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The specter of incarceration casts a very wide shadow in America, a nation that houses more prisoners than any country in the world. In spite of the tragic realities that often accompany it, the world of crime and criminals has always provided rich fodder for the public imagination, manifested in pop culture in forms ranging from folk ballads to modern-day television and film portrayals.

Artists have often embraced the topic, from Andy Warhol’s mug shot and execution chamber images to contemporary hip-hop musicians’ celebration of thug life.

Prisons such as Alcatraz (California), Sing Sing (New York), and Leavenworth (Kansas) have achieved legendary status as holding places for the nation’s most notorious criminals. Another facility that has been firmly etched into the public mind is San Quentin Prison, located just north of San Francisco, California. Built in 1852, it is one of the largest and most historic prisons in the United States. It has housed many well-known inmates, from Charles Manson and Eldridge Cleaver to country music star Merle Haggard. It currently serves as the holding facility for the largest group of death-row inmates in the country.

A number of years ago, a local collector purchased two record books from San Quentin Prison at a used bookstore in San Francisco. The records cover a span of years from 1918 into the 1930s and include a snippet of biographical information about each prisoner, both male and female, who was sentenced to serve time in the facility. In addition to the mug shot with the obligatory identification number prominently displayed, prison scribes recorded a litany of personal information about each inmate including the crime and length of sentence, height and weight, scars and tattoos, country or state of origin, occupation, and hat and shoe size. The recorder would occasionally interject a personal bias by using racial epithets to describe the prisoner’s ethnic background.

Each record had a space to document the conclusion of the prisoner’s stay at San Quentin, whether it be parole, transfer, escape, or execution. The litany of misdeeds ranged from embezzlement to assault and murder, and sometimes included offenses that would not be considered crimes today such as adultery and activist political or labor union activity. In the earlier of the two books, each prisoner is photographed wearing a hat, some of which are of the fancy variety, perhaps commemorating a last gasp effort to dress up before the prison-issued uniform became a daily routine.

For this exhibition, 11 artists were invited to use the imagery and information in the record books as a starting place for the creation of artworks for the show. Topics could range from a general statement on imprisonment to a
visualization of specific individuals who populated San Quentin Prison many decades ago. The exhibit will showcase a variety of media, from painting and drawing to ceramics and photography. The exhibition will include an accompanying catalog.

This exhibit is presented by Jack and Angie Bourdelais.

Support also comes from The Isabelle Gwynn and Robert Daine Exhibition Endowment.

This program is being presented with financial assistance from the West Virginia Division of Culture and History and the National Endowment for the Arts, with approval from the West Virginia Commission on the Arts.

Jack and Angie Bourdelais Present San Quentin Project

This exhibit will showcase a sampling of American paintings in the collection of the Huntington Museum of Art that feature the human form.

From ancient times, depicting the human figure has been a central focus for artists. As an artistic culture formed in the early days of the United States, figure painting, and especially portraiture, captured much of the attention of painters and sculptors, primarily because it was the one area that could provide vital paid commissions. Unlike their European counterparts, they could not take advantage of generous patronage from church or government entities, since the American versions of these organizations placed little emphasis on collecting art.

Much of the early portraiture was produced by modestly trained artists whose work is now considered “folk art,” such as Susannah Quarles Nicholson, whose series of portraits of a Virginia family is now in the HMA collection. The desire to honor national heroes such as George Washington spurred many artists to create history-based figural imagery and even recycle previous efforts, including Alvan Fisher’s copy of Washington at Dorchester Heights, a painting by Gilbert Stuart, which Fisher created as both a nine-by-six foot version (now in the Dedham, Massachusetts, Town Hall) and a smaller copy that is now in the collection of the Huntington Museum of Art.

By the latter half of the 19th century, a growing group of art collectors began to support the work of American painters, a development that provided the means to make a living and encouraged artists to move beyond traditional portraiture and still-life subjects. Genre paintings became especially popular, examples of which can be seen in the HMA collection such as Enoch Wood Perry’s finely rendered painting The Potter, and in Irving Wiles’ On the Porch. Charles Hawthorne’s The Clipper Ship Captain shows the influence of the Realist movement in the art and literature of the U.S. with its depiction of an aging and weary-looking resident of Provincetown,
Massachusetts.

