5 things you want to know when The Baker Museum re-opens in Naples on Sept. 6

Harriet Howard Heithaus
Naples Daily News

Keep in mind when The Baker Museum in Naples reopens Tuesday, Sept. 6, that only Venus de Milo needs to spend her life unarmed. You can stride in well prepared to enjoy its season to the max with some simple insights:

1. Time your re-visits to high impact

Stella Polaris, 1990. Helen Frankenthaler (American, 1928-2011). Acrylic on canvas, 96 by 108 inches. 
Collection of the Helen Frankenthaler Foundation, New York. 
© 2022 Helen Frankenthaler Foundation, Inc. / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York.

Three major exhibitions open throughout the season, and it's worth a return after every one of them opens, starting now. If your wallet is running on empty, see No. 4 for solutions.

Here are the major-league offerings, in chronological order:

  • "Helen Frankenthaler — Late Works: 1990-2003" (Sept. 6-Nov. 27). The rich color fields of American abstract master Helen Frankenthaler bloom and take on texture, sometimes in smaller format. Frankenthaler had an innovative approach to painting, thinning down her medium until it soaked into canvas as watercolors do on paper, and she began employing it with the textures of unthinned paints in her later pieces. 

Some of these are smaller size and may actually have been on paper, but working in large format by spreading her canvas on the floor became physically difficult in her later years. Still, Frankenthaler retained her innate sense of magnetic color jextapositions and warm shades. 

No. 24, 1961-66, “The Nazi Drawings,” Mauricio Lasansky (Argentinian-American, 1914-2012). Graphite with erasures, brush and asphaltum turpentine and red wash, with touches of charcoal, stencil, on card paper, 43 3/8 by 39 1/4 inches.
Levitt Foundation. © Lasansky Corporation
  • "Envisioning Evil" (Sept. 17-Feb. 19). Maurice Lasansky's life-size graphite pencil-and earth-color series replay the horror he absorbed from a U.S. military documentary on Nazi atrocities and the internationally televised trial of Nazi war criminal Adolf Eichmann in 1961.

This is an important story, but not one to see without perspective. Parents will want to preview it before visiting with their children. 

There's a multimedia component that also adds information: a 10½-minute video of Eichmann’s 1961 trial in Jerusalem, and a one-minute-plus television clip of the Holocaust Memorial at Tifereth B’nai Jacob Synagogue, Minneapolis, from April 17, 1961.

  • "Love Stories from the National Portrait Gallery, London" (Feb. 4-May 7). The treasures of British portraiture, ranging from a rich photograph of supermodel Naomi Campbell to historical character oils by famous artists. Among them: Thomas Gainsborough, Angelica Kauffman, Sir Joshua Reynolds, David Hockney and Man Ray

These portraits rarely leave the gallery, and it is only because the building is undergoing renovation that an exhibition-size component of the collection could travel, Courtney McNeil,  Baker Museum director and chief curator, pointed out. 

2. Small shows are locally sourced gems

"Garden of Water," Ran Hwang (Korean, b. 1960), 2010. Crystals, beads, pins on Plexiglas, video projection, 91 by 118 inches. Courtesy of the artist

"Florida Contemporary 2022-23" (Oct. 14-July 16) celebrates notable visual artists of the Sunshine State. The Baker Museum's own curator of modern art, Ransook Yoon, assembled "Ran Hwang: Becoming Again" (Oct. 22-Jan. 8), an extensive exhibition of wall installations and video projections from the Korean-born, New York-and-Seoul based artist. Hwang (b. 1960) uses buttons, beads and pins in works that demonstrate "her preoccupation with the cyclical nature of life and fleeting moments of beauty," according to the museum's announcement.

Yoon also curated the museum's presentation of "True Likeness," contemporary portraits from artists from all over the U.S., depicting our diversity and our national condition. It is up Sept. 6-Sept. 25.

"Naples Collects 2022-23" (Dec. 17-Oct. 15, 2023)·reprises the delight of the 2016 exhibition, with art from among collections in Southwest Florida. Paintings, sculptures, works on paper and mixed media pieces reveal local collectors' tastes and share their favorites.

100-plus things to do:In September: Drum circle in Naples, waterlily fest

What else is coming?:'Jurassic' thrills, romantic music fill Artis—Naples schedule

"Three Degrees of Separation: Artistic Connections in the Permanent Collection" (March 18-July 30) showcases modern art of the Americas from the museum’s permanent collection that suggest how cross-cultural artistic pollination occurred in the early and mid-20th century.

Perhaps there's no local connection, but there certainly is universal fascination in next summer's "Prison Nation" (July 1-Sept. 17, 2023). Organized by Aperture, New York, this exhibition goes with photographers inside prisons, where they created a visual record of incarceration in America, despite the increasing difficulty of gaining access to those spaces. 

3. You don't have to be art-smart

“Extension and Half Sphere,” 1991, by Venezuelan artist Jesús Rafael Soto photographed, Wednesday, Aug. 31, 2022, on the north lawn of The Baker Museum in Naples, Fla,

The Museum reopens on Sept. 6.

Follow the docents who are giving tours at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. Tuesdays to Saturdays and at 1 p.m. Sundays. You'll probably want to stroll back in after the tour and look at the works again with your newfound wisdom. 

Further, almost all the exhibitions coming to The Baker Museum have scheduled talks to help you appreciate them even more. Check the Artis—Naples website for details. 

4. You don't have to be rich, either 

The Baker Museum celebrated its 20th anniversary with the introduction of Dale Chihuly's "Red Reeds" now on permanent display at the Baker Museum at Artis--Naples, and among those in the outdoor sculpture tours offered.

All museums deserve your financial love. If you can, consider coming during the day for its relative bargain prices: $10 ages 17 and older; student (with student I.D.) or active military (with military I.D.), $5.

Still, there are options if you're cash-strapped. The Baker Museum offers generous opportunities with free and greatly reduced admission:

Community Days: The next is noon-4 p.m. Saturday, Nov 12. Admission is free and there are family activities, music and more.. 

Art After Hours: Admission to the museum is free 6-9 p.m. the last Wednesday of each month during the visitor season — this month, Sept. 28. There's also live music with local musicians; concessions for purchase at Heidi’s Place; tours, too.

Remembering Myra:Myra Daniels, Artis—Naples founder and leader, dies at 96

SNAP Card help: Individuals and families presenting a Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) card, and a valid form of photo ID, receive admission  for $1. This admission rate includes up to four adults per EBT card and is available during all normal museum hours.

Kids see free: Admission is always free for children younger than 17.

Classical concerts bring benefits: All Masterworks and Visiting Orchestras series concerts include free same-day admission to the The Baker Museum until 8 p.m.(4 p.m. Sundays). Just show your ticket. Heidi's Place is open for concession purchase as well for concertgoers. 

5. You don't even have to go indoors

“Extension and Half Sphere,” 1991, by Venezuelan artist Jesús Rafael Soto photographed, Wednesday, Aug. 31, 2022, on the north lawn of The Baker Museum in Naples, Fla,

The Museum reopens on Sept. 6.

The wood-and-aluminum sculpture is a ground-based representation of Soto’s pioneering  kinetic art. It sends out the aura of sunrise, stylized floral or — if you're jogging by hungry — sunny-side-up egg. Programming is being planned.

There are guided tours of all the outdoor sculptures at 10 a.m. on Thursdays November through May so you can get closer to the minds of Soto and at least half a dozen other artists whose works are on the grounds. 

Harriet Howard Heithaus covers arts and entertainment for the Naples Daily News/ Reach her at 239-213-6091.