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Heartland: Paintings and Drawings by Bo Bartlett, 1978-2002
September 18 - November 14, 2004
On Dec. 29, 2003, three paintings by artist Bo Bartlett portrayed The American Soldier as TIME Magazine's Person of the Year. The Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts showcases work by this distinguished alumnus and Beaumont Hills resident with an exhibition, Heartland: Paintings and Drawings by Bo Bartlett, 1978-2002, on view Saturday, September 18 through Sunday, November 14, 2004. (right: Bo Bartlett, Heartland, 1994, oil on linen, 73 x 95 x 3 inches. Collection Santa Barbara Museum of Art, Santa Barbara, CA.)
Timed to inspire a love of American art as the Academy nears its 200th Anniversary in 2005, Heartland includes approximately 40 oil paintings, many of extremely large size, that portray America's land and its people -- and describe the beauty Bartlett finds at the heart of everyday life. Sketchbooks and drawings are also included in the exhibition.
The Academy has been home to America's artists for 200 years, and is the nation's oldest art museum and school of fine arts. Heartland -- a traveling exhibition that debuted in Columbus, Georgia in January 2003 -- makes its finalstop at the Academy, Bartlett's alma mater.
The familiar scenes and domestic portrayals in Heartland strive to enhance a national identity. They call upon reminiscences such as a high school bonfire in Homecoming (1995, 94 x 135 inches), or relate history with a Native American woman wrapped in a patchwork quilt in Goddess (1997, 140 x 212 inches). The exhibition's titlepiece, Heartland (1994, 64 x 86 inches), depicts a young boy pulling a red wagon filled with sticks, pausing to view the viewer with his hand over his heart.
Bartlett is an American realist with a modernist vision. As in his TIME Magazine works, Bartlett uses a community of friends, family, personal experiences and interaction for his subjects. Scenes are set in his island summer home in Maine, or in the surroundings of his studio and residence outside Philadelphia -- scenes he uses to represent a deeper, universal home.
Bartlett's oil paintings are well within the tradition of American realism as defined by Academy artists such as Thomas Eakins and Andrew Wyeth. Bartlett was educated at the Academy, where realist principles must be grasped before modernist ventures flourish. His paintings celebrate the underlying epic nature of the commonplace, and the personal significance of the extraordinary. And like Wyeth, Bartlett sees the importance of the smallest details in the overall picture. He pushes the boundaries of the realist tradition with multi-layered imagery. (right: Bo Bartlett, Homecoming, 1995, oil on linen, 94 x 135 x 3. Collection Columbus Museum, Museum purchase made possible by Norman S. Rothschild in honor of his parents, Aleen and Irwin B. Rothschild)
Heartland: Paintings by Bo Bartlett, 1978-2002 is organized and toured by the Columbus Museum, Georgia. Following its debut at the Columbus Museum in January, 2003, the exhibition traveled to The Greenville County Museum of Art in Greenville, S.C., The Frye Art Museum in Seattle, and The Santa Barbara Museum of Art.
Major funding is made possible by friends in Columbus -- to celebrate the spirit of the Columbus Challenge -- a dynamic partnership between the citizens of Columbus, its city government, and the State of Georgia -- which raised $94 million to ensure that the cultural arts will forever be the heartbeat of this vital community located on the banks of the Chattahoochee River; and to honor the remarkable talent of Bo Bartlett, a native son of Columbus.
Recent exhibitions featuring the collections, instructors, architecture and history of the Pennsylvania Academy will culminate in the institution's grand 200th Anniversary Celebration in 2005, with the opening of the Samuel M. V. Hamilton Building. The new building is currently under renovation at Broad & Cherry Streets, across the street from the Academy's historic landmark building.
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