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Past Exhibitions

Our collection is more than a sampling of traditional American artists – the pieces housed within our Museum walls convey the story of the American experience. A diverse and unique display, the artwork prompts us to think critically and challenge our conceptions of the great American West and the people who live there.

Our collections and rotating exhibits serve great purpose in the community. These works of art are functional teaching pieces – they present some of our best opportunities to connect with our audiences, young and old.  

Here’s what’s been on view at The Rockwell in recent years (most recent listed first).

PERMANENT COLLECTION           UPCOMING EXHIBITIONS        

CURRENT EXHIBITIONS                STUDENT EXHIBITS

Earth and Sky: The Ceramic Art of Wayne Higby

May 18 – September 4, 2018

Geology meets chemistry in this exhibition of abstract ceramic landscapes by artist and educator Wayne Higby. The exhibition explores the forms, techniques, and firing processes used throughout Higby’s career, including groundbreaking work in raku earthenware and porcelain.

CERAMIC LANDSCAPES

Bare Bones Cafe: A Community-Sourced Museum Experience

April 27 – May 12, 2018

Giant tube looms, poetry readings, interactive modern dance collaborations, acoustic jam sessions and more – there’s something new and surprising each day at Bare Bones Café!

Perspectives of the American Experience: A National Exhibition of Women Artists

January 19 – April 22, 2018

The Rockwell is pleased to collaborate with American Women Artists for the 25 in 25 campaign, producing twenty-five museum shows over 25 years in honor of women in the visual arts. This competition showcases representational works by female artists in a variety of media including painting, drawing, printmaking, and sculpture.

perspectives

The Harmon and Harriet Kelley Collection of African-American Art: Works on Paper

September 15, 2017 – December 31, 2017

See the works of more than fifty African-American artists from the late 1800s to the early years of this century. Drawn from one of the most esteemed private collections of works by African-American artists, this special exhibition features over ninety works by such luminaries as Elizabeth Catlett, William H. Johnson, and Charles White.

Kelley Collection

Print + Process

Swan etching by Thomas French, 1957

Thomas French, The Swain, 1957. Soft-ground etching on paper. Clara S. Peck Fund Purchase. 2017.3

April 28, 2017 – February 2018

In this exhibition, we present important prints from the early 20th century and discuss the process by which they were made. The printmaking process is highly technical and therefore confusing to many of us.  The exhibit features a broad body of work that illustrates the various printmaking techniques that were popular during the Modernist period.

Masters of American Printmaking
 

Blanket Stories: Western Door, Salt Sacks and Three Sisters

May 5, 2017 – September 5, 2017

This summer at The Rockwell, explore the histories and memories tied to humble household objects – blankets – with Seneca native artist and proto-feminist Marie Watt. How can a simple blanket ignite conversations? What memories are held in the folds? How can fabric tie an individual to the community at large, or to a place and time?

blanket stories

Modernist Masters, Contemporary Icons: Highlights from the Old Jail Art Center
Highlights from the Old Jail Art Center: Including Featured works by John Marin, Grant Wood, and Andy Warhol

February 3, 2017 – April 23, 2017

Comprised of 33 modernist works of landscape, portraiture, nudes, modern life stills and wildlife, this exhibition celebrates the work of the most honored American art masters of our time. Work by American greats like Grant WoodAlexander Calder, and Thomas Hart Benton was presented for the first time at The Rockwell. Other artists, familiar to The Rockwell’s collection like Fritz ScholderJohn Marin and Andy Warhol, were also included – providing a new dialogue with The Rockwell’s own modernist watercolors, works on paper, and sculpture. 

Modernist Masters

40 for 40: Anniversary Highlights from the Permanent Collection
Curated by Celebrity Guest Artists Steven & William Ladd

September 24, 2016 – January 15, 2017

In celebration of The Rockwell Museum’s 40th anniversary, guest artists Steven Ladd and William Ladd were asked to curate an exhibition that reflects their American experience. The brothers mined The Rockwell Museum’s collection in order to create 40 visual stories. Each object has been installed in a unique grouping designed to alter its original meaning, encouraging us to view them in a new light. In 40 for 40, the artistic creation is the new context rather than the objects themselves.

