NEW PALTZ -- Alice Neel's Feminist Portraits, Women Artists, Writers, Activists and Intellectuals, an exhibition organized by the Samuel Dorsky Museum of Art at the State University of New York at New Paltz will open on Wednesday, October 15, 2003 in the West Wing gallery. The exhibition is being held in association with "Feminism and Social Action," the October 18th Women's Studies Conference at SUNY New Paltz.
Alice Neel burst into the art scene in the 1970's with her paintings of public figures like Bella Abzug, Ed Koch and Andy Warhol. Her interesting life story, spanning seventy years by this time, includes her struggle as a single caucasian woman living in New York City's Spanish Harlem (El Barrio); a brief membership in the Communist Party; two guest appearances on the Johnny Carson Show, and a White House visit where she received the National Women's Caucus for Art Award from President Jimmy Carter.
Neel enjoyed some recognition during the 1930s and 1940s through her involvement in the Public Works of Art Project and the Works Project Administration (WPA)/Federal Art Project. Influenced by the Ashcan School of realism and her on-going interest in the social condition, she depicted striking workers, impoverished families, and the homeless-reflecting her concern for the dispossessed.
During the post-war era, Neel painted in obscurity. Although the art world had turned its attention to the abstract movement, Neel continued painting her daring and provocative portraits such as "Death of Mother Bloor," a woman leader in the American Communist Party as she lay in her coffin during her funeral. It was not until the beginning of the women's movement that the art world rekindled interest in representation and the human figure. The time had finally arrived for Neel. She began to exhibit widely in galleries and museums, and lectured extensively at colleges.
Neel was an outspoken advocate of women's rights. Her insightful portraits of ordinary women "explored such chronic female hardships as domestic violence, child abuse, and poverty. She also explored race and class differences between women and was consistently critical of white privilege, often through the use of parody and humor..." (Denise Bauer, "Alice Neel's Feminist and Leftist Portraits of Women")
A reception for "Alice Neel's Feminist Portraits" will take place in the Chandler Gallery at the Samuel Dorsky Museum of Art on Saturday, October 18th from 5:00 - 7:00 p.m. The paintings will be on exhibit through November 23.
Museum hours are Wednesdays 1:00 - 8:00 p.m. and Thursdays through Sundays 1:00 - 5:00 p.m. The museum is closed on Mondays the Tuesdays and all university and national holidays. Additional information may be obtained by calling 845-257-3844 or on the Web: http://www.newpaltz.edu/museum.