Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Melissa Meyer and Femmage


Meyer, Regale, 2005, oil on canvas, 65” x 80 “, melissameyerstudio.com

“When I’m painting, I work intuitively, physically, thinking about brushwork as a kind of choreography, a dance that happens in the wrists and arms, as well as the whole body.”[1]
--Melissa Meyer




With the gestural verve of Willem de Kooning, Helen Frankenthaler’s thin watercolor wash, and a fearless relationship with color, New York artist Melissa Meyer has often been billed as a “third-generation abstract expressionist.”[2]  Her graphic and painterly work exudes feeling, lightness, and a sense of harmonious movement.     
Meyer, Untitled, 1974, acrylic on canvas, 26” x 58 ”, melissameyerstudio.com

There is no understanding the work of Meyer without an understanding of the term “femmage”.  The term was coined by Meyer and feminist artist Miriam Schapiro in their co-authored essay Waste Not Want Not: An Inquiry into What Women Saved and Assembled – FEMMAGE[3].  The word refers to the historical use of collage techniques by women that harkens back to scrapbooks of the mid-20th century, patterned quilts of the 19th century and beyond.  According to Meyer and Schapiro, the act of creating compositions from fabric and paper scraps is an art form that women have embraced for centuries, in contrast to ideas that Picasso and Braque were the first to spearhead the use of collage as a formidable aesthetic technique[4].  Melissa Meyer’s work is imbued with these concepts of patchwork harmony.  Her thick swaths of bright watercolor in glyphic shapes create a color blocking effect, overlapping and bleeding together to attain rhythm and unity.  Directly addressing these feminist associations, Meyer comments, “All great artists were in touch with their masculine and feminine sides.  The best art has both.”[5] 


Detail of Midnight: The Hours of the Rat; Mother and Sleepy Child, Edo period (1615 – 1868), ca. 1790, Kitagawa Utamaro, polychrome woodblock print, 14 3/8 x 9 5/8“, Metropolitan Museum of Art
Meyer, Hartman 38, 2008, watercolor monotype, Riverhouse Editions, 27 ½ x 25”, melissameyerstudio.com
     There is joy and musicality in Meyer’s work that is immediately recognizable.  The strokes of her brush bounce and weave in bright colors whether in watercolor or oil.  Meyer muses on mediums, commenting, “Watercolor is usually connected with intimate, small-scale work… One of the pleasures of oil painting is… to make watercolor effects into something major, assertive, flamboyant.”[6]  She attests to being inspired by jazz musicians, as well as Japanese Ukiyo-e woodblock prints[7]; both of which speak to the lively fluidity of her application.  Meyer’s works have to ability to capture the spirit of these Edo period scenes in non-representational form by effortlessly balancing her use of the dark and the light without weighing down her compositions. 

Melissa Meyer, Pannonica, 1987, oil on canvas, 70” x 68”, GW Permanent Collection, Gift of Robert and Lucy Reitzfeld
Though Meyer professes her preference for watercolor, she wields oil paint with an equally emotive and vibrant quality.  She uses thinned paint to smoothly apply pooling and sometimes dripping layers of color values.  This allows the fluid texture of the paint to lead her motions in swirling amorphous shapes.  Though her earlier oil works, such as her piece Pannonica, from the GW Permanent Collection, are much darker in spirit, they contain the same liveliness and motion of her later works.  The title Pannonica references British-born jazz music patron Baroness Pannonica de Koenigswarter who was known as the “bebop baroness” for her commitment to the New York jazz scene during the 1950’s[8].  These eclectic sources from which Meyers draws her inspiration speak to the visual vibrancy in the language of her paintings.
After attending New York University, Melissa Meyer has enjoyed a lengthy and successful career.   She has had solo exhibitions in New York, Columbus, Ohio, and Zurich, Switzerland as well as shown in many group exhibitions including at The Jewish Museum, New York; Texas Gallery, Houston and the National Academy of Design in New York, an organization of which she is a member.  Her work is included in the collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Museum of Modern Art, the Brooklyn Museum, the Guggenheim, the Jewish Museum, and many others.  She has worked on various public projects including massive murals for the lobby of the Shiodome City Center in Tokyo Japan and others in New York.[9]  At age 66, Meyer is currently represented by Lennon Weinberg Gallery and lives and works in New York City.  She is a frequent artist in residence at Yaddo in Saratoga Springs, New York as well as at the Vermont Studio Center.[10]


