All posts by kpage

Thanksgiving Holiday

This Thanksgiving, we express heartfelt gratitude for your continued support. Your presence enriches our gallery, turning it into a canvas of shared appreciation for the arts. Wishing you a holiday season filled with creativity, warmth, and the joy of artistic discovery.

With Thanks,The Mennello Museum Family

We will be closed Thanksgiving day, and will REOPEN Friday, November 24th.  Hope to see you there! 

In Nature’s Studio

TWO CENTURIES OF AMERICAN LANDSCAPE PAINTING (OCTOBER 6, 2023 – JANUARY 15, 2024)

This rich exhibition features the bounty and beauty of the American landscape from the early nineteenth century through the twentieth century. Drawn from the permanent collection of the Reading Public Museum, the selections explore the Hudson River School and the emergence of the first uniquely American artistic movement; Impressionism and Tonalism at the turn of the century; and Modern trends in interpreting the landscape. Majestic and inspirational depictions of bucolic American vistas—intimate forest interiors, sweeping panoramic views of natural wonders, and dramatic images of the untamed land and sea—join dramatic scenes of Europe, the Near East, and South America by artists from the United States.

In Nature’s Studio: Two Centuries of American Landscape Paintings is organized by Reading Public Museum.

Mennello Museum of American Art and its exhibitions are generously supported by the City of Orlando and Friends of the Mennello Museum of American Art.  Additional funding is provided by Orange County Government through the Arts & Cultural Affairs Program and United Arts of Central Florida.  Sponsored in part by the State of Florida, Department of State, Division of Cultural Affairs and the Florida Council on Arts and Culture.

(TOP) Frederic Edwin Church (American, 1826 – 1900), Syria: Ruins by the Sea, 1873 – 1874, oil on canvas, 10 1/2 x 16 inches, Museum Purchase, 1922.157.1. Reading Public Museum, Reading, Pennsylvania.  

(BOTTOM) George Wesley Bellows, The Launching, 1913, oil on panel, Museum Purchase through the Levi Mengel Memorial Fund, 1951.63.1, Reading Public Museum, Reading, Pennsylvania.

Self Taught Black Artists in the American South

From the Collection with Recent Acquisitions | (JANUARY 26, 2024 – MAY 19, 2024)

This exhibition presents the work of 13 Black self-taught artists from the American South. It highlights excellent examples from the Mennello Museum’s permanent collection alongside the 2023 acquisition of works from the Polk Museum of Art. Works by Mary Proctor, Alyne Harris, Purvis Young, Jesse Aaron, and Mose Toliver are among the paintings and sculptures complemented and contextualized by the acquisition from the Polk Museum of Art. Additional artists include Nellie Mae Rowe, Clementine Hunter, Jimmy Lee Sudduth, and more.

(TOP) Nellie Mae Rowe, Untitled (Bearded Lady), 1978, crayon, graphite, marker on paper, Collection of the Mennello Museum of American Art, Museum Purchase, 1999-045-000

(BOTTOM) Purvis Young, Heads Above the Street, 1991 
Oil, wood, vinyl, masonite, metal brackets, Collection of the Mennello Museum of American Art, Museum Purchase, 1998-002-000.

Viviparous Quadrupeds Of North America | Mark Messersmith

(MAY 31, 2024 – SEPTEMBER 8, 2024)

In the early 1840’s after publishing the wildly successful Birds of America portfolio, John James Audubon set out on his second grand expedition, this time to record and draw the Viviparous Quadrupeds of North America. Audubon along with his son, John Woodhouse Audubon, produced 150 folio drawings hand-printed and hand colored by J.T. Bowen of Philadelphia – making it the first full-color plate book to be printed entirely in the United States. This exhibition presents 36 of those works highlighting everything from squirrels and rabbits to large cats and buffalo.

Additionally, we will present a focus gallery featuring the work of Mark Messersmith, whose paintings consider themes of struggle among the people, flora, and fauna for the dwindling natural resources of Florida. Over the past four decades, Messersmith has created densely packed, large-scale paintings of Florida’s untamed landscapes where black bears wade among lotuses, discarded bottles hang in trees, and herons devour their dinners under high the high contrast light of the sun and moon.

(TOP) (Lepus nuttallii), 1846, Plate XCIV, The Viviparous Quadrupeds of North America, hand colored lithograph, Printed by J.T. Bowen, Philadelphia.

