High Museum receives $2.5 million for folk art initiatives

The High Museum of Art has received a $2.5 million gift from Atlanta patrons Dan Boone and his late wife Merrie Boone to support and expand the museum’s folk and self-taught art initiatives, including the endowment of a permanent, full-time curatorial position to lead the department.

The museum is conducting a national search to fill the role of Merrie and Dan Boone Curator of Folk and Self-Taught Art, according to a recent announcement. The curator will oversee the study, exhibition and care of folk and self-taught art in the museum’s collection, as well as lead the development of exhibitions and programming. The curator also will be responsible for further building a collection numbering nearly 800 pieces that is widely considered one of the most significant among public institutions internationally.

The development is a jolt of good news for a museum department that seemed to be in a holding pattern, concerning some patrons, since long-time folk art curator Susan Mitchell Crawley resigned in March 2013. The full-time position had never been endowed, unlike the curatorial posts over the High’s other six collecting departments. The Boones’ pledge essentially relaunches the program.

“Merrie and I shared a passion for Southern self-taught art,” said Boone, formerly managing partner of Atlanta Capital Management Company LLC, in the High announcement. “We also shared a vision: for the High to develop the world’s preeminent collection of self-taught and folk art. A talented curator will help the High build on its valuable collection, create ties to Southern artists and collectors, and attract visitors with creative exhibits and programming.”

The High launched what was then called its Folk Art Department in 1994, becoming the first North American general museum with a full-time curator devoted to folk and self-taught art.

The collection holds a particularly strong representation of works from the South, a region fertile in vernacular expressions, including Nellie Mae Rowe, the Rev. Howard Finster, Thornton Dial, Ulysses Davis, Bill Traylor, Sam Doyle, William Hawkins and Mattie Lou O’Kelley.

FILM

A rich consideration of poverty

The recent recession changed the course of countless American lives, and a documentary showing at Landmark’s Midtown Art Cinema gives a new take on who makes up the ranks of the poor in America. The Atlanta Volunteer Lawyers Foundation and Taylor English Duma LLP are hosting a screening of “American Winter” at 6:30 p.m. Sept. 15.

AVLF’s first “Movie Night” is intended to encourage a dialogue about poverty in the U.S. and Atlanta. A panel discussion featuring co-director Harry Gantz and leaders of organizations focused on combating poverty in Atlanta will follow the film, which aired on HBO last year.

Tickets, $10, via www.avlfatthemovies.org. 931 Monroe Drive N.E., Atlanta.

VISUAL ART

Cuban artists find power in game

In Cuba, la pelota (baseball) is the true national pastime. In “Stealing Base: Cuba at Bat,” opening Sept. 11 at the Oglethorpe University Museum of Art, 16 established and emerging Cuban-born artists living in the island country and in the U.S. explore the metaphoric power of the game.

“Baseball has played an important role in the impugning, critical, and revolutionary spirit that Cuban artists have demonstrated when faced with acts of dogmatism, official intolerance and censorship,” Havana-based curator Orlando Hernández writes in his exhibition essay.

A series of accompanying talks launches at 7 p.m. Sept. 17, with museum director Elizabeth Peterson discussing “Art, Activism and Social Justice.”

Through Dec. 7. Noon to 5 p.m. Tuesdays-Sundays. $5; under 12, free. 4484 Peachtree Road, Atlanta. 404-364-8555, museum.oglethorpe.edu.

$50,000 Hudgens Prize returns

Georgia visual artists, take note: The biennial Hudgens Prize Visual Arts Competition is returning and will again feature a cash award of $50,000, one of the largest given to an individual artist in the United States, plus a solo exhibition at Duluth’s Hudgens Center for the Arts.

The 2015 Hudgens Prize competition is open to any Georgia artist, age 18 and up, residing full time in the state. Artwork of any medium will be considered, but all pieces must have been completed within the last two years (and works previously shown at the Hudgens are ineligible). With a $30 non-refundable fee, artists can submit up to five entries.

The jury panel includes Shannon Fitzgerald, executive director of the Rochester Art Center, Minnesota; Buzz Spector, Sam Fox School of Design and Visual Arts professor of art at Washington University, St. Louis; and Hamza Walker, associate curator, the University of Chicago’s Renaissance Society.

They will select four finalists based on a review of entry materials. Those artists will have works featured in the Hudgens Prize Finalists Exhibition next April. Jurors then will select the winner based on studio visits and the works in that exhibit. The award ceremony will be June 13, 2015.

More information, including full rules of entry: www.thehudgens.org.

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