Faces of the Heartland: James R. Hopkins showcases the work of one of the art world s first regionalist painters when it opens Aug. 19 at the Springfield Museum of Art. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO BY BOB BINGHEIMER

Springfield Art Museum to showcase the work of famous Ohio painter

A window into time through the works of an artistic pioneer will be the focus of the Springfield Museum of Art’s next exhibition.

“Faces of the Heartland: James R. Hopkins” showcases the work of one of the art world’s first regionalist painters and an Ohio native highlighted by his figural and portrait works of the residents of Cumberland, Ky. in the early part of the 20th Century.

The exhibit, much of which hasn’t been viewed together in 40 years, will open Saturday, Aug. 19 and continue during museum hours through Nov. 17.

The Springfield Museum already had two Hopkins works in its permanent collection. But the museum jumped on the opportunity to bring in the traveling exhibit organized by the Columbus Museum of Art and Keny Galleries.

Regionalist painting is part of the American realist modern art movement in which the works reflect realistic conditions of American small towns and rural areas, especially those in the South and Midwest.

Hopkins was invited by a coal baron to use his figurative painting skills to capture the locals of Cumberland, Ky. and the Appalachian area including kids, farmers and others from 1915-1919.

“His works are great examples of one of the first regionalist painters,” said Museum Curator Erin Shapiro. “They really offer insight into the time period and people.”

The exhibition will have 50 works. The museum will have a tie-in of sorts in a few weeks with an exhibit of Hopkins’ wife, Edna Boies Hopkins’ art.

Shapiro said such exhibitions are examples of the varied types of art the museum wants to bring in, from the modern recyclable art of Michelle Stitzlein to installation and performance art from local young artists in the recent Vanity Deficit exhibit to the classic regionalist work of Hopkins.

“Our goal is to provide different experiences over the months,” she said. “We view the museum as community outreach to show people works and ideas, education and insight.”

An opening reception for “Faces of the Heartland” will be Sept. 23 at the museum.

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