KATHY EARNHARDT | The Butler Annual Midyear Show reaches its 65th year
The Butler Institute of American Art's Midyear Show, which is in its 65th consecutive year, has become a national institution.
One of this country's oldest and best-known juried painting competitions, the Butler Midyear has provided much sought-after recognition for scores of serious American painters, many of whom have chosen to work outside of this country's major art centers.
The Butler Midyear Show has also provided participating painters an element of professional growth, creating a catalyst to launch a number of careers during a critical time in many artists' development.
Show's history: Begun by Joseph Butler III in 1936 and first known as the New Year Show, the annual exhibition expanded in 1951 to include the 48 contiguous states, and ultimately survived as a survey of the current state of painting in America, including entrants from the 50 states.
Jurors for the Midyear have included such noted art world personalities as master painters Grant Wood, Edward Hopper, Robert Gwathmey, William Gropper, Aaron Bohrod and Moses Soyer -- all of whom have works included in the Butler's permanent collection.
Other past Midyear jurors include art historians Brian O'Doherty, Sam Hunter and Cleveland Museum Director Sherman Lee. This year's exhibition was judged by art historian and gallery owner Henry Eckert.
Participants: Artists participating in the Midyear read as a virtual "Who's Who" of American art. Included in the show over the years have been paintings by Elmer Bishoff, Richard Diebenkorn, Hans Hofmann, Abraham Rattner, Ben Shahn, Charles Bruchfield, Chen Chi, Harvey Breverman, Paul Jenkins, Colleen Browning, Ben Kamihira, Philip Evergood, Sidney Goodman, John Koch, Clyde Singer and Jack Levine, to name a few.
Over the years, realist has been prominent in the Midyear show in painters, with works by artists such as Philip Pearlstein, Lance Richbourg and Audrey Flack on view. (All the aforementioned artists have works in the Butler collection.)
Wolf Kahn, whose pastel works are at the Butler in Youngstown, was also a participant in past shows as participating artist. At 73, artist Wolf Kahn is one of the most respected painters in America. Both as an artist and an insightful writer on art, Kahn has also distinguished himself as a great teacher.
In his Butler exhibition, Kahn extends the tradition of the Impressionist painters -- Degas, Monet and Mary Cassatt -- who favored pastel as a second medium of expression.
The exhibition is accompanied by a full-color, scholarly catalog available for purchase in the Butler's Museum Gift Shop.
Both the Butler Midyear Show and Wolf Kahn exhibition are on view through Aug. 22. The exhibitions are made possible through the generosity of John R. "Jack" Butz.
Reception planned: This year, the Butler will celebrate the Midyear Show and the Wolf Kahn pastels exhibition with a reception for participating artists, Butler members and out-of-town guests. For information or reservations, call (330) 332-8213 or (330) 743-1711, Ext. 117. The Butler's 65th Annual Midyear Show includes 129 works by 93 artists. The Midyear exhibition is accompanied by a comprehensive catalog available for purchase in the Butler's Museum Gift Shop.
The Butler Education Department is energized as it prepares for the Butler Summer Arts Day Camp for children scheduled for later this month. Activities in music, visual arts, drama and literature are planned.
Volunteers are being sought for the project. A new class to train museum tour guides is also being planned. Call (330) 743-1711, Ext. 114, for information about both programs.
XButler hours in Youngstown are Tuesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.; Wednesday, 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.; and Sunday, noon to 4 p.m. Butler hours at the Trumbull branch are Wednesday through Sunday, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Butler Salem hours are Wednesday through Saturday, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Admission to all three facilities is free.