Georgia Museum revisits ‘Art Interrupted’
The installation, deinstallation and reinstallation this month of Ruth Stanford’s art work on the controversial legacy of author Corra Mae Harris at Kennesaw State University’s Zuckerman Museum of Art has focused attention on the matters of artistic expression and censorship.
A major exhibit at the University of Georgia’s Georgia Museum of Art in Athens, “Art Interrupted: Advancing American Art and the Politics of Cultural Diplomacy,” reunites works that also brushed up against these issues in the years following World War II.
In 1946, the U.S. Department of State launched a cultural diplomacy program that included an initiative known as Advancing American Art. It called for the acquisition of modernist paintings by contemporary American artists with the intention of exhibiting the works through Latin American republics, Eastern Europe and Asia. Its objective was to showcase the freedom of expression enjoyed by artists in a democracy while demonstrating America’s artistic coming of age.
Shortly after the Advancing American Art tours began, however, controversy boiled. Some critics called the selected paintings, and the artists themselves, several of whom had left-leaning political views, un-American and subversive. Facing disapproval from Congress and the prospect of losing funding for its cultural programs abroad, the State Department recalled the exhibits. The paintings were sold at auction as war surplus in 1948.
Organized by the Jule Collins Smith Museum of Fine Art at Auburn University, the Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art at the University of Oklahoma and the Georgia Museum, “Art Interrupted” examines what exhibit materials term “this ambitious but ill-fated instrument of foreign policy.” From the original checklist of 117 oils and watercolors, “Art Interrupted” reunites all but 10 of the paintings (for which there are no known locations) in an exhibit intended to demonstrate the virtues in freedom and diversity.
Artists represented in the exhibit, on view through April 20, include Romare Bearden, Stuart Davis, Arthur Dove, Marsden Hartley, Edward Hopper, Georgia O’Keeffe and Ben Shahn. The museum also is hosting a free symposium organized by the Association of Graduate Art Students at UGA, “While Silent, They Speak: Art and Diplomacy,” March 28–29. Cynthia Schneider, a Georgetown University School of Foreign Service professor, will deliver the keynote address at 6 p.m. March 28.
90 Carlton St., Athens. 1-706-542-4662, www.georgiamuseum.org. HOWARD POUSNER
‘Bartrams’ Footsteps’ explores natural history
Ushering in spring, the Atlanta History Center and the Cherokee Garden Library have mounted the exhibition “Following in the Bartrams’ Footsteps: Contemporary Botanical Artists Explore the Bartrams’ Legacy.”
On view in McElreath Hall, this free exhibit presents botanical artwork depicting plants discovered and introduced by John and William Bartram, colonial explorers of the American Southeast.
A companion exhibit featuring pieces from the Cherokee Garden Library and Atlanta History Center collections includes rare books and historic Southeastern maps, objects an 18th century explorer carried on his travels and Native AmericanAmerican Indian artifacts.
The exhibition also features a native plant garden, close by in the Mary Howard Gilbert Memorial Quarry Garden, where visitors can view plants depicted in the artwork in their natural habitat. Notably, that includes the state champion Franklin tree, a discovery made by the Bartrams’ in the 1760s and now believed to be extinct in the wild.
The exhibit, which includes extensive programming, was organized by the American Society of Botanical Artists at the New York Botanical Garden in collaboration with Bartram’s Garden in Philadelphia. (History center admission does not apply to the exhibits and quarry garden.)
Through June 17. 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Tuesdays-Saturdays, noon-5 p.m. Sundays. 130 W. Paces Ferry Road, Atlanta. 404-814-4000, www.atlantahistorycenter.com/bartram. HOWARD POUSNER
City showcases Emerging Artist winners
Atlanta’s Office of Cultural Affairs has added an extra prize to its annual Emerging Artist Award, giving 2014 honorees Jessica Caldas and Aubrey Longley-Cook the opportunity to share an exhibition in addition to the usual $1,500 grant.
“Two Houses,” on view at Chastain Arts Center Gallery through April 17, finds Caldas, primarily a printmaker, and Longley-Cook, primarily an embroidery artist, expressing themselves on the themes of home and family. The artists will receive Atlanta City Council proclamations from council member Natalyn Archibong at the closing (public) reception, 6:30-8 p.m. April 16.
Emerging Artist Award recipients are chosen by a community panel, with priority given to creatives 35 or younger or with less than five years of experience in their field.
135 W. Wieuca Road N.W., Atlanta. Free. 404-252-2927, www.ocaatlanta.com/chastain. HOWARD POUSNER