Category Archives: 2024

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

Sally Michel: Abstracting Tonalism

The Mennello Museum of American Art will present Sally Michel: Abstracting Tonalism from September 20, 2024 to January 12, 2025.  This exhibition will be the artist’s first solo museum exhibition in over 23 years and her first in Florida, a location where she sought both colorful inspiration and secluded respite in the state’s natural beauty.

Sally Michel: Abstracting Tonalism will bring forth a fresh and innovative consideration of Michel’s legacy outlining a new, non-linear narrative of paintings created between 1930s and the 1990s that address Michel’s distinctive use of color, abstraction, and form.  Through their own personal moments of familiar critique, painting side by side for years, Michel and husband Milton Avery developed a style that has been described as the bridge between Realism and Avant-Garde – The Avery Style.  The style describes how Michel incorporated still-recognizable imagery (genre scenes like landscapes, still lives, or portraits) simplified through abstraction and constructed of interconnected fields of bold, emotive color.  Beyond the similarity of the family’s style, Michel’s paintings reflect her own interests in the everyday, landscape, and human figure as well as her exposure to the blossoming New York City art world and artists of the European Avant-Garde – Henri Matisse, Andre Derain, Vincent van Gogh, Paul Cezanne, Edgar Degas, and Pablo Picasso. Looking toward more traditional art forms, Michel found inspiration in the Tonalism movement wherein artists were concerned with conveying how a landscape felt in one’s spirit – a reality beyond appearances.

Curated by Katherine Page, Curator of Art & Education, Sally Michel: Abstracting Tonalism establishes a curatorial framework for reconsidering the painterly genius of Michel.  The narrative begins with how Michel began painting seriously after finishing high school in Brooklyn but chose to work as an illustrator for Macy’s and The New York Times Magazine to support her family for over three decades while she encouraged her husband, artist Milton Avery to pursue success in the New York art world.

This exhibition considers 33 paintings and 17 works on paper unfolding across seven decades that impart a lyrical expression of the everyday and share Michel’s respect for humans, animals, and deep admiration for nature and its corresponding ever-changing light.  A force in abstraction, figuration, tonalism, and color, Sally Michel’s extraordinary production is a rich, varied, and compelling story that commands a more inclusive consideration that did not manifest in her lifetime.

Accompanying this exhibition will be a hardbound, scholarly catalog featuring two new essays: one exploring Michel’s abstract language and tonalism in relationship to figuration and one new essay by Eleanor Heartney, well known as a curator and critic and a long-time contributing editor of Art in America and the author of numerous books, including Art & Today, Postmodernism, and After the Revolution: Women Who Transformed Contemporary Art.  The museum also plans to tour the exhibition at one venue between March 2025 and March 2026.

Sally Michel, Bill and Friends, 1988. Oil on canvas. Collection of the MennelloMuseum of American Art, Museum Purchase with Funds from the Friends of the MennelloMuseum of American Art, 2018-001-001. Photographer: Noel Allum. © 2023 The Milton Avery Trust / Artists Rights Society (ARS), NewYork

An Evening With Fabulous Friends

FEBRUARY 24, 2024 | 5:30 – 9:00PM

Join us under the stars at the Mennello Museum of American Art!


Featuring Artist – Barbara Sorensen, Orlando’s most distinctive sculptor!

An Evening with Fabulous Friends provides the opportunity for individuals, foundations, and corporations to introduce new friends to the remarkable Mennello Museum of American Art while enriching the greater Orlando community with support for the museum’s welcoming education program and its exceptional standing as a burgeoning center for art, culture, education, and excitement for all.

Thank you to our 2024 Sponsors:

Resource Consulting Group
Owens Realty Services
Fisher Rushmer
Daisy and Jan Staniszkis
Barbara Sorensen
Vanessa & Walter Ketcham
Kim & Joseph Amos
HMS Host
Burr & Forman LLP
BofA Securities
Enterprise Holdings
“Genean Hawkins McKinnon
McKinnon Associates, INC.”
J.P. Morgan
Pat & Randy Robertson
Jan & Jim Southall
Rocky Santomassino
Dr. Robert Feldman
Apenberry’s Gardens
Dr. Jean & Dr. Frederick Raffa
Gail & Michael Winn
Orange Appeal
City of Orlando
Interior Appeal