Category Archives: past

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

Contemporary Expressions

(January 21, 2022 – May 30, 2022)

PRESS RELEASE

Mennello Museum of American Art Presents Contemporary Expressions:

Prints from Flying Horse Editions (1996 – 2021)

ORLANDO, FLORIDA [January 21, 2021] – Mennello Museum of American Art announces Contemporary Expressions: Prints from Flying Horse Editions (1996 – 2021). Curated by the City of Orlando’s Public Art Collection, the exhibit holds the largest and most complete assemblage of works published by Flying Horse Editions, which is on view at Mennello Museum now through May 30, 2022.

“We’re fortunate to have Flying Horse Editions, a world-class printing program at the University of Central Florida, our community’s renowned research institution,” said Mennello Museum Executive Director Shannon Fitzgerald. “Flying Horse Editions has attracted some of the most prominent artists working today in the role of visiting artists who have had the opportunity to create limited-edition master prints with exceptional printmakers in a state-of-the-art facility. Following the trajectory of the artists and their output from Flying Horse Editions is a visual narrative and a testament to the immense talent we have coming to Orlando.”

Contemporary Expressions: Prints from Flying Horse Editions (1996 – 2021) presents a survey of limited-edition prints, artist books, and printed objects from over 60 internationally-renowned artists electrifying the art world today. Artists including Diana Al-Hadid, Odili Donald Odita, Will Cotton, David Humphrey, Chakaia Booker, James Sienna, Luis Gispert, Inka Essenhigh, Jiha Moon, and Mark Thomas Gibson are on view, engaging patrons with a dialogue about perception and understanding.

“The sustaining spirit of Flying Horse Editions is a collective endeavor,” said Theo Lotz, executive director, Flying Horse. “One of our first collaborators—and certainly one of the longest partnerships—has been with the City of Orlando’s Public Art collection. We’re thrilled that Mennello Museum is showcasing these works together and presenting such an in-depth survey of the various artists who have worked here over the past 30 years.”

For over three decades, esteemed painters, sculptors, and multimedia artists have worked in fellowship with Flying Horse Editions’ Master Printmakers at the University of Central Florida. This partnership encourages artists to experiment with methods and skillfully translate their distinct practices in painting, photography, and sculpture into the arena of printmaking.

Many of the artists presented here approach their creative practices conceptually and methodologically, as a means of researching, solving, expressing, and effectively visualizing increasingly complex theories and stylistic ideas across time and disciplines. They have drawn upon personal experience, art history, advances in science, and popular culture to create works that unify formal art theory with current understandings in fields including anthropology, biology, math, philosophy, physics, and psychology. Broadly, the themes explored by the artists fall into reobserving and reimagining of traditional subject matter and the emotional content imbued in still lifes, landscape, and the figure.

“The work from FHE presented in this exhibition challenges perceptions of language, identity, preservation, and adaptation in both real and hypothetical worlds,” said Katherine Page, curator of art and education, Mennello Museum. “I am especially interested in artistic production, as its contextualizing framework runs parallel to the scientific method that combines the decades-long history of science, printmaking, and modern and postmodern

“The work from FHE presented in this exhibition challenges perceptions of language, identity, preservation, and adaptation in both real and hypothetical worlds,” said Katherine Page, curator of art and education, Mennello Museum. “I am especially interested in artistic production, as its contextualizing framework runs parallel to the scientific method that combines the decades-long history of science, printmaking, and modern and postmodern art developments. The artists here are researchers, observers, experimenters, and publishers. As publishers, they share their exciting results—renderings of creation, communication, and conceptualization with a public beyond traditional, specialized academic fields.”

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

Additional support for Contemporary Expressions: Prints from Flying Horse Editions (1996 -2021) is provided by Public Art, City of Orlando.

Please send any image requests to Emily.McVeigh@CityofOrlando.net

Image Credits:

JIha Moon, Genie 1, 2019. Lithograph with screenprint on Arches Platine. City of Orlando Public Art Collection. © JIha Moon

Odili Donald Odita, Flower, 2020. Woodcut on Hahnemühle Copperplate. City of Orlando Public Art Collection. © Odili Donald Odita

Chie Fueki, Anahita, 2013. Woodcut and silkscreen on Somerset velvet with hand dyed Thai mulberry paper, chine collé, glitter, and foaming ink. Edition: 3/40. City of Orlando Public Art Collection. © Chie Fueki

Luis Gispert, Untitled, 2015. Woodcut and silkscreen with 22K gold-leaf and Swarovski Crystals on Lettra paper. Edition: 31/31. City of Orlando Public Art Collection. © Luis Gispert

Votes For Women Exhibition

Votes For Women: A Portrait Of Persistence Virtual Exhibition


The Mennello Museum of American Art, a Smithsonian Affiliate Museum, is delighted to share the Smithsonian’s virtual and poster traveling exhibition entitled Votes For Women: A Portrait Of Persistence

The story of women’s suffrage is a story of voting rights, of inclusion in and exclusion from the franchise, and of our civic development as a nation. Votes for Women: A Portrait of Persistence, celebrates the 100th anniversary of the Nineteenth Amendment and explores the complexity of the women’s suffrage movement and the relevance of this history to Americans’ lives today.

