July 4, 2008 - "American Masters"

After you have seen the fireworks and filled up at the cookout, you might consider spending part of the Fourth of July weekend with some great Americans. They are some of the best America has to offer. Art from Robert Henri's 1900 painting of East River Snow to the '60s pop art of Robert Indiana--Highball on the Redball Manifest. Forty American masters are on loan from the Blanton Museum at the University of Texas. The art is from the Mari and James A. Michener collection. Michener, you will recall, is the icon of American novelists--South Pacific, Hawaii and many more.

Chief Curator Victoria Cooke says, "He was once referred to as being as American as apple pie and the Fourth of July. So I mean it's a great celebration of the ingenuity and the freedom of American art."

From William Groper's 1960 send-up of politicians to Kenneth Hayes Miller's 1940 Sidewalk Merchant, it's a walk-through textbook of 20th Century art.

"They were all over the place," says Cooke. "I mean they really experimented in all these different ways. What you see in the exhibit, too, are a lot of different styles of painting, not just one style, and that's what's great about it. That's what makes it so American."

A timeline links the life of James Michener with popular culture--even the Slinky--also world history and Louisiana history."

The Michener collection of American masters will be here through November.