Marching to a different drum: Stars + Stripes

Last Friday, I was fortunate to be invited by Bathurst Regional Gallery to open their most recent exhibition, Stars + Stripes American Art of the 21st Century from the Goldberg Collection.

18 months ago now, at the suggestion of John Kaldor, I took a call from Danny Goldberg inquiring about the possibility of organising and touring an exhibition of ‘here & now’ American Art from his private collection. Danny and his wife Lisa had been collecting contemporary American art for some time, and they wanted to share their passion with audiences throughout the regional gallery network.

At that time, I was struck by two things; the Goldberg’s generosity, and Richard Perram’s enthusiasm to curate the show as part of Bathurst Regional Gallery’s impressive program of exhibitions and activities.

The significance of this exhibition should not go unannounced. It represents the first time in some 47 years that an exhibition of new American art has been shown in Australia. In 1967, names such as Warhol, Johns and Rauschenberg were included in Two Decades of American Art – toured by New York’s Museum of Modern Art.  

Names like Sterling Ruby, Jeff Elrod, Elad Lassry, Walead Beshty and Richard Aldrich will get audiences jumping out of their skins, as Stars + Stripes tours to Grafton, Manly, Cowra, Taree, Dubbo, Wagga and La Trobe over the coming months.

The fact that this new exhibition kicking off in regional NSW is, testament to both Bathurst Regional Council’s longstanding support for arts, culture and heritage, and to an Australian cultural maturity, where audiences no longer distinguish between place, quality or impact.

Several weeks ago I’d never been to America. In preparation for this show I thought I’d better go. Having just returned from 17 days in Manhattan and having in part been distracted by art, it was the liveliness of the place and its people that really entertained. While not all artists in this show are from New York I can’t help but feel that visitors to the exhibition will feel a similar and excited connection to the place where culture never sleeps. 

Michael Rolfe, M&G CEO

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