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Eloquent objects at SOU

Adapted from an essay by Josine Ianco Starrels, — Curator of the Schneider Museum of Art at Southern Oregon University. —

Seemingly forever people have collected literally anything — and everything; from the mundane to the magnificent. Salt and pepper shakers, — paperweights, antique toys, marbles, seashells, crystals, gems, orchids, — coins, stamps, furniture, weathervanes, quilts, ethnic fabrics, manuscripts, — autographs, books, guns and love letters-each of these, have, at one point — or another, become objects of someone's desire and for m the basis of — a new exhibit at the Schneider Museum of Art.

Eloquent Objects consists of selections from six private — Southern Oregon collections featuring Mexican folk art, African traditional — and decorative sculpture and textiles, musical instruments spanning centuries — and cultures from all over the world, South East Asian tribal arts and — early hand built American tools.

The exhibit opens on Oct. 1. The community is invited — to the opening reception to be held on Thursday, Sept. 30, from 5 to 7 — p.m.

Eloquent Objects is an exhibition that allows us a glimpse — into the nature of our local collectors. People collect for a variety — of reasons including a fascination with a particular object, culture, — media or artist. The circumstances for acquiring are also as varied as — the people. Sometimes it pertains to a person's occupation or where they — are living. For others it may be through an inheritance, monetary value — of the objects or just the love of accumulating a specific thing.

Eloquent Objects features Mexican folk art, traditional — and decorative African sculpture and textiles, musical instruments spanning — centuries and cultures from around the world, South East Asian tribal — arts and early American hand-built tools. Josine Ianco Starrels, curator — of the exhibition, began inquiries around the valley to find out what — people were collecting. This exhibition is just the tip of the iceberg — of what is represented in collections in this valley. The selections for — this particular exhibition are from John Barker, David Bobb, Chris and — Susan Hearn, Wolfgang and Kris Hoppe, Robert and Dana Johnson, and The — Schuman Collection.

All tap into the powerful lure of collecting, which has — long played an important role in art.

For example, in Paris, in the early decades of the 20th — century, a cook, who owned a small bistro often served meals to poor and — hungry artists; they, in turn, offered him the only possessions they had, — namely their work. He ended up owning one of the great and highly prized — art collections because those poor and hungry artists he fed, were the — seminal innovators and creators of Modern Art.

A middle-aged couple, Dorothy and Herbert Vogel, who lived — in New York City and earned a modest living as a postal worker and a teacher, — saved whatever they could and bought small works of contemporary vanguard — art. Their small apartment, including the space under their bed, was filled — with their acquisitions by artists such as Sol LeWitt, Robert Morris, — Sylvia Mangold, Chuck Close, Robert Mangold, Christo, Eva Hesse, and Richard — Tuttle. The Vogel's are still actively collecting today and have arranged — for their collection of more than 2,000 works to remain together after — their deaths under the stewardship of the National Gallery of Art in Washington, — D. C.

Through the ages, the treasures of palaces, graves and — temples were plundered by armies, adventurers, grave robbers and thieves — who traded their booty for fortunes willingly paid by those who prized — what no one else possessed.

The goal of this exhibition was to present objects of — unusual interest from a number of distinguished private collections in — the Rogue Valley and tangentially, to obtain a glimpse into the nature — of our local collectors. What collectors focus on often provides not only — insight into their interests but into their history, their values and — their relationship to aesthetics, as well.

Some collections are memory banks containing objects which — have become markers on the road of their journey through life. The extent — of the variety is a fairly accurate indicator of the collector's adventurous — spirit and to their willingness to be the connecting link between these — objects when they originate from different cultural traditions. Kris and — Wolfgang Hoppe's collection could be seen that way.

The folk art of Mexico chosen and collected by David Bobb — for his home, reflects an all embracing joie de vivre, a bold, almost — wild love of color and an inclination forward the visually exciting and — eccentrically imaginative expressions. Clearly, his collection reveals — a love for that territory where myth, fantasy and the mysterious collide.

Dana and Robert Emory Johnson on the other hand present — us with measured temperaments, Catholic tastes and a considered, subtle — taste for objects originating all over the world, throughout the centuries. — They reflect aesthetically subdued delicacy, yet fully assured poised — presences-from tribal and contemporary art to sculpturally exquisite hand-built — tools.

The Hearn family holdings were inherited from their father — who lived and worked in Africa for many years. In spite of that fact, — the objects and their origin are obviously greatly prized and have found — their way into both their home and their offices.

John Barker's overwhelming collection of South East Asian — textiles, sculpture and other arts of that region resulted from his familiarity — as well as his vast knowledge of those cultural traditions. Having grown — up in South East Asia, and having then spent an additional 17 years in — that part of the world, Barker has continued and renewed his connection — by yearly visits. Collecting developed into connoisseurship which turned — into expertise, eventually leading to his mixing pleasure with business — and business with pleasure. John Barker became a dealer in 1982 in South — East Asian material and has, since then, contributed to the building of — museum and private collections. He has also written two essays in the — recently published book Textiles from Burma produced in the UK by The — James Green Center for World Art.

Some collections are meant for the delectation of many, — others are kept like hidden treasure by secretive owners who revel in — their private passions. No matter how we encounter such prized objects, — they can teach us not only about their origin and use but in addition — can reveal to us much about the pleasures of the eye and the harmonies — of form and color, made by ands that embellished what often started as — a mere utilitarian object. That is important because it illuminates the — human need for aesthetic beauty and harmony.

The exhibition will continue through Dec. 11. The Schneider — Museum of Art is located on the Southern Oregon University campus on the — corner of Siskiyou Boulevard and Indiana Street in Ashland, Oregon. Museum — hours are 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Tuesday-Saturday, and First Fridays from — 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. There is a $2 suggested donation. For more information — call 541-552-6245 or visit our website at www.sou.edu/sma