A Feeling of Humanity: Western Art from the Ken Ratner Collection
Sept. 30, 2015 – January 3, 2016
This collection of contemporary Western Art is the latest gathering of pieces by New York City collector Ken Ratner. Ratner, who has an extensive collection from the Ashcan school of painters and interests in many periods of art history, began to make a conscientious effort to look for artists that were painting scenes of everyday western life; not realist city painters as Robert Henri and Thomas Eakins or those that looked back to the romance of westward expansion for their inspiration as Charles Russell and Frederic Remington. In 2008, he discovered the work of Gary Ernest Smith, a living regionalist painter who said that “art is a way of addressing humanity.” Ratner found Phil Epp, Tony Eubanks, Caroline Norton and many others who were representing the human experience in an honest way. Ratner describes their subject matter as “vital, real, truth,” seeking “inherent beauty in the commonplace.”
In this exhibition are 74 glimpses into something beautiful an artist saw or a story they wanted to tell. There is, in each one, sensitivity to what it means to respect people and place. A feeling of humanity connects them all together.
It requires an observant eye to see beauty in simple things. Many of these painters skillfully turn the simple into the sublime; capturing a burst of light through the clouds, brilliant colors in nature, the pleasing shape of a figure.
“A Feeling of Humanity” also offers a glimpse into the activities of an art collector. While Ratner is an avid collector, he is very humble and accessible in his means of collecting; purchasing pieces that are modest in size and price. Ratner lends entire collections of his, such as this one; to museums because he feels it is important to honor the artists’ wish to not just have one collector enjoy their work but to have many people see their pictures. Bone Creek Museum is the last stop on this collection’s tour from New York to Utah at four different art museums.