ATHENS, GA.- The Georgia Museum of Art
at the University of Georgia is featuring works by self-taught artists from its permanent collection from April 28 to July 22, 2012. This display from the collection coincides with and plays off of the museums exhibition of photographs by John Baeder, in the adjacent galleries, as sections of that exhibition focus on street signs as folk art and American vernacular architecture.
Works by self-taught artists have been a recent area of focus for GMOA, and the display features acquisitions since 2006. Organized by Paul Manoguerra, chief curator and curator of American art at GMOA, Southern Folk Art from the Permanent Collection includes art by Mose Tolliver, Thornton Dial Sr., R.A. Miller, Purvis Young, Jimmy Lee Sudduth, Mary T. Smith, Minnie Adkins and Cheever Meaders, among many others.
The initiative to collect works by self-taught artists, especially from the South, continues to be important to the Georgia Museum of Art, said Manoguerra. This display celebrates these artists, our donors and this ongoing collecting enterprise.
The major gift in January to GMOA by Brenda and Larry Thompson of works by African American artists is responsible for one of the works shown: Archie Byrons sculpture Homeless Man, made of sawdust formed into a moldable paste, then painted with house paint. Byron (19282005) was born and spent his life in Atlanta. Previous to his art career, he was a boyhood friend of Martin Luther King Jr., founded the first African American-owned private-investigator firm in the United States and served as a member of the Atlanta City Council.
Another highlight is Harold Rittenberrys sculpture Ode to Joy, a large work in the welded metal the Athens-based artist uses as his medium. Given to the museum in 2009 by patrons Michael and Mary Erlanger, it is on display at GMOA for the first time since becoming part of the collection.
Southern Folk Art from the Permanent Collection also includes works given by GMOA Board of Advisors chair Carl Mullis and his wife, Marian, and by Ron and June Shelp, of New York, who have donated many works by self-taught artists to GMOAs collection. Born in Cartersville, Ga., Ron received his undergraduate degree from UGA in 1964.