Winter 2003 Magazine Archive & SearchMuhlenberg Home

 

BY DR. LORI VERDERAME
Director of The Martin Art Gallery

Friends–
old and new–

AT THE MARTIN

 

As a long-time museum patron and art historian, I have developed a close relationship with works of art. I must confess that I have so researched or adored certain works of art that they could be considered my “friends.”

Like many art lovers, I have specific works of art that I always visit when I am in a certain museum. I revel in the opportunity to visit these old friends when I tour a particular museum or gallery.

For instance, when I travel to my parents’ home in Connecticut, I always pay a visit to the Yale University Art Gallery to see Vincent Van Gogh’s “Night Café.” At the MET, I seek out my American Impressionist pals, “Mrs. Isaac Newton Phelps Stokes” by John Singer Sargent and “Ernesta Drinker” by Cecelia Beaux. And, I can’t go to Philly without visiting Jackson Pollock’s painting “Man and Woman.”

While this museum visitation process sounds rather unusual, you might be surprised to learn that more than a few of my colleagues in the field of art history feel the same way about their favorite museum “friends.” And, this point of view, I am happy to report, is becoming more and more common at Muhlenberg as visitors return to campus in search of a favorite work of art from the Martin Art Gallery’s permanent collection with greater frequency. At the Martin Art Gallery, it is safe to say that we are making new “friends” and sharing our old ones with a very large group of patrons and supporters.

Visitors to Muhlenberg are becoming more familiar with the works in the Martin’s permanent art collection and they consistently ask about specific pieces, new exhibitions, and ways to participate in the gallery’s fundraising organization, aptly named, The Friends of the Martin Art Gallery.

More and more, people are growing knowledgeable about our impressive collection of American and European art ranging from the Renaissance to the Contemporary. Patrons ask about our collections and encourage me to organize and host more shows featuring art from the College’s collection.

Art lovers inquire about Muhlenberg’s holdings of works by printmakers Albrecht Durer, Rembrandt van Rijn and James A. M. Whistler; painters Arthur B. Davies, Robert Rauschenberg and Judy Chicago; sculptors Seymour Lipton, William Zorach and Mark di Suvero; and photographers Imogen Cunningham, Edward S. Curtis and Joseph E. B. Elliott. As our collection continues to gain international recognition and regional attention, our gallery program grows in the number of students, community members and museum colleagues that we serve.

As typical for the Martin, this year we received a variety of new gifts from various donors. New to the collection are works by artists Eric Blum, Jennifer Burbank, Kysa Johnson, Katinka Mann, Walter Moriarty, Irene Rousseau, Stephen Westfall, David Rankin, Suzanne Van Damm and many others.

In addition, a major acquisition for the Martin is the suite of 60 original and breathtaking paintings produced by a number of the world’s highly regarded artists in the area of ornithology painting. The individual paintings provided the model for the color plates published in the groundbreaking book by Muhlenberg professor Dan Klem Jr. entitled “The Birds of Armenia.” These works depict the variety of Armenian birds and were created under the direction of The Birds of Armenia project. The Birds of Armenia paintings will be the focus of a forthcoming exhibition organized and hosted by the Martin.


Women Artists (left to right)     Deborah Sawyer, Harra Sandrow, Lydia Panas, Andrea Korff, Ellen Reinkraut, Jeanne Chenault-Porter

While the Martin continues to receive gifts of fine art from alumni, artists, collectors and other donors, we have also enjoyed sharing works from our collection with other museums and galleries through exhibitions and publications. Since 1996, the Martin hosted guest curators, lecturers, works of art and exhibitions from locations far and wide. The Martin has enjoyed sharing exhibitions with and lending works from our permanent collection to our colleagues at: The Getty Museum, The Library of Congress, The Huntington Library, The Hyde Collection, Allentown Art Museum, Erie Art Museum, Reading Public Museum, Snite Museum at the University of Notre Dame, University of Iowa, Elvejhem Museum at the University of Wisconsin, McNay Museum of Art, Palmer Museum at the Pennsylvania State University, Iowa State University, El Paso Museum of Art, Picker Art Gallery at Colgate University, Knoedler & Company, Phillips Museum of Art at Franklin & Marshall College, Arnold Art Gallery at Lebanon Valley College, Berman Museum of Art at Ursinus College and Bryn Mawr College.

During this academic year, the Martin will lend works of art to the Allentown Art Museum for the show, “Treasures from Lehigh Valley Collections.” Also, we’ll lend original Rembrandts from our collection to the traveling exhibition, “Rembrandt Etchings” hosted by Franklin & Marshall College and our prints by Whistler from the artist’s British period will be on loan to Lebanon Valley College and a list of other hosting institutions. Last fall’s exhibition, “Women Artists: Past & Present,” organized by the Martin in cooperation with the El Paso Museum of Art in El Paso, Texas, will travel to the Erie Art Museum as well as three other participating venues.

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