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A Sum of Its Parts

Victor Vasarely, Untitled (Sphere), n.d., Serigraph (184/250), Polk Museum of Art Permanent Collection 2001.19.3, Gift of William and Norma Roth

July 13, 2016 – September 17, 2016

Jenkins Gallery and Gallery II

This year marks Polk Museum of Art’s 50th anniversary! When founded in 1966, the Polk Public Museum, as it was called, owned a broadly diverse permanent collection that included everything from petrified dinosaur teeth to homemade dolls. The vision for the permanent collection shifted in the early 1980s when the museum revised its mission to become exclusively an art museum. As it became the Polk Museum of Art, its collecting focus accordingly narrowed to only include works of fine art. Currently, the museum’s permanent collection includes approximately 2,300 art objects ranging from prehistoric artifacts to 21st century digital prints. A Sum of Its Parts will be a comprehensive chronology of the collection that will also chronicle the museum’s evolution alongside its collecting interests.

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The Overcoming: Works by Donna Petcoff Watson

Donna Petcoff Watson, Untitled, Acrylic on canvas, Courtesy of the Donna Petcoff Watson Gallery and Platform Art Forum for Creativity.

April 30, 2016 - August 27, 2016

Murray & Ledger Galleries

Donna Petcoff Watson was born in Bulgaria just before the onset of World War II. From the very beginning, her life was met with all of the cultural, social and political discord of wartime. She was separated from her father for the first nine years of her life while her family feared the constant barrage of Nazi soldiers through her village. Later in life, other tragedies would follow: the untimely deaths of her mother, father and daughter and her battle to survive both breast and lung cancer.

Yet, Watson is the determined optimist, turning a tumultuous childhood and life’s later tragedies into inspirations for her creative spirit. Her paintings are rooted in the belief that art can resolve and preserve the spirit. These paintings are not merely abstract compositions; her works are exercises in meditation and visual evidence of Watson’s steps toward coping and eventually overcoming all aspects of life. 

Watson initially trained as a painter at the University of Toledo. She began by studying various master artists from art history. She experimented with watercolor, oil and mixed media until she discovered the appropriate creative formula to address the setbacks in her life. Her painting style is a balanced mix of Impressionism and post-World War II American abstraction; although her quick brushwork and color palette recount techniques utilized by such Impressionists a Claude Monet, her interests in formalism and psycho-analysis allude to such early American abstractionists as Mark Rothko. Although parts of the Bulgarian countryside can be recognized in some of her paintings, it is intended to represent Watson’s childhood memories and the natural environment that fostered her during those early years of calamity.

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Rebels with a Cause

Eleanor Custis (1897-1983), Daisies and Mums, Watercolor on paper, 15.5 x 14.25 in.

Organized by the Huntsville Museum of Art

April 9, 2016 – July 3, 2016

Dorothy Jenkins Gallery & Gallery II

Rebels With a Cause presents outstanding selections of painting, drawings and sculptures from The Huntsville Museum of Art’s recently acquired Sellars Collection of Art by American Women. This landmark holding celebrates the achievements of over 250 talented female artists active between the mid-19th and mid-20th centuries. Many rebelled against the convention of their day by exhibiting alongside their male counterparts, receiving awards, and pioneering the way for those who would follow. Today, art historians are rediscovering their accomplishments and establishing their rightful place in the expanding narrative of American history.

Rebels With a Cause features 54 works from the Sellars Collection that exemplify the strong effect that French impressionism had on American art beginning in the late 19th century. The exhibition is focused on works that embody the early influence of French Impressionism and its precursor, the Barbizon Style. The exhibition also showcases works that adopt the various hallmarks of what became known as the American Impressionist style, as well as works that branch out beyond Impressionism’s strict definitions, reflecting more individual artistic approaches. Subjects include accomplished florals and still-lifes, elegant portraits, engaging genre scenes, and landscapes both intimate and panoramic, reflecting many different regions of the country and world. The exhibit showcases a perennially popular style that is sure to be a great crowd pleaser.

