Tag Archives: Munson-Williams-Proctor Institute

French Impressionists Exhibit Opens In Utica

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29471 IBrilliant, colorful paintings by the artists who revolutionized the art world will be showcased in Monet to Matisse: The Age of French Impressionism, on view through November 29 Utica’s Munson-Williams-Proctor Arts Institute’s Museum of Art.

Monet to Matisse features more than 60 Impressionist and Post-Impressionist paintings and pastel drawings from the renowned collection of the Dixon Gallery and Gardens in Memphis, Tennessee. Continue reading

Thomas Cole Exhibition, Lecture At Albany Institute

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The Voyage of Life- Youth, Thomas Cole (1801-1848), 1839, Albany Institute of History and Art purchaseThe Albany Institute of History & Art has announced that it will install a special exhibition of Thomas Cole materials to coincide with Dr. Paul Schweizer’s lecture and book signing at the Albany Institute on Sunday, November 2, 2014, at 2 pm.

Dr. Schweizer is Director Emeritus of the Munson-Williams-Proctor Art Institute’s Museum of Art and will speak about his new book Thomas Cole’s Voyage of Life as part of the Institute’s Making it American lecture series. The Albany Institute owns Cole’s original oil studies for the Voyage of Life series as well as the first concept drawing for his painting, “Youth.” This event is open to the public and free with museum admission. Continue reading

Mystery of the Albany Mummies Exhibition, Lectures

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albany mummy_9619 spr 9-21-09 vertIn conjunction with its newest exhibition The Mystery of the Albany Mummies, the Albany Institute of History & Art will host an international lecture series. The first lecture will take place on this Sunday, September 22, 2013, at 2 PM.

Dr. Peter Lacovara, Senior Curator of Ancient Egyptian, Nubian, and Near Eastern Art at the Michael C. Carlos Museum in Atlanta, and guest curator of the new exhibition, will explore how he helped solve the mystery of the Albany mummies, gathered objects from around the world to tell the story of Ankhefenmut and his coffin, and how the exhibition offers a window into the life in ancient Egypt’s 21st Dynasty. The lecture is free with museum admission. Continue reading

Former MWPAI President Milton Bloch Dies

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Milton J. Bloch, former president of Munson-Williams-Proctor Arts Institute (MWPAI), died in his home in Charlotte, NC last week. He was 74.

Bloch, an artist, author, administrator, educator and philanthropist, served as president of MWPAI from January 1991 through December 2008. During his tenure he led the Institute through the largest period of growth in its more than 80-year history. By investing in excess of $25 million, he doubled the size of the campus which led to the renovation of the west side community.

MWPAI President Anthony Spiridigloizzi, who served 18 years as vice president with Bloch, said Bloch’s leadership forever changed MWPAI. “He was more than a ‘boss.’ He was a mentor and an inspiration,” he said. “He treated everyone with respect; there were no ideas that he didn’t consider valuable. He was a decent man who made a positive difference.””

Expansion and growth projects under Bloch’s tenure were numerous. Major accomplishments included: renovating the Museum of Art Interior; constructing an education wing connecting the Museum of Art building with Fountain Elms which also includes an underground storage facility to house the Museum’s collection; and revamping the former Fleet bank building on Genesee Street into a modern dance studio.

Bloch also initiated two major exhibitions, “Splendors of the New World,” which opened in 1992 and the inaugural American tour of “Soul of Africa: African Art from the Han Coray Collection” in 1998.

In 1999, he was instrumental in the creation of PrattMWP, a joint venture between MWPAI and Pratt Institute. This initiative included the construction of a new school of art studio building, student center, dormitories and library/academic building

Spiridigloizzi added that the physical changes were only a small part of Bloch’s legacy and that his greatest achievement was how he changed the working atmosphere for the Institute. “He opened everything up for the staff. He valued everyone and never turned anyone away. He loved hearing new ideas and allowed everyone to participate in decision making,” he said.

In 1998, MWPAI received the Governor’s Award for Excellence in the Arts; and in 2002, received the Outstanding Upstate Arts Organization award presented by the Alliance for NY State Arts Organizations. In 2002 Bloch received the Humanitarian of the Year award from the American Lung Association.

Upon his appointment, Bloch pledged a complete immersion in the Institute and the community-at-large. During his tenure he advised and assisted more than 50 area organizations including The Utica Symphony, Sculpture Space, JCTOD, GroWest, the City of Utica, Village of New Hartford and the Oneida County Historical Society. He has served as President of the Boards of Trustees for Faxton-St. Lukes Healthcare and The Community Foundation of Herkimer Oneida Counties.

“There are many organizations that were fortunate to benefit from his experience and willingness to devote his time to others,” Spiridigloizzi said. “He was a decent man who made a positive difference.”

Bloch was a graduate of Pratt Institute in New York City with a degree in industrial design. He also has a Masters of Fine Arts from the University of Florida. After graduation, he became head of the art department in a community college in central Florida, and then director of the Pensacola Art Center in Pensacola, Florida. He has held positions as director of the Museum of Science and History in Little Rock, Arkansas, director of the Monmouth Museum in Lincroft, New Jersey, and for 14 years was executive director of the Mint Museum of Art in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Bloch is survived by his wife, Mary Karen Vellines, daughters Kimberly Laakso and Farrell Hudzik, brother J. Stanley Bloch, and four grandchildren.