[1] Melissa Meyer, “Some Notes and Thoughts on the Shiodome Project,” (January 2003), Melissa Meyer Studio, accessed March 7, 2013, http://www.melissameyerstudio.com/documents/Shiodome.pdf.
[2] Lance Esplund, “The Lighthearted Abstract Expressionist”, The Wall Street Journal, February 21, 2009, accessed March 7, 2013, http://online.wsj.com/article/SB123517123131836781.html.
[3] Miriam Schapiro and Melissa Meyer, “Waste Not Want Not: An Inquiry into What Women Saved and Assembled – FEMMAGE,” Heresies I, no. 4 (Winter 1977-78): 66-69.
[4] Schapire and Meyer, “Waste Not Want Not.”
[5] Melissa Meyer, interviewed by M.G. Lord, “Interview with Melissa Meyer,” In the Margins: 19 Interviews, (Minneapolis, MN: Montgomery Glasoe Fine Art, 1995-96), 34-36.
[6] Melissa Meyer, “Some Notes and Thoughts.”
[7] Ibid.
[8] Barry Singer, “The Baroness of Jazz”, The New York Times, October 17, 2008, accessed March 22, 2013, http://www.nytimes.com/2008/10/19/arts/music/19sing.html?ref=arts&_r=0
[9] “Bio,” Melissa Meyer Studio, accessed March 7, 2013, http://www.melissameyerstudio.com/press1.html.
[10] “Bio,” Melissa Meyer Studio.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Frank Wright, Painting the Civil War



Gen'l Lee Over Yonder, 1994, oil on canvas, 8" x 10"
Our exhibition After Melville and Whitman, April 9 - July 5, 2013, MPA 2nd floor cases is on view in collaboration with the GW English Department and their hosting of the Ninth International Melville Conference, June 4-7, 2013.  The exhibit gives a contemporary view of how Herman Melville and Walt Whitman have influenced American Art.  Did you know one of GW's Fine Arts Professors is also a Civil War expert?

Frank Wright prefers to express rather than reflect. This may seem quite odd, due to the fact that most of his paintings are historical representations of DC. How exactly can one express the past without reflecting? Wright does this by masterfully blending facets of his life with historical reconstructions of Washington resulting in painstakingly detailed works of art.

This DC native, whose family has been in the area for six generations, paints images of Washington ranging from the old Analostan Island (now Roosevelt) to the original Willard Hotel and Pennsylvania Avenue. It is hard not to notice the incredible amount of detail in every brushstroke, but what one may not notice is just how Wright personalizes his paintings. He explains that you can find many a face of his friends, students, or literary figures (such as Walt Whitman) amongst the various crowds he paints. Such details add a particular touch to the impersonality of history. One thing is certain – Wright is incredibly talented.

He attended American University where he then won the Paul J. Sachs Fellowship in Graphic Arts. This led him to Paris, where he studied prints and woodcuts in depth at Atelier 17.  Gallery Assistant Hannah Spector, recently sat down with Professor Wright to discuss his work, the history of Washington, DC, and where the two intersect:


Hannah Spector: Do you mainly get inspiration for your historical paintings from photographs?

Frank Wright: Well, not exactly. There's no photograph of most of these, I made them up. Mainly
pictures of Civil War reenactments and I saw a guy there that looked like Robert E. Lee, so I turned him, into Robert E. Lee.

HS: I like how you do the perspective of old DC. Have you gotten that mainly from piecing together different sources?

