The exhibition In Quest of Beauty: The Art and Life of Junius R. Sloan (1827-1900) is the first in a series of exhibitions interpreting the permanent collection of the Brauer Museum of Art at Valparaiso University. It is part of a larger project entitled "Nature and Culture in American Art" which was made possible through a matching grant from the Indiana Humanities Council in cooperation with the National Endowment for the Humanities. Additional support was provided by the Sloan Endowment and Valparaiso University. This series was designed for teachers and students of all ages to use the museum's collection as a "visual library" to study the humanities through art. Each exhibition in the series was first realized as a pilot online exhibition which was discussed by a focus group of teachers in the humanities. To revisit the Sloan material, visit the Brauer Museum's website at: www.valpo.edu/artmuseum.
The Brauer Museum of Art is fortunate to own the "collection of record" of Junius Sloan, which includes over 400 paintings, watercolors, photographs, sketchbooks, letters and other documents pertaining to the artist. While this archival treasure records an artist's life in the 19th century, it also reveals a unique social history of the period. We are grateful to Percy H. Sloan, the son of the artist, for donating 276 works by Sloan, as well as 107 American paintings and a generous endowment fund "for the establishment, maintenance, and expansion of the collection." The remaining 124 Sloan paintings and documents were donated by J. Carson Webster and family descendants through the efforts of Richard H. W. Brauer, who has devoted years of research to Junius Sloan. Professor Brauer's work has been a labor of love and his scholarship has given Sloan a lasting legacy. It is Dick's passion for Sloan's work which has made the nineteenth century come alive in the minds and hearts of all of us who have had the distinct privilege of hearing Mr. Brauer speak so lovingly about this "gifted Great Lakes Region farm boy."
We gratefully acknowledge the loans from the Chicago Historical Society, the Essex Historical Society, Connecticut, and Gridley McKim Smith for the current exhibition. We are indebted to Ellen Brauer, John Feaster, Esther Sparks Sprague, and Ross Carmichael (VU 1999) for their editorial assistance. We especially want to thank John Paul Avila (Class of 2000) for the exceptional design of the brochure and our website. We want to acknowledge Gretchen Demuth (Class of 2000) and Kirsten Renahan of our Museum Education Committee for their unique contributions to the teacher packet. Every member of the Brauer Museum staff has contributed to the success of the exhibition. Particular mention must be made of the work of Juliet Istrabadi for her coordination and editing of the online project; Rebecca Simons for her work on the time line and coordination of events and publications; Christina Grevera for coordinating the loans and works of art, and Liz Wuerffel (Class of 2000) for her assistance. We also thank Wendy Barker (Class of 2000), Carl Galow, and Gerald Knarr for the installation of the exhibition.
We hope that visitors will come away with a richer under-standing of the range of artistry of Junius R. Sloan, as well as an appreciation of the way in which his life intersected with the social history of nineteenth-century America.
Rita E. McCarthy
Former Director/Chief Curator, Brauer Museum of Art