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Some Things Contemporary

December 19, 2015 - April 24, 2016

Hunt Slonem, Guardians, 2010, Oil on canvas, Polk Museum of Art Permanent Collection 2011.7, Gift of Margaret Evangeline © Hunt Slonem

Perkins Gallery

The adjectives modern and contemporary are often misused in reference to fine art. But, that misuse is understandable since the two words are synonyms in the English vernacular. It is also fairly innocent within the context of fine art where we still have art historians who often confuse the two. If someone defines contemporary art in terms of art historical chronology, it is often said to have begun in the 1960s with the rise of postmodern Pop Art. If someone prefers a more literal interpretation, however, it describes a work by any artist currently living.

For this exhibition, we sided with the latter definition; all of the works on display were produced by artists who are still around.  Contemporary art is one of the primary collecting focuses for the Polk Museum of Art. As an addendum to the museum’s exhibitions of works by contemporary artists Russell Young and Michiko Fujii Fowler, we are showing a sampling of works from the museum’s permanent collection of contemporary art. 

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Another America: Contemporary Latin American Art from the Permanent Collection

Carlos Luna, Pa arriba - Pa abajo, 2007, Gouache and charcoal on amate paper, Polk Museum of Art Permanent Collection 2010.3, Gift of Dr. Emilio and Ada Montero © Carlos Luna

January 30, 2016 - April 23, 2016

Murray & Ledger Galleries

Since its inception in 1966, Polk Museum of Art has established a sophisticated permanent collection. From prehistoric Pre-Columbian antiquities to 21st-century digital prints, the collection boasts a wide ranging survey of historic periods, artistic styles, and cultural trends. Contemporary art is one particularly strong collecting focus for the museum. The museum’s contemporary art collection includes works by artists from diverse cultural backgrounds who are inspired by their unique global perspectives. In order to celebrate one such perspective, Polk Museum of Art exhibits a selection of works by contemporary Latin American artists. Each of these artists have unique approaches to their cultural heritage and create a modern interpretation of what it means to be Latin American.

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Forever Young: A Retrospective

December 12, 2015 - March 27, 2016

Dorothy Jenkins Gallery

Russell Young’s exploration of American counter culture represents a journey that bears witness to both the excess and ambition that has helped shape the ‘American dream,’ a brooding and sometimes brutal celebration of the characters and events that glamorize and chastise in equal measure. Whether through direct visual reference or by title, the works set out to both assert and challenge our perception and understanding of what it is to be American in the 21st century.

We should all start to live before we get too old. Fear is stupid. So are regrets.” -Marilyn Monroe

Exhibition Partner:

 

Annual Exhibition Fund Sponsors:

Dorothy Chao Jenkins


CNP · Clark/Nikdel/Powell


Florida Southern College


The Linda & Alan Rich Fund


Margaret M. Decker Foundation


Reitzel Foundation


Southern Homes


Sheryll Strang

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Matter Makes Space: Michiko Fujii Fowler

December 19, 2015 – March 27, 2016

Gallery II

Award winning Japanese artist Michiko Fujii Fowler explores how space is altered by the painting process. She is intrigued by a painting’s duality of space: the illusive space within a painting and the physical space of a painting. Fowler explains, “I believe that a painting has two layered spaces: one is fictional space that is depicted in the painting, and another is a real space that is the painting itself. Generally, when we look at a painting, we focus on the fictional space. However, what we are really looking at is an object called a painting and material called paint.” A major contributor to a painting’s physical space is the multi-layered material that projects into the viewer’s space. It is often difficult for audiences to toggle their perspectives of a painting between its subject and its physical existence, after all the fundamental identity of a painting is found on its painted surface. Fowler creates illusions that invoke regard for her paintings as physical objects.

