The exhibition at the Amarillo Museum of Art featuring current acquisitions and works on loan, belies the reputation that this area only elevates western art.
In fact, the displayed works works reveal an institutional character that is, in effect, progressive, post-modernist and eclectic. A sampling will underscore these qualities.
“Hamilton Holding,” by John Himmelfarb, is a Kandinsky-esque work acquired as a gift from James A and Geraldine Zorn. AMOA’s association with the artist goes back to “The Trucks of John Himmelfarb” exhibition in 2015.
Aaron Karp’s Blue Flicker, 1982, a gift from the Blanton Museum of Art and Tim Jarvis, is a linear collation of textures and chromatic melds. In the words of the artist, “It is about the fracturing of color and space, about looking at and into something to extract information and meaning.”
Ray Howlett gifted Ocean Waves, 2007 to AMOA. This piece, reminiscent of Dale Chihuly, is a dichroic glass and metal op art construction that beckons the viewer into the endless. Part of Howlett’s oeuvre which he calls “Contained Reflective Light Sculpture,” this work will become a focus of fascination whenever featured by the museum.
And, speaking of trompe l’oeil, Barna Kantor’s, Retinal Message 2004, another gift from the Blanton with funds donated by the Director’s Circle, definitely tricks the eye and messes with the mind. Endless wall permutations result from the interaction of rotating perforated disks atop twin overheads, a sure bet to mesmerize kids of all ages.
A nod to Amarillo’s own are the incandescent landscape photos of Jim Jordan, whose provenance includes residence at a German Schloss. We’re glad these works of art are back home where they belong.
The generosity of Mike and Dalia Engler and the Bivins Family Foundation has resulted in AMOA acquiring not one, but three works by Elaine De Kooning: Taurus XIV and portraits of Lee and Betty Bivins. This artist also painted the iconic image of JFK.
These works accrete to works in the permanent collection by O’Keeffe, Frankenthaller and Nevelson, amounting to a veritable Who’s Who among American women artists of the twentieth century.
And, in this context we must mention the Judy Chicago’s work, Big Blue Pink, 1971, currently on loan from Art Bridges. Next year AMOA hosts an exhibition of her work, an unexpected event for the red-based high plains considering the unambiguous assertion in many of her pieces.
The philosophy behind these acquisitions, whether temporary or permanent, bespeaks both openness and outreach, not prairie provincialism. The quality and diversity of the works show that the AMOA is certainly doing its part to “Keep Amarillo Artsy! Keep Austin Weird! Keep Lubbock in the Rear View Mirror!!!!”