Join us as we scroll and stroll through this special exhibition exploring the centennial of women’s suffrage with images and portraits reproduced from the National Portrait Gallery and Smithsonian Museum.

Scroll through the virtual exhibition below, available through the end of November.
or
Stroll through the free, in-person exhibition by visiting the Mennello Museum’s front porch, on display now through election day, from 11 am – 4 pm (weather permitting). 

Afterward, continue your exploration of history and meet voting-rights heroes with our neighbors at the Orlando Repertory Theatre. Their production of Eric Coble’s “Vote?,” is streaming directly to you, now through November 8. Learn more by visiting OrlandoRep.com.


Introduction

Women’s Voting Rights Originated in the Women’s Movement

Constitutional Arguments and Women’s Voting Rights

The Concept of Citizenship Seems Straightforward, but…

The New Woman

Equality is the Sacred Law of Humanity

Suffragists Were Political Geniuses

American Suffragists Had Courage

Suffrage Map

The 19th Amendment Was an Incomplete Victory


Votes for Women: A Portrait of Persistence is organized by the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service in collaboration with the National Portrait Gallery. This project received support from the Smithsonian American Women’s History Initiative.

Construct: Our Orlando & American Youth: Cause

(October 2, 2020 – January 10, 2021)

Construct: Our Orlando presents artists Don Rimx (b. San Juan, Puerto Rico, 1981) and the collective Lemon Press [Anna Cruz (b. Manila, Philippines, 1992) and Adam Lavigne (b. Hillsboro, Missouri, 1988)]. In their individual practices, Don Rimx examines the shaping of Afro-Caribbean American identity through the lens of anatomy, place, and portraiture, while Lemon Press explore visual mapping of both time and language through storytelling and communication. These artists consider oppositions and challenge what has traditionally been considered high and low in art – classic and historic elements of drawing, mural making, print, and illustration converge in vibrant contemporary portraits and invented narratives that immediately draw the viewer into the canvas searching for a new way of perceiving the world through the artists’ creations.

The exhibition American Youth: Cause provides a space for the developing voices of our talented Orlando teen residents to engage in conversation about their own art and ideas. Exhibited artists were selected by museum Curator of Art and Education, Katherine Page, after an open call to all students throughout Orange County to explore the multiple definitions and meanings of “cause” in their artwork. From motivation and origination to principle, subject matter, and action – the cause belongs in the hands of the artist. Eight finalists were chosen for this juried exhibition based on the excellence of their work and personal narratives of their creative processes.

Maria Arias Correa (12th Grade, Cypress Creek High School)

Taylor Davidson (11th Grade, Boone High School)

Miller Georgoudiou (10th Grade, Edgewater High School)

Kiley Mack (10th Grade, Boone High School)

Lindsay Merrill (12th Grade, Bishop Moore Catholic)

Leliet Moran (11th Grade, Cypress Creek High School)

Amaya Nash (11th Grade, Boone High School)

Mackenzie Werking (10th Grade, Boone High School


Read about Don Rimx and Lemon Press’ work in the e-publication. (English Language)

Read about Don Rimx and Lemon Press’ work in the e-publication. (Spanish Language )

Read about Don Rimx and Lemon Press’ work in the e-publication. (Tagalog Language )

American Artists in the Southwest & American Paintings from the Melanson Holt Collection

(January 22 – April 11, 2021)

American Artists in the Southwest and American Paintings and Drawings from the Melanson Holt Collection showcase masterful painters and printmakers, who lived and created primarily in Taos and Santa Fe throughout the 20th century, working in lithography, etching, aquatint, wood block, and screen print. In honor of Mennello Museum of American Art Founding Director Frank Holt, the Melanson Holt Collection gift made from 2017-2019, furthers the story of American art for new and returning visitors with views of the land and people of the Southwest. The collection highlights 32 artists, including Indigenous artists Harrison Begay and Pop Chalee, along with Gene Kloss, John Sloan, Kenneth Adams, Dole Reed, Clark Willard, Homer Boss, B. Brussell-Smith, E. Martin Hennings, and many more. These artists sought to reveal and document the awe-inspiring desert light, remote lands, and extraordinary way of life in the changing American Southwest through their inventive forms of printmaking and painting alike.


