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Perhaps no single individual has done more to lead the Huntington Museum of Art in the growth and development of a contemporary art collection than longtime Board of Trustees member Alex Booth. His role as a trustee began in the early 1960s, and he immediately began to steer the museum toward contemporary art work, beginning with a significant gift to help fund the purchase of an Alexander Calder mobile in 1964. He quickly followed this donation with the provision of funds to acquire a drawing by Georges Braque, as well as a gift of historic works by John Singer Sargent and Samuel F. B. Morse. It was Mr. Booth’s appointment as Building Committee chairman during the 1960s, however, that seemed to galvanize his resolve to push for a collection that reflected the modernist spirit in 20th century art. His work with architect Walter Gropius during the design and construction of the Museum’s 1970 addition served as a strong inspiration, and he worked with diligence to see that the new space would include work by contemporary artists. When the museum sought to match acquisition funds that were available through grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, Mr. Booth supplied the financial resources that allowed for purchases of work by contemporary sculptors Seymour Lipton, Leonard Baskin, Harry Bertoia and others. Many of these works would reside in the courtyard space that was a featured component of the new addition. He also provided funds to acquire paintings by two of the giants of mid-century American art, Robert Motherwell and Franz Kline, and would later enrich the collection with an eclectic assortment of gifts that included a George Bellows drawing, a painting by the American impressionist Edward Henry Potthast, and historic sculpture from Asia, ancient Rome and the Americas.

A more recent gift, from 2004, was a pastel drawing that depicted Huntington’s Ritter Park. It was done by the artist Wolf Kahn while he was a workshop leader in the museum’s Walter Gropius Master Artist Workshop series in 1994. The Gropius program, which has brought contemporary artists to teach classes and exhibit their work at HMA for more than 20 years, was funded by a bequest from Alex Booth’s mother, Roxanna Booth. The program acknowledged the inspiration that was provided by Gropius during his time in Huntington and his desire that art should be taught, as well as exhibited, in the museum. The Gropius Workshop program has spurred an initiative to acquire works by artists who have been part of the program, once again reflecting the desire of Alex Booth to see the Huntington Museum of Art embrace the works of contemporary artists.

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.

Visionary Benefactor: Alex Booth and the HMA Collection

Opening reception takes place on July 29, 2017, from 5 to 7 p.m. Admission is free.

From his mountaintop home in Hardy County, West Virginia, painter Robert Singleton has a splendid panoramic view of the surrounding countryside in one of the state’s most picturesque regions. For nearly 40 years, Singleton, a “West Virginian by choice” has sought privacy and uninterrupted time to work and be introspective, and the space to breathe freely and search for life’s answers in this remote location.

Now approaching his 80th birthday, his journey through the years has followed a fascinating path that saw him go from an esteemed and celebrated position in the art world with numerous awards and museum shows to a deliberate retreat into solitude in which he bid farewell to the fame and acceptance he once sought.

Although he continued to work as a painter, his focus turned more to nurturing human relationships, especially as they relate to end-of-life experiences. Singleton embraced the work and personal friendship of Dr. Elisabeth Kübler-Ross, whose influential book On Death and Dying helped strengthen the modern hospice movement, and he provided compassionate care for a number of family members and friends during their last days, especially those who were victims of the AIDS epidemic. “I personally feel the single beneficial motivation of life centers upon the compassion of the connections we share with our fellow humans,” he said.

While Singleton’s attention was occupied for many years by the demands of caregiving, the urge to get back to his artwork eventually resurfaced. “In the summer of 2012, after more than a 10-year hiatus from painting, I rediscovered the pure joy of the creative emergence,” and he immersed himself in developing new work. He not only returned to his studio but began an active exhibition schedule, including a 30-year retrospective at the
Landes Art Center in Petersburg, West Virginia, in 2015 and a recent gallery showing in Lewisburg, West Virginia.

The Huntington Museum of Art will host an innovative showing of Singleton’s work in an exhibition that will feature several large-scale paintings accompanied by dynamic lighting in a darkened environment, along with original music composed by German musician Dan Morro.

Singleton said the exhibition will capitalize on the half-century of his experiences as an artist. “I seek a means of involving all human beings, not as viewers, but as participants in the ageless impact of the creative emergence.” He hopes the installation will be “a means of uncovering the core of our intuitive understanding and cumulative experience ingrained and transmitted through generations since the dawn of time… (serving
to) document my search for our shared universal awareness.”

Click here to learn more about the artists

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.

For the Joy of Light: Paintings by Robert Singleton & Soundscapes by Dan Morro

New York, New York!

August 5 - October 29, 2017

“There is no place like it, no place with an atom of its glory, pride and exultancy;” so wrote Walt Whitman in describing New York City, one of the most diverse and distinctive places on Earth. Artists have found a great deal of inspiration within the boundaries of this whirring metropolis, moved by the energy of the crowds, the towering architecture, and the sounds, sights and smells that define it as a city without peers.

The Huntington Museum of Art has a number of works in its collection that depict The Empire City, including paintings, prints, photographs and glass, and they will be featured in New York, New York! Several of the artworks focus upon recognizable landmarks in the city, including Richard Haas’ etching that depicts the Flatiron Building, views of the Brooklyn Bridge by Robert Indiana and William Walcot, and two Pilgrim Glass vases that include images of the Statue of Liberty and the Haupt Conservatory at the New York Botanical Garden.

Some artists chose more general views, including Reginald Marsh’s watercolor titled Skyline, Everett Shinn’s pastel Snow Flurries, New York Bay, Risaburo Kimura’s look at the towering cityscape in his print New York, and Childe Hassam’s etching of a street scene, The Billboards, New York. The glistening lights of the city are featured in Berenice Abbott’s photograph New York at Night, and in Yvonne Jacquette’s Motion Picture, Times Square.

