Friday, May 16, 2008

Navajo, O’Keeffe and Kachina dolls, virtually

To get away from the pressurized chaos of high tech and politics, just like a father who takes his family on a trip to the American West, I jumped at the opportunity to go on a virtual vacation to the Stark Museum of Art, in Orange, Texas, one of our most significant collections of American Western art.
Western Art
Western Art collection includes explorer-artists such as George Catlin, Alfred Jacob Miller, John Mix Stanley and Paul Kane, who traveled across the continent and documented American Indians in portraits and scenes of their customs. In the following decades artists such as Albert Bierstadt and Thomas Moran painted the mystifying grandeur of the Western landscape. Frederic Remington, Charles Marion Russell and others created enduring iconic images of the Wild West in their paintings and sculptures portraying cowboy life and Indian imagery at the turn of the last century. The twentieth century artists settled in the region and formed artistic colonies in Taos and Santa Fe, New Mexico. The Taos Society of Artists included Joseph Henry Sharp, E.L. Blumenschein, Bert Phillips, E.I. Couse, W.H. Dunton, E. Martin Hennings, Oscar Berninghaus, Victor Higgins, Walter Ufer and Kenneth Adams. Their art portrays an idyllic West, the Pueblo peoples, Hispanic culture and a landscape affected by atmospheric light. Other artists such as Georgia O’Keeffe, Alexandre Hogue, and Allan Houser have brought new, imagistic interpretations to the concept of the West.
Decorative Arts

The collection features glass and porcelain masterpieces from Steuben Glass, including the only complete set of The United States in Crystal, a series of bowls engraved with scenes representing each of the 50 states as well as Puerto Rico and the Union. The Steuben Glass Collection includes 76 engraved plates as well as numerous bowls, flasks, and plaques.

A series of porcelain birds by artist Dorothy Doughty is another museum treasure. The Stark Museum of Art collection holds the entire series as well as some duplicates, including unpainted versions. The collection also includes a series of porcelain birds by artist Edward Marshall Boehm.

American Indian Art

The American Indian collection consists of objects created by some of the tribes of the Great Plains, Southwest, Eastern Woodlands and Northwest Coast. The collection includes visually captivating examples of Plains clothing, body ornaments, and beadwork, such as exquisitely beaded moccasins.

The museum also exhibits baskets from major basket-producing cultures in the West: Pueblo pottery, including blackware by the world renowned Maria Martinez of San Ildefonso; kachina dolls of the Zuni and Hopi; and an outstanding collection of Navajo rugs and blankets.

The collection also has an extensive works by Julian Martinez, Tlinquit, Sioux Northern Plains and Navajo.

Rare Books & Manuscripts

The Rare Books and Manuscripts collection includes the famous Birds of America by naturalist John James Audubon. These five double elephant folios, which depict the birds of North America, belonged to the artist's personal collection. This publication is widely regarded as one of the finest illustrated books of all time.

In addition to Audubon’s The Birds of America are letters and journals by Audubon and artist Paul Kane, seven Books of Hours manuscripts, and more rare treasures such as 16-th century illuminated manuscripts.

History of he Museum

The Stark Museum of Art began as a vision of H.J. Lutcher Stark and his mother, Miriam Lutcher Stark, an enthusiastic collector of art, furniture, and decorative items from around the world. Lutcher Stark developed a similar passion for collecting, with a particular interest in nature and art depicting the American West. Both Miriam and Lutcher Stark shared the desire that one day a museum in Orange, Texas, would display the works of art they collected. As an undergraduate at the University of Texas, Lutcher Stark began building his collection by purchasing works from Texas artists. In the late 1920s and early 1930s, he began collecting American Indian objects from New Mexico.

He married Nelda Childers in 1943, and together they continued to build the collection. Each year from 1944 to 1962 they traveled to their ranch in Colorado, stopping along the way in Santa Fe and Taos, New Mexico, to meet with artists. From these visits they built a collection that strongly represents the Taos Society of Artists, a colony of artists drawn to the area for its scenery, culture and inspiration. Inspired by their shared passion, Nelda and Lutcher Stark founded the Nelda C. and H.J. Lutcher Stark Foundation in 1961 to enrich the quality of life in Southeast Texas through education and the arts. After Lutcher Stark’s passing in 1965, the Stark Foundation, directed by Nelda C. Stark, built the Stark Museum of Art, which opened on November 29, 1978, and continues to acquire new works of art today.

I wish anyone who's weighted down with the our electronic chores would could make a real visit to the museum.

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