Editor's note: The following essay was reprinted in Resource Library on February 3, 2011 with the permission of the Richard L. Nelson Gallery. The essay was written in connection with the exhibition American Gothic: Regionist Portraiture from the Collection, on exhibit at the Gallery January 15- March 13, 2011. If you have questions or comments regarding the essay please contact the Nelson Gallery directly through either this phone number or web address


An American Gothic

by Lee Plested


Founded on the principles of liberty and independence, America has distinguished itself as a country of maverick individualism. The strength to establish oneself through sheer determination comprises the very fabric of the nation; a nation that represents the individual states, and thus its people, symbolized as stars on its flag. The much-extolled virtue of Betsy Ross making this essential expression of patriotism epitomizes every American marking their contribution and place within the expansive picture.[1] It is that spirit that fought to distance itself from its various European origins to establish a new cultural reality.

The multiple histories and the diversity of voices marked the evolution of the growing republic, one that gradually realized diversity as a national identity, albeit grudgingly and in fits and starts. This may in fact be the most interesting aspect of Americanism, i.e. the ability to embrace aspects of individual cultural heritage, while entwined with a defined and deliberate patriotism. As the country continues to grow, new perspectives and ideas of what an American is, burst forth from artists challenging the establishment, to portray the American individual through their personal lens. The history of American art has embodied this discourse, a quest for the American spirit, for self-discovery. Evolving European traditional forms for their own personal, expressive and political purposes, artists' works reflect the growth of a nation through a portrayal of individual experiences, ideologies and intentions.

American Gothic: Regionist Portraiture from the Collection is a chronological presentation of nearly 100 of these distinct voices through the twentieth century and beyond. The richness of the collection at UC Davis in both important local and national artists is a testament to the American philanthropic imperative. By looking at how artists portray people we can take a journey through the social conditions of their times. It is this story, a tale of reflective critics, which epitomizes the independent and liberal spirit of the American artist.

Taking its title from possibly the most iconic American portrait, "American Gothic" by Grant Wood, the exhibition -- like the painting -- is intended as a regionalist expression of life in America. A survey of over 100 years of art will obviously deviate from the strictly traditional and romantic styling of Regionalist art [2]. However the project uses the paintings original intentions and subsequent histories to frame a commonality in successive art production: the clear presence of inherited (largely European) tradition infused with an often contentious drive to represent the modern American individual.

Essentially self taught but having spent time drawing and painting country scenes and city architecture in Europe, Wood would return to the heartland intent on picturing his home and people. This was part of a pervasive regionalist spirit in Iowa. Grant chose for his painting a local house constructed in a Carpenter or Steamboat style with a peculiar architectural feature, a small gothic window nestled in the peak of the façade. It was a form that fascinated him; his European work often pictured gothic arches and windows.[3] Imagining a traditional American portrait painting directly from life with local resident models, namely his sister and his dentist, Wood portrayed them as a farming couple standing house-proud in front of this cultural hybrid. Maybe in his mind this optimized a blend of influences embraced by these sturdy individuals and paid tribute to this legacy in the painting's title. Unfortunately the public reception of the painting was far from a celebration of diversity; in fact it caused a backlash against his seemingly noble intention. People were nonplussed by the idea of this as a picture of "them", Americans.[4] The apparent age difference between the couple, the farmer age-worn, the tender wife (or unwed daughter) now obliged to maintain both man and homestead, made farm life seem more a sentence then noble enterprise. Most viewers were probably more familiar with Gothic novels (pulp fiction full of macabre references and unseemly intrigues) than Gothic windows and such, and interpreted the painting's title as sardonic, the regionalist representation as a parody. None the less, after much democratic debate the painting won the Norman Wait Harris Bronze Medal at the Art Institute of Chicago's Annual Exhibition of American Painting and Sculpture, and the rest, as they say, is history. Thus established, one would be hard pressed to think of a more American painting, one which is immediately brought to mind and certainly known by more Americans than any other work of art made in this country. Such a conflict between influence, intention and reception of an artwork can be seen as a backdrop to this 20th century survey. Individual artists continued to evolve these traditional Western influences in American art while insistently defining their work in their own voice and decidedly from this place, creating a push-pull between traditional roots, regionalist intentions and the various cultural critics and discourses which informed and shaped the way works have become known.

