Feature Articles

February 2011

Reynolda House Museum of American Art in Winston-Salem, NC, Features American Landscapes

The Reynolda House Museum of American Art and Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, NC, will present the exhibit, A Genius for Place: American Landscapes of the Country Place Era, on view in the main gallery of the Mary and Charlie Babcock Wing, from Feb. 18 through Aug. 5, 2012.

Curated by landscape historian Robin Karson, who chose seven iconic American estates from coast to coast for the project, the exhibition features 70 black-and-white and seven color photographs by photographer Carol Betsch of influential landscape designs created between 1895 and the last years of the Great Depression. By documenting the estates that survive from the Country Place Era, A Genius for Place invites visitors to consider the importance of protecting these significant examples of American landscape design.

The museum will display alongside the exhibition six photographs of the Reynolda estate taken by the exhibition photographer that will illuminate Reynolda’s significance in the Country Place Era as one of the rare surviving examples of a Country Place estate.

Early in the 20th century, new fortunes in the United States made it possible for many city-dwellers to commission country estates. Wealthy industrialists could work in town and escape deteriorating urban centers to enjoy healthy air and breathtaking scenery. A widespread belief in the cultural and salutary benefits of rural life; the availability of money and prime land; and growing legions of landscape architects set the stage for ambitious residential landscape designs across the country.

“The noted American landscape architect Charles Eliot said that landscape architecture is primarily a fine art,” says Reynolda House Managing Curator Allison Slaby. “This exhibition will be a different experience for visitors because the subject of the photographs - the landscapes - are the works of art. So many people enjoy the Reynolda landscape each day that it will be exciting to help our visitors experience their surroundings in a more meaningful way.”

A Genius for Place: American Landscapes of the Country Place Era was organized by Library of American Landscape History, Amherst, Massachusetts. Reynolda House is grateful for the generous support of Exhibition Partners Kilpatrick Townsend & Stockton LLP and Leigh and Gray Smith.

A series of programs are planned for the exhibition, and an exhibition catalog will be available for purchase in the museum store.

On Friday, Feb. 17, 2012, from 7–9pm - Exhibition Opening Party. Members/students free, non-members $5. Celebrate the exhibition’s opening with an indoor garden party inspired by Katharine Smith Reynolds’s garden parties of the 1920s, featuring Japanese lanterns and a jazz orchestra. Enjoy refreshments, a cash bar, and admission to the main floor of the historic house.

On Tuesday, Feb. 21, 2012, at 5:30pm - Talk by Camilla Wilcox: The Olmstedian Influence on the Reynolda Landscape. Members/students/friends of Reynolda Gardens free, non-members $5. Reynolda’s sweeping lawns and vistas framed by woodland were designed in the best tradition of the Country Place Era inspired by Frederick Law Olmsted, considered the father of American landscape architecture. Several of the designers of the estate worked with the firm founded by Olmsted. Wilcox is curator of education at Reynolda Gardens of Wake Forest University. Her talk is co-sponsored by Reynolda Gardens.

On Saturday, May 5, 2012, from noon–3pm - Community Day: A Shakespearean Pageant. Free. Enjoy a spring day of poetry, dance, food, and games in the spirit of the pageants and outdoor dramas that took place on estates in the Country Place Era. See vignettes from A Midsummer Night’s Dream performed by the Winston-Salem Festival Ballet; hear selected scenes performed by The Children’s Theatre of Winston-Salem; play Elizabethan games; visit children’s art-making stations; and stroll in the Shakespearean “Garden of Flowers and Verses.”

On Tuesday, May 15, 2012, at 5:30pm - Talk by Curator Robin Karson: A Genius for Place: American Landscapes of the Country Place Era. Members/students free, non-members $5. Reynolda is a rare surviving example of the American Country Place Era. In this illustrated talk, exhibition curator Robin Karson presents other fine examples of original, vital, and artistically expressive landscapes from this period.

Reynolda House Museum of American Art is one of the nation’s premier American art museums, with masterpieces by Mary Cassatt, Frederic Church, Jacob Lawrence, Georgia O’Keefe and Gilbert Stuart among its collection. Affiliated with Wake Forest University, Reynolda House features changing exhibitions, concerts, lectures, classes, film screenings, and other events. The museum is located in Winston-Salem, North Carolina in the historic 1917 estate of Katharine Smith Reynolds and her husband, Richard Joshua Reynolds, founder of the R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company. Reynolda House and adjacent Reynolda Gardens and Reynolda Village feature a spectacular public garden, dining, shopping and walking trails.

For further information check our NC Institutional Gallery listings, call the Museum at 336/758-5150 or visit (www.reynoldahouse.org).


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