As a wave of impressionism moved onto the American scene, painters such as Childe Hassam applied the style to traditional figure studies, as he demonstrated in his work The Butterfly. Although modernism and abstraction began to prevail in American art in the mid-20th century and move artists away from representational figure painting, an undercurrent of realism has been carried on through the work of contemporary artists such as Alan Feltus and Wade Schuman, both of whom have served as visiting artists in the Walter Gropius Master Artist Workshop program at HMA.

This exhibit is Presented by Garth’s Auctioneers & Appraisers.

Additional support comes from The Isabelle Gwynn and Robert Daine Exhibition Endowment.

This program is being presented with financial assistance from the West Virginia Division of Culture and History and the National Endowment for the Arts, with approval from the West Virginia Commission on the Arts.

American Figurative Paintings Presented by Garth’s Auctioneers & Appraisers

HMA will welcome Dan Anderson as a Walter Gropius Master Artist in April when the ceramics artist speaks about his work during a free public presentation on Thursday, April 20, 2017, at 7 p.m. Anderson will present a three-day workshop at HMA titled “Water Tanks and Related Architectural Delights” on April 21-23, 2017, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Call (304) 529-2701 for workshop fee information or to register.

Dan Anderson’s ceramic works are equal parts vessel and industrial artifact, full of irony. These handsome replicas of manmade, metal objects are aged and impotent reminders of a once-powerful age. Oil and gasoline cans represent the machinery that once threatened to devalue hardworking human beings. Now, they, too, sit stoic, dignified, and worn out. The usefulness of machines in their original states is limited; as both producer and product of progress, machinery is doomed to eventual obsolescence. Paradoxically, by recreating them in ceramic – the more “primitive” medium – Anderson imbues these objects with new life and purpose. They will endure through the ages, underscoring the power of art to uplift the human condition.

Anderson is currently a full-time studio artist following 32 years of teaching ceramics (1970-2002) at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville (SIUE), where he now holds the rank of Professor Emeritus. Anderson received his BS degree in Art Education from the University of Wisconsin-River Falls and his MFA degree in ceramics from Cranbrook Academy of Art, Bloomfield Hills, Michigan. He has received an NEA individual artist fellowship, six artist fellowships from the Illinois Arts Council, as well as residencies at the Archie Bray Foundation in Helena, Montana (1996), and the Red Lodge Clay Center, Montana (2010, 2012, 2014). His work is represented by galleries across the country, and found in numerous private and public collections around the world. An avid wood firing enthusiast, Anderson fires his ceramic works in an anagama wood kiln at his Old Poag Road Clay & Glass studio/home in rural Edwardsville, Illinois.

The Walter Gropius Master Artist Series is funded through the generosity of the Estate of Roxanna Y. Booth, who wished to assist in the development of an art education program in accordance with the proposals of Walter Gropius, who designed the Museum’s Gropius Addition, as well as the Gropius Studios. The Museum is indebted to Roxanna Y. Booth’s son, Alex Booth, for his participation in the concept development of the Gropius Master Artists Workshops.

This program is presented with financial assistance from the West Virginia Division of Culture and History, and the National Endowment for the Arts, with approval from the West Virginia Commission on the Arts.

Walter Gropius Master Artist Series Presents: Dan Anderson

A family-friendly opening reception for this exhibit takes place on Sunday, March 19, 2017, from 2 to 4 p.m. Admission is free. Award-winning storyteller Adam Booth will present The Lawrence B. & Shirley Gang Memorial Lecture in HMA’s Daywood Gallery at 2:15 p.m. to discuss the way Appalachians are viewed by themselves and by others while relating his stories to the artwork in the exhibit. Later, during the 4th Tuesday Tour Series at HMA on April 25, 2017, at 7 p.m., join us for a discussion of “Appalachian Art History & Culture” as it relates to this exhibit with Dr. Joy Gritton of Morehead State University. This is a Macy’s Free Tuesday event. Refreshments will be served.

James Roy Hopkins’ formative years on a farm in rural Champaign County, Ohio, prepared him well for a diverse career as an artist, teacher, college administrator, bank president and gentleman farmer. He inherited a strong appreciation for the art world from his mother, an amateur painter and schoolteacher, and the practical skills and work ethic to solve problems and run a complex agricultural operation from his father. His efforts as a painter, especially those works that portrayed the human figure, were lauded by critics and collectors during his lengthy career, and his services as a portrait painter were in great demand throughout his life. In addition, his role as the Chairman of the Art Department at Ohio State University affected the lives and careers of many students as he built a successful program over a 25-year period, one that saw the Department grow its faculty from a small group of six instructors to a diverse and talented staff of 40.

Hopkins originally had his sights set on engineering, which prompted a brief enrollment at Ohio State for study in 1896. His interests in art soon won out, however, and he moved on for a short period of instruction at the Columbus Art School, before traveling across the state to the Cincinnati Academy of Art, where he studied for two years with influential teacher Frank Duveneck. From there, Hopkins moved to New York, where he found work as an illustrator. He felt the need for additional artistic development, so, like many young Americans of the period, he embarked on a trip to Paris, where he enrolled in an art academy and immersed himself in the rich cultural scene. While in France, he developed friendships with many of the leading artists of the day and visited the studios of Claude Monet. While there, he solidified his resolve to paint the human figure.

By 1904, Hopkins returned to America and at this time married Edna Boies, an accomplished artist who would gain international renown for her woodblock prints. The couple soon headed back to Paris, where they enjoyed a successful stay that included numerous invitations to show their work in leading exhibitions. Following the outbreak of World War I, James and Edna returned to the United States, and James eventually took a faculty position at the Cincinnati Art Academy, a role which grew into the directorship following the death of Duveneck in 1919. This stint prepared him to transition to his appointment at Ohio State University, which began in 1923 and continued until his retirement in 1947.

In 1915, Hopkins ventured to rural Kentucky at the invitation of coal baron Robert S. Stearns. His destination was the Cumberland Falls area and the picturesque but isolated Brunson Inn, a popular tourist spot in the region. During this sojourn and for several summers afterward, Hopkins completed a series of genre paintings that featured local residents. Hopkins was undoubtedly motivated by similar works by European artists who featured the peasants of rural France and Holland, and also by the preponderance of images of the Southern mountaineer in American literature, film and popular culture. Like many artists of the day who painted portraits of Native Americans and other marginalized people, Hopkins’ paintings sought to capture a way of life that was seen as both isolated from the modern age and at the same time endangered by encroaching urbanization and industrialization. Hopkins’ Cumberland series proved to be a success with critics and buyers, and his work Kentucky Mountaineer was acquired by the Art Institute of Chicago for its collection.

For the first time in 40 years, a major exhibition will focus upon Hopkins and his rural Appalachian subjects. Organized by the Columbus Museum of Art, Ohio, and Keny Galleries, the exhibition will feature dozens of paintings,
including a survey of his figural work and portraits, with a concentration upon the works he did in the Cumberland Falls area of Kentucky a century ago. The exhibition will provide an opportunity to appreciate the refined skills Hopkins displayed as a figure painter as well as a chance to re-examine his depictions of Appalachian subjects and the cultural forces that created a demand for such imagery.

This exhibit is presented with support from The Isabelle Gwynn and Robert Daine Exhibition Endowment.

This program is being presented with financial assistance from the West Virginia Division of Culture and History and the National Endowment for the Arts, with approval from the West Virginia Commission on the Arts.

Additional support provided by Kirk Emerson and Ron Wright In Memory of Roberta S. and Robert K. Emerson; Will and Kati Holland In Memory of Mark and Jane Bailey; In Memory of the Benjamin Johnston Family; Gregory Mencotti, In Honor of Karen Mencotti; David and Janet Perdue In Memory of Maxine W. Perdue; Rose Riter, In Honor of Cindy Dearborn and AJ Stovitz; and Steel of West Virginia, Inc., In Memory of Robert Land and Nancy Bunting.

James R. Hopkins: Faces of the Heartland