FW: I have a large collection of old photographs of old Washington and my family has also been here for six generations. My grandfather and my family on my mother's side have also been here for six generations. The first one who came here was Washington S. Wright and he came here in 1826 from Alexandria, from old town Alexandria. His father was a hatter and his father before him was as well. They were on Navy Yard Hill, where of course the river traffic was very important in those days. He had a business there during and before the Civil War.

Frank Wright, The Grand Review, 1990-91, oil on canvas, 48" x 96".
HS: Is that why you have such an interest in DC's history?

FW: Well yeah, but I have a general interest in it. Of course being in an early office building just one block from Ford's Theater always meant I had a great interest in that area and I was there for 26 years, across from the Portrait Gallery.

HS: That's a pretty area.

FW: It is now, but it's been through its ups-and-downs.

HS: What's your favorite painting you've done?

FW: This is my favorite image, The Grand Review, 1990-91.  It took place on Pennsylvania Avenue on May 25, 1865 shortly after the President [Abraham Lincoln] was killed and it's based on a reenactment I saw in the early 90's.  The whole cast of Glory, the movie, marched in that parade.  So I ran in front of the parade all the way from 7th street to 14th street to get this image.  It took me well over a year to do.

detail from The Grand Review
HS: Is that Walt Whitman there?

FW: Yes, Walt Whitman.

HS: The detail is incredible, how do you have the patience for this?

FW: Time, time. Well, you know when you do a major project like this it's like doing embroidery where you think it will take its time and it will be finished when it's finished. But yes, this is Walt Whitman and this other man is his friend Pete Doyle and at the time of this parade they didn't know each other, but I decided to put Pete Doyle in it. He was the closest friend Walt Whitman had, very close relationship. These here are the contrabands. You know Washington after the war, they freed the contrabands. They were people owned by other people and they kept them on Mason's Island, which is now Roosevelt's Island. During the war they stayed there.

HS: Where's the Willard in this panting?

FW: Here. It's where Julia Ward Howe wrote the Battle Hymn of the Republic. Now, sometime after this, the present Willard was built around 1900. This is the former building that was there. When I was a child, it was quite a wonderful place filled with World War II activities. People would go down there, and it was "smokeville", everybody smoked and you could hardly see yourself through the smoke. Later on, the Willard went into disarray for a number of years it just sat there without being occupied. Then an enterprising group of businessmen brought it back.

HS: So are your paintings interspersed around different parts of DC?

FW: Yes, and Vienna. But this [The Grand Review] was one of the most ambitious paintings I ever did. Some of my friends were in the reenactment here, so they're in here. I have several of my students and friends in here. And everything is absolutely accurate because I was able to get access at the Library of Congress to pictures that were not generally known. Everybody knows the [Matthew] Brady ones, but they weren't as interesting as the ones I found that showed the streets and the stores. So, all of this is very accurate. Of course there was a welcome home sign in the parade from Washington school children. This is the second day of the parade. The first day was May the 23rd when Meade's army marched down. The second day was Sherman's army, they walked up from South Carolina... Sherman's army had suffered a great deal, but they were excellent in the parade. They marched very well and I have books about the parade.


HS: It's crazy how much history is behind each painting.

FW: I've done some paintings of the encampments along the Potomac.  This one, Watchfires in the Evening Dews and Damps, 1993, was at the Battle of Nashville, Tennessee.  It was a crucial battle in 1864 because Hood's army could never reorganize after that Battle.  It's a compilation of photographs and my imagination. 

HS: Did you ever go to art school or did you just study in Paris?

FW: I went to art school.  I went to American University, which had a great art department.  I also taught at the Corcoran for 4 years.

HS: They just partnered with Maryland.

FW: Yes.  Originally the Corocan School was the art department at The George Washington University.  When I was teaching there, there were GW students in the department.  We had a small department, just about 2 or 3 students at GW.  Then they sent all of them to the Corcoran, especially for painting, sculpture, and ceramics.  When I came in 1970, they lifted me from the Corcoran.  While I was there, they started to soar. 

HS: Do you teach painting?

