American, b. 1930
TARGET WITH FOUR FACES, 1968
Screenprint on Rives paper
Edition: 100, plus 10AP
Publisher: Jasper Johns (in part for the benefit of the Merce Cunningham Dance Co.)
Printer: Aetna Printing Company
Museum Purchase, 1987.7.1
LIMITED EDITIONS: 20th-Century Prints from the Ponderosa Collection
February 23-April 27, 2008
Opening on February 23, The Dayton Art Institute displays LIMITED EDITIONS: 20th-Century Prints from the Ponderosa Collection. Works by such renowned artists as Jasper Johns, Robert Rauschenberg, Jim Dine, Julian Schnabel, Susan Rothenberg and David Salle are among those featured in the collection of more than 100 limited edition prints – a collection with a history unique to Dayton itself.
In 1987, The Dayton Art Institute made a bold and unprecedented move: in less than a week, the museum’s director and board of trustees secured a $1.5 million loan to purchase the contemporary art collection of Ponderosa, Inc., the Dayton-based chain of steak restaurants. The corporate collection, which encompassed more than 300 paintings, sculptures, prints, drawings, and photographs, offered a virtual survey of American art in the second half of the 20th century.
Due to their sensitivity to light, most of the prints in the Ponderosa Collection have remained in storage at The Dayton Art Institute since they were purchased in 1987. Some prints have never before been on public display, while others have not been seen in years. “LIMITED EDITIONS features some of the most important examples of the flourishing of American printmaking from the late 1960s to the mid-1980s and testifies to the enthusiasm of the Dayton citizens in assuring that this outstanding collection stayed in the community,” said Janice Driesbach, Director and CEO of The Dayton Art Institute. “The exhibition promises to be visually exciting and a celebration of community support for the arts.”
The period of time represented by the prints in LIMITED EDITIONS mirrors the collecting years of Ponderosa, Inc. (1968 -1987). Established in the late 1960s, Ponderosa grew quickly, built modern headquarters in Dayton, and began collecting art. The company focused on contemporary American art; especially art that might be considered cutting edge. While Ponderosa CEO Gerald Office provided the inspiration for the collection, Cincinnati gallery owner Carl Solway supplied the artistic vision.
The Ponderosa Collection might have remained a footnote in Dayton history if not for Solway and the inspired work and contributions of The Dayton Art Institute’s leadership in 1987. That was the year Ponderosa was the target of a leveraged buyout by a New York investor who quickly sought to “liquidate” all “non-essential assets.” It was Solway who called then museum director Bruce Evans about the impending sale of the art at auction. By this time, the collection – which had been accessible for tours throughout the years – had come to be viewed as an essential part of community cultural life.
The purchase of the Ponderosa collection was lauded by the community and supported by a fundraising campaign entitled “The Art of Our Time.” While the art is no longer exactly “of our time,” it is still timely, fresh, and representative of some of the best work from the period.
LIMITED EDITIONS: 20th-Century Prints from the Ponderosa Collection is on view at The Dayton Art Institute from February 23 to April 27. Steve R. Rauch, Inc. is the exhibition sponsor.
For more information please visit: The Dayton Art Institute