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"Between Worlds: The Art of Bill Traylor" at the Smithsonian American Art Museum

Smithsonian American Art Museum
Bill Traylor (ca. 1853–1949) is regarded today as one of the most important American artists of the twentieth century. A black man born into slavery in Alabama, he was an eyewitness to history: the Civil War, Emancipation, Reconstruction, Jim Crow segregation, the Great Migration, and the steady rise of African American urban culture in the South. Traylor would not live to see the civil rights movement, but he was among those who laid its foundation. Starting around 1939—by then in his late eighties and living on the streets of Montgomery—Traylor made the radical steps of taking up pencil and paintbrush and attesting to his existence and point of view. The paintings and drawings he made are visually striking and politically assertive; they include simple yet powerful distillations of tales and memories as well as spare, vibrantly colored abstractions. When Traylor died in 1949, he left behind more than one thousand works of art.

"Bill Bojangles" Robinson

National Portrait Gallery

"Bill Bojangles" Robinson

National Portrait Gallery

"Bill Bojangles" Robinson

National Portrait Gallery

"Birth of Venus" Engine Panel Painting

National Museum of American History
In the nineteenth century, volunteer fire companies often commissioned paintings to decorate their hand-pumped fire engines for parades, competitions, and community events. Sometimes framed with elaborate carvings, they adorned the tall air chamber located at the middle or rear of a pumper. The paintings would often feature patriotic, heroic, or allegorical images to associate the volunteer companies with these lofty ideals. This fire engine panel painting came from the Americus Fire Engine Company No. 6 of New York, New York. The volunteer company was organized December 11, 1848 and disbanded on September 18, 1865 when it became Engine 15 in the paid Metropolitan Fire Department of New York. John Archibald Woodside Sr. painted The Birth of Venus around 1849. The painting depicts Venus arising from the waves, an image common among neoclassical paintings. Such neoclassical themes on panel paintings linked the new nation to the ancient ideals of liberty, democracy and prosperity. The use of neoclassical images also allowed artists to paint an idealized nude female form that would make their beloved engine especially eye-catching during parades. This painting and its companion (2005.0233.0303) adorned the company’s 1842 John Agnew hand-pumped engine.

"Black Cat in Burlington, Vermont"

Anacostia Community Museum

"Blacks in the Westward Movement," Anacostia Neighborhood Museum

Smithsonian Archives - History Div
Featured in the Torch, February 1975

Picture of Grafton Tyler Brown, San Francisco artist and lithographer, from Anacostia Neighborhood Museum's exhibition "Blacks in the Westward Movement."

"Blood or Bread"

National Museum of American History

"Bring Back the Funk!!"--Opening Night Concert

Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage
George Clinton performs at a recent concert in Baltimore, Maryland.
George Clinton performs at a recent concert in Baltimore, Maryland.

Wondering where the funk has gone? Look no further than this year’s Smithsonian Folklife Festival! The National Museum of African American History and Culture will "Bring Back the Funk" with a free concert on the National Mall, Wednesday, June 27, from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. in the Festival’s "Panorama Room" performance tent between 12th and 14th Streets. "Bring Back the Funk" will open the Folklife Festival’s evening concert series and will take place within view of the future site of the museum.

The free concert will feature music legends George Clinton, Meshell Ndegeocello, and Ivan Neville and Dumpstaphunk. Popular radio personality Tom Joyner will serve as the master of ceremonies.

The concert is part of a year-long series of events celebrating the groundbreaking of the museum. The groundbreaking ceremony took place on February 22, 2012, on the site of the museum, which is adjacent to the Washington Monument on the National Mall. The concert also celebrates Black Music Month. "We are pleased to continue the excitement of our February groundbreaking with another distinctive event where everyone can join in celebration as we move closer toward creating a museum on the National Mall," said Lonnie G. Bunch, founding director of the museum. "This public concert shows how the museum is ‘real’ even though we do not have a building yet."

The funk music genre is a fusion of styles representative of the entire 20th century of music making, culture, and thought that continues to speak to generations of Americans. The artists who are performing will show how funk music has influenced hip hop, soul and rock. In between sets, Joyner will talk to performers and museum experts to get their impressions on funk and the impact it has had on music. During the performances, audience members are encouraged to hit the dance floor.

"British Artist-Craftsmen" Special Exhibition

Smithsonian Institution Archives
Requested by Rolland O. Hower, Exhibits. Description from "Report of the Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution and financial report of the Executive Committee of the Board of Regents for the year ending June 30, 1959": British Artist-Craftsmen, sponsored by the Ambassador of Great Britain and Lady Caccia, and later circulated by the Smithsonian [Institution] Traveling Exhibition Service, consisting of 178 objects, altar sculpture, stained glass, ceramics, glass, silver, etc. The Rose Book was lent by the Churchill family for special showing during this exhibition. A catalog was privately printed.

"British Artist-Craftsmen" special exhibition by National Collection of Fine Arts (NCFA), now known as the Smithsonian American Art Museum, in the Museum of Natural History.

"British Artist-Craftsmen" Special Exhibition

Smithsonian Institution Archives
Requested by Rolland O. Hower, Exhibits. Description from "Report of the Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution and financial report of the Executive Committee of the Board of Regents for the year ending June 30, 1959": British Artist-Craftsmen, sponsored by the Ambassador of Great Britain and Lady Caccia, and later circulated by the Smithsonian [Institution] Traveling Exhibition Service, consisting of 178 objects, altar sculpture, stained glass, ceramics, glass, silver, etc. The Rose Book was lent by the Churchill family for special showing during this exhibition. A catalog was privately printed.

