June 17, 2012

You’re Invited: Grace Hartigan Paintings, 1957-1963

On September 23, 1963, the opening of an exhibition of the works of artist Grace Hartigan was held at the University Gallery in Northrop Auditorium. An invitation to the exhibition, found in the Gallery press books from the 1960s, is one of many clues found within the archives that can begin to describe the details and events surrounding exhibitions during this decade.

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In addition to the opening invitation, an exhibition poster was created to announce and promote the exhibition–which ran through November. Posters were folded and mailed out to friends of the Gallery to publicize the exhibition. A Hartigan poster was found in the back room of the Weisman’s in-house storage, a duplicate is also preserved within the WAM exhibition poster collection at the Archives.

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From the exhibition folder, contained in Box 9 of the WAM records at the University Archives, a draft list of exhibition hostesses was found that outlined the schedule for which “Mrs.” or “Miss” was assigned to welcome visitors. The list includes female faculty members (Jo Rollins, Katy Nash), the wives of male faculty members, as well as Liz Cless (Mrs. Howard), the daughter of former Gallery Director Ruth Lawrence, who was the co-director of The Minnesota Plan for the Continuing Education of Women at the University, and Mrs. Wilson, wife of University President O. Meredith Wilson, among others.

(click on the thumbnails below for a larger photo…)

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GraceH3.jpgIn addition to attending the opening of her exhibit, the artist Grace Hartigan also gave a seminar to University students and artists the following day, as reported in a Minnesota Daily article from September 23, 1963, which was found in the Gallery press books from the 1960s (at left). The article also provided a brief description of Grace Hartigan’s work, and indicated that at the opening of the exhibit, University students and artists, “milled around, viewing and discussing the show over cookies and coffee.” Several photographs, also found within the press books, portray the milling, viewing, and discussing of the show over cookies and coffee…

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Additional photographs from the press books also likely capture the seminar that was held for students and artists the day following the exhibition opening. Though as the photographs are adhered with rubber cement to pages within the press book, and contain no captions or descriptive material, it is hard to distinguish which photographs capture which event. (Is Hartigan pictured in two different outfits within the photographs, or was she photographed with a jacket on at the same event?)

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Correspondence between the artist and University Gallery Director Sidney Simon was also found within the exhibition folder. This letter from Simon to Hartigan expresses Simon’s thanks for her attendance at the exhibition opening, and comments upon the success of the exhibit:

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*In a collections related note, the personal papers of Grace Hartigan are preserved at the Syracuse University Library.


Rebecca Wilsonย is a graduate student in the Master of Liberal Studies program at the University of Minnesota, completing a minor in Museum Studies. She also serves as a Visitor Services Assistant at the Weisman Art Museum.

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