Matter Makes Space is Michiko Fujii Fowler’s first major museum exhibition in the United States. A native of Japan, Fowler has lived and painted in San Francisco, CA since 2008. Her work is featured in the permanent collection of the Saku Museum of Modern Art and has appeared in a variety of exhibitions. She lived as an artist-in-residence at the Cité Internationale des Arts in Paris in 2007 and received the Sokei Award and the Takazawa Award from the Sokei Academy of Fine Art & Design in Tokyo.

Exhibition Partner:

 

Annual Exhibition Fund Sponsors:

Dorothy Chao Jenkins


CNP · Clark/Nikdel/Powell


Florida Southern College


The Linda & Alan Rich Fund


Margaret M. Decker Foundation


Reitzel Foundation


Southern Homes


Sheryll Strang

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Androids

November 7, 2015 – January 24, 2016

Murray & Ledger Galleries

Through the evolution of the mobile device, fine art photography has undergone a reformation. Whereas the digital camera shifted photography from a time-intensive chemical process to a more immediate electronic art form, the contemporary touchscreen mobile device has concentrated it further to be more efficient and accessible. Combined with numerous downloadable apps and pervading social media, anyone can use their mobile device to capture a digital image, manipulate its appearance, and share it with an international audience in a matter of seconds. Purists may scoff at this modern iteration of photography, but that does not discount its effects on the field or its acceptance by the art world.

With this exhibition, Polk Museum of Art hosts its very first exhibition solely dedicated to touchscreen photography while also celebrating the work of a local photographer.

Tony Guinn is perhaps best known as the proprietor of Tony’s Studio B in downtown Lakeland. Before that, however, he was known for his work as a photographer. This exhibition explores Guinn’s experiments with and gradual acceptance of the benefits of his HTC Android camera phone. Behind these images is an unsaid conflict between a curious artist and an undeniable high-tech phenomenon.

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Other Destinations

August 22, 2015 – December 13, 2015

Perkins Gallery

Other Destinations is curated from the Polk Museum of Art permanent collection and celebrates the allure of “somewhere else.” Formed as a counterpart to the current major exhibition Destinations in Paintings: The Kasten Collection, this exhibition highlights a contemporary critique of experiencing some new place or escaping our daily environments for renewal in some foreign space.

Hansen Mulford, Woods near Jupiter Springs, 1990, Oil on linen, Polk Museum of Art Permanent Collection 1990.89, Gift of the friends of Selma and Lester Wishnatzki in honor of their 50th wedding anniversary

Other Destinations is also intended to explore why we 21st-century travelers are drawn to specific locations and the criteria we use to interpret them. Why do we connect with certain places? How do we familiarize ourselves with and relate to other destinations?  Those questions often make intriguing subjects for contemporary artists, who are always chasing the “new.”

Most artists these days do not approach a destination strictly based on its aesthetic qualities. Unlike 19th-century academic landscape painters who relished in the natural beauty of a site, modern artists more often examine the surrounding context of a location, allowing that to form the visual landscape. This isn’t to say neither they, nor we modern viewers, do not acknowledge and appreciate the unique physical beauty of another place; we usually flail in the serenity provided by such beauty. But as our world grows increasingly smaller, it doesn’t always seem enough to marvel at a place’s objective beauty; there are nowadays subjective and unseen qualifiers that play in our full understanding of an inspiring destination.

The artworks included in Other Destinations are perhaps less literal and in some ways less lyrical than those romantic paintings from the academic tradition. Many of them contain a cerebral interpretation of a destination, or are perhaps visual commentaries on the society or culture of a specific place. In its characteristic tradition, modern art represents a world that no longer needs to be literally represented and inhabited; modern destinations must be contextually experienced, not geographically explored; understood according to their diverse social and cultural climates. Other Destinations provides that contemporary compliment.

