The Georgia Museum of Art at the University of Georgia will feature works by southern self-taught artists from its permanent collection from April 28 to July 22. This display coincides with the museum’s exhibition of photographs by John Baeder, in the adjacent galleries, which focuses on street signs as folk art and American vernacular architecture.
Works by self-taught artists have been a recent area of focus for GMOA, and the display features acquisitions since 2006. Organized by Paul Manoguerra, chief curator and curator of American art at GMOA, “Southern Folk Art from the Permanent Collection” includes art by Mose Tolliver, Thornton Dial Sr., R.A. Miller, Purvis Young, Jimmy Lee Sudduth, Mary T. Smith, Minnie Adkins and Cheever Meaders, among others.
“The initiative to collect works by self-taught artists, especially from the South, continues to be important to the Georgia Museum of Art,” said Manoguerra. “This display celebrates these artists, our donors and this ongoing collecting enterprise.”
The major gift in January to GMOA by Brenda and Larry Thompson of works by African American artists is responsible for one of the works to be shown—Archie Byron’s sculpture “Homeless Man” made of sawdust formed into a moldable paste and then painted with house paint. Byron (1928–2005) was born and spent his life in Atlanta. Previous to his art career, he was a boyhood friend of Martin Luther King Jr., founded the first African American-owned private-investigator firm in the U.S. and served as a member of the Atlanta City Council.
Another highlight is Harold Rittenberry’s sculpture “Ode to Joy,” a large work in the welded metal the Athens-based artist uses as his medium. Given to the museum in 2009 by patrons Michael and Mary Erlanger, it is on display at GMOA for the first time since becoming part of the collection.
“Southern Folk Art from the Permanent Collection” also includes works given by GMOA Board of Advisors chair Carl Mullis and his wife, Marian, and by Ron and June Shelp, of New York, who have donated many works by self-taught artists to GMOA’s collection. Born in Cartersville, Shelp received his undergraduate degree from UGA in 1964.
The Friends of the Georgia Museum of Art are sponsoring the exhibition.
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Partial support for the exhibitions and programs at the Georgia Museum of Art is provided by the Georgia Council for the Arts through appropriations of the Georgia General Assembly. The council is a partner agency of the National Endowment for the Arts. Individuals, foundations and corporations provide additional museum support through their gifts to the University of Georgia Foundation. The Georgia Museum of Art is located in the Performing and Visual Arts Complex on the East Campus of the University of Georgia. The address is 90 Carlton Street, University of Georgia, Athens, Ga. 30602-6719. For more information, including hours, see www.georgiamuseum.org or call 706.542.GMOA (4662).