JULY 2022–JUNE 2023
The exhibit P L A N [E] T includes a range of mid-20th-century landscape prints, primarily by Colorado and New Mexico artists; recent monotype prints depicting plants imagined by MoA’s founding director and curator, Thordis Niela Simonsen; and two oil paintings by Haitian artists that bring people into the picture. While the works included vary in medium, style, and technique, taken as a whole, the exhibit can be seen as a celebration of the planet and the world of plants.
image: Toni Morris, title unknown/untitled, block print, circa 1940-1950
JULY 2021–JUNE 2022
The exhibit DANCES IN TWO WORLDS features early- to mid-20th-century paintings by Native American artists and prints by Euro-American and American artists. Recent monotypes by MoA’s founding director and curator, Thordis Niela Simonsen, propel the exhibit into the present.
The show derives its title from an assemblage sculpture so named by artist Michael Mrowka (American, 1955– ). When I purchased it, I had no idea that Michael Mrowka’s four-foot tall Janus totem, assembled from wooden foundry patterns and a cypress knee, would become the catalyst for and centerpiece of the second major exhibit of a museum I had yet to envision.
OCTOBER 2020–JUNE 2021
In October 2020, after seven years of construction, the Museum of Authenticity’s main building was finally ready to occupy. Initially I had a different idea in mind for the first full-scale exhibit, but when I met and befriended assemblage artist Bernice Strawn—and purchased two of her smaller pieces, including “Enter Heaven Above”—I decided to begin with SUM OF THE PARTS and feature her constructions. Bernice is the matriarch of Salida’s art community. I am drawn to her personally—she is resourceful, spontaneous, and playful. And I am drawn to her work—it is imaginative, organic, dynamic, and spiritual.
The show also features three large installations by this prolific and revered artist: “Bridges,” “Shrine,” and “Temple.” Taken separately, the components of Bernice’s “Temple”—weathered piano pinblocks, barrel staves, and a curved aspen branch—do not convey the idea implied by the exhibit title, let alone the feelings even the suggestion of a temple might evoke. But then, the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.
JUNE 2018–JUNE 2021
Note: the July 2021–January 2022 exhibit by this name is a revised and expanded version of the June 2018–June 2021 exhibit.
When the Museum of Authenticity Gatehouse neared completion at the beginning of this year, I began to search for the focus of an exhibit that could be installed there while the main building undergoes renovation. But the theme for the Museum’s first exhibit eluded me until one day I looked at a sculpture that has inhabited my living space in Denver since 1991. When she returned my gaze, I realized that she will always preside over the Museum, and the first exhibit should take her name: Dances in Two Worlds.
Sculptor Michael Mrowka (American) had already named the Janus totem when he delivered her to me directly following Denver’s Cherry Creek Arts Festival in July 1991. An assemblage of wooden foundry patterns, a cypress knee, and a round wooden base, “Dances in Two Worlds” presents two faces, one serene and the other distressed (or so it seems to me). Because a museum is a reflection of life, and life is rich in dualities, the “dances in two worlds” theme appealed to me. Once I had settled on that focus, I had no trouble selecting the components for the exhibit, which encompasses a range of artists, backgrounds, media, and subjects…