"British Artist-Craftsmen" special exhibition by National Collection of Fine Arts (NCFA), now known as the Smithsonian American Art Museum, in the Museum of Natural History.

"British Artist-Craftsmen" Special Exhibition

Smithsonian Institution Archives
Requested by Rolland O. Hower, Exhibits. Description from "Report of the Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution and financial report of the Executive Committee of the Board of Regents for the year ending June 30, 1959": British Artist-Craftsmen, sponsored by the Ambassador of Great Britain and Lady Caccia, and later circulated by the Smithsonian [Institution] Traveling Exhibition Service, consisting of 178 objects, altar sculpture, stained glass, ceramics, glass, silver, etc. The Rose Book was lent by the Churchill family for special showing during this exhibition. A catalog was privately printed.

"British Artist-Craftsmen" special exhibition by National Collection of Fine Arts (NCFA), now known as the Smithsonian American Art Museum, in the Museum of Natural History.

"British Artist-Craftsmen" Special Exhibition

Smithsonian Institution Archives
Requested by Rolland O. Hower, Exhibits. Description from "Report of the Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution and financial report of the Executive Committee of the Board of Regents for the year ending June 30, 1959": British Artist-Craftsmen, sponsored by the Ambassador of Great Britain and Lady Caccia, and later circulated by the Smithsonian [Institution] Traveling Exhibition Service, consisting of 178 objects, altar sculpture, stained glass, ceramics, glass, silver, etc. The Rose Book was lent by the Churchill family for special showing during this exhibition. A catalog was privately printed.

"British Artist-Craftsmen" special exhibition by National Collection of Fine Arts (NCFA), now known as the Smithsonian American Art Museum, in the Museum of Natural History.

"British Artist-Craftsmen" Special Exhibition

Smithsonian Institution Archives
Requested by Rolland O. Hower, Exhibits. Description from "Report of the Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution and financial report of the Executive Committee of the Board of Regents for the year ending June 30, 1959": British Artist-Craftsmen, sponsored by the Ambassador of Great Britain and Lady Caccia, and later circulated by the Smithsonian [Institution] Traveling Exhibition Service, consisting of 178 objects, altar sculpture, stained glass, ceramics, glass, silver, etc. The Rose Book was lent by the Churchill family for special showing during this exhibition. A catalog was privately printed.

"British Artist-Craftsmen" special exhibition by National Collection of Fine Arts (NCFA), now known as the Smithsonian American Art Museum, in the Museum of Natural History.

"British Artist-Craftsmen" Special Exhibition

Smithsonian Institution Archives
Requested by Rolland O. Hower, Exhibits. Description from "Report of the Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution and financial report of the Executive Committee of the Board of Regents for the year ending June 30, 1959": British Artist-Craftsmen, sponsored by the Ambassador of Great Britain and Lady Caccia, and later circulated by the Smithsonian [Institution] Traveling Exhibition Service, consisting of 178 objects, altar sculpture, stained glass, ceramics, glass, silver, etc. The Rose Book was lent by the Churchill family for special showing during this exhibition. A catalog was privately printed.

"British Artist-Craftsmen" special exhibition by National Collection of Fine Arts (NCFA), now known as the Smithsonian American Art Museum, in the Museum of Natural History.

"British Artist-Craftsmen" Special Exhibition

Smithsonian Institution Archives
Requested by Rolland O. Hower, Exhibits. Description from "Report of the Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution and financial report of the Executive Committee of the Board of Regents for the year ending June 30, 1959": British Artist-Craftsmen, sponsored by the Ambassador of Great Britain and Lady Caccia, and later circulated by the Smithsonian [Institution] Traveling Exhibition Service, consisting of 178 objects, altar sculpture, stained glass, ceramics, glass, silver, etc. The Rose Book was lent by the Churchill family for special showing during this exhibition. A catalog was privately printed.

"British Artist-Craftsmen" special exhibition by National Collection of Fine Arts (NCFA), now known as the Smithsonian American Art Museum, in the Museum of Natural History.

"British Artist-Craftsmen" Special Exhibition

Smithsonian Institution Archives
Requested by Rolland O. Hower, Exhibits. Description from "Report of the Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution and financial report of the Executive Committee of the Board of Regents for the year ending June 30, 1959": British Artist-Craftsmen, sponsored by the Ambassador of Great Britain and Lady Caccia, and later circulated by the Smithsonian [Institution] Traveling Exhibition Service, consisting of 178 objects, altar sculpture, stained glass, ceramics, glass, silver, etc. The Rose Book was lent by the Churchill family for special showing during this exhibition. A catalog was privately printed.

"British Artist-Craftsmen" special exhibition by National Collection of Fine Arts (NCFA), now known as the Smithsonian American Art Museum, in the Museum of Natural History.

"Buffalo Bill" Cody

National Portrait Gallery
Born Scott County, Iowa

William Cody did more than any single American to popularize the myth of the American West. Before achieving international fame as a showman, he worked a variety of short-term jobs, including serving as a Pony Express rider, an army scout, and a hunting guide. Nicknamed "Buffalo Bill" because of his prowess in hunting buffalo, Cody entered the world of entertainment after a dime novelist in New York wrote a story about his exploits in the West. A subsequent offer to appear on stage led first to a theatrical career and ultimately to the creation of his touring Wild West Show in 1882. For the next thirty years he was the centerpiece of this wildly popular display that combined rodeo, historical reenactment, and other western-themed performances. This photograph dates from the period when Cody first appeared in such plays as The Scouts of the Prairie.
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