Ralph Fasanella, “Subway Riders” (1950), oil on canvas, 28 x 60 inches, gift of Ralph and Eva Fasanella (photo by Adam Reich)

The American Folk Art Museum (AFAM) now has, for the first time, a space devoted solely to the exhibition of works from its permanent collection.

Founded in 1961, the museum has more than 8,000 paintings, textiles, sculpture, furniture, fraternal art, pottery, books, photographs, and works on paper by self-taught artists from the eighteenth through twenty-first centuries. The collection, described by The New York Times as “one of New York City’s great treasures,” will be shown in changing exhibitions. The Self-Taught Genius Gallery is located in Long Island City at the museum’s Collection and Education Center.

“The museum’s primary location in Manhattan is the site for monographs or thematic exhibitions, as well as home to our award-winning Museum Shop. But the vast holdings in our permanent collection have not had a place to be shown, studied, and enjoyed — until now,” says Anne-Imelda Radice, AFAM’s executive director. “A short trip on the 7 subway opens up a world of American folk art to visitors from anywhere in the five boroughs and beyond.” For the first six months, visitors to the gallery will receive a complimentary one-way MetroCard to facilitate their return to their point of origin. “It will underscore how fast and easy it is to visit the gallery from all parts of the city,” says Radice.

The new exhibition space is named the Self-Taught Genius Gallery to honor the critically acclaimed exhibition Self-Taught Genius: Treasures from the American Folk Art Museum, which was organized by the museum and toured nationally from 2014 through 2017. The Henry Luce Foundation funded that exhibition and also supports the Self-Taught Genius Gallery, with additional funding from the Booth Ferris Foundation and other sources. The Luce Foundation made a $350,000 two-year grant to support the first six exhibitions in the space and a term curatorial position.  Admission to the Self-Taught Genius Gallery is free. It will be open Monday through Thursday from 11 am to 5 pm.

The Self-Taught Genius Gallery’s first exhibition consists of highlights from the original Self-Taught Genius exhibition, and features, among others, works as diverse as Edward Hicks’ The Peaceable Kingdom, Lonnie Holley’s Don’t Go Crossing My Fence, Ammi Phillips’s Girl in Red Dress with Cat and Dog, a painting by Bill Traylor, Hannah Cohoon’s Shaker gift drawing A Tree of Light or Blazing Tree, and Dividing of the Ways by Anna Mary Robertson “Grandma” Moses.

The Self-Taught Genius Gallery opens today at the museum’s Collection and Education Center (47-29 32nd Place, Long Island City, Queens).

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