The earliest example in this exhibition is James McNeill Whistler (1834-1903). Having been born in America but having studied and lived in Europe his entire adult life, it could be argued that he was not truly an American artist at all. However, Whistler has been completely embraced by his country of birth as an essentially American artist. There is no doubt of his status as one of the most talented draftsmen of his time. Though his images are all placed in Europe, it is possibly the emerging modernism pictured in his project that resonates with Americans, a picturing of everyday life and people that would help shift the focus of fine portraiture from the aristocracy to the now emerged middle class. This subject would be foregrounded in the work of some of the first American artists interested in a similar pictorialism to capture the contemporary spirit of this place, if in a new contemporary medium, photography. Edward Weston, Doris Ullman and Walker Evans are three practitioners of a strikingly modern art that strove to portray the real lives of the people of America. They, like Whistler, wanted to evoke the population of these new modern spaces and give a sense of the way life really was. Though their works, again like Whistler's, are now criticized for the staged nature of this intended realism, their anthropologically-driven project would help set the stage for art which would inhabit the social and political dimensions of this new, twentieth century world.

Social Realism, an art invested in portraying social and political inequality, dominated the art scene in the Bay Area through the first half of the century. This sociological influence, evident in well-known California photographers, such as Weston and Dorothea Lange, also led to commissioned murals by Diego Rivera, Beniamino Bufano and other well known artists working in the modern Realist style. Their dominance was such that local artists felt their only options were siding with the Realist camp or jumping on board with the important new American art movement, Abstract Expressionism. [5] The Social Realist style is represented in this exhibition in works which portray the activities of labor (Maurine Nelson) and extreme persecution (Leonard Baskin). Though distinctively regional in its individual expressions and subjects, Social Realism was grounded in a received style. And on the other side of the fence, the Abstract Expressionist camp was becoming a world-wide American art phenomenon, establishing itself as the academic measuring post for the exploration of serious art. Included here are two abstracted portraits by the founder of the UC Davis Art Department, Richard L. Nelson. Though these works are not in a purely Expressionist vein, it was his knowledge of new modernist tendencies which informed his faculty choices and laid the foundation for one of the strongest art departments anywhere. But as our primary concern here is the history of divergence informed by dominant influence, we now follow the path of the early practitioners that broke away from abstract art to explore one of the most distinctive and individual of American artistic perspectives, a "school" that would become known as Bay Area Figuration.

Having fully explored the non-objective compositional techniques of abstract painting, a loose community of artists made a 180 degree revolution around 1950 and returned from the land of pure abstraction to painting the figure. Largely evolving in and around the California School of Fine Arts (now the San Francisco Arts Institute) a number of prominent faculty members broke from the dominance of Clifford Still and pure abstraction to explore the human subject. These new works utilized the materialist paint handling and process-based expression of formal abstraction to create highly emotional, modern portraits. Deeply influenced by the color and paint handling seen in recent exhibitions of European artists (Max Beckman, Oscar Kokoshka, Edvard Munch) at the Legion of Honor in San Francisco they fostered these influences through a local dedication to communal, weekly life-drawing sessions. Their ongoing participation in this most traditional of academic practices enabled a near-living expressivity and movement in their figures. With a virtuosic use of foreshortening and play on perspective they rendered some of the most original and difficult physical postures seen in modern American portraiture. Represented in the exhibition through works by Paul Wonner, Elmer Bischoff, William Theo Brown, along with contemporaries Roland Petersen and the slightly younger Jack Ogden, these artists would receive national recognition as a new school of American painting. Though, as is regularly the case, the artists refuted the efforts of critics and curators to lump their individual projects into a discernable movement, history would forever place a regional emphasis on their common return to the figure, lurid color and deeply introspective portrayal of contemporary life. [6]

Roy de Forest would come to the Bay Area in 1950 to train at the California School of Fine Arts under the influence of the abstract expressionists, having studied with Hassel Smith and Elmer Bischoff (before Bischoff returned to the figure as subject for his painting). At that time de Forest was deeply influenced by the groundbreaking poetry which was then swirling in the Bay Area air, and through acquaintance with Jess (Collins) he was brought into a world of European surrealism mixed with the funk and experimentation that was essence of the North Beach Beat scene. Participating in an exhibition at Jess's and Robert Duncan's King Ubu gallery and meeting many of the legendary figures of that time, left as much of an impression on the young de Forest as the serious formal considerations he was introduced to at CSFA.[7] A period in the army would disrupt his Bay Area cultural development; upon his return he would start a lifelong project which evolved these early influences into one of the most distinct oeuvres to appear in the American scene. Although he was included in exhibitions at important galleries in both New York and LA (including the opening exhibition at Ferus Gallery) art history has largely criticized the work as Regionalist. This may be due to his seemingly quaint portrayal of the American landscape; dogs and cowboys abound, the pioneer and the hardship of the American West a common theme. However, de Forest's work would essentially defy the dominant aesthetic categories of his colleagues, choosing to push the boundaries of his own sensibility and subjects rather then the idea-based cynicism of the newly dominating movement, American Pop. Rich with color and playful in its painterly production, his work animates cartoonish characters of the wild west in scenes with raw and often psycho-sexual narratives. Evolving from highly abstract grounds, and flattened fields of figures, increasingly with a "view through the window" style perspective, his paintings would maintain a surrealist influence with animals, objects and landscape merging in and out of each other in a psychologically charged mélange. In 1965 de Forest was invited by Nelson to join the faculty at UC Davis and he would be one of a highly influential group that contributed to this dynamic period of artistic development. Although the distinguished faculty selected by Nelson exhibited internationally, throughout their careers they would retain a particular freedom and individualistic aesthetic often attributed to their regional seclusion.

One of the best known, both nationally and internationally, to join this acclaimed UC Davis faculty was Wayne Thiebaud. Essentially self-taught, Thiebaud began his career as a cartoonist and commercial illustrator. Spending time in New York through the 1950s, he was exposed to the important directions in painting and worked to "make my paintings look like art." Receiving his first solo exhibitions in 1960, his rendering of American sweets (cakes, gumballs and the like) were one of many voices across the nation that would rise up at the same time as Pop Art. Thiebaud was included in the show "The New Realists" at the Sidney Janis Gallery in 1962 and was instantaneously caught up in the new art world craze. Thiebaud, like so many of the artists in this exhibition, never accepted being grouped with any movement and always saw his project as more engaged with a strict formalism then the common choice of subjects associated with Pop .[8] His precise method of layering paint to render the everyday objects of consumer culture may be seen as an extended portraiture of the American people through their candy counter commodities. Thiebaud maintained a distinctly classical approach to painting, one based on the technical rendering of form. A coffee mug is crafted with the same detail of line and contour as the many actual life portraits that he produced throughout his career. Also affiliated early on with the stirrings of Pop and it's infiltration of everyday objects is UC Davis faculty pioneer, Robert Arneson. Again an artist originating in an artistic practice not deemed a part of modernist high art -- ceramics -- Arneson made a revolutionary gesture when he threw a large clay bottle which he then rendered purely sculptural (rather then utilitarian) by sealing it with a bottle cap and labeling it with the words "Return for Deposit." This was the point at which Arneson completely changed course towards a highly personal production of pop-influenced colorful and humorous works. [9] The mid-career work of Arneson was dedicated largely to portraiture of a distinctly European form: sculptural busts. The subjects for these monuments were both peers in his close-knit group of friends (de Forest and William T. Wiley both appear) as well as iconic artists to whom Arneson wished to pay satiric homage. He also completed a vast ouevre of self-portraits. One of the most charged portraits that Arneson produced is included in this exhibition, Monolith for JP's Final Drive, 1985. This large bronze work commemorates the rugged macho painter with a tombstone, a memorial that focuses on his fast and furious death by car crash. On the surface of his stone the life and times of the fine American modernist is satirized in graffitiesque scrawl. The good and bad times of the car trip which would be his last can be viewed from the front (good) and the back (bad) of the headstone. Reducing the celebrated life of America's best-known painter, one which was perhaps too earnest in his expressionism for Arneson's taste, epitomizes the ruthless abandon which Arneson brought to his portraiture. This playful brand of comic commemoration which permeated his mid-career oeuvre, though critically rejected during his inclusion in the Whitney Museums exhibition "Ceramic Sculpture: 6 Artists," would continue to influence artists in defining their chosen subjects and strategies for picturing the people in their world.[10] The highly technical production and distinctly American subjects which Thiebaud and Arneson imaged through their art were imbued with a saccharine color and playful handling of material that marked their project as distinct to the Bay Area and set a stage for a regionalist discourse that had grown out of Bay Area Figuration and continued to support notions in the east that the west was of its own time and temperament.

