Vermeer Loan Celebrates 20th Anniversary of NGA Retrospective

The Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam has lent one of its great treasures—Johannes Vermeer’s Woman in Blue Reading a Letter (c. 1663)—to the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC, to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the landmark Johannes Vermeer exhibition, which opened here in November 1995 before traveling to the Royal Cabinet of Paintings Mauritshuis, The Hague, in March 1996. Woman in Blue Reading a Letter will on view through December 1, 2016, in the Dutch and Flemish Cabinet Galleries alongside Vermeer paintings from the Gallery’s own collection.

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NGA Acquires Bingham’s “The Jolly Flatboatmen”


George Caleb Bingham American (1811 – 1879) The Jolly Flatboatmen, 1846 oil on canvas 96.8 x 123.2 cm (38 1/8 x 48 ½ in.) National Gallery of Art, Washington Patrons’ Permanent Fund 2015.18.1

George Caleb Bingham’s masterpiece, The Jolly Flatboatmen (1846)—considered one of the greatest American genre paintings ever made—has entered the collection of the National Gallery of Art, Washington. Known as “the Missouri artist,” Bingham was fascinated with American frontier life and is particularly well known for his paintings of trappers and boatmen along the Mississippi and Missouri rivers. The purchase of the painting from the collection of the Richard and Jane Manoogian Foundation was made possible by the Gallery’s Patrons’ Permanent Fund.

The Jolly Flatboatmen is among the first distinctly American paintings that capture the allure of Western expansion during the mid-19th century,” said Earl A. Powell, III, director, National Gallery of Art. “The American masterpiece has had a regular presence at the Gallery since 1956, thanks to the generosity of its past owners, the Pell family and Richard Manoogian. It joins two other outstanding paintings—Mississippi Boatman (1850) and Cottage Scenery (1845)—and two works on paper by Bingham in the Gallery’s collection.”

The painting was also featured in two exhibitions: American Paintings from the Manoogian Collection at the National Gallery of Art in 1989, which traveled to San Francisco, New York, and Detroit, and George Caleb Bingham at the Saint Louis Museum of Art and the Gallery in 1990.

Born in Virginia in 1811 and raised in Missouri, Bingham began his career as a portrait painter and was largely self-taught. It was not until about 1845 that he began painting his most notable works—genre scenes featuring a wide range of colorful characters that lived and worked on the Mississippi and Missouri rivers. These lively compositions remain among the most important portrayals of life at the gateway to the Western frontier.

In The Jolly Flatboatmen, Bingham placed his central dancing figure at the apex of a triangular composition. On either side of the dancer, a fiddler plays a tune while another boatman keeps time on a frying pan and the rest of the men lounge on the deck as the boat floats downriver. In the foreground, Bingham included several remarkable still-life elements: a shirt drying in the sun, a coonskin, and a coiled rope. By 1846, when Bingham completed this painting, flatboats were quickly being replaced by steam-powered vessels that could haul freight at significantly faster speeds.

The American Art Union, based in New York City, was instrumental in Bingham’s artistic career. This organization provided artists not only exhibition space, but also helped to disseminate their art to a broader public. In 1846, the Union purchased The Jolly Flatboatmen and included the work in its annual raffle. The painting was awarded to Benjamin van Schaick, a grocer living in New York. Bingham’s spirited river scene became wildly popular through the circulation of printed reproductions, including 10,000 mezzotints of the painting distributed by The American Art Union to its members in 1847 and two lithographs produced by Currier & Ives in 1867 and 1870.

Hoping to profit from the original painting’s popularity, Bingham completed two additional versions on the theme. The first, Jolly Flatboatmen in Port (1857), now at the Saint Louis Art Museum, repeats the triangular composition with additional figures. The second version, The Jolly Flatboatmen (1877–78), currently in the collection of the Terra Foundation for American Art, Chicago, is a smaller painting with just seven figures. However, the original composition of The Jolly Flatboatmen remains Bingham’s best-known work.

After disappearing from view for more than a century, The Jolly Flatboatmen was purchased by William Pell sometime prior to 1954 when it was exhibited at the Saint Louis Art Museum. It remained in the collection of the Pell family and the Pell Family Trust until Richard A. Manoogian purchased the painting in 1986.

National Gallery of Art’s American Paintings Collection

Today the National Gallery of Art’s collection of some 1,400 American paintings from the 18th to the early 20th centuries represents the largest holding of any school in the Gallery and is among the top collections in the country. It includes works by nearly every important figure in American painting and many of these artists’ greatest masterpieces, from John Singleton Copley’s Watson and the Shark (1778), Rembrandt Peale’s Rubens Peale with a Geranium (1801), and Thomas Cole’s four-part allegory, The Voyage of Life (1842), to George Inness’s The Lackawanna Valley(c. 1856), Winslow Homer’s Breezing Up (A Fair Wind) (1873–1876), and George Bellows’s Both Members of This Club (1909).

The collection also includes George Catlin’s Indian paintings, donated by Paul Mellon, and American folk art from the collection of Edgar William and Bernice Chrysler Garbisch. Both gifts total more than 600 paintings, representing more than one-third of the American paintings collection. The recent acquisition of some 226 works from the collection of the former Corcoran Gallery of Art has further enhanced the Gallery’s holdings, with outstanding works such as Albert Bierstadt’s The Last of the Buffalo (1888), Frederic Edwin Church’s Niagara (1857), and Edward Hopper’s Ground Swell (1939), plus important works by African Americans, including Aaron Douglas’s Into Bondage (1936), genre paintings, and the Gallery’s first work by Cecilia Beaux.