Donations may be made to the Mint Museum, 500 S. Tryon St., Charlotte, NC and the Munson-Williams-Proctor Arts Institute, 310 Genesee St., Utica, N.Y. 13502.

MWPAI Exhibition Explores Graphic Novels

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The dramatic art of a significant emerging literary genre will be explored in the exhibition, “LitGraphic: The World of the Graphic Novel,” on view March 4 through April 29 in the Munson-Williams-Proctor Arts Institute Museum of Art.

In this look at the development and current practices of sequential art, also known as the graphic novel, “LitGraphic” showcases 200 original paintings, drawings, storyboards, notebooks, comic books, photographs, and a documentary film, offering insight into the lives of the artists and the nature of their work.

Featured artists and writers include pioneers Lynd Ward (“Vertigo”) and Will Eisner (“The Spirit”) as well as contemporaries including Sue Coe and Marc Hempel, whose illustrations for Neil Gaiman’s groundbreaking “Sandman” are on view also.

Mary E. Murray, MWPAI Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art, said comics have always been an important influence on modern and contemporary artists, from Lyonel Feininger, to Willem DeKooning and Roy Lichtenstein “The art of these publications is more than light entertainment, it is serious commentary on contemporary culture, and we are excited to present this important component of visual culture to our patrons,” she added. Murray noted that more than 60 years ago, the Museum of Art showcased an exhibition of drawings by cartoonist William Steig, creator of the character Shrek; and an exhibition of Milton Caniff’s Steve Canyon comics.

Published in book form, graphic novels employ words and pictures to address thought-provoking subjects that will serve as the thematic framework for the exhibition. Commentary by artists and curators focusing on recurring subjects, artistic and cultural influences, and the climate that impacts the creative process will be woven throughout the exhibition where contemporary art meets traditional America.

An increasing number of artists are choosing to express themselves through graphic novels, which have received increased recognition in the popular sector, in noted periodicals including “The New York Times,” “The New Yorker” and in classrooms, libraries, and bookstores throughout the United States and abroad. A graphic novel employs the technique of cinematographic narrative, developed by comic-book artists, telling the story through metaphors and visual images, particularly images of action.

Graphic novels, or long-form comic books, have started to gain the interest and consideration of the art and literary establishment. Graphic novels, with their antiheroes and visual appeal, are approaching the popularity of the novel. Focused on subjects as diverse as the nature of relationships, the perils of war, and the meaning of life, graphic novels comprise the fastest-growing sections of many bookstores.

“LitGraphic: The World of the Graphic Novel” is organized and toured by the Normal Rockwell Museum in Stockbridge, Massachusetts.

Illustration: Lynd Ward’s “Beowulf wrestles with Grendel”, 1933 (Courtesy Wikipedia).

Thomas Hicks Trenton Falls Paintings Acquired

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Two regionally significant landscape paintings of Trenton Falls, New York by the 19th-century American artist Thomas Hicks (1823-90), recently acquired by the Munson-Williams-Proctor Arts Institute Museum of Art for its permanent collection, are presently displayed in the Edward Wales Root Sculpture Court. The landscapes are just two of the numerous treasures unveiled for the first time in the exhibition, “Enhancing a Legacy: Gifts, Promised Gifts, and Acquisitions in Honor of the Museum of Art’s 75th Anniversary.”

Hicks was one of the United State’s most successful mid-century portraitists. His summer sojourns in central New York State, and his personal friendship with Michael and Maria Moore, who owned and managed the fashionable Trenton Falls Hotel, led him to paint a sensitive group portrait of the Moore family, and the two important landscapes the Museum recently acquired with financial assistance of several donors.

The landscapes are intimate views of two of the sequence of rivulets, cascades, waterfalls, and pools that make up Trenton Falls, a picturesque tourist site in Oneida County. The landscapes hung in the lobby of the Trenton Falls Hotel for many decades. After descending in the Moore family they passed into the hands of a local family who owned them for approximately 60 years before being acquired by the Museum of Art.

Now, installed in mid-19th-century style frames, the two landscapes, along with Hicks’s portrait of the Moore family, are displayed in the Museum for the first time in more than 20 years. To mark this historic event the Museum has published a brochure with an insightful essay about the pictures written by Dr. David Tatham of Syracuse University. Additional insights about the paintings will be presented by Dr. Paul D. Schweizer, Museum Director & Chief Curator, in a lecture titled, “A Look Behind the Falls: The Museum’s Newly Acquired Trenton Falls Landscapes by Thomas Hicks” 4 p.m. Thursday, December 8 in the Museum of Art Auditorium.

Schweizer’s lecture is the second in a three-part series that will be presented by the Museum’s curatorial team in November, December, and January of 2012. Each lecture will provide behind-the-scenes remarks about the reasoning and effort that led to the acquisition of some of the artworks displayed for the first time in the Enhancing a Legacy exhibition. The series is designed to provide insights about the curatorial process, an essential but sometime little-known function for any public museum that collects, preserves, and interprets works of art. All three of the lectures are free and open to the public. Check the “Events” calendar of the Institute’s Bulletin or the Institute’s web site for the dates of the two other lectures in this series.

