Fenimore Art Museum
During the second quarter of the nineteenth century, American artists developed a strong interest in genre painting, or scenes and events from everyday life. Prior to this time, the vast majority of paintings were portraits of the mercantile, social, and political leaders of the country. Genre painting allowed American artists to express their cultural ideals as distinct from those of Europe, as they consistently emphasized the values of personal and economic liberty and individual entrepreneurship.
A century ago, Frederic Remington was the busiest artist in America. He researched his subjects in books, in the field, and through personal correspondence. He taught himself color theory to overcome the limitations of working in black and white and investigated the science of casting to perfect his sculptures.
Docents are enthusiastic people of all ages. They are trained facilitators who act as liaisons between museum exhibitions and the public. They play an integral role in presenting the museum’s collections to a diverse audience.
The art in this exhibition celebrates the camaraderie and bravery of 19th-century American firefighters through the folk art of the time. Fire companies were eager to celebrate their value to their communities by embellishing their everyday gear and ceremonial dress, and by commissioning noble portraits of firefighting heroes. Hats, buckets, banners, clothing and even the fire engines were elaborately decorated for public celebrations such as parades, ceremonies and competitions.
In masks we see the many faces of the human condition. The act of masking transcends cultural differences and is celebrated in all facets of the human family. Masks herald death and rebirth in rites of passage. They ensure successful harvest, fertility and prosperity throughout the year. Masks create a link to the past, family identity and hereditary rights. In religious rituals the masker often becomes the spirit being represented, or is a medium through which the spirit communicates with the people.