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American Watercolors from the Permanent Collection


The exhibition American Watercolors from the Permanent Collection, which opens August 30, 2002 and continues through January 3, 2003, features 42 pieces from the Southern Alleghenies Museum of Art's collection of more than 3,000 works of art. Included in the exhibition are works by renowned artists such as Thomas Hart Benton, Charles Burchfield, William Gropper, Frederick Alan Counsel and Nat Youngblood.

"The American Watercolors from the Permanent Collection exhibition features the works of 20th century contemporary artists representing a micro-survey of the varied techniques, styles and subject matters in watercolor-based media," said Museum Fine Arts Curator Dr. Graziella Marchicelli. The exhibit includes images of everyday life, landscapes, industrial landscapes, still lifes and abstractions. (left: David Armstrong (American, b. 1947), Pasture Spring, 1976, watercolor on paper, 43 x 29 inches, Gift of Harold H. Stream, III, 85.003)

The history of the medium is bound to the history of paper, invented in its present form by the Chinese shortly after 100 AD. Papermaking was introduced to Europe in the mid-12 th century by the Moors. The modern watercolor technique was introduced by Albrecht Durer and, by the 15 th century, Europe had its first school of watercolor painting, led by Hans Bol. Watercolor first came to the forefront of American arts during the birth of the pioneering spirit and the American West. Artists whose only means of painting was watercolor kept records of the exploration of the people and lands west of the Mississippi River. By the 20 th century, watercolor became a medium of tremendous diversity and style, and continues to be popular today.

Also on view at the Museum is a small exhibition of the works of Colleen Browning. Browning is a distinguished American realist whose paintings have been widely acclaimed since her arrival in this country from Ireland in 1949. A leader in the Modern and Post-Modern revivals of Realism in American art, Browning is a realist whose work defies attempts to categorize it. Her work is largely recognized for its superior command of materials and medium and for her unwavering devotion to understanding and communicating the human condition.

Browning's work successfully marries together texture and form with psychologically disconcerting compositions. "I paint different subjects, but I am always a realist, and illusionist, if you prefer," she says. "I look for technique that will most effectively present the character of the object or scene." Her paintings also reflect her interests in mystery and paradox. "I am very lucky to be an artist. I can make windows into a transformed world where the mundane becomes magical in an illuminated moment."

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