A Feeling of Humanity: Western Art from the Ken Ratner Collection
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October 9–December 23, 2020
This exhibition explores and celebrates the beautiful in the ordinary with work by both contemporary artists and early 20th century painters including Kenneth Miller Adams, John Sloan, Boardman Robinson and Bettina Steinke. Works by Texas artists Julie Davis, Tony Eubanks, David Forks and V…. Vaughan are also featured.
Growing up in a Harlem housing project, Ken Ratner came from very humble beginnings. As a young boy, he felt empathy for the poor, the homeless, and those who lived on the edge. These experiences shaped both his career and the art that he collected: he was drawn to humanity. He initially collected works by the Ashcan School of artists–urban realists who documented street scenes of New York City in the early twentieth century.
After 20 years of collecting the Ashcan School artists, Ratner felt the need to support the artists of today. In 2008, or so, he attended a Sotheby’s preview of important American paintings. There he came across two paintings by Gary Ernest Smith of western agrarian scenes that floored him. When he later learned of Smith’s comment that “art is a way of addressing humanity,” it heightened his interest in Smith and other western painters who had a humane response to their environment.