Dear Members and Friends,
It is an honor to write to you for the very first time as Becky and Bob Alexander Director & CEO of the American Folk Art Museum (AFAM)! For years, the Alexanders have been steadfast supporters of AFAM, and we are deeply grateful for their outstanding investment in the Museum. Read more about the gift and our plans in a story in the Associated Press.
The past several months have been inspiring and busy. A major highlight was the Museum’s long-planned 60th Anniversary Gala, an auspicious event that did not disappoint: 300 guests attended and enjoyed delicious food, wonderful company, and an exciting live auction. The gala surpassed our goal of half a million dollars for the Museum, making it one of AFAM’s most financially successful events. Equally important, we celebrated the accomplishments of three extraordinary artists, Faith Ringgold, Bisa Butler, and KAWS, and recognized Joyce Berger Cowin as the most generous supporter in the Museum’s history.
This season, the Museum also benefited from two widely disseminated articles on museums in The New York Times and TimeOut New York. As Melissa Smith noted in the Times, “folk art has demanded much more respect lately, not least of all because of the American Folk Art Museum’s 60-year dedication to the genre.”
MULTITUDES, the cornerstone exhibition of our 60th anniversary, has received positive attention and enthusiastic visitorship. Programs related to the show have recently featured artists including vanessa german, Amber J. Phillips, and Jordan Nassar. In addition, the always captivating Irwin and Elizabeth Warren Folk Art Symposium featured a dozen scholars who shared new insights on artworks from the Museum’s collection – many of which are on view in MULTITUDES.
Across the nation, our traveling exhibition program continues to garner praise and recognition. This spring, I had the honor of participating at events at the Cummer Museum of Art & Gardens in Jacksonville, Florida and the Asheville Art Museum in North Carolina, venues to the Art Bridges-sponsored exhibition American Perspectives: Stories from the American Folk Art Museum Collection. Likewise, I recently welcomed guests in Waterbury, Connecticut at the Mattatuck Museum’s presentation of Mystery and Benevolence: Masonic and Odd Fellows Folk from the American Folk Art Museum, which is an exhibition traveling nationally through the stewardship of International Arts & Artists.
This fall, please plan to be our guest when Morris Hirshfield Rediscovered opens at AFAM. As Karen Chernick reported in ARTnews, Hirshfield is enjoying a resurgence in popularity. And with more than 40 of his works on view, our exhibition promises to be the most comprehensive presentation on the self-taught artist in eighty years.
I conclude with an exciting development: the Museum is a recipient of a $350,000 grant from the Henry Luce Foundation. The award will support thematic exhibitions drawn from our collection and new staff who will prioritize for display of artworks and themes that focus on underrepresented stories. We look forward to sharing more detail on our plans in the coming months. Happy summer!
See you in the galleries,