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Western Art Expert Spotlights American Masterpieces for Tyler Museum of Art's Spring Lecture Series
Alftred Jacob Miller. "The Lost Greenhorn," 1837. Oil on canvas, 23 x 29 1 /4 x 2 3/4. The Arthur J. Phelan Collection.

TYLER, TX.- An internationally recognized authority on American Western art is the next guest for the Tyler Museum of Art’s 2009 Spring Lecture Series, as the TMA welcomes Dr. J.G. Sweeney of Arizona State University on Sunday, April 19.

The program, presented in conjunction with the TMA exhibition Scenes from the American West: The Phelan Collection, is scheduled from 2 to 4 p.m. in the North Gallery at the TMA, 1300 S. Mahon Ave. Admission is free for Museum members, $5 for students and seniors, and $7 for adult non-members. Seating is limited, so reservations are requested by calling (903) 595-1001.

Sweeney’s lecture, titled “Westward America: Masterpieces of the Old Frontier,” will spotlight the iconic images of the American West “which have been impressed upon our collective imagination since the early 20th century,” TMA Curator Kentaro Tomio said. “His lecture will provide an interesting backdrop against which the more direct depictions of the frontier – its landscapes, settlements and people – are presented in the TMA exhibition.”

Scenes from the American West features more than 60 pieces from the collection of Maryland native Arthur J. Phelan, including works by Western art icons such as Frederic Remington, Albert Bierstadt, John James Audubon and Thomas Hill. The exhibition continues through May 17 in the TMA’s North Gallery.

Sweeney has served as professor of art history for two decades at Arizona State, where he has been a tenured member of the art department faculty since 1986. Prior to his appointment at ASU, he spent 14 years as an instructor and associate professor of art at Grand Valley State University in Michigan, in addition to a previous term as assistant instructor at his alma mater of Indiana University in Bloomington.

The scholar’s string of achievements and accolades in an academic career encompassing more than four decades include multiple visiting and post-doctoral fellowships at the Smithsonian Institution, research grants and awards from organizations such as the National Endowment for the Arts and the Carnegie Foundation, and a series of invited lectures at cultural institutions throughout the U.S. and Europe spanning 1978 to the present.

Sweeney’s research specialization of Western American painting has led to his publication of numerous scholarly essays, feature articles and exhibition catalogues since 1977. He expects to complete his book-length study of imagery from the Renaissance to the present, titled “Fantastic Embodiment: The Mysterious Human Presences in the Landscape,” by early 2010. Sweeney holds a Ph.D. in American Art History and an M.A. in art history from Indiana University, and a B.A. (magna cum laude) from the University of New Mexico.

“Dr. Sweeney’s impressive history of research and publications in the area of American Western art make him an enormously knowledgeable guest for the Spring Lecture Series,” TMA Director Kimberley Bush Tomio said. “This promises to be an exciting program that should provide fascinating insight into the Phelan Collection, which is one of the finest of its kind in the entire country.”

Those attending Sweeney’s program will have the opportunity to meet the speaker and tour Scenes from the American West during a reception immediately following the lecture in the Museum lobby. Admission to the exhibition and reception are free.

Scenes from the American West is organized by the TMA. Exhibition sponsors are Austin Bank and Potter Minton P.C., with additional support provided by Collectors’ Circle sponsor, The Robert M. Rogers Foundation; and Corporate Member sponsors, Hibbs-Hallmark & Co. and Texas Oncology-Tyler. Media sponsor is KLTV Channel 7.

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