Feature Articles

August 2013

Reynolda House Museum of American Art in Winston-Salem, NC, Features Still Life Paintings

The Reynolda House Museum of American Art in Winston-Salem, NC, will present Things Wondrous & Humble: American Still Life, on view in the Mary and Charlie Babcock Wing Gallery, from Aug. 10 through Dec. 8, 2013.

Still life paintings make us think about the objects we love, and this new exhibition will invite visitors to look more closely at what those objects say about us. The exhibit will feature treasures from the Reynolda House collection accompanied by key loans from museums and private collections across the state.

“The objects you see in a still life are often the same types of objects we collect as souvenirs in daily life,” says Allison Slaby, curator at the museum. “The treasures we arrange on our coffee tables and in curio cabinets are signposts of our travels, avowals of friendships, mementos of life experiences.”

A still life depicts a purposefully arranged group of objects, often embedded with hidden meaning about history, culture, or identity. Still lifes often include flowers, fruit, or man-made objects like books and jewelry. While visitors will see stunning examples of traditional still life paintings, they will also be invited to explore non-traditional works of art and decorative arts from the historic house collection of Reynolda House.

Works by artists like William Michael Harnett, Childe Hassam, and James Peale will be viewed alongside the rose-engraved silver punchbowl given to Katharine Reynolds by her husband, R.J., on their fourth wedding anniversary. Prints by Jasper Johns and Claes Oldenburg will be mounted alongside historic, etched-crystal basket vases, and an iconic work by John James Audubon will lend perspective to a porcelain hummingbird sculpture by Dorothy Doughty.

Slaby says the museum chose some unconventional objects for Things Wondrous & Humble as an interesting juxtaposition to the traditional still lifes and to further explore our fascination with symbolism.

“This exhibition is not only visually compelling and rich with meaning, but I think visitors will enjoy discovering the secrets that these objects tell,” she says. “What do our objects say about our personality, our history, and what is important to us?”

A series of public programs will include “A Bouquet of Music,” a performance by The Carolina Summer Music Festival on Aug. 18; a gallery talk by exhibition curator and American art scholar Martha Severens on Aug. 25; and an after-hours Harvest Moon Festival on Sept. 19. The museum will host artist Julie Heffernan for a special artist talk on Nov. 21. Heffernan’s painting Self Portrait as Explosion is included in the exhibition.

Things Wondrous & Humble: American Still Life was organized by Reynolda House Museum of American Art. The museum is grateful for the generous support for the exhibition from major sponsor PNC Bank, and exhibition partners Dee LeRoy, Macy’s and Charles and Lamar Taft.

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’Keeffe 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, in the historic 1917 estate of Katharine Smith Reynolds and her husband, Richard Joshua Reynolds, founder of the R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company.

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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