September 01, 2010

Museum to host Vogel Collection reception

by Andrea Hahn

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- The Vogel Collection is not just for private eyes any longer.

The University Museum at Southern Illinois University Carbondale next week will host an exhibit reception for the debut of Illinois’ share of the extensive Vogel Collection.

The reception is 4-7 p.m. on Sept. 10 in the museum. There is no admission charge, though donations are always welcome. The exhibit opened Aug. 24 and runs through Dec. 11.

Carbondale Community Arts (CCA) chose the Vogel Collection, curated by Mel Watkin, as it’s 12th Biennial Exhibit.

“Carbondale Community Arts and University Museum have a 24-year history of bringing art of national significance to Southern Illinois,” Nancy Stemper, CCA executive director, said. “We are particularly delighted to introduce Southern Illinois to these American artists.”

The exhibit represents a portion of the collection assembled by Herb and Dorothy Vogel, New Yorkers of moderate means who became supporters of contemporary art. The couple donated their entire collection to the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., which in turn helped the Vogels create 50 collections of 50 pieces each intended as a gift for one museum per state. The University Museum is the Illinois recipient.

Ruth Fine, curator for the National Gallery of Arts’ Vogel Collection, noted that the Vogels wanted to place contemporary art in areas with little access to metropolitan culture. The University Museum caught their attention both because of the museum’s dedication to contemporary art and because of the University’s “importance as an educational and cultural institution in (the Southern Illinois) region.”

Dona Bachman, director of the University Museum, described the collection of contemporary art as including “works that might be considered ‘minimalist.’” She brought in Mel Watkin, whose curation experience includes the Forum for Contemporary Art in St. Louis.

“Artists like Richard Fares and Stephen Antonakos in University Museum’s collection reduced their work to basic elemental shapes, and the materials -- canvas or paper, paint, pencil, ink. Their work was flat with no illusion to three-dimensionality. Sculptors like Richard Nonas (in the University Museum collection) focused on minimal forms and the strength and beauty of common materials like steel,” Watkin said.

She noted, though, that not all the art is minimalist. The collection includes examples of figurative, symbolist and abstract art as well.

“While understanding the ‘isms’ helps place the art in a historical perspective, the best way to appreciate the art is simply to look at it -- to look at the line and the color,” she said.

Robert DeHoet, director of education for the museum, plans to share the collection with area high school students as part of his ongoing art education and creation project. The students will present their own artistic interpretation in a spring 2011 exhibit.

This exhibit is possible through grants from the National Endowment for the Arts and from Carbondale Community Arts.

For more information about the Vogel Collection or the museum, contact Dona Bachman at or at 618/453-7403, or Mel Watkin at or at 314/630-9482.

The museum is open 10 a.m.-4 p.m., Tuesday through Friday, 1-4 p.m. on Saturday, and is closed on Sunday and Monday. The museum is also closed during University breaks.