Previous Exhibitions


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Tracing Antilles: A Shared Voyage

October 15, 2016 - January 15, 2017

Perkins Gallery

Humberto Castro, Immigrant, 2016, Mixed media on paper, 29 x 41 inches. © Humberto Castro

Tracing Antilles is an on-going project produced by multi-media artist Humberto Castro. Based on a series of historical and visual explorations of the islands of Greater Antilles (Cuba, Haiti and the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, Jamaica, and the Cayman Islands), the artist investigates the evolution of culture in this highly complex region. The work does not aspire to be a chronological account of historical events, but seeks to explore impressions, or traces, of collective experience that still influence the Caribbean psyche and artistic expression today.  A key aspect of his project is that of the artistic journey, travelling through the islands and immersing himself in the culture. Many of the works incorporate found objects brought from the islands.

Castro was born and educated in Cuba. He spent the first ten years of his career in Havana; then, in 1989, he immigrated to Paris where he lived for ten years, where he became active in the Parisian intellectual scene.  In 1999, he moved to Miami where the confrontation with his own past and memory inspired him to examine his personal history of migration and displacement within the larger context of Caribbean history.

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David Maxim

David Maxim, Time's Speed, 1990, Acrylic on wood, canvas, cotton bags, twine, rope, metal fittings, and Styrofoam, Gift of Kelly Horner, Polk Museum of Art Permanent Collection 2001. 18.1

Three works by Maxim, Four Winds, Time's Speed, and White Circle, were on display in the Taxdal Gallery through December.

David Maxim is a San Francisco-based artist whose mixed media creations are about mythologies, the passage of time and natural forces. In many ways, these works are also connected to the themes of power and vulnerability: raging storms, human strength, psychological challenges and the impact of history. Maxim’s signature expressive style, with its energetic line and spilled color, contributes to depicting power and the anxiety of being impacted by that power.  

David Maxim’s work has been exhibited across the country and in Europe, and has been collected by many museums, including The British Museum in London, Museum of Fine Arts in Houston, Museum of Modern Art in San Francisco, the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art in Kansas City, and Museum für Moderne Kunst in Frankfurt, Germany.

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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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