The Peabody Essex Museum in Salem, Mass., is presenting an exhibition celebrating the beauty and sensuality of wood art called “Audacious: The Fine Art of Wood from the Montalto Bohlen Collection,” and showcasing more than 100 singular works.
The exhibition, on view through June 21, coincides with Bob and Lillian Montalto Bohlen’s donation of 47 works of contemporary wood art to the Peabody.
The six-part exhibition explores complex forms and techniques while spotlighting how artists use contrast, texture, color and pattern to develop technically sophisticated compositions, according to the museum.
The Bohlens, based in Massachusetts, have been promoting contemporary wood artists for the last two decades, leading an effort to promote artistic woodworking as a fine art, according to the museum.
“In 1996, we decided we wanted to convince the art world that the best artists working in wood were artists — not craftspeople,” Bob Bohlen said in a museum statement. “So that’s been our singular focus: to persuade the art world and the museum world that the great wood artists are equivalent to the great ceramic artists, painters and sculptors.”
The exhibit, “A Colorful Folk: Pennsylvania Germans and the Art of Everyday Life”, opens March 1 at the Winterthur Museum, Garden & Library in Wilmington, Del., exploring fraktur and folk art.
It runs through Jan. 3, 2016, and features 125 objects, many never before exhibited or published, including decorated manuscripts (“fraktur”), textiles, furniture, metalwork and pottery.
The tools and techniques used by fraktur artists also will be explored in addition to issues of authenticity, forgery and revivals, according to the museum.
“Winterthur is delighted to present this extraordinary exhibition celebrating the creative artistry of Pennsylvania Germans, whose elaborate handiwork so uniquely captured the ideals and events of the day,” museum director of affairs J. Thomas Savage said in a statement. “Most objects in the exhibition are drawn from Winterthur’s permanent collection, which now includes the fraktur and textile collection of the late Pastor Frederick S. Weiser, a legendary scholar and collector of Pennsylvania German folk art. Winterthur’s landmark acquisition from the estate of Pastor Weiser last year enables us to serve as one of the leading institutions in the country for the study of Pennsylvania German decorative arts.”
Highlights include a painted chest decorated in 1783 by fraktur artist Henrich Otto and a Dauphin County (Pa.) tall-case clock inlaid with motifs from the Pennsylvania coat of arms and made in 1815 by John Paul Jr., who later designed the famous Horseshoe Curve on the Pennsylvania Railroad.
Showing new acquisitions
The Fuller Craft Museum, a contemporary craft museum in Brockton, Mass., is presenting “Crafting a Collection: Fuller Craft Museum Recent Acquisitions” through July 12.
The exhibition focuses on how handcrafted objects sustain and support our daily lives. It highlights the museum’s new acquisitions from January 2012 through September 2014 and features 70 objects from 55 artists working in wood, glass, clay, fiber and metal.
Fuller Craft Museum, 455 Oak St., Brockton, MA 02301. Tel: 508-588-6000. www.fullercraft.org
Peabody Essex Museum, 161 Essex St., Salem, MA. 01970. Tel: 866-745-1876. www.pem.org
Winterthur Museum, Garden & Library, 5105 Kennett Pike, Wilmington, DE 19735. Tel: 800-448-3883. www.winterthur.org
This article originally appeared in the February 2015 issue.