Frist Center to be inaugural venue for new watercolor exhibit

The Frist Center for the Visual Arts is the inaugural venue for Brushed with Light: Masters of American Watercolor from the Brooklyn Museumopening Friday, May 4, 2007. Featuring 82 vibrant watercolors, Brushed with Light demonstrates the evolution of this important artistic medium, and the development of landscape imagery in American art from the late 18th century to 1945. The exhibition continues at the Frist Center through July 22.

This chronological survey of American watercolors begins with precisely painted scenes from late 18th-century New England and concludes with urban images from the mid-20th century. The majority of the works, however, were created by many of America’s foremost artists of the late 19th century, including Winslow Homer, John La Farge, Thomas Moran, William Trost Richards and John Singer Sargent.

Also included in the exhibition are early 20th-century works by John Marin—acknowledged for bridging naturalist landscape visions of earlier artists with modernist trends in American art—as well as Milton Avery, Arthur Dove, Marguerite Zorach and American Scene painters Edward Hopper and Thomas Hart Benton.

“We are pleased to present our first exhibition devoted to watercolors, a wonderful medium familiar to many amateur and professional artists working in Middle Tennessee,” says Katie Delmez, associate curator at the Frist Center. “The Brooklyn Museum has an outstanding collection of American watercolors, and Brushed with Light features iconic works by true masters of the medium, including Fresh Air by Winslow Homer and In a Levantine Port by John Singer Sargent.” 

In the United States, the art of landscape painting and the practice of watercolor debuted and matured in tandem. Over the course of 150 years, as the idea and experience of the American landscape became more complex and varied, images of the country’s landscape were also transformed—from the documentary to the evocative, and on to the abstract and newly realistic. Watercolor practice also evolved, as artists mastered and then moved beyond painstakingly detailed execution toward the freedom of Impressionist-inspired styles and modernist innovation. Artists actively sought and found innovative ways to use the transparency of watercolor paints, and to infuse their outdoor subjects with a new and vibrant brilliance. 

The status of the art of watercolor also evolved over the course of the 19th century. Although the medium was regarded as distinctly secondary to oil painting around 1800, artists and their American audience, following Britain’s lead, gradually came to view finished works in watercolor as objects worthy of exhibition and collecting. By the early 20th century, the medium was accepted as an important and technically challenging one. Brushed with Light offers a survey of diverse and compelling watercolors depicting the ever-changing American scene.

Highlights from Brushed with Light include:

  • Thomas Eakins, Whistling for Plover (1874)
  • Winslow Homer, Fresh Air (1878)
  • John La Farge, DiademMountain at Sunset, Tahiti (1891)
  • Maurice Brazil Prendergast, Sunday on the Beach (ca. 1896–1898)
  • John Singer Sargent, Zuleika (ca. 1906)
  • John Marin, Deer Isle (1914)
  • Edward Hopper, House at Riverdale (1928)
  • Thomas Hart Benton, Lassoing Horses (1931)

Related Programs

Friday, May 4      Curator's Perspective:“A Matter of Taste:
6:30 p.m.             100 Years of Collecting American Watercolors
Auditorium           at the Brooklyn Museum”

Teresa Carbone, Andrew W. Mellon Curator of American Art from the Brooklyn Museum, will discuss how the museum's early and consistent interest in purchasing American watercolors has helped to shape and continually vitalize the market for these beautiful works.

Saturdays in May     Frist Center Kids Club: Under the Sea
(May 5, 12, 19, 26)
1:00–2:30 p.m.                                   
Meet in the Upper Level Foyer
Ages: 5 – 10
Free: call 615-744-3357 to reserve a space

Saturdays in May, Kids Club members use different watercolor techniques to create the effect of an underwater environment. Kids Club offers exciting opportunities for children to discover, explore, and create art. Free membership includes a Kids Club card, art classes, and additional rewards for participation. 2007 Kids Club Sponsor: Northwestern Mutual Financial Network.

Saturday, May 19      Adult Watercolor Painting Workshop, Part 1
and Sunday, May 20
Studio Classrooms
Times: Saturday, 10:00 a.m.–4:00 p.m.; Sunday, 1:00–4:00 p.m.
Registration required; please call 615-744-4904 to register
Cost: $60 for Frist Center members, $65 for nonmembers

Butler Steltemeier, an award-winning artist whose work is in numerous Nashville collections and at Bennett Gallery, will lead a two-day watercolor painting workshop covering the basic principles of the medium.

Saturday, June 2      Teen Watercolor Painting Workshop, Part 1
and Sunday, June 3
Studio Classroom A
Times: Saturday, 10:00 a.m.–2:00 p.m.; Sunday, 1:00–4:00 p.m.
Ages 13–16
Registration required; please call 615-744-4904 to register
Cost: $35 for Frist Center members, $40 for nonmembers

Butler Steltemeier, an award-winning artist whose work is in numerous Nashville collections and at Bennett Gallery, will lead a two-day watercolor painting workshop designed specifically for teens and covering the basic principles of the medium.

Friday, June 8          Films at the Frist:
7:00 p.m.                   Winslow Homer: Society and Solitude

Dr. Steve Ross, professor and executive director of the Center for Research in Educational Policy at the University of Memphis, will introduce and screen his original documentary film on Winslow Homer.

Friday, June 15           ARTini
7:00 p.m.
Meet in Frist Center Grand Lobby
Included with gallery admission

Anne Henderson, Frist Center Director of Education, will lead a fun, informal conversation. Complete your evening with music in the Grand Lobby, martinis at the cash bar, and visiting with friends.

Thursday, June 28      Gallery Talk
7:00 p.m.
Meet in Frist Center Grand Lobby
Included with gallery admission

Join Frist Center associate curator Katie Delmez as she discusses Brushed with Light: Masters of American Watercolor from the BrooklynMuseum.

Also on view

Matisse, Picasso, and the School of Paris: Masterpieces from The BaltimoreMuseum of Art

  • Continues through June 3, 2007
  • This exhibition is organized and circulated by The Baltimore Museum of Art.
  • The 2007 Platinum Sponsor is the HCA Foundation on behalf of HCA and the TriStar Family of Hospitals.
  • The 2007 Gold Sponsor is First Tennessee.

Hiraki Sawa: Going Places Sitting Down

  • Continues through June 3, 2007
  • The 2007 Gordon Contemporary Artists Project Gallery Exhibition Sponsor is Welling LaGrone and Morgan Keegan.

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