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An American in Venice: James McNeill Whistler and His Legacy

October 10 – December 5, 2015 

Gallery II
Organized by the Syracuse University Art Collection

In 1879 American artist James McNeill Whistler arrived in Italy with a commission from the Fine Arts Society of London to create twelve etchings of Venice. Over the ensuing fourteen months the artist produced a body of prints that are among the most important of his career. The prints from Whistler’s Venice period are distinguished by the artist’s original approach to capturing the unique qualities of the canaled city and his innovative use of the etching process.  His prints have arguably become the most studied prints in the history of art– after those of Rembrandt – and they had a significant influence on his followers.

Whistler sought to capture a “Venice of the Venetians,” and his prints depict palazzo entries, private courtyards and sweeping views over the canal where Venice’s most famous monuments rarely appear or are background features. His career-long interest in the effects of light and water were enhanced by his technical innovations developed in this period.

This exhibit presents eleven prints by Whistler, placing them alongside the work of followers who were practicing in Italy in the late-nineteenth and early-twentieth centuries.  The juxtaposition of these works allows the viewer to appreciate both Whistler’s innovations and the different ways in which his work affected the artists who followed him. While artists such as Mortimer Menpes and Joseph Pennell still enjoy a modicum of fame, other artists in this exhibit, like Minna Bolingbroke, have faded.  Whistler’s legacy lies in his far-reaching vision for both his medium and his subject, which has made his art significant for a remarkably broad range of colleagues.

James Abbott McNeill Whistler, Long Venice, c.1879-1880, Etching on laid paper, Gift of Mr. Cloud Wampler, SUAC 1963.1022, Courtesy of the Syracuse University Art Collection

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Collection Spotlight: Carol Prusa’s Wreath

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Collection Spotlight: Carol Prusa’s Wreath

August 15 – November 22, 2015

Hollis Gallery

Carol Bensema Prusa grew up in the Chicago area. She earned a B.S. in Biocommunications/Medical Illustration from the University of Illinois in 1980. Her MFA (Painting, Drawing) was received from Drake University in 1985. She taught art at Drake University and at Iowa State University for several years.

Carol Prusa’s detailed and patterned images resemble the structures of the universe and the structures of the miniscule features that make up the material world. For this reason, she conceives her work to have an immediate impact while including fine detail to lure viewers closer.

Prusa’s drawing skill combined with her interest in science led her to the rather unusual major of Medical Illustration. Sensing that work as a medical illustrator would be creatively limiting, not satisfying the desire to “think differently every day and be challenged… I figured painting was a place where I would never be satisfied so it would be a challenging and engaging life, and that I would have to learn new things all the time.”

The artist begins by covering wood panels with smooth layers of gesso, then patterns them using tiny silverpoint hatch marks. The drawing is enhanced with graphite and dry pigment combined with an acrylic binder to create thin, gray washes. Finally, white paint is mixed with acrylic binder and used either for highlights, or to add new images to the drawings.

Wreath will be on view in the Hollis Gallery as part of a series of exhibitions featuring a single work of art from the Museum’s permanent collection.

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Destinations in Paintings: The Kasten Collection

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Destinations in Paintings: The Kasten Collection

July 7 – December 5, 2015

Dorothy Jenkins Gallery & Gallery II
Exhibition organized through the generosity of Mr. and Mrs. Alexander Kasten

Alex and Barbara Kasten have been collecting art for decades. This exhibition celebrates one of their most cherished collecting focuses: 19th-century academic painting. These 33 works of art, dating from the 1860s to the 1920s, represent the breadth of the Kasten Collection and offer audiences the opportunity to see a past era through the paintbrushes of 28 distinguished artists from England, France, Germany, and Austria. This collection was assembled by Mr. and Mrs. Kasten with the guidance of the Kurt E. Schon, Ltd. Fine Art Galleries in New Orleans.

Above: Henri Duvieux, Venise, ca. 1882-1884, Oil on canvas, Alexander & Barbara Kasten Collection.

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Moon Museum

Telegram confirming that the Moon Museum was secretly placed on the Apollo XII lander.

