Show Preview | American Women Artists

Stockton, CA
Haggin Museum, August 2-September 16

Sharon Pomales Tousey, While the World Burns, oil, 30 x 40.

Sharon Pomales Tousey, While the World Burns, oil, 30 x 40.

This story was featured in the August 2018 issue of Southwest Art magazine. Get the Southwest Art August 2018 print issue or digital download now–then subscribe to Southwest Art and never miss another story.

When 100 talented women artists are tasked with creating original works of art inspired by iconic paintings from the past, the result is guaranteed to be illuminating. For evidence, we need look no further than a unique show opening this month at the newly renovated Haggin Museum in Stockton, CA. Titled Full Sun, the exhibition and sale presents paintings and sculptures by 100 members of American Women Artists, including Julie Davis, Cynthia Feustel, Terry Cooke Hall, and Gladys Roldan-de-Moras. Each artist was asked to choose one of 13 paintings in the museum’s core art collection as the inspiration for her piece. Among the enticing options were 19th- and 20th-century masterworks by Albert Bierstadt, Rosa Bonheur, William Merritt Chase, George Inness, and Pierre-Auguste Renoir.

“It’s a very unusual show, very different from anything AWA has done in the past,” executive director Robin Knowlton says of her group’s exhibition, which opens on Thursday, August 2, with a reception and awards ceremony beginning at 5:30 p.m. “Our artists ended up choosing 11 paintings from the list of 13 choices, and it’s been wonderful to see what they came up with.” Some artists, for example, applied their “regional sensibilities” to their pieces, notes Knowlton. Others took a whimsical approach, creating loose, playful interpretations of their chosen masterwork. The result is a diverse presentation of styles and themes, from landscapes and florals to wildlife and figurative works. 

Colorado animal sculptor Diane Mason carefully considered the list of options before settling upon her masterwork of choice: SOPHISTICATION by Harry Willson Watrous (1857-1940). The oil painting features an aristocratic woman in a sleek black dress and feathered hat, leisurely enjoying a cup of tea. Being a “devoted tea drinker,” Mason couldn’t help but zero in on the cup of tea in the painting. Her ensuing bronze sculpture, TEA FOR TWO?, portrays a pair of wrens “dropping by” for a sip of the woman’s tea. Or perhaps they’re “just attempting to steal the string on the tea bag for nesting material,” jokes the artist. Either way, she adds, “Better live little birds than the sadly deceased ones represented by the plumes on [the woman’s] hat!”

Canadian artist Linda LeGrice felt a “zap of nostalgia” when she viewed LA TOILETTE, Renoir’s 1888 pastel painting of a woman quietly styling a young girl’s hair. For the artist, the scene conjured a memory from years ago. “The memory—poles apart from the serenity of the Renoir painting—took me back to my childhood growing up in the 1960s, when my mother would roll my hair in hard, plastic, snap-on rollers and send me to bed for a long, painful night’s sleep,” says LeGrice. Thus inspired, the artist painted THE BRUSH – INNER CHILD II, a bright, free-spirited portrait of herself with an enormous paintbrush in hand. “It felt great to rebel and paint a self-portrait of my naughty inner child, with her hair in a chaotic mess, very reminiscent of what I would draw with my Etch A Sketch,” she says.

The exhibition marks the third show in AWA’s “25 in 25” initiative, which aims to bring artworks by women into American museums over the next 25 years. All works are on view and for sale through Sunday, September 16. —Kim Agricola

contact information
209.368.5123
www.americanwomenartists.org

This story was featured in the August 2018 issue of Southwest Art magazine. Get the Southwest Art August 2018 print issue or digital download now–then subscribe to Southwest Art and never miss another story.

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