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In Memory of Norman Parish, 1937-2013

Galleries magazine will greatly miss our longtime friend Norman Parish.

In Memory of Norman Parish

Tuesday, July 16, 2013
Posted by: Alumni Relations

Norman Parish (BFA 1960), a painter who opened an art gallery in Washington that spotlighted African American artists at a time when few other galleries concentrated on showing their work, died July 8 at his home in Germantown. He was 75.
He had a brain tumor, his son Norman Parish III said.
Early in his career, Mr. Parish was part of a politically active group of black artists in Chicago. He continued painting after coming to Washington in 1988 to take a job with an environmental company as a computer graphics designer.
With a new artistic focus on lush landscapes inspired by his travels through Western Maryland, Mr. Parish attempted to exhibit and sell his work in local galleries.
“While people generally seemed to like my paintings, no one would show them,” he told The Washington Post in 1996. “Finally, someone told me I should open my own gallery and exhibit my work. I rejected the idea at first. Then I decided it wasn’t so bad and went into business.”
He opened the Parish Gallery in Georgetown in 1991. It became one of the country’s best-known black-owned art galleries, with a focus on works by African Americans and other artists of what is known as the African diaspora.
Mr. Parish gave himself five years to make the gallery a success. Within that time, he was able to give up his day job in computers to devote himself to the gallery, which he operated with his wife, Gwen. After 22 years, the Parish Gallery is still open, now with an exhibition of Mr. Parish’s own paintings.
“At the time, it was unprecedented for an African American to have a gallery in Georgetown,” Juanita Hardy, executive director of the nonprofit arts promotion group Cultural D.C., told The Post last month.
Over the years, Mr. Parish showed the work of more than 170 artists, including such well-known figures as Sam Gilliam, Richard Mayhew, Lou Stovall, E.J. Montgomery and Wadsworth Jarrell.
“He was well-respected nationally,” Jarrell, who met Mr. Parish when they were students at the Art Institute of Chicago in the 1950s, said Tuesday in an interview. “There will definitely be a void for African American artists because of the number of artists he showed. He gave everybody a chance.”
Norman Parish Jr. was born Aug. 26, 1937, in New Orleans. He grew up in Chicago and was a 1960 graduate of the Art Institute of Chicago, where one of his teachers was painter and illustrator LeRoy Neiman, who died last year.
Mr. Parish occasionally painted abstract works, but more often he worked in what he called “stylized realism.” His paintings often have bold colors, with vivid greens, oranges and aquamarine blues. He uses impressionistic and collage-like qualities without abandoning the recognizable, three-dimensional world.
In 1967, Mr. Parish was one of several artists who contributed to the “Wall of Respect,” a mural on the South Side of Chicago that showed images of African American achievement. The building on which the mural was painted was razed in 1973.
In recent years, Mr. Parish turned to painting scenes drawn from his early childhood memories of New Orleans. His artwork is in museums in Chicago and Alabama and in many private and corporate collections.
His first marriage, to the former Shirley King, ended in divorce. Survivors include Gwen Burkett Parish, his longtime partner whom he married eight years ago, of Germantown; three children from his first marriage, Norman Parish III of Oak Park, Ill., Kimberley Parish Perkins of Arlington, Tex., and Malcolm Muhammad of Chicago; his 101-year-old mother, Vierian Parish of Homewood, Ill.; three sisters; one brother; and five grandchildren.
“I wanted to show high-quality art that had been overlooked,” Mr. Parish told The Post in 1996, describing his goal in opening the gallery. “I wanted to give solo shows to people who deserved one but had never had the opportunity.”
There will be a memorial in Chicago for Norman Parish from 3 p.m-6 p.m. on Aug.31 at the ETA theater, 7558 South Chicago.  Art Institute alums Richard Hunt (BAE 1957) and Wadsworth Jarrell (BFA 1958) are among the speakers at the event.

from mysaic, School of the Art Institute of Chicago.

His obituary is published in the Washington Post.


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For teens in and around Montgomery County, MD who are passionate about art, ARTS ON THE BLOCK is a place to learn about the world of art, the world of work, the community, and themselves. It is a place to make new friends, make art for real clients, and make plans for successful futures.

For lovers of art and others passionate about supporting the work of talented young people, ARTS ON THE BLOCK is a source of beautiful handcrafted artwork from small decorative objects to vast public installations in mosaic and other media.

ARTS ON THE BLOCK empowers creative youth to imagine and shape fulfilling futures and contribute to the quality of life of their communities!

Arts on the Block achieves its mission by providing paid opportunities to work with established artists/mentors on commissioned artwork and entrepreneurial projects.

WHO is Arts on the Block?


GOALS for participants

11501 Georgia Avenue, Suite 104
Wheaton, MD  20902

Arts on the Block: where creative young people set their sights on bright futures!


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A History of Local Print Collecting from

Please visit the web address below for a brief history of local print collecting, and an assessment of current trends.

We thank for allowing us to link to this material.



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Rent Touchstone Gallery Space

Rent our space for your next special event!

NEW, built in August 2010
1600 sq ft  of modern gallery space
Capacity: 125-150 standing, 70 sitting
Street level location  / Handicap accessible
Flooded with natural light  / 15 ft. ceilings with track lighting and fan
Finished concrete floors  / Catering prep area  / 2 modern restrooms

More information, click: http//



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Alternative Focus features commentary on developments within the local arts scene and an archive of past pieces.



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