By Jordan Nunner
The Amarillo Museum of Art is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year and is having a special exhibit that started Jan. 15 and runs through March 27. The exhibit featureswork by artists including Salvador Dali, Louise Nevelson, Larry Bell, Elaine de Kooning, Ed Ruscha, Leon Polk Smith, Gabriel Dawe and Dorothea Lange. “I feel very honored to be part of the staff during this monumental year and I am excited for the public to come and see it,” said Claire Ekas, the director of marketing and community engagement specialist at the museum. “I don’t think a lot of people realize the amazing pieces we have in our collection,” she said.
Ekas said that the community began raising money to start an art museum in Amarillo in 1967. Betty Bivins Childers is credited as the founder, opening the doors of the museum to the public in 1972.
According to Alex Gregory, the museum’s curator of art, AMOA has always had a close relationship with Amarillo College. “They were in the process of raising money, finding the architect, approving the plans, working with Amarillo College because there was a real exchange between the people that were founding the museum and Amarillo College. The museum operates separately from the college but the college maintains the building while the museum raises their own funds to do all of what they do,” he said.
Gregory said the museum is an asset for AC and its students. “One of the great things about the museum is that a student could just be walking by, see that there is an exhibit and be like, ‘oh, OK that seems neat,’ but a lot of students are unaware that the college even has a museum, and that it’s free for anyone to attend,” Gregory said.
The featured piece of the exhibit is Georgia O’Keefe’s “Train Coming in—Canyon, Texas” from 1916. Gregory described this piece as “the real treasure of the museum” out of over 3000 pieces that they have acquired over the years. There are so many pieces in the museum “they can only show the highlights of their collection for the show,” he said.
“We acquire our works in various different ways,” Ekas said. “Some pieces are gifted to us by patrons, other museums or organizations, while other are museum purchases.” Ekas said her favorite is an oil painting called “Out of the Coop” by Melissa Miller. “It depicts a mass of chickens, roosters, and farm dogs as they appear to be walking around in the dirt. I like this painting because of the texture created by the large brush strokes. I love animals and I admire the way Miller creates allegorical pieces surrounding animals.”
The museum is located at Amarillo College’s Washington Street Campus and the hours are listed on the website amoa.org along with all of the upcoming exhibits and events.