Another wild child brought on board at the UC Davis faculty was the visionary environmentalist, William T. Wiley. Again someone who received international acclaim for his artistic excellence and was also marked as insistently regional, Wiley evolved a distinctive style which meditated on man's relationship to landscape. Receiving a scholarship to study at the California School of Fine Arts in 1956, he was quick to receive attention for his paintings which straddled abstraction and figuration.[11] Like de Forest, Wiley was highly influenced by the pulse coming from North Beach and the Surrealism which was such a major influence on the Beats. This, coupled with exposure to European Surrealism seen in exhibitions of Giorgio di Chirico, Yves Tanguy, Max Ernst and Gordon Onslow Ford in the Bay Area opened the door to myth and psychology as an important subject for art. He was also exposed to the assemblage work of the artists associated with the Beat scene, which would inform his artistic vocabulary for the rest of his life. [12] Receiving a position at UC Davis in 1962 directly after receiving his graduate degree, the congenial community there fostered a newfound level of play and experimentation in his work. Surreal elements entwined with a conscious critique of east coast art moments, (specifically minimalism and the extreme abstract rhetoric which permeated the art periodicals), became a central trope. His work throughout this period is chock full of humorous attempts to reconcile these concerns through paintings, sculpture and films, which continued to expand in their formal vocabulary, leading many critics to cite Wiley as one of the first installation artists. However, upon leaving the Bay Area on sabbatical from UC Davis with money to travel through Europe and with time spent in New Jersey and New York, Wiley entered a dark phase where he lost confidence in the import of making art. He re-emerged through a complete rejection of dominant modes and found his voice in a medium essentially discarded by modernist art, watercolor. The intimate scale and process enabled Wiley to formulate a highly personal narrative style that is rich with mythical and meandering contemplation of his life and concerns. Highly biographical, these new works portrayed him as the dunce everyman, struggling with the exploration and subsequent exploitation of nature. Man's assumed progress at the cost of the natural environment permeates these finely rendered, often map-based, landscapes. In his return to a highly formal medium he embraced an expanded notion of art, picturing man's actions and errors as a portrait of our society.

Analogous to the personal artistic journey of Wiley was another faculty member with a highly romantic sensibility who emerged from the cultural groundswell that was converging around the Bay Area poets. Though de Forest and Wiley had been influenced by these magical mythmakers, it was the final of the famous five that were the renowned UC Davis's faculty who would truly embody the Beat aesthetic, Manuel Neri. A founding member of the famed 6 Gallery, a resident at Alvin Light's basement studio in North Beach and a purveyor of the original Funk movement, Neri's early sculptural project grew from the Beat interest in trash as treasure. Forming golems from street trash, his early sculptural assemblage upended the staid material expectations of fine figurative sculpture. Rags and cardboard were wrapped around rusty coat hangers to build provocative forms. In 1958 he discovered plaster, which would continue to be his central material for the rest of his career.[13] Working from life he dedicated the majority of his art to the exploration of the human form, which he would charge with emotion through bright swatches of color painted on these plaster forms. After a trip to Europe, having seen Roman ruins, he revisited his older work; he sawed off their heads, arms, legs and details to bring each form to its essence. This method of creating seemingly antiquated postures evoked the ruin of time but also explored the raw movement of contemporary life and would result in one of the most distinguished bodies of art in the mid 20th century. Likewise a close friend and colleague of Neri's, Bruce Connor, was questioning and reworking early modern, often European, forms to become known as the quintessential Beat artist. Connor was one of the most distinctly irreverent and slippery artists to come out of the Bay Area. Anticipating the expanded notions of increasingly idea-based art that would dominate the late 60s and 70s, he developed multiple styles of production that largely revolved around his lifelong obsession with the role of art and the seemingly mythical status of the artist. Included in American Gothic is a complete print portfolio of collages that he titled after his close friend, The Dennis Hopper One Man Show. In these surrealistic assemblages of figures in landscape, Connor dissects the elements and armatures of contemporary life. A mélange of modernist trauma, the "show" portrays the anxiety of the romantic landscape infiltrated by the mechanisms of modern life. Always up for confusion, Connor was ecstatic when one of the collages was definitively appraised as an original Max Ernest. [14] This conflation of the recent European past along with the extended fictionalized authorship of the title (that it was actually Dennis Hopper's show) are an early formalization of the deep questioning of the forms of art and its reception that would emerge through the subsequent generation of American rabble rousers.

