Dear members and friends,
Happy new year! I hope to welcome you all at the Museum in 2015.
Our formal Annual Report will be available soon. This 52-page document notes attendance increases, public program and education initiatives, exhibitions, and recent acquisitions; it also showcases an institution that is dynamic and vibrant and attracts diverse visitors who are curious, fascinated, and engaged. Said more simply, the Annual Report encapsulates the heart and soul of the Museum, and reveals that it is thriving. The report will be e-mailed to members and supporters and will also be available on the Museum’s website.
The Museum’s collection continues to grow, and the Annual Report features a particularly interesting section titled New Acquisitions. These recently accessioned works advance the understanding of self-taught art, and they spark new research and scholarship. Folk art and art by the self-taught is a comparatively new field of inquiry—only about one hundred years old. The American Folk Art Museum was founded to focus specifically on this relatively new area of study: the art of a new American nation and, later, the art of those who did not consider themselves academicians or schooled artists, many of whom began creating as the result of surprising and unplanned inspiration. It is especially heartening to discover new artists and artworks that amaze and enlighten us with their historic value and aesthetic qualities. A few are shown on our improved and updated website; click here to view works in both traditional folk art and art by the self-taught that have recently come into the collection. I send a special thank you to all those who made these prestigious acquisitions possible.
Self-Taught Genius: Treasures from the American Folk Art Museum is currently on view at the Figge Art Museum in Davenport, Iowa—the most central location for a constellation of Midwestern cities. Attendance is robust, and the exhibition has garnered local press coverage.
January is a busy month for the American Folk Art Museum: partnerships with Metro Curates and the Outsider Art Fair are once again on the calendar.
Metro Curates will welcome special guests of the American Folk Art Museum on Wednesday, January 21. Members of Folk Art Circle, the Director’s Circle, the Council for Traditional Folk Art, the Council for the Study of Art Brut and the Self-Taught, and Young Folk will be admitted at 5:00 p.m., prior to the public opening at 6:00. On Friday, January 23, all Museum members receive complimentary admission. A special American Folk Art Museum “pop-up shop” will be in operation during the run of Metro Curates.
Opening night of the Outsider Art Fair takes place on Thursday, January 29, and the Museum’s Young Folk will celebrate with an after-party at the Hotel Americano. All American Folk Art Museum members receive complimentary admission to the Outsider Art Fair throughout the run of the fair (January 30–February 1). Please email Anna Hessa at firstname.lastname@example.org to receive your ticket code. And stop by the Museum’s booth at the fair for a specially designed social media experience.
The annual and always incisive Anne Hill Blanchard Uncommon Artists Lecture will take place on Saturday, January 31, at 10:00 a.m., and will include a film and discussion about artist Emery Blagdon. More information about this event will be available at the Outsider Art Fair and upcoming e-mail announcements.
On view at the Museum: A Shared Legacy: Folk Art in America. This remarkable exhibition reveals an aspect of folk art that is all-too-often overlooked: the role that early American artists played in documenting events of national importance. Also, folk artists often raised their brushes or brandished their carving tools to express pride in the nation that was taking shape around them throughout the nineteenth century. Many such works are on view in our galleries at 2 Lincoln Square, and we invite you to visit. A Shared Legacy is family-friendly: the carousel animals and trade carvings are not to be missed. Those of you who are interested in a more detailed discussion of the works on view should make sure to attend the Curator’s Perspective Tour with Stacy C. Hollander, the Museum’s Deputy Director for Curatorial Affairs, Chief Curator, and Director of Exhibitions, which takes place on Thursday, February 19, at 1:00 p.m.
And for those dames and dudes who truly want to step back in time and for a few moments revel in nineteenth-century fashion, art, and culture, consider the Legacy Bash on Tuesday, February 17, from 7:00 to 10:00 p.m. Breeches or pantaloons, waistcoats and greatcoats, cravats and top hats are all welcome, as are bustles, muffs, and boas. Period-themed refreshments will be served, and live music will be performed. Be sure to wear your vintage finery: there will be prizes!
Chalkware figures were popular decorative art forms in the 1800s; outstanding examples can be found in A Shared Legacy and in its companion exhibition, Also on View: Selections from the Collection. The Museum is offering a hands-on workshop in this process. Participants in the two-day intensive class, held on February 21 and 22 from 10:00 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., will learn to cast, finish, and decorate a molded sculptural figure. Click here to reserve tickets, or to learn more about programs related to A Shared Legacy: Folk Art in America.
While you are in the neighborhood, don’t forget our colleagues: the Museum of Arts and Design (MAD) and the Museum of Biblical Art (MoBIA). Just a few blocks south of the American Folk Art Museum, the Museum of Arts and Design (MAD) is currently exploring the range of practices flourishing in Latin America: New Territories: Laboratories for Craft, Art and Design in Latin America is now on view through April 5. Sculpture in the Age of Donatello: Renaissance Masterpieces from Florence Cathedral, at MoBIA, will be on view February 20 through June 14. (MoBIA is currently closed due to the installation of this exhibition.)
All of the above is just a start. After all—it is only January 16. The new year is just beginning. We have so much more coming up throughout the next eleven months. We hope you will be a part of it.
I look forward to seeing you soon at the Museum.
Dr. Anne-Imelda Radice
Image: Eagle and Flags Plaque, artist unidentified, probably New England, 1875–1900, paint and gilt on white pine, 32 x 48 x 6″. Photo courtesy the Barbara L. Gordon Collection.