News from The Turner

May 7, 2008

Janet Turner’s Printmaking Legacy on Display at Final Turner/Chico Museum Exhibition, May 7-25

The 10-month long Treasures of the Turner exhibits at the Chico Museum, the largest showing ever of works from the Janet Turner Print Museum’s extensive art collection, ends in late May with a final exhibit reflecting Janet Turner's legendary role as an artist, teacher, and collector.

The exhibit, Janet Turner: Collector, Mentor, Teacher, will be the last of the seven Treasures of the Turner exhibits presented as a collaboration between the Janet Turner Print Museum and the Chico Museum.

The exhibit runs May 7-25 in the Chico Museum at First and Salem Streets; exhibition hours are Wednesday-Sunday noon-4 p.m. (Also on display at the Chico Museum during this time will be the 5th Annual Ink/Clay exhibition, a display of Chico State student ceramic work.)

So far the Treasures of the Turner exhibits have produced a combined more than 4,000 visitors to The Turner’s campus gallery, housed on the second floor of Laxson Auditorium, and the Chico Museum, noted Catherine Sullivan, Curator of The Turner. This is more than double the attendance of any other year since The Turner has presented exhibits just in its Laxson location.

“This is a clear example of the community benefit that occurs when high quality and historic fine art is made easily accessible to the general public," said Joel Zimbelman, Interim Dean of the College of Humanities and Fine Arts at CSU, Chico. "This final exhibit is really the capstone of Treasures of the Turner, as the public will gain a new understanding of the magnificent gift Janet Turner provided to the North State as both an artist and a teacher."

To celebrate the success of the Treasures of the Turner exhibitions, the Board of Directors of The Turner is hosting a champagne reception May 20 at the Chico Museum beginning at 5:30 p.m., with comments scheduled from CSU, Chico President Paul Zingg. For more information, please call 898-4476.

Turner, an internationally known printmaker and educator who died in 1988, donated 2,000 prints to start the museum. This exhibit will celebrate her passion for printmaking and commitment to her students.

“Her encouragement of personally significant subject matter and technical experimentation was an outgrowth of her own artistic life,” said Sullivan.

As an art education professor at CSU, Chico, Turner used her print collection spanning six centuries and 40 countries as a teaching vehicle. She was known to pin prints on the board, where students could see and touch original art of the masters — a much more dynamic experience for students than viewing slides.

The exhibit will show Turner’s impact on her students as well as the community through the works of other artists that she collected. Also included in the exhibition will be a selection of Vernon and Marie Fish’s collection of Turner’s work, two of Turner’s prints on loan from the Far West Heritage Association, and prints from former students.

“Janet Turner was an example, not only with her art work, techniques and dedication, but by sharing her knowledge and life experiences,” said Ruth Ormerod, a former student. “Sometimes the expression of her approval could be subtle, but when received it imparted a feeling of responsibility; an obligation to live up to her expectations.”

Turner’s successful artistic career caused her to have high expectations of student achievement while teaching in Texas and at CSU, Chico.

“In her time — the ‘50s, ’60s, and ’70s — female artists struggled to gain acknowledgement because their chances of teaching or exhibiting their works were often given to married men,” Sullivan said. “Turner’s triumph over the subtle discrimination impressed the students she mentored, particularly females.”

Her success in the artistic and working world inspired her students to follow in her footsteps.

“She was interested in our futures and would take students into her office to discuss careers in art,” said Paula Busch, a well-known local artist and former Turner student. “She subtly pushed students out of their working boundaries and made them try new things.”

The variety of subjects that Turner encouraged her students to make prints from mirrored the shifts in her own professional career. She started as an observer of dilapidated buildings and their history and later moved into environmental printmaking.

Her inclination to do prints of natural subjects will be demonstrated during the exhibit in the works being shown.

Turner’s fascination with printmaking showed through her extensive collection and vibrant personality.

“I worked at Turner’s home, where my duties ranged from trimming hedges to reclaiming silk screens,” said William E. Houck, who was mentored under Turner when he was a graduate student at Chico State. “But I also had the opportunity to learn from her insights and experiences in life and art. Beneath a non-demonstrative persona laid humor, passion, and aspirations.”

Janet Turner: Collector, Mentor, Teacher will celebrate Turner’s enduring contributions to those that she influenced most — her students — many who continue to honor her by exhibiting their works locally and around the world.

“Turner will always be greatly admired and respected in my heart,” said Sunanda Widel, another former Turner student. “The images of her fine work will always be in my mind, helping me strive for the perfection she attained.”

Admission to the exhibition is free and open to the public. For more information, or to arrange for a group tour, please contact Sullivan at 898-4476.