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‘Art Among Friends’ Seasonal Art Exhibit Shows Off Impressionist and Realist Collections at the BRAHM

by Madison V. Fisler

May 7, 2013. Four collections of American realist and impressionist artwork from the collections of regional resident art enthusiasts has taken over five galleries of the Blowing Rock Art and History Museum (BRAHM), and will remain there as their main seasonal exhibit until Nov. 2. 

photo by Ken Ketchie
Photo by Ken Ketchie

The “Art Among Friends” exhibit features 81 pieces, one of which is a bronze sculpture while the rest of the works are paintings. Most paintings in the display were completed from the 1880s through the 1940s. These pieces exemplify American impressionist and realist style in the early 20th century, said Allyson Teague, the exhibit manager at the BRAHM.

The pieces come from the collections of Welborn and Patty Alexander; Mary Bost and Michael Gray; Charlie Murray and a friend of the Museum. 

The display is broken down into five parts: American Impressionism, American Realism, The Ten, The Eight and Women Painters. Each part of the exhibit, though complementary to the others, stands out as a different perspective from different sets of artists.

This exhibit is very unique in that it showcases impressionism and realism created by American artists that have been collected by local art enthusiasts. This is in stark contrast to many other displays around the country, which focus on the more well known European impressionists and realists.  It is also unique because it showcases art created by female artists, who historically receive less recognition than their male counterparts. 

“Patrons should be excited about the opportunity to see such beautiful, significant works,” Teague said. “It’s a rare opportunity to see some of these works up close. It is very neat and very beautiful.”

The gallery features famous artists such as Charles Gruppe, Anthony Thieme, William Lester Stevens, Otis Cook, James McNeill Whistler, John Singer Sargent, Childe Hassam, Frederick Frieseke and Max Kuehne among many others, who were prominent art figures in the eastern colonies during the first half of the 20th century. 

Photo by Ken Ketchie
Photo by Ken Ketchie

American Impressionism has been long regarded by many art critics to be inferior to European impressionism. This exhibit strives to discredit that theory and prove that American artwork is just as valuable to the art community as it’s European counterpart. 

The exhibits were designed to not just showcase the differences between artists depending on the time they were painting, but also to display the differences in the tastes of the collectors themselves, Teague said. 

Other exhibits at the BRAHM include W.R. Trivett: Imaging the Mountains, which will remain until June second. This exhibit was put together by the Appalachian State University Public History Program, according to Allison Wonsick, communication director. 

On Thursday, May 9, at 4:30 p.m. the BRAHM will host a round table talk, which is free to all museum members and $5 per person for all other visitors. This event features Patty and Welborn Alexander, Mary Bost and Michael Gray, Charlie Murray and a friend of the museum to discuss their history as art collectors.

This talk will be facilitated by Johnathan Stuhlman, who is the Curator of American Art at the Mint Museum in Charlotte. This event will allow patrons to gain valuable insight into the art collecting lifestyle, said Wonsick.

In addition, on June 27 BRAHM will host an Art Ball in the galleries as a benefit for the Museum. 

The Blowing Rock Art and History Museum is located at 159 Chestnut Street in Blowing Rock. For more information, please click here