Mikaene Thomas, Inspired by Portland
The Petrucci Family Foundation Collection of African-American Art is pleased to announce the special purchase of Landscape Majestic by African-American artist Mikaene Thomas. This purchase bolsters work by contemporary artists in PFF and will be prominently featured in the upcoming Constructing Identity exhibition at The Portland Art Museum. It is widely known and was corroborated in conversation with PFF Principal Curator Berrisford Boothe that The P.A.M. was the singular point of artistic inspiration for a very young Mikalene Thomas who studied art in the Portland area. Her moment of awakening for her now stellar career as a visual artist happened at a P.A.M. exhibition of artwork by the internationally celebrated African-American artist, Carrie Mae Weems. As part of our mission objective of using the Collection to create further “points of inspiration,” we’ve purchased this dynamic collaged imagery by Thomas. Who knows, perhaps Constructing Identity will pierce the minds of its younger viewers and be the agent for a repeat moment of awareness and identity for an as yet unknown artist of color.
Masterwork by Grafton Tyler Brown
PFF is equally pleased to announce the recent acquisition of a asterwork that intentionally book-ends the Mikalene Thomas purchase. We will be presenting for public viewing for the first time in over a hundred years, the painting Castle Geyser, Yellowstone National Park by Grafton Tyler Brown, completed in 1891 and gifted to a patron. Grafton Tyler Brown is widely acknowledged to be the first African-American to meet success as a western artist. He secured various commissions as an apprentice lithographer but eventually took up plein-air painting settling every few years in different parts of the Pacific Northwest. From 1885-88, he became the toast of Portland, Oregon, joining the city’s famous Art Club and selling landscapes of Mount Hood. He advertised his paintings as “careful studies from nature,only painted to order, and not found on sale anywhere.” PFF is partnering not just present its significant collection of artworks. We are specifically using our resources to acknowledge and celebrate the importance of the Portland area to the narrative of African-American art. These purchases share a theme of “The Land” but importantly bridge time and gender between two artists unknown to each other but very much part of our collective cultural identity in America.