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Two major exhibitions
open Krannert Art Museum fall season
Mitchell, Arts Editor (217) 333-5491; firstname.lastname@example.org
of the Gelbard Collection of African Art
Bakongo/Yombe. Democratic Republic of the Congo. Wood,
brass hobnails, pigments.
Ill. — Two major exhibitions – one featuring African art,
the other photographic images of the American South – will open
the fall 2003 season at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign’s Krannert Art Museum in late August and early September.
Opening to the public on Aug. 26 is “Remnants of Ritual: Selections
From the Gelbard Collection of African Art,” which runs through
Oct. 26. The exhibition includes more than 100 pieces – masks,
ritual figures and shrine objects, among them – drawn from the
extensive collection of art collectors David and Clifford Gelbard. The
exhibition originated at Governor’s State University, University
Park, Ill., and was curated there by Arthur Bourgeois and Scott Rodolitz.
They wrote the catalog that accompanies the exhibition.
“The magnificent African art collection of the Gelbard brothers
focuses on the cultural significance and aesthetic beauty of masks and
sculptures – many of which were created for ceremonial and ritual
purposes,” said Michael Conner, who is curating the exhibition
at Krannert. “This exhibition includes a wide array of objects
and celebrates the durable, expressive essence of festivals, rites and
who joined the museum’s curatorial staff this past year, specializes
in African art. In addition to his efforts to bring the Gelbard collection
to Illinois, Conner has inventoried the museum’s own substantial
African collection, redesigning the museum’s permanent African
gallery according to regional styles, and returning recently donated
but previously stored art to public view.
“This fall, visitors to the museum will be able to view 150 to
200 pieces of fine to excellent examples of traditional African art
from around the continent,” Conner said. And that’s a fairly
rare opportunity for people in this area. Installations in museums in
Chicago and St. Louis are much smaller, Conner said. “In our region,
the largest collection of African art is housed in Indianapolis, but
many of those pieces have been on display since the mid-1990s.”
Museum goers “will see an extraordinary amount of work, close
up, in your face.” That’s because the Gelbard brothers wanted
people to experience the works in a more personal manner, rather than
through display glass.
Events planned in conjunction with “Remnants of Ritual”
- Sept. 10, 5:30 p.m., traditional processional, a ceremonial opening
to the exhibition, featuring the local Adidzo Drum Club playing Ghanaian
Dagbamba music, with a brief dedication by Agbenyega Adedze, professor
of history at Illinois State University. Arthur Bourgeois and Scott
Rodolitz will lead a discussion at 6 p.m. in the museum auditorium;
the topic will be the original contexts and cultural and ritual uses
of art shown in the exhibition.
12, 1 p.m., Second Sunday gallery tour, given by Conner, prior to
the WILL-FM Second Sunday concert.
of Janet Borden Gallery, New York
Friedlander (b. 1934), New Orleans 1970, 1970. Gelatin
opening reception for “Remnants of Ritual,” from 6 to 8
p.m. on Sept. 5, coincides with the public opening and reception for
the museum’s other major fall show, “Visualizing the Blues:
Images of the American South.” Chicago’s Billy Branch and
the Sons of Blues will perform at the show’s opening reception.
the Blues,” on view through Nov. 2, features more than 100 photographs
dating from the Civil War era through the end of the 20th century. The
exhibition, also curated at the Krannert by Conner, was organized by
the Dixon Gallery and Gardens, Memphis, Tenn., and has been traveling
to museums throughout the United States since it opened in Memphis in
“Every picture tells a story, and this exhibition of photographs
of the Mississippi Delta region portrays a profoundly vivid narrative
of life in the American South,” Conner said. “These photographs
show the rhythms of life from this almost mythic region and powerfully
document the sources of inspiration for the lyrics and melodies of blues
musicians. Among the photographers represented are Margaret Bourke-White,
Alfred Eisenstaedt, Walker Evans, Dorothea Lange, Gordon Parks and Andres
Serrano. The exhibition also includes images by one of the best-known
writers to emerge from the region – Eudora Welty.
“When you scratch below the surface, this exhibition has a lot
of Memphis flavor – many of the contemporary photographers, such
as Ernest Withers and William Eggleston, are from Memphis,” Conner
said. Because the focus of the photography is on “both music and
culture, there are very few pictures of people playing music,”
he said. “It’s more about how photographers from 1863 to
the present have presented and interpreted the American South and its
culture. It documents the special variety of American experience as
it has evolved – not just for African Americans, but all peoples.”
Museum visitors will be able to view the exhibition while listening
to tapes featuring John Sinclair’s orations on blues music and
the history of the blues. Sinclair is a poet, musician and art historian.
A 10-minute video will be available for viewing as well.
The exhibition’s arrival at the Krannert coincides with a number
of national initiatives focusing attention on blues music and the culture
that gave birth to this original American art form, Conner said. “This
is the Year of the Blues,” he said, explaining that Congress made
that proclamation last September, designating the year to begin in February
2003. The designation marks the 100th anniversary of an encounter composer
W.C. Handy had with a man playing what would later be dubbed the blues.
Conner said a number of music festivals and multimedia projects have
been scheduled throughout the year. Among them is a Public Broadcasting
Service film series, “The Blues,” which will be broadcast
nationally Sept. 28 through Oct. 4.
Among the events planned to augment “Visualizing the Blues”
at the Krannert:
24, 5:30 p.m., auditorium, “Moving the Blues From the Cotton
Fields to Town,” a public talk by Michael Lasser, music historian
and host of National Public Radio’s “Fascinatin’
Rhythm.” A reception, hosted by WILL-FM, will follow.
- Oct. 4, 10 a.m. to noon, in the galleries, Kids @ Krannert!, a children’s
workshop with blues musicians, sponsored by the Carle Foundation.
- Oct. 9, 5:30 p.m., East Gallery, “Images of the American South,”
a moderated discussion exploring the social and cultural contexts
associated with works in the exhibition, with guest John Sinclair.
- Oct. 22, 5:30 p.m., auditorium, presentation of the 1989 film “Mystery
Train,” directed by Jim Jarmusch.
Art Museum is a unit of the College of Fine
and Applied Arts at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
The museum is located at the corner of Sixth Street and Peabody Drive
in Champaign, a block east of Memorial Stadium. The museum is open to
the public from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday; until 8 p.m.
on Wednesday; and from 2 to 5 p.m. Sunday. Admission is free.