Bearden, Johns, Christenberry works top recent High Museum additions

As a general museum with seven curatorial departments, the High Museum of Art has built an ever-evolving permanent collection of more than 14,000 works that represent diverse art expressions.

Still, as a leading Southeastern art museum, the High continues to put some emphasis on acquiring and exhibiting work by artists with roots in the region. In announcing recently that it has added more than 600 works in fiscal 2014, the High spotlighted pieces in that large grouping from a trio of highly regarded Southern-born artists: Romare Bearden, Jasper Johns and William Christenberry:

  • Romare Bearden's "Profile/Part II, The Thirties: Artist with Painting and Model" (1981), a large (44 by 56 inches) collage: Joining eight other works by Bearden in the High's collection of American art, this is the late artist's only known self-portrait. This late-career collage is a retrospective work in which Bearden, a native of Charlotte, brings together important memories and spiritual influences from his youth with broader art historical themes that guided his career.

Bearden depicts himself in his studio holding a brush with his arm draped over a painting. This “painting within the painting” is a rendition of “The Visitation” (1941), a tempura on paper that Bearden considered to be among his key works. Elsewhere in the studio are motifs that allude to his art historical sources and artistic training.

The High will display “Profile/Part II, The Thirties: Artist with Painting and Model” as the centerpiece of a 2015 exhibition of works by Bearden from the museum’s collection.

  • Jasper Johns' "Untitled" (2010), the first drawing by him to enter the museum's collection, complementing seven prints by the Augusta native there. The graphite drawing is from a recent series in which the artist revisits a set of images from almost 30 years ago in his cycle of paintings titled "The Seasons" (1985-86).

When this imagery appeared in the mid-’80s, it provided yet another enigmatic facet to the iconography of Johns’ late career, populated by cryptic image puzzles, thematic ciphers related to the history of painting and the artist’s autobiography. The subject of the “Seasons” paintings, to which Johns alludes in this drawing, is in fact an allegory of the artist’s life.

“Untitled” is on view in the High exhibition “Top Drawer: Select Drawings from the High’s Collection.”

  • William Christenberry – 109 photographs (1964-2001): Utilizing a recently established fund for collecting bodies of work by Southern photographers, the High acquired these vintage color prints by Tuscaloosa, Ala., native Christenberry, making the museum one of the most significant U.S. institutional repositories of his work. They join 26 prints by him already in the museum's holdings.

Christenberry addresses issues of time, memory and change in the Southern landscape, and he is well-known for systematically recording the evolution of vernacular architecture over the course of decades.

In addition to these works by this trio of artists with regional roots, 89 pieces by 29 Atlanta-based artists, including Susan Cofer, Gyun Hur and Philip Moultrop, also were recently added to the collection.

More acquisition highlights, with an 11-image digital gallery:


History Center cooking up fall fun

Celebrating the harvest season, the Atlanta History Center’s Fall Folklife Festival will turn the 1860s Smith Family Farm into a shrine to Southern home-cooking from 10:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 27.

The culinary talks and demonstrators throughout the day include: Allan Benton, of Benton’s Smoky Country Hams, giving a smokehouse demonstration; “Cake Lady” Johnnie Gabriel showing “How to Cook Like a Southerner”; Phickles Pickles owner Angie Tillman discussing the history and art of pickling; and Dillwood Farms’ Mark and Steve Rasmussen on keeping organically managed hives.

Wash it all down, so to speak, with moonshine — a 2 p.m. talk by author Joe Dabney about his new book “Mountain Spirits” that bring the stories of Appalachian whiskey makers to life.

Even two of the bands supplying traditional music are named after foodstuffs: Sourwood Honey and Grits and Soul.

Food trucks will serve their specialties, and local craft beers will be available.

The family program includes crafts demonstrations (from blacksmithing to corn-husk doll making), a petting zoo and folktales by Betty Ann Wylie.

Inside the museum, folk-art enthusiast Joe Matera will share insights into the “Shaping Traditions: Folk Arts in a Changing South” exhibit from noon to 2 p.m.

$16.50; ages 65 and up and students 13 and up, $13; ages 4-12, $11. 130 W. Paces Ferry Road, Atlanta. 404-814-4000,


Alliance, Express, top Suzi nominations

The Suzi Bass Awards recently announced nominations for the 2013-2014 Atlanta professional theatrical season. The Alliance Theatre topped the list with 35, followed by Actor’s Express with 23.

The 10th annual Suzi Awards ceremony will be held Nov. 3 at the Porter Sanford Performing Arts Center in Dectur. Full nominee list: