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Author: Salima Appiah-Duffell

The Other Woodstock

August 2019 will mark the 50th anniversary of the mother of contemporary music festivals: Woodstock. Held over three days in 1969, the festival featured three-days of performances for folk and rock artists like Joan Baez, Janis Joplin, and Jimi Hendrix.  The legacy of the festival was cemented by the Woodstock documentary and a song of the same name by folk luminary, Joni Mitchell.  That’s a lot of talk about Woodstock when the festival wasn’t actually held there.  Woodstock the event was actually held in Bethel, a neighboring town in upstate New York. Woodstock itself wasn’t even considered as a site for the festival. According to Woodstock the Oral History (1989) the only connection between the concert and the town is that the event’s promoters originally considered building a music studio in Woodstock, NY and incorporated under the name Woodstock Ventures. So what about the other Woodstock? Though it didn’t host the eponymous music festival, Woodstock, NY had been home to a thriving art colony since the early 1900s.

Exploring Our Collections with “Bill T. Jones”

This year is Smithsonian Libraries is celebrating 50 years as  a unified system. While each museum has (at least) one library dedicated research material on items related to the museum’s collection; as a branch system, The Libraries’ help researchers explore any part of a question that interests them. This sounds pretty straightforward, but what does it look like in real life? To find out, this post explore how one item from a museum’s collection can be researched across several of our library branches. Our example:  Bill T. Jones (1985),  a  portrait of the choreographer by Robert Mapplethorpe. This work is on view in the Recent Acquisitions exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery.

Celebrating Our Man of Many Hats: William Henry Holmes

December 1st is the 170th birthday of William Henry Holmes, the Smithsonian’s own Renaissance man. Early in the Smithsonian’s history, Holmes served as the head of the Anthropology Department and later the first director of what would become the Smithsonian American Art Museum. Starting today, we’re celebrating his legacy.

New to the Hirshhorn Library: Latin American Artists

Since 2014, the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden Library (HMSG) has received grants totalling $15,000 to catalog materials of Latin American artists. Former Smithsonian American Art Museum Curatorial Assistant, Florencia Bazzano-Nelson, explains why these materials are important:

“Scholarly holdings regarding Latin American art are important because they provide the historical and cultural context for many artists in these collections … In a global environment, it is important for us to understand what is happening in the arts of other places, especially those places that have maintained a fluid cultural dialogue with the United States for more than two centuries.”

Funds for this ongoing project were provided by the Washington Art Library Resources Committee (WALRC). This non-profit is made up of research institutions related to art and architecture in the metropolitan DC area. With their support, the HMSG library has had over 200 materials processed so far. Below are some highlights from the recently cataloged items.

 

Spotlight on Native American Artists

EL Photo
Photo of Edmonia Lewis from the National Portrait Gallery. NPG.94.95.

Native Americans have had a tremendous impact in numerous arenas of American life. This is particularly true in the visual arts. In celebration of Native American Heritage Month we’re highlighting artists of American Indian descent who have had a significant presence in the American Art and Portrait Gallery (AA/PG) Library’s collections.

African American Artists and the Hudson River School

Recently, you may have heard  about the ways art from the Hudson River School has been a source of inspiration for new artistic works. Well, the luminous landscape paintings have inspired us, too. In honor of Black History Month, we’d like to highlight a couple of African American artists with ties the school. These artists have paintings in the Smithsonian American Art Museum collection as well as an Art and Artist Files in the American Art/Portrait Gallery Library.