Dear members and friends,
Summer began with excellent news: the Henry Luce Foundation, as part of its 75th anniversary initiative, awarded the Museum $1.6 million for a major exhibition that will open in New York in May 2014 and then travel to five museums across the country. Self-Taught Genius: Treasures from the American Folk Art Museum will feature more than one hundred works of art from our outstanding collection. The exhibition will underscore the importance of works of art by the self-taught, beginning in the eighteenth century. The often profound aesthetic expressions of self-taught artists are an important aspect of our national narrative, and we are especially proud to be able to share this art throughout the United States.
Currently we have three exhibitions on view at the museum: Bill Traylor: Drawings from the Collections of the High Museum of Art and the Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts (accompanied by a catalog) and Traylor in Motion: Wonders from New York Collections—which include the largest gathering of Traylor drawings ever exhibited in New York City—and Recent Gifts. I urge you to visit soon, as the work is only on view for another seven weeks.
“The Museum, The Critics, and The Self-Taught,” a sold-out public program moderated by Dr. Valérie Rousseau, the museum’s Curator of Art of the Self-Taught and Art Brut, took place on June 26. This discussion focused on self-taught artists and their importance in the “canonical” history of art.
More June and July highlights: Chief Curator Stacy C. Hollander authored a feature in The Magazine Antiques about game boards, treasures from the years before they were mass-produced; Dr. Valérie Rousseau contributed two essays to the catalog accompanying the Hayward Gallery’s exhibition The Alternative Guide to the Universe; and the Museum’s Encyclopedic Palace of the World, by self-taught artist Marino Auriti, continues to enchant visitors at the Venice Biennale, some of whom are documented in our tumblr.
The Museum’s fiscal year ended on June 30, and I am pleased to announce that we exceeded our goal for a balanced budget. With the generous support of our Trustees, members, and friends, we achieved a surplus; we begin fiscal year 2014 on a very bright note.
Our audiences continue to grow and enrich the Museum with their enthusiasm, interest, and passion for folk art and art by the self-taught. School and teen programs are providing young visitors with opportunities for learning from their peers as well as providing high school students with valuable work experience, so important for their continuing education. And for the youngest visitors and their caregivers, on the first Saturday of every month the Museum offers Families and Folk Art sessions: tours and discussion followed by hands-on programs in which each child creates their own work of art while learning about such visual concepts as shapes, symbols, characters, and more. On Saturday, September 21, at 1 p.m. we will have a special Family Day program based on Bill Traylor.
Amid all of the exciting developments of this summer, we were touched by sad news when we learned of the loss of our very dear friend, Sam Farber. Mr. Farber was a robust and visionary trustee, a dedicated leader, and a problem-solver whose imprint on the Museum will continue to endure for years to come. We express our sorrow at his passing, and our gratitude for all that Mr. Farber and his wife, Betsey, have contributed to the Museum.
There are so many people to thank, but I want to give a very special mention and words of appreciation to the Henry Luce Foundation, the Ford Foundation, editor-in-chief Betsy Pochoda and her staff at The Magazine Antiques; and always, and especially, Trustee Joyce B. Cowin, whose generosity continues to make possible all that we are accomplishing.
Looking ahead: on September 16 the Museum will present “Bill Traylor: Beyond the Figure”, a full-day symposium that will bring together a dozen distinctive voices—artists, curators, scholars—to explore particular facets of the artist’s work and life through a variety of approaches; our fall exhibition alt_quilts: Sabrina Gschwandtner, Luke Haynes, Stephen Sollins is in the making and I hope to see many of you at the October 1 opening; and I am most excited to report that this year’s Fall Benefit Gala promises to be extraordinary. Our host is Project Runway’s Tim Gunn, the honorees are Dr. Valerie Steele, Director and Chief Curator of the Museum at FIT, and Lucy Sykes Rellie, Fashion Director, Rent the Runway, and brand consultant; the benefit co-chairs are Yaz and Valentin Hernández and Laura and Richard Parsons; and the honorary chair is Betsy Bloomingdale. Dinner guests will be treated to a “behind-the-scenes” look at some of New York’s most celebrated fashion design studios as they prepare to unveil couture creations for the Museum’s January 2014 exhibition, Folk Couture: Fashion and Folk Art.
Thank you, friends.
The Honorable Anne-Imelda Radice, PhD
Image: Photo by Gavin Ashworth.