(BOTTOM) Mark Messersmith, End of a Dark Road, 2022.  Oil on canvas.  Courtesy of the Artist.  © Mark Messersmith

Temporary Closure

Pardon our Appearances! The Mennello Museum of American Art will be closed for the installation of our newest exhibition, Impression and Reality, from February 14 – 17, 2023.

Anila Quayyum Agha: Flourishing Patterns

June 23 – September 24, 2023  

Anila Quayyum Agha is a Pakistani-American artist best known for her large-scale installations of elaborate, laser cut cubes. Suspended from above as though floating, and lit from within, the cubes cast lace-like, floor-to-ceiling shadows that completely transform the surrounding environment, flooding the space with allusions to the sacred geometric designs that developed across cultures and religions – especially those found in Islamic tradition and the richly ornamented public spaces, like Mosques, where Agha was excluded from as a female growing up in Lahore, Pakistan. Agha also creates wall-mounted sculptural works and drawings in which she employs embroidery, beads, and light to transcend the flat, two-dimensional plane on which she works.

Anila Quayyum Agha is organized by the Mennello Museum of American Art and curated by Katherine Page, Curator of Art and Education, Mennello Museum of American Art.

Mennello Museum of American Art and its exhibitions are generously supported by the City of Orlando and Friends of the Mennello Museum of American Art.  Additional funding is provided by Orange County Government through the Arts & Cultural Affairs Program and United Arts of Central Florida.  Sponsored in part by the State of Florida, Department of State, Division of Cultural Affairs and the Florida Council on Arts and Culture.

Anila Quayyum Agha, Crossing Boundaries – Nuvo Red, n.d. Laser-cut lacquered steel and halogen bulb; Edition: 1/3. 48 x 48 x 48 inches. Courtesy of Anila Quayuum Agha and Sundaram Tagore Gallery

Photography Jim Hobart MacBeth Studio

2022 Holiday Calendar

Thanksgiving Day – Closed 
Thursday, November 24, 2022

Day after Thanksgiving – Open
Friday, November 25, 2022

Christmas Eve – Closed
Saturday, December 24, 2022

Christmas Day – Closed
Sunday, December 25, 2022 

New Years Day – Closed
Sunday, January 1, 2023

Impression and Reality

Paintings of American Impressionism and Realism from the Mennello collection alongside important works from prestigious Florida museums. 

February 25 – June 11, 2023

From the late 1800s through the 1920s, two important stylistic movements of early 20th century Art History coexisted – American Impressionism and Realism. These artists’ styles overlapped in time and a loose, impressionistic brushstroke, but transected in their subject matter. Today, those paintings highlight the diversity of American artists’ experiences, mentorships, training, and location at the turn of the century, all while industrializing city centers of the United States – Philadelphia, Boston, and New York – were exponentially expanding. Impression and Reality considers the dichotomy between these two cooccurring philosophies – one that highlights light, nature, and the temporary pleasures or luxuries of life, and the other that emphasizes the harsh, strenuous conditions of ordinary life in the growing urban cities.

Mennello Museum of American Art is delighted to showcase 34 paintings and 3 works on paper by the most celebrated artists of the early 20th century art in the United States. Preeminent artists of their time on display include artists like John White Alexander, Frederick Carl Frieseke, and Henry Salem Hubbell alongside lesser known, but equally important contemporaries Lydia Field Emmett, Jane Peterson, and Lilla Cabot Perry – to name a few.

This exhibition brings together beloved artists from collections across Florida including the Mennello Museum’s own collection, the Marilyn and Michael Mennello Foundation, and significant loans from the Cummer Museum of Art & Gardens, Harn Museum of Art, Museum of Florida History, Rollins Museum of Art, Tampa Museum of Art.

In total, the exhibition considers artists’ interests in depicting experiences of life in urban and bucolic landscapes, their interest in domesticated and wild subjects in the natural world at home and abroad, ­as well as the social mores and representation of women. These reflections implore the necessity to highlight under-recognized women who were also creating, marketing, and participating in these movements. 

Lilla Cabot Perry,Le Paravent Jaune (The Yellow Screen),1907.Oil on canvas.Courtesy ofThe Michael A. and The Honorable Marilyn Logsdon Mennello Foundation.

Karl J. Anderson, The Green Pitcher, 1913. Oil on canvas. Courtesy of The Michael A. and The Honorable Marilyn Logsdon Mennello Foundation.

