Art Works Blog

Vogel Gems in Boise

April 5, 2010
Boise, ID

Untitled, 1998, by Ronnie Landfield, one of the artworks gifted to the Boise Art Museum as part of The Dorothy and Herbert Vogel Collection: Fifty Works for Fifty States initiative. Photo by Lyle Peterzell

Back in 2008, the National Gallery of Art, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the Institute of Museum and Library Services teamed with noted art collectors Dorothy and Herbert Vogel to launch a national gifts program entitled The Dorothy and Herbert Vogel Collection: Fifty Works for Fifty States ( It distributed 2,500 works from the Vogels' collection of contemporary art throughout the nation, with 50 works going to a selected art institution in each of the 50 states to exhibit the work (download the NEA-created catalog of the project).

One such exhibition currently taking place is at the Boise Art Museum (BAM) in Idaho, where NEA Chairman Rocco Landesman is currently on his Art Works Tour. We recently e-mailed museum curator Sandy Harthorn for her thoughts about the Vogel 50/50 exhibition, which will be on display through June 6, 2010.

NEA: What?s the significance of the Vogels? collection to the story of U.S. visual art in general?

SANDY HARTHORN: The Vogels have demonstrated the importance of meeting and learning from artists, focusing on the pursuit of what they like and find challenging, and being independent in their consideration of artworks. In building a thoughtful, considered collection of conceptual and minimalist art and sharing it with the people of the United States, they have broadened the understanding of the arts of their time and the act of collecting itself.

NEA: What?s the significance of the Vogel donation to Boise Art Museum?

HARTHORN: While the Vogel collection is currently being presented in entirety, in the future the Vogel collection will serve as a resource for selected works to be integrated in appropriately themed exhibitions. In addition, specific artworks included in the gift, by artist such as Roy Lichtenstein, Will Barnet and Pat Steir, augment works by these artists already in BAM?s collection and give broader exposure to the oeuvre and working methods of these artists.

NEA: Are there any pieces that the Boise Art Museum received that particularly stood out?

HARTHORN: It was a wonderful surprise to learn that BAM was to receive a glazed ceramic vase by noted American artist Michael Lucero. A Lucero ceramic is a particularly important addition to the museum?s ceramics collection because of his overall significance as an artist and because of his association with the Northwest. Lucero attended the University of Washington and worked with Seattle artists Howard Kottler and Patty Warashina, who are already represented in the collection.

NEA: What?s one thing you really want viewers to take away from the exhibit?

HARTHORN: We have augmented the exhibition with the showing of the video documentary Herb and Dorothy. While we hope that visitors are surprised and enlightened by the works on display, we sincerely hope that visitors will be moved by the personality, energy, and intellectual pursuit of the collectors, so evident in the documentary. We would like visitors to take away an appreciation of not only the collection, but how the personalities of the collectors are reflected in their selection of artworks.

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