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New Exhibition at Chrysler Museum Features Works from Gordon Collection

The Chrysler Museum of Art and Old Dominion University have partnered to present "Into the Mainstream: Self-Taught Artists from the Garbisch and Gordon Collections." The exhibition opened Aug. 13 in the Chrysler Museum and will be on view through Dec. 31. Admission is free.

This collaborative exhibition pairs ODU's Baron and Ellin Gordon collection of self-taught artists with the Chrysler's 19th-century work in the same tradition. The Chrysler's contribution includes works collected by Walter Chrysler Jr.'s, sister and her husband, Bernice and Edgar Garbisch.

The Garbisch collection is extensive, with more than 2,600 pieces. Upon their deaths, most of their art was donated to major museums such as the Chrysler and the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C.

The Gordons' collection includes selected pieces from the 375 works of art donated to ODU, which are now housed in the Baron and Ellin Gordon Galleries on Monarch Way.

The exhibition aims to critically reassess self-taught and folk art as a marginal aspect of fine art by exploring the work of crossover artists, or those who have received academic or art world recognition. Important pieces from both collections will be on view.

Students from ODU worked with Amy Brandt, the Chrysler's McKinnon curator of modern and contemporary art, and Robert Wojtowicz, ODU professor of art history and associate dean for research and graduate studies in the College of Arts and Letters, to curate the show. Each student is responsible for the selection, display, research and written labels for the walls within the exhibition. The students will also present the works on the audio tour available on iPods at the museum.

Self-taught art is at times referred to as folk art or outsider art, but mainly it serves as the umbrella term for art that is created outside of the mainstream of art history. Selected works include Purvis Young's "Faces Over The City," one of many murals he made on salvaged wood found in the Overtown section of Miami, where he lived. He nailed his expressive art to abandoned buildings around his inner-city hometown.

Visitors can see more examples of Young's work at the Chrysler Museum next spring in the "30 Americans" exhibition. Another example is from Howard Finster, who also created Paradise Gardens Park & Museum in Chattooga County, Ga., which showcases his folk art and is now a tourist attraction.

The collaboration between the museum and the university is being documented by Daniel O'Leary, senior lecturer of sociology and criminal justice at ODU, who will include the exhibition installation in his larger film project about the Gordons. His research project is titled "Biography of a Self-taught Art Collection: Artists, Collectors and Culture." Phase I, to be conducted in 2011, involves an initial assessment of the permanent collection through a series of personal interviews with Baron and Ellin Gordon.

The Chrysler Museum of Art is one of America's most distinguished mid-sized art museums with a world-class collection of more than 30,000 objects, including one of the great glass collections in America. The Museum is located at 245 West Olney Road in Norfolk and is open Wednesdays, 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.; Thursdays to Saturdays, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.; and Sundays, noon to 5 p.m. The Chrysler is closed on Monday and Tuesday, as well as major holidays.

Admission to the museum's collection is free. For exhibitions, programming and special events, visit chrysler.org or call 664-6200.

This article was posted on: August 15, 2011

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