65 Artists, 65 Years: An Anniversary Exhibition

February 11 – September 8, 2024

Author: Jeremiah William McCarthy, Chief Curator  

In 2024, The Westmoreland Museum of American Art celebrates the 65th anniversary of officially opening its doors to the public. Originally established through the generous bequest of Mary Marchand Woods, a Greensburg resident with a vision for her community, the Museum serves as an enduring symbol of and catalyst for arts and culture in the region and beyond. An experimental, responsive, and self-reflective take on The Westmoreland’s permanent collection, 65 Artists, 65 Years: An Anniversary Exhibition presents artworks from well-known artists such as Mary Cassatt, John Kane, and Thaddeus Mosley, as well as lesser-known figures such as Alex Fletcher and Elijah Pierce.

Organized as a timeline with thematic interludes, the exhibition starts with a retrospective look at the Museum’s inaugural exhibition, 250 Years of Art in Pennsylvania, which presented some of the first artworks acquired for the collection. Sections that follow address key moments in the Museum’s story, such as the acquisition of groupings of deep holdings—multiple artworks by a single artist that provide insight into their development and body of work. For example, The Westmoreland has nearly fifty artworks each by path-breaking women artists Dorothy Lauer Davids and Rachel McClelland Sutton.

Dorothy Lauer Davids, Saying Grace, date unknown. Oil on board, 29 1/2 x 40 in. Gift of Robert Errett, family and friends in memory of Pam Errett
Dorothy Lauer Davids, Saying Grace, date unknown. Oil on board, 29 1/2 x 40 in. Gift of Robert Errett, family and friends in memory of Pam Errett

The exhibition also celebrates the pivotal role played by transformative gifts of art in defining the Museum’s identity and fostering its growth. Whether arriving at the Museum as purchases, gifts from remarkable collectors, or gifts from artists, such artworks have meant so much to generations of visitors. In one instance in 2008, with the acquisition of more than 200 fraktur gathered by area residents Joy and David Brocklebank, The Westmoreland became home to the most historically significant examples of this tradition in the county, preserving the stories of countless early Pennsylvanians from all walks of life.

Throughout the decades, exhibitions and programming explored the interplay between artistic categories within American art, such as “regional” and “national,” and “fine” and “folk” arts. 65 Artists, 65 Years addresses such moments, upending traditional categories and allowing for new narratives, juxtapositions, and conversations. By placing modern artists like Ben Shahn and Robert Gwathmey alongside self-taught traditions like Ammi Phillips’s portraiture or the numerous contributions of once-known folk artists, the exhibition highlights evolving ideas about American identity and national character in art.

Artist & Community Voices

And finally, the exhibition ends with the importance of artist and community voices in shaping The Westmoreland’s path forward. 65 Artists, 65 Years provides a platform for community engagement, where individuals connected to The Westmoreland share their stories of the Museum and visions for its future. At 65 years, the Museum is thinking about its role and responsibility to foster conversations that will cultivate an understanding of artistic expression, illuminate the interconnectedness of American stories, and value underrepresented perspectives. We invite you to join us on this forward-looking journey, celebrating 65 years of art, culture, and community at The Westmoreland.

65 Artists, 65 Years: An Anniversary Exhibition is supported by the
Richard C. von Hess Foundation and The Heinz Endowments.