THROUGH THEIR EYES: Local Collectors Share

February 27, 2022 – May 1, 2022

GALLERY SPONSORS:    |  Hunt and Donna Bonan

EXHIBIT SPONSORS:  Mark D. and Janet S. Hassakis – Hassakis & Hassakis, P. C. Law Firm  |  John and Judi Hundley – Sharp Hundley, P.C.
COSPONSORS:  Kevin & Cheryl Settle  |  Larry Sidwell

• Members’ Preview Reception: Saturday, February 26 | 6:30 – 8:30 pm
• Preview Reception Admission: $5.00 | Cedarhurst Members – Free
• Exhibit Open: Tuesday – Saturday 10:00 am to 5:00 pm | Sunday 1:00 to 5:00 pm | Free Admission
Gallery Talk with Curator Rusty Freeman: Saturday, April 16, 2022 | 12:00 – 1:00 pm

by Rusty Freeman, Director of Visual Arts

Why do collectors collect? What do they see? What might we see by looking at art through their eyes? Consider some of the reasons we collect: we seek the rare, the exquisite, or the mysterious. Collecting can be a way of remembering and honoring family, friends, or country. For some, collecting leads to new friendships. Others collect to have a deeper connection and understanding of history. The collecting and study of historical objects can also satisfy intellectual curiosity. For any of these desires, when collecting becomes focused on anticipation, the thrill of the hunt takes over, and collecting become a passion. Collections function as personal touchstones.

We collect, I believe, in order to satisfy our innate need to define life. To collect is to think. But collecting also simply enjoys the visceral pleasures of beauty. Beauty is different for each of us. These differences may be appreciated when we take the time to compare them. It can be enlightening to appreciate what another finds beautiful.

History imbues objects with multitudes of meaningful stories. These historical associations can become almost magical in their effects. Museum collections offer visitors historical objects that may evoke a sense of wonder. Museums encourage the recognition that objects represent complex, dynamic cultural forces out of which the object emerged.

Museum curators often juxtapose in a single exhibition, such as this one, disparate or contrasting objects in order to stimulate “sideways looks” that may lead to new comparisons, creating new knowledge that open to further stories for exploration. Reading across and comparing these collections what parallels and contradictions may we draw? We bestow our own personal and social values on the collections we see. This exhibition proposes that we temporarily suspend what we think is important and look at the collections through the eyes of the collectors.

The goal of this exhibit is to see these objects not only as a work of art, but as a complex entity connected to a place in history. These histories and wonders can potentially connect us all. Might we discover something in this exhibit that could be used to understand better the Cedarhurst Collections?

The stories within these collections lie in a state of suspended animation. The objects have been pulled, extracted, saved from their originating contexts. The historical context contains many stories for the object—be it a 100-year-old oil painting or digital photograph—which are so important for understanding the object. Some of the stories are known; some are unknown. It is discovering the unknown that makes the objects come alive again with benefits for us in the here and now. Stories change. The next generations will see things differently. That’s important for a variety of reasons, not the least of which is the continuing evaluation and appreciation of our shared historical heritage.

Historical collections will never lose their value and interest, so long as fresh eyes keep questioning. Museum collections offer opportunities to explore the ethos, characteristics, principles, beliefs, customs, assumptions, and values of social and cultural life. What unites all these collections is the simple beauty in collecting itself. A collecting for the sake of collecting. Collecting brings a certain order to the world. Each collection a lens through which to view the world. Comparing these collections to the Cedarhurst collection expands our views of the world.

In the end, what do you value in these art collections of American History?

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