An exhibit that opened Saturday at Kansas University's Spencer Museum of Art will complement the 15th annual Lawrence Indian Arts Show at the Lawrence Arts Center.
The museum will display American Indian art from its collection in "American Indian Art at the Spencer Museum" through Oct. 19 in the White Gallery. A public reception will be from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Friday in the museum's Central Court. Museum director Andrea Norris, who organized the exhibition, will give a Tour du Jour at 12:15 p.m. Friday and a gallery talk at 7 p.m. during the opening.
The exhibition includes contemporary paintings, prints, photographs, pottery and glass by contemporary artists such as Emmi Whitehorse, Jaune Quick-To-See Smith, Diego and Mateo Romero, Hulleah Tsinhnahjinnie, Hachivi Edgar Heap-Of-Birds and Kay WalkingStick. It also will feature a glass sculpture by Preston Singletary that the Friends of the Art Museum acquired at their annual meeting in April. In addition there will be a small number of earlier 20th-century works from the museum's collection.
"I was recently at a gallery in Santa Fe, and Jaune Quick-To-See Smith, who is one of the artists in our collection, was praising our museum for its commitment to collecting American Indian art," Norris says. "It meant a lot to everyone at the museum to hear such unsolicited acknowledgment."
The founding collection of the Spencer Museum of Art, amassed by Sallie Casey Thayer in the early 20th century, contained significant works of American Indian art. Most of this collection was transferred in the early 1980s to the newly formed anthropology museum at Kansas University, consolidating the traditional Native American collections but leaving the art museum with little representation of American Indian work. The museum had a fine pot by Maria Martinez and some baskets that are, unfortunately, not in condition to display. Donors added four more Maria Martinez (1887-1980) pots and the collection acquired a small print by the well-known printmaker Woody Crumbo (1912-1989).
Beginning in the mid-1990s the Spencer began actively to purchase American Indian works, particularly work by painter/printmaker Jaune Quick-To-See Smith; 13 of her prints are part of the Spencer collection. In 1999 the Spencer purchased a bowl by Diego Romero, followed by several additional pots. One of these, by Nathan Begaye, will be on view for the first time in this exhibition.
In 2001 the Museum purchased a portfolio of prints by 10 American Indian artists, and in 2002 it acquired a group of photographs, including the "Women of Hope" portfolio by Hulleah Tsinhnahjinnie. Many of the acquisitions came from loan exhibitions organized in conjunction with the Lawrence Indian Arts Show.