American Artists in the Southwest from the Melanson Holt Collection featuring prints by:

  • Kenneth Adams
  • Henry Balink
  • Gustave Bauman
  • Harrison Begay
  • O.E. Berninghaus
  • Oscar Florianus Bleumner
  • Homer Boss
  • B. Brussell-Smith
  • Pop Chalee
  • Willard Clark
  • Howard Cook
  • John Stuart Curry
  • Adolf Dehn
  • E. Martin Hennings
  • Rockwell Kent
  • Gene Kloss
  • Leon Loughridge
  • Peter Moran
  • Russell Natt
  • Herbert Pullinger
  • Dole Reed
  • Coy Avon Seward
  • Will Shuster
  • John Sloan

Modern American Paintings from the Melanson Holt Collection, Abstraction and Realism on view in the Marilyn Gallery featuring:

  • Emil Bisttram
  • Charles Burchfield
  • Arthur B. Davies
  • Henry Martin Gasser
  • Richard Haley Lever
  • Reginald Marsh
  • Jan Matulka
  • Alfred Maurer
  • Max Weber

The Grand Portraits of Mr. Eddy Mumma

(April 23 – August 1, 2021)

The Mennello Museum of American Art is proud to announce the exhibition opening of The Grand Portraits of Mr. Eddy Mumma. The exhibit is only the third solo museum exhibition of the artist’s work to date and is on view from April 23 – August 1, 2021. 

“The museum is excited to bring together 25 compelling paintings by one of Florida’s self-taught and truly outsider artists,” shared Mennello Museum Executive Director Shannon Fitzgerald. “The portraits reflect the people and personalities with whom he desired to surround himself. He was prolific in production and with a compulsion to immerse himself in his self-isolation suggests that his creative quest was deeply personal, cathartic, and absolutely necessary.”

The Grand Portraits of Mr. Eddy Mumma explores the self-taught artist’s lavish portraits from the Mennello Museum of American Art’s collection and other prominent Florida collections – including Josh Feldstein, The Gadsden Arts Center & Museum, and Dr. Lou Hill.

Mumma abandoned any notion of traditional art schooling after a teacher’s insult during his first lesson at the age of 60 in Gainesville, Florida. A homebound Mumma would take this slight in stride. Instead of giving up, he poured over art books, texts, and popular magazines given to him by friends and family. These beloved images intermingled with his imagination to develop the round-faced, wide-awake, geometric figures he is renowned for today. A proliferation of portraits originally hung from every inch of the artist’s modest home, immersing the artist in a gallery of his self-inspired works. These mysterious, smiling, and sometimes frenzied characters were his constant companions, always within sight, rarely shown, and never sold.

Feldstein’s eye for the cleverness and ingenuity of Mumma’s painting practice was instrumental in preserving the artist’s many works. At the time of Mumma’s passing in 1986, he had completed nearly 1,000 paintings – excitedly using the brightest paints on any surface within reach, painting both sides of doors, lamps, plywood, masonite, canvas, and glass. It was the foresight and graciousness of Feldstein to assist the artist’s daughter, Carroll Gunsaulies, in preserving and sharing her father’s work with the world that entered him into the celebrated canon of American Folk Art. Mumma is also featured in the Smithsonian American Art Museum collections, the American Folk Art Museum, Minneapolis Institute of Art, the Fenimore Museum, the Kohler Foundation, and the American Visionary Art Museum among others. Serendipitously, an insult by a Gainesville art instructor and 18 years creating art in Gainesville ultimately led to Gainesville, Florida’s Samuel P. Harn Museum of Art highlighting Mumma’s collection.

“I am delighted to share The Grand Portraits of Mr. Eddy Mumma with our audiences this summer,” said Mennello Museum Curator of Art and Education Katherine Page. “While studying Mumma’s portraiture and paintings, one begins to understand his deep appreciation for historical painting and ethnographic photography. Renowned images inspired his work, from Van Gogh to Frans Hals and the pages of National Geographic. This admiration translated into recreating masterpieces in his own distinctive style, which was dedicated to the expression of form, color, and texture therein. “She continues, “The figures in Mumma’s later portraits carry unique and intimate yet recognizable emotions: some appear cheerful, focused, proud, sad, nervous, and even alienated. The effect is striking and pulls the viewer closer into the piece— face-to-face with the artist’s intuitive practice.”

“I am delighted to share The Grand Portraits of Mr. Eddy Mumma with our audiences this summer,” said Mennello Museum Curator of Art and Education Katherine Page. “While studying Mumma’s portraiture and paintings, one begins to understand his deep appreciation for historical painting and ethnographic photography. Renowned images inspired his work, from Van Gogh to Frans Hals and the pages of National Geographic. This admiration translated into recreating masterpieces in his own distinctive style, which was dedicated to the expression of form, color, and texture therein. “She continues, “The figures in Mumma’s later portraits carry unique and intimate yet recognizable emotions: some appear cheerful, focused, proud, sad, nervous, and even alienated. The effect is striking and pulls the viewer closer into the piece— face-to-face with the artist’s intuitive practice.”

