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American Folk Art Museum presents Jubilation/Rumination in celebration of its 50th anniversary
Nellie Mae Rowe, Cow Jump Over the Mone. Crayon, colored pencil, and pencil on paper, 19 1/2 x 25 1/4". Collection of American Folk Art Museum, New York, gift of Judith Alexander. Photo: Gavin Ashworth, New York.

NEW YORK, NY.- In celebration of its 50th anniversary, the American Folk Art Museum is presenting Jubilation/Rumination: Life, Real and Imagined. The exhibition, conceived and organized by the Museum’s senior curator, Stacy C. Hollander, runs through September 2, 2012. Hollander, who has been with the museum since 1986 and been instrumental in shaping its collection, has selected for display nearly 100 paintings, drawings, weathervanes, quilts, collages, and sculpture representing the full sweep of traditional folk art and creative expressions by self-taught artists. The groupings of these disparate works of art trace evocative, visual relationships that weave between the past and the present.

“Jubilation/Rumination is a deeply personal exhibition for me,” said Hollander. “Since starting at the Folk Art Museum 25 years ago, I have had the privilege of helping to build our renowned collection. Now in our 50th year, it seems an appropriate moment to highlight some of the wondrous artworks that have entered the museum’s collection over the past decade and more; to marvel, and to ponder how each answers the intersection of art, life, and imagination.”

The exhibition highlights important and highly recognized artists in the museum’s collection, including: Henry Darger, Jacob Maentel, Sheldon Peck, Martín Ramírez, Nellie May Rowe, the husbandand- wife team S.A. Shute and R.W. Shute, Bill Traylor, Eugene Von Bruenchenhein, and Adolf Wölfli. Among the featured works that are on display are:

• Gigantic Roverine with Young . . . by Henry Darger, an illustration in his epic 15,000-page manuscript In the Realms of the Unreal.

• Cow Jump Over the Mone, Nellie Mae Rowe’s metaphorical self-portrait, in which she presents herself as a hybrid creature, part human part bovine, flying over the moon.

• Joseph Gilman Parker and Mary Todd Parker, an incisive pair of portraits—never before seen publicly—drawn by Ruth Whittier Shute and painted by Dr. Samuel Addison Shute.

• Untitled (Reina/Madonna), one of several iterations on this theme by the Mexican-born master draftsman Martín Ramírez, who created hundreds of powerful and mesmerizing drawings during thirty years of institutional life in California’s state psychiatric system.

• Untitled (Marie with Crown) and Untitled (Marie Outdoors) by Eugene Von Bruenchenhein, who portrayed his wife, Marie, the “queen of his existence,” in thousands of photographs over several decades.

“All of us at the American Folk Art Museum are heartened by the continued support of the public and look forward to this new era in our Lincoln Square home,” said Acting Director Linda Dunne. “Our location might have changed, but what has not is our commitment to mounting exceptional exhibitions of unique and important art for the public. We look forward to welcoming visitors to our newly installed space for what promises to be an eye-opening exploration of American folk art.”

A primary theme of Jubilation/Rumination is the intersection between life and imagination. Many of the works present an alternate reality that unfetters the limitations of the physical world and/or the strictures of the society of which the artist is a part. Examples of work reflecting this impulse include:

• The 1831 Taufschein, or birth record, for Johannes Dottere, a particularly lively example of Fraktur (a calligraphic form produced within Germanic communities in America) with graphic cartoonlike imagery in fresh colors that illustrates the maxim “A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush”.

• Encyclopedic Palace of the World, an 11-foot-tall architectural model of a seven-tiered, lathe-turned skyscraper, which was designed by Italian immigrant Marino Auriti to hold all of the works of man from the wheel to the satellite and beyond.

• Das Kander-Thal im Berner Ober-land (The Kander Valley in the Bernese Oberland), a drawing by Adolf Wölfli, a patient in the Waldau Mental Asylum who created an alternate universe that he depicted and described in more than 25,000 pages of illustrated text

• Pieced Quilt, from 1820–1840, a visually arresting example of a whole-cloth quilt that powerfully exploits the graphic impact of the contrasting colors red and blue, belying the early date of its creation.

• Scenic Overmantel, an important interior architectural form featuring a romanticized landscape painting by eighteenth-century artist Winthrop Chandler.

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