SAVANNAH, GA (February 5, 2018) One of Savannah’s most scenic locales, Bonaventure Cemetery, is the subject of a unique exhibition at Telfair Museums this spring. Drawn primarily from Telfair’s collections, Bonaventure: A Historic Cemetery in Art includes paintings, prints, photographs, and sculpture inspired by or connected to the infamous burial ground. This distinctively Savannahian exhibition, opening on March 2, 2018, brings together Bonaventure and the world of art at the Jepson Center.
First established as a plantation in the 1760s, Bonaventure was visited by artists as early as the 1830s. Bonaventure also holds many connections to Telfair Museums, including the resting places of museum founder Mary Telfair and its first director Carl Brandt.
Artists inspired by Bonaventure’s moss-draped avenues of oaks and funerary sculpture include 19th century painters Thomas Addison Richards and Henry Cleenewerck. Photographers likewise discovered the cemetery, which became a popular subject for photographic stereopticon cards. The cemetery’s celebrated funerary art was created by international and local sculptors, including the German-born John Walz.
Bonaventure appears in 20th century works by local painters such as Hattie Saussy and by photographers Edward Weston and Jack Leigh. Leigh’s iconic image of Sylvia Shaw Judson’s bronze sculpture The Bird Girl was commissioned in 1993 for the cover of John Berendt’s bestseller Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil. The book cemented Bonaventure’s reputation as one of the world’s most distinctive and aesthetically appealing cemeteries.
Bonaventure: A Historic Cemetery in Art will be on view at the Jepson Center March 2– September 23, 2018.
Opening lecture panel: The Art and History of Bonaventure
Thursday, March 1, 6pm / Jepson Center
Museum members free/ Non-members $8
Learn more about the fascinating history and art of Bonaventure with a panel of short presentations. Local historians will provide background on the cemetery’s early history as a plantation, while the exhibition’s curator, Harry DeLorme, will discuss artists who have worked at the cemetery, and gallerist Susan Laney will explain the making of Jack Leigh’s iconic photograph “Midnight.”
Bonaventure Historical Society Free Guided Tours
Saturday, March 10, 2pm, and Sunday, March 11, 2pm, 2:30pm, 3pm / Bonaventure Cemetery
Free, donation suggested
Bonaventure painting workshop
Saturday-Sunday, March 24-25, 8am-5pm / Bonaventure Cemetery
Museum members $250/ Non-members $275
This two-day workshop will show the beginner to intermediate artist two approaches for plein air oil painting at Bonaventure Cemetery. Each day consists of eight hours of instruction and demonstrations ranging from pallet setup and notan sketching to the effects of light on color and simple compositions. No experience in plein-air painting is necessary however, basic painting skills are helpful.
This exhibition is organized by Telfair Museums and curated by Harry DeLorme, Senior Curator of Education.
Investment is provided by the City of Savannah Department of Cultural Affairs. Programs are also supported in part by the Georgia Council for the Arts. GCA also receives support from its partner agency—the National Endowment for the Arts.
About Telfair Museums:
Opened in 1886, Telfair Museums is the oldest public art museum in the South and features a world-class art collection in the heart of Savannah’s National Historic Landmark District. The museum encompasses three sites: the Jepson Center for the Arts, the Owens-Thomas House, and the Telfair Academy. For more information, call 912-790-8800 or visit www.telfair.org.