Robert Henri, Ann of Achill, 1913. Oil on canvas. Collection of the Mennello Museum of American Art, Gift of Michael A. Mennello in memory of the Honorable Marilyn Logsdon Mennello, 2018-002-014.

In Conversation: Will Wilson

In Conversation: Will Wilson.

Mennello Museum of American Art is pleased to announce the exhibition In Conversation: Will Wilson, organized by Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art opening on October 28, 2022, with a public reception on November 4, 2022. The exhibition is on view from October 28, 2022  – February 12, 2023.

Photographer Will Wilson, Diné (Navajo) presents a compelling contemporary exploration of self-representation through the science of photography and digital media in response to the continuing impact of early 20th-century photographer Edward S. Curtis’s images from his The North American Indian (1907-1930).

PRESS RELEASE CONTINUED ORLANDO, FLORIDA [July 16, 2022] —

Wilson presents an authentic, twenty-first-century depiction of Indigenous culture through his photography, even allowing his subjects to choose the pose, clothing, props, and context of each photograph. This exhibition will also feature photographs from Edward Curtis, who traveled throughout the western United States between 1907 and 1930 to photograph the traditions and cultures of Native American peoples. The photographs of Wilson and Curtis, in conversation, offer a chance to see different depictions of Native peoples and to think critically about how they have been portrayed in photography over the past century.

Wilson’s ongoing Critical Indigenous Photographic Exchange (CIPX) addresses these misconceptions through his use of historical photographic techniques and emphasis on a reciprocal relationship with the sitters, which allows for agency over all aspects of their presentation. Wilson pushes the CIPX project even further into the contemporary with the inclusion of “Talking Tintypes,” which uses Augmented Reality (AR) technology in a convenient app to bring photographs to life.  In Conversation is a contemporary exploration of the science of photography but also a response to the historical impact and importance of (self-) representation.

In Conversation is made possible by the Art Bridges Foundation. Art Bridges is the vision of philanthropist and arts patron Alice Walton and is dedicated to expanding access to American art in all regions across the United States. Since 2017, Art Bridges has been creating and supporting programs that bring outstanding works of American art out of storage and into communities. Art Bridges partners with museums of all sizes and locations to provide financial and strategic support for exhibition development, collection loans from Art Bridges and other museums, and programs designed to educate, inspire, and deepen engagement with local audiences.

Will Wilson shares:

[Edward] Curtis created the most comprehensive archive of Indigenous North Americans,                        and now contemporary artists want to take that authority back and create archives of who they             believe themselves to be.

Shannon Fitzgerald, Executive Director, Mennello Museum of American Art states:

This exhibition is innovative and experimental as it powerfully introduces Native American image-making from both a historical and contemporary perspective that challenges perception,         expands knowledge about representation and narrative, and enlightens the public. The museum is honored to present Will Wilson’s conversation, and his Indigenous view of the historic images made by Edward S. Curtis (side by side) in a new light and context that wonderfully contributes to our dialogue about a more expansive view of American Art, its makers and its audiences.

In Conversation: Will Wilson is organized by Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art.

This exhibition was curated by Mindy Besaw, Curator of American Art/Director of Fellowships & Research from Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, and Ashley Holland (Cherokee), Associate Curator from the Art Bridges Foundation. The Mennello Museum of American Art is one of nine venues participating in this distinctive touring exhibition that is made possible with the financial support of Art Bridges.

Generous support provided by Art Bridges.

About Art Bridges

Art Bridges is the vision of philanthropist and arts patron Alice Walton. The mission of Art Bridges is to expand access to American art in all regions across the United States. Since 2017, Art Bridges has been creating and supporting programs that bring outstanding works of American art out of storage and into communities. Art Bridges partners with a growing network of over 190 museums of all sizes and locations to provide financial and strategic support for exhibition development, loans from the Art Bridges collection, and programs designed to educate, inspire, and deepen engagement with local audiences. The Art Bridges Collection represents an expanding vision of American art from the 19th century to the present day and encompasses multiple media and voices.

Mennello Museum of American Art and its exhibitions are generously supported by the City of Orlando and the Friends of the Mennello Museum of American Art. Orange County Government provides additional funding through the Arts & Cultural Affairs Program and United Arts of Central Florida. Sponsored in part by the State of Florida, Department of State, Division of Cultural Affairs and the Florida Council on Arts and Culture, and Visit Orlando. The exhibition is funded in part by the generous donors to the Frank Holt Fund, Strengthen Orlando and the City of Orlando.

