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Virginia Museum of Fine Arts acquires 19th-century work by Cheyenne artist Howling Wolf

The purchase breaks the world record price for a Native American ledger drawing.

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The Virginia Museum of Fine Arts (VMFA) announced today that it acquired a major work by a 19th-century Native American artist Honanistto or Howling Wolf. The acquisition entitled A Southern Cheyenne Ledger Drawing is a watercolor and ink drawing dating to circa 1875. Howling Wolf’s long life, circa 1849 to 1927, spanned the most tumultuous periods in the history of the Southern Cheyenne (Chian) people. He was an exceptionally talented artist who depicted the Plains people and documented significant events and changes in Cheyenne society, while also portraying an individual’s place within this volatile period of American history. The work is the first Native American ledger drawing to enter VMFA’s collection. An original and rare stereograph portrait of the artist was also acquired by the museum.

VMFA’s growing Native American art collection includes two- and three-dimensional works dating from prehistoric times to the present day. Compelling artwork by modern and contemporary artists such as Jaune Quick-to-See Smith (Salish/Kootinai), Troy Sice (Zuni), Wendy Red Star (Crow), Virgil Ortiz (Cochiti Pueblo), Eudora Montoya (Santa Ana Pueblo) and Holly Wilson (Delaware/Cherokee) as well as the beautiful and intricate objects by unnamed aboriginal artists from the Arctic North, Northwest Coast, Plains and Southwest regions provide testament to the skill and aesthetic care of their makers.

“VMFA continues its efforts to grow this important collection—the museum has acquired more than 200 works by Native American artists within the last five years alone,” said Alex Nyerges, VMFA’s Director and CEO. “We are committed to collecting and exhibiting Native American art and recognizing the contributions of the Native communities here in Virginia. Adding Howling Wolf’s drawing to the collection enables the museum to tell his fascinating story and document the history and artistry of the Cheyenne people.”

Howling Wolf was the son of Eagle Head, a successful warrior and leader who became a council chief of the Southern Cheyenne around 1874. Both father and son were members of the Bowstring Society, the strongest warfare group within Southern Cheyenne society in the 1870s. Howling Wolf and his father survived several clashes, one of the earliest was an attack on their encampment at Sands Creek by the Colorado Militia in 1864 when he was only fifteen years old. By the time of his death Howling Wolf was both a revered warrior and one of the most recognized masters of the Native American art form of ledger drawing.

A Southern Cheyenne Ledger Drawing was acquired by VMFA at Heritage Auctions in Dallas, Texas. Michael Taylor, VMFA’s Chief Curator and Deputy Director for Art and Education, successfully acquired the work for the museum for $106,250 after a vigorous bidding war resulting in a world-record hammer price for a single ledger drawing. “Ledger drawings are important to the history of Native North America both as an art form and as historical documents,” said Dr. Johanna Minich, VMFA’s Assistant Curator for Native American Art. “Acquiring a ledger drawing for the Native American collection has been one of my priorities. When this work by Howling Wolf came up for auction Michael Taylor and I discussed it and decided that if we wanted a ledger drawing for VMFA we should do what we could to obtain one of the best. I think we got it.”

Ledger art grew from the traditions of visually recording individual exploits and tribal histories as testimonials. Pre-reservation ledger drawings emphasized battle scenes or horse raids. Reservation drawings dating from around 1870 to 1890 documented tribal histories and traditions. In 1875 the War Department acted to remove men they deemed “criminal offenders” in battles from their own people and send them far away to Fort Marion, a prison in Saint Augustine, Florida. Howling Wolf and his father were among the seventy-two men from Cheyenne, Kiowa, Comanche, Arapaho and Caddo tribes who were forcibly removed. A Southern Cheyenne Ledger Drawing is a reservation drawing made during his captivity.

While at Fort Marion the men, surprisingly, could move freely about, work for wages and pursue artistic endeavors. With access to new materials like paper, watercolor paints, crayons and ink, Howling Wolf began to vary his themes and compositions and the resulting art demonstrates his powerful individualism.

A Southern Cheyenne Ledger Drawing depicts a meeting of the Bowstring Society with its leaders arriving on horseback. The chief, a famous Cheyenne warrior named Roman Nose, is shown with an elaborate headdress featuring a bird design. Intricately detailed tipis flank the sides of the composition with one placed in the foreground to suggest their circular formation around the main activity. Seven other society members, with their backs to the viewer, bear feathered and bent lances indicating their membership in the Bowstring Society. The inclusion of the American flag indicates that even though this warrior society continues the members have acquiesced to the new leadership of the colonizers.

“The composition is so bold and complex,” said Taylor. “The outline is firm and confident and the colors are vibrant and exuberant. We knew we had found an incredible Native American ledger drawing for VMFA and are delighted to share it with our visitors. Our goal in the coming years is to build a world-class collection of Native American art at the museum and this purchase, along with many others that Johanna has made in the past five years, signals our intent.”

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VMFA to rename gallery featuring many contemporary Black artists following major gift

The Virginia Museum of Fine Arts (VMFA) announced that it recently received an important contribution from Dr. Monroe Harris Jr. and Dr. Jill Bussey Harris. One of the museum’s 21st-Century Art galleries will be renamed to honor the Harrises’s support.

