San Antonio Museum of Art announces new acquisition

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San Antonio Museum of Art announces new acquisition
Wendy Red Star, Apsáalooke (Crow), born 1981. Amnía (Echo), 2021. Archival pigment prints on board, custom pedestals, 66 1/2 × 98 1/4 × 19 in. (168.9 × 249.6 × 48.3 cm) Purchased with The Brown Foundation Contemporary Art Acquisition Fund, 2022.7 © Wendy Red Star. Image courtesy of the artist/Sargent’s Daughters.

SAN ANTONIO, TX.- The San Antonio Museum of Art announced today the addition of several works to its collections, furthering the Museum’s ongoing commitment to expanding its holdings of contemporary art and works that reflect the artistic communities of Texas. Among the acquisitions is Amnía (Echo) (2021), an important multi-media work by acclaimed artist Wendy Red Star. SAMA recently presented Wendy Red Star: A Scratch on the Earth, a major traveling exhibition of Red Star’s work. With the purchase of Amnía (Echo), SAMA continues its focus on expanding the range of voices and narratives represented within its contemporary collection. The new acquisitions also include four photographs from the Family Portrait Series by Judy Gelles, paintings by Texas-based artists Julian Onderdonk and Rodolfo (Rudolph) Guzzardi, a Roman cameo, and two Asian earthenware pieces.

“Over the past several years, SAMA has placed particular emphasis on acquiring works that reflect the true diversity of artists that have shaped the trajectory of art, ensuring that our collections represent a wide spectrum of voices, experiences, and approaches. This includes artists from across the country and the world, as well as those that have made San Antonio, and Texas more broadly, such creatively vibrant places to live and visit,” said Emily Ballew Neff, PhD, The Kelso Director at SAMA. “We are particularly excited to bring work by Wendy Red Star into our contemporary holdings, building on our collections of conceptual photography as well as works by women and Indigenous artists.”

SAMA’s new acquisitions include:

Wendy Red Star (Apsáalooke/Crow, born 1981)
Amnía (Echo), 2021
Archival pigment prints on board, custom pedestals
66 1/2 × 98 1/4 × 19 in. (168.9 × 249.6 × 48.3 cm)
San Antonio Museum of Art, Purchased with The Brown Foundation Contemporary Art Acquisition Fund, 2022.7

Photography is an integral aspect of Wendy Red Star’s multi-disciplinary practice. Amnía (Echo) captures Red Star’s singular approach to examining how photography supports the crafting of identity—personal and communal—by interweaving archival and contemporary images with historical narratives. The inspiration for the work is a black-and-white photographic portrait that Red Star found in the National Museum of the American Indian archives of her paternal great-great-grandmother, Her Dreams Are True, also known as Julia Badboy. Collaborating with her daughter, Beatrice, Red Star recreated the portrait, which was originally taken on the Crow Reservation in Montana ca. 1898–1910 by Fred E. Miller. Each portrait is rendered as a sculptural tableau in successively larger prints, mounted on board, and arranged behind one another. Through the successive composition, Red Star explores the Indigenous roots of feminism—a recurrent theme in her work—calling attention to the matrilineal structure of traditional Crow society.

The acquisition follows SAMA’s presentation of the traveling exhibition Wendy Red Star: A Scratch on the Earth (2022) organized by the Newark Museum of Art. It strengthens the representation of women artists in SAMA’s photography collection, while also enhancing representation of contemporary Native American artists and experiences—building on acquisitions of work by Joe Harjo, Edgar Heap of Birds, and Jeffrey Gibson in recent years. Red Star’s innovative use of materials and approach to photography exemplified in Amnía (Echo) also deepens SAMA’s holdings of 3D media and conceptual photography.

Judy Gelles (American, 1944–2020)
Four photographs from the Family Portrait Series (Family Portrait in Bedroom, 1977; Swing Set, 1979; Jason and David Saluting, 1982; Richard and the Boys, 1982)
Black and white archival pigment prints with original handwriting
19 1/4 × 23 1/4 in. (48.9 × 59.1 cm), each
San Antonio Museum of Art, Gift of The Gelles Family & Pentimenti Gallery, TR.2604

For over forty years, Judy Gelles explored the intersections of feminism, motherhood, and family through photography and film. The Family Portrait Series, begun in the late 1970s, is Gelles’s first major body of work. The multi-year project is comprised of collaborative portraits with Gelles’s young sons and husband, which document her trials as a mother, wife, and burgeoning artist. The images are accompanied by handwritten texts drawn from the artist’s journal, which offer intimate and candid observations of her experiences. The notations also reflect larger societal attitudes toward gender, identity, sexuality, parenting, aging, and creativity. Throughout her career, Gelles continued to combine images with text, allowing her to establish an ongoing dialogue between the personal and the public.

As with the acquisition of Wendy Red Star’s work, Gelles’s photographs strengthen the representation of women artists in SAMA’s photography collection. The works also further establish the depth of SAMA’s holdings of black-and-white, documentary-based approaches to photography.

