‘Amazing Stories,’ ‘Myth Meets Modernism’ and more: What’s ahead at the Palmer Museum

Tina Modotti’s “Campesinos (Workers’ Parade)” is part of an exhibition opening in June at the Palmer Museum of Art.
Tina Modotti’s “Campesinos (Workers’ Parade)” is part of an exhibition opening in June at the Palmer Museum of Art. Photo provided

The Palmer Museum of Art at Penn State recently kicked off its 2019 season, with current exhibitions including “Subjective Spaces: Drawings and Collages by Robert Reed” and “Amazing Stories: Recent Acquisitions.” Both exhibitions debuted earlier this month and are on display through May. Seven other special exhibitions are due to arrive at the museum throughout the year.

“We strive for balance in our exhibition schedule between media (painting, drawing, prints, sculpture, etc.) and topics in art that are thought-provoking and inspire curiosity and creativity, while fostering respect for diverse cultures and points of view. This year’s exhibitions feature an array of artistic styles and topics that meet these objectives and provide visitors with a reason to return to the museum since there’s always something new to see and experience,” museum director Erin Coe said.

The exhibition calendar for each year is developed in advanced, Coe said, with an aim at fulfilling the museum’s mission to serve as a cultural and educational resource not only for Penn State, but for statewide and further audiences.

According to the museum’s assistant director, Joyce Robinson, many of the 2019 exhibitions focus on a theme of “traversing or crossing borders.”

“Several of the contemporary artists represented in ‘Amazing Stories,’ for instance, deal with issues related to immigration and cross-cultural or diasporic identities. ‘Under the Mexican Sky,’ as the title suggests, narrates the important story of modern photographers whose experience in Mexico in the mid-1920s transformed their work,” Robinson said. “That show, along with a smaller focus exhibition on Mexican photographer Manuel Alvarez Bravo, suggests the incredible cultural richness to be found across the border, not to mention the vital cross-cultural exchange that historically has been integral to the development of art in the 20th century. Such discussions seem particularly relevant at the moment as the talk of borders seems to be dominating our headlines.”

Robinson said she’s particularly excited for two shows coming up in the fall — “Augusta Savage: Renaissance Woman” and “The Web of Life: John Biggers and the Power of Pedagogy.”

“Both shows expand our understanding of U.S. history, race relations and what America should be about — the celebration of the many vibrant cultures that make us who we are ... or should be,” she said.

The 2019 season includes works of art from major metropolitan museums that Centre County residents might not normally have the opportunity to visit. As many of the temporary special exhibitions are often comprised of works on loan, this means that they are only available for viewing for a limited time.

Coe encourages readers to visit the Palmer Museum regardless of their knowledge of or previous experience with art.

“You don’t need to know anything about art to visit an art museum. That’s a myth. The primary reason art museums exist is to educate and to be accessible to all. Visiting the Palmer — whether to see one of our upcoming exhibitions or works in the permanent collection — provides an authentic encounter with original works of art that you can’t find anywhere else in society,” Coe said.

The next 2019 special exhibition to join the current exhibitions is “From the Rooftops: John Sloan and the Art of a New Urban Space,” on display Feb. 3–May 12. It features iconic works by Pennsylvania native John Sloan, all themed around the urban rooftop.

For more information, visit www.palmermuseum.psu.edu.

Palmer Museum 2019 exhibition schedule

“Subjective Spaces: Drawings and Collages by Robert Reed,” through May 19

“Amazing Stories: Recent Acquisitions,” through May 26

“From the Rooftops: John Sloan and the Art of a New Urban Space,” Feb. 3–May 12

“Under the Mexican Sky: A Revolution in Modern Photography,” June 1–July 28

“Myth Meets Modernism: The Manuel Álvarez Bravo Portfolio,” June 11–Aug. 4

“George Miller and American Lithography,” June 18–Sept. 15

“The Web of Life: John Biggers and the Power of Pedagogy,” Aug. 18-Dec. 15

“Augusta Savage: Renaissance Woman,” Aug. 24-Dec. 8

“Fantasy and Reality: The World According to Félix Buhot,” Sept. 29-Dec. 15