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The Hainsworth Collection makes Nashville debut at Lipscomb's Hutcheson Gallery this month

Grace Mestad | 


After spending two years traveling to various museums across the nation, select paintings from the collection of John and Susan Hainsworth will be on display for the first time in Nashville at Lipscomb University’s John C. Hutcheson Gallery. The collection will be exhibited beginning Monday, March 27 and running through Friday, May 5.

Hainsworth_Side1Lipscomb will exhibit 21 of the over 80 pieces that make up the collection. The collection is comprised of American paintings from the late 19th and early 20th centuries including works by George Inness, John White Alexander, Robert Henri, Everett Shinn and more.

The Hainsworths were first introduced to the Hutcheson Gallery through Michael Shane Neal, Lipscomb alumnus and current artist-in-residence. Neal has had a long standing friendship with the Hainsworths since 1998 and approached the family about displaying some of the collection in Lipscomb’s Hutcheson Gallery.

Cliff Tierney, associate professor in Lipscomb’s art department, was one of the professors involved in the selection process of the pieces that would be exhibited and says he feels honored to have the opportunity to display some of the works.

“Our department believes in the value and necessity of art from antiquity to today. The fact that this collection exists in our own back yard, so to speak, is invaluable to our students and community to see,” said Tierney. “We feel it imperative, as well as fortunate, to exhibit these works so that the community can share in what the Hainsworths have collected, and keep collecting, throughout the years.”

Dr. John Hainsworth, a medical oncologist who is a partner in Tennessee Oncology and a medical adviser at the Sarah Cannon Research Institute, and wife, Susan, have been acquiring this collection for over 15 years, buying paintings at auctions and at private galleries, while learning all that they can about American artists.

Hainsworth_Side3“Our collection developed haphazardly at first, but then not after that. When we first got married and had limited resources, we collected original prints by well-known artists, followed by paintings by contemporary American artists.  Then, about 15 years ago, we started focusing on the historical American painters in the current collection,” said Hainsworth.

As their passion for American art grew, the Hainsworths began researching artists who were members of the Hudson River School, a movement created by mid-19th century landscape painters whose work was influenced by undeveloped America.  Several Hudson River School paintings will be on display, including works by Jasper Cropsey, Edward Moran, and George Inness.

The collection then moves into impressionist pieces from the late 19th and early 20th century as well as more realist works which depict the bustling life of crowded cities. The collection ends chronologically with works by 1930s American scene painters and regionalists such as Thomas Hart Benton.

According to the Hainsworths, the major objective of their collecting is not about chronicling American art, but to select pieces that both he and his wife personally enjoy and find beautiful or moving in some way.

“I’m hoping that by displaying some of our collection at Lipscomb, people who may not go to museums and art galleries will see it and get inspired and want to learn more about it, like we did,” Hainsworth said. “It would be great if some of the art majors exposed to our collection drew inspiration from the artists or even decided to focus on American art.”

Dianne Tankersley-Spooner, an independent design professional and owner of the retail antique and design shop Grace Francis Interiