Dr. Leo Mazow Appointed to the American Art Department

The Virginia Museum of Fine Arts has named Dr. Leo G. Mazow as the Louise B. and J. Harwood Cochrane Curator and Head of the Department of American Art. Mazow comes to VMFA from his role as associate professor of art history at the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville. He will begin his new post at the close of the academic year in June 2016.

“Leo Mazow brings a wealth of curatorial experience to VMFA,” said Michael Taylor, VMFA chief curator and deputy director for art and education. “He is also a thought leader in his field, having won the prestigious 2013 Eldredge Prize for Distinguished Scholarship in American Art. This combination of curatorial expertise and scholarly credentials was exactly what we were looking for in this national search. We are therefore delighted he will lead the American Art department during this pivotal moment in its history.”

From 2002 to 2010, Dr. Mazow was Curator of American art at the Palmer Museum of Art at Penn State University. During his time at the Palmer, he organized a number of critically acclaimed traveling exhibitions, all of which were accompanied by scholarly publications, including Picturing the Banjo (2005-6); Taxing Visions: Financial Episodes in Late Nineteenth-Century American Art (2010-11); and Shallow Creek: Thomas Hart Benton and American Waterways (2007-8). His book Thomas Hart Benton and the American Sound was awarded the 2013 Eldredge Prize for Distinguished Scholarship in American Art, presented by the Smithsonian American Art Museum. Dr. Mazow has also published peer reviewed articles on Regionalism, New York Dada, and American landscape painting in such scholarly journals as Art Bulletin, American Art, and Winterthur Portfolio. He received his B.A. from the University of Denver in 1986, followed by his M.A. from the University of Colorado, Boulder in 1989. Dr. Mazow was awarded his Ph.D. at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 1996, where his dissertation focused on the work and reception of the 19th-century American artist George Inness. In 2015, he held a Paul Mellon Senior Visiting Fellowship at the Center for Advanced Study in the Visual Arts at the National Gallery of Art, where he worked on his forthcoming book project, Hopper’s Hotels, which will also be the subject of his first exhibition project at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts.

VMFA Director Alex Nyerges said: “Leo Mazow is an outstanding curator and scholar of American Art, evidenced by his fantastic track record of organizing exhibitions, pursuing opportunities for fellowships, scholarly publications, public lectures and symposiums. I am confident that we have found the best candidate to lead this important department at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts.”

The American art department will play a key role in the implementation of VMFA’s new strategic plan, which includes a major initiative to acquire important works by African American artists in line with the museum’s efforts to reach new and diverse audiences. The initiative complements the department’s ongoing effort to develop a comprehensive collection of American art from the colonial period to 1950. This includes a permanent collection of master works acquired in large part through the J. Harwood and Louise B. Cochrane Fund of American art, important philanthropists after whom the position is named. In addition, Dr. Mazow will oversee the James W. and Frances Gibson McGlothlin Collection of American Art, which opened to the public on November 24, 2015. Representing one of the most important donations in the museum’s history, this collection consists of 73 paintings dating from 1830 to 1930 with particular concentration on works by John Singer Sargent, William Merritt Chase, and George Bellows.

“I am very excited to have been appointed as the new Louise B. and J. Harwood Cochrane Curator of American Art at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts,” Mazow said. “VMFA has a time-honored history of making the visual arts accessible and meaningful through visually stunning and culturally probing exhibitions, as well as accompanying publications and programming. It is an honor to be a member of the curatorial team that effectively makes these happen. Particularly exciting is the recent installation of the James W. and Frances Gibson McGlothlin Collection of American Art. So strong in Ashcan, American Impressionism, and other styles, this addition joins gifts by other collectors from Virginia, including the Cochranes, that have made the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts one of the most important centers for the study and appreciation of American art in all its richness and complexity.”

About the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts
VMFA’s permanent collection encompasses more than 33,000 works of art spanning 5,000 years of world history. Its collections of Art Nouveau and Art Deco, English silver, Fabergé, and the art of South Asia are among the finest in the nation. With acclaimed holdings in American, British Sporting, Impressionist and Post-Impressionist, and Modern and Contemporary art – and additional strengths in African, Ancient, East Asian, and European – VMFA ranks as one of the top comprehensive art museums in the United States. Programs include educational activities and studio classes for all ages, plus lively after-hours events. VMFA’s Statewide Partnership program includes traveling exhibitions, artist and teacher workshops, and lectures across the Commonwealth. VMFA, a certified Virginia Green attraction, is open 365 days a year and general admission is always free. For additional information, telephone 804-340-1400 or visit www.vmfa.museum.

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