American Scene Prints (From the Ned H. and Gloria Griner Collection)

Mabel Dwight - Queer Fish
Queer Fish, 1936
Mabel Dwight
Lithograph
Gift of Ned and Gloria Griner
As part of its 75th Anniversary Celebration, the David Owsley Museum of Art Ball State University developed American Scene Prints from the Ned H. & Gloria Griner Collection. A compilation of more than 75 prints from 57 artists, the exhibition represents the diversity of styles and subjects that encompassed American art from the early 1900s through the late 1950s.

The artists associated with the American Scene are known for what they chose to depict and their rejection of Modernist styles. Especially after World War One and during the Depression years, the focus is nationalistic, romantic, and frequently, political.

Director Peter Blume said the exhibition is thematic, offering visitors a glimpse of what the United Stated and the people in it were like in the eras depicts by the artists.

"This is a rich response to life in the United States, especially in the 1930s and 1940s," Blume said. "There is an 'everydayness' about these works. They are of people shopping, working, being entertained."

Printmaking was encouraged during the Depression through the Federal Art Project, which provided relief to unemployed artists under the Works Progress Administration. This particularly helped to establish the screenprint as a new technique for artists, and saw prints reach a wider audience.

"At the time they were very inexpensive, and this meant a lot of middle-class people could own pictures," Blume said. "Now many of them are quite rare. If images did not sell well, publishers often discontinued printing them before the editions were complete."

The exhibition includes artists who primarily focused on urban life, such as John Sloan and George Bellows, as well as those who offered a romanticized vision of the American Midwest, like Thomas Hart Benton, John Steuart Curry, and Grant Wood.

Exhibition Date: July 17, 2010 – September 5, 2010