“Daviess County: Through the Lens of Art,” a major event in Daviess County’s year-long bicentennial celebration, will be featured at the Owensboro Museum of Fine Art, May 30 through August 16.
The exhibition of more than 200 works of art and artifacts dating from 1815 to 2015 was designed to present a visual jubilee of the rich and diverse cultural history of Daviess County.
While the primary focus of the exhibition is the fine and decorative arts, it also includes historical objects and related materials documenting the economic, political, military, social and religious traditions important to the era.
The highlight of the exhibition is the pre-Civil War-era mansion, the Major John Hampden Smith House, built in 1859, and its collection of historically important paintings by major American artists. The structure is in the style of Greek Revival architecture with Italianate influence and serves as the museum’s decorative arts wing and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Paintings in the Smith House include a portrait of Colonel Joseph Hamilton Daveiss, after whom Daviess County is named, by Charles Willson Peale (1741 – 1827); Captain William T. Ellis, lawyer, Kentucky legislator and last commander of the 1st Kentucky Brigade of the Confederate States of America (aka The Orphans’ Brigade), by renowned Kentucky painter, Aurelius O. Revenaugh (1840 – 1908), and a childhood portrait of Queen Hughes Cannon, the woman after whom the RiverPark Center’s Cannon Hall is named.
The museum’s John Bourgholtzer Photography Collection, an important Daviess County photographer from the first quarter of the 20th century, presents an intimate view of some of the county’s most prominent early residents. These are complemented by collections of photography on loan from the Kentucky Historical Society; The Filson Historical Society, Louisville; and the Kentucky Museum at Western Kentucky University.
An important collection of paintings by the late Kentucky artist Harlan Hubbard (1900 – 1988) depicting the Owensboro riverfront from the mid-19th to the mid-20th century presents a visual celebration of the economic growth of the region.
The paintings were commissioned by the former Citizens State Bank in 1969, which invited Hubbard to spend several weeks in Owensboro producing this historical documentary on canvas. The collection was presented to the permanent collection of the museum by J. P. Morgan Chase Bank in 2007.
Paintings from the City of Owensboro’s Municipal Art Collection were created by some of the Southeast’s most recognized artists who visited Owensboro in 1974 and painted more than 600 images documenting Owensboro as it appeared in the last quarter of the 20th century. From the exhibition, known as REALISM ’74, 44 paintings were purchased by area businesses to establish the collection for the new City Hall named for former Mayor C. Waitman Taylor, Jr.
Contemporary art by more than a dozen Owensboroans includes paintings and photographs interpreting important sites and events in Daviess County history. These artists include Rex Robinson, Rhonda McEnroe, Joe Overby, Enid Roach, John Medley, Todd Derr, Katie Lowing, Ann Bruner, Marion Vasterling, Jan Frazier and former Judge-Executive Reid Haire.
More than 200 years of growth and development of Daviess County business and industry is celebrated by paintings and memorabilia documenting farming, manufacturing, distilling, health care and a wide range of economic endeavors. Included are such early business interests as Green River Whiskey, Sour Mash Distillery, The Glenmore Distillery, The Medley Distillery, Ken-Rad, Texas Gas Transmission Corporation, Field Packing Company, Owensboro Grain Company, Owensboro River Sand and Gravel and Owensboro National Bank.
The three-month exhibition will be accompanied by a series of interpretive and educational activities for children and includes the Bicentennial Art Camp scheduled June 9 to 12. The free public art camp, sponsored by Owensboro Grain Company, will feature a tour of the Kentucky Historical Society’s HistoryMobile, followed by workshops where replicas of toys of the Civil War era will be made.
The museum’s ARTLAND, an interactive art studio for children, sponsored by the Michael E. Horn Family Foundation, will present free instruction daily about the early arts and crafts of the Bicentennial period.
DAVIESS COUNTY: THROUGH THE LENS OF ART is sponsored by the Daviess
County Bicentennial Committee, Greenwell-Chisolm Printing Company, Dr. and Mrs. R.
Wathen Medley, Jr., The Glenmore Distillery and a Friend of the Museum.