Greetings as spring begins in New York City!
As we embark on a new season, I reflect on the last few months, and, in particular, the massive success that was the exhibition Morris Hirshfield Rediscovered. Before it concluded in late January, it was named by The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal as one of 2022’s best exhibitions. During the show, we hosted 160 onsite and online programs and welcomed thousands of people to our galleries.
Guests who have visited AFAM this month have been greeted by the results of the most ambitious renovations at our Manhattan location in over 20 years. The changes have made our galleries and shop ever more dynamic! We are honored that the Greenberg Foundation, based in Los Angeles, is providing lead support for the exciting transformation, continuing the commitment established by Susan Steinhauser and her late husband Dan Greenberg.
One of two new exhibitions on view is What That Quilt Knows About Me, curated by Warren Family Assistant Curator Sadé Ayorinde and Curator of Folk Art Emelie Gevalt. This stunning exhibition of more than thirty quilts and textiles has already been promoted as one of the most anticipated shows of the season by Thrillist and Hyperallergic. The exhibition is accompanied by a reprint of our award-winning publication Red & White Quilts: Infinite Variety, authored by Elizabeth V. Warren. Both the exhibition and the book are substantially funded by Fleur S. Bresler and the Maryland-based Bresler Foundation.
The Museum’s Daniel Cowin Gallery has also been re-inaugurated as the space in AFAM devoted to displaying works of art from our ever-growing collection, a vision of revered Trustee Joyce Berger Cowin when she dedicated the gallery thirty years ago in honor of her late husband and AFAM Trustee Daniel Cowin.
The first exhibition in the space, Material Witness: Folk and Self-Taught Artists at Work, curated by Luce Assistant Curator Brooke Wyatt, is one of three shows in the Cowin Gallery over the next two years that are funded through a major grant from the Henry Luce Foundation. We have also launched a free digital guide that includes the labels, high-resolution images, and interpretive text from the exhibition translated into Spanish.
While there has been a lot of great activity in our galleries, the arrival of spring brought an announcement of a gift of a major work of art by Bill Traylor. This vibrant blue painting joins others in the Museum’s collection and will give us opportunities to better understand one of the most important artists of the 20th century. And, for those looking to take a deeper dive into Traylor, our 2018 book Bill Traylor, co-authored by my colleague Valérie Rousseau, is available at The AFAM Shop
Finally, I hope you will join us in May for Lonnie Holley’s Universe of Friends, a benefit concert at the New York Society for Ethical Culture. We are honored that works by this incredible artist are in our collection and on view right now in our galleries. Moreover, we are thrilled that he is lending his singular voice and unique performance style in support of a museum we both cherish.
See you in the galleries!
In gratitude –
Jason T. Busch
Becky and Bob Alexander
Director & CEO
Photo of AFAM Trustee Joyce Berger Cowin & Jason T. Busch by Stephen Smith/Art Zealous.