Mennello Museum of American Art is owned and operated by the City of Orlando.

Will Wilson (b. 1969), Raven Knight, Citizen of the Jicarilla Apache Nation, Dancer, Dancing Earth, Indigenous Contemporary Dance Creations, 2012, printed 2018, archival pigment print from wet plate collodion scan, 22 x 17 in. Art Bridges. Photography by Brad Flowers.

Will Wilson (b. 1969), Will Wilson, Citizen of the Navajo Nation, Trans-customary Diné Artist, 2013, printed 2018, archival pigment print from wet plate collodion scan, 22 × 17 in. Art Bridges.

Will Wilson (b. 1969), Cory Van Zytveld, Director of Events, Four Mile Historic Park, US Citizen, 2013, printed 2018, archival pigment print from wet plate collodion scan, 22 × 17 in. Art Bridges.

An Irresistible Urge to Create

The Monroe Family Collection of Florida Outsider Art

ORLANDO, FLORIDA [May 10, 2022] — AN IRRESISTIBLE URGE TO CREATE: THE MONROE FAMILY COLLECTION OF FLORIDA OUTSIDER ART is the most comprehensive exhibition of Florida Outsider Art brought together for the first time into one travelling exhibition. The passion for Outsider Art runs deep in Florida, where self-taught artists have forged an indelible mark of special attention on the creative landscape of the state. The most comprehensive exhibition of its kind, organized by Boca Raton Museum of Art and traveled to Tampa Museum of Art, the Mennello Museum’s presentation is the final stop through October 16, 2022.  This is the first time the three museums have presented this definitive group of artists with an exhibition of this size and scope. Against the odds, many of these artists created obsessively to escape from their worlds that were often full of deep conflict and personal struggles

“This exhibition brings to the forefront the importance, really the essentiality, of visual creation as a means of candid expression – open and available to everyone to use no matter their background or supplies,” says Katherine Page, Curator of Art and Education, Mennello Museum of American Art. She continues, “The curatorial selection and essays by Kathy Goncharov (Senior Curator, Boca Raton Museum of Art:) and Joanna Robatham (Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art, Tampa Museum of Art), respectively, celebrates artists whose work and life experiences offer viewers an intimate look into amazing expressions of spirituality, environment, and private reality.”

Shannon Fitzgerald, Executive Director, Mennello Museum of American Art states:

The Monroe Collection of Florida Outsider Art reflects a deep connection to the origins of our museum with our pursuit, preservation, scholarship, and stewardship of the work of Florida Folk artist Earl Cunningham and the many folk artists and self-taught artists in our collection. We are proud to present the narrative of wonder, perseverance, and creativity located from a distinctly Florida perspective of some of its most vulnerable, yet immensely creative figures. The lineage that unfolds in the Monroe Family collection urges the viewer a compassionate consideration.

Starting in the early 1990s, the photographer Gary Monroe drove throughout the state of Florida for more than ten years ― from Key West to Jacksonville to Pensacola ― on a mission to find what he calls “Florida’s renegade artists.” Thirty years later, after collecting, protecting, and archiving more than 1,000 works by outsider artists, the result is an exhibition that leaves viewers spellbound. Monroe amassed an expansive collection, which includes the over 80 objects by 44 self-taught artists whose work is on display, many for the first time, in this exhibition. Against the odds, these artists obsessively painted or sculpted with an urgency to escape the conflict and struggle of daily life.

” When I made these journeys across Florida to seek out and connect with these outlier artists, it was before the internet and it was quite laborious,” says Monroe. During his decade-long quest across the state, Monroe personally met nearly all these artists one by one and became part of their lives. At the time this required a major personal commitment: he had to earn their trust to be allowed into their reclusive worlds. “It was an adventure,” adds Monroe. “Especially since there were no cell phones or GPS. Just good old road maps and phone booths.” Monroe’s odyssey culminated in 2003, when his book Extraordinary Interpretations: Florida’s Self-Taught Artists was published by the University Press of Florida. “This new project opens a welcome window into another world. The world of wonders that lies outside the artistic establishment, this confounds our understanding of contemporary art, in a good way” says Irvin Lippman, the Executive Director of the Boca Raton Museum of Art.

