On Sunday, April 5th, the Dixon Gallery & Gardens unveils "Regional Dialect: American Scene Paintings from the John and Susan Horseman Collection." The traveling exhibit of 57 paintings, dating from 1900 to 1945, was curated by Dixon director Kevin Sharp, who helped the Horsemans, a St. Louis couple, develop the collection.
"There were very strong schools of [American Scene] painting in areas like Cleveland, Nashville, and St. Genevieve, Missouri," Sharp explains. "There were pockets all over the country, and this was a moment when American artists were very interested in their immediate surroundings and the people who were their neighbors."
Perhaps the best-known example of American Scene is Grant Wood's iconic American Gothic. While "Regional Dialect" doesn't include paintings by Wood or other well-known contemporaries such as Thomas Hart Benton or John Steuart Curry, the exhibit includes works by artists whom Sharp feels deserve recognition: "Many of the names of the artists will be unfamiliar, but what we think we're doing is starting a new canon of American art. These artists need to be better known."
Among the 43 artists represented are Carl Gaertner, George Adomeit, Alice Schille, and Joseph Vorst (whose work Good Lord Gives Peace is pictured above).
The paintings of "Regional Dialect," which span the Depression years and the time between the two World Wars, feel particularly timely. "What we're putting on the walls is a recipe for surviving the Depression," Sharp says. "This is a show that represents American character, American values, and the American Dream, in a way. You see lots of images of people struggling to get by but also getting by, always finding a way and helping each other out and being good neighbors — all of those qualities that make this a great country."
"Regional Dialect: American Scene Paintings from the John and Susan Horseman Collection" at the Dixon Gallery & Gardens April 5th-June 21st. Kevin Sharp will lead a discussion with the Horsemans at 2 p.m. on Sunday, April 5th.