The 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. 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, City of Orlando.

Floating Beauty: Women in the Art of Ukiyo-e

(August 13 – November 7, 2021)

Examines historical perspectives on women and their depiction in art in Edo Period Japan (1615 – 1858). Made up entirely of woodblock prints created in the ukiyo-e style, this exhibition highlights female characters in literature, kabuki theatre, and poetry; the courtesans and geisha of the Yoshiwara district; and wives and mothers from different social classes performing the duties of their station, in order to gain some insight into the lives of women in pre-modern Japan.

Through the Darkness to Light: Photographs Along the Underground Railroad

(November 19, 2021– January 9, 2022)

While honoring the historical necessity of the movement’s secrecy, Through Darkness to Light: Photographing the Underground Railroad provides visitors with a small glimpse of what the long road to freedom may have looked like for 100,000 enslaved Americans in the years before the Civil War’s end. Over the course of a decade, photographer Jeanine Michna-Bales researched those brave men and women, their collective steps toward liberation, and the complicated paths that led them there—with the hope that visitors might learn more, ask questions, and open dialogue on the subject, all toward better understanding how we all are connected.

Mira Lehr: High Water Mark

On view January 24 – September 13, 2020

Mira Lehr’s entire career as an artist has focused on the natural world and our relationship with our surroundings. Her residence in Miami, with a studio nestled right on the water, has obviously steered her work towards the waterways and open ocean that form such an integral part of life in Florida.

A “high water mark” indicates a literal measurement for the highest point the water level reaches in a given area at a particular time. However, alternate meanings of the term suggest maximum value in various other sectors of life. It seems fitting, then, that this phrase should be applied to the work of an artist whose career spans five decades, building toward a well-earned peak. Lehr’s recent work has been lauded by critics for the meaningful and contemplative commentary she offers on a timely and contentious subject, the state of our natural world. However, her sense of wonder and optimism about humanity’s ability to rise to the occasion with solutions guides both her life and work.

As an eco-feminist artist from Miami whose career spans five decades, her nature-based imagery encompasses painting, design, sculpture and video installations. Lehr’s processes include non-traditional media such as resin, gunpowder, fire, Japanese paper, dyes and welded steel.

Lehr has affected a new generation of young artists by serving as a mentor and collaborator, teaching master classes with the National Young Arts Foundation.  She has also been an artist in residence at the Bascom Summer Programs.

Join us for the opening reception on January 24.

John Baker: Mind Wealth

November 20, 2019 – January 12, 2020

Artist’s Reception – December 11, 2019 | 5:30 – 7:30 pm

The Mennello Museum of American Art proudly presents, John Baker: Mind Wealth — the captivating photography of artist John Baker, whose work unveils a moment in time where light interacts gracefully among crowds or an individual within charming human-built spaces. Baker brilliantly captures the interplay of human interaction surrounded by highly contrasted shadow and bright light cast onto the smooth metals and the textured brick of city streets encountered during his travels.

The title of the exhibition is drawn from a photograph taken by the artist, which asks the viewer to confront philosophical ideas associated with idealism and youth or materiality and maturity in an art filled space that encourages the same attention to thought.  Inspired by the ephemeral and profound moods evoked in Edward Steichen’s early photography, the soft-focused documentation of urban life by Alfred Stieglitz, the architectural abstraction of Paul Strand, and the high contrast drama commanded by Henri Cartier-Bresson, Baker’s photographs continue a long tradition of considering place and people through contemporary black and white photography.

“On the occasion of our major exhibition with pioneering photographer Edward Steichen, I am delighted to have the opportunity to share the photography of an outstanding local artist, John Baker, who has long admired the avant-garde work by photographers at the turn of the last century, and employs this creative exploration in his own work. Through his photography, Baker presents a wonderful consideration of the splendor of contemporary society with a modernist lens of location. Baker elegantly frames the world he sees, reminding us all to find the wonder in the lives we walk through every day.”

Katherine Navarro, Curator of Art and Education

John Baker is a recognized black and white film photographer and multimedia artist living and working in Orlando. He teaches photography at the Crealdé School of Art, holds a gallery studio at FAVO, is an annual Indie-Folkfest artist at the Mennello Museum and, among other accolades, has won Best of Show at the Orlando Museum of Art’s First Thursdays.

John Baker: Mind Wealth is curated by Katherine Navarro, Curator of Art and Education, Mennello Museum of American Art.