New show at Jundt Art Museum inspired by our pandemic lives, and desire to share spaces

Emily Trueblood's Barrow Street, 1975
Emily Trueblood's Barrow Street, 1975

Oh, quarantine. A word that has appeared too often within the past year and a half. A word that means everyone is likely fed up with being in their own space and itching to get back out in the world.

Then, finally, some relief was found when people slowly started going back to work and we got to be in a space with other people again, in spaces that were not just us alone with our thoughts.

That's what motivated Anna Stiles, guest curator for the Jundt Art Museum at Gonzaga's fall exhibit, Staying Home: Interior Views from the Collection of the Jundt Art Museum, when she was selecting pieces for the exhibit.

"I kind of was spending a lot of time thinking about how we had all just been quarantining and how nice it was to be back at work, but thinking about being in an interior space and then thinking about how artists depict their own interior spaces or other people's interior spaces," says Stiles, former registrar at the Jundt.

The Staying Home exhibit features over 20 prints, photos and paintings culled from the Jundt's permanent collection. In fact, all of the exhibits at the Jundt this year feature artwork only from the museum's permanent collection because of the unpredictability of COVID-19, says Paul Manoguerra, the museum's director and curator.

As Stiles began exploring the database of artwork at the Jundt, she found that many of the pieces fit the theme of interior spaces. She also started looking at how and why the artists whose work is in the collection were depicting interior spaces.

Staying Home features contemporary artwork, with the earliest piece being from the 1940s and the most recent piece from the early 2000s, Stiles says. The art styles of pieces in the show are varied, and some have been in shows at the Jundt before while others are being shown for the first time at the museum.

"One of the things that I was interested in was sort of some of the works feel really still, thinking about interior views as a still-life, and usually you know, no people are included in those views of rooms, but then there's also some that do include figures and kind of force us to think about ourselves in the space too, or they feel like they have a lot more movement," Stiles says.

click to enlarge Byron Randall's Untitled [Water Street], 1958
Byron Randall's Untitled [Water Street], 1958

The exhibit is organized into four themes, including "Interior Views as a Familiar Still Life," "Time, Place, and Nostalgia," "The Artist's Studio," and "Personal Space." Beginning Aug. 28, visitors for the Jundt will be able to walk in and enjoy the artwork, no appointment required, although all visitors are required to wear a mask regardless of vaccination status, Manoguerra says.

Room with Space by Andrew Alan Totman and Seventh Season by Will Barnet are two of Stiles' favorite pieces in the show.

Room with Space is a print with a large figure taking up space in the shape of a house, with stars above the figure. It captures the feeling of being trapped in your own space but still being able to look outside, which reminded Stiles of the pandemic and how anxious everyone was to get out of their own spaces, she says.

Seventh Season is special to Stiles because it was in the first exhibit she saw at the Jundt when she worked there, and she loves the cat in it and the implied sense of other people and objects in the room that are just out of view, she says.

Stiles says that the exhibit is a nice break from our own interior spaces, and that going to museums can allow us to get lost in the images and be invited into the artists' lives.

"We are used to being inside our own homes or offices or studios, but seeing someone else's space feels like this private invitation, kind of a little tour of their home, and it's like a little peek behind the curtain, and I think that idea is fun," Stiles says. ♦

Staying Home: Interior Views from the Collection of the Jundt Art Museum • Aug. 28-Dec. 31, Mon-Fri 10 am-3 pm • free • Jundt Art Museum, Gonzaga • 200 E. Desmet • gonzaga.edu • 509-313-6843