Mason museum features Louisville collection

“Untitled” by Lynda Benglis is part of the exhibit.

CADIZ, Ky. — With the blistering July heat persisting outside the Janice Mason Art Museum, Paula Lisowsky sits bundled up in a windbreaker inside the museum’s front office, a spare blanket a few feet away.

The museum is hosting a new exhibit, “The Dorothy and Herbert Vogel Collection: Fifty Works from Fifty States,” on loan from the Speed Art Museum in Louisville. In loaning the exhibit though, the Speed museum stipulated that the gallery be kept at 70 degrees Fahrenheit while the pieces are displayed.

Many of the exhibit’s pieces are works on paper, Lisowsky said, and the Speed museum fears that high temperatures may damage them. The Mason museum also has to limit the pieces’ exposure to light — inside the museum’s gallery, most of the windows are now covered with black panels.

Lisowsky worries some about the museum’s electric bills, but is excited to have the collection on display. It features work from 1960s artists such as Lynda Benglis and Pat Steir and other artists such as Charles Clough, Ron Gorchov and Edda Renouf.

The pieces were compiled by Dorothy and Herbert Vogel, a New York couple who collected mostly minimalist and conceptual art over four decades. The Vogels used Dorothy’s salary as a reference librarian at the Brooklyn Public Library to cover their living expenses, using Herbert’s salary from the U.S. Postal Service for art acquisitions. Their collection now exceeds 4,000 pieces.

The Speed museum’s exhibit contains 50 pieces, 43 of which were loaned for the Mason show. The Speed museum is planning a major renovation that will stretch over the next three years, Lisowsky said, and is loaning several of its exhibits to museums around the country.

More than the art itself, Lisowsky is excited about the story behind the exhibit.

“The story is fabulous,” she said. “These people had no money and they collected really important mid-century art just on a pittance. I’m just thrilled to death that they did it.”

The exhibit will be on display through Aug. 26. The Mason museum is open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday and 1-4 p.m. on Sunday. The museum is at 71 Main St.

REACH DENNIS O’NEIL at 270-887-3237

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