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Smithsonian Institution and Affiliate Collections Come Together for “Super Indian” at the Denver Art Museum

Special thanks for this guest post to: Eric Berkemeyer, Curatorial Assistant of Native Arts, Denver Art Museum

This October the Denver Art Museum opened Super Indian: Fritz Scholder, 1967-1980 which explores how Fritz Scholder used color and composition to create the powerful and innovative works of his Indian series. The exhibition features more than 40 monumental paintings and lithographs, including works loaned from Smithsonian Institution and Affiliate museums. With the support of these institutions the Denver Art Museum was able to realize an exhibition that fully engages with Scholder’s work from the period of 1967 to 1980; highlighting major themes and artistic approaches within the series.

rhino2

Fritz Scholder, “Indian and Rhinoceros,” 1968, Oil paint on canvas, 68 × 120 in. Collection of the National Museum of the American Indian, Smithsonian Institution, 268066.000 Photographer: Walter Larrimore, NMAI, © Estate of Fritz Scholder.

From the National Museum of the American Indian comes two works that draw attention to Scholder’s Pop art sensibilities with their bright color, scale, and use of popular, everyday imagery. These paintings, Indian and Rhinoceros (1968) and Walking to the Next Bar (1974), also exhibit his interest in social issues such as the conflicted relationship between American Indians and the Federal government and alcoholism respectively.

Also on view is Indian in Contemporary Chair (1970) from the Smithsonian American Art Museum. With the figure’s gritty, expressionistic rendering, its inclusion contributes to the interpretation of English artist Francis Bacon’s influence on Scholder’s style and composition. Furthermore, the contrast of an Indian subject within a contemporary setting serves to challenge viewers’ assumptions of the place of American Indians in the present day, another theme that runs throughout the exhibition.

Fritz Scholder, Indian at a Gallup Bus Depot, 1969, Oil paint on canvas, 40 × 30 in. Booth Western Art Museum permanent collection, Cartersville, GA, 2013.011.001 Photo courtesy Louis Tonsmeire, Jr., © Estate of Fritz Scholder.

Fritz Scholder, “Indian at a Gallup Bus Depot,” 1969, Oil paint on canvas, 40 × 30 in. Booth Western Art Museum permanent collection, Cartersville, GA, 2013.011.001. Photo courtesy Louis Tonsmeire, Jr., © Estate of Fritz Scholder.

In addition to the fourteen works from the Denver Art Museum, works from two other Smithsonian Affiliates are also featured in the exhibition. From the Booth Western Art Museum is Indian at a Gallup Bus Depot (1969) depicting what Scholder called an “Indian cowboy” in front of an arcade machine, highlighting Scholder’s Pop art sensibility as well as the influence of his teacher Wayne Thiebaud. And, from the Heard Museum comes Indian Dying in Nebraska (1972) adding to the exhibitions exploration of dark and mysterious subjects.

With generous institutional support such as this, visitors to the exhibition are better able to explore the rich work of Fritz Scholder. The exhibition continues at the Denver Art Museum until January 17, 2016. It will then travel to the Phoenix Art Museum February 16, 2016 to June 5, 2016 and the Nerman Museum of Contemporary Art in Overland Park, KS June 23, 2016 to September 18, 2016.

Kudos Affiliates! for October 2015

Affiliates continue to demonstrate significant impact, all over the country. Congratulations to all!

FUNDING

The Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) announced grants for 217 museum projects awarded through the highly competitive Museums for America and National Leadership Grants for Museums programs including the following Affiliates:

The San Diego Natural History Museum will improve the management and accessibility of data for more than 1.2 million specimens in its paleontology research collection by upgrading its current database to “Specify 6,” a database designed specifically for natural history collections.

The Denver Art Museum will develop a Latino artist-in-residence program to better reflect the full diversity of the community. The museum will create a series of one-month Latino artist residencies, bringing Latino artists of local, national, and international stature to the museum.

The Denver Art Museum will conduct a first-ever detailed conservation survey of 604 three-dimensional objects in its Architecture, Design, and Graphics collection. The project will advance institutional long-range goals for strengthening collections management by improving curatorial knowledge of the collection condition in anticipation of heightened exhibition, rotation, and program activity.

History Colorado seeks to improve the stewardship of a collection of 6,187 historic objects and more than 50,000 archaeological artifacts through relocation of the items to a new storage facility. Relocation to an 15 environmentally stable and readily accessible facility will allow History Colorado to more effectively preserve and manage its collections.

