New exhibits for fall at Art Museum of Greater Lafayette
Walk into the Art Musuem’s East Gallery and it’s like you’re walking into the American Southwest. Native American rugs are hanging on all the walls with hardly any bare space in between them. Pottery of all different shapes, sizes and styles is placed perfectly throughout the room.
Mona Berg and Bruno Moser selected the pieces for the exhibit Navajo Rugs and Pueblo Pots: From the Compton and Hasegawa Collections.
“There are influences that have gone back and forth between the Pueblo Indians and the Navajos," Berg said. "So, you can see some of the same designs that show up in both the rugs and the pots.”
She says each tribe had its own style of pot or rug with a pattern unique to their people. For the Zunis, it was the lizard, while the Santa Clara are known for their red and shiny black pots with distinctive carvings. Her goal was to pair and place items to grab a visitor's attention.
“I’ve put things where I think they’ll make an impact when people first come into the room," she said. "On the front wall, there’s a rug called a dazzler. It’s like op art – you look at it and your eyes kind of cross."
"This storm pattern is a bright red and I think that’s going to catch people’s eyes. On the far back wall is a very contemporary piece. It has no traditional style, but it incorporates many of the motifs that are in all of the other rugs.”
The 80 pots come from the collection of Mike and Mary Lou Hasegawa and the 29 rugs are owned by Dale and Jeanne Compton.
The couple began collecting the rugs 50 years ago when they lived in Washington, D.C. and visited the Department of Interior Museum.
“We just started to like the texture of them and appreciate the weaving," Jeanne Compton said. "And that was just the beginning of a lot of history and time of collecting rugs.”
The Comptons say they never thought they would collect so many, but after numerous trips to Arizona, it just ended up that way.
“We do spend a couple weeks every spring in Scottsdale and Phoenix, Arizona. Visit the heard. Go to the Indian fair there,” said Dale Compton.
They are gradually donating their rugs to the Spurlock Museum at their alma mater, the University of Illinois. So, this might be the last time their collection is on display in Lafayette.
The other Art Museum exhibit opening is Visions: Four Indiana Painters. It features the works of Ken Bucklew, Joel Knapp, David Slonim and Jerry Smith. Lorie Amick, interim museum curator, put the paintings of these contemporary Hoosier artists together.
“There are a lot of landscapes in here, which I think says something about Indiana. And they’ve all managed to find their own take on the landscape.
"Jerry Smith is looking at a real traditional look at the landscape. Some of the David Slonims are looking at a little bit more abstract, edgier look at the landscape, but they have that in common.”
Amick says Ken Bucklew has an interesting personal story. A spinal cord injury earlier in life severely limits his mobility. Yet his paintings are so detailed, they look like photographs.
“Isn’t it amazing? I was looking at one on the other side of the room and the same thing," she said. "He has a really wonderful sense of atmosphere that you can’t get in a photograph. Only an artist can do that.”
Amick says everyone will take away something different after viewing the exhibit. For her, it’s all the colors.
“I love green and Indiana is all about green. When you come in here and look at these paintings, there are just so many different greens. It’s exciting to see the greens they’ve discovered.
"Look at that green next to that barn. That minty green color – it’s so luscious. Even his sky in the painting has a green cast to it that I just think says, ‘Indiana.’”
Visions: Four Indiana Painters and Navajo Rugs and Pueblo Pots are on display at the Art Museum of Greater Lafayette through December 18. An opening reception for the new fall exhibits is Friday, September 28, 6 - 8 p.m. at the museum on South 10th Street in Lafayette.