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PHOTO: Frederick Warren Freer, "The Veil (Honeysuckle)," 1887, Etching on Japon paper, Gift of J. Thomas and Debra Gabrielson Lee.

April 25, 2008

UI Museum of Art exhibition explores etchings May 9 through Sept. 28

Prints from the collection of J. Thomas and Debra Gabrielson Lee take center stage in a new University of Iowa Museum of Art (UIMA) exhibition, "The Power of Line: European and American Etching Revival Prints from the Lee Collection," on display Friday, May 9, through Sunday, Sept. 28, in the museum's Hoover-Paul Gallery.

The show features more than 50 etchings by artists including Thomas Moran, James Abbott McNeill Whistler, Francis Seymour Haden, Henry Farrer, Charles Adams Platt and Mary Nimmo Moran.

A free, public opening reception will be held in the museum at 3:30 p.m. Friday, May 9.

The Lee Collection is composed of more than 300 etchings and books from the late 19th and early 20th centuries, including works by many of the most important artists of the period. Though focused on American prints, the collection also contains an array of etchings by notable European artists of the time. The collection was given to the UIMA in 2006 and joins more than 6,000 works on paper in the museum's permanent collection.

"The Lee gift greatly enhances an area of the UIMA collection, making it a wonderful research-oriented group," Kathleen Edwards, UIMA chief curator, said.

"The Power of Line" offers a glimpse into the Lee Collection, with emphasis on its dominant themes and strengths. Ranging from scenes of everyday life to maritime vistas and landscapes, the works in the show provide an overview of Etching Revival practices.

Beginning in England and France in the 1840s and 1850s, the Etching Revival drew on traditions from the 17th century, when etching was an important artistic process for Rembrandt and other artists. After that time, etching became a reproductive tool until the revival artists began using it for original prints. The movement spread to the United States in the 1870s.

"Etching Revival artists looked at etching in a different way, exploiting the medium's creative potential to make original works that invoked moods and emotions," Edwards said.

"Etching appealed to artists largely because it had an organic quality similar to drawing," added UI Professor of Art History Joni Kinsey, who, with Edwards, organized the exhibition with students from Kinsey's Fall 2008 course "The Art Museum: Theory and Practice."

"Many painters regarded etchings as an important complement to their work in oils and watercolors and called themselves 'painter-etchers' to emphasize that their prints were original works of art rather than reproductions."

One of the most prominent etchers was Thomas Moran, the famed landscape painter. The Moran family is well represented in the Lee collection, and more than 10 works by members of the Moran family are included in the exhibition. Also on display will be the only known impression of Stephen Parrish's 1880 etching "Fish Houses, Rocky Neck."

Exhibitions in the Hoover-Paul Gallery for 2008 are sponsored by Alan F. and Ann B. January. Student curators for the exhibition were Kristin Beisler, Melinda Brocka, Elizabeth Crispin, Ranelle Lueth, Meagan McCollum, Emily Miller, Katherine Nash, Brittany Piehl, David Riep, Brittany Savolainen, Leslie Smith, Jenahlee Vittetoe and Megan Wright.

The UI Museum of Art is located on North Riverside Drive in Iowa City. The museum is open noon to 5 p.m. Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday, and noon to 9 p.m. Thursday and Friday. Admission is free. Public metered parking is available in UI parking lots west and north of the museum.

For more information on the UI Museum of Art visit http://www.uiowa.edu/uima.

For UI arts information and calendar updates, visit http://www.uiowa.edu/artsiowa. To receive UI arts news by e-mail, go to http://list.uiowa.edu/archives/acr-news.html, click the link "Join or leave the list (or change settings)" and follow the instructions.

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa Arts Center Relations, 300 Plaza Centre One, Suite 351, Iowa City, IA 52242-2500

MEDIA CONTACT: Peter Alexander, Arts Center Relations, 319-384-0072 (office), 319-541-2846 (cell), peter-alexander@uiowa.edu

PHOTOS are available at www.flickr.com/photos/artsiowa