FW: I am a painter, but I've always taught drawing.  Mainly because there was an opening and I took that person's place.  One of my best friends came a year earlier and taught painting, but we had our studio together, a man named [William] Woodward.  They whole time I was at the Corcoran, he was teaching painting and I was teaching drawing.  Then we both moved to GW and he taught for 32 years and I've been teaching drawing for 42 years.

HS: Can you tell me about your time in Paris?

FW: Well, I had a fellowship to Paris.  It was given to me by the founder of the printed collection of the National Gallery, named Lessing Rosenwald.  He wanted to establish a fellowship in honor of his best friend who got him started as a collector, who was Paul J. Sachs.  I was the first Paul J. Sachs fellow at the National Gallery and from there I went to Harvard and from there I went to Paris.  I didn't realize 'til much later that Paul's mother was Goldman and his father was Sachs.  So, I went to Paris at that time.

HS: Your prints are amazing.  What type are they?
A Man and His Dog, 1970, engraving, 6-3/8" x 4-3/8"

FW: They are engravings and etchings.  There's one around the corner called An Old Man and His Dog.  This fellow was a vagrant who used to go through the trashcans in front of the National Portrait Gallery.  He was an interesting looking character and I though I might be taking a chance but I invited him up to pose.  He lived in one of the boarding houses around, but he wasn't a derelict.  He was sort of an old man that used to ride the railroad.  He was from New Orleans, but I found him very interesting and bright and intelligent.


 
***
It is evident that Wright knows an incredible amount of Washington history. By injecting history into his paintings, he is able to create pieces which are more than just an image – they are a story, an account, and a depiction of moments in time. His experience and natural ease with the brush make his works important for both the George Washington University, and Washington itself. A number of paintings by Frank Wright are currently on view on the 3rd floor of Gelman Library. For more of Wright's work, go to his website: http://www.gwu.edu/~fwright.

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Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Melissa Meyer and Femmage


Meyer, Regale, 2005, oil on canvas, 65” x 80 “, melissameyerstudio.com

“When I’m painting, I work intuitively, physically, thinking about brushwork as a kind of choreography, a dance that happens in the wrists and arms, as well as the whole body.”[1]
--Melissa Meyer




With the gestural verve of Willem de Kooning, Helen Frankenthaler’s thin watercolor wash, and a fearless relationship with color, New York artist Melissa Meyer has often been billed as a “third-generation abstract expressionist.”[2]  Her graphic and painterly work exudes feeling, lightness, and a sense of harmonious movement.     
Meyer, Untitled, 1974, acrylic on canvas, 26” x 58 ”, melissameyerstudio.com

There is no understanding the work of Meyer without an understanding of the term “femmage”.  The term was coined by Meyer and feminist artist Miriam Schapiro in their co-authored essay Waste Not Want Not: An Inquiry into What Women Saved and Assembled – FEMMAGE[3].  The word refers to the historical use of collage techniques by women that harkens back to scrapbooks of the mid-20th century, patterned quilts of the 19th century and beyond.  According to Meyer and Schapiro, the act of creating compositions from fabric and paper scraps is an art form that women have embraced for centuries, in contrast to ideas that Picasso and Braque were the first to spearhead the use of collage as a formidable aesthetic technique[4].  Melissa Meyer’s work is imbued with these concepts of patchwork harmony.  Her thick swaths of bright watercolor in glyphic shapes create a color blocking effect, overlapping and bleeding together to attain rhythm and unity.  Directly addressing these feminist associations, Meyer comments, “All great artists were in touch with their masculine and feminine sides.  The best art has both.”[5] 


Detail of Midnight: The Hours of the Rat; Mother and Sleepy Child, Edo period (1615 – 1868), ca. 1790, Kitagawa Utamaro, polychrome woodblock print, 14 3/8 x 9 5/8“, Metropolitan Museum of Art
Meyer, Hartman 38, 2008, watercolor monotype, Riverhouse Editions, 27 ½ x 25”, melissameyerstudio.com
     There is joy and musicality in Meyer’s work that is immediately recognizable.  The strokes of her brush bounce and weave in bright colors whether in watercolor or oil.  Meyer muses on mediums, commenting, “Watercolor is usually connected with intimate, small-scale work… One of the pleasures of oil painting is… to make watercolor effects into something major, assertive, flamboyant.”[6]  She attests to being inspired by jazz musicians, as well as Japanese Ukiyo-e woodblock prints[7]; both of which speak to the lively fluidity of her application.  Meyer’s works have to ability to capture the spirit of these Edo period scenes in non-representational form by effortlessly balancing her use of the dark and the light without weighing down her compositions. 

