Dear members and friends,
I begin by sharing with you a recent post from Time Out New York:
“The American Folk Art Museum is undoubtedly the single most important institution of its kind, devoted to traditional folk art as well as to outsider art, the latter being represented by arguably the single largest holdings of works anywhere by Henry Darger, Martín Ramírez, Bill Traylor and Eugene Von Bruenchenhein among many others.”
On that note, our new season of exhibitions opens on June 11.
Bill Traylor: Drawings from the Collections of the High Museum of Art and the Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts will feature more than sixty works by an extraordinary African American artist. This opportunity to view works that rarely travel will be complemented by Traylor in Motion: Wonders from New York Collections. We are grateful to all of our exhibition partners, particularly for loans from the private collections of our esteemed trustee Audrey Heckler; Susan and Jerry Lauren; the Louis-Dreyfus family; Siri von Reis; Luise Ross; and a collector who wishes to remain anonymous. Together, the exhibitions comprise a comprehensive presentation of Bill Traylor’s vibrant painting and drawing. The opening Member’s Reception will take place on Tuesday, June 11; if you are not already a member of the Museum, please consider joining to be able to participate in this and other special member events.
Bill Traylor’s story is powerful. Born into slavery, he moved to Montgomery, Alabama, late in his life, and the works we know were produced there during a four-year artistic outpouring. They draw us in. Unique can be almost a cliché word, but in this case his artwork is truly unique. Interestingly, Traylor was already making his iconic works in Montgomery when “modernism” was just beginning to enter the American vocabulary. He was included in the seminal Corcoran Gallery of Art exhibition Black Folk Art in America, 1930–1980 and countless others since then.
This year’s Venice Biennale, the world’s largest exhibition of art, will feature nearly one hundred works by self-taught artists. The centerpiece of the 55th International Exhibition is a work of art from the collection of the American Folk Art Museum: Marino Auriti’s Il Enciclopedico Palazzo del Mondo (The Encyclopedic Palace of the World). Follow the goings-on there by visiting our Tumblr. We are very proud.
Dr. Valérie Rousseau, curator, art of the self-taught and art brut, will moderate a panel discussion about the role of self-taught artists on June 26, with G. Roger Denson, Brett Littman, Jerry Saltz, and Karen Wilkin, at 5 pm. Tickets are $10 (Museum members $5; students and artists free). Registration is recommended; tickets may be purchased online.
Other Museum news?
Recent Gifts, an exhibition also opening on June 11, will feature new additions to the Museum’s permanent collection. We are grateful to the following donors: Gordon W. Bailey, Helen and Jack Bershad, Cynthia K. Easterling, Louise W. Floeckher, Kathryn Trotta Kane, Susan and Laurence Lerner, Leo Rabkin Ron and June Shelp, Nancy Karlins Thoman, and Mr. and Mrs. Walter L. Wolf.
The Museum has joined a consortium of destinations around the country that offer great learning experiences for families. The Wonder Collective has a number of prestigious partners. Some examples are: The Indianapolis Children’s Museum, Colonial Williamsburg, the Heard Museum, the Please Touch Museum, and the San Diego Zoo, among others, and we are proud to participate in this endeavor. We will be sharing more information later.
Works of art by Eugene Von Bruenchenhein from the Museum’s collection are included in an exhibition on view at London’s Hayward Gallery. Curator Dr. Valérie Rousseau is a contributor to the exhibition catalog.
Sadly, we learned of the death of Kristina Barbara Johnson, who served on the Museum’s Board for four decades and led the Museum as president of the Board in the early 1970s. She donated a number of works of art related to the sea; helped establish the Museum’s quarterly journal The Clarion (later Folk Art); and exhibited extraordinary dedication to the Museum. Her family has suggested that memorial contributions may be sent to the American Folk Art Museum; please contact Elizabeth Kingman, director of development, at email@example.com or 212. 265. 1040, ext. 346. Mrs. Johnson’s generosity was invaluable, and we were honored to have such a good friend.
Speaking of friendship: a colleague recently asked where in New York she might be able to host a small luncheon, and this inspired a lightbulb moment: the American Folk Art Museum! We are now offering the opportunity to host small, private gatherings for up to sixty people, almost any Monday when the Museum is closed to the public. Whether your preference is tea for two, or salads, soufflés, and sandwiches for sixty, please consider the Museum as the site for a lovely occasion. Surrounded by outstanding masterpieces of traditional folk and art by the self-taught, your guests might even enjoy a docent-led tour . . . before or after dessert! Please contact Hope Bodwell, manager of special events, at firstname.lastname@example.org or 212. 265. 1040, ext. 311, for more information.
There is so much taking shape at the American Folk Art Museum in the months to come: spectacular exhibitions in the planning; a September 16 symposium on Bill Traylor; our October 16 gala honoring Dr. Valerie Steele, director and chief curator of the Museum at FIT, and fashion director Lucy Sykes Rellie, and much, much more.
I hope to see you on June 11 at the Museum.
The Honorable Anne-Imelda Radice, PhD
Image: Rising Star Variation Quilt, Elsey A. Halstead (1830–1850), Minisink (now Middletown), New York, dated March 23, 1848, cotton, 100 x 85″, American Folk Art Museum, gift of Kathryn Trotta Kane and family in memory of our beloved grandmother Margaret Halstead Minch. May an appreciation of the love, beauty, and hard work that went into this quilt continue to inspire future generations. We sincerely hope that others will experience the same joy the quilt has given our family over many years., 2012.16.1. Photo by Gavin Ashworth.