Julian Onderdonk (American, 1882–1922)
Evening - Fort Sam Houston, San Antonio, Texas, 1911
Oil on canvas
20 × 30 in. (50.8 × 76.2 cm)
Purchased with the Kelso Endowment for Texas Art, 2022.6

Born in San Antonio into a family of artists, Julian Onderdonk was highly influential during his lifetime, and his work remains essential to the history of Texas art. Onderdonk studied at the Art Students League of New York under the tutelage of Kenyon Cox and Frank DuMond and was also mentored by renowned American Impressionist William Merritt Chase. He returned to San Antonio permanently in 1909, and it is the body of work produced during this period for which he is most celebrated. Well-known for iconic representations of the Texas Hill Country, Onderdonk’s landscapes are lyrical and complex, filled with strong color harmonies, shimmering light effects, and delicate brushwork. These characteristics are exemplified in Evening – Fort Sam Houston, San Antonio, Texas from 1911. The painting also references San Antonio’s history as a military hub. Fort Sam Houston was established in 1876 and became the largest Army post in the US by 1912.

This acquisition adds to SAMA’s in-depth holdings of this important twentieth-century artist—both in the context of Texas art history and American art more broadly. Evening – Fort Sam Houston, San Antonio, Texas augments SAMA’s existing collection of eight paintings by Onderdonk with a subject that uniquely reflects the community’s local history and complements SAMA’s examples of Hill Country landscapes and earlier work depicting the landscapes and urban environment of New York. It also aligns with SAMA’s ongoing commitment to collecting art by Texas artists and art that relates to Texas’s cultural communities and history.

Rodolfo (Rudolph) Guzzardo Guzzardi (Italian, 1903–1962)
The Alamo, San Antonio, Texas, 1937
Oil on canvas
37 3/8 × 48 1/16 in. (95 × 122 cm)
San Antonio Museum of Art, Gift of the Rev. James E. Aydelotte, Ph.D., TR.033

Rodolfo Guzzardi was a skilled painter who immigrated from Italy to the United States in the early 1920s, settling in Houston, Texas in 1933. He was an active part of the Houston art community, working as an artist, dealer, conservator, and the first chairman of the art department at Sacred Heart Dominican College. The Alamo, San Antonio, Texas (1937) depicts the iconic Texas landmark of the Alamo, which holds special significance to the San Antonio community. This work is also indicative of the artist’s practice and relates to other paintings he executed of the San Antonio Missions along with landscapes and other sites in Texas.

The acquisition of this painting is aligned with SAMA’s ongoing commitment to collecting Texas art.

Cameo with a rural sanctuary of Bacchus
Roman, 1st century BC-2nd century AD
1 x 1 3/8 x 1/8 in. (2.6 x 3.5 x 0.3 cm)
San Antonio Museum of Art, purchased with the Grace Fortner Rider Fund, 2022.4

In finely rendered detail, this cameo depicts a rustic shrine to Bacchus. A statue of the god, clad in a long garment and carrying a staff (thyrsus) and a wine-drinking cup (kantharos), stands on a pedestal at center beneath one branch of a gnarled tree. Votive offerings of a drum (tympanum) and a syrinx (panpipes) hang from its branches. A reclining maenad, her back turned to the viewer, reaches up to take the tympanum. A shaggy, bearded goat stands on a low pedestal near the statue and turns its head back toward the god. A young shepherd, seated on a pile of rocks at the cameo’s right edge and dressed only in a thick sheepskin, grasps the animal’s forelegs.

The acquisition of this cameo adds to SAMA’s in-depth holdings of Roman art and aligns with its upcoming Roman Landscapes exhibition, opening February 2023.

Late 5th to early 6th century
China, Northern Wei dynasty (386–535)
L. 5 3/8 in.
Anonymous gift, TR.067

This finely-potted boar stands in an alert pose and has a small head with a long snout. Its low-slung belly was pierced with a vent for firing. The gray pottery has a very lightly specked surface and shows traces of buff earth from burial. This model of a well-fed boar represented material wealth enjoyed by a family. It was intended as mortuary object so that the tomb occupant could continuously enjoy wealth in the afterlife.

Model of a Well
1st century
China, East Han dynasty (25–220)
H. 12 in.; W. 8 5/8 in.
Anonymous gift, TR.068

This model of a well has a rectangular enclosure, each side of which is stamped with a beast: a tiger, a dragon, a phoenix, and a tortoise entwined by a snake. They represent west, east, south and north respectively. Two wooden posts, likely modern reconstruction, support a tiled roof covering the well. A pully (attached under the roof) and a bucket (connected by a cord) further render this model a realistic representation of a well used over 2,000 years ago. The well was a mortuary object; it served as a symbolic point where the four cardinal directions converged. Therefore, this well model transformed the tomb into the center of universe.

The acquisition of these earthenware pieces strengthens the Museum’s collection of Chinese art.

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