On March 26, we celebrated the opening of the exhibition Craft, Commitment, Community featuring the influential work of Katharine Steele Renninger. A local artistic icon and one of the Museum’s founding trustees, Renninger (1925-2004) dedicated her career to preserving in paint the achievements of Bucks County citizens: the honest craft and design found in architectural structures and handmade objects that represented a disappearing way of life.
Craft, Commitment, Community highlights the 2008 gift of Renninger’s archive to the Museum, including a treasure trove of early sketchbooks, scrapbooks, and travel studies that trace her artistic and professional development. The archival materials and correspondence reveals why audiences continue to appreciate her work, finding in it a reflection of themselves, their values, and their childhood memories. A self-described “abstract realist,” this exhibition showcases Renninger’s role as a bridge between the region’s art historical past and its present.
“We are honored to have the opportunity to celebrate such an influential artist– again–in our community,” said Lisa Tremper Hanover, director and CEO of the Michener Art Museum. “In discussions about the achievements of local artists, Katharine Steele Menninger’s name is invariably invoked.”
A 1946 graduate of Moore College of Art and Design in Philadelphia, Renninger developed a deep commitment to both her studio practice and to her community. She worked for decades to establish an arts center that would support the significant art history of the region, and eventually became a founding trustee of the James A. Michener Art Museum.
Craft, Commitment, Community exhibition is on display in the Fred Beans Gallery through June 12. The Michener Art Museum will also host a Curator’s Conversation on Wednesday, May 4 with Guest Curator Liz K. Sheehan in conjunction with the exhibition.
Craft, Commitment, Community is generously supported by The Pfundt Family Foundation, Jim and Tina Greenwood, and an anonymous donor.