Current Exhibitions

February 3-June 30, 2024


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Hallowell Gallery
Curator: Georgia Museum of Art

Drawn from the permanent collection of the Georgia Museum of Art, this exhibition of 27 woodblock prints by some of the most influential and well-known ukiyo-e artists explores the culture of luxury and pleasure-seeking that reigned during Japan’s Edo period (1603-1868).

Ukiyo-e is a genre of Japanese art that was popular from the 16th to 19th centuries. The work ukiyo originally expressed the Buddhist concept of the transitory nature of life, but during the Edo period it came to mean embracing the joy of life and its “fleeting pleasures.” The word translates as “to float” and ukiyo-e literally means “pictures of the floating world.”

The Edo Period, when Japan was ruled by the Tokugawa shogunate, was a time of economic prosperity. The merchant class enjoyed a level of affluence previously unknown to them, and they turned their attention to the extravagant luxuries and pleasures that they could now afford.

Woodcuts have been an integral part of Japanese art since 770 CE and were commonly available. In 17th-century Japan, people began buying them in great numbers as they were easily affordable. Traditionally, only the elite were represented in Japanese art, but artists began producing images of more everyday things such as beautiful courtesans and geishas, kabuki actors, and romantic landscapes. For the first time, artists were inspired by the interests of the common people. The prints were mass-marketed, and by the mid-19th century the circulation of the prints ran into the thousands. Prior to World War II, ukiyo-e prints were not considered items of great value because of their abundance, but following the war, they were embraced as an important element of Japanese culture, influential on the history of art, and as valuable works of art in their own right.

Organized by the Georgia Museum of Art, University of Georgia, this program is supported in part by the Georgia Council for the Arts through the appropriations of the Georgia General Assembly. The Council is a partner agency of the National Endowment for the Arts.
 
Click here for information on a lecture by Dr. W. Saam Noonsuk

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The Art of Selling Bubblegum: Bowman Trading Cards 1933-1955
Presented by the American Baseball Card Museum
Fig Garden and Duncan Galleries
Curators: Jeff Jaech and FAM Curator Sarah Vargas
 
Trading cards are works of art—drawings, photographs, and colorized photographs—with a commercial purpose. Soon after bubble gum was invented in 1928, Warren Bowman’s Gum, Inc. dominated the market with its “Blony” brand bubble gum. For decades before, cigarette and candy companies had included trading cards with their products. In the 1930s, Gum, Inc. began slipping a trading card in every penny Blony wrapper. With authentic samples from all 49 trading card sets produced by the Bowman companies, this exhibition explores American culture and art reflected in the cards as influenced by the Great Depression, the gangster era, the international conflicts preceding World War II, the Korean War, the beginnings of the Cold War, and the evolution from radio to television. This exhibit also illustrates the improvements in the artwork and printing processes over Bowman’s 22-year history ending in 1955.

In early 1956, Bowman Gum was acquired by the increasingly competitive Topps Gum Company, and so ended the Bowman brand until Topps revived it in 1989. The exhibition consists of over 400 trading cards in 47 framed wall displays and a small display of related items.

The American Baseball Card Museum is a tax-exempt organization dedicated to promoting the study and appreciation of American culture, history, and art through baseball cards.

For more information on stories behind some of the Bowman Trading Cards, click here.


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John Willheim: Secret War Photographer
Lobby and Concourse Galleries
Curator: FAM Curator Sarah Vargas

As the chaos of the Vietnam War dominated American news, a shadow war was being fought in neighboring Laos. Since the 1950s, the United States had been involved in Laos, where communism had begun to take hold, with forces backed by North Vietnam. In the early 1960s, CIA officers allied with the Hmong who were already fighting communist forces. The Hmong, a unique tribal group originally from China, amassed a guerilla force which grew to more than 30,000 fighters backed by the CIA. The Hmong fought for their land and their livelihood, but the goal of the CIA was destroying communist supply lines between Laos and Vietnam and tying down North Vietnamese forces. Between 1964 and 1973, the United States dropped 2 million tons of bombs on Laos—more than were dropped on Germany and Japan combined during World War II. Yet this was known as the “Secret War.” It was an entirely covert paramilitary operation that was unknown to the American general public. This CIA operation is the largest clandestine operation in the agency’s history. The U.S. pulled out of Laos in 1973, leaving tens of thousands of Hmong to flee to neighboring Thailand, to later emigrate to Germany, France, and the United States.

John Willheim was already an established photographer when he joined the CIA. He was especially chosen to enter and document the Secret War. His photographs were classified for decades, seen only by top American intelligence officials and the President. His images show the everyday life of the Hmong people and their landscape, as well as the brutality of war. One of the most featured figures is a young General Vang Pao (1929-2011), the venerated leader of the Hmong forces. Now that these powerful images are unclassified, this exhibition marks their first public viewing. A resident of Southern California, Willheim chose Fresno, with its large Hmong community with strong ties to the Secret War, as the ideal place to unveil these images.

