Many Voices Echo in the Mint’s American Galleries
Revamped American installation offers new works and new perspectives for museum visitors.
By Jonathan Stuhlman, PhD, Senior Curator of American Art
When Mint Museum Uptown opened its doors in October 2010, one of the most exciting opportunities was the expanded space that became available for the display of its American art collection, roughly tripling what had been available at Mint Museum Randolph. While a number of new objects have entered the collection, and special loans from private collectors have come and gone, the American galleries have remained relatively static over the past 10 years.
The summer of 2020 marked the first major changes in the American galleries since Mint Museum Uptown opened a decade ago. The incorporation of 18th- and 19th-century paintings from the Adams collection bequest, special loans of a monumental canvas by Julius Leblanc Stewart, a curvaceous Gorham art nouveau punch bowl, a sumptuous floral still life by Severin Roesen, and a new pocket gallery installation featuring a diverse array of images of America at mid-century, are just a few of the visitors can experience.
The most significant change, however, occurs in the first gallery of the Level 4 wing that provides access to both the American, and Modern and Contemporary collections. Rather than starting a chronological journey through American art history, this gallery puts the focus on the theme of portraiture, probing this enduring topic across time and different artistic mediums. The 13 works of art featured in this installation reflect the museum’s ongoing commitment to diversity and inclusion with works of art by women, as well as African-American, Latino, and European artists.
Instead of being greeted by an 18th-century image of children hung over a Chippendale fall-front desk, visitors now encounter Kehinde Wiley’s iconic Philip the Fair juxtaposed with John Singleton Copley’s St. Cecilia: Portrait (Mrs. Richard Crowninshield Derby) created more than 200 years earlier. Visitors are encouraged to compare and contrast these two full-length portraits, taking time to consider how the artist engaged with and depicted the person portrayed, as well as the reasons behind the creation of each portrait.
These kinds of pairings are echoed throughout the rest of the gallery in works executed in media ranging from oil on canvas to photography to hand-painted porcelain. One example of these juxtapositions is Robert Henri’s early 20th-century painting Dorita, which features a young Spanish dancer gazing boldly out at the viewer. To its right contemporary photographer Ruben Natal-San Miguel’s vibrant photograph Mama, in which a young woman with vitiligo poses with a similar intense gaze in front of a brilliant red background. These two portraits of women with intense expressions provide a striking contrast to photograph Ai, in which the artist, dressed in black, lies prone in front of a black background, twisted away from the viewer. The ways in which artists depict family and loved ones is also explored in paintings by Kay Sage and Paul Cadmus, and photographs by Linda Foard Roberts and Oliver Wasow. In the center of the space is Cindy Sherman’s Madame Pompadour (née Poisson) Soup Tureen, which probes questions of identity, history, gender, power, and self-portraiture.
Throughout the level 4 galleries, the commitment to diversity and inclusion continues, as visitors encounter 20th- and 21st-century works by artists, including Blanche Lazzell, Augusta Savage, Helen Lundeberg, John Biggers, Hale Woodruff, Romare Bearden, Barbara Pennington, Haywood “Bill” Rivers, Grace Hartigan, Elaine de Kooning, Juan Logan, Leo Twiggs, E.V. Day, Iruka Maria Toro, and Vik Muniz, and a special-focus exhibition on photographer Linda Foard Roberts.
Although the cross-disciplinary thematic approach is highlighted in a permanent collection gallery, visitors are encouraged to think about how artists have engaged with other themes across time—landscape, still life, history, abstraction—as they explore the rest of the collection and other parts of the museum.
This story was originally published in the January, 2021 issue of Inspired, the Mint’s biannual member magazine.
The Wyeths: Three Generations, Works from the Bank of America Collection to go on view March 11-August 13, 2017
For more than a century, the members of the Wyeth family have created works of art that have stirred the imagination and fascinated art lovers worldwide. The Mint Museum is now preparing to host an exhibition of Bank of America’s largest collection of unique works by one family, providing a window into the Wyeth family’s artists through more than 60 remarkable paintings, drawings, and photographs.
The Wyeths: Three Generations, Works from the Bank of America Collection will open March 11 and remain on view through August 13 at Mint Museum Randolph, 2730 Randolph Road in Charlotte. Members of the media and special guests are invited to preview the exhibition at 10 a.m. on Thursday March 9. Interviews with curators, Mint staff, and Bank of America representatives will be available, and media photography is permitted. RSVP to email@example.com to attend.
“Through our Art in our Communities program, Bank of America has made our corporate art collection available for museums and nonprofit galleries around the world,” said Bank of America’s North Carolina and Charlotte Market President Charles Bowman, who also sits on the Mint’s board of trustees. “This is the first time this unique Wyeth exhibition will be on display in the South and the first time it’s been seen in the U.S. in seven years. We’re very excited to bring these generational works to the Mint Museum for the Charlotte community to enjoy.” In addition to lending the works to the Mint, the exhibition is sponsored by Bank of America.
