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Holding Space: The Museum Collects

March 5, 2018–July 5, 2018
At the Self-Taught Genius Gallery
Long Island City, Queens

Holding Space: The Museum Collects opens March 5, 2018, at the American Folk Art Museum’s Self-Taught Genius Gallery in Long Island City. The exhibition highlights the breadth of recent acquisitions by the museum over the past five years. It brings together more than forty works of art by eighteenth through twenty-first century artists and visionaries whose formal and conceptual concerns cut across cultural and generational divides. Included are masterful works by elusive artist James Brown, Thornton Dial, Sheldon Peck, Ammi Phillips, and Martin Ramirez, as well as quilts, furniture, cobalt-decorated stoneware, assemblages, and works on paper.

The exhibition features the work of:

  • David Alvarez (1953–2010)
  • Signed “W.C. Baptist” (dates unknown)
  • James Brown (dates unknown)
  • J. Burger Jr. (1844–1904)
  • Thornton Dial Sr.  (1928–2016)
  • Fenton & Hancock
  • Howard Finster (1916–2001)
  • Brent Green (b. 1978)
  • Albert Hoffman (1915–1993)
  • Lonnie Holley (b. 1950)
  • Clementine Hunter (1886/87–1988)
  • Paul Laffoley (1935–2015)
  • Elizabeth Layton (1909–1993)
  • Clara Leon (1845–1921)
  • David K. Livingston (1845–1940)
  • John K. Livingston (1842–1917)
  • Ronald Lockett (1965–1998)
  • Alexander A. Maldonado (1901–1989)
  • Clara J. Martin (1882–1968)
  • Attributed to Jasper P. Miles (1782–1849)
  • J. & E. Norton
  • Sheldon Peck (1797–1868)
  • Ammi Phillips (1788–1865)
  • William Matthew Prior (1806–1873)
  • Martín Ramírez (1895–1963)
  • Conrad Kolb Ranninger (1809–1869)
  • Lorenzo Scott (b. 1934)
  • Mrs. H. B. Smith (dates unknown)
  • Mary T. Smith (1904–1995)
  • Daniel Steele (dates unknown)
  • Ionel Talpazan (1955–2015)
  • Mose Tolliver (1898–2006)
  • Melvin Way (b. 1954)
  • Augustus “Gus” Wilson (1864–1950)
  • Agatha Wojciechowsky (1896–1986)
  • Malcah Zeldis (b. 1931)

The exhibition is curated by Sarah Margolis-Pineo, assistant curator of the Self-Taught Genius Gallery.

Installation photos by Stephen Smith. 


Exhibition-Related Programs

Critical Walk-through: Abeer Hoque & Josh Steinbauer
Critical Walk-through: Kamau Ware of Black Gotham Experience
Artist Talk and Screening: Brent Green
Drink & Draw


Images: Untitled (Horse and Rider); Martín Ramírez (1895–1963); Auburn, California; 1948–1963; crayon and pencil on pieced paper; 17 3/4 x 23 1/8 in.; Collection American Folk Art Museum; gift of David L. Davies and Jack Weeden; 2013.4.1. © Estate of Martín Ramírez. Photo by Adam Reich.

Untitled; Ronald Lockett (1965–1998); Bessemer, Alabama; 1988; paint and wire mesh on plywood; 48 × 66 × 5 in.; Collection American Folk Art Museum; gift of Ron and June Shelp; 2013.5.8. Photo by Adam Reich.

Running Horse Silhouette Resist Plate; Conrad Kolb Ranninger (1809–1869); Montgomery County, Pennsylvania; 1838; glazed red earthenware; Collection American Folk Art Museum; museum purchase with partial funds provided by Becky and Bob Alexander, Lucy and Mike Danziger, Jane and Gerald Katcher, Donna and Marvin Schwartz, Kristy and Steve Scott, and an anonymous donor; 2014.1.2. Photo by John Bigelow Taylor.

Untitled, Agatha Wojciechowsky (1896–1986), New York City, n.d., colored pencil on paper, 22 1/2 x 23 in., Collection American Folk Art Museum, gift of Charles O’Neal, 2014.12.1. Photo by José Andrés Ramírez.

Garden of Eden, Elizabeth Layton (1909–1993), Kansas, 1977, pencil and colored pencil on paper, 24 x 18 in., Collection American Folk Art Museum, gift of Mr. Don Lambert, 2014.16.1. Photo by Adam Reich.

Presidents Quilt; Clara J. Martin (1882–1968); Mount Clemens, Michigan; 1964; paint on cotton canvas on wool with cotton embroidery; 88 x 72 in.; Collection American Folk Art Museum; gift of Marta Amundson, great-granddaughter of Clara J. Martin; 2015.2.1. Photo by Kristine Larsen.

Churn with Prancing Lion and Palm Tree; J. Burger Jr. (1844–1904); Rochester, New York; 1878–1890; salt-glazed stoneware with cobalt decoration; 21 1/2 x 12 1/2 x 12 1/2 in.; Collection American Folk Art Museum; gift of Jerry and Susan Lauren; 2015.14.3. Photo by Kristine Larsen.

Break the Egg Inside the Hen; Brent Green (b. 1978); Cressona, Pennsylvania; 2014; wood, paint, and cardboard; 20 x 24 x 10 in.; Collection American Folk Art Museum; gift of Colleen Keegan and Stephen Reily in honor of the Creative Capital Grantees; 2016.7.1 Photo by Adam Reich.

Portrait of a Woman, possibly Abigail Dewey; James Brown (dates unknown); Massachusetts; 1806; oil on canvas; 34 1/2 × 29 in.; partial gift of Eileen M. Smiles and David A. Schorsch, and museum purchase with major funds provided by the Eva Feld Acquisition Fund and Irwin and Elizabeth V. Warren, and additional funds from Jonathan and Karin Fielding, Michael I. and Joan Murtagh Frankel, Drs. Suzanne and Michael Payne, Joanne and Fred Siegmund, Nancy Kollisch and Jeffrey Pressman, Brett A. Robbins, Su-Ellyn Stern, and Andrew McMaster; 2016.12.1. Photo by Gavin Ashworth.

Heavenly Children, William Matthew Prior (1806–1873), probably Massachusetts, 1850, oil on board, 20 x 22 1/4 in., Collection American Folk Art Museum, gift of Valerie and Robert Goldfein, 2016.18.1. Photo by Adam Reich.

Cupboard-over-Drawers; David K. Livingston (1845–1940); Soap Hollow, Pennsylvania, or Michigan; 1870; paint and bronze-powder stenciling on wood; 66 1/4 x 30 1/2 x 14 1/2 in.; Collection American Folk Art Museum; gift of Charles Muller in memory of Brenda Muller; 2016.19.2. Photo by Adam Reich.

Plantation Life; Clementine Hunter (1886/87–1988); Natchitoches, Louisiana; 1980–1986; oil on canvas board; 23 1/2 x 29 1/2 in.; Collection American Folk Art Museum; gift of Joan Einbender; 2016.28.2. Photo by Adam Reich.


Major support for the Self-Taught Genius Gallery is provided by the Henry Luce Foundation and the Booth Ferris Foundation. Additional support is provided by the Ford Foundation, public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council, the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo and the New York State Legislature.

American Folk Art Museum Acquisitions on View in Self-Taught Genius Gallery
– Antiques and The Arts Weekly