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11 Dec 2018

Director's Message: Winter 2018

Dear Members and Friends,

Season’s greetings from the American Folk Art Museum! Over the last several months, the museum has raised its profile locally and nationally through the award of financial grants and the promotion of its exhibitions and education programs.

Two major exhibitions opened at the museum at Lincoln Square this autumn: Paa Joe: Gates of No Return and John Dunkley: Neither Day nor Night. Both The New York Times and Time Out New York recommended Paa Joe as a top exhibition to see over the holidays. The museum’s presentation of John Dunkley is the final venue for the international tour organized by the Perez Art Museum in Miami. I urge you to see both exhibitions, which are powerful and poignant portrayals by artists responding to oppression.

At the Self-Taught Genius Gallery in Long Island City, Queens, Roadside Attraction, an exhibition of curiosities from the museum’s collection, continues to attract audiences. Our new assistant curator, Steffi Duarte, is also leading an exhibition with Long Island City neighbors Fountain House Gallery & Studio, whose artists are managing with mental illness, and Citi Center for Culture. A Kingdom in Pieces opens on January 16, 2019, at the Citigroup Building and includes animal-themed sculptures from the museum’s collection in dialogue with artworks created by Fountain House artists.

In another partnership, the museum has worked with the Lincoln Square Business Improvement District (BID) to decorate the traffic barriers along Broadway between 60th and 70th Streets with designs from artworks in the museum’s collection. It’s a colorful way to bring art into the community.

We are honored to receive significant financial support this season from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, the New York State Council on the Arts, Richard C. von Hess Foundation, and the American Folk Art Society—all great indications of confidence in the work of the museum.

Our successful gala in October raised funds for education and exhibition programs, and demonstrated the importance of the American Folk Art Museum on a national stage. Honorees Noah Wunsch of the Wunsch Americana Foundation, Raf Simons of Calvin Klein Inc., and generous museum patrons Elyse and Lawrence Benenson were introduced respectively by John Hays of Christie’s, artist Sterling Ruby, and visionary museum trustee Joyce Berger Cowin. Each person gave heartwarming remarks describing his or her love of art and the creative process.

The American Folk Art Museum also reached an extraordinary social media milestone: 10,000 new followers on Instagram over the past year, for a total of 28,800 followers. That platform for engaging new audiences is important as the museum celebrates its thirtieth anniversary of the Lincoln Square location in 2019.

Looking ahead, next March the museum will open an exhibition a decade in the making: Made in New York City: The Business of Folk Art. Curated by Elizabeth V. Warren, the show will narrate the material stories of New York City as the center of America’s financial and commercial worlds though self-taught art from what are now all of the five boroughs of the city. Loans from private, public, and corporate art collections will be seen for the first time together in this groundbreaking exhibition.

With best wishes for a joyous holiday season,


Jason T. Busch
Director | American Folk Art Museum