NEW BRITAIN – A new mural of larger-than-life Connecticut flowers pays homage to 20th century artist Georgia O’ Keeffe, the focus of a new exhibition set to open this week at the New Britain Museum of American Art.
The Record-Journal stopped by recently to learn more about the pieces that will be part of “The Beyond: Georgia O’ Keeffe and Contemporary Art.” The exhibit runs through June.
“It features over three dozen of O’Keeffe’s most iconic works featuring her flowers, desert scenes, city scapes and abstractions,” said Melissa Nardiello, marketing and design manager at the museum.
O’Keeffe (1887-1986) was known for her enormous flower paintings and revolutionary embrace of abstraction and color. A 1944 oil painting called "Flying Backbone" will be displayed.
The museum mural called “Winter Spring Summer Fall” – painted by Detroit-based artist Louise Jones, gives visitors a taste of O’Keeffe’s influence before they enter the new exhibit just up the stairs.
“She does this beautiful technique, it’s done with acrylic but she works with a Chinese watercolor technique that she’s adapted for acrylics,” Nardiello said of Jones’ mural.
A variety of flowers native to Connecticut like dandelions and elderberry are featured within the mural.
“We’re really excited,” said Jan Hasenjager, a museum docent. “It’s coming at a perfect time in the spring with the beautiful flowers and colors.”
The exhibition will also feature pieces from 20 emerging contemporary artists.
Nardiello said the contemporary art is not meant to be a “side-by-side comparison” to O’Keeffe, but rather an expansion on the themes and conversations implied by the late artist.
The exhibition, organized by Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville, Arkansas, has been traveling around the country for the public to view at different venues.
“When we found out that we might be eligible to accept it we were just so excited to be able to bring this caliber of art into this institution,” Nardiello said.
The museum is the only venue currently in the Northeast to have the show. Works come from the Fine Arts Museum of San Francisco and The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York, among others.
After the artwork is shipped to the museum where it will be displayed, it needs to sit for 24 hours to acclimate before being opened.
“It’s amazing,” said Nardiello of the process.
Couriers from across the country have been busy hanging up the pieces and putting up sculptures behind a blocked section of the museum for weeks.
Once open, the museum will be hosting a variety of programs with the co-curators of the exhibition later this month and next month.