Born from the boon of the new Internationalism afforded by jet travel, increased distribution of art periodicals and an increasingly affluent and influential American art world, came the complex gestures of Conceptualism. Informed by philosophy, critical theory and a pervasively experimental artist dialogue, a new style of art was born which questioned not only everything that came before but turned a mirror on itself. As the existential Bay Area figures gave way to the externalized image-making of Pop, the expanding field of practice began to turn back on itself and question the very nature of traditional form and seek truths which could be gleaned from dissecting the intention and perception of artmaking itself. One of the chief proponents of this new idea-based art work emerged from UC Davis. Bruce Nauman has become known as a giant in American art. Attacking the formal properties of the object, he arrived at Davis a painter but quickly dropped this "lush solution," seeing nowhere to proceed. He went through phases, first adding canvases to his central supports, then making strange and elusively-shaped works out of steel and then fiberglass. Naumann followed through on this impulse of castrating traditional form with these increasingly nebulous objects through some of the first explorations of physical performance in contemporary art.[15] Included in this exhibition are two different bodies of work, both created at Davis. Defying easy categorization, these projects display the ethos of American art in flux, embodiments of questions asked and experiments in process. The first, an experiment in clay made while studying the medium with Arneson, is Cup and Saucer Falling Over and Cup Merging With Its Saucer, both 1965. Ceramic forms are called bodies and the psychological notion of these works as human stand-ins is further rewarded by Nauman's subsequent experiments in physical performance. These bodies are falling into themselves, futurist objects in motion which collapse under their own being, an expression of the individual under the oscillating anxiety of contemporary life. Collaboration was also a rich source of experimentation for Nauman and with his friend William Allan he would embrace an important emerging sculptural medium, film. In these works it is clear that Nauman was intent on making a stand-alone object, something that was a moving sculpture and would operate as such in a gallery, not a narrative to be viewed in a theatre.[16] Fishing for Asian Carp is part actual portrait of the avid fisherman, Allan, and part parody of American TV. What emerges is a humorous critique of landscape painting and American regionalist portraits. Likewise making full use of a new medium, video, Nancy Holt brings a highly formal treatment to a simple social experiment. Going Around In Circles uses a scripted process, which is performed by a cast of friends to create a work that is a portrait of their activity and a picture of the formal choices made in the evolution of an artwork. Also keenly interested in questions of perception, this formal exercise sets in motion a method which is then actualized in a sculptural video. The work reveals the intention and variable success of this structured collaboration as a portrait of human inquiry.

The formal intentions of Conceptualism broke through all the traditional rules to establish an expanded vocabulary for art. But the pendulum swung back through the 1970s and 80s to bring the figure back to the foreground. The experimentation of the recent past had made significant change and along with the reverberations of the Civil Rights movement set a new stage on which a wider and more politicized artistic generation would reclaim art for furthering their social agenda. Identity politics was an upsurge of great diversity and found fertile ground in America. Picturing contemporary life now reached past the mere representation of diverse people to actually emphasize the social inequality which had been held in place by the American class system. This exhibition includes a selection of works that represent the social perspective of these individual voices. Gladys Nillson celebrates the strength of women contributing to the armed services, Luis Cruz Azeceta pictures the surreal turmoil of Latino life in the urban circus and Romare Bearden dedicated a career to picturing the struggles of the African American experience. However, it was a cultural insider, queer as he was, whose cool eye turned most sharply onto the dominant culture of America. By the 1980s Andy Warhol was an established celebrity, a fixture at New York's Studio 54 and a constant guest at the homes and events of the rich and famous. Used originially as the images to be transfered to silkscreens for portraits, his Polaroids were released as artworks in their own right by the Andy Warhol Foundation and gifted to university collections across the country. Understood within his larger oeuvre, one which included portraits of the most wanted men in America and the electric chair, it is easy to imagine that the society portraits of Maria Shriver, Arnold Scwarzenegger and the daughter of Diana Ross are embedded within a dark irony and an intention to picture the excessive state of late American capitalist society. Also included in this suite of portraits is Warhol's comrade in critical cool Deborah Harry, and a bashed man with a bloody eye; an original shot of an image which permeated a series of late paintings, a threatening cleaver, is included as well.