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The Virginia Museum of Fine Arts (VMFA) announced that it recently received an important contribution from Dr. Monroe Harris Jr. and Dr. Jill Bussey Harris. One of the museum’s 21st-Century Art galleries will be renamed to honor the Harrises’s support.

“Monroe and Jill are avid art collectors and tremendous supporters of VMFA,” said Alex Nyerges, VMFA’s Director and CEO. “Their generous gift offers significant support for the museum’s continued efforts to expand and exhibit its collection of contemporary work by Black artists.”

Supporting African and African American art has been the Harrises’s passion for many years. “From offering support to local artists and those who are well established, we are preserving our diverse culture,” said Monroe. Jill added, “It’s important for us to not simply be involved but to also give back to our community.”

Dr. Monroe Harris, who was elected president of the Board of Trustees for VMFA in July 2018, is the first African American to hold the position in the institution’s 82-year history and the first African American board chair of a major comprehensive art museum in the United States. During his tenure, he championed the expansion of the museum’s collection to include more works by African and African American artists, including Kehinde Wiley’s Rumors of War. Previously, he held the offices of executive vice president and vice president of the museum’s Board of Trustees and served as president of the Foundation Board of Directors.

Both Harrises have longtime careers in dentistry. Dr. Monroe Harris is an oral and maxillofacial surgeon in Richmond and a partner in the practice of Virginia Oral & Facial Surgery. Dr. Jill Bussey Harris is a cosmetic dentist who maintains her own private practice, Beautiful Smiles, in the museum district. In 1989, she became the first African American female full-time assistant professor at VCU/MCV School of Dentistry.

“As collectors of African American art, as donors, and as dedicated professionals, they demonstrate what it means to be visionary leaders, not only for VMFA but the entire Richmond community,” Nyerges said. “We are grateful for their support.”

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The VMFA’s 2021-22 Fellowship Program supports 21 student and professional artists

The Virginia Museum of Fine Arts (VMFA) has announced the 2021-22 recipients of VMFA fellowships. Twenty-one students and professional artists were selected from more than 350 applicants to receive a total of $146,000 towards professional advancements in the arts.

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The Virginia Museum of Fine Arts (VMFA) has announced the 2021-22 recipients of VMFA fellowships. Twenty-one students and professional artists were selected from more than 350 applicants to receive a total of $146,000 towards professional advancements in the arts. The VMFA Fellowship Program has awarded more than $5.8 million to more than 1,400 artists since 1940. Recipients must be Virginia residents and may use the award as desired, including for education and studio investments. Each year, professional curators and working artists serve as jurors to select fellowship recipients.

“The Virginia Museum of Fine Arts Fellowship Program is one of the largest programs of its kind in the United States,” said Alex Nyerges, VMFA’s Director and CEO. “We are committed to supporting students and professional artists. Last August, in addition to our regular fellowships, we also offered grants to help sustain forty Virginia artists during the pandemic as part of a special relief program..”

Fellowship Recipients

VMFA awarded ten professional fellowships of $8,000 each this year to Umico Niwa and Peat Szilagyi, Sculpture, Richmond; Megan Angolia, Sculpture, Chesterfield; Jaraz Jenkins, Painting, Richmond; Yoko Gushi, Painting, Henrico; Danya Smith, Mixed Media, Midlothian; Veronica Jackson, Mixed Media, Bedford; Franchell Mack Brown, Mixed Media, Henrico; Prederico Cuatlacuatl, Film/Video, Charlottesville; and Jason A. Hackett, Crafts, Henrico. Dean Daderko, Curator at the Contemporary Arts Museum Houston, was the juror for the professional fellowship entries.

Undergraduate fellowships of $4,000 went to eight students this year. The recipients are Fiona Marinaro, Mixed Media, SCAD, Yorktown; Keita Heinrich, New & Emerging Media, UVA, Charlottesville; Myles Manuel, Film/Video, VCU, Richmond; Grade Solomon, Photography, VCU, Fredericksburg; Hien Nguyen, Sculpture, VCU, Henrico; Hee Yoo, Painting, VCU, Glen Allen; Olivia Therese Offutt, Drawing, GMU, Vero Beach, FL; and Bridget Yvonne Hamel, Mixed Media, VCU, Williamsburg. Seth Feman, Deputy Director for Art and Interpretation and Curator of Photography at the Chrysler Museum of Art, was the juror for the undergraduate fellowship entries.

Three graduate students were awarded $6,000 each this year. The recipients are Meagan Walsh, Art History, UVA, Charlottesville; Keith Nixon Jr., Film/Video, Howard University, Richmond; and Tacie Nicole Jones, New & Emerging Media, Virginia Tech, Blacksburg. Seth Feman, Deputy Director for Art and Interpretation and Curator of Photography at the Chrysler Museum of Art, and Leslie Cozzi, PhD and Associate Curator of Prints, Drawings and Photographs at the Baltimore Museum of Art were the jurors for the graduate fellowship entries.

The Cy Twombly Graduate Fellowship, which honors the renowned Virginia artist and two-time VMFA Fellowship winner, was inaugurated into the VMFA Fellowship Program two years ago. The award is supported by the McClintock Endowment. This year’s awardee is Larissa M. Rogers, a graduate student from Ruckersville who is studying New and Emerging Media at UCLA.

The Fellowship Program was established in 1940 with a generous contribution made by the late John Lee Pratt of Fredericksburg. Offered through the VMFA Statewide Program, fellowships are still largely funded through the Pratt Endowment and supplemented with gifts from the Lettie Pate Whitehead Foundation and the J. Warwick McClintic Jr. Scholarship Fund. In addition to providing financial rewards to all recipients, VMFA exhibits works by past fellowship winners in VMFA’s Amuse Restaurant and Claiborne Robertson Room, VMFA’s Pauley Center Galleries and select spaces at Richmond International Airport. Several past and present fellowship recipients have also shown their work in the galleries of the Workhouse Arts Center in Lorton and the Capital One Commons in Richmond.

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Friday Cheers Announces 2021 Concert Series

Each event in May and June features socially-distanced outdoor concerts with physically-spaced two, four and eight-person pods. Tickets must be purchased in advance, with no on-site ticket purchase available.

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Friday Cheers, presented by Hardywood Park Craft Brewery, returns May 7 for its 36th season of live music. Richmond’s longest running outdoor concert series is held on Brown’s Island on downtown’s historic and picturesque riverfront.

Each event in May and June features socially-distanced outdoor concerts with physically-spaced two, four and eight-person pods. Tickets must be purchased in advance, with no on-site ticket purchase available.

This year Cheers is celebrating all things local! Local bands, local food and local beer! Produced by Venture Richmond Events, this season’s Friday Cheers boasts a stellar line-up in a format designed to be safe for attendees.

“We are thrilled to present these shows in a safe and responsible way. Invite your friends and family out to enjoy the warm weather in one of Richmond’s most beautiful outdoor event venues,” said Stephen Lecky, director of events for Venture Richmond.

“Venture Richmond has helped make downtown Richmond a true cultural gem, and the team at Hardywood is thrilled for the opportunity to partner with them to bring people together over great music and delicious beer,” said Eric McKay, president and co-founder, Hardywood Park Craft Brewery.

2021 Season Lineup

May 7 – Cris Jacobs Band (8:00) with Deau Eyes (6:30) 

Watch Cris Jacobs Band on YouTube: https://youtu.be/hEKpHKXO8ZM

Watch Deau Eyes on YouTube: https://youtu.be/kq_cE6RS1rc

 

May 21 – Agents of Good Roots (8:00) with Leon III (6:30) 

Watch Agents of Good Roots on YouTube: https://youtu.be/KMYLnohwSos

Watch Leon III on YouTube: https://youtu.be/q0EVYI-WWTE

 

May 28 – An evening with Art of Noise RVA (6:30)

Watch Art of Noise on YouTube: https://youtu.be/wyGKMd4L40w

 

June 4 – NO BS! Brass (8:00) with Piranha Rama (6:30) 

Watch NO BS! Brass on YouTube: https://youtu.be/-O7-djsBv5g

Watch Piranha Rama on YouTube: https://youtu.be/69ozz5M6yDY

 

June 11 – An evening with Suggesting Rhythm (6:30)

Watch Suggesting Rhythm on YouTube: https://youtu.be/Nd1rMllrwL8 

 

June 18 – Mighty Joshua (8:00) and Erin & the Wildfire (6:30) 

Watch Mighty Joshua on YouTube: https://youtu.be/sqQL756RT9E

Watch Erin and the Wildfire on YouTube: https://youtu.be/mGHVPXo7ftA

 

June 25 – Butcher Brown (8:00) with (6:30) Shormey

Watch Butcher Brown on YouTube: https://youtu.be/Oune3jVNHEs

Watch Shormey on YouTube: https://youtu.be/hcY9VHzLwG0 

Advance tickets for individual shows to Friday Cheers are now available to purchase online at Ticketstobuy.com. Tickets must be purchased in advance online only. There will be no box office on site. Pods will be limited to two, four and eight-persons including children. A two-person pod is 4′ x 8′. A four-person pod is 8′ x 8′. An eight-person general admission pod is a 20ft circle, located in the back section of the island with limited views of the stage. Reserve your pod now to get your choice of spots on the island!

All ticket holders must agree to comply with safety precautions put in place during the event, as outlined on our website. All public health protocols will be strictly enforced, and contactless practices have been implemented for the safety of our guests and staff. Face masks or coverings are required and no admittance will be allowed without one. Social distancing and a face mask are required any time a patron is outside their pod including while walking to the entry points and waiting in line for check-in, porta-johns and beverage and food pickup. All food and beverage purchases will be online and contactless.   

Friday Cheers is Presented by: Hardywood Park Craft Brewery

Friday Cheers is Sponsored by: CoStar Group, Dominion Green Power, 103.7 Your Variety,  NBC12, CW Richmond and Cucumbers on Fire.

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