Highlights from the Gus Foster Collection
In 2013 collector, connoisseur and longtime Harwood Museum of Art supporter Gus Foster donated a remarkable collection of 391 works of contemporary art by 83 artists to the Museum. This summer the Harwood Museum of Art will celebrate that extraordinary gift by exhibiting 121 works from the collection and publishing a 96-page full-color catalog featuring an essay by Evan M. Maurer, Director Emeritus of the Minneapolis Institute of Arts.
THE GUS FOSTER COLLECTION
The Gus Foster Collection, distinguished by its quality, focus, and depth, is unsurpassed in the number of iconic works created by contemporary artists working in the acclaimed art colony of Taos, New Mexico. The many prominent East and West Coast artists represented in this gift – including Larry Bell, Lynda Benglis, Vija Celmins, Ron Cooper, Ron Davis and Ken Price- speak to the strong connection that Taos has long had with the national and international art worlds. In particular, the collection explores in depth the Taos-Los Angeles contemporary art connection. Artists Ken Price and Larry Bell moved permanently from Los Angeles to Taos in the 1970s, followed by Ron Cooper, Gus Foster and - later - Ron Davis. Other artists such as Lee Mullican spent part of each year in Taos. The collection also demonstrates Foster’s commitment to artists who are less well known, with this summer’s exhibition featuring work by artists including Angie Coleman, Tom Dixon, Cody Riddle, and Suzanne Wiggin.
Taking over three of the Museum’s galleries, Highlights from the Gus Foster Collection will demonstrate the wide range of media in which contemporary artists create by presenting work ranging from oil and acrylic paintings, to ceramic sculptures, to objects created with aluminum-coated mylar. Works on paper will be exhibited in the George E. Foster, Jr. Gallery of Prints, Drawings, and Photographs, named in honor of Gus Foster’s father. In order to share more work from this extraordinary collection, the initial installation of 33 works on paper will rotate in July so that an additional 31 works on paper may be exhibited.
Thanks to a generous grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services, the Harwood Museum of Art’s entire permanent collection, including the Gus Foster Collection, may be viewed beginning in March 2015 at harwoodmuseum.org/collections.
Professionally trained docents will lead tours of Highlights from the Gus Foster Collection at 1 p.m. every Sunday while the exhibition is on view. Group tours may be scheduled by contacting the Harwood Museum of Art at firstname.lastname@example.org.
ABOUT GUS FOSTER
With the perspective of a former museum curator, a collector, and an artist, Foster is an extraordinary connoisseur whose collecting over the past 40 years is culminating with this gift. The gift also speaks to Foster’s lifelong engagement with the arts. As he recalls, “My father was an architect and my mother was an interior designer, and aesthetics was part of the daily conversation when I was young.” Foster is committed to bringing art into the lives of Northern New Mexico’s youth, stating that “Providing ways for children and youth to expand their creativity is critical. Many people are unaccustomed to art, but if you enter a museum when art is just another part of your daily life, if you see it as a child, it is not so strange. If you begin that process early, then by the time you are an adult, it becomes easier.”
In addition to its historical significance, the collection has another important dimension. “Of the more than three hundred pieces, only three or four were done by people that I didn’t know personally,” Foster said. “I have seen and followed their careers as friends and neighbors for over four decades, and that gives you some insight into their creative process. Though my work isn’t part of this gift, all of these works have informed my own vision. “ Foster is well known for his spectacular 360 degree photographs that have been exhibited throughout the world, and that often show thousands of square miles of landscape. Prior to embarking on his photographic career, Foster earned a degree at Yale in art history and spent over a decade as a curator at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts.
Reflecting on the importance of this gift, Gus Foster states that “The lifeblood of a museum is the support it gets by gifts and bequests. “ His gift expands the Harwood’s collection by about ten percent, and is the biggest single gift of art work since Burt and Lucy Harwood provided their founding collection in 1923.
The Highlights from the Gus Foster Collection exhibition and catalog are made possible through the generosity of Richard and Lois Abraham, Barney and Ursula Berkowitz, George and Janara Bornstein, Carl and Dora Dillistone, Ray and Barbara Graham through The FUNd at the Albuquerque Community Foundation, Lucile Leigh Grieder, Anne Kaplan, Susan Longhenry and Jeremy McDonnell, Johnny and Pam MacArthur, Jack and Phyllis Nottingham, The Price Family, Sherman and Joyce Scott, Graham and Michael Sudbury, University of New Mexico Foundation, Marcia Winter, and other supporters.