A Century of Culture in Erie
The Erie Art Museum's 100th annual Spring Show
The Erie Art Museum is celebrating their 100th annual Nicole & Harry Martin Spring Show. While this may be the 100th anniversary of the show, the museum is also enjoying its 125th year of bringing the arts to the community. In 1898 the Erie Art Museum was founded as the Erie Art Club, which started in the public library and has grown over the years to become a landmark in Downtown Erie. When you look back 100 years ago, it's possible that the first Spring Show opened when Harry T. Burleigh was composing music, the cotton swab was just being invented, and the first issue of Time Magazine was being published.
The juror for this monumental show is Gaetane Verna, executive director of the Wexner Center for the Arts and also an art historian and arts administrator. Laura Domencic, executive director of the Erie Art Museum, spoke on Verna's choices. "In many cases she chose a couple works by each artist, so you can get a little more sense of their practice by seeing more than one piece."
The Spring Show will feature 65 pieces from artists who reside within a 250 mile radius of Erie, showcasing the diverse mediums and styles making up the art of our region and its surrounding areas. In honor of its 100th year, the museum has decided to display a few works from previous Spring Shows and titled that exhibit "Selections from the Century: Spring Show Acquisitions 1924-2023." These pieces were either donated or purchased specifically to be in the museum's collection. This is a way to showcase the Spring Show's rich history and to revisit some of the museum's works. Domencic states, "The life of each piece has a really interesting path, whether it changed hands, or the different meanings that get attached to it as time goes by. I think it's interesting to see pieces after several years — they have additional meanings depending on the context of who else is working in that genre, with that kind of material." This artistic time capsule will remind visitors of the importance of having a resource like the museum in our community, celebrating and preserving regional art for future generations to enjoy.
With the museum looking back at the last 100 years, the question now is what could be in store for the next 100 years? Domencic says that the museum is "expanding our educational programs and the different ways for people to engage with the collection. One of the big initiatives right now is developing some programming that is really sensitive to populations that might not feel as welcome as others do here. We want to make it as open and welcoming as possible, whether it is people new to the community or new Americans, or people who just don't think the museum is for them." This is all part of a mission to try to invite the entire community to enjoy the resources at the Erie Art Museum.
The Spring Show opening kicks off with a preview event for top donors from 5 to 6 p.m., then the public will be invited in for the centennial event from 6 to 9 p.m., with the announcement of awards at 7 p.m. The 100th Annual Nichole & Harry Martin Spring Show runs from Friday, Mar. 17 through Aug. 11. If you miss the opening night, you can still catch this wonderful collection of new and classic works during some of the museum's other scheduled events such as Second Sunday on Mar. 12, the UPMC sponsored Free Day on Mar. 23, or at the end of the month on Mar. 31 for Gallery Night.
6 p.m. to 9 p.m. // Erie Art Museum, 20 E. 5th St. // Free // erieartmuseum.org