El Paso is blessed with one of the best art museums of any city of its size. Just how important is the El Paso Museum of Art? The Samuel Henry Kress Foundation — established for the understanding and appreciation of fine European art — has donated their 3,000-piece collection to some 90 venues ranging from universities, libraries, and major art museums to even certain churches and cathedrals. Of those ninety venues there is one national collection (at the National Gallery of Art) with some 1,800 works, but there are only eighteen “Regional Collections” containing between 20 and 70 examples of the Kress Collection. EPMA has 58 of those pieces, including works from such noted European masters as Canaletto, Bonfigli, Garofalo, van Dyck, Bellotto, and Castiglione; and famed American artists Frederick Remington, Rembrandt Peale, and Gilbert Stuart.
So, who was Samuel H. Kress? If you’re old enough then you probably remember his nationwide store chain — S. H. Kress & Co. — and the incredible and unique architecture of his individual stores. Here’s one example, the former S. H. Kress store in downtown El Paso (one of my favorite downtown photographic subjects):
The EPMA is not the only gem in downtown El Paso. If you’re at the EPMA, then you’re also right next door to El Paso’s incredible Plaza Theatre. This 1930 theater was completely restored in 2006 and now houses traveling Broadway plays in its massive main auditorium, as well as hosting the annual El Paso Classic Film Festival.
But enough about downtown El Paso. We were discussing the EPMA. EPMA recently hosted a traveling art show featuring Rembrandt, Rubens, and European Painters with many pieces on loan from Louisville’s Speed Art Museum.
Here’s just some of what Ursula and I were treated to last weekend (with more to come on Wednesday and Friday):