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Thursday, November 20, 2014

ART OF THE AMERICAN WEST— HAUB FAMILY COLLECTION AT TACOMA ART MUSEUM IS CITY'S NEW PRIDE AND GLORY


Clyde Aspevig (American, born 1951) 
White Cliffs of the Missouri, 2009
Oil on canvas
40 × 60 inches
Tacoma Art Museum, Haub Family Collection, Gift of Erivan and Helga Haub, 2014.6.4

Without stepping outside the Tacoma Art Museum last week, I traveled across a vast region and 200 years of American history. The ghosts of my own ancestors no longer resided in sepia tone portraits back at home, but suddenly lived again in paintings and sculptures connected with their experiences and the grandeur of the land they crossed to reach Washington Territory. 


E. Martin Hennings (American, 1886  1956) 
Towering Aspens, circa 1940
Oil on canvas
20 × 20 inches
Tacoma Art Museum, Haub Family Collection, Gift of Erivan and Helga Haub, 2014.6.61

I felt the burning sun and the coolness of forests, smelled the sage and the scent of horses, heard the winds blow, and tasted the dust, all thanks to the Haub family’s generous gift of 295 works of American Western art, a collection ranking nationally in the top dozen or so of its type and the first in the Northwest. With works that range from photographic realism to more stylized images, it presents a stunning, emotionally moving panorama of influences that helped to shape our nation's character.

Charles Schreyvogel (1861  1912) 
The Last Drop, 1900
Oil on canvas
16 × 20 inches
Tacoma Art Museum, Haub Family Collection, Gift of Erivan and Helga Haub, 2014.6.117

At the press preview, preceding the grand opening November 15, 2014, I stood in awe. The Haub Family Collection of Western American Art is contained in four new galleries in the 16,000 square feet of additional space recently added (on schedule and on budget). In its 79-year history, the museum has never received a gift like this one. Director Stephanie Stebich spoke to the gathered press audience, about the fact that this collection had been very private before the Haub’s decided to give their amazing gift.

“It was an incredible revelation,” she said. “In the field of Western American art, this is a really exciting moment. They were purposely buying for the collection, for the museum, for the city of Tacoma.”


Curt Walters (American, born 1950) 
Supreme Moment of Evening, 1993
Oil on canvas
40 x 60 inches
Tacoma Art Museum, Haub Family Collection, Gift of Erivan and Helga Haub, 2014.6.134

Erivan and Helga Haub are a German couple known internationally for their philanthropy, and they reside in both Germany and the United States. Back in the 1950s, they developed a great love for Tacoma after visiting here and even chose to have all three of their children born in this city. After acquiring a ranch in Wyoming and buying one painting depicting the American West, they began collecting Western art. Along with pieces by artists whose names we all know—like Bierstadt, Remington, Moran, and Russell—they collected works of magnificent beauty and power by 136 others, including many living today.


Charles M. Russell (American, 1864  1926) 
A Bronc Twister, modeled 1911; cast circa 19291933
Bronze
18 × 14½ × 9½ inches
Tacoma Art Museum, Haub Family Collection, Gift of Erivan and Helga Haub, 2014.6.109
Curator Laura Fry did an amazing job when she created themed galleries that celebrate some beloved images, like Albert Bierstadt’s romanticized views, even as other pieces remind us how much of this story is myth. The reality of life in the West included both beauty and hardship, along with all the diversity of mankind.


Mian Situ (ChineseAmerican, born 1953) 
The Entrepreneur—San Francisco, 2006
Oil on canvas
44 × 54 inches
Tacoma Art Museum, Haub Family Collection, Gift of Erivan and Helga Haub, 2014.6.126
“We have the image of this very Caucasian cowboy that Hollywood has given us,” Fry said during our tour. “In reality, less than 50% of the original cowboys were white. They were Native American; they were African-American; some of them  were Asians. They were from all kinds of backgrounds.” 

So were the 140 artists represented in these galleries, including 13 females, three Native Americans, two Asian Americans, and 20 artists born in Europe. Whether in bronze, oils, or watercolor, these works of art capture the feeling of the Western experience. 

Albert Bierstadt (GermanAmerican, 1830  1902) 
Departure of an Indian War Party, 1865
Oil on board
17¼ × 24¼ inches
Tacoma Art Museum, Haub Family Collection, Gift of Erivan and Helga Haub, 2014.6.8
The West is more than a place. It is a state of mind, a bigger-than-life drama, a sense of freedom and opportunity, the liberation of wide open spaces in which individuals can lose, find, or reinvent themselves. It's qualities are grand rather than timid, raw rather than refined. Those of us descended from pioneers or more recent immigrants like to think we retain some of their adventurous nature, optimism, and fortitude in our genes. Those descended from the indigenous people have their own feelings about the West, as do Erivan and Helga Haub from Germany. No matter where you were born, there is something about the American West and the art depicting it that touches, inspires and humbles us, all at the same time. 


Charles Bird King (American, 1785  1862) 
Wanata (The Charger), Grand Chief of the Sioux, 1826
Oil on canvas
39 × 27¼ inches
Tacoma Art Museum, Haub Family Collection, Gift of Erivan and Helga Haub, 2014.6.76

As the press crowd moved on through the galleries that day, I had a private moment with Director Stebich, who remarked that she was heartened by my (obvious) enthusiasm. 

“My heart is palpitating,” I told her.

“I will tell that to the Haubs when I see them next week,” she replied, smiling.


I hope she did. 



Bill Schenck (American, born 1947) 
South of the San Juan River, 2002
Oil on canvas
48 × 80 inches
Tacoma Art Museum, Haub Family Collection, Gift of Erivan and Helga Haub, 2014.6.116

The Tacoma Art Museum is now open six days a week, with a free day each month. To help plan your visit, please click here

Now, enjoy a few more images:



John Nieto (American, born 1936) 
Buffalo at Sunset, 1996
Acrylic on canvas
48 × 60 inches
Tacoma Art Museum, Haub Family Collection, Gift of Erivan and Helga Haub, 2014.6.89

Rosa Bonheur (French, 1822  1899) 
Rocky Bear and Chief Red Shirt, 1889
Oil on canvas
25 × 39¾ inches
Tacoma Art Museum, Haub Family Collection, Gift of Erivan and Helga Haub, 2014.6.12

Frederic Remington (American, 1861  1909) 
Conjuring Back the Buffalo, circa 1889
Oil on canvas
35 × 20 inches
Tacoma Art Museum, Haub Family Collection, Gift of Erivan and Helga Haub, 2014.6.100




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