Thursday, December 1, 2011

“Reflections on Water in American Painting” Opens December 9th at TMA

(TYLER, TX) November 28, 2011 – This winter, linger for a moment on the water’s edge at the Tyler Museum of Art, where you will escape into a nautical narrative of American history and maritime adventure. Reflections on Water in American Painting–The Arthur J. Phelan Collection combines 50 paintings that together tell a unique history of the country’s maritime growth from the grand sailing ships of the U.S. Navy and the river boats of Mark Twain’s Mississippi River to the more contemporary pleasure of leisure time spent by the sea. 

Ranging in date from 1828 to 1945, the exhibition opens with the earliest form of American maritime painting with a selection of grand, academic-style portraits of graceful sailing ships. The exhibition progresses forward in time with waterscapes from the sea to the lakes and rivers of the American heartland, light-flooded impressionist visions of quaint New England seaside towns, and modernist renderings of industrial waterfronts and everyday life on the water.

“Many artists of every genre have been fascinated by stories and images of water. This exhibition captures the spirit of American maritime adventure from the ocean to inland waterways and lakes,” said TMA Curator, Ken Tomio. “Visitors will see images of majestic ships, intrepid racing yachts, and even modernist depictions of commercialism and industry as they appear across our nation’s shorelines.”

The underlying theme of the exhibition reflects changes in American attitudes towards our most important resource from the endless supply of water and land the first settlers found and the dominant role ships played in fostering growth and trade, to the popularity of second homes and beaches and the change in port facilities from picturesque to industrial in the 20th century.

Reflections on Water in American Painting is drawn from the collections of Arthur J. Phelan, well-known for his paintings depicting life in the American West. Phelan began collecting nautical paintings in the 1960s. Highlights of his collection and the exhibition include James Bard’s meticulously drawn Hudson River steamboat, Frank Benson’s marshland with more than 30 rising ducks, William Trost Richards’ breaking waves, William Merritt Chase’s intense study of the Arno River, and Reginald Marsh’s cathedral-like rendering of a New Jersey railway bridge.

“I have built a number of collections that started with a chance acquisition of an artwork that reminded me of something in my past,” says Phelan. “This group of maritime and coastal scenes arises from time spent at my family’s summer home in Connecticut. Our house, between New London and the Connecticut River, was on the water. During World War II, I sailed small sloops at the point where Long Island Sound empties into the Atlantic and where large commercial sailing ships occasionally still passed by. Later, while at Yale [B.A. and M.A. in American history], I was never far from the Sound.”

Events & Activities
Gallery Talk with Arthur J. Phelan, Friday, January 9, 2012 – Enjoy a free Gallery Talk led by Arthur Phelan as he discusses his collection of maritime paintings on view in Reflections on Water in American Painting. Gallery Talk begins at 11:00 a.m. in the North Gallery and is free, however, standard exhibition admissions fees apply.

Family Day, Saturday January 14 and February 11, 2012 – Offered on the second Saturday of each month, these Family Day events will offer free art activities designed to reflect themes from Reflections on Water in American Painting from 2:00-4:00 p.m. in the classroom. Sponsored by the Roosth Foundation.

First Friday Tour, Friday February 3, 2012 – Enjoy a free tour led by a member of the TMA Education department of Reflections on Water in American Painting starting at 11:00 a.m. The tour is free and will feature a selection of works from the exhibition. Standard admission fees apply.

Seniors’ Day, Monday, January 16, 2012 – Free admission and guided tours for visitors ages 65 and older; tours of Reflections on Water in American Painting begin at 10:45 a.m. and 11:45 a.m. Reservations are requested for art tours and may be made by calling 903-595-1001.

            Admission for the exhibition is $7.00 for adults, $5.00 for students and seniors, and free for TMA Members and children ages 12 and under. Reflections on Water in American Painting is presented by Exhibits Development Group, USA. Signature sponsor is Julietta Jarvis Foundation. Underwriter is the Jean and Graham Devoe Williford Charitable Trust. Patron sponsor is Bank of America. Contributor is Target. Collectors’ Circle sponsors are Amy & Vernon Faulconer. Corporate Member sponsors are BSCENE Magazine and Piney Woods Live.

The Tyler Museum of Art, accredited by the American Association of Museums, is located at 1300 S. Mahon Ave., adjacent to the Tyler Junior College campus off East Fifth Street. Regular hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday, and 1 to 5 p.m. Sunday. (The Museum is closed Mondays and major holidays.) Lunch is available in the Museum Café from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Tuesday through Friday, and the TMA Gift Shop is open during Museum hours. For more information, call (903) 595-1001 or visit

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