Dear members and friends,
The American Folk Art Museum continues to flower, I am happy and so proud to report.
We have carefully packed, crated, and shipped our beloved Il Enciclopedico Palazzo del Mondo (The Encyclopedic Palace of the World) off to Venice for its star turn in the 55th International Biennale—take a peek at the video at palaceonholiday.tumblr.com. And if you are making the trip to Venice, send us a photo with the Palazzo and we may post it on Tumblr as a tribute to all those in search of artist Marino Auriti’s dream, which was nothing less than the construction of a phenomenal edifice in which all worldly knowledge would reside. We look forward to seeing you in Venice!
Closer to home, more good news abounds. Fifty-three works of art selected by our curators from the Ralph Esmerian promised gift are now a permanent part of the Museum’s collection, such as the iconic Situation of America, 1848. Many of these superb works of art had been on view in Compass: Folk Art in Four Directions, which received critical acclaim during its run from June 2012 through March 2013, and we will continue to share these outstanding works as we roll out future exhibitions.
The National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) awarded the Museum their prestigious Art Works grant, which will support our scholarly lectures and symposia related to upcoming exhibitions. We express our gratitude to Acting Chairman Joan Shigekawa and the staff at the NEA for this recognition and support. Art Works grants support the creation of art that meets the highest standards of excellence, public engagement with diverse and excellent art, lifelong learning in the arts, and the strengthening of communities through the arts. We could not be prouder to be among this distinguished group of recipients.
On the subject of lectures and symposia, public programs at the American Folk Art Museum offer unique, enriching, and lively learning opportunities. Whether discussing traditional works (quilts, needlework, or chalkware, for example), or works of art by the self-taught (artists such as Nek Chand, Thornton Dial, or Bessie Harvey, just to name a few), the scholars and experts who lead our discussions are knowledgeable, enthusiastic, and eager to share ideas. We are planning an especially dynamic series of events beginning in June with the opening of Bill Traylor: Drawings from the Collections of the High Museum of Art and the Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts, and a complementary exhibition organized by curators Stacy C. Hollander and Dr. Valérie Rousseau, titled Traylor in Motion: Wonders from New York Collections. The latter exhibition will provide a rare opportunity to view 39 works of art from prestigious private collections, which are infrequently, if ever, exhibited.
And a very special program—truly, a “once-in-a-lifetime” event—will take place on Thursday, May 16. Amy Herman will conduct the amazing program she developed to help people use their sense of sight in a more enriching and beneficial way. “The Art of Perception” is an interactive and participatory class that will include looking at works of art in the Museum’s galleries and reporting on the experience. Strengthening our powers of observation is more important than ever before, and the Museum offers perfect opportunities for honing visual acuity by looking and seeing in more attentive ways. Ms. Herman, who has been featured in Smithsonian Magazine, on CBS television, and in the Wall Street Journal and New York Times, among other news venues, has conducted her workshops with the FBI, CIA, and a wide range of civic organizations and emergency response teams. We are so pleased to be able to bring this program to our audiences, although due to its interactive format, space will be extremely limited. I encourage you to register as soon as possible.
And last but certainly not least, I want to express my sincere gratitude for the outpouring of support we are receiving as a result of recent news about the Museum’s former building. The American Folk Art Museum is alive and well on New York City’s upper west side. Artist and Visionary: William Matthew Prior Revealed and Women’s Studies remain on view through May 26, and we hope you’ll drop by for a visit soon.
The Honorable Anne-Imelda Radice, PhD
Image: Situation of America, 1848. (detail), artist unidentified, New York City, 1848, oil on wood panel, 34 x 57 x 1 3/8″, American Folk Art Museum, Gift of Ralph Esmerian, 2013.1.21.