Museum highlights a Georgia collection

Thomas Sully’s painting “Mother and Two Children,” is part of the “Bloom Where You’re Planted: The Collection of Deen Day Sanders” exhibition on view at the Georgia Museum of Art May 19 to July 29.

The exhibition “Bloom Where You’re Planted: The Collection of Deen Day Sanders” features a vibrant and highly varied collection of American works of art, on view at the Georgia Museum of Art at the University of Georgia from May 19 to July 29.

The collector is noted for her philanthropy to the University of Georgia and the State Botanical Garden of Georgia. She has served as president of the Garden Club of Georgia, National Garden Clubs Inc. and, most recently, as vice president of the World Association of Floral Artists, as well as on the boards of the Atlanta Botanical Gardens, the U.S. Botanic Garden and the Diplomatic Reception Rooms in Washington, D.C. She has also spent a significant portion of her life building one of the most notable art collections in the state of Georgia, at Bellmere, the home of Deen and Jim Sanders.

Bloom Where You’re Planted” is a singular opportunity for visitors to see that collection. The exhibition will allow the public to view a cohesive collection that tells a story both of American life and of Sanders’ support of the State Botanical Garden, art and all things that grow.

Dating from the 19th to the early 20th century, the paintings, furniture, porcelain and other works in the exhibition emphasize the diversity of American art at this time. The exhibition focuses on themes of childhood, nature, still lifes, interiors and depictions of the American West and Native Americans. Together, they touch on every major trend in American art during the period, which speaks to Sanders’ eye as a collector and to the quality and scope of the works in general.

The collection’s visual art in particular highlights a number of influential artists, including Thomas Sully, Mary Cassatt, Asher B. Durand, Thomas Moran, Winslow Homer, Ernest Lawson, and the impressionist Childe Hassam. The show’s curator, Sarah Kate Gillespie (curator of American art at the museum), is especially proud of the inclusion of two rarely seen works by John Singer Sargent in the exhibition.

Dale Couch, the museum’s curator of decorative arts, points out the way in which Sanders’ collection functions together as a whole and speaks to her focused collecting. “To speak of her personally in terms of collecting, a spirit of generosity is what comes to mind,” he said. “She is Georgia bred and born, Georgia throughout, no question about it, and loyal to our state and our region.”

The museum will publish an exhibition catalog including full-page color illustrations of every work on display as well as essays by Gillespie, Couch, Linda Chafin (conservation botanist at the State Botanical Garden of Georgia), UGA associate professor of history Akela Reason, UGA associate professor of education Jennifer Graff and others, which will be available for purchase in the Museum Shop.

An opening reception for the exhibition will be co-hosted at the museum by the Friends of the Georgia Museum of Art and the Friends of the State Botanical Garden of Georgia on May 18 from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. ($5 non-members; free for members). Other related programs include a Family Day on May 19 from 10 a.m. to noon, a Toddler Tuesday on May 22 at 10 a.m. (free but registration required via or 706-542-0448) and a public tour on June 6 at 2 p.m.

The exhibition is sponsored by the W. Newton Morris Charitable Foundation and the Friends of the Georgia Museum of Art.