The most controversial show at the Helen Foresman Spencer Museum of Art this year may be an exhibition of portraits from Cambodia.
You won't have to board a plane this school year to get a glimpse of Mexico, Germany, Cambodia, Japan or China.
All you have to do is walk across the Kansas University campus to the Helen Foresman Spencer Museum of Art.
"Mexican Prints from the collection of Dave and Reba Williams," a survey of printmaking in Mexico from the 1920s to the 1950s, will open Aug. 21 and run through Oct. 17 in the Kress and South Balcony galleries. The exhibit shows how Mexican artists synthesized indigenous subjects and European stylistic influences, including Surrealism and Cubism.
Andrea Norris, director of the Spencer Museum, said the exhibit was organized by the American Federation of Arts and has toured throughout the country.
"I saw it at the Brooklyn Museum (of Art)," she said. "It's a large comprehensive exhibit of Mexican printmaking."
The exhibit contains 137 powerful and often politically charged works by such artists as Diego Rivera, David Alfaro Siqueiros and Rufino Tamayo.
Opening in September will be an exhibition of American Indian art. The exhibit, held in conjunction with the Lawrence Indian Arts Show, will feature items borrowed from a private collection.
The show, which continues through Oct. 12 in the White Gallery, will include Plains beadwork, Pueblo pottery, Northwest Coast masks and jewelry.
"It ranges from the 19th century to the present, but mostly the early 20th century," Norris said.
"Durer's Echo: Five Centuries of Influence," an exhibit that will be held in conjunction with a German conference Oct. 8-10 at KU, will display prints that show Albrecht Durer's impact on printmaking through the centuries.
The show, which has tentatively been scheduled in September and October in the North Balcony gallery, includes works from the 16th century to the present from such artists as Pieter Dupont, Dan Kirchhefer, Jan Wierix, Orazio Sammachini, Marcantonio Raimondi, Sebald Beham, Georg Pencz and Claude Mellan.
Norris said the most controversial exhibition the Spencer Museum has had in a long time will run Oct. 23 through Dec. 19 in the White Gallery.
"Facing Death: Portraits from Cambodia's Killing Fields" consists of recent prints of photographs taken in the 1970s by a Cambodian prisoner who was forced by the Khmer Rouge to document his fellow prisoners as they entered the killing fields camps. Most of the subjects were destined to be executed.
The exhibit is organized by the Photographic Resource Center at Boston University.
"They are straight-forward images but the enormity of the people depicted show how undiscriminating the Khmer Rouge had been," she said.
Along with the exhibit, Norris said the museum is planning some lecture-discussions about Cambodia and whether the photographs are art.
An exhibition of Carrie Hall quilt blocks will be displayed Nov. 6 through Jan. 9 in the South Balcony Gallery. The show contains more than 500 quilt blocks designed and executed by Carrie Hall as a compendium of quilt designs. The show will commemorate the release of a book about Carrie Hall and her work.
Norris said the Spencer Museum is home to about 800 of Hall's quilt blocks.
"We don't show them very often," she said.
The first three exhibitions of the spring semester will focus on Asian art. "The Art of Twentieth Century Zen: Paintings and Calligraphy by Japanese Masters," from Jan. 29 through March 11 in the Kress and South Balcony galleries, will feature 73 works of painting, calligraphy and
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ceramics from Japanese and American temple, museum and private collections.
"It's a beautiful exhibition " all done by Japanese Zen masters," Norris said.
Included will be works by Fukushima Keido Roshi, a Zen master who has visited the Spencer Museum since 1989 to do sand paintings.
"Ming Painting: Through the Eyes of Connoisseurs" will feature 15 Ming Dynasty painted scrolls from the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art in Kansas City, Mo., the Allen Memorial Museum at Oberlin College in Ohio and the Spencer Museum.
The exhibit, which will be shown in January and February in the White Gallery, is being organized by students in a graduate seminar in Chinese art led by Maria Weidner, KU professor of art history.
"Fifty Years of Chinese Woodblock Prints," organized by Iris Wachs, is a rare offering because woodblock prints from 1950 to the present by master printmakers in China are virtually unknown in the United States, according to Norris.
"This is a huge show," she said, referring to its importance.
The exhibit, from April 8 to May 21 in the Kress Gallery, reflects the political changes, regional styles, individual artists and other aspects of Chinese life.
The exhibition season will end as it began with a show on Mexican printmaking. "Bandits and Bullfighters: Art and Life in Broadsheets by Jose Guadelupe Posada" contains 60 prints from the late 18th and early 19th century by Posada, an influential Mexican printmaker.
The show is being organized by Patrick Frank, KU assistant professor of art history, for the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center.
"Posada was a printmaker, artist and satirist who depicted issues of contemporary life in allegorical ways," Norris said.
The Spencer Museum also is planning two special exhibits: a small show for an African studies conference in April and a show of jazz lithographs in conjunction with the performance of "JazzTrain" at the Lied Center.
-- Jan Biles' phone message number is 832-7146. Her e-mail address is email@example.com.
ART ON VIEW
The Helen Foresman Spencer Museum of Art's schedule of new exhibitions will take viewers around the world:
The hours of the museum are from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesdays-Wednesdays and Fridays-Saturdays, 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Thursdays, and noon to 5 p.m. Sundays. Closed Mondays.