Illinois State Museum Society members gathered in the art galleries last night to view the new exhibition Michiko Itatani: Celestial Visions which opens to the public on March 25 and to converse with curator Doug Stapleton about the works on exhibit in Just Good Art: The Chuck Thurow Gift.
Just Good Art opened in February and features works newly donated to the collection by Chicago collector and arts advocate Chuck Thurow. Of the 56 Illinois artists represented in the gift, 34 are new to the Museum’s collections. Just Good Art is open through May 8.
Michiko Itatani is one of Chicago’s most well-respected contemporary artists. Celestial Visions features new acquisitions of drawings and prints alongside installation-based and heroically scaled figurative paintings from the Museum’s Fine Art Collection. This exhibition will be open through June 5.
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Providing programs that complement and enhance classroom learning is one of the many important roles of the Museum. Last month, Dr. Michael Wiant presented a program on Native American life to more than 100 second-grade students in Chatham. The students had been studying how Native Americans survived in their environment. Dr. Wiant illustrated his presentation with animal skins, casts of tracks, artifacts, and a mastodon molar. The students sent Dr. Wiant thank you notes, which showed that in addition to enjoying the program, they were also paying close attention. We couldn’t resist sharing a few here.
Thank you for coming to our school. I just love learning about Native Americans! I really really liked it when you taught us so much about Native Americans! I really liked learning about those tracks. Thank you thank you thank you!
Thank you for doing my favorite thing: sharing! I like dinosaurs because they are cool. My favorite thing is the racoon hide because I like racoons. Thanks!
Thank you for coming and showing us the cool stuff. My favorite part is when we did the quiz.
View-Master and reels, Illinois State Museum collections
Christmas Ornaments, Illinois State Museum collections
Toys and Marshall Field’s merchandise, Illinois State Museum collections
Santa Nutcraker, Illinois State Museum collections
A nostalgic collection of Marshall Field’s Christmas decorations is on display in the State Museum lobby. It includes toys, ornaments, and postcards. The crown jewels of the collection are Uncle Mistletoe and Aunt Holly. The characters were introduced in 1945 and were often seen at the top of the Christmas Tree in the Walnut Room as well as other locations in the store.
Uncle Mistletoe, Illinois State Museum collections
Aunt Holly, Illinois State Museum collections
Do you remember Uncle Mistletoe and Aunt Holly? What is your favorite Marshall Fields Christmas memory?
The Illinois State Museum is pleased to have lent Diane Simpson’s sculpture Samurai #9, 1983, to JTT Gallery in New York. JTT’s exhibition features works from Diane Simpson’s landmark Samurai series, which were first exhibited in 1983 at Phyllis Kind’s Chicago gallery. The series consists of eight freestanding sculptures inspired by samurai armor and Japanese firemen capes—seven of which JTT has gathered for their exhibition. The exhibition runs through January 15, 2017.
The Samurai Series is an early example of Simpson’s life long engagement with the potential of translating clothing and body adornment into elegant sculptures. Samurai #9 is a simplified figure of a samurai warrior, made of precisely cut sheets of MDF (medium-density fibreboard), and assembled without hardware along oblique angles, mirroring the flattened geometric perspective employed in Japanese prints. Her figure is as much architecture as armor.
The Museum purchased Samurai #9 from the Phyllis Kind Gallery in 1983. It has subsequently been on view in Diane Simpson’s retrospective at the Chicago Cultural Center in 2010, and in Figurism: Narrative and Fantastic Figuration at the Illinois State Museum.
“Adam and Eve,” Manierre Dawson, 1908, Oil on canvas, 30″ x 21.5″, Collection of Illinois State Museum
“Hercules I”, Manierre Dawson, 1913, Oil on canvas, 36″ x 28″, Collection of Illinois State Museum
“Figure by the Window”, Manierre Dawson, 1915, Oil on canvas, 30″ x 24″, Collection of Illinois State Museum
When searching through art history text books on the subject of inventing modern abstraction, it is unlikely that you will find the name Manierre Dawson (1887-1969). When it comes to who made the first totally non-representational paintings, you will find familiar names like Wassily Kandinsky, Kazimir Malevich, Pablo Picasso, Piet Mondrian and Arthur Dove. But recent scholarship contends that Dawson, a little known artist from Chicago, took his own journey to non-objective painting, and may even have arrived there shortly before these other famous artists.
