Back in September of 2006, a breath of fresh air blew through the Birmingham Museum of Art. Graham Boettcher arrived from the Yale University Art Gallery , and the place hasn't been the same since! A graduate of Yale, he also earned his Ph.D. in art history there as well. Since 2008 he has been the museum's William C. Hulsey Curator of American Art.
I first met Graham last year when he did the training for Museum Ambassadors for the upcoming exhibit " Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness". When introduced, I took one look at him and said, "You're too young to be a curator!" Young he might be but he knows his art. A fountain of knowledge he certainly is, but what I love best about Graham is that his passion for art is infectious. You can't be around him without feeling his enthusiasm for it. I heard him give tours through that exhibit many, many times as a volunteer and every single time I heard him, I was mesmerized. He makes art come to life, makes it fun. He's the only guy I know that can make everyone laugh out loud over Trumbull's portrait of George Washington!
Now back to the reason I'm featuring Graham today. He's curated another exhibit close to my heart. A wonderful selection of photographs by Prentice H. Polk, from the Paul R. Jones Collection, are now on display in the African-American Art Gallery. Polk is considered to be one of the most important photographers of the 20th century through his role as the official photographer of Tuskegee Institute (now Tuskegee University). I especially enjoyed the series of photographs of George Washington Carver, but his other portraits are equally as stunning. Graham has done a fine job with this exhibit, and it was my pleasure to be able to photograph him by a portrait that I actually painted years ago in a watercolor class. If you wish to see this exhibit, it will run through May 23. And if you are really lucky, you might just get to join a Graham Boettcher tour!