The Museum of Fine Arts in St. Petersburg, Fla., will be presenting a number of works from its burgeoning collection of contemporary self-taught art during the Folk Art Society of America's annual conference, October 29-November 1, 2009. Highlights from the Museum of Fine Arts' Folk Art Collection will be featured at the museum from October through December 2009.
The Museum of Fine Arts is primarily known for its collection of more traditional western painting and sculpture from the late 18th to the early 20th centuries. However, historical works of American folk art, including paintings from the Chrysler-Garbisch Collection and a selection of Pennsylvania German decorative arts, are in the museum's permanent collection.
In 1996, the Birmingham Museum of Art held the exhibition Pictured in My Mind: Contemporary American Self-Taught Art from the Collection of Dr. Kurt Gitter and Alice Rae Yellen while Dr. John E. Schloder was director there. In 2001, Schloder came to the Museum of Fine Arts, St. Petersburg, as director. His view of art has continued to include contemporary folk art.
In 2000, the museum mounted its first exhibition of European folk art, The Fantastical World of Croatian Naive Art. In the Spring of 2007, the museum organized Compelling Visions: Florida Collects Folk Art, the first exhibition of contemporary American self-taught art featured at the museum. This exhibition drew primarily from seven extraordinary private collections in the Tampa Bay area, and members of the Folk Art Society will visit some of these during the conference, notably the collections of Tom and Donna Brumfield, Ted and Jean Weiller and George Lowe.
This departure from its usual programming allowed the museum's curatorial department to create one of its most lively and popular exhibitions, which was reviewed and featured in both the Folk Art Messenger and Raw Vision magazine. More than 17,000 visitors viewed this exhibition during its three-month run.
As a result of Compelling Visions, a number of paintings, sculptures and works on paper from the exhibition were donated to the museum's collection. Several of these will be on view during the FASA conference, including works by Bill Traylor, Clementine Hunter, Mose Tolliver, Nellie Mae Rowe, James Harold Jennings, Carleton Garrett, Ned Cartledge, Roger Rice and Mary Proctor. In addition, the museum will display more recent acquisitions, including paintings by Florida artists Ruby Williams, Jack Beverland and Purvis Young.
Ruby Williams' art was inspired by two worlds, the rural South and the urban Northeast. Her painting I Will Climb This Mountain is a result of her experience ministering to youth in an urban environment, but much of her work stems from her experiences living near Plant City, Fla., where she grows the fruits and vegetables that she sells at her stand off Highway 60, in the agricultural soul of the state. In 2005, a similar work was included in an exhibition at the Anacostia Museum, part of the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D. C. The painting's message was inspired by the artist's work with disadvantaged youth while living in Paterson, N. J. Her work, in turn, inspires us to achieve our best and to overcome life's difficulties.
Other new additions to the collection that will be part of the Highlights exhibition are works by Dilmus Hall, Lonnie Holley and Brian Dowdall. Hall's lively drawings created in graphite, ink and crayon depict passages from the Bible, espec