Happy spring from the American Folk Art Museum (AFAM)! As the new season begins, we are excited to continue our 60th anniversary celebration with a benefit gala on April 7 at Gotham Hall. I hope you will join us as we honor three of the most creative artists of our time: Faith Ringgold, Bisa Butler, and KAWS. Innovative, iconic, and inspiring, each has made a distinct impact in the United States and abroad.
Since my last letter, we have opened two exhibitions: MULTITUDES, which features over 400 works—including recent acquisitions and objects that have never been on view—and Pushing Boundaries: 60 Years of AFAM Exhibitions, which explores groundbreaking shows from the Museum’s history. If you are looking to take a deep dive into MULTITUDES, please explore a special online experience we have designed for it. Fully accessible from a handheld device or computer, the site is illustrated with scores of images and audio recordings, as well as interpretive text in both Spanish and English.
Both exhibitions have received positive and prominent attention from critics and guests. Writing in The Wall Street Journal, Judith H. Dobyrynski calls MULTITUDES “exuberant” and notes that the exhibition is “a good reason to raise a glass to the future of the American Folk Art Museum.” The exhibition was recently a “Critic’s Pick” in ArtNet News, and reviews and stories about it have been featured in Arts Gazing, as well as on NBC News and NY1. One of the works in the show, Ammi Phillips’ Portrait of Frederick A. Gale (a recent gift from Lucy and Mike Danziger) adorns the cover of the March/April edition of The Magazine Antiques and was the subject of a thoughtful story in The Art Newspaper.
Beyond the walls of our galleries on Manhattan’s Upper West Side, there are quite a few ways to see our collection. American Perspectives: Stories from the American Folk Art Museum Collection is on view at the Cummer Museum and Gardens in Jacksonville, Florida; Handstitched Worlds: The Cartography of Quilts at the Utah Museum of Fine Arts in Salt Lake City; and Mystery and Benevolence: Masonic and Odd Fellows Folk Art from the Kendra and Allan Daniel Gift to the American Folk Art Museum is on view at the Bullock Texas State History Museum in Austin, Texas.
Here in New York City, we are proud to be the Cultural Partner of The Winter Show, where we will present selections from Wall Power! Spectacular Quilts from the American Folk Art Museum. Visit the show from April 1 to April 10 and pick up a copy of its catalogue, which features an essay about the Museum.
Earlier this month, we were honored to announce that AFAM will be the new home of Healing Arts Initiative (HAI)’s archives. To make this happen, my colleagues worked with partners including White Columns, which cared for the archive from 2016 to 2022, and Quimetta Pearle, HAI’s Art Studio and Gallery Director. HAI, a New York City-based organization that supported and encouraged the creative talents of hundreds of people from underserved communities, fostered the artistic explorations of hundreds of artists, including Lady Shalimar Montague, Gaeton Menna, and Julius Caesar Bustamante. The Museum will conserve this collection, as well as make it accessible to artists, students, researchers, and the broader public.
In the weeks ahead, we will continue to host compelling programs organized by our Learning and Engagement team. On April 12, Vanessa German and Amber J. Phillips will explore interdisciplinary creative practices. And on April 26, join Jordan Nassar for a conversation on memory and embroidery. Both programs are organized in conjunction with MULTITUDES and will incorporate these artists’ responses to works on view in the exhibition.
It is a wonderful time to visit the American Folk Art Museum and participate in our activities!
See you in the galleries,
Jason T. Busch,
Director and CEO
Image: Maurice “Le Grand Le Sueur” Sullins (1910–1995, United States) Danse d’Espagne, by Edgar Degas. Spanish Moon Glow #9 (detail), Joliet, Illinois, 1972, Acrylic on canvas, 35 3/4 x 48 in. American Folk Art Museum, Blanchard-Hill Collection, Gift of M. Anne Hill and Edward V. Blanchard, Jr., 1998.10.52. On view now in MULTITUDES.