Click here for information on a lecture by Dr. Yang Sao Xiong


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Moradian Gallery
Curator: FAM Curator Sarah Vargas

From the Permanent Collection, the Fresno Art Museum is proud to present June Wayne: The Dorothy Series.

In the mid-1970s, artist June Wayne (1918-2011) began a project documenting the life of her mother, Dorothy Kline. The resulting 20 lithographs use photographs, personal documents, and artifacts to create an intimate portrait of a hard-working and independent woman dealing with the challenges of the early half of the 20th century. Her experiences as an immigrant, a divorcée, a single mother, and a working woman are lovingly explored by her daughter in this visual biography. Though this project was deeply personal to Wayne, it narrates a universal story of perseverance that will resonate with many.

June Wayne was the Fresno Art Museum’s Council of 100 Distinguished Woman Artist for 1988, the year the award program started.


 
Permanent Collection (Permanent Exhibition + Rotating Collection Items)
Admin Lobby
ONGOING EXHIBITION 
(From Summer/Fall 2023)

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July 29, 2023 to June 30, 2024
Contemporary Gallery
Exhibition Curator: Susan Yost Filgate, FAM Education Director

Artist and illustrator John Parra (b. 1972) wrote and illustrated an autobiographical book based on his childhood experiences working with his dad, a landscaper on California’s Central Coast. The resulting children’s book, Growing an Artist: The Story of a Landscaper and His Son was just published in 2022 by Simon & Schuster and has already received many accolades from reviewers, critics, and fans.

Growing an Artist is a simple, warm, and inspiring book about the bond that is created between father and son. It is about a father who works hard and takes pride in his work and instills that same kind of pride in his child. It is about not letting anyone take away your pride if you do something well. It is about art—the art of growing beautiful things like a lovely garden or a son, who will grow into a talented artist. It is about the bountiful rewards of hard work, whether it be pulling weeds, pruning, and mowing to turn an uninspired yard into a beautiful garden or taking a blank canvas, and with a lot of practice, study, and patience, turning it into a masterful painting.

John’s childhood self, Juanito, helps his dad in his landscaping business, although he is sometimes distracted by what he sees in the natural world and stops to draw a bird or a plant that catches his eye. His father does not seem to mind. He recognizes his son’s natural talent. He knows that it may lead to his son becoming a landscape architect like he himself dreamed of becoming—or perhaps an artist.

John’s own purpose behind this story (and every story he illustrates with his colorful, vibrant, and finely detailed acrylic illustrations) can be summed up by Juanito’s words: “I will use my art to tell the stories of hardworking, passionate people who make the world more beautiful.”

More about John Parra (from JohnParraArt.com):

John Parra is an award-winning illustrator, designer, author, and educator best known for his illustrated, Latino-themed, children’s picture books. For his work he has received many awards including: three American Library Association Pura Belpré Honors, two Golden Kite Awards from The Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, and a Christopher Award. John’s illustrated book, Frida Kahlo and Her Animalitos, was named a New York Times Best Illustrated Children’s Book of 2017. His recent books include Little Libraries, Big Heroes (2019)and The Power of Her Pen: The Story of Groundbreaking Journalist Ethel L. Payne (2020). His new book, Growing an Artist: The Story of a Landscaper and His Son, is his debut as both author and illustrator.

John’s illustrations for commercial clients include United Airlines, Hitachi, PBS, National Geographic, and many others. His designs can be seen on six U.S. Postal Service Forever postage stamps titled Delicioso (2017), and his MTA artcard poster, Birdhouse Subways (2020), was displayed throughout New York City subways. John was also invited by New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art to present a special event about his career and illustrations. He has taught art at the Carnegie Art Museum in Oxnard, California and regularly speaks as a visiting artist at schools and literary conferences across the country, advocating art and reading education. John is a graduate of ArtCenter College of Design in Pasadena, California, and currently lives with his wife, Maria, in Queens, New York.

About the book:
"A heartwarming family story that underscores the value of creativity, passion, and hard work."—Kirkus Reviews, starred review

EXHIBITIONS SPONSORS FOR WINTER/SPRING 2024

GENERAL EXHIBITION SUPPORT
Anita Shanahan Trust
Karen E. Laws Bequest
Eaton and Gibson Family Fund of the Central Valley Community Foundation
David Nino
Michael and Shelly Woolf
Christy V. Hicks
Ellen Hirth
CCIS Insurance Services
J.P. Lamborn Co.
Evany Zirul
David and MaryAnne Esajian

The Art of Selling Bubblegum: Bowman Trading Cards 1933-1955 Presented by the American Baseball Card Museum
Baker Manock & Jensen PC

Fleeting Pleasures: Japanese Woodblock Prints from the Georgia Museum of Art
Nat & Ann Dellavalle

June Wayne: The Dorothy Series
Kaye Bonner Cummings

Art of the Word: Growing an Artist, The Story of a Landscaper & His Son Featuring the illustrations of John Parra
Bonner Family Foundation
The Foundation @FCOE
Harold and Janice Nikoghosian