By Margaret Burgess
Associate Curator of European and Modern Art
As the associate curator of European and modern art and curatorial liaison for the Friends of the Collection here at the Portland Museum of Art, it has been my pleasure to organize the exhibition The Lay of the Land: A Celebration of Art Acquired by the Friends of the Collection (1983-2010), on view on the Fourth Floor of the Museum through May 8. The exhibition, focusing on landscapes that have been acquired with the support of the Friends, honors the group and recognizes its profound and enduring legacy at the Portland Museum of Art.
This endeavor has been exciting for me on many fronts. Firstly, it is has provided an opportunity to celebrate the Friends, a group that I have gotten to know over the course of my two years here at the Museum. At events and lectures, openings and day trips, I have enjoyed meeting loyal benefactors of the Friends of the Collection. This exhibition is in honor of this crucial Museum constituency! I have particularly appreciated working with and getting to know the Friends of the Collection committee comprised of Peggy Osher (now Honorary Chairperson), David Bischoff, Rosalyne Bernstein, and Barbara Schenkel. Our brainstorming sessions, and their input and encouragement have meant a great deal.
Secondly, in preparation for the exhibition, seeking out—in the Museum’s galleries, art storage rooms, and databases—all the works that have been acquired thanks to the Friends since the group’s founding in 1983 was a continually intriguing process. I discovered more than 200 works in diverse media and by a spectrum of artists which demonstrated to me not only the impressive impact that the Friends have been able to make on the collections, but also revealed collecting tastes over time. Making selections from the great wealth of works for this special installation was one of my favorite aspects of the project. We hope you enjoy the juxtapositions of classic and contemporary landscapes.
(Image credit: John Calvin Stevens (United States, 1855–1940), Joe Pie Weed (Delano Park), 1908, oil on canvas, 14 1/16 x 18 1/16 inches, Portland Museum of Art, 1997.20.)