The Rockwell Museum is pleased to announce the upcoming exhibition Modernist Masters, Contemporary Icons: Highlights from the Old Jail Art Center.  Including featured works by John Marin, Grant Wood, and Andy Warhol, the exhibition will be on view at The Rockwell Museum beginning February 3 through April 23, 2017. The Rockwell is open daily, 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. and is free for museum members.

An exhibition opening reception is planned for Friday, February 3, 2017 from 5:30 p.m. – 7:00 p.m.  Rockwell members are free, students pay $5.00 and not-yet-members pay $10.  Advance reservations are required and can be made by visiting rockwellmuseum.org/events.

About Modern Masters, Contemporary Icons

An intimate collection of American masterworks from the Old Jail Art Center (OJAC) in Albany, TX, Modern Masters, Contemporary Icons includes works by the most highly acclaimed American artists in history.  Work by American greats like Grant Wood, Alexander Calder, and Thomas Hart-Benton will be presented for the first time at The Rockwell.  Other artists, familiar to The Rockwell’s collection like Fritz Scholder, John Marin and James Audobon, are also included – providing a new dialogue with The Rockwell’s modernist water colors, works on paper and sculpture.  Comprised of 33 modernist works of landscape, portraiture, nudists, modern life stills and wildlife, this exhibition celebrates the work of the most honored American art masters of our time.

The modern visions of the American landscape with subjects ranging from depictions of the desert southwest to the Maine coast are presented in various manners by a range of artists. Yet the dynamic application and handling of media often supersedes the modern artist’s need for a convincing pictorial space. Many landscapes verge on becoming non-objective abstractions, emphasizing the emotive and dynamic powers of brushstroke, color, line, and other formal qualities. The accurate depiction of a scene is secondary—simply serving as a means to an end in order to enforce the concept of art for art’s sake.

The representation of the human figure varies within the collection. The traditional approach of accurately recording the human body stands in stark contrast to more expressive likenesses. An elegant drawing of a human nude reflects the controlled skills of an artist while expressive gestures elicit more emotive responses from the viewer. Other times, simple to enigmatic narratives that provoke interpretation are created by the placement of the human figure in a landscape, engagement with other figures, or the utilization of simple props.

The landscape and human figure are prevalent subjects in the OJAC’s modern and contemporary painting, drawing, print, and sculpture collections as well as those selected for inclusion in this exhibition that span 100 years of artistic creation.

About the Old Jail Art Center, Albany TX

Like The Rockwell Museum, many art institutions begin humbly and manifest themselves by the desire of individuals to share their holdings with the public. So it was in 1980 with the Old Jail Art Center’s founders Bill Bomar (1919 – 1991) and Reilly Nail (1920 – 2006). Both were born in Albany, Texas—a small rural town rich in history, ranching, and the new wealth of oil. Both had the financial means to attend prestigious schools and begin collecting art. Upon graduation from Cranbrook Art Academy, Bill Bomar moved to New York City to study with John Sloan, Hans Hoffman, and Amédée Ozenfant. While working and living in NYC, Bomar began to collect domestically scaled paintings, prints, drawings, and sculpture of European and American Modern artists whom he admired and influenced his own artwork. Later, Bomar moved to Taos, New Mexico and collected the works of artists active in the New Mexico region. Reilly Nail graduated from Princeton University and had an award-winning career in New York City working as a television producer. From his college years on, he purchased art from galleries as well as from artist friends. Without a concern of purchasing art as an investment, both founders collected works that they individually responded to including young contemporary artists they befriended and supported.

The OJAC maintains a diverse collection of Modern American and European masters as well as works by well- and lesser-known contemporary artists. Over the past 35 years, the OJAC art collection has grown through gifts and purchases, continuing the approach established by Bomar and Nail of adding to complement and enhance established collections, while supporting contemporary artists through collecting and exhibiting their work.

About The Rockwell Museum: A Smithsonian Affiliate

The Rockwell Museum, in association with the Smithsonian Institution, collection tells the story of the American experience through a display of stunning art about America. Founded in 1976, The Rockwell is an evolving community center which showcases the best of America through compelling exhibitions and imaginative programs.  The diverse collection includes a mix of contemporary Native American art with traditional bronze sculptures, landscape paintings and other works that embody America. Housed in the beautifully restored 19th century Old City Hall building, The Rockwell is active in the local community and holds special events and educational programming with area public schools. The Rockwell provokes curiosity, engagement and reflection about art and the American experience.