“This is the most comprehensive exhibition of work by the members of the Wyeth family that the museum has ever hosted,” said Dr. Jonathan Stuhlman, the Mint’s Senior Curator of American, Modern, and Contemporary Art. “We extend our gratitude to Bank of America for sharing these treasures of American art with our visitors, who will delight in the opportunity to see so many of these beautifully-executed images of stories, people, and scenery created over the course of the entire 20th century.”
Patriarch N.C. Wyeth was one of the country’s foremost illustrators at the turn of the 20th century. Included in the exhibition are his illustrations for books by Robert Louis Stevenson and Washington Irving. N.C.’s son, Andrew, is known for his haunting, highly detailed realist paintings and is represented by works from the 1940s through the 1990s. Although not as well-known as her brother, Andrew, Henriette Wyeth was an accomplished artist who painted striking portraits, landscapes, and still lifes. She is represented in the exhibition, as is her husband, Peter Hurd, who chronicled the landscape of the American west. Andrew Wyeth’s son, Jamie, represents the third generation of the family in the show. Jamie continues the family’s tradition of realism using oil paint rather than his father’s preferred mediums of tempera and watercolor. His paintings often feature the people, animals, and landscapes of Maine and Pennsylvania, and are imbued with a unique sense of magic and mystery.
Charlotteans may remember the success of the Mint’s presentation of Andrew Wyeth’s “Helga” paintings in 2004-2005. This presentation is part of the ongoing celebration of the Mint’s 80th anniversary year as North Carolina’s first art museum, and reflects its ongoing commitment to American art. This exhibition is accompanied by an illustrated brochure and a variety of educational programming, with details available at mintmuseum.org/happenings. Among the special guests during the exhibition’s run will be Victoria Wyeth, granddaughter of Andrew Wyeth, who will appear for a FREE “ Evening with Victoria Wyeth ” talk at 6 p.m. on Wednesday March 29.
IMAGE: Jamie Wyeth (1946- ), The Tempest, A Triptych, 1999, watercolor, gouache, and varnish highlights on gray archival cardboard. Bank of America Collection.
AMERICAN ART POTTERY; VARIATIONS IN CLAY
Please join us for a conversation on American pottery led by speaker David Rago, Designer and Co-Director at Rago Arts and Auction Center.
Presented by the Delhom Service League.
David Rago, nationally recognized expert on the decorative arts of the nineteenth and early twentieth century and popular appraiser on the Antiques Road Show, will team with Barbara Perry, former curator of decorative arts at the Mint Museum, in a dialogue on the pottery of the Arts and Crafts period in the United States. They will discuss what makes pottery Arts and Crafts or not, and compare various potteries in relation to the Arts and Crafts ideals.
All ages. Enjoy family-friendly art projects, gallery visits, artist demos, yoga, and more!Read More
Come and join in the “Vote for Art” contest sponsored by the Mint Museum Auxiliary. Visit the museum anytime between November 8-30 and cast a vote for your choice of paintings to be added to the American Art Collection.
While visitors to the Mint Museum of Art after November 4 can no longer vote for the next American president, they will be able to cast a deciding ballot for the next American presence in the galleries. The Mint Museum Auxiliary is sponsoring a “Vote for Art,” which will allow visitors to choose between two works of American art currently under consideration for purchase. The voting kicks off on Saturday, November 8 and runs through Sunday, November 30.
“We are delighted to offer this opportunity to residents and visitors to Charlotte,” said Jonathan Stuhlman, Curator of American Art. “I am extremely grateful to the Museum’s Auxiliary for making it possible for the Museum to acquire one of these fabulous pieces, either of which would be a meaningful addition to our collection.”
The works under consideration for acquisition are both still lifes, but strikingly different examples of the genre. Laura Coombs Hills’ Peonies and Velevet is a sumptuous turn-of-the century pastel that exemplifies the artist’s exquisite technical skill and fabulous sense of color. Blanche Lazzell’s Bouquet of Flowers, on the other hand, was painted in 1914 and shows the artist’s synthesis of the latest trends in European modernism. With its high-keyed palette and patchwork of thick brushstrokes, Bouquet of Flowers demonstrates why Lazzell has come to be regarded as one of the most cutting edge and inventive modern artists working in this country in the early 20th century. These two selections represent the diversity of styles among American women artists and underscore the Museum’s efforts to broaden its holdings by female artists. The winning painting will be purchased for the Mint through the Auxiliary’s endowment funds.
Established in 1956, the Mint Museum Auxiliary is an affiliate group of the Mint that supports the Museum’s acquisitions and education programming. The Auxiliary has added hundreds of works to the Mint’s collections since its inception. Most recently, the Auxiliary purchased a striking version of Augusta Savage’s important sculpture Gamin.
Visitors can view Gamin in the Museum’s American art galleries before casting their votes in the ballot boxes by the two paintings under consideration.
For more information, visit www.mintmuseum.org.
What: “Vote for Art” Contest sponsored by the Mint Museum Auxiliary
Where: Mint Museum of Art ~ 2730 Randolph Road
When: November 8-30, 2008 during regular museum hours.
Why: Voters will select the Mint’s next acquisition of American art.
How: Ballots can be picked up at the Museum’s reception desk.