Joslyn reunites “Well Traveled, Rarely Seen” art with patrons

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June 20th, 2011

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Omaha, NE – Art lovers in Omaha are remembering old favorites and discovering new ones, as the Joslyn Art Museum’s latest exhibitions reunite its world-famous inventory with its hometown patrons, and also shows off a few new additions.

Last Friday, the Joslyn Art Museum opened its doors to its members to preview its latest collection, Well Traveled & Rarely Seen. On display are some of the Joslyn’s most prized, and perhaps its least known yet most-traveled, masterpieces.

Joslyn members preview the newest exhibits at the museum. (Photo by Lindsey Peterson)

“It’s a snap shot of our permanent collection,” said Joslyn’s newest Chief Curator, Toby Jurovics. “What often happens with a well-known hometown museum, it turns out its collection is better known outside of the city than it is to many of its hometown patrons.”

Jurovics has been on the job for less than six months. When he arrived, he was tasked with putting together an exhibit to reignite the pride of Omaha’s art patrons. He had to bring home, and bring out from the vaults, some of Joslyn’s permanent pieces ranging from Greek pottery to mid-19th century works.

These works were featured in exhibitions all over the world—including the Boston Museum of Fine Art, the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the J. Paul Getty Museum in L.A., and the Musée d’Orsay and the Louvre in Paris. One painting arrived home only a week ago, back from Madrid.

“I came here knowing all the greatest hits but I didn’t know all the hidden treasures,” said Jurovics. “So I hope everyone will have the same kind of delight and sense of discovery I did when they come through the exhibition.”

Jurovics said choosing a favorite piece in the collection would be like choosing a favorite child. The one that he prefers? An elegant, black and white drawing titled Ganders by Morris Graves.

"Ganders" by Morris Graves is one of Jurovics' favorite pieces in the exhibition. (Photo by Lindsey Peterson)

“Every day I come here I have something different that grabs me,” he said. “And my favorite piece on Tuesday is perhaps different than my favorite piece on Friday. But today I think I’d point to the Morris Graves.”

But before Ganders became his favorite, Jurovics said it took the nudging of his colleagues to really appreciate the piece and put it in the show.

Favorites are wide-ranging among the Joslyn staff. As I walked through the exhibit I noticed a large, white piece by Ellen Gallagher titled, Watery Ecstatic. It’s part of a side exhibit, New and Noteworthy, that showcases the museum’s newest acquisitions of modern and contemporary art. The piece requires leaning in close to make sense of the monochromatic work where the art lies in intricate paper cuts.

Soon I was approached by Joslyn docent, Anne Shaughnessy. “It is a fascinating piece,” she said. “And I think the technique is every bit as fascinating as any references to it.”

"Watery Ecstatic" by Ellen Gallagher is a favorite of Joslyn docent, Anne Shaughnessy. (Photo by Lindsey Peterson)

Shaughnessy describes Gallagher as an artist inspired by wig advertisements as well as black history. Sea creatures and water scenes delicately cut into paper, Shaughnessy said, are a representation of deceased slaves thrown overboard at sea during the slave trade. The watery world created though, is light-hearted and beautiful.

“It’s one of my favorites,” said Shaughnessy.

Mary Parrish is a Joslyn member and future Joslyn docent hopeful. “We came to look at this exhibit because really these have been hidden,” she said. “Some of them I haven’t seen before, but it’s wonderful to see that our works have gone all over the world,” said Parrish. “We’re proud of having such a wonderful museum.”

“It’s a way for people to rediscover the Joslyn and we say to reacquaint yourself with some old friends and to find new ones,” Jurovics added.

Well Traveled & Rarely Seen along with New & Noteworthy is on display now through August 28th.

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