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Tag: Smithsonian American Art Museum

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.

Between Pages—the Art of Bill Traylor

Bill Traylor:People’s Artist,  Cover

On the occasion of Between Worlds: The Art of Bill Traylor, the first major retrospective ever organized for an artist born into slavery and the most comprehensive look at Bill Traylor’s work to date, at the Smithsonian American Art Museum, Sept. 28, 2018 – Mar. 17, 2019, we take a look at a special Traylor work in our library collections. 

Bill Traylor’s art is colorful—floating silhouettes of yellow, red and purple dogs, rabbits and snakes; brown, green and blue people walking, talking, working and drinking.  Set against simple backgrounds, Traylor’s inspired figures interpreted the world of his youth on Alabama plantation farms through the world of his old age, the downtown streets of Montgomery.

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.

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.

Discovering the artwork of the original AA/PG Library

~This post was written by Katherine Williamson, an intern at the American Art/ Portrait Gallery library.

Smithsonian NCFA/NPG Library c. 1975. Photo by Wolfgang Freitag
Cast-iron Eagle in the Smithsonian NCFA/NPG Library c. 1975. Photo by Wolfgang Freitag
Smithsonian NCFA/NPG Library, 1975. Photo by Wolfgang Freitag
Smithsonian NCFA/NPG Library, 1975. Photo by Wolfgang Freitag

As part of my work as an American Art/Portrait Gallery Library (AA/PG) intern, I answer reference questions from patrons that involve some type of research, either within our collection or using  online sources that the library subscribes to. One of the most interesting reference questions I have received actually came from our Head Librarian, Doug Litts. Through his own research involving the original location of the AA/PG library – Room 331 of the main museum building – he came across a list of paintings, a marble bust and a cast iron sculpture, that were located in what was known as the NCFA/NPG Library when it was housed in the museum. Through circumstances unknown to us, those artworks were never transported to the Victor Building when the library moved here in 2000. He became very interested in the history of the artworks, as well as where they are now, and recruited me to help him in his research.