Booth Western Art Museum celebrates 15th anniversary

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On Saturday, country music artist Marty Stuart helped the Booth Western Art Museum kick off its 15th anniversary with a pair of events. Along with delivering a lecture at the Cartersville venue, he also performed at The Grand Theatre.

"[The] event on Saturday went very well," said Seth Hopkins, executive director for the Booth. "People loved hearing Marty’s stories about how he captured the images in the exhibition and his life story, which is wrapped up in the images as well. And the concert was over the top. Definitely a great great way to celebrate our 15th anniversary. However it really is just the first of a year full of events helping commemorate our 15 years of service.

"Up next will be the opening of a major Frederic Remington exhibition," he said, referring to "Treasures From the Frederic Remington Art Museum and Beyond," which will start welcoming visitors Sept. 8. "… We will also be offering a show called 'Treasures From the Vault — 15 years of Collecting at the Booth.' This will allow us to showcase things we may have been collecting but not exhibiting yet in our galleries. Although we are a very young museum, we do have a fair amount of material in storage, and it will be fun to share some of these objects with the public for the first time."

While the opportunity to see Stuart in concert at The Grand has passed, area residents still can view his photography in the Booth's Picturing America Gallery.

Organized by the Frist Art Museum in Tennessee, "American Ballads: The Photographs of Marty Stuart" will be on display through Nov. 18. Consisting of 84 images, the exhibit contains three themes: Badlands, Blue Line Hot Shots and The Masters.

According to https://boothmuseum.org, "A veteran of the country music industry, Marty Stuart is much more than a master musician — he is a producer, writer, historian, collector, curator and photographer. In fact, the Mississippi native has been taking photographs nearly as long as he has played guitar. This exhibition features Stuart’s documentary photography of American culture through country music singers and songwriters, local characters encountered on tour and the Lakota Tribe of North Dakota."

Describing his composition as "excellent," Lisa Wheeler — director of curatorial services for the Booth — shared Stuart has a gift for capturing an "incredibly personal photograph." Referencing The Masters section, she noted some of her favorite images in the exhibit are portraits of musicians.

"The third theme is The Masters," she said. "By age 13, Marty was on the road playing mandolin in Lester Flatt’s band and suddenly had access to some of country music’s most famous stars. At the time, jazz musician Milt Hinton was photographing his fellow jazz artists. Marty admired those photographs and wanted to photograph country music artists to preserve their history as well. He called his mother and asked for a Kodak Instamatic camera and began to document life on the road. Twenty-eight photographs make up this section of the exhibit.

"When asked about my favorite photograph in the exhibit, I can’t name just one. All the photos are exceptional but I am drawn to The Masters section and especially the portraits. My favorite four are the one of Marty’s wife, Connie Smith, 1997; Tom Petty, 1997; Willie Nelson, 1994; and Johnny Cash feeding Snorkle, his pig, and Theodore the turkey on his farm in 1982. I think I’m attracted to those because I have lived through those years and that history and connect with it."

Situated at 501 Museum Drive, the Booth is known worldwide for its extensive collection of contemporary Western art. The 120,000-square-foot venue became an Affiliate of the Smithsonian Institution in 2006. The museum offers a variety of exhibit spaces, some of which include the Civil War gallery; Sculpture Court; a presidential gallery; the “Picturing America” photography gallery; and the interactive children’s gallery, Sagebrush Ranch.

"For the museum, it is a chance to look back and review all that has been accomplished over a very productive 15 years filled with highlights," Hopkins said. "For me personally, it is humbling to look back at how many people have gotten involved in the museum as volunteers, docents, members and patrons allowing us to accomplish so many great things. I also think of all the great staff members who have been part of the Booth story and have contributed so much to making us successful. While museums are generally looked at as big buildings full of things, we have always tried to look at it as a big building where cool and interesting things happened and where people become educated, enlightened and entertained.

"While there are many numbers we could throw out as notable accomplishments, I think the most important thing the museum has done is move Cartersville towards becoming a more arts-centered community and to become the focal point and meeting place for artists and collectors to meet each other and have a place where they can share their mutual interests and love of art in a way that creates lifelong friendships."

Further details about the Booth can be obtained by calling 770-387-1300 or visiting http://boothmuseum.org.