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CLEVELAND (Feb. 23, 2010) — Art of the American Indians: The Thaw Collection, a major traveling exhibition developed by the Fenimore Art Museum, will make its debut at the Cleveland Museum of Art (CMA) in March 2010. The exhibition explores Native North American art from the Eastern Woodlands to the Northwest through 135 masterpieces spanning 2,000 years. The exhibition provides visitors with a broad understanding and appreciation of the aesthetic accomplishments and cultural heritage of this country's first peoples. Art of the American Indians opens at CMA on March 7, 2010, and runs through May 30 before traveling to Minneapolis and Indianapolis.
The objects in the exhibition are drawn from The Eugene and Clare Thaw Collection of Native North American Art, which was carefully assembled over the past two decades by Eugene V. Thaw, one of the art world's most distinguished connoisseurs and collectors of art. This is the first time the collection is being treated as an exhibition, and several key objects will only be seen at the Cleveland venue.
"This is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to see an extraordinary range of Native North American works of the highest quality, each piece a paragon of creativity and artistic excellence," says Sue Bergh, associate curator, art of the ancient Americas, at CMA. "In Gene Thaw's own words, 'Indian material culture stands rightfully with ancient art masterpieces of Asia and Europe as their equivalent.' We are delighted to offer visitors this opportunity to examine more deeply this fascinating dimension of American history."
The works in Art of the American Indians are organized by geographic region, moving from the ancient ivories and ingenious modern masks of the Arctic to the astonishingly beautiful and dramatic arts of the Pacific Northwest, which form one of the pillars of the Thaw Collection. The basketry of Native American weavers appears in a section devoted to California and the adjacent Great Basin, home of Louisa Keyser (also known as Dat So La Lee), a renowned Washoe basket weaver and one of the most celebrated Native American artists. Beacon Lights, Keyser's most famous creation, will be a centerpiece of the exhibition.
The abstract art of the culturally complex Southwest will be shown in both its ancient and modern manifestations. From the Plains come outstanding examples of the colorfully beaded, feathered and painted works for which the region is most famous. Showcased as well are the Eastern Woodlands, including the Great Lakes, and their visually quieter and more contemplative arts, which are another of the collection's great strengths.
The majority of the 120-piece collection dates to the 19th century, but archaeological and contemporary works also are included to demonstrate the continued vitality of Native North American cultures. Fifteen CMA objects will also appear in Cleveland.
Exhibition highlights include:
Exhibition Programming Highlights
Programming for individuals, families and students of all ages interprets the collection. Art and programming by contemporary Native American artists suggests the continued vitality and creativity of Native North American people and their cultures.
CMA's programming kicks off on the opening day of the exhibition, March 7, with a family and community day from 1-4 p.m. Free activities will include Native dancing and drumming, music, storytelling, hands-on art workshops and craft demonstrations.
Visitors can also learn more about Native art and cultures during the run of the exhibition by participating in a variety of tours. Free, guided exhibition tours occur every Thursday at 1:30 p.m. and every Sunday at 2:30 p.m. Free craft demonstrations by local Native American artisans will be held on selected Saturdays including March 13; April 3, 10 and 24; and May 1 and 22 beginning at 1:30 p.m.
The public can gain a deeper understanding through a series of lectures that will run during the course of the exhibition:
Art of the American Indians: The Thaw Collection is organized by the Fenimore Art Museum in Cooperstown, N.Y. This exhibition has been made possible by the National Endowment for the Arts as part of American Masterpieces: Three Centuries of Artistic Genius. The Cleveland Museum of Art's exhibition and education programs are made possible through the generous support of Dominion Foundation, Medical Mutual and Giant Eagle. The Cleveland Museum of Art is generously funded by Cuyahoga County residents through Cuyahoga Arts and Culture. The Ohio Arts Council helped fund this exhibition with state tax dollars to encourage economic growth, educational excellence and cultural enrichment for all Ohioans.
The exhibition is free. Hours are Tuesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays and Sundays from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m.; Wednesdays and Fridays from 10 a.m. until 9 p.m. The museum is closed on Mondays.
Edward S. Curtis and Zig Jackson photography exhibition and programming
To expand upon Art of the American Indians: The Thaw Collection, CMA will host a special photography exhibition in the museum's east wing drawing upon our complete set (20 bound volumes and 20 accompanying portfolios) of Edward S. Curtis' landmark publication, The North American Indian, containing more than 2,200 photogravures. Two-thirds of the photography galleries will be devoted to the work of Edward S. Curtis featuring 30 of his large scale photogravures. The remainder will house the work of a contemporary Native American photographer, Zig Jackson, with 15 images from his series, Tribal Peoples. The exhibition will be on view from Feb. 7 – May 30, 2010.
About the Cleveland Museum of Art
The Cleveland Museum of Art is renowned for the quality and breadth of its collection, which includes more than 40,000 objects and spans 6,000 years of achievement in the arts. Currently undergoing a multi-phase renovation and expansion project, it is a significant international forum for exhibitions, scholarship, performing arts and art education. Admission to the museum has been free since its founding charter.
The Cleveland Museum of Art has a membership of nearly 25,000 households and is supported by a broad range of individuals, foundations and businesses in Cleveland and Northeastern Ohio. The museum is generously funded by Cuyahoga County residents through Cuyahoga Arts and Culture. Additional support comes from the Ohio Arts Council, which helps fund the museum with state tax dollars to encourage economic growth, educational excellence and cultural enrichment for all Ohioans. For more information about the museum, its holdings, programs and events, call 1-888-CMA-0033 or visit www.ClevelandArt.org .