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Article

Anne K. Swartz

[A. I. R. Gallery]

Art gallery in New York. Founded in 1972, Artists in Residence, or A. I. R. Gallery, was the first artist-run, not-for-profit gallery dedicated to women artists in the USA. Encouraged by the burgeoning Women’s Movement, a group of women artists wanted to create meaningful opportunities to show their art and have it seen and discussed. There were few options for women creating art to show it since few of the commercial galleries would show work by women. Women artists might occasionally have a single work included in a group show at a commercial gallery, but it was rare, and solo exhibitions of women artists were rarer still. So, women artists had to develop their own occasions to show their art.

A. I. R. Gallery’s mission is “to advance the status of women artists by exhibiting quality work by a diverse group of women artists and to provide leadership and community to women artists.” The gallery was founded by a group of artists—Dotty Attie (...

Article

Matico Josephson

American multi-ethnic arts organization based in New York’s Chinatown. The Asian American Arts Centre (AAAC) and its predecessors, the Asian American Dance Theatre (1974–93) and the Asian Arts Institute (1981–8), emerged from the milieu of the Basement Workshop, the first working group of the Asian American Movement on the East Coast, whose mouthpiece was the journal Bridge (1970–81). After the closing of the Basement Workshop in 1987, the Dance Theatre and the Asian Arts Institute were consolidated as the AAAC.

Directed by Eleanor S. Yung, the Dance Theatre was at the core of the organization’s activities from the 1970s through the early 1990s, performing traditional dances from several Asian cultures alongside modern and postmodern forms. In the early 1980s, the Asian Arts Institute began to hold exhibitions and collect slides of artists’ work and documentation of their activities, working primarily with artists involved in the downtown art scene. Early programs included open studio events for artists working in Chinatown and exhibitions of the work of Arlan Huang (...

Article

Mary M. Tinti

Artists’ space in New York. Since its inception in 1982, Exit Art has set the standard for socially responsible, innovatively curated and consistently relevant alternative artists’ spaces. Unlike many of the alternative spaces or collectives of the 1980s, Exit Art quickly emerged as a nonprofit arts and cultural center with lasting power well beyond the decade. Founders and co-directors Papo Colo (b 1947; an artist) and Jeanette Ingberman (a curator) formed Exit Art to offer artists a progressive organization outside the existing museum and gallery matrix. They sought to create a cross-cultural, multi-racial and cross-disciplinary context in which artists could exhibit their reactions to important contemporary issues as they happened (be they on a civic or global scale) and begin to shift perceptions regarding the purpose and place of art within society.

In the 1980s Exit Art gave thoughtful, timely mid-career exhibitions to Willie Birch (b 1942), ...

Article

Oldest and largest photography museum in the United States, located in Rochester, NY. Since it opened its doors to the public in November 1949, George Eastman House has played a pivotal role in shaping and expanding the field of American photography. George Eastman, founder of Eastman Kodak Company, never knew his home would become a museum; he bequeathed the mansion where he lived from 1905 until 1932 to the University of Rochester to serve as the residence of its president. In 1946 a board of trustees was formed to establish George Eastman House as an independent, non-profit museum, a memorial to Eastman and his advancements in photographic technology.

Working under director Oscar Solbert, a retired US Army general and former Kodak executive, was the museum’s first curator, Beaumont Newhall. Newhall transformed the museum from one primarily concerned with the technical applications of photography to one emphasizing its artistic development. The museum became an international centre of scholarship, and in ...

Article

Margaret Moore Booker

The Historic American Buildings Survey (HABS) and the Historic American Engineering Record (HAER) constitute a public archival collection consisting of more than 556,900 measured drawings, large-format photographs and written histories for more than 38,600 historic structures and sites in the US dating from Pre-Columbian times to the 20th century. Maintained by the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C., the HABS collection is one of the largest national surveys of its kind in the world. It serves as a vital resource for students of American architecture and is a crucial aid to historic preservationists. Its success reflects the importance and great need to document America’s surviving architectural and engineering masterpieces, particularly those that might be threatened with alteration, demolition or development.

In 1933, during the Great Depression, HABS was initiated by the Works Progress Administration (WPA) as a short-term, federal relief project. Under the program—the brainchild of architect Charles E. Peterson—unemployed architects and draftsmen were hired to record systematically historic buildings through accurate, scale, measured drawings and photographs and written historic documentation. The program was (and continues to be) co-sponsored by the National Park Service (NPS), the American Institute of Architects (AIA), and the Library of Congress. Unlike most Depression-era federal assistance projects that disappeared once federal emergency funding ended, HABS survived and flourishes today....

Article

Tracy Fitzpatrick

Artists’ association, art school and exhibition space. The National Academy of Design (NAD; now known as the National Academy Museum and School of Fine Arts) was one of the earliest organizations in the USA devoted to the development of the fine arts. It was established in 1825 as an honorary association and art school with a permanent collection and an annual exhibition program. The earliest institution of its kind in the USA, it was modeled after the Royal Academy in England as an artist-run organization founded to “promote the fine arts in America through instruction and exhibition.” As the 19th century progressed the NAD developed a reputation for conservatism.

The NAD emerged as an itinerant institution with locations in sites around New York City. It opened its first permanent space, a Venetian Gothic-revival building designed by Peter B(onnett) Wight, in 1865. In 1942, it moved to its current location, a Beaux-Arts building donated by Archer Milton Huntington and Anna Hyatt Huntington, who was a member of the Academy. Its permanent homes have allowed it to house its meeting space, collection, school and exhibitions under the same roof....

Article

Museum and school of fine arts founded in Philadelphia in 1805. The driving force in the creation of the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts was Peale family, §1 who, a few years earlier, had led the formation of Philadelphia’s first art organization, the short-lived Columbianum Academy. The Pennsylvania Academy’s 71 founders, mostly lawyers and businessmen, decreed that its purpose was to provide opportunities for art instruction and to mount exhibitions in order “to promote the cultivation of the Fine Arts, in the United States of America …” Although the mission of the Academy did not change, the founders neither envisioned nor planned for the highly organized curriculum and the large permanent collection that emerged by the end of the 19th century.

The Academy opened its first building in April 1806. The initial educational approach, based on that of the English Royal Academy, relied on copying from plaster casts of antique sculpture and from paintings on display, many of which were European. While formal classes were decades away, opportunities to draw from a model were often available, and critiques from Academy artists such as ...