Across fifty states, Americans enjoy a variety of geographical vistas and demographic profiles. The regional landscape, however, was not always a subject widely explored in American art. In the 1930s, Missouri native Thomas Hart Benton responded to foreign-based abstract movements and gave birth to the notion of American regionalist painting, influencing generations of followers who celebrate their local environs on canvas. This summer, Bert Gallery’s American Identity exhibition examines those artists who marked their place in time with the visuals of their surrounding communities.
Whether the working farms of Pennsylvania, the Barnum & Bailey circus passing through town or the bustling summer crowds awakening the sleepy shore side, artists drew inspiration from their homeland. Featured printmakers Grace Albee, Percy Albee and Lester Hornby particularly excelled with the introduction of regionalism, narrating the passage of time in rural America, while painters Kate Huntington and Florence Leif looked to the Cape Cod shoreline, alternately desolate and buzzing with activity. Edgar Corbridge, Edna Lawrence and James Herbert’s urban scenes document societal movement and transformation from the farmlands to the metropolis.
Are these visual narratives of a time gone by or identities forged by the artist? The exhibit will focus on each artist’s personal interpretations, the majority dedicated to early twentieth century works. American Identity celebrates the breadth of cultures that make up our collective nationality.