Broadening its reach

Booth Western Art Museum celebrates 15 years with Remington exhibit

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Known for its extensive collection of contemporary Western art, the Booth Western Art Museum is looking to the past to help mark its 15th anniversary. Opening today, “Treasures From the Frederic Remington Art Museum & Beyond” will be on display at the Cartersville venue through Jan. 13, 2019.

"Remington is the best known Western artist in the world," said Seth Hopkins, executive director of the Booth museum. "As we were discussing plans for taking our programming to the next level as we celebrate the museum’s 15th anniversary, the idea of a Remington showcase started to take shape. While the Booth primarily collects and exhibits the work of living artists, we feel it is important to also let our audiences see and experience the work of earlier artists who paved the way for today’s artists. We also felt that an exhibition of this size and importance would draw new and larger audiences to the museum. This exhibition is by far the most resource intensive and costly we have mounted, so we are expecting significant returns on our investment.

"The two best attended exhibitions the museum has ever hosted were those focused on Ansel Adams. In discussing what other exhibits might have the same kind of drawing power, Remington’s name kept coming up over and over. Each of the Adams’ exhibits drew more than 30,000 visitors over a three- to four-month period. Our hope is to break those records."

Born in 1861 in Canton, New York, Remington was an illustrator, writer, sculptor and painter. Offering a comprehensive look at his career that was cut short with his death at age 48, the Booth’s exhibit features more than 60 of his original works.

Among the highlighted sculptures include three different casting methods of his first bronze, “The Bronco Buster.” Creating the sculpture in 1895, Remington drew inspiration from his illustrations and paintings of bucking horses. The highlighted works vary in intricacy, with the lost wax cast and modern reproduction having the most and least detail, respectively. 

"Americans’ perception of the West, its real historical events and its mythic heroes are more a product of Frederic Remington’s art and its derivatives than any other artist," Hopkins said. "To truly understand where many of our strongest ideas about the West come from, you have to look closely at Remington’s art.

"Also, Remington is known almost exclusively to the public as a sculptor, through the hundreds of thousands of reproduction sculptures in homes and offices around the world. Yet, in his day he was much more well-known as an illustrator who wished to be accepted as a fine art painter. This exhibition includes oil paintings in both color and black and white, watercolors, prints, drawings and other media, plus a section devoted to his writings, including books he both wrote and illustrated, giving the public a much broader view of his talents in multiple media."

Opened in August 2003, the Booth is situated at 501 Museum Drive. The 120,000-square-foot venue became an Affiliate of the Smithsonian Institution in 2006.

The museum offers a variety of exhibit spaces, some of which include the Civil War gallery; Sculpture Court; a presidential gallery; the “Picturing America” photography gallery; and the interactive children’s gallery, Sagebrush Ranch.

"In November 2013, I was visiting a collector in west Texas and saw an exhibition from the Frederic Remington Art Museum at a small museum in Alpine, Texas," Hopkins said. "It was a pretty good show, but not large enough to fill our special exhibition gallery. Not long after, we began discussions with the Remington museum about having their show come here, but adding more pieces from other museums and private collections. They agreed, which is where the “and Beyond,” portion of the title originated.

"Since then, we have worked closely with the Buffalo Bill Center of the West in Cody, Wyoming, to obtain additional works of art and objects Remington actually owned and had on display in his studio. The Amon Carter Museum in Fort Worth, Texas, and the Birmingham [Museum of Art] are also loaning important works.  Private collectors in Florida and Texas, as well as here in the Atlanta area have also been very helpful, loaning several pieces each to the exhibition."

For Lisa Wheeler, director of curatorial services for the Booth museum, the opportunity to view Remington’s evolution as an artist is a “fascinating” experience. 

"‘Treasures From the Frederic Remington Art Museum & Beyond’ is a very significant exhibit because it’s the first time a survey of Remington’s amazing career as an artist is being exhibited in the South," Wheeler said. "… One of my favorite paintings is ‘Coming to the Call’ from the William I. Koch Collection. It was painted [circa] 1905 and featured in Collier’s magazine. Prints of the painting were sold to an eager American public, and it soon became one of Remington’s most recognized works of art.

“I think it is fascinating to see some of his early illustrations for Collier’s and Harper’s Weekly magazines and then notice how his skills continue to improve as the visitor moves through the exhibition. When he branches into sculpture, you can clearly see his transition into fine art. Then towards the end of his short life, you see that he has reached his goal of becoming a fine artist working in the style of Impressionism. I want visitors to be inspired by how he lived and all he accomplished during his 48 years."

Along with viewing the exhibit, the Booth’s patrons will have numerous opportunities to learn about Remington’s artwork and talents.

"This exhibition is especially exciting because it lends itself to be incorporated into a variety of diverse programming for multi-generational audiences, thus broadening the reach of the museum into the community," said Patty Petrey Dees, director of education for the Booth museum. "For the general public, a lecture on the evening of Sept. 20 [titled] 'Theodore Roosevelt’s West' will bring to life the 26th president of the United States as author and presenter Michael F. Blake explores Roosevelt’s fascination with the West and the influence of his friendship with Frederic Remington. In addition, [Booth] Special Projects Director Jim Dunham will present the Nov. 7 Art for Lunch program highlighting Remington’s tie to Spanish American War.

"The Booth’s annual Western Art History Symposium on Oct. 26 will explore several Remington topics and will feature world-renowned Remington scholars discussing topics, such as Remington’s working methods, fakes and forgeries, and Remington’s influence on Western films. Programming for families and school groups include a special Educator Night, downloadable teacher resources on our website, a Remington Family Gallery Guide and a Remington-themed High School Chalk Art Competition taking place on Saturday, Oct. 27, from 10 a.m. [to] 1 p.m. during the Booth’s annual Southeastern Cowboy Festival. School groups can also request a special tour of the exhibition."

Further details about the Booth and its Remington exhibit can be obtained by calling 770-387-1300 or visiting http://boothmuseum.org.