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17 Jun 2019

Director's Message: Summer 2019

Dear Members and Friends,

Summer greetings! I am thrilled to report that our landmark exhibition Made in New York City: The Business of Folk Art is drawing visitors across the nation and capturing great media attention. Recently, the show was covered by WNET- Thirteen television in New York with a segment that featured exhibition curator Liz Warren incisively describing how, contrary to popular belief, icons of nineteenth-century and early twentieth-century American folk art were made in New York City.

New York Experienced, the modern and contemporary self-taught art companion exhibition to Made in New York City, continues to attract audiences at our Self-Taught Genius Gallery in Queens, including youth groups from the Long Island City YMCA. There are also exciting exhibitions from the museum’s collection opening this summer: A Piece of Yourself: Gift Giving in Self-Taught Art, in Long Island City from July 22, and Wall Power! Quilts from the Karen and Werner Gundersheimer Gift, at 2 Lincoln Square from August 6. Looking internationally, our collaboration with Les Rencontres d’Arles and abcd in France crystallizes in the July opening of PHOTO/BRUT: Collection Bruno Decharme & Compagnie, a ground-breaking exhibition on self-taught photography at La Mécanique générale, Arles. The New York presentation is organized by Valérie Rousseau, curator of self-taught art and art brut, and Bruno Decharme, founder of abcd. It will open at the American Folk Art Museum in June 2020.

I am proud to report that the 30-60 Anniversary Endowment Campaign for the American Folk Art Museum continues to gather interest and commitment from our members and patrons. This past season, we received a major gift from Liz and Irwin Warren to provide the museum with a new, annual folk art symposium that will be a forum for groundbreaking scholarship in the field.

Our esteemed colleague Stacy Hollander is leaving at the end of June after nearly thirty-five years of inspirational exhibitions and an unwavering commitment to scholarship at the museum throughout more than half of its history. Stacy’s most recent accomplishment was recently recognized by the Victorian Society of New York, which provided Stacy’s show Charting the Divine Plan: The Art of Orra White Hitchcock (1796–1863) its Award for Museum Exhibition. To honor her work and her legacy, the museum has created the Stacy C. Hollander Fund for Exhibitions. We thank all of you who have joined us in contributing financially to its success in supporting exhibitions with her name well into the future.

Summer Saturday, our now-annual event that celebrates everything folk—music, art, storytelling—will be held on July 20, from 11:30 am to 6:00 pm, at the museum. And it is not too soon to put the date of October 7 on your calendar for the Outsider Ball, the museum’s major fundraiser. This year, the honorees are Audrey B. Heckler, Monty Blanchard, and Leslie Tcheyan.

In closing, you may have read the recent article in The New York Times, “Will the Renovated MoMA Let Folk Art Back In?”, which refers both to the important role the American Folk Art Museum has served in collecting, exhibiting, and promoting works by self-taught artists over the years and to the history of our former building on 53rd Street. We are grateful to The New York Times for its recognition of our place in the artistic landscape of New York and America.

We are proud of the building that we established on 53rd Street in 2001 and of the many great exhibitions that were presented there. We were sad to lose the building, but MoMA’s purchase of it in 2011 provided essential financial resources for the rebuilding of the American Folk Art Museum into the dynamic organization that we are today. Indeed, through our two, vibrant neighborhood locations at Lincoln Square in Manhattan and Long Island City in Queens, the museum continues to make an impact inspiring and educating increasingly new audiences to the power of self-taught art.

With warm wishes,