CSU, Chico News

Homer Exhibit Opens New Turner Location

Date: 01-16-2009

Joe Wills
Public Affairs
Catherine Sullivan
Curator of The Turner

The Janet Turner Print Museum will open the doors of its new home Jan. 26 in the Meriam Library at California State University, Chico with an exhibition of newly acquired print art from American art icon Winslow Homer.

Titled “Deconstructing Innocence: Winslow Homer Prints,” the exhibit runs through Feb. 22 and features the Robert R. and Sharon R. Ross Collection of Winslow Homer Prints.

The Rosses, professors emeriti of the departments of political science and mathematics, respectively, donated the art to The Turner last year. The professors knew Janet Turner personally and shared her love of fine art prints. The grand opening of The Turner in its new Meriam Library location will be the collection’s first public showing.

The exhibit includes 29 prints and one block representing different periods of Homer’s life and provides rare, personal glimpses of 19th century American life – its history, culture and morals.

“A realist and naturalist, Winslow Homer is an important figure in 19th century American art,” said Turner curator Catherine Sullivan. “For our museum, the Ross’ gift provides a wonderful opportunity to showcase a significant body of an artist’s work. This collection is especially important as Homer was both a printmaker and a painter, and that makes his work more accessible.”

Homer’s 55-year career as an artist spanned an interesting period in American history as the country changed from a pre-Civil War agrarian society to an industrial society, noted Sullivan. Homer’s work reflects the social change; one example is his portrayal of women who, in the new industrial society, suddenly found themselves with new freedoms and leisure time.

Homer had no formal artistic training. He began as a free-lance illustrator. Some of his best illustrations were done for Harper’s Weekly magazine, for which he covered the Civil War, concentrating primarily on Union Army daily camp life.

Homer evolved from illustrator to printmaker and painter (both oil and watercolor). His portrayals of American life include people in society, the Civil War, children at play, families, farm life, and humans versus nature. Although he lived in New England, New York, Paris and England, ultimately he settled in a secluded village on the coast of Maine, where he spent 27 years. His prints and paintings reflect life on the Eastern seaboard as well as his travels to Canada and the Caribbean.

“The Robert R. and Sharon R. Ross Collection is a perfect exhibit to open a new era for the Janet Turner Print Museum,” said Joel Zimbelman, interim dean of the College of Humanities and Fine Arts. “Our new home is in keeping with Janet’s mission of expanding access to high-quality print art to students and the community alike.”

Robert Ross was a board member of the Turner Print Museum from 2004 to 2006. “From that position,” he said, “I was able to see not only what a great asset the Turner Print Museum was to the University and the Chico area, but how professionally it was curated. I know that these prints will be in good hands.”

CSU, Chico President Zingg will formally announce the museum’s new home, located just inside the Meriam Library breezeway, in a press conference scheduled for Jan. 26. For more information, please call Brooks Thorlaksson, associate dean of the College of Humanities and Fine Arts, at 898-5351.

Museum hours for the Homer exhibition are Monday-Friday, 11 a.m.-4 p.m. There will be a gala opening reception at the museum’s new location Wednesday, Feb. 4, 5:30 -7:30 p.m.

For more information about the Turner and its spring 2009 season of exhibitions, please contact Sullivan at 898-4476 or visit www.theturner.org.