By Kristi Kates 7/20/09
As far as how long it will take to tour the collection, I have had people
return over and over again - because they say they cannot take it all in
at one time, says exhibit curator Gail DeMeyere.
DeMeyere - who is also CTACs visual arts/education director - is
referring to the newest exhibit recently opened at Petoskeys Crooked Tree
Arts Center: the prestigious An American Century: Paintings from the
It is somewhat unprecedented to have a collection of this magnitude in a
smaller town, even one as arts-focused as Petoskey; but luckily for
Northern Michigan residents and art appreciators, Richard Manoogian
himself has several friends that live in the area, and his love of art is
something that he is passionate about sharing with others, DeMeyere
Manoogian began actively collecting American art in the mid-1970s; today,
he and his wife Jane are still collectors of great American art, and their
current collection is known to be remarkable for its quality and scope.
While the collection primarily focuses on the 19th century, it also
includes superb examples of American art from the late 18th and early 20th
centuries; the collection reflects Manoogians belief that it is
important for people to appreciate the unique character, diversity, and
quality of American art.
DeMeyere also notes that through Manoogians generosity, the funding of An
American Century was provided in full.
Without this type of support on a grand scale, this exhibition simply
would not be possible given the current conditions that the arts are
experiencing today, DeMeyere continues, I do need to say, too, that the
primary force in getting the Manoogian Collection to Petoskey and the
Crooked Tree Arts Center this summer is Richards long time friendship
with local resident Ruth Petzold, whose work is also on display at CTAC;
her photography work is a pure joy, and reflects her respect for our
natural world both above and below the water.
An American Century represents 33 works from a much larger collection
owned by the Manoogians. The works in An American Century include
representations from the Hudson River School of painting, which is
considered the first true American school of landscape painting; Jasper
Francis Cropsey is one of the first-generation Hudson River School
artists, represented in this collection with a work entitled Spring in
The earliest work in the exhibition is a series entitled The Voyage of
Life, of which each painting spans over seven feet in length; the four
collected works take up an entire wall in the Crooked Tree Arts Center
gallery, and were considered the magnum opus of their painter, Thomas
Cole, although the series was actually completed by DeWitt Clinton
Boutelle when Cole succumbed to pneumonia in 1848.
From the mid 1800s, the Manoogian Collection moves through works of the
late 1800s and early 1900s, including works by artists James McDougall
Hart, David Johnson, George Cope, William Merritt Chase, John George
Brown, and the legendary John Singer Sargent.
This exhibition seems to strike an emotional chord with all who enter,
DeMeyere enthuses, as I walk the galleries it is interesting to me how
different pieces resonate with each new viewer. From one standpoint, there
is the sheer beauty of the American impressionist works of Frederick
Friesekes The Garden Pool, or William Merritt Chases Portrait of
Caroline Allport; and from the other side, there is the crowd favorite of
Cassius Coolidges The Poker Game.
I also do not want to leave out the emotional impact of the Hudson River
School works, or John Singer Sargents Portrait of S. Weir Mitchell, she
continues, I was just asked what piece in the collection was my favorite,
and I had to honestly say all of them. It seems that every time I enter
the galleries I fall in love with a new work. I have spent a great deal of
time looking at each painting, and I am struck with awe and respect for
the sensitivity, beauty and placement in history that these works
An American Century: Paintings from the Manoogian Collection and
Sea/Safari/Chill: the Photography of Ruth Petzold will be on display at
the Crooked Tree Arts Center through August 8, 2009. The galleries are
open Monday through Friday from 9-5, Saturday from 10-4, and Sunday from
12-4. There is a $10 recommended donation for the Manoogian exhibition.