will host its eighth annual Chinese Moon Festival celebration from noon to 5 p.m. Also known as the Mid-Autumn Festival, the harvest festival has been celebrated by the Chinese for centuries on the fifteenth day of the eighth month of the Chinese calendar, coinciding with the full moon of the autumnal equinox. The Moon Festival has become an important national holiday in Chinese culture, similar in scope to Thanksgiving here in the States.It's a time for friends and family members to gather and give thanks for the harvest, pray for good fortune and dine on “moon cakes,” a traditional sweet that represents familial unity and completeness.


Yuanmingyuan LEGO model, built by LEGO Certified Professional Dan Parker - The Norton Museum of Art - Chinese Moon Festival
Yuanmingyuan LEGO model, built by LEGO Certified Professional Dan Parker


   In recognition of the Norton’s remarkable Chinese art collection, the museum has become Palm Beach County’s all-ages Moon Festival party spot, with events planned for the entire afternoon. For the museum’s eighth Chinese Moon Festival, guests will enjoy curator-led tours of the museum, art workshops, live performances and a return visit by certified LEGO professional Dan Parker, who will lead a workshop for the wee ones. Free with admission to the museum, the schedule for festivities September 21 is as follows:

  • Noon to 3 p.m.: Chinese seal-making activity led by Marcy Koch in the Reynolds Classroom.
  • Noon to 5 p.m.: Lucky animals gallery activityPick up your self-guide in the lobby.
  • 12:30-2:30 p.m.: Imperial building workshop. Parker will work with children ages 7-12 to build the Main Audience Hall from the Garden of Perfect Brightness (Yuanmingyuan), also known as the Old Summer Palace. There will be three 30-minute LEGO building sessions starting at 12:30 p.m. Seating is limited to 30 children per session. Limited free tickets are available beginning at noon in the Atrium.
  • 12:30-1:15 p.m.: The museum tour “Journey to China,” led by Barbara Dicker, will explore the museum’s collection of Chinese art. Guests are asked to meet in the lobby at 12:30 p.m.
  • 1-1:30 p.m. and 2-2:30 p.m.: Barnes will lead the Masterpiece of the Month Curator’s Conversation tour, “Forever Twenty-One: Portrait of Yinli, Prince Guo, 1717,” exploring the significance and context of the work. Guests are asked to meet on the ground floor of the Nessel Gallery at 1 or 2 p.m.
  • 2-2:30 p.m.: Under Dale Chihuly’s Persian Sea-Life Ceiling, Cilla Jacobson will lead storytime for the kiddies with the Legend of the Jade Rabbit and other Chinese stories. Meet in the Harris Pavilion at 2 p.m.
  • 2-2:50 p.m.: The ArtVentures Tour will explore museum highlights. Visitors are to meet in lobby at 2 p.m.
  • 3-4 p.m.: In tribute to Yinli, Prince Guo, the Ann Yao Trio will perform a special concert, the “Musical Traditions of the Qing Dynasty.” Yao performs on the zheng (zither) and is joined by Wang Guowei, master of the erhu (a two-stringed fiddle), and Chen Yihan, master of the pipa (4-strinted lute). Seating is limited and is at a first-come, first-serve basis. Doors to the theater open at 2:15 p.m.
  • 4-5 p.m.: No Moon Festival is complete without a moon cake! Join in the tradition at the Tea and Moon Cake Reception in the private dining room and East Loggia.

Museum admission costs $12 for adults.

For more information, visit

Ann Yao Trio - Norton Museum of Art - Chinese Moon Festival
Ann Yao Trio performs Musical Traditions of the Qing Dynasty


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January 2017