The Mystic Seaport Museum will improve the physical state of the 1908 steamboat, Sabino, a National Historic Landmark vessel and the last remaining wooden, coal-fired, operating steamboat in the United States.

The Lizzadro Museum of Lapidary Art will undertake two video projects to help visitors better understand the museum and earth science, and to provide an incentive for more school-driven visits. The museum plans to update its welcoming video, and a second video will focus on earth science with STEM-related material.

Conner Prairie Museum will implement a series of on-going maker programs using the tools, materials, and philosophy of the modern maker movement by drawing inspiration from the historic crafts and trades visitors experience at the museum.  

  • Abbe Museum (Bar Harbor, ME) – Award Amount: $150,000;

The Abbe Museum will design, fabricate, and install a permanent exhibit showcasing the history and culture of Maine’s native Wabanaki people. The exhibit will include content, artifacts, images, and interactive elements informed by the museum’s interpretive framework, its Native Advisory Council, and Native advisors.

The USS Constitution Museum will create an online collections, research, and interpretive portal for educators and information seekers of all ages offering free and unlimited access to the museum’s nationally significant collection of manuscripts, rare books, artifacts, and artwork capturing the role of the Constitution during the War of 1812.

The Michigan State University Museum will preserve an important collection of rare and fragile barn models located for decades in substandard space, by rehousing them in the museum’s cultural collections resource center, a climate-controlled repository.

The Senator John Heinz History Center will develop, fabricate, and tour a traveling exhibit that will use life figures, modular panels, hands-on objects, cases with artifacts, oral histories, and video components to help audiences at small local museums explore how World War II transformed the lives of Pennsylvania residents.  

The Museum of History and Industry will launch a two-year project designed to engage participants, pre-K through adult learners, through a coordinated set of museum, classroom, and community experiences in exploring the region’s legacy of innovation, collaboration, experimentation, and perseverance skills.

The Wing Luke Asian Museum will expand and strengthen its guided neighborhood walking tours to provide opportunities for members of the Asian Pacific American community to share their stories, to stimulate the local economy by fostering partnerships with neighborhood businesses and organizations, and to promote the historic and cultural appeal of the Chinatown International District.

Madison Children’s Museum will model a creative approach to behavioral change encouraging increased physical activity by redesigning stairwells in its historic building and by producing related programming to counteract decreased activity and a rise in obesity among Wisconsin children. During the two-year initiative, the museum will produce three examples of stairwell transformation.

Museum of Latin American Art (Long Beach, CA) and Framingham State University (Framingham, MA) have been selected to receive a competitive Latino Americans: 500 Years of History grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities and the American Library Association. As two of 203 grant recipients selected from across the country, both will receive a cash grant of $3,000 to hold public programming – such as public film screenings, discussion groups, oral history initiatives, local history exhibitions, multi-media projects or performances – about Latino history and culture.

The Abbe Museum (Bar Harbor, ME) has received a grant from Grants to Green Maine to provide an energy efficiency audit for the museum’s historic downtown location. The grant complements the museum’s Greening the Abbe Initiative and the near completion of the National Endowment for the Humanities funded projects that have helped reduce the Abbe’s carbon footprint and operating costs.

PNC’s Grow Up Great program has awarded a $30,000 grant to The Works: Ohio Center for History, Art and Technology (Newark, OH) to provide early childhood science education this coming school year. The programs will feature classroom instruction, field trips and family nights at the Works. New this year will be a teacher professional development day at the Works facilitated by an instructor from the Smithsonian Early Enrichment Center.

The Witte Museum (San Antonio, TX) announced the beginning stages of construction for the H-E-B Lantern, the entrance to the New Witte and home to a Pterosaur, “Quetzy” through a generous donation of $2 million on behalf of H-E-B to the New Witte.


LEADERHIP AND STAFF CHANGES
 

Susan J. Weller, former executive director and curator at the J.F. Bell Museum of Natural History at the University of Minnesota, has been named director of the University of Nebraska State Museum (Lincoln, NE). She succeeds Priscilla Grew, who has directed the museum since 2003.

Fundraising professional Karrie Zuccarello of Indianapolis has been named chief development officer at Conner Prairie (Fishers, IN). She joins the museum from Indiana University’s School of Public and Environmental Affairs, where she was director of development since 2011.

The Denver Art Museum (Denver, Colorado) has named fashion and art historian and curator Florence Müller as its next Avenir Foundation Curator of Textile Art, Curator of Fashion.