Our current information-saturated time is one of extended personal freedoms and a diversity of voices. A common theme emerges from the recent works in this exhibition, the influence of media reproduction in the portraiture of today. As our world is more and more dominated by the barrage of images from TV, advertising and the internet, our understanding of and picturing of ourselves reflects this multi-layered perspective. In this vein there are several artist's works included that reflect this refraction. In Kota Ezawa's practice he brings together the myriad images found in contemporary society from the high to the low, and digitally processes them to flatten them out to a common level, a formal actualization of the flattened reception of all images within the onslaught. Iconic pictures from high art mix freely with home snapshots, such as Wanda, 2006, in which he digitally extends the saccharine coloring of 1970s Kodak film into a painterly portrait. This reverberation also sounds through the work of Desiree Holman, whose commodity critique of childrearing takes the media-driven desire for the Bucolic Life (2005) to an exaggerated extreme; she lives out this perfect world through pictures staged with a cast of life-size plastic family members. Embedded in the intimate pencil drawings of Colter Jacobsen we see the negotiation of this image world actually shaping the picture as determined by his conceptual process. For his series of One Hour Drawings he copies as much as he can of an internet image within the allotted time. Realistically rendered, the drawings are left with areas unfinished, a photorealistic freeze frame of an experience cut short in the rush of contemporary time. We are left with a partial experience and the question of the quality of our increasingly fleeting relationship to the real as we are caught in this rapid stream, the instantaneous image world of the net.

Throughout the last 100 years of artistic production in America artists have been the guiding force in questioning how we view ourselves as a people and a society. The Bay Area has held a distinctive role. Known largely as outsiders, Bay Area artists were strangely equipped to comment from the margins. In this way the Regionalist impulse and divergent styles permitted a critical position both reacting against received traditions and marking out territory distinctly its own. The exhibition American Gothic is but one path through this history of independent thought. Though the forms and intentions of portraiture have radically changed over the last century, the desire to picture ourselves, our experiences and our social evolution will always be an imperative subject for the formation of art.


1 Although it is debated if Betsy Ross did in fact sew the first flag, it is generally accepted that the portrait of her presenting the flag was a composite and that legend was grown through the fundraising and advertising efforts of the Betsy Ross Society and subsequently perpetuated to instill a strength of character in young American girls. http://www.usflag.org/about.betsy.ross.html, http://www.usflag.org/about.betsy.ross.html

2 "Regionalism is an American realist modern art movement that was popular during the 1930s. The artistic focus was from artists who shunned city life, and rapidly developing technological advances, to create scenes of rural life.", http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Regionalism_(art)

3 Steven Biel, American Gothic, (New York: Norton and Co., 2005), 46

4 Ibid. Wood received many angry letters and phone calls with one local farmer going so far as to say he should have his head bashed in for portraying American farmers that way.

5 Albright, Thomas, Art in the San Francisco Bay Area, (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1985), pg. 10

6 Jones, Caroline, Bay Area Figurative Art 1950-1965 (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1990)

7 Matteson, Lynn Robertson, Oral History Interview, 2004 (Porta Costa, California: Smithsonian Archives of American Art, 2004)

8 Albright, Thomas, Art in the San Francisco Bay Area (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1985) Pg. 124

9 Benezra, Neal, Robert Arneson, A Retrospective (Des Moines Art Center, 1985), pg. 18

10 Ibid, pg 63, 24

11 Wiley received two exhibitions of his work before graduation and was included in exhibitions at SF MoMA and Art Institute of Chicago directly after finishing his degree. Moser, Joann, What's It All Mean, William T. Wiley, Berkeley: University of California Press, 2009, pg. 22-24

12 Ibid, pg 17, 18

13 Manuel Neri

14 Bruce Connor

15 Lewellan, Costance M., A Rose Has No Teeth, Bruce Nauman in the 1960s, Berekley, University of California Press, pg. 10-15

16 Ibid. pg. 38

About the author

Lee Plested, guest curator for the exhibit American Gothic: Regionalist Portraiture from the Collection, is originally from Vancouver, Canada. He holds a MA in Curatorial Practice from San Francisco's College of the Arts, and has selected over 100 pieces from the collection, including several new acquisitions never before seen.


Image from the exhibition


(above: William T. Wiley, Scarecrow, 1975, aquatint etching on paper, 10 x 8 inches. Image courtesy of Richard L. Nelson Gallery)


Resource Library editor's note

The above essay was published in Resource Library on February 3, 2011 with permission of the Richard L. Nelson Gallery, granted to TFAO on February 1, 2011.

Resource Library wishes to extend appreciation to Katrina Wong of the Richard L. Nelson Gallery for her help concerning permissions for reprinting the above text.

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