George Ault at The Hillstrom

Colin MaiwurmStaff Writer

As the new semester kicks off, there have been a multitude of events taking place. Of the events, one which is currently in progress is the exhibitions at the Hillstrom Museum of Art feature works. The museum is located right by the Bookmark in the lower floor of Jackson Center and is open annually during a certain time period only in the fall. This year it opened up on Monday, Sept 19 and will be closing on Sunday, Nov 6. During the three months the museum’s doors are open, there is quite a bit to see and learn within its walls. The museum features 4 exhibits that can be viewed by the public. One of these exhibits is called the FOCUS IN/ON project which consists of the works of one artist, while the other three exhibits featured are grouped together as a trio focused exhibit, combining all of the artwork from the three artists. Don Myers, the Hillstrom Museum of Art Instructor, explains that the FOCUS IN/ON project explores the worlds of artist George Ault. This artist’s work represents the chronic mental health issues that plagued him throughout his career. Myers added that Ault suffered many traumatic incidents that continued to plague him throughout his life. Out of all of them, the most memorable and poignant for Ault was the loss of all three of his brothers and sister-in-law to suicide. Ault’s own sudden death was ruled a suicide due to all the traumas he was plagued by. Myers then introduced the trio exhibit with art from Ralston Crawford, Stuart Davis, and Oscar Bluemner: “The Foundation seeks to raise awareness of immigrant contributions in the United States and to foster appreciation of the arts and sciences. The Foundation also uses its art collection as an expression of its commitment to diverse perspectives, principally through art exhibitions,” Myers said. Two of the three artists in the triad exhibit were immigrants and communicated their experiences through art, fulfilling Gustavus’ commitment to placing a spotlight on diverse perspectives. All four of these artists for the exhibits are no longer alive, yet their work is still shedding a light to their causes and hardships.

Ault’s work is very relevant to the campus as the 58th Nobel Conference: Mental Health (In)Equity and Young People is taking place during the period of Ault’s exhibition. While raising awareness about the mental health struggles of young people is very important in our present climate, Ault’s work makes it apparent that people of all ages, all throughout history need mental health resources.

When looking into the artists separately, each had their own unique style represented in the museum. Myers also states that the FOCUS IN/ON exhibit focuses on George Ault’s drawing called Lower Broadway. Within the trio’s exhibit, each artist has their own section to showcase their own works. The Ralston Crawford exhibit includes three oil paintings, a lithograph, a drawing, and six photographs. Next is the Oscar Bluemner exhibit which includes 11 drawings. The last of the trio, Stuart Davis, includes in his exhibit two paintings and a drawing. All together, there are 26 pieces of artwork from these four artists in the Hillstrom Museum of Art.

The Hillstrom Museum of Art’s mission is as follows: “The Hillstrom Museum of Art exists as an integral part of the education of Gustavus Adolphus College students, as a caretaker of the Museum’s Collection and Holdings, and as a cultural presence in the local and regional community . . . To fulfill these purposes, the Museum presents owned, curated and borrowed exhibitions of both historical and contemporary significance, supplemented with a variety of educational programs such as lectures, symposia, gallery talks, readings and publications.”

Unlike most museums, the Hillstrom Museum of Art requires no entry fee. They encourage all who have some spare time to come by and look at the art. Whether it be a brief visit to just glance at the artwork or a longer trip to become fully immersed in the artists’ world’s. The length of the visits is irrelevant as long as it is within the hours which are Monday through Friday, 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. and weekends, 1:00 to 5:00 p.m.
The main audience for the museum are the students on campus. While this may be the most frequent case, any member of the public is welcome to stop by and view the artwork in the museum free of charge.