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Alexander Z. Kruse Exhibition
Lake Oconee News
Posted January 22, 2010

PCS TO PRESENT STUDENT ART EXHIBIT
On January 27, the Putnam County K-12 School will present their opening gala evening “South of Broadway: Original Works by Alexander Kruse (1888-1972)” for the first annual student curated art history exhibition in partnership with the Madison Museum of Fine Art (MMOFA) at The Plaza Art Center in historic Eatonton. The evening is open free to the public and will begin promptly at 6pm in the auditorium.

The evening will begin with a student created film on Kruse followed by a dramatization of the New York immigrant ghetto neighborhood that became home to Kruse and his Jewish immigrant extended family. Students will then perform stage music and street music reflective of that era in American history. Refreshments will be served to guests from pushcarts operated by street peddlers on 19th century Cannery Street, Broadway, Cannery Street, and East River. The highlight of the evening will be the opportunity for visitors to view Kruse paintings including the 1910 On the Fire Escape and etchings including Central Park. All works of art were gifted to MMOFA in 2007 by Bettijune Kruse of Pasadena, California in memory of Benedict W. Kruse (1925-2001) and Martin A. Kruse (1951-1998). The paintings are registered with the Smithsonian Institute of American Art.

Michele Bechtell, Director of MMOFA says, “This groundbreaking art exhibition is enhancing student learning, teacher learning, administration learning, and Museum learning. The students are learning art history at all grade levels; they are discovering how museums work; and they are gaining broad career skills including graphic design, journalism, and public speaking. Putnam teachers are gaining PUD (professional unit develop) credits for their work on the exhibition. And the Putnam School administration and MMOFA are learning how to advance effective partnership to enhance the quality of K-12 educational programming. What is especially exciting is that the materials the Putnam students are producing are being registered with the Huntington Library in California that maintains the Kruse archives. Their exhibition records will be available to other Museums in the future.”

Born to Jewish German and Russian immigrant parents, Kruse was raised in the overcrowded impoverished Lower East Side of Manhattan, New York with some areas housing over 700 people per acre. Despite difficult surroundings, the young Kruse was encouraged by prominent Ashcan artist George Luks to attend the East Side Educational Alliance. There Kruse studied alongside the Soyer brothers, Jacob Epstein, Leon Kroll, and Abraham Walkowitz.. Kruse later studied with Emil Carlson, and through the Art Student’s League, Kruse became a protégé of the American Eight especially John Sloan, Robert Henri, and Luks.

Kruse portrayed the noble character of the laborer and the refreshment he found in the un-crowded parks and countryside. In 1932, the Metropolitan Museum of art acquired six Kruse prints. And in 1933, a Kruse etching was selected by the Brooklyn Museum of Art for its exhibition, “The One Hundred Best Prints of the Year of American and European Artists.” Kruse also authored East of Broadway, a semi-autobiographical novel describing the poverty of his youth, and the best selling book How to Draw and Paint (1953, Barnes and Noble) that sold over 300,000 copies. He served as Art Critic for the Brooklyn Eagle for many years. Works by Kruse are held in the collections of the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the British Museum, the Victoria and Albert Museum, the Museum of Modern Art in Russia, and the Bibliotechque Nationale in Paris.

The Madison Museum of Fine Art (MMOFA) is a 501-c-3 charitable educational institution that collects, preserves, interprets and imaginatively displays original works of art by historically significant visual art masters for the education, edification, and spiritual nourishment of all persons living and traveling in the Southeastern United States. Located at 290 Hancock Street, Madison, Georgia, the museum is open free to the public. For more information, call 706-485-4530 or visit www.madisonmuseum.org .

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