Director's Message

The New Year begins at Joslyn with two important homecomings: one for a group of American paintings that will hang once again in our galleries and one for an American artist returning to the city of his birth for the first time in some forty years. First, the paintings. Joslyn's beloved Sunlight and Shadow by William Merritt Chase will be back on view in 2018. Part of the exhibition William Merritt Chase: A Modern Master, the picture traveled to Washington, D.C., Boston, and Venice from summer 2016 through this past spring. Last February, Joslyn hosted the exhibition Wild Spaces, Open Seasons: Hunting and Fishing in American Art. Comprising works loaned from 33 museums and nine private collections, Wild Spaces, Open Seasons was organized by Joslyn, Dixon Gallery and Gardens, Shelburne Museum, and The Amon Carter Museum of American Art, where it concluded its national tour on January 7. In total, four significant works from Joslyn's collection have toured as part of the show: Albert Bierstadt's The Trappers, Lake Tahoe; The Surround and Portrait of Captain Joseph Reddeford Walker (both by Alfred Jacob Miller); and George Caleb Bingham's Watching the Cargo by Night. Like the Chase, they too will be back on view in the galleries soon.

On a related note, the catalogue for Wild Spaces, Open Seasons has been selected as a finalist by the Alfred H. Barr Jr. Award for Smaller Museums, Libraries, Collections, and Exhibitions for 2018. Recognizing the author(s) of catalogues produced by museums, libraries, and collections with annual operating budgets of less than
$10 million, the award will be given later this month.

As we welcome all of these touring paintings back to Joslyn, we also prepare to welcome American artist Ed Ruscha (b. 1937) back to Omaha for the first time since the 1970s. Arguably the most important living artist with whom this institution has ever worked, Ruscha's diverse output of photographs, paintings, and prints span a six-decade career. Just over the last decade or so, Ruscha was asked to represent the United States at the 51st Venice Biennale (2005), and his dozens of solo shows during that time have included exhibitions at The Getty Museum (Los Angeles, CA) in 2013, De Young Museum (San Francisco, CA) in 2016, and the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art (Edinburgh, Scotland) last year, to name just a very few. The Joslyn-organized exhibition, Word/Play, is the first major exhibition of Ruscha's work in Nebraska. His next solo show after the one here in Omaha is Ed Ruscha: Course of Empire, on view at The National Gallery in London. Joslyn is in terrific company.

I am delighted to announce that Ed Ruscha will be our special guest here at Joslyn for the Word/Play members preview event on Friday, February 2. Karin Campbell, Phil Willson Curator of Contemporary Art, and I are looking forward to a lively discussion with the artist about his work. It will certainly be a highlight of 2018 at Joslyn. Call with your reservations for this exclusive members event right away.
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Following the Conceptual and Pop Art start to the year with Ruscha, an exciting and varied year of special exhibitions awaits. This summer, we showcase six centuries of masterworks from the most significant private collection of British art in the United States. Treasures of British Art 1400–2000: The Berger Collection will feature fun and educational programming and is also the anchor exhibition for the Joslyn Art Museum Association's annual Gala, scheduled for June 2. Watch for details! This fall, from Vermont’s Shelburne Museum, comes an extraordinary collection of varied and historic American quilts. Also in the coming months, the work of three contemporary artists will be featured in Riley CAP Gallery exhibitions, beginning with John Divola, and two children’s book illustrators will be highlighted in the Mind’s Eye Gallery, along with a fable exhibition in collaboration with Creighton University.

All of us at Joslyn Art Museum wish you and yours health, happiness, and prosperity in the New Year. See you in the galleries!


Jack Becker, Ph.D.
Executive Director & CEO