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Art Online and In Line for Art at Glenstone

Glenstone in Potomac, Maryland, already reopened the grounds to the public on March 4. Read more about what is going on at the museum these days!

Glenstone Museum in Potomac has reopened inside and out just in time for spring and the Faith Ringgold solo exhibit in the Gallery. (Photo: Kelly MacConomy)

Alexandria, VA – With the arrival of spring and the wider availability of the COVID-19 vaccine, art spaces are reconsidering their pandemic policies. Some are opening up to the public as early as this month or next. We’ll soon be queuing up again, hoping to score hard-to-come-by tickets or reservations to blockbuster exhibits we could only view online for most of the past year.

Glenstone in Potomac, Maryland, already reopened the grounds to the public on March 4. The art grounds and pavilions are free admission to the general public, but reservations are always required. COVID restrictions reduced the availability of openings even further, with reservations already booked solid through April 30 and a waiting list.

Patrons who had reservations during the second shutdown period last fall and this past winter may make a new booking beginning in May. As a surprise, the Gallery will reopen on April 8, with the Pavilions opening on May 6. The Gallery opening is especially exciting as it will host the first traveling exhibit at Glenstone and the only U.S. venue of the solo exhibit featuring storied American artist Faith Ringgold: “The International Faith Ringgold Monographic Exhibition.”

Ninety-year-old Faith Ringgold, a founding member of the Feminist Art Movement, is a painter, sculptor, fiber, mixed-media, performance artist, activist, and writer most famous for her story quilt artwork. The inaugural traveling exhibit at the Glenstone Gallery was organized by the Serpentine in London and came from the Bildmuseet in Umeå, Sweden. The exhibit will showcase the breadth and range of Ringgold’s work, exhibiting more than 70 works highlighting paintings, her signature narrative quilts, political posters, and nine works from the Glenstone collection.

The American Dream by Faith Ringgold, 1964. (Courtesy Photo)

Proceeds from exhibit catalogue and postcard sales benefit Ringgold’s nonprofit, The Anyone Can Fly Foundation. This charitable organization works to expand established and establishment art precepts to include the richness of the African Diaspora and spotlight African American art’s legacy, exposing future generations to the great masters.

Mama Can Sing, Papa Can Blow #1: by Faith Ringgold, 2004. Faith’s mother was a seamstress and fashion designer, and the family was friends with Langston Hughes and Duke Ellington, strong influences upon her story quilts. (Courtesy Photo)

The nonprofit’s mission is to introduce legends such as Jacob Lawrence, Romare Bearden, Gordon Parks, Washington’s own Sam Gilliam and Alma Thomas, in addition to modern giants such as Jean-Michel Basquiat, Kara Walker, and Kehinde Wiley. All narrative traditions of African American expressive forms are celebrated, including jazz, blues, R&B, as well as dance, theater, and naive/self-taught artisan craft.

The Flag is Bleeding #2, by Faith Ringgold, 1997 (Courtesy Photo)

Ringgold’s quilts reflect the rich narrative tradition in American art history of commemoration and memorial through textile expression. Quilts were fashioned for births, marriages, hallmark moments, deaths, and heroism. The essence of a quilt is utilitarian. A quilt provides bedtime warmth and comfort. This artwork is an awakening.

Ringgold’s palette is bright, unabashedly bold, evocative of traditional African cloth and basketry, and inspired by Tibetan tankas. It’s anything but a lullaby, although music is a key component. It is arousing. Provocative. Inspirational. To quote Faith…“Raise your voice. Unite. Tell your story. Do the work and keep doing it.”

Jeff Koon’s iconic outdoor sculpture “Split-Rocker 2000” at Glenstone is covered April-October with flowers, buzzing bees, and hummingbirds. (Photo: Kelly MacConomy)

Director and co-founder of Glenstone Emily Wei Riles explains the landmark exhibit this way: “Faith Ringgold’s powerful depictions of the African American experience are as arresting today as they were when she first started making art 60 years ago. Her art has had a strong presence at the museum ever since we displayed one of her iconic paintings in our inaugural installations at the Pavilions in 2018, so it only seemed fitting for Faith Ringgold to be the first touring exhibit hosted at Glenstone.”

You won’t want to miss this premier solo show of Faith Ringgold’s monographic survey on exhibit at Glenstone. No closing date has been announced, so get in line online the first of every month to secure your visit and return visit time and time again!

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Kelly MacConomy

Kelly MacConomy is the Arts Editor for The Zebra Press.

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