the art of looking

American Masterworks of Howard Terpning: Highlights from the Eddie Basha Collection
Award-Winning Paintings by the Contemporary Master of Western Art

June 24 – September 11, 2016

This exhibition offers a rare opportunity for public audiences to view major paintings from one of the largest privately-held art collections in the United States.  Howard Terpning has achieved a rare status among contemporary painters of the American West and is recognized by collectors, aficionados of Western art, and his fellow artists as a true master.  His paintings reflect a knowledge and appreciation of the history, culture, and religion of the Northern Plains Indians. Terpning depicts elements of our collective American history but harnesses a contemporary style that brings them to life for a modern audience.

storytelling through art

Historic Photographs of Watkins Glen State Park

February 23 – December 31, 2016

In conjunction with the NPS centennial, we would like to recognize the local diversity of the American landscape preserved in the Finger Lakes Region. Exhibited here are historic images of Watkins Glen State Park, from its origins as a private retreat through its modern incarnation as a public state park. Like national parks, state parks champion conservation of natural resources on a local level.

private retreat to state park

Art of the Parks: Celebrating 100 Years of the National Park Service

February 19 – December 31, 2016

Art has been part of the history of national parks since the 1870s when Hudson River School painters captured majestic Western landscapes. Through their awe-inspiring works, the public came to see these special places in America for the first time. The works captured their imaginations, spurring them to preserve these lands for future generations.

centennial celebration

Richard Parrish, Bend, 2015. Kilnformed glass, 15 x 24 x .75 inches.

Richard Parrish: Aerial Perspectives of the American Landscape

February 12 – June 19, 2016

These glass, kiln-formed panels by contemporary artist Richard Parrish are the most recent creations in his “Mapping” series.  Informed by aerial photography, the panels provide a birds-eye view of the landscape.  Fields, rivers, and crop irrigation patterns are presented in an altered spatial context, while being preserved as recognizable components of the composition. 

vantage points

Holy PotOn Fire: the Nancy & Alan Cameros Collection of Southwestern Pottery

April 8, 2014 – April 1, 2016

The display features historic works by Maria Martinez and other famous matriarchs of pottery as well as works by some of the most talented Indian artists working in the southwest today. These are vessels born of Native earth, crafted in fire, and displayed for both their historic importance as well as their artistic beauty. Interactive touch screens allow visitors to learn more about the history, craftsmanship, and artistry of these vessels.

on fire!

The Colorado River: Flowing Through Conflict, Photographs by Pete McBride

August 14, 2015 – February 7, 2016

 This exhibition follows the length of the river’s epic 1,450 mile journey from its headwaters high in the Colorado Rockies to its dried-up delta touching the Sea of Cortez, illuminating the historical, geographical, and environmental significance of this life- giving river. In order to bring awareness to these issues in a unique way, Pete McBride shot many of the images from the air. As McBride explains, “The aerial perspective shows where we as humans have been, how we connect to the earth, and how nature relates to itself.”  

aerial perspectives

Between the States: Photographs of the American Civil War from the George Eastman House Collection

April 10 – August 2, 2015

Recognizing the sesquicentennial of “Mr. Lincoln’s War”, this traveling exhibition presents a selection of historical facsimile photographs of Civil War sites and circumstances by photographers including George Barnard, Mathew Brady, and Alexander Gardner. The exhibition emphasizes rare items in the George Eastman House collection and explores how photography was used during this period to record the war, promote popular causes, and commemorate those who sacrificed their lives. Between the States was curated by Jamie Allen, Eastman House’s assistant curator of photographs.

Mr. Lincoln’s War

Touching on Water: Paintings by Thomas Paquette

January 23, 2015 – March 29, 2015

“Touching on Water” is a collection of over 60 of his paintings in oil and in gouache dating from 1992 through 2014, each composition brought to focus by some form of water, the almost-too-common-to-be-noticed element, be it a lake, rain, river, or snow. The omnipresence of water in a water-blessed land, coupled with our absolute dependence on it, often renders it invisible to conscious attention. Paquette’s paintings make it reappear to our eyes and minds, reminding us to pay attention to this most common but extraordinary element in our daily lives.

