NEH grants $1.4 million in California; funds small-venue exhibits

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The National Endowment for the Humanities announced $21 million in grants Thursday for scholarship, collections conservation and public humanities programming, with a tenth of the money geared toward a traveling exhibitions program that sends shows on art, history and culture to small museums and galleries around the country for a fee of $2,000.

The $2.1-million exhibitions grant –- by far the largest announced -– goes to the Mid-America Arts Alliance of Kansas City, Mo., which administers the ‘NEH on the Road’ program for the federal grantmaking agency. Abby Sims Beckloff, a spokeswoman for the arts alliance, said the program began in 2005, and the new grant will fund a 3 1/2-year extension through 2015.

‘NEH on the Road’ currently has 10 exhibitions on tour, including “Wrapped in Pride: Ghanaian Kente and African American Identity,” a show about the colorful tradition of African woven art that originated at UCLA’s Fowler Museum in 1999. Beckloff said the traveling program picks original museum exhibitions such as the Fowler’s, then scales them down and repackages them so they can travel affordably to smaller venues. Under the auspices of ‘NEH on the Road,’ “Wrapped in Pride” –- which the Fowler organized with New Jersey’s Newark Museum -- returned to Southern California in September, when it was seen at Cal State Dominguez Hills in Carson.

The most recent addition to the touring roster is “Wild Land: Thomas Cole and the Birth of American Landscape Painting,” which began a five-year tour in September in Bryan, Texas and is now on display at the Stedman Art Gallery at Rutgers University in Camden, N.J. The show does not include original paintings or sketches, but centers on related artifacts documenting Cole (whose 1836 painting, ‘View From Mount Holyoke, Northampton, Mass., After a Thunderstorm -- the Oxbow,’ is pictured) and the Hudson River School art movement. It’s booked next fall at the Sonoma County Museum in Santa Rosa.


The return of “Wrapped in Pride” marked the first time ‘NEH on the Road’ reached Southern California; according to the program’s website, the next currently scheduled arrival is “Our Lives, Our Stories: America’s Greatest Generation,” which documents the life and times of Americans born from 1910 to 1929, and will open at the William D. Cannon Art Gallery in Carlsbad early in 2014.

California scholars and institutions received $1.4 million in the current grant round, with research, teaching and archival work rather than exhibitions as the main focus. Cal State Fullerton’s Center for Oral and Public History will receive a challenge grant of up to $425,000 over three years for its relocation and expansion; the NEH has agreed to contribute $1 for every $3 the university raises from other sources.

The university library at Cal State Long Beach will receive $100,000 over three years for a program aimed at enhancing the humanities content of French and Italian language courses for Spanish-speaking students. The language and culture department at Mount St. Mary’s College in Los Angeles will get $100,000 for a two-year research project on Chinese women from antiquity to today, aimed at infusing its findings into a variety of courses at the college.

The Santa Monica-based Haing S. Ngor Foundation received $75,000 toward production of a 90-minute documentary on the life of Ngor, the Cambodian physician who survived the genocidal Khmer Rouge during the 1970s, won an Academy Award for his acting debut in the 1984 film “The Killing Fields” and was murdered in Los Angeles in 1996.

Another L.A.-related project is a $50,400 grant to Elizabeth Keathley, a music professor at the University of North Carolina-Greensboro, for scholarship on “The Feminine Face of Musical Modernism: Women as Collaborators in Arnold Schoenberg’s Musical Networks.” Composer Schoenberg fled Germany for L.A. upon the Nazis’ ascension to power in 1933. RELATED:

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-- Mike Boehm