Illustration: Thomas Hicks (1823-1890), The Musicale, Barber Shop, Trenton Falls, New York, 1866. Courtesy of the North Carolina Museum of Art, Raleigh.

Ansel Adams Masterworks Exhibit in Utica

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Images of the American West by the premier photographer of the 20th Century will be showcased in the major exhibition, Ansel Adams: Masterworks through January 8 in the Munson-Williams-Proctor Arts Institute Museum of Art in Utica.

The collection of 48 images by Ansel Adams (1902-84) represents two-thirds of his Museum Set, a selection the photographer himself made to represent the best of his life’s work. In these images one sees the importance Adams placed on the drama and splendor of natural environments, particularly in the American West. Visitors to the exhibition will see iconic Adams’ images such as Monolith, the Face of Half Dome, Yosemite National Park, California, 1927 and Moonrise, Hernandez, New Mexico, 1941.

Adams, a California native, first photographed Yosemite National Park at the tender age of 14 with a Kodak Box Brownie. He fell in love with the forests, valleys, and sublime rock formations there and soon dedicated his life to photographing and advocating for the conservation of the environment. In the 1920s Adams became a guide for the Sierra Club at Yosemite, where he covered the terrain via burro or woody station wagon, setting up his large camera and tripod on the roof of the car. He would be active in the Sierra Club for nearly five decades.

Adams’ stature in the history of photography is monumental. With Edward Weston, he was co-founder of the California–based photography group named f64, which emphasized “straight” or “pure” photography over soft-focus pictorialism. Photographer Alfred Stieglitz, who was an important influence on Adams, gave him a one-artist show at the New York City gallery, An American Place, in 1936. In 1941 Adams was commissioned by the Department of the Interior to document western national parks, including the Grand Canyon, Yellowstone, the Grand Tetons, and Carlsbad Caverns. He received the competitive Guggenheim Fellowship three times; was a consultant for Polaroid; was named to President Lyndon B. Johnson’s environmental task force in 1965; was a co-founder of both the Friends of Photography and the Center for Creative Photography at the University of Arizona in 1967; was the subject of a major retrospective at the Museum of Modern Art, as well as a cover story subject for Time magazine in 1979; and received the Presidential Medal of Freedom from Jimmy Carter in 1980. In 1985, on the first anniversary of his death, Yosemite National Park named “Mount Ansel Adams” on the Merced River. Throughout his long career Adams was also an influential teacher; he lectured extensively and wrote several books.

A technical master, Adams developed the Zone System for black-and-white photography, in which light is divided into eleven zones, from pure black to white. This system regulated light exposure and development of negatives in the dark room in order to maximize the photographer’s control of each print. Such control was imperative for Adams, who believed photography reflected the maker’s emotional response to his subject matter.

Photo: Ansel Adams from the 1950 Yosemite Field School yearbook (Wikipedia Photo).

American Modernism at Fenimore Museum

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Some of the best of American Modernist art will be featured at the Fenimore Art Museum this summer in Prendergast to Pollock: American Modernism from the Munson-Williams Proctor Arts Institute. This exhibition, which opened last week, showcases 35 key works from every major artist from the first half of the 20th century, including Willem de Kooning, Jackson Pollock, and Mark Rothko.

Organized by subject matter, the exhibition displays the radical transformation of art in the early 20th-century. In an innovative interpretation, three thematic sections—landscapes, figure studies, and still lifes—will reference 19th-century traditions that the artworks were built upon.

Exhibition labels will refer Museum visitors to other galleries in the Museum where they can view examples of these precedents. Museum President and CEO, Dr. Paul S. D’Ambrosio, explains: “These three subject areas of the exhibition reflect the 19th-century pieces in the Permanent Collection of the Fenimore Art Museum. The interpretation itself will help bridge the gap between traditionalism and modernism, allowing the exhibition to resonate with fans of both styles.”

While some celebrated 20th-century painters built upon 19th-century artistic traditions, others consciously sought to rebel against those same traditions. It began with the Ashcan school protesting against elitism by being more inclusive with their subject matter. As the American Modernism movement grew, Abstract Expressionism liberated color and form from the description of objects, creating the revolutionary artwork featured in the fourth and final section of the exhibition.

This sea of change brought the center of the art world to New York City, shifting away from the traditional capitol of Paris. Prendergast to Pollock uniquely represents the art of this era.

This traveling exhibition was organized by the Munson-Williams-Proctor Arts institute Museum of Art, Utica, New York. The national tour sponsor for the exhibition is the MetLife Foundation. The Henry Luce Foundation provided funding for the conservation of artworks in the exhibition.

For more information visit the Fenimore Art Museum’s website.

Illustration: Jackson Pollock. Number 34, 1949, 1949. Enamel on paper mounted on masonite. 22 x 30-1/2 in. Edward W. Root Bequest. Munson-Williams-Proctor Arts Institute, Utica, NY.