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For Immediate release

August, 2009


The Harmon and Harriet Kelley Collection of

African American Art:

Works on Paper

September 23, 2009 – January 3, 2010



San Antonians Harmon and Harriet Kelley began collecting African American art in the 1980s. Since that time, their collection has grown quantitatively and qualitatively to become one of the finest such collections in public or private hands in the United States. Every room of their home is full of museum-quality paintings, drawings, and prints illustrating the rich history of African American art from the late 19th century to the present. The Harmon and Harriet Kelley Collection of African American Art: Works on Paper, featuring nearly 100 prints, drawings, and watercolors, is a wonderful introduction to the riches of their collection and also a remarkable and unique survey of more than a century of American art. A rare opportunity to see these privately held treasures, this exhibition also serves as an advocate for greater understanding and appreciation of the contributions made by African Americans to art history.


Harmon and Harriet Kelley were prescient as collectors, buying works of art at a time when not many other collectors were interested. Hence, their collection contains many works which are not to be seen anywhere else. Among the earliest and rarest works in the exhibition are prints by the 19-century printmaker Grafton Taylor Brown, the first documented professional graphic artist to work on the West Coast. The exhibition is also particularly rich in works by artists of the 1930s and 40s, which document in strikingly beautiful and personal ways the growing awareness of African American heritage and identity. Among the artists included in the exhibition whose work focused on the African American experience are Elizabeth Catlett, Romare Bearden, and Jacob Lawrence. The exhibition also includes contemporary works by Alison Saar and Robert Colescott. In all, more than 50 different artists are represented by works in the exhibition.


The Harmon and Harriet Kelley Collection of African American Art: Works on Paper was organized by Landau Traveling Exhibitions, Los Angeles, California.



The McNay

Built by artist and educator Marion Koogler McNay in the 1920s, the Spanish Colonial Revival-style home opened as Texas’ first museum of modern art in 1954. Today more than 100,000 visitors a year enjoy works by 20th-century masters including Paul Gauguin, Vincent van Gogh, Edward Hopper, Georgia O’Keeffe, Pablo Picasso, Jackson Pollock, and Pierre-Auguste Renoir.  In June 2008, the museum opened the 45,000-square-foot Jane and Arthur Stieren Center for Exhibitions designed by internationally renowned French architect Jean-Paul Viguier.  Nearly doubling the McNay’s exhibition space, the Stieren Center includes three separate outdoor sculpture galleries, the first in South Texas.

Hours: Tuesday through Friday, 10 am – 4 pm; Thursday, 10 am – 9 pm; Saturday, 10 am – 5 pm; and Sunday, noon – 5 pm. The McNay is closed on Mondays, New Year’s Day, Independence Day, Thanksgiving, and Christmas.

General admission: McNay members – free; Adults – $8; Students 12 and under – $5; Seniors –  $5; Active military –  $5; Children 12 and under – free.  An extra admission charge applies during select exhibitions. There is no charge for general admission on Thursday nights and on the first Sunday of the month. At these times, the extra admission charge applies only for entrance to select exhibitions.  


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