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Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Curating Cincinnati’s Treasures: Cincinnati Art Museum’s Julie Aronson

Duveneck Gallery in the Cincinnati Wing of the CAM
By Mary Casey-Sturk
Photos, except where indicated, by Mary Casey-Sturk

Dr. Julie Aronson may be a native of Boston, but she has been calling Cincinnati home since 1999.  As Curator of American Paintings, Sculpture and Drawings at the Cincinnati Art Museum, she has shared her passion for American artists with visitors from near and far.  Aronson was on the curatorial team that created the Cincinnati Wing - highlighting the history of our community and celebrating its artists-including Frank Duveneck, Edward Henry Potthast and Maria Longworth (of Rookwood Pottery) to name a few. 
As the authority on St. Louis born sculptor Bessie Potter Vonnoh, she organized a touring exhibition of her work and wrote the catalogue Bessie Potter Vonnoh: Sculptor of Women (2008). Vonnoh’s sculptures are delicate, yet strong at the same time. They depict women, motherhood, children and other themes in detail that makes you want to touch them, hug them, or at times, dance along to their beauty.
Julie Aronson (Photo by Mikki Schaffner)
 Like Vonnoh, Aronson has been bringing beauty into our world by showcasing the best of American artists with her exhibits, lectures and scholarship.

Residing in Columbia Tusculum with her three cats (Bessie, Cassatt and Morisot- named in honor of artists Bessie Potter Vonnoh, Mary Cassatt and Berthe Morisot), Aronson is a long-time volunteer for Save The Animals Foundation and was recently named their volunteer of the year, thus earning the coveted Golden Paw. 
Clearly a fan of artists, we asked Aronson who her favorites were. “I like John Singer Sargent and Cincinnati artist, Elizabeth Nourse, who was someone I learned more about once I moved to Cincinnati”, replied Aronson.
Coming off a busy year working on popular exhibitions including A Shared Legacy: Folk Art in America and Van Gogh: Into the Undergrowth (with a terrific attendance total of nearly 60,000), Aronson still finds time to volunteer, do a little traveling and lend her expertise to Museum colleagues from many parts of the globe. 
Aronson shared upcoming plans for an exhibition featuring the works of Frank Duveneck (1848-1919). Set to be on display in 2020 (exact dates to be announced), the exhibition will examine his work including paintings, drawings, pastels and sculpture. The first major exhibit of his work in 30 years, it will be accompanied by a publication she is currently researching and writing. 
Cincinnati Art Museum
For those who cannot wait that long, the Cincinnati Art Museum has a wonderful collection of his work and some of his wife, Elizabeth Boott Duveneck. You can examine their works, learn their story (she tragically died on their wedding anniversary), and find out more about the Covington-born Duveneck’s local roots, his peers and pupils, his time spent in Europe and his final years teaching at the Art Academy of Cincinnati. Fun fact: the third floor of the Museum was once his studio and is open to the public as gallery space today.
When pressed on what “not to miss” if you visit the Museum, Aronson was thoughtful and proud in her response to encourage you to visit the galleries that comprise the Cincinnati Wing (opened in 2003), “You’ll get a sense of what came from our community and the importance of the city to the history of art.” We couldn’t agree more.
The Cincinnati Art Museum is located at 953 Eden Park Drive, Cincinnati, 45202.  513-721-ARTS (2787).  Open Tuesday-Sunday, 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Open until 8 p.m. on Thursdays.
Free admission to permanent collection.  Please visit

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