Melissa Meyer, Pannonica, 1987, oil on canvas, 70” x 68”, GW Permanent Collection, Gift of Robert and Lucy Reitzfeld
Though Meyer professes her preference for watercolor, she wields oil paint with an equally emotive and vibrant quality.  She uses thinned paint to smoothly apply pooling and sometimes dripping layers of color values.  This allows the fluid texture of the paint to lead her motions in swirling amorphous shapes.  Though her earlier oil works, such as her piece Pannonica, from the GW Permanent Collection, are much darker in spirit, they contain the same liveliness and motion of her later works.  The title Pannonica references British-born jazz music patron Baroness Pannonica de Koenigswarter who was known as the “bebop baroness” for her commitment to the New York jazz scene during the 1950’s[8].  These eclectic sources from which Meyers draws her inspiration speak to the visual vibrancy in the language of her paintings.
After attending New York University, Melissa Meyer has enjoyed a lengthy and successful career.   She has had solo exhibitions in New York, Columbus, Ohio, and Zurich, Switzerland as well as shown in many group exhibitions including at The Jewish Museum, New York; Texas Gallery, Houston and the National Academy of Design in New York, an organization of which she is a member.  Her work is included in the collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Museum of Modern Art, the Brooklyn Museum, the Guggenheim, the Jewish Museum, and many others.  She has worked on various public projects including massive murals for the lobby of the Shiodome City Center in Tokyo Japan and others in New York.[9]  At age 66, Meyer is currently represented by Lennon Weinberg Gallery and lives and works in New York City.  She is a frequent artist in residence at Yaddo in Saratoga Springs, New York as well as at the Vermont Studio Center.[10]


[1] Melissa Meyer, “Some Notes and Thoughts on the Shiodome Project,” (January 2003), Melissa Meyer Studio, accessed March 7, 2013, http://www.melissameyerstudio.com/documents/Shiodome.pdf.
[2] Lance Esplund, “The Lighthearted Abstract Expressionist”, The Wall Street Journal, February 21, 2009, accessed March 7, 2013, http://online.wsj.com/article/SB123517123131836781.html.
[3] Miriam Schapiro and Melissa Meyer, “Waste Not Want Not: An Inquiry into What Women Saved and Assembled – FEMMAGE,” Heresies I, no. 4 (Winter 1977-78): 66-69.
[4] Schapire and Meyer, “Waste Not Want Not.”
[5] Melissa Meyer, interviewed by M.G. Lord, “Interview with Melissa Meyer,” In the Margins: 19 Interviews, (Minneapolis, MN: Montgomery Glasoe Fine Art, 1995-96), 34-36.
[6] Melissa Meyer, “Some Notes and Thoughts.”
[7] Ibid.
[8] Barry Singer, “The Baroness of Jazz”, The New York Times, October 17, 2008, accessed March 22, 2013, http://www.nytimes.com/2008/10/19/arts/music/19sing.html?ref=arts&_r=0
[9] “Bio,” Melissa Meyer Studio, accessed March 7, 2013, http://www.melissameyerstudio.com/press1.html.
[10] “Bio,” Melissa Meyer Studio.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Frank Wright, Painting the Civil War



Gen'l Lee Over Yonder, 1994, oil on canvas, 8" x 10"
Our exhibition After Melville and Whitman, April 9 - July 5, 2013, MPA 2nd floor cases is on view in collaboration with the GW English Department and their hosting of the Ninth International Melville Conference, June 4-7, 2013.  The exhibit gives a contemporary view of how Herman Melville and Walt Whitman have influenced American Art.  Did you know one of GW's Fine Arts Professors is also a Civil War expert?

