Portrait exhibit to showcase Madison’s history
By Whitney Skeeters
If a picture says a thousand words, the portraits of Madison exhibit at Madison-Morgan Cultural Center is planning will bring citizens one step closer to understanding the rich history of the 200-year-old city.
To produce "Madison Bicentennial: The Many Faces of Madison – A History of Portrait Painting in the Piedmont," the Center is searching the community for portraiture created in the area during the 1800s and early 1900s. Executive director Judy Barber is urging citizens to let the center know of unique pieces of art that showcase the story of Madison. The exhibit will open March 27, and will continue through April and May.
One of the first portraits to be chosen is that of Eliza Fanning Walker, a century-old painting that has hung in the center for a while now. Sue Reed Walker has also agreed to show the portrait of John Byne Walker, Eliza’s husband, in the exhibit. The couple will hang side by side in the show.
Other locals who have been identified for the exhibit are portraits of General Jetha Vinning Harris, Dorothy Baldwin, William Few, Sally Vason, the Stokes-McHenry family, the Kolb family, William Bonar, the Parker family and John Moreland.
Although most of the pieces are paintings, a few drawings, charcoals, and even some early photographs have been chosen. According to Barber, the basic idea is to find art that offers a glimpse into the way of life in this city over a hundred years ago through the eyes of some of its locals. The bicentennial celebration offers a unique opportunity for citizens to sit back and appreciate the historical significance of their ancestors.
“It’s a glance back into the history of those who have lived here or are connected to the people who live here,” said Barber. “Photography was not prevalent during this time, so the portraits are how we remember our ancestors and how we have documented our history.”
Curator of this collection will be Spalding Nix, a gallery owner and art appraiser of Spalding Nix Fine Art and Antiques of Atlanta. Nix will choose the final pieces to be included based on media mix, historic significance, and portrait personality. He will also use his expertise to provide historical context for each portrait and craft an overall perspective and theme for the collection.
Barber encourages citizens who have their own historic gem to share their gift with the community. Those who agree to participate in the collection would show the art in one of the three galleries of the Center for approximately three months. The Center would need the portrait by Valentines Day, February 14, so the historians who are helping with the exhibit can provide historical background for each piece.
“This exhibit is important because it is part of our history,” said Barber. “It is a wonderful way for the visual arts to celebrate the bicentennial and the ways citizens have documented their history through portraiture.”
For more information about the portrait exhibit, please contact Barber by phone at 706.342.4743 or by e-mail at email@example.com.
HISTORY LINES THE HALLS A sample of the portraits to be hung in the Cultural Center as part of the Madison Bicentennial exhibit.
Published in the January 29, 2009 edition.