Outliers, boundary- crossers, pilgrims, exiles, An Irresistible Urge to Create presents 86 works, many never seen before, by 44 Florida artists including: Purvis Young, George Voronovsky, Aurelia “Mama” Johnson, Frank Ritchie, Ruby “Miss Ruby” Williams, Gene Beecher, Kathy d’Adesky, Brian Dowdall, Floryan (Florian) Ludwig, Reva Freedman, Ozzie Lee “OL” Samuels, Sybil Gibson, Joey Smollon, Polly Bernard, Milton Ellis, Janice Kennedy, John Gerdes, Susanne Blankemeier, Morgan Steele, Alyne Harris, and Ed Ott. “For these artists, making art was as essential as breathing,” says Irvin Lippman. “Their artistic freedom was a pure, sincere and intimate means of communication.”

The artists in this exhibition were not interested in monetary gain or acclaim, they just wanted to create. “People who admire the independent spirit that unites these artists are awed by their sense of urgency. Their art is genuine. They let it flow from deep within their interior selves, they did not promote their work,” says Monroe.

The exhibition is accompanied by a fully Illustrated catalogue with foreword by Irvin M. Lippman, Director of Boca Raton Museum of Art and Michael A. Tomor, PhD., Director of Tampa Museum of Art, and includes a special commissioned poem entitled Florida Primitives by Campbell McGrath, and essays by Joanna Robotham and Gary Monroe.

All Florida artists are primitives, so feral in their soil, so lush, endemic and elemental . . . All Florida artists are outsiders, outliers, highwaymen, boundary-crossers, pilgrims, exiles . . .,” and ends with: “art is an urge as irresistible as Florida.  – Campbell McGrath

A Brief History of Outsider Art

The interest in what is frequently called Outsider Art began in the early 20th-century with psychiatrists who studied artists who were institutionalized. In 1922, the book Artistry of the Mentally Ill became influential to the Surrealists. Later, in 1948, Jean Dubuffet and others founded the Compagnie de l’Art Brut, a collection of what they called “raw art” – art made outside the traditions of fine art. According to Kathleen Goncharov, the Senior Curator of the Boca Raton Museum of Art: “This interest has recently increased exponentially, as more mainstream institutions celebrate these kinds of artists. ‘Outsider’ artists are now most definitely ‘In.’ Many controversial terms have been bandied about to describe them, such as self-taught (in addition to ‘outsider’), but no truly definitive name yet. I suggest we call all creative works that are arresting, intriguing, and interesting conceptually, as simply ‘art’ and leave it at that. Jean Dubuffet said it best when he declared that art’s best moments are when it forgets what its own name is,” says Goncharov. “Artists create – that’s what they do.”

About Gary Monroe

Gary Monroe is a Florida photographer and author. He received a master’s degree in fine arts from the University of Colorado at Boulder. Monroe has photographed people and culture in numerous countries and throughout Florida, including the endings of the old-world Jewry that once characterized Miami’s South Beach, with extensive travels throughout Haiti, tourists on their “rite of passage” at Disney World, and corporate effects on the landscape. In addition, Mr. Monroe has written ten books about Florida art, including the seminal book, The Highwaymen: Florida’s African-American Landscape Painters, which explore uncharted cultural territories and constitute a meaningful part of our social history.

Mennello Museum of American Art also has in its permanent collection the work of Purvis Young, Aurelia “Mama” Johnson, Eddy Mumma, Ruby “Miss Ruby” Williams, Brian Dowdall, and John Gerders.

An Irresistible Urge to Create: The Monroe Family Collection of Florida Outsider Art images

Mennello Museum of American Art and its exhibitions are generously supported by the City of Orlando and the Friends of the Mennello Museum of American Art. Orange County Government provides additional funding through the Arts & Cultural Affairs Program and United Arts of Central Florida. Sponsored in part by the State of Florida, Department of State, Division of Cultural Affairs and the Florida Council on Arts and Culture, and Visit Orlando. The exhibition is funded in part by the generous donors to the Frank Holt Fund, Strengthen Orlando and the City of Orlando.

Mennello Museum of American Art is owned and operated by the City of Orlando.

Opening Reception

Friday, June 10, 2022

Members Only Preview | 5:30 – 6:30pm

Public Reception | 6:30 – 8:00pm

Free for Members

$12 for Future Members

Purchase Tickets at bit.ly/urge2create

Gallery Talk with Gary Monroe

Saturday, June 11, 2022 | 1pm

Free for Members or with Paid Admission