Collector lends Latin American art to museum

March 20, 2008|By TIFFANY ARNOLD

An exhibit at Mansion House Art Gallery covers 500 years of Latin American art history in 18 paintings.

The exhibit, "Latin American Art - Pre-Columbian to Modern," is on view through March at the Mansion House gallery at City Park.

The 18 pieces are from the personal collection of Cheryl M. Keyser, of Cascade, a freelance writer and scholar of Latin American culture.

"I want to introduce this to people so that they know what exists in Latin American art, that art is universal," Keyser said.


Keyser was born in Syracuse, N.Y. She studied Latin American history at Georgetown University and worked in Venezuela at the Venezuelan Embassy for 11 years. She said she has traveled to every Latin American country, though she said that she and her husband, Miguel Bomar, who is from Argentina, don't get to travel nowadays as much as they'd like.

The exhibit on view at Mansion house is a fraction of 20 years' worth of art buying for Keyser.

"It's an addictive hobby and an expensive one, but it gives you a chance to have good original art on your walls," Keyser said.

The collection includes pre-Columbian works - art created in indigenous Latin American cultures such as the Aztecs before they were contacted by European explorers. Keyser said there also are Colombian works, which have religious themes, 19th-century art created by European foreigners who interpreted on canvas what they saw on their visits to Latin America, and contemporary art, which is mostly abstract.

There also are pieces by Haitian artists, including Keyser's favorite, an untitled piece by an artist named R. Dubiton. Keyser said the painting was unique compared with what tourists might find when art shopping in Haiti.

"One of the things that's remarkable about this piece is the amount of sky you see," Keyser said. "More than two-thirds of this painting is sky and clouds with this yellowish tone, and you don't see human beings until you get to the lower third of the painting."

Jane and Wayne McKee of Hagerstown visited the exhibit on a recent Friday. The McKees fell in love with Latin American art 40 years ago after Wayne McKee's job as a consultant took them to Chile, where they lived for two years.

"That's why we are here, because we don't see much of that around here," said Jane McKee.

Keyser said she hoped the exhibit would be enjoyable for Latin American art lovers and also for newcomers to the genre.

"... It's always wise to open yourself up to other cultures," Keyser said. "... You learn, every time you're introduced to someone or something from another place in the world, you're experiencing a new way of looking at your own."

If you go ...

WHAT: "Latin American Art - Pre-Columbian to Modern," artwork from the personal collection of Cheryl M. Keyser

WHEN: The exhibit is on view through Sunday, March 30. Gallery hours are 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays; 1 to 5 p.m. Sundays. The gallery is closed if Washington County public schools are closed due to weather.

WHERE: Mansion House Art Gallery, City Park, Hagerstown. The park is at 501 Virginia Ave. Mansion House is along Highland Way, the western edge of the park. A nearby parking lot is off Park Driveway, which is off Virginia Avenue.

COST: Free

MORE: Call the gallery at 301-797-6813

Photos by Ric Dugan/Staff Photographer

Cheryl Keyser displays 18 pieces of Latin American art from her personal collection at Mansion House Art Gallery in City Park.

An untitled image of the Virgin Mria is featured in an exhibit of Latin American art at Mansion House Art Gallery. The piece is from the private collection of Cheryl Keyser.

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