Frank Wright prefers to express rather than reflect. This may seem quite odd, due to the fact that most of his paintings are historical representations of DC. How exactly can one express the past without reflecting? Wright does this by masterfully blending facets of his life with historical reconstructions of Washington resulting in painstakingly detailed works of art.

This DC native, whose family has been in the area for six generations, paints images of Washington ranging from the old Analostan Island (now Roosevelt) to the original Willard Hotel and Pennsylvania Avenue. It is hard not to notice the incredible amount of detail in every brushstroke, but what one may not notice is just how Wright personalizes his paintings. He explains that you can find many a face of his friends, students, or literary figures (such as Walt Whitman) amongst the various crowds he paints. Such details add a particular touch to the impersonality of history. One thing is certain – Wright is incredibly talented.

He attended American University where he then won the Paul J. Sachs Fellowship in Graphic Arts. This led him to Paris, where he studied prints and woodcuts in depth at Atelier 17.  Gallery Assistant Hannah Spector, recently sat down with Professor Wright to discuss his work, the history of Washington, DC, and where the two intersect:


Hannah Spector: Do you mainly get inspiration for your historical paintings from photographs?

Frank Wright: Well, not exactly. There's no photograph of most of these, I made them up. Mainly
pictures of Civil War reenactments and I saw a guy there that looked like Robert E. Lee, so I turned him, into Robert E. Lee.

HS: I like how you do the perspective of old DC. Have you gotten that mainly from piecing together different sources?

FW: I have a large collection of old photographs of old Washington and my family has also been here for six generations. My grandfather and my family on my mother's side have also been here for six generations. The first one who came here was Washington S. Wright and he came here in 1826 from Alexandria, from old town Alexandria. His father was a hatter and his father before him was as well. They were on Navy Yard Hill, where of course the river traffic was very important in those days. He had a business there during and before the Civil War.

Frank Wright, The Grand Review, 1990-91, oil on canvas, 48" x 96".
HS: Is that why you have such an interest in DC's history?

FW: Well yeah, but I have a general interest in it. Of course being in an early office building just one block from Ford's Theater always meant I had a great interest in that area and I was there for 26 years, across from the Portrait Gallery.

HS: That's a pretty area.

FW: It is now, but it's been through its ups-and-downs.

HS: What's your favorite painting you've done?

FW: This is my favorite image, The Grand Review, 1990-91.  It took place on Pennsylvania Avenue on May 25, 1865 shortly after the President [Abraham Lincoln] was killed and it's based on a reenactment I saw in the early 90's.  The whole cast of Glory, the movie, marched in that parade.  So I ran in front of the parade all the way from 7th street to 14th street to get this image.  It took me well over a year to do.

detail from The Grand Review
HS: Is that Walt Whitman there?

FW: Yes, Walt Whitman.

HS: The detail is incredible, how do you have the patience for this?

FW: Time, time. Well, you know when you do a major project like this it's like doing embroidery where you think it will take its time and it will be finished when it's finished. But yes, this is Walt Whitman and this other man is his friend Pete Doyle and at the time of this parade they didn't know each other, but I decided to put Pete Doyle in it. He was the closest friend Walt Whitman had, very close relationship. These here are the contrabands. You know Washington after the war, they freed the contrabands. They were people owned by other people and they kept them on Mason's Island, which is now Roosevelt's Island. During the war they stayed there.

HS: Where's the Willard in this panting?

FW: Here. It's where Julia Ward Howe wrote the Battle Hymn of the Republic. Now, sometime after this, the present Willard was built around 1900. This is the former building that was there. When I was a child, it was quite a wonderful place filled with World War II activities. People would go down there, and it was "smokeville", everybody smoked and you could hardly see yourself through the smoke. Later on, the Willard went into disarray for a number of years it just sat there without being occupied. Then an enterprising group of businessmen brought it back.

HS: So are your paintings interspersed around different parts of DC?

