From left, Bob Unchester, exhibits manager at the Cameron Art Museum in Wilmington, and Joann Mitchell, executive director of BRAHM, discuss a new painting, ‘Sunday Morning,’ on display at the Blowing Rock museum. Photo by Frank Ruggiero
Thursday, May 02, 2013
(Last modified: 2013-05-02 08:45:43)

Source: The Blowing Rocket

Understanding the significance and development of American art, as well as the not-so-subtle differences of early impressionism and realism, are just a few insights to be savored at the soon-to-be unveiled main attraction at the Blowing Rock Art and History Museum.

“Art Among Friends: Four Collections of American Art” is a seasonal exhibit that will open to the general public Saturday, May 4, with a special preview party at 6:30 p.m. Friday, May 3.

Exhibits manager Allyson Teague said the exhibit would feature 81 paintings and one bronze sculpture from four separate regional collections that depict the ideas and inspiration of American works created between 1880 and 1940.

The exhibit is spanned over five galleries. “That’s the museum’s entire first floor,” Teague said.
Museum executive director Joann Mitchell explained that the exhibit consists of five separate subsets, named “American Impressionism,” “The 10,” “The Eight,” “Women Painters” and “American Realism.”

Like with any exhibit, Mitchell said much thought and consideration went into this particular display, which was designed by Jonathan Stuhlman, curator of American Art at the Charlotte Mint Museum.

“A curator is the creative brains,” Mitchell said. “He thinks about what to do (with the art), how to show it and how to hold it all together … You have a show not because it is attractive or pretty, but because you want to teach something that is usually very thoughtfully created.”

The museum’s latest exhibit is unique in that it focuses on American art, the rise of female artists and where the artists drew their inspiration.

Part of the display’s focus will also debunk some misconceived notions in the art community.
Mitchell said some critics in the art culture can, at times, view American impressionism as less than significant when compared to European pieces.

Many American artists actually went to Europe to study under the masters, and while they might have learned their technique, they created their own form of impressionism, Mitchell said.

“We want people to realize American impressionists are just as significant,” Mitchell said. “We hope this show helps recognize the strength and value of American painters.”

Mitchell said the exhibit’s paintings were carefully arranged in subsequent order.

Bob Unchester, exhibits manager at the Cameron Art Museum in Wilmington, tasked himself with the painstaking job of carefully hanging each painting.

Museum officials said Unchester has been a supporter of the BRAHM since it opened in October 2011.

The first paintings attendees will notice adorn the walls of the main atrium and were personally selected by Stuhlman to show how the taste of the collections’ owners developed throughout the years, Mitchell said.

The exhibit will then progress in a linear manner as the galleries show the progress of American art through the years, ending with works that are examples of American Realism, Mitchell said.

Aside from discovering the differing perspectives of the artists, as illustrated in impressionists and realists, Mitchell said art lovers would also be treated to examples of “ash can” art.

“This broke away and slightly rebelled against impressionism,” Mitchell said. “Ash can is more about real life, the nitty gritty.”

The Blowing Rock Art and History Museum is located at 159 Chestnut St. in downtown Blowing Rock.
For more information on the exhibit or BRAHM, call (828) 295-9099 or visit

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