Ida Kay Greathouse: A Tribute at the Frye Art Museum

Honoring Frye Art Museum Past Director Ida Kay Greathouse, the Frye presents Ida Kay Greathouse: A Tribute, an exhibition of major works of art selected by Mrs. Greathouse during her 25-year tenure as Director. Open June 19–September 19, 2010.

Mrs. Greathouse became the Frye director in 1966, after the death of her husband, Walser Greathouse, the Frye’s first director and executor of Charles Frye’s will. Having witnessed her husband’s astute collecting during his directorship, Mrs. Greathouse focused on American art, complementing her first acquisitions—William Harnett’s A Wooden Basket of Catawba Grapes and Walt Kuhn’s Acrobats in Dressing Room—with works by William Merritt Chase, Robert Henri, Edward Hopper, George Luks, John Singer Sargent, Everett Shinn, and N. C., Andrew, and Jamie Wyeth. During her tenure she also enhanced the Founding Collection’s French paintings with impressionist works by Berthe Morisot, Pierre-August Renoir, and Alfred Sisley, among others.

Under Mrs. Greathouse’s leadership, the Frye also moved in new collecting directions, acquiring significant works by early-20th century Russian-trained émigrés Nicolai Fechin, Leon Gaspard, and Sergei Bongart, as well as 20th century Alaskan landscapes by Ted Lambert, Sydney Laurence, Fred Machetanz, and Eustace Ziegler. As early as 1970, Mrs. Greathouse voiced interest in adding a new gallery to display the Museum’s collection of Alaskan art. Her dream became a reality in 1984 when the Frye unveiled its Alaska Wing, a popular feature of the Museum during Mrs. Greathouse’s directorship and later renamed the Greathouse Gallery in her honor.

Providing the first overview of her collecting accomplishments, Ida Kay Greathouse: A Tribute features important acquisitions made over the nearly three decades Mrs. Greathouse led the Frye until she retired in 1993. While including a number of French paintings, the exhibition focuses primarily on American objects, demonstrating the key role played by Mrs. Greathouse in moving the Museum from its initial mandate to showcase European art to becoming an active exhibitor of 20th century American art.

Ida Kay Greathouse: A Tribute is curated by Director Jo-Anne Birnie Danzker. Collection Research: Jayme Yahr. Collection Management: Donna Kovalenko. Project Coordination: Laura Landau. The exhibition has been funded by the Frye Foundation with the generous support of Frye Art Museum members and donors.

The Frye Art Museum is dedicated to artistic inquiry, a rich visitor experience, and civic responsibility. A primary catalyst for our engagement with contemporary art and artists is the Founding Collection of late-nineteenth- and early-twentieth-century art by Munich-based artists. Admission to the Museum will always be free.

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