A newly acquired painting by Parkersburg, West Virginia, native Anne Rector, 3rd Avenue, New York City, shows a bustling street scene. The wide range of work on display mirrors the dynamism of the city itself, which can change, as the artist John Sloan once remarked, “before the paint on (your canvases) is dry.”

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.

New York, New York!

The photography collection at the Huntington Museum of Art has grown considerably over the past two decades and now includes a number of works by noted contemporary photographers. One of the driving forces behind the growth of the collection has been an engagement with artists through the Walter Gropius Master Artist Workshop Series. Olivia Parker, Carrie Mae Weems, Sandy Skoglund, Jon Yamashiro, Thorney Lieberman, Maggie Taylor, Jerry Uelsmann, Sally Gall, and most recently, Abelardo Morell have all served as visiting artists at HMA, and their works are included in the “Powerful Images” exhibition. Another source of contemporary photography for the permanent collection has been the museum’s “Exhibition 280,” which showcases art from West Virginia and surrounding states. Several works in Powerful Images were entries in this juried show, including photographs by Fredrik Marsh, RicBellizzi, Marilyn Szabo, Gary Schubert and Daniel Kaufmann. The museum has recently acquired a number of works through a program called The Museum Project, which places work by contemporary photographers in institutional collections around the U.S. Many of these photographs are included in Powerful Images, including selections by Robert von Sternberg, Barry Andersen, Darryl Curran, Kenda North, Bonnie Schiffman and Michael Stone. Two regional photographers, former Ironton, Ohio, attorney Lloyd Moore and South Williamson, Kentucky, resident Paul Justice, are also represented in the show.

Thirty images, ranging from celebrity portraits to surrealist fantasies are included; together they combine to showcase the museum’s expanding journey in the photographic arts.

Powerful Images: Contemporary Photography from the HMA  Collection

Opening reception takes place on Saturday, August 12, 2017, from 5 to 7 p.m. Admission is free. This exhibit will be accompanied by a catalog, which will be available for purchase from the Museum Shop.

In the latter months of 1967, a shipment of precious cargo arrived at the Huntington Museum of Art. Included in the delivery were works by a number of the most important artists who were active in late 19th and early 20th century America, along with many stellar examples by European artists. Three watercolors by Andrew Wyeth, two oil paintings by Childe Hassam (including an example from his renowned “flag” painting series), paintings or prints by all of the members of the group known as “The Eight,” etchings by Rembrandt and Whistler, a watercolor by Winslow Homer, as well as a host of equally impressive works of art were included in the shipment. They were all given to the museum by Mrs. Ruth Woods Dayton, a resident of Lewisburg, West Virginia, and were together known as The Daywood Collection. The gift immediately elevated the status of the collection of the museum to one of national renown.

The receipt of the Dayton gift was part of an amazing sequence of events that occurred in the mid-1960s that would forever alter the destiny of the museum. The catalyst for all the good fortune was a grant of $1 million from the Doherty Foundation, a charitable organization whose leadership had ties to Huntington, for the purpose of expanding the museum’s facility. A second stroke of welcome news came when the famed architect Walter Gropius agreed to design the addition to the museum in partnership with his firm, The Architects’ Collaborative.

Mrs. Dayton and her husband, Arthur, had entered the collecting world in 1916 when they received a gift of the painting Munich Landscape, by Ross Sterling Turner, as a wedding present. That would be the beginning of a collection that would eventually number more than 200 works of art, including more than 80 paintings. They developed close relationships with some of the leading commercial galleries of the period, especially New York’s Macbeth Gallery, and acquired works by many prominent artists. A number of pieces were acquired after being seen at major exhibitions of the day, including the Carnegie International in Pittsburgh, a city that Arthur Dayton visited often in his work as an attorney. Collecting art was a passion for the Daytons, and they enjoyed doing research on the objects and writing to artists to find out more about their newest finds. Many of the works are modest in size, deliberately chosen to fit comfortably in their Charleston, West Virginia, residence.

Following Mr. Dayton’s untimely death in 1948, Ruth Dayton moved to Lewisburg and in 1951 opened a small facility called The Daywood Gallery as a memorial to her husband (the name Daywood is a combination of the couple’s family surnames, Dayton and Woods). Between 1951 and 1966, Mrs. Dayton continued to add to the collection through donations and purchases. The collection attracted the attention of a number of supporters of the Huntington Museum of Art in the early 1960s and several overtures were made to Mrs. Dayton to make a gift of her collection to the institution, but these pleas went unheeded because of the inadequate size of the existing facility. Following the Doherty Foundation grant and the promise of a sparkling new, Gropius-designed exhibition space and accompanying storage areas, Mrs. Dayton at long last agreed to give her collection to the Huntington Museum of Art. It was her wish that the collection that she and her husband had been so carefully assembled would remain in the state and be made available to the people of West Virginia, a place the Daytons had called home for their entire lives. An agreement was drawn up and signed by both parties in December, 1966, and the majority of the works were transferred to Huntington later in 1967 (a few objects remained in Mrs. Dayton’s home during the last years of her life and were later sent to the Huntington Galleries after her death in 1978).

This exhibit is presented by City National Bank, with support from The Isabelle Gwynn and Robert Daine Exhibition Endowment.

Additional support comes from The Katherine and Herman Pugh Exhibitions 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.

The Art of Patronage: 50th Anniversary of The Daywood Gift Presented by City National Bank