Mining the Store: American Prints from the Permanent Collection
Like most art museums in the United States, the Palmer Museum of Art can display only a portion of its collection at any given time. The remainder of its holdings is relegated to storerooms. The hiatus is often temporary for paintings and sculpture, many of which find their way back on view with regular reinstallations of the permanent galleries. For works on paper, however, the tenure in storage can seem almost interminable. Because of their sensitivity to light, the museum’s prints, drawings, watercolors, and photographs can spend years, even decades, tucked safely away in darkness. Unless granted temporary parole for a special exhibition, class visit, or scholarly study, they remain out of sight, and, far too frequently, out of mind.
For Mining the Store, the museum has dug deep into the permanent collection to unearth a number of prints by American artists that have not been exhibited in recent years. Viewers might be surprised to find readily recognizable names: John Marin, for example, famed modernist of the Stieglitz circle whose intaglio on view here graced the cover of Carl Zigrosser’s catalogue of the artist’s complete etchings; and Daniel Garber, the popular New Hope artist whose large painting The River Bridge currently hangs in the Hull Gallery. Others, though, remain obscure. How many visitors have elsewhere observed another of Dennis Corrigan’s strange yet smartly rendered Cronaflex prints, or encountered Ellison Hoover’s efforts outside of the comic strips he drew for the newspapers? Renown though, as Mining the Store demonstrates, is not always the full measure of merit. The museum holds gems of all kinds whose common denominator—their paper support—has necessarily kept them hidden from regular review.