On December 10, the Museum will proudly present Manierre Dawson: A Journey to Abstraction. The exhibition, comprised of 16 original oil paintings, tells the story of how a Midwest artist, trained as an architectural engineer, with virtually no direct contact with his early 20th century European and American Avant-Garde counterparts, independently arrived at the same artistic destination. Visitors will be able to see some of the earliest examples of Dawson’s abstracting tendencies, where naïve-looking figures inhabit flattened, simplified landscapes. The exhibition will show Dawson’s journey to pure abstraction and some of the stops along the way that shaped his innovative artistic vision and defined his life. Discover some of the reasons why—in the end—he is not as well known.
This exhibition is located in the Illinois State Museum‘s Temporary/Permanent Gallery which features temporary exhibitions from the Museum’s permanent collections. The Illinois State Museum is located at 502 South Spring Street, Springfield. The Museum is open Monday through Saturday from 9 a.m.-4:30 p.m. and Sunday from Noon-4:30 p.m.
Image courtesy The Field Museum
Springfield—On December 2, the Illinois State Museum is providing an opportunity to see the Field Museum’s exhibition China’s First Emperor and His Terracotta Warriors first hand on a day trip to Chicago. During the ride to the Field Museum, Dr. Michael Wiant, ISM Interim Director, will provide commentary on the Terracotta Warriors, as well as the culture of Illinois’ native peoples during the same time period. In addition to seeing the Warriors exhibit, participants will have full access to all of the Field’s exhibits, including the new Cyrus Tang Hall of China.
Participants will depart the ISM Research & Collections Center in Springfield at 7:00 a.m. on December 2, and return to the RCC around 10:30 p.m. The trip costs $130 for Illinois State Museum Society members and $150 for non-members. The fee includes transportation via chartered motor coach, access to all Field Museum exhibitions, exclusive educational content, a boxed lunch, and dinner in Chicago’s Chinatown neighborhood.
Those interested in attending can find additional details and registration information at bit.ly/ismtrip2016. Registration and payment are due by Tuesday, November 15. Space is limited, so registering as soon as possible is recommended. For questions, contact Elizabeth Bazan at email@example.com or (217) 782-5993.
Mary Ann MacLean, long-serving member of the Illinois State Museum Board, friend, and inspired proponent of the value of play, died on Thursday, August 18. She will be sorely missed. Her legacy lives on at the Illinois State Museum in Springfield in the Mary Ann MacLean Play Museum and the Mary Ann MacLean Resource Center. More than 207,000 children and their families have visited the Play Museum since its opening in 2011.
For 32 years, Mary Ann was a member of the Illinois State Museum Board of Directors, and she held the position of Chair of the Board. She was an incomparable leader and Museum advocate. As a member of the Illinois State Board of Education, Mary Ann MacLean promoted the Museums in the Classroom initiative, and advanced the role of the Illinois State Museum in this innovative program. Mary Ann and her family generously supported the creation of the Mary Ann MacLean Play Museum and Resource Center, the R. Bruce McMillan Museum Internship, and innumerable other Illinois State Museum programs and activities.
In honor of Mary Ann and the Play Museum that bears her name, the Illinois State Museum will hold a “Celebration of Play” family event on Saturday, September 24 from 11:00 am to 3:00 pm. Visitors are invited to enjoy a day of play, including marble painting, historic games and toys, shadow puppets, puzzles, sidewalk chalk, bubbles, and more.
Mary Ann MacLean (bottom left) poses with her family during the preview of the Mary Ann MacLean Play Museum