2010 President's Message - Past President's Message

2010 President's Message

Dear MAHS Member,

Welcome back from what I hope has been a relaxing, rewarding, and enjoyable summer for everyone.

If you participated in the April conference in Omaha, I know you will join me in thanking conference chair Jim Czarnecki for all of the arrangements that helped to make the conference a success. Particular thanks must also be given to our hosts at the Joslyn Art Museum and the studio of Jun Kaneko, where the conference theme of Monumentality was particularly resonant. Kenneth Bé and Debra Long conducted a fascinating tour of the Gerald R. Ford Conservation Center, an art conservation laboratory located near the site of the former president’s birthplace. Grant Wood’s Corn Murals, formerly in two hotels in Omaha and Council Bluffs, Iowa, were under restoration there. During the membership meeting, the Board of Directors honored Mrs. Jean M. Green of Kansas City, Missouri, with the first Charles D. Cuttler Award for Contributions to the History of Art for her many years of generous financial support for MAHS’ publications of the Corpus of Drawings in Midwestern Collections. The award is named in honor of art historian and MAHS founder Charles D. Cuttler. Photos of the Omaha conference are posted in the Archives section of the MAHS Web site.

In February, MAHS once again held a CAA affiliate session. Leesa Fanning, Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art at the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art chaired a session on New Acquisitions in Midwestern Collections. Next year, the CAA annual conference will be in New York (Feb. 9-12), and MAHS’ session, “Teaching to the Text,” honors Charles D. Cuttler, author of Northern Painting from Pucelle to Bruegel. The session will focus on the place of survey texts in the teaching of art history, and will be chaired by Laura Gelfand (University of Akron) and Constantine Petridis (Cleveland Museum of Art). Speakers include Anne Roberts (Janson’s History of Art 7th edition), Henry Luttikhuizen (Snyder’s Northern Renaissance Art and Art of the Middles Ages), and Robin Poynor (A History of Art in Africa).

The Board of Directors has been indefatigable in preparing future conferences and maintaining our new relationship with the CAA as an affiliate society. The Board worked on new and much needed revisions of our By-Laws, now finished and posted on our Web site. The Web site is under the supervision of ever-vigilant Board Member David Stark, and he and Gustav Medicus have been responsible for producing our very handsome issues of E-News. Their service and talent are much appreciated.

Don’t forget to join us on Facebook. There are interesting discussions there, and by the way, as a member of MAHS, you are entitled to a twenty percent discount from Oxford University Press.

MAHS will make its first visit to Grand Rapids, Michigan, with the 38th annual conference on April 14-16, 2011. The host sites include the Frederick Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park, the Grand Rapids Art Museum, and the Urban Institute for Contemporary Arts (UICA). Conference chairs Joseph A. Becherer (Frederick Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park) and Henry Luttikhuizen (Calvin College) and their colleagues have put together a program comprising twenty historical and thematic sessions, including “The Body in Art,” “Conservation,” “Gardens as Art,” and “Public Sculpture.“ Several events are planned, including an evening dialogue at Meijer Gardens with famed American painter, sculptor, printmaker, illustrator, performance artist, stage designer, and poet Jim Dine; and a presentation at the UICA by Rebecca Zorach, author of the acclaimed book Blood, Milk, Ink,Gold: Abundance and Excess in the French Renaissance.

If you are unfamiliar with Grand Rapids, you are in for some wonderful surprises. The Frederick Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park has an extraordinary collection of modern and contemporary sculpture, with works by Rodin, Degas, Maillol, Moore, Hepworth, and Nevelson, as well as installations by Goldsworthy, Gragg, Plensa, Borofsky, and Bourgeois. The Grand Rapids Art Museum celebrated its centennial in 2007 with the opening of an acclaimed and ecologically sophisticated new facility. The museum houses a collection of works dating from the Renaissance to the Modern era, and is particularly strong in nineteenth-century painting, and American prints and drawings. UICA is the largest center for Contemporary Art in Michigan, and its new state-of-the-art facility, which opens in fall 2010, will offer exhibitions and film. Grand Rapids is the center of a metropolitan area of more than 1.2 million residents, and is one of the most culturally vibrant communities in the upper Midwest. The downtown area, with its many restaurants, is distinguished by public sculpture by Calder (since 1969), Mark di Suvero, Maya Lin, Ellsworth Kelly, and Robert Morris. The city is the site of the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum, the Public Museum of Grand Rapids, and Frank Lloyd Wright’s Meyer May House in the Heritage Hill district - the nation’s largest contiguous neighborhood of historic homes. In addition, it is home to seven colleges and universities, ballet, opera, and the highly regarded Grand Rapids Symphony, under the direction of Maestro David Lockington. Mark your calendar.

Robert Randolf Coleman
August 2010