July 7, 2015 – October 3, 2015

Gallery II

Following the triumphant return from its blockbuster U.S. Department of State and National Geographic-sponsored presentation last year at the National Gallery of Art in Tbilisi, Georgia (former Soviet Union), Polk Museum of Art will give Central Florida visitors the exceptional opportunity to view “in-person” the first-ever “Space Art” object .  Presenting the little-known Experiments in Art & Technology (E.A.T.) project that clandestinely sent and permanently sited original artwork by six renowned American artists on the lunar surface, The Moon Museum (1969): Apollo XII’s Secret Art Mission is curated by Jade Dellinger in partnership with the Bob Rauschenberg Gallery at Florida SouthWestern State College.

Inspired by the success of the Apollo XI mission and wanting nothing more than to put something soulful up where typically NASA had left detritus and hardware behind, the Moon Museum was the brainchild of New York sculptor Forrest “Frosty” Myers.  Inviting a group of the most significant artists of the time including John Chamberlain, David Novros, Claes Oldenburg, Andy Warhol and Bob Rauschenberg to join him in contributing individual drawings, Myers collaborated with engineers at Bell Laboratories to transfer their images (using a then cutting-edge photo-reduction technique developed for micro-circuitry) onto a handful of identical postage stamp-sized, paper-thin ceramic wafers.  The first-ever art object to travel into space, one copy of the Moon Museum multiple was surreptitiously attached to the Apollo XII lunar landing LEM 6, and has, without the knowledge or approval of NASA, resided on the surface of the Moon for more than forty-five years.

Nearly a half century later, the Moon Museum (with drawings by Rauschenberg, Chamberlain, Oldenburg, Novros, Myers and Warhol) is still a compelling art object and continues to resonate profoundly in the imagination.  For the first time in Central Florida,  The Moon Museum (1969): Apollo XII’s Secret Art Mission will present one of the few known original Moon Museum ceramic multiples along with vintage NASA press photographs, film shot by Apollo XII astronauts and related mission-flown artifacts.

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the unPainting

August 18 – November 1, 2015

Murray & Ledger Galleries

The western tradition of printmaking began as paper became widely available around 1400 CE. The art form had been prevalent in the East for centuries, but its introduction to Europe bolstered its identity as a serious but accessible medium. In many ways, printmaking was even considered an acceptable alternative to painting. Printmaking allowed multiple images to be produced quickly and economically, which raised its status among artists and collectors alike.

Mekons, Oh, Noe, Jo, 1994, Etching, Polk Museum of Art Permanent Collection 2003.5.4, Gift of the Mekons

The most influential of the early European printmakers was Johannes Gutenberg, who in the mid-15th century invented moveable type. Gutenberg’s innovation standardized the production of printers’ plates. Artists soon adopted Gutenberg’s process and adapted it to create highly complex visual compositions, or impressions.  The first techniques of fine art printmaking to become popular in the west were from the intaglio family, including woodcuts, engravings and drypoint printing. Renaissance masters like Albrecht Dürer, Hans Holbein and Annibale Carracci, who were all also celebrated painters, were considered some of the most ardent and proficient intaglio printmakers. Their experimentation further modernized Gutenberg’s initial work and distinguished fine art printmaking from the popular moveable type.

As artists continued to experiment with printmaking, new processes were discovered. Lithography, screen printing and monotypes eventually led to the more modern digital print. The common denominator of these varied printing techniques is the use of ink, not paint, to produce an impression. Most of the celebrated printmakers throughout art history were also, and in many cases foremost, painters. Printmaking was an opportunity for these painters to produce a series of works that were less intensive to create and more affordable to a wider range of collectors. Printmaking continues to grant painters the freedom to create unique and beautiful works of art without the limits and time consuming methods of painting.

This exhibition of works from the Polk Museum of Art permanent collection celebrates the modern print as the unpainting, or that distant cousin to traditional painting that has found its own respective voice in the discourse of art making and art collecting.

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