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American Spirit

October 1, 2005 - January 1, 2006


(above: James Montgomery Flagg, Tell That to the Marines!)


The Tulsa branch office of A.G. Edwards & Sons, Inc. is sponsoring an exhibit of prints, photographs and posters from the St. Louis-based financial services company's corporate art collection titled American Spirit. Consisting of 50 images produced during the 19th and 20th centuries, the A.G. Edwards exhibition focuses on the visual definition of liberty and "the American spirit." The show demonstrates how American artists strive to create images that define the central idea behind the foundation and the strength of our country.

"By bringing this exhibit to the Gilcrease, we're hoping to inspire a renewed sense of patriotism in the patrons who come to view these works," says A.G. Edwards Tulsa branch manager George Ferguson. "While our attention typically turns more toward this theme around holidays like the Fourth of July and Memorial Day, the cultural impact of these works of art is something that resonates throughout the year."

The pieces in the exhibit take the observer on a pictorial journey through the history of our nation, from images of 19th century "stump" speeches and Currier and Ives lithographs through Liberty Bond and military recruiting posters produced during World War I. Traveling on, the artwork enters the latter 20th century's pop art movement, highlighted by the work of Andy Warhol and Roy Lichtenstein. In addition, Peter Kaplan's photographs of the Statue of Liberty speak to the American ideals of freedom and ingenuity.

"We are pleased to welcome this very patriotic exhibit from A.G. Edwards," says Joseph B. Schenk, executive director of Gilcrease Museum. "These prints embody the very essence of our American heritage and culture, and we're proud to be able to share this collection with the Tulsa community."

A.G. Edwards maintains a collection of art that includes prints, photography, and vintage posters. In 1991, the firm created the traveling exhibit program, encouraging branch offices to partner with local art institutions to bring selections of the corporate collection to their communities. Since the program's inception, A.G. Edwards branches have collaborated with more than fifty institutions across the country to sponsor various exhibits.

Previous exhibitions of the A.G. Edwards & Sons Corporate Art Collection include The Evolution of Poster Design: Poster Graphics from the A.G. Edwards and Sons Corporate Art Collection, held November 3 - December 18, 2004 at the Dublin Arts Council Gallery, Dublin, Ohio. The Corporate Art Brief said of this exhibit: "The Evolution of Poster Design included works ranging from late 19th century color lithographs by Jules Chéret and Alphonse Mucha, the Art Deco-inspired imagery of Cassandre, and designs produced by modern day pioneers like Wolfgang Weingart and Werner Jeker. The exhibition not only offered a survey of printing technology advancements, but also showcased the aesthetic traditions of the venerable French, Swiss, German, English and American schools of design, among others."

An article from Absolutearts.com on the Dublin Arts Council exhibit added:

Considered to be merely ephemera by most, posters were usually discarded after serving their intended purposes. Fortunately, many were rescued and now offer a unique lens through which to view cultural trends, political movements, art historical influences, popular culture and the development of visual communication throughout recent history.
A.G. Edwards & Sons began its corporate art collection in 1967. Spanning more than 200 years and including over 4,000 works by noted American and European artists, the collection represents a broad range of print types, including lithographs, engravings, woodcuts, serigraphs, gelatin silver and platinum prints as well as mixed media. The firm began collecting poster graphics in the mid-1980s, viewing them as an extraordinary sociopolitical documentation of their times.

A 2003 article by Linda Mitchell in the North Coast Journal introduces readers to Shelley Hagen, A.G. Edwards' staff curator for its collection. The article, written at the time of an exhibition titled Contemporary Prints from the A.G. Edwards & Sons Corporate Art Collection, discusses the approach of Ms. Hagen in curating exhibits for the firm.

An April 2000 issue of Carolina Arts featured an article on the Asheville Art Museum's presentation an exhibition of works from the A.G. Edwards & Sons Corporate Art Collection, The exhibit Innovation and Insight, curated by the museum, focused "on outstanding contemporary prints from the 1980s and 90s and vintage photographs, most of which were created between 1930 and 1955."



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