Vargas pin-up girls, photos from the Spanish Civil War and Amish quilts are the highlights of the new exhibit season for the Helen Foresman Spencer Museum of Art on the Kansas University campus.
"All of these exhibits are atypical," Andrea Norris, director of the art museum, said. "They're about design, surfaces and are on the edge of mainstream art. We will stretch or challenge what art is, to give (viewers) an opportunity to think about what we call art."
Opening Sept. 29 is "Alberto Vargas: The Esquire Pinups," an exhibit of 75 original watercolor and airbrush paintings by Alberto Vargas that appeared as pinups in Esquire magazine during the 1940s. The paintings, from the Spencer Museum's Esquire Collection, will be displayed through Dec. 30.
"People will come from long distances to see this. There's a strong core who adore Vargas," Norris said. "Vargas has become the subject of contemporary scholarship. The exhibit will be popular and controversial."
The catalog will address the paintings from a variety of points of view: fashion and design; World War II material culture (the Vargas girls were painted onto the nose cones of bombers); second-wave feminism; third-wave feminist reappraisal; the reception of the Peruvian-born artist in the United States; and the artist's significance in post-war culture.
"Shouts from the Wall," which will run Jan. 19 through March 10, marks the 60th anniversary of the Spanish Civil War and the role of the U.S. volunteers who formed the Abraham Lincoln Brigade to fight against fascism in Europe.
The show, organized by the American Federation of Art, consists of from 30 to 40 large-scale color posters and from 30 to 40 black-and-white photographs brought home by American volunteers who fought on the Republican side of the 1936-1939 war.
Other items in the exhibit are lithographs, illustrations, wartime letters and a color copy of the only wall newspaper to survive the war.
"They are strong, colorful graphic images," Norris said. "They are documentary photos of people who were there."
"Amish Quilts 1880 to 1940 from the Collection of Faith and Stephen Brown" will be shown from mid-April to July 1. The show is organized by the University of Michigan Museum of Art.
"It has only been shown at the University of Michigan and the Smithsonian. But they agreed to put it back together and exhibit it at the Spencer," Norris said.
The quilts were made from 1880 to 1940 primarily in Ohio, Pennsylvania and Indiana.
The 34 quilts in the show serve as functional objects and abstract art and as reflections of the culture that created them. All of the quilts are constructed from pieced shapes squares, triangles, stripes and diamonds and show the color and composition unique to the Amish. They also reflect the values of the Amish simplicity, humility, devotion and community.
Other exhibits at the museum this academic year include:
"American Indian Art," Sept. 8-Nov. 3. The exhibit will be held in conjunction with the 13th Annual Lawrence Indian Art Show exhibit at the Museum of Anthropology.
"History of Photography," Oct. 12-Dec. 30.
"Kwang Jean Park and Shinoda Toko," Dec. 2-Feb. 24. The work of two contemporary Asian female artists Kwang Jean Park from Korea and Shinoda Toko from Japan.
"Tim Rollins/KOS and the Langston Hughes Project," Feb. 9-May. Tim Rollins will be artist-in-residence Feb. 2-10 and will be collaborating with a group of 24 Lawrence middle-school students to create an artwork based on the work of Langston Hughes.
The project and exhibit are part of the community-wide 100th anniversary of Langston Hughes' birth.
"Contemporary Ceramics," spring 2002. A selection of contemporary Asian, European and American ceramics from the Spencer Museum collection. The exhibit is in conjunction with the National Council of the Education of Ceramic Arts Conference March 13-16 in the Kansas City area.
"Goltzius and the Third Dimension," March 30-May 26. Organized by the Clark Institute of Art, the exhibit of 33 prints and four bronze statuettes explores the relationship between the three-dimensional works of sculptor Willem Danielsz van Tetrode and a selection of engravings and woodcuts by printmaker Hendrick Goltzius. The works are from the 16th century.