2009 Exhibitions

Edmund Blampied (1886-1966) Master Printmaker

Sept. 25 – Dec. 20, 2009

One of the best-known artists to hail from Britain’s Channel Islands, Blampied achieved renown as a printmaker in the 1920s. He had taught himself to draw as a child living in rural Jersey, which provided inspiration and subject matter throughout his life. Having gained attention for his cartoon drawings of local worthies, Blampied was able to attend London’s Lambeth School of Art, following which he secured full-time employment as a newspaper illustrator.

While illustration remained an important part of his career, it is the independent etchings, drypoints and lithographs for which he is best known today. Blampied learned to etch at evening classes around 1910. Just a few years later, he had also mastered the technique of drypoint and had been taken on by the Leicester Galleries in London, which planned to publish his prints (and did so in 1919, after the delay caused by World War I). Blampied’s work was prized by collectors and widely praised by critics throughout the 1920s, but as the boom in print collecting faded in the 1930s, he increasingly painted in oil and watercolor and eventually returned to Jersey.

Blampied’s early subjects – the farm workers, the seaweed collectors (“vraikers”), the townspeople of Jersey – were his lifelong inspiration. The island’s old-fashioned way of life held great interest for this artist who so admired Daumier and Rembrandt. Blampied wrote that “the human quality in art has always appealed to me…I have always sympathized most strongly with the human’s effort for existence, his tragic mistakes, his humour…” Blampied’s work embodies not only a deep sympathy for the laborer, but a sharp eye for human foibles as well. The exhibition, drawn entirely from the collections of the University of Saint Joseph Art Museum, featured many of Edmund Blampied’s most famous drypoints and etchings as well as drawings and a painting.

Opening Reception: Thursday, September 24, 6 – 7:30 p.m.
Members’ Preview: 5 – 6 p.m. – featuring a brief museum talk by Art Museum Director Ann H. Sievers

Peaceful Pastures: Aspects of Agricultural America by Early Twentieth Century Artists

July 7 – Sept. 6
Guest curator: Kara Auclair, Intern, University of Saint Joseph Art Museum

During the early twentieth century, American culture was shifting dramatically. The rural lifestyle that once characterized America was being swept away by the development of bustling cities, an economic depression, and the hardships of war. Amidst this new chaotic existence, many artists chose to portray an America that still felt like home. The simple yet productive lifestyle of a farmer was appealing to a suddenly hectic urban society, and the beauty of pastoral landscapes also cultivated interest in many American artists.

This exhibition highlighted the works of artists including Eugene Higgins, Milton Avery and Thomas Willoughby Nason, who each capture characteristics of rural America. Many pieces like Nason’s wood engravings depict the tranquil beauty of New England farms, in contrast to pieces by Higgins and John Edward Costigan, who illustrate the toil of farm work. Each work of art in this exhibition gives a unique perspective of agricultural America, yet they all share the same familiar calmness of a pastoral setting. Peaceful Pastures is an exhibition of works that display the beauty of rural America through the eyes of early twentieth century artists.

Struck By Light: A Retrospective of Photograms by Ellen Carey

April 3 – June 21

This exhibition was the first comprehensive examination of Ellen Carey’s photograms, many of which were on view for the first time. Long renowned for her abstract Polaroid “Pulls,” the artist has created concurrently a stunning body of work using one of photography’s earliest processes, the photogram. Through this traditional technique of obtaining a shadow image from objects placed directly on photosensitive paper, Carey obtains striking abstractions that are thoroughly contemporary in their conceptual approach to color and light. The most recent works in the exhibition, which feature luminous trails from a hand-held penlight, translate her innovative color photogram techniques into a novel use of Polaroid materials.

Opening reception: April 2, 6 – 8 p.m.

Good as Gold: Nineteenth Century Financial Controversies Through the Eyes of Thomas Nast

Jan. 13 – March 15, 2009

Renowned political cartoonist Thomas Nast weighed in on a range of financial issues that faced late nineteenth-century American society. His trenchant visual commentaries in the pages of Harper’s Weekly helped shape opinion in an age that faced many issues similar to those of today. Monetary policy, taxation, inflation, and tensions between trade unions and business owners were among Nast’s most frequent topics in the 1870s, when he was at the height of his powers.

Nast’s arsenal consisted of his extraordinary skill as a draughtsman combined with a clever and biting use of puns and symbols both borrowed and invented. The Bible, Shakespeare, and Aesop’s Fables provided inspiration, as did popular songs and current colloquial expressions. In the course of his career at Harper’s Weekly, Nast codified the use of the Elephant and the Donkey to represent the Republican and Democratic Parties and employed the traditional personifications of the United States, Lady Liberty and Uncle Sam, to bold effect in witty and powerfully persuasive images.

All of the works in this exhibition are drawn from the gift of Judith and Norman Zlotsky to the University of Saint Joseph Art Museum.

A related celebration for the New Year, Gold, Silver, and Greenbacks, will be held on Thursday, January 29 from 6 to 8:30 p.m. Creative dress is encouraged at this event, which will feature elegant food and drink, music, door prizes, and a treasure hunt (call 860.231.5367 for information).

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