Catching the Moment celebrates the acquisition in 2020 of 833 works of contemporary art assembled by Ted L. and Maryanne Ellison Simmons. Comprised primarily of prints—and including a painting, drawings, collages, photographs, and editioned sculptures—the collection features a diverse group of more than 40 artists predominately active in the United States. It represents a transformative addition to the Museum’s holdings, particularly in works on paper and American art of the last 60 years. The exhibition features more than 200 works selected from this collection.
Focusing on art and artists of their own time, the Simmonses formed a collection that provides a critique of broad social, political, and art historical issues. These include H.C. Westermann’s nightmarish evocations of the Pacific chapter of World War II, Enrique Chagoya’s wide-ranging postcolonial critique, Kiki Smith’s explorations of the body and self as well as environmental concerns, and Jaune Quick-to-See Smith’s forceful foregrounding of Native American history.
Other highlights of the exhibition are Enrique Chagoya’s La-K-La-K, Bruce Conner’s BOMBHEAD, Helen Frankenthaler’s Savage Breeze, Kiki Smith’s Pool of Tears II (after Lewis Carroll), Kara Walker’s Keys to the Coop, and H. C. Westermann’s Connecticut Ballroom.
Ted Simmons is a former St. Louis Cardinals catcher and switch-hitter who was named to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2020. Maryanne Ellison Simmons is a fine art printer and publisher who established her own publishing enterprise, Wildwood Press, in 1996. Their collecting draws on Maryanne’s professional expertise, yet it is a true partnership in which they are both highly knowledgeable, committed, and engaged. The collection is notable for its depth in certain artists, including Kiki Smith, Enrique Chagoya, and Tom Huck, as well as for the quality and rarity of the works the Simmonses sought out.
Catching the Moment: Contemporary Art from the Ted L. and Maryanne Ellison Simmons Collection is curated by Elizabeth Wyckoff, curator of prints, drawings, and photographs; Clare Kobasa, assistant curator of prints, drawings, and photographs; and Andrea L. Ferber, the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Fellow for Prints, Drawings, and Photographs.