The Anderson Collection at Stanford will celebrate its fifth anniversary on Saturday, Sept. 21, with a gala celebration and three new exhibitions.
The museum, located in the arts district on the Stanford campus, is home to a renowned collection of post-World War II American art gifted by the late Harry W. Anderson, his wife, Mary Margaret, and daughter, Mary Patricia Anderson Pence.
Over 50,000 people have visited the museum each year since its opening, drawn in by the Ennead Architects-designed building and the opportunity to see top-tier examples of art by luminaries such as Jackson Pollock, Mark Rothko, Wayne Thiebaud and Richard Diebenkorn. The challenge to this and other single-donor museums, however, is how to keep the momentum going once visitors have seen the permanent collection.
"The collection is not fixed to the initial gift (121 pieces). It has grown, and our hope is that, in a very thoughtful way, the collection will continue to grow," Executive Director Jason Linetzky said. "We are always trying to think of exciting ways to energize the collection."
For the anniversary, Anderson Collection has enlisted the efforts of a group of current Stanford doctoral candidates in an ambitious overhaul of several of the main galleries.
"Left of Center" is an exhibition, curated by these students, that focuses on artwork reflecting the Anderson's interest in California-based artists and those who found inspiration/success in the western United States. Artists such as Jay DeFeo, Jennifer Bartlett, Robert Therrien and Agnes Martin were innovators, using unconventional materials, found objects and irregular shapes in their paintings and sculptures. The pieces chosen, according to gallery documentation, "demonstrate West Coast innovation by boldly rejecting nonrepresentational New York art movements, such as abstract expressionism and minimalism." "Left of Center" will remain on view as an ongoing exhibition.
Having a dedicated space for temporary, changing exhibitions is one way to keep things vital and was integral to the design of the museum. Downstairs, the Wisch Family Gallery features recent acquisitions to the Anderson Collection. "Process and Pattern," on view until Feb. 17, 2020, and on loan to the museum from the private Anderson Collection, includes the prints and paintings of McArthur Binion, Charles Gaines, Julie Mehretu and Analia Saban. Like many pieces in the Anderson Collection, these works reflect the collectors' interest in idea-based art that is hand-crafted. Or, as Linetzky described them, "on the fence between abstraction and figuration -- perhaps a suggestive abstraction."
In the permanent collection areas, selected works by light artist Jim Campbell have been installed, interspersed among the paintings and sculptures. The LED-based pieces often use a grid format with blinking lights or blurred black-and-white film backgrounds. They correlate, or contrast, with nearby art, creating a different perception of familiar pieces. Campbell's art will be on view until Aug. 3, 2020.
A review of past exhibitions and programs reveals that museum has taken full advantage of its placement on a university campus and the opportunity to interface with a variety of departments, many of which are not art-oriented. Several years ago, The Center for Computer Research in Music and Acoustics took over the entire museum, creating "soundscapes" that visitors could enjoy while viewing the art.
"One of the exciting things we have as a museum here is to collaborate with partners on campus -- other departments, students and faculty," Linetzky said. He added that almost immediately after opening, the museum connected with the art history, theater and creative writing departments, resulting in a wide variety of public programs offered in the galleries. He cited "The Artist as Educator" as a particularly successful series. In one program, the art of sculptor Manuel Neri (whose work was being shown in the galleries) was the topic of a panel discussion. Later, students from the dance department created a movement piece that was presented on both floors of the museum. "It was an effort to find a new way of responding to an artist's work," he said.
Informal evening talks in the gallery have proven to be very popular, often with standing room only. In April, the daughter of Bay Area figurative artist David Park spoke about her father's life and work, while sitting in front of his colorful "Four Women," owned by the Collection. The Collection also collaborates with the Cantor Arts Center in presenting the annual McMurtry Lecture, which brings nationally recognized artists like Nick Cave, Robert Irwin and Judy Chicago to speak at the Bing Center.
The Collection has made concerted efforts to reach out to the community, beyond the campus. The Second Sunday Program is geared toward young families and includes gallery tours and hands-on art experiences. There is also a school-tour program which serves local students in grades K-12. On the last Thursday of the month, there is a free evening program that has encompassed everything from art films, lectures, poetry readings and book previews.
Preparing Stanford students for careers in the arts has always been a priority of the Anderson Collection and, in the past, many art history doctoral students were interns at the Collection's headquarters on Sand Hill Road. Now, current Stanford students from a variety of disciplines have the opportunity to enter a two -year training program in order to become guides at both the Cantor Arts Center and Anderson Collection.
"We hope to enhance their career opportunities by providing the experience of working with museum programs and staff," Linetzky said.
On Saturday, Sept. 21, the museum will commemorate the anniversary with an open house, from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. The free event will include food, art making, gallery talks and live music by Taiko SOBA and The Stray Horns.
Linetzky hopes Anderson Collection will continue to serve and evolve as a local arts hub. Looking ahead, he said, "In the next five years, I would really like to see the museum as a place that has vibrancy in terms of both programs and exhibitions and the way in which our visitors are engaging with the collection."
What: Anderson Collection's anniversary celebration.
Where: 314 Lomita Drive, Stanford.
When: Saturday, Sept. 21, from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Regular museum hours are Wednesday-Monday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Thursday from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Info: Anderson Collection.