Fenimore Art Museum Opens for the 2008 Season on April 1

Publication Date: 
March 2008
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Cooperstown, N.Y., March 26, 2008—Delve into the Arts & Crafts movement, explore Otsego County through the lenses of Richard Walker and Smith and Telfer, and discover the link between Jewish visual culture and the American carousel industry in the 2008 exhibition season at the Fenimore Art Museum.

From April 1 through May 12, the museum will be open Tuesday through Sunday, from 10 am to 4 pm, closed on Mondays. Summer hours begin on May 13 and continue through Columbus Day, October 13. During the summer season, the museum is open seven days a week from 10 am to 5 pm.

Exhibition highlights include:

Gustav Stickley: The Enlightened Home
April 1- August 10, 2008

The Fenimore Art Museum presents an exhibition on the furniture of celebrated turn-of-the-century designer and manufacturer and leading spokesman for the American Arts and Crafts movement, Gustav Stickley. Gustav Stickley: The Enlightened Home features 40 pieces of original Stickley furniture and decorative objects drawn from The Stickley Museum, Fayetteville, N.Y.; Dalton’s American Decorative Arts, Syracuse, N.Y.; The Stickley Museum at Craftsman Farms, Morris Plains, N.J. and private collections.

The exhibition explores Stickley’s well-designed and carefully crafted furniture within the context of his philosophical contribution to the American Arts and Crafts movement. Inspired by the ideas of British Arts and Crafts philosopher William Morris, who advocated a return to fine craftsmanship, honest design, and dignity of labor, Stickley generated his own “Craftsman” philosophy, which catapulted him to the forefront of the American Arts and Crafts movement. Rejecting the superfluous ornamentation characteristic of Victorian homes, Stickley championed functional homes whose beauty derived from simplicity and harmony.

Gustav Stickley: The Enlightened Home, which includes two period rooms, a 1904 living room and a 1907 dining room, highlights several pieces from Stickley’s rich body of work and illustrates how Stickley redefined the American home with his Arts and Crafts-inspired items. Stickley’s philosophy of building in harmony with the environment by using natural materials was fully realized in his home, Craftsman Farms in Morris Plains, New Jersey. His functional approach to design was a departure from the Victorian era’s dark and overly ornamental interiors. Stickley’s unornamented, clean-lined furniture was exemplified throughout the interior and exterior design of his home. While individual pieces of furniture used construction as decoration, embodied simplicity, and prioritized utility, these tenets were also implemented on a much grander scale within the home.

Rural Icons: Photographs by Richard Walker
April 1 – May 11, 2008

This exhibition features nearly 100 compelling portraits, still-lifes and landscapes of rural upstate New York by local photographer Richard Walker. The exhibition presents the region’s physical beauty, enhanced by its architecture, people and material culture in the context of a declining agricultural landscape and its architectural legacy.

Richard Walker is a commercial photographer of objects, antiques, sculpture, paintings, architecture and interiors, and people with their art and collections. He is especially known for his still-life compositions of products, antiques and collectibles, sports memorabilia, and historical ephemera.

Bits of Home
April 1 – December 31

Visitors to the Fenimore Art Museum have long enjoyed the extraordinary collections of fine art, folk art, and American Indian art held by the New York State Historical Association (NYSHA). Less well known are the thousands of historical artifacts in the collections storage areas. Bits of Home is a new exhibition that is intended to acquaint visitors with these historical collections by featuring a selection of more than 30 artifacts from NYSHA and The Farmers’ Museum’s extensive collections of domestic life in nineteenth-century New York. As a theme-based gallery, this exhibition allows the visitor to explore the function and design of everything from household textiles to toys and games in a setting evocative of the environment for which they were originally made.

Gilded Lions and Jeweled Horses: The Synagogue to the Carousel
May 24 – September 1, 2008

From gilded lions to high-stepping horses, the sacred to the secular, and the Old World to the New, this exhibition traces, for the first time, the journey of Jewish woodcarvers and paper cut artists from Eastern and Central Europe to America. Gilded Lions and Jeweled Horses: The Synagogue to the Carousel, organized by the American Folk Art Museum, New York, highlights the unsung role these artisans played in establishing a distinct Jewish culture in communities throughout the United States and provides a surprising revelation of the link that was forged between the immigrant Jewish woodcarvers and the American carousel industry. The exhibition brings together extraordinary examples of majestic synagogue carvings—gilded lions, Decalogues, crowns and eagles as well as intricate paper cuts—juxtaposed against dynamic carousel figures created for Brooklyn’s great amusement park, Coney Island, and others. Featuring 100 rarely exhibited artworks, drawn from private and public collections in the United States, Eastern Europe and Israel, the exhibition tells the story of this fascinating aspect of Jewish and American visual culture.

Organized by Guest Curator Murray Zimiles and coordinated by the American Folk Art Museum’s Senior Curator Stacy C. Hollander, the exhibition is accompanied by a fully illustrated 192-page book, Gilded Lions And Jeweled Horses: The Synagogue to the Carousel, co-published by the American Folk Art Museum with Brandeis University Press, an imprint of the University Press of New England. In addition, please visit the exhibition website at gildedlions.org, which was conceptualized by George Blumenthal and funded by The Center for Online Judaic Studies, Inc.

Major support for the exhibition and catalogue was provided by Michael Steinhardt; Kekst and Company; the David Berg Foundation; the Blanche and Irving Laurie Foundation; the Smart Family Foundation; the Philip and Muriel Berman Foundation, Allentown, Pennsylvania; the Betty and John A. Levin Fund; the Robert Lehman Foundation; the Nathan Cummings Foundation; the National Endowment for the Arts; the New York State Council on the Arts; and the New York Council for the Humanities, a state affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Through the Eyes of Others: African Americans and Identity in American Art
August 23– December 31, 2008

The images of African Americans at the Fenimore Art Museum offer insights into the ways that Americans in the past viewed one another; how artistic representations of black people created and reinforced popular attitudes; and how these attitudes continue to affect us today. This is not simply a story for African Americans, but for all of us, because the issues represented in this exhibition— identity, self-portrayal, survival, resistance, and stereotyping—are issues that relate to each individual who has ever wondered about their own identity and to every group that has entered this country.

This exhibition is curated by Gretchen Sullivan Sorin, Director of The Cooperstown Graduate Program and has been made possible by a generous grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services, a federal agency.

Earl Cunningham’s America
September 27 – December 31, 2008

Earl Cunningham’s America examines the paintings of Earl Cunningham (1893-1977), one of the premier folk artists of the 20th century. This retrospective presents the artist as a folk modernist who used the flat space and brilliant color typical of Matisse and Van Gogh to create sophisticated compositions with complex meanings about the nature of American life. The exhibition features 50 of more than 400 canvasses Cunningham painted during his life. His imaginary landscapes are marvels of the unexpected and the unlikely. Pink flamingoes dot the shoreline of the Maine coast, New England cottages sit at the edge of Florida swamps and Seminole Indians wear feathered headdresses.

Earl Cunningham’s America is organized by the Smithsonian American Art Museum. The exhibition will travel to the American Folk Art Museum in New York City (March 4, 2008 – August 31, 2008) and the Mennello Museum of American Art in Orlando, Fla. (March 6, 2009 – August 2, 2009).

The exhibition is made possible by generous support from Darden Restaurants Foundation; the Elizabeth Morse Genius Foundation; the Arts and Cultural Affairs Office of Orange County, Florida; CNL Financial Group; Bright House Networks; Lockheed Martin; and Friends of The Mennello Museum of American Art. The exhibition’s tour is supported in part by the C. F. Foundation, Atlanta.

Remembering Cooperstown: Photographs by Smith and Telfer
April 1 – May 11 & September 20 – December 31

This exhibition, culled from the museum’s permanent collection, features familiar and rarely seen photographs drawn from the Smith and Telfer Photographic Collection. The spring and fall exhibits will each feature a different selection of photography showcasing the breadth of the collection. Cooperstown photographers ‘Wash” Smith and “Putt” Telfer compiled an exceptional record of Cooperstown’s people and places for almost a century. The Smith and Telfer Photograph Collection, donated to the museum in 1951, numbers nearly 55,000 glass plate negatives. Smith and Telfer’s legacy is rich, and includes not only standard studio work, but also a vast number of images of people and activities recorded outside of the studio. Their familiarity with Cooperstown’s people and places gave their images a natural, unposed quality, which captures the spirit and sensibility of small town life. Through their lens Cooperstown is remembered as the quintessential American rural village.

About the Fenimore Art Museum
One of the nation’s premier art institutions, the Fenimore Art Museum is home to an exceptionally rich collection of American folk art and American Indian art as well as important holdings in American decorative arts, photography, and twentieth-century art. Founded in 1945 in Cooperstown, New York, the museum is part of the New York State Historical Association (NYSHA), founded in 1899. The museum’s renowned Eugene and Clare Thaw Collection, housed in the American Indian Wing, is a masterpiece collection of more than 800 art objects, representing a broad scope of North American cultures. The collections of folk and American art include seminal works by Grandma Moses, Gilbert Stuart, Thomas Cole, William Sidney Mount, Benjamin West, and John H. I. Browere. The museum offers a range of interactive educational programming for children, families, and adults, including lectures and workshops for museum visitors and distance learning instruction for classrooms nationwide.

The Fenimore Art Museum is located on 5798 State Hwy. 80, Lake Road, in Cooperstown. The museum’s Fenimore Café, overlooking beautiful Otsego Lake, features wonderful views and a tranquil setting amid the terraced gardens. The Museum Shop offers fine jewelry, art reproductions, and a wide selection of publications on folk art, history, and Native American art. Museum admission is $11 for adults, $9.50 for visitors age 65 and over, and $5 for children age 7 to 12; children 6 and under and NYSHA members are admitted free. Reduced price combination admission tickets that include The Farmers’ Museum and The National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum are also available. The museum is open from April 1 through December 31; closed January through March, except for special events and school groups. For museum hours or general information, please call 1-888-547-1450 or visit www.fenimoreartmuseum.org.

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For more information or images, please contact:
Christine Liggio/Public Relations office
New York State Historical Association
Fenimore Art Museum/The Farmers’ Museum
Phone: (607) 547-1472/E-mail: c.liggio@nysha.org

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