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Frederic Church at Reynolda House | Arts and Innovation Month

The Chamber’s Keep it Local initiative promotes community support for local business ventures. Spending locally creates a strong economy and a sense of place which gives our town its unique lifestyle. The Keep it Local campaign will feature a different segment of businesses each month in 2018. February is Arts and Innovation Month.

Allison Slaby, Curator at Reynolda House Museum of American Art, answers questions about the permanent collection and the current exhibition, Frederic Church: A Painter’s Pilgrimage, which is open until May 13th.

How does Reynolda House Museum of American Art contribute to the city of Winston-Salem being known for Arts and Innovation?

Reynolda House is a pillar of the City of Arts and Innovation. In addition to telling the story of R.J. and Katharine Reynolds and their role in making Winston-Salem a city of the New South following the Civil War, Reynolda preserves a century-old country house and shares an important collection of American art with the community. We also bring dynamic and engaging exhibitions of art from peer museums throughout the country, such as last fall’s Georgia O’Keeffe: Living Modern. With lectures, concerts, performances, and family events, we engage with our neighbors in deep and meaningful ways.

What can visitors look forward to in the main exhibition gallery this Spring?

Following on the success of the O’Keeffe exhibition from the Brooklyn Museum last fall, we’re bringing in another stunning exhibition: Frederic Church: A Painter’s Pilgrimage from the Detroit Institute of Arts. Both O’Keeffe and Church are key artists in Reynolda’s collection and bringing in exhibitions of their work is the perfect way to celebrate our centennial year. The Church exhibition features the work of Frederic Edwin Church, a nineteenth-century Hudson River School artist.  Between 1867 and 1869, Church traveled in the Middle East. He made small drawings in pencil and paint as he traveled and then used them to create large-scale masterpieces depicting Jerusalem, Athens, Syria, and other significant sites. This exhibition will examine his journey and include both the intimate studies and the large-scale landscapes. It also looks at the ways that his travels influenced his designs for the large estate he built in the Hudson River Valley after his trip.

What are some of the must-see exhibits in the Main House you recommend to visitors?

Right now, we have a small exhibition of postmodern art from the collection called Off the Wall, a gallery devoted to landscapes by artists from both the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, and an exhibition called Outlaws in American Art. And, of course, as I always say, the permanent collection, on view throughout the historic house, is a blockbuster every day! Right now, we have more of the permanent collection on view than (I think) we ever have!

As Curator, how do you select exhibitions and art for the Museum?

We strive for a balance between exhibitions that explore another aspect of an artist whose work we have in the collection and artists who might be new to our visitors. We also try to vary the time periods we’re covering — nineteenth century, twentieth century, even twenty-first. We love exhibitions that tell stories, whether that is the story of one artist or several. We want our exhibitions to be engaging, whether beautiful, entertaining, powerful, or even challenging. We are always looking for exhibitions that will allow us to connect with our visitors in new ways.

Frederic Church, and Jervis McEntee. Arch of Titus, 1871. Oil on canvas, 74 x 49 in.
© The Newark Museum / Art Resource, NY / Art Resource

Frederic Edwin Church, Evening on the Sea, 1877

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