JONESBORO – “Pardew Collection: Exploring Patronage, Process, and Place” will open in Bradbury Art Museum (BAM) at Arkansas State University Thursday, April 21, with a 5-6:30 p.m. opening reception. Admission to the reception and exhibition, which continues through July 21, is free.
James and Kathy Pardew’s gift encompasses a wide array of international and American art acquired during their life in the U.S. military and diplomatic service. Modern art from Bulgaria, where James served as U.S. Ambassador from 2002-2005, is a central element of the collection.
In addition, the collection includes art from central Europe, Asia and Islamic countries where they lived, traveled and served. The art presents the cultures and a range of styles from abstract to figurative. The collection also represents a diversity of gender and ethnicity of the artists.
Bradbury Art Museum partnered with A-State’s museum studies program to provide a hands-on opportunity for students to contribute to the development of the exhibition. Through a series of dialogues with the students, they developed the thematic elements of patronage, process and place. Pardew cultivated a lasting relationship with many of the artists in the collection and actively used the arts as a way to build community and relationships as an ambassador.
These elements carry throughout the exhibition, but the spaces are divided into various categories. Stella Boyle Smith Gallery is dedicated as an overview of the scope of the collection. Windgate Gallery houses art from relationships forged during the time the Pardews spent in Bulgaria. Kays Gallery is dedicated to recreating the Pardew home environment. Finally, Pardew Gallery is focused on iconography.
“This gift and exhibition provide a fantastic example of how important humanities courses are for students across disciplines,” noted Garry Holstein, director of Bradbury Art Museum. “The Pardews cultivated a love of the arts at A-State and this directly impacted the lives of artists around the world for many years. In communication with the museum before his passing, Mr. Pardew expressed that they hope that their gift will expand the world art and cultural experience for A-State students, artists, and the people of the region into the future.”
Dr. Katherine Baker, assistant professor of art history, emphasized the value of the learning experiences the Pardews created for students.
“As visible in the exhibition, James Pardew found a calling as a patron of the arts. This was not a pastime solely based on aesthetics, however, but one rooted in a deep understanding of the cultural importance of art. His support for the arts went beyond mere acquisition, and he forged intimate bonds with many of the artists, supporting them both personally and professionally,” Baker explained. “It is my hope that every student and every community member who sees this exhibition understands what James Pardew understood — that the world grows exponentially when we invite art into our lives.
“For my museum studies course this spring, it was a lesson resolutely learned. A group made of students from many degrees and disciplines all came together to study the works in this show, examining the lives of the artists, the contexts from which they came, and the connection Pardew had to the objects,” she continued. “From this direct engagement, each student produced wall texts featured in the exhibition. Hands-on experience like this is precious, and the university is lucky to have access to this gift, from one Red Wolf generation to another.”
BAM is in Fowler Center, 201 Olympic Dr.Hours of operation are noon to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. Additional details about the exhibition are available online at BradburyArtMuseum.org and at (870) 972-3687.
Featured photo: Mountain Landscape by Kalina Taseva, 2005, oil on canvas.
James and Kathy Pardew Collection, Bradbury Art Museum.