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Painting and Sculpture from the Southern Alleghenies Museum of Art Permanent Collection

January 31 - April 20 2003


The Southern Alleghenies Museum of Art at Altoona's current exhibition celebrates the Museum's impressive permanent collection. Painting and Sculpture from the Permanent Collection features a sampling of the thousands of pieces of artwork the Museum has acquired since opening its doors in 1976. The exhibition opened January 31 and continues through April 20, 2003.

More than 50 pieces, including portraits, natural landscapes, industrial landscapes, still life, magic realism and sculpture, are featured in the retrospective exhibition. Thomas Sully, Mary Cassatt, Walasse Ting, George Hetzel, John Sloan, Willie Lee Atkyns, Charles Burchfield, Thomas Dow Jones and Carole A. Feuerman are some of the artists featured in the exhibition. A variety of styles and techniques, from 19th century Neo-Classicism to contemporary Post-Modernism, also are covered.

The exhibition also includes two pieces by David Hopkins, a Muncy artist who was killed late last year in a tragic tractor accident. Hopkins was an award-winning painter who always had time for his family. "Family was important to David and, in his spare time, he enjoyed playing tennis and cross-country skiing with his 17-year-old daughter, Mackenzie," said Hopkins' friend and colleague, Susan Nicholas Gephart. The avid outdoorsman also enjoyed flying helicopters and caring for his 75 acres of farmland and woods, and was a founding member of Central Pennsylvania Painters. (left: David Hopkins, Ben's Tipple)

Hopkins often worked in small oil paintings which he would use as studies for larger paintings on portrait linen which he stretched himself. "The smooth surface quality he painted on was important to him, and he wanted the paint marks to be dominant over the canvas texture," said Gephart. "He truly loved painting, and was at peace while doing so."

Hopkins wrote of his artistic process, "The pleasure of painting landscapes comes from years of living in rural Pennsylvania: seeing, feeling, hearing and touching the landscape. I'm drawn to the light that falls on the complex, yet simple, cluster of farm buildings or lone tree, creating wonder and harmony with the environment. The challenge of painting landscape involves the process of moving paint to develop excitement, mood, space and light."

Dr. Graziella Marchicelli, Fine Arts Curator at the Southern Alleghenies Museum of Art, said the exhibition ultimately provides an interesting look at the evolution of American art. "The artwork chosen for the exhibition dates as far back as the early 19th century, when European trends in art were guideposts for American artists," she said. "It also shows America's rise to prominence in the art world over the course of the 20th century." (left: Mary Cassatt, The Somber One)

For 26 years, the Museum has collected and exhibited 19th- and 20th-century American art to the rural communities of Southwestern Pennsylvania. Established by Sean M. Sullivan, TOR, the Museum first opened its doors in June 1976 with 47 paintings, sculptures and drawings, and a collection of 20 etchings by John Sloan. Over the last quarter century, the collection has grown to number more than 3,000 works of art.

The Museum's laurels do not rest with its permanent collection. Throughout the past 26 years, the Museum has curated important and ground-breaking exhibitions, initiated the development of art acquisition and operating endowments, organized satellite facilities and implemented successful education programs that currently service 35,000 students in 47 schools in six counties. In 1995, the Museum received accreditation from the American Association of Museums, an honor signifying the Southern Alleghenies Museum of Art fulfills the highest national standards of operation. Last year, the Museum was a recipient of the 2002 National Award for Museum Service. Granted by the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS), the award honors outstanding museums and libraries that demonstrate an ongoing institutional commitment to public service.

The Southern Alleghenies Museum of Art at Altoona is also exhibiting its fourth installment of William H. Rau photographs in March. Rivers to Rails: Currents of Progress, Corridors of Change opened March 7 and continues through May 25, 2003. The exhibition features 31 vintage albumen and sepia toned gelatin silver Rau photographs from the Altoona Area Public Library Collection.

Rau is perhaps best known for his work as the official photographer for the Pennsylvania Railroad. His photographs served to glorify railroad travel and the progress made by the Industrial Revolution, while also helping legitimize photography as a major art form.

Rivers to Rails chronicles the burgeoning transportation industry in Pennsylvania at the turn of the 20th century. From the impressive river and canal systems that served as early currents of progress to the rapidly advancing railroad lines that opened new corridors of travel and trade, the photographs use the breathtaking Pennsylvania landscape as a backdrop. Rau's photographic compositions provide a thoughtful look at the forced modernization of untouched rural Pennsylvania brought about by the Industrial Revolution.

While romantic in both posture and style, Rau's photographic eye establishes a visual journal of both place and circumstance, said SAMA-Altoona Site Coordinator Buzz Evers. "In documenting the symbolic relationship between rivers and rails, Rau brought to light the ecological innocence of rural Pennsylvania at the turn of the century. The photographs in the exhibition offer the viewer not only Rau's sense of balance in capturing the compelling beauty of the rural landscape combined with the encroaching rail system, but also documents various ambient factors that offer signs of a more discordant and conflicted relationship."

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Search for more articles and essays on American art in Resource Library. See America's Distinguished Artists for biographical information on historic artists.

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