Touching on water

A Feeling of Humanity: Western Art from the Ken Ratner Collection

September 26, 2014 – January 11, 2015

The West has been a defining national symbol during much of America’s history. Although considered a region by Euro-Americans, the West was also a myth, a dream, an inspiration and a destination. As the title indicates, the major theme of the exhibition is “spirit of community.” Drawn from the collection of Ken Ratner, the art integrates a multitude of traditions: landscape, portraiture and character study, animal pictures, domestic and urban scenes and Native Americans.

spirit of community

Karl BodmerUntouched by Chaos: Karl Bodmer and the American Wilderness

March 3, 2014 – March 8, 2015

Between 1833 and 1834, Maximilian, a German nobleman and self-trained naturalist, financed an expedition up the Missouri River, through a huge swath of the American West. Karl Bodmer, a young Swiss artist, accompanied Maximilian, creating some of the earliest images of the landscape, people, flora, and fauna of the trans-Mississippi West. The trip resulted in a massive, two volume publication, Travels into the Interior of North America, which featured more than 50 hand-colored engravings based on Bodmer’s original watercolors. This exhibition, drawn entirely from the Rockwell collection, will feature many of the most important engravings from these books.

american wilderness

Harmless Hunter: Charles M. Russell’s Wildlife Art

September 19, 2014 – January 4, 2015

Known as the “Cowboy Artist,” Russell nevertheless painted, drew, and sculpted various Western animals, among them the grizzly bear, the deer, and the buffalo, throughout his long and storied career. This exhibition will feature over 40 works of art featuring wildlife by Charles M. Russell and was organized by the National Museum of Wildlife Art in collaboration with the Charles M. Russell Center for the Study of Art of the American West, University of Oklahoma.

cowboy artist

W.H.D. KoernerIllustration and Imagination: W.H.D. Koerner’s Western Paintings

May 16, 2014 – September 7, 2014

A student of Howard Pyle and part of the fabled Brandywine School, W.H.D. Koerner created numerous memorable Western scenes for the Saturday Evening Post and other publications in the 1920s and 1930s. Drawn from the Koerner estate and the Rockwell collection, this exhibition features about 20 of Koerner’s original paintings and drawings, which were the basis for the Post illustrations. 

nostalgic yearning, inventive scenes

Thor 900 AD Bronze-CC calendarSculptures of Abraham Anghik Ruben: The World of Man, Animals and Spirits

May 16, 2014- September 7, 2014

The art of Inuvialuit artist Abraham Anghik Ruben (b. 1951) portrays journeys of exploration, migration, and displacement through voyages across time and place, and into the spiritual realm. In these recent sculptures, Ruben contrasts the ancient lives of two northern peoples-Norse adventurers and Inuit (Inuvialuit) whale hunters-guiding us to a new perspective on the complex history of the North American Arctic, a history shaped by movement, contact, and change.

a personal interpretation

Painted Journeys: In the Spirit of American West

January 24, 2014 – May 4, 2014


2013

Photographs by Edward S. Curtis and Roland W. Reed: Selections from the Irene and Dr. Edward Grandt Gift
February 27, 2013 – February 6, 2014

Alexander Hogue: An American Visionary
September 27, 2013 – January 12, 2014

2012

Comic Art Indigene, curated by the Museum of Indian Arts and Culture, Santa Fe, NM
January 13 – May 29, 2012

Two Perspectives, Crossing Paths: Nancy Bush and James Fox
June 8 – October 14, 2012 

Enduring Legend, Fragile Myth: Cowboy Paintings by Jason Cytacki 
June 8 – October 14, 2012

Indian Art and Contemporary Identity
September 14, 2012 – January 5, 2013

National Geographic Greatest Photographs of the American West: Capturing 125 Years of Majesty, Spirit and Adventure
October 25, 2012 – September 15, 2013 

Treasures under the Tree: Selected Toys from the Collection of the Rockwell Museum
November 25 – December 31, 2012

2011

Clyde Aspevig Field Studies
September 2010 – February 2013

Andy Warhol: Cowboys and Indians
January 22 – October 23, 2011 

Face to Face: Portraiture and the American West
January 21 – May 5, 2011

Wild West: Beauty of the Beast
June 25, 2011 – January 2, 2012

Pottery from The Nancy and Alan Cameros Collection of Southwest Pottery
June 2011 – March 2014

Collector’s Legacy
October 28, 2011 – January 2, 2012

 

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