January 14, 2005
Director of Media Relations

AMHERST, Mass.-The Mead Art Museum at Amherst College will re-open on Tuesday, Jan. 18, with "Town and Country: Modern Life in America" in the Fairchild Gallery until Sunday, May 29. Selected from the rich holdings of the Mead's American collection, "Town and Country" offers images by 43 artists who recorded life in America between 1900 and 1950.

During this first half of the 20th century, there were dramatic political, industrial and philosophical movements afoot. With the Machine Age, the Jazz Age, the 19th Amendment that allowed women the right to vote and two world wars, sociological taboos and cultural patterns were shattered. American artists were watching and reacting to these events. Some relied on the foundations of realism to reinforce an identity that asserted the growing maturity, independence and authority of their still relatively young and thriving nation. While the aesthetic tradition of realism was still the norm in America, groundbreaking innovations were taking place in Europe and elsewhere: in their desire to keep pace with their colleagues, some artists absorbed these new tenets, emerging from a parochial perspective while embracing the potentials offered by the modern world. All of this work reflected the rhythm and character of both city and countryside and chronicled the everyday experience of mainstream America.

Organized by Trinkett Clark, the curator of American art at the Mead, "Town and Country" includes paintings, drawings, watercolors, prints, photographs and sculpture; together, the works demonstrate that even while the nation was immersed in two world wars and the general population was suffering from harrowing economic conditions, a sense of steadfast optimism and integrity prevailed. Among the artists included in the exhibition are Berenice Abbott, George Bellows, Thomas Hart Benton, Ilse Bing, William Glackens, Childe Hassam, Robert Henri, Edward Hopper, Dorothea Lange, Blanche Lazzell, George Luks, John Marin, Reginald Marsh, Maurice Prendergast, Aaron Siskind, Edward Steichen, Marion Post Wolcott and Grant Wood.

Related programming includes gallery talks by Carol Clark, professor of fine arts and American studies at Amherst; Betsey Garand, visiting assistant professor of fine arts; and Trinkett Clark as part of the Noon at the Mead series. In addition, the Mead is sponsoring a film series of black and white classic movies produced during the era. There will be a lecture by Kathleen Spies, assistant professor of art history at Birmingham-Southern College, on Thursday, March 3, at 4:30 p.m. in Stirn Auditorium. This event is made possible by the generous assistance of the Department of Fine Arts. A reception will follow at the Mead Art Museum.

Two students, Carolina Dallal '05, of Scarsdale, N.Y., and Nadia Marx '05, of Cambridge Mass., helped with exhibition labels and related programming for "Town and Country."

"In Equal Measure: The Frost-Lankes Connection," a complementary show in the Archives and Special Collections of the Robert Frost Library, examines the relationship between the poet Robert Frost and the artist Julius John Lankes, whose prints grace many volumes of Frost's work and were produced during the same era as the material in "Town and Country." Daria D'Arienzo, head of archives and special collections at the college, organized "In Equal Measure."

For more information about the exhibition and related events, please call the Mead Art Museum at 413/542-2235 or visit its Website www.amherst.edu/mead. The exhibition and special programs are free and open to the public. The Mead will re-open on Jan. 18 and be open from 12 noon to 4:30 p.m. until Jan. 30. After Feb. 1 regular hours resume: Tuesday through Sunday, 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Thursday until 9 p.m.