FW: Yes, and Vienna. But this [The Grand Review] was one of the most ambitious paintings I ever did. Some of my friends were in the reenactment here, so they're in here. I have several of my students and friends in here. And everything is absolutely accurate because I was able to get access at the Library of Congress to pictures that were not generally known. Everybody knows the [Matthew] Brady ones, but they weren't as interesting as the ones I found that showed the streets and the stores. So, all of this is very accurate. Of course there was a welcome home sign in the parade from Washington school children. This is the second day of the parade. The first day was May the 23rd when Meade's army marched down. The second day was Sherman's army, they walked up from South Carolina... Sherman's army had suffered a great deal, but they were excellent in the parade. They marched very well and I have books about the parade.


HS: It's crazy how much history is behind each painting.

FW: I've done some paintings of the encampments along the Potomac.  This one, Watchfires in the Evening Dews and Damps, 1993, was at the Battle of Nashville, Tennessee.  It was a crucial battle in 1864 because Hood's army could never reorganize after that Battle.  It's a compilation of photographs and my imagination. 

HS: Did you ever go to art school or did you just study in Paris?

FW: I went to art school.  I went to American University, which had a great art department.  I also taught at the Corcoran for 4 years.

HS: They just partnered with Maryland.

FW: Yes.  Originally the Corocan School was the art department at The George Washington University.  When I was teaching there, there were GW students in the department.  We had a small department, just about 2 or 3 students at GW.  Then they sent all of them to the Corcoran, especially for painting, sculpture, and ceramics.  When I came in 1970, they lifted me from the Corcoran.  While I was there, they started to soar. 

HS: Do you teach painting?

FW: I am a painter, but I've always taught drawing.  Mainly because there was an opening and I took that person's place.  One of my best friends came a year earlier and taught painting, but we had our studio together, a man named [William] Woodward.  They whole time I was at the Corcoran, he was teaching painting and I was teaching drawing.  Then we both moved to GW and he taught for 32 years and I've been teaching drawing for 42 years.

HS: Can you tell me about your time in Paris?

FW: Well, I had a fellowship to Paris.  It was given to me by the founder of the printed collection of the National Gallery, named Lessing Rosenwald.  He wanted to establish a fellowship in honor of his best friend who got him started as a collector, who was Paul J. Sachs.  I was the first Paul J. Sachs fellow at the National Gallery and from there I went to Harvard and from there I went to Paris.  I didn't realize 'til much later that Paul's mother was Goldman and his father was Sachs.  So, I went to Paris at that time.

HS: Your prints are amazing.  What type are they?
A Man and His Dog, 1970, engraving, 6-3/8" x 4-3/8"

FW: They are engravings and etchings.  There's one around the corner called An Old Man and His Dog.  This fellow was a vagrant who used to go through the trashcans in front of the National Portrait Gallery.  He was an interesting looking character and I though I might be taking a chance but I invited him up to pose.  He lived in one of the boarding houses around, but he wasn't a derelict.  He was sort of an old man that used to ride the railroad.  He was from New Orleans, but I found him very interesting and bright and intelligent.


 
***
It is evident that Wright knows an incredible amount of Washington history. By injecting history into his paintings, he is able to create pieces which are more than just an image – they are a story, an account, and a depiction of moments in time. His experience and natural ease with the brush make his works important for both the George Washington University, and Washington itself. A number of paintings by Frank Wright are currently on view on the 3rd floor of Gelman Library. For more of Wright's work, go to his website: http://www.gwu.edu/~fwright.

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Washington, District of Columbia, United States
"Found In Collection" or simply "FIC" is the way many museums classify the more mysterious items in their possession that have little or no documentation. Here at the Luther W. Brady Art Gallery of the George Washington University, we do keep extensive records of our collection, but some of the items we come across in academic buildings or our own storage can leave us wondering. This blog is an effort to showcase some of the more curious examples and their stories, and to provide a glimpse of the great variety of art pieces within the collection. To learn more about the Brady Gallery's history, recent exhibitions, or the George Washington University, take a look at the links below.

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