Happy summer and greetings at the close of a momentous month for the American Folk Art Museum! Last week, we celebrated two milestones: the opening of American Weathervanes: The Art of the Winds and the Museum’s 60th anniversary.
American Weathervanes is the first exhibition in more than four decades to highlight the beauty, technical virtuosity, and cultural significance of American vanes. This exhibition and book grew out of decades of research, care, and passion on the part of curator Robert “Bob” Shaw. A project of this magnitude is the work of many hands, and equally as many donors, friends, and advisors. The early efforts of Stacy C. Hollander, who directed American Weathervanes through its primary stages at the Museum, were expertly brought to fruition by Curator of Folk Art Emelie Gevalt, who has worked in collaboration with Bob on all facets of this project.
Our deepest appreciation goes to Julie Lindberg, Deborah Davenport, and Stew Stender as lead funders for American Weathervanes. Likewise, we thank Michael Del Castello, Allan and Penny Katz, the Leo and Dorothea Rabkin Foundation, The New York City Council on the Arts, and the American Folk Art Society for their support. I’d also like to thank a number of collectors and advisors—Patrick Bell, Allan Daniel, Edwin Hild, Jane Katcher, Allan Katz, Jerry Lauren, Julie Lindberg, Sy Rappaport, and David Schorsch—for providing insights that gave shape to the assemblage of objects illustrated in this monumental exhibition and the accompanying book.
As AFAM launched its 60th anniversary, we were honored to receive a proclamation from the Mayor’s Office that declared June 23, 2021 “American Folk Art Museum Day.” We were joined at an evening reception by special guests including Manhattan Borough President, Gale Brewer, who also presented a proclamation to AFAM. As we continue our celebrations, I hope you’ll consider a donation to the 60th anniversary campaign with a gift that commemorates our founding year: 1961.
Promotion of AFAM this past winter and spring has continued to be strong, especially for the recent exhibition and book PHOTO | BRUT: Collection Bruno Decharme et Compagnie. PHOTO | BRUT was featured in The Art Newspaper, The New York Review of Books, and ARTForum among other news publications. In addition, the promised gift of Karin and Dr. Jonathan Fielding of a pair of portraits by the early American Deaf artist John Brewster, Jr. received significant interest from ARTnews and Hyperallergic.
I am pleased to share that The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation has announced that the Museum is a recipient of a grant to continue support for Folk Art Reflections, an interactive, discussion-based program for individuals living with Alzheimer’s disease and their family members or care partners. This season approximately 500 K-12 students, from California to Alabama to Michigan to New York, have attended AFAM online school programs via Zoom. These virtual school visits, along with Folk Art Reflections, Virtual Insights, Closer Look Tours, and Free Music Fridays represent the kind of initiatives and outreach that have come to define learning and engagement at the Museum.
Outside of our doors, the Museum has launched a nationwide exhibition tour, including American Perspectives: Stories from the American Folk Art Museum at the Grand Rapids Museum of Art in Michigan (through August 28th), Handstitched Worlds: The Cartography of Quilts at the Leigh Yawkey Woodson Art Museum in Wisconsin (through August 29th), and Wall Power! Spectacular Quilts from the American Folk Art Museum in Yonkers, New York (through September 26th). From 2021 through 2024, these exhibitions will be presented at museums located in thirteen states. Each will feature a variety of works of historic folk art and modern and contemporary self-taught art, all drawn from the Museum’s collection.
Six decades after our charter was signed, our founders would be proud to see that we have turned their vision into a robust, inclusive, and accessible Museum that is free for all.
Thank you for your ongoing support. I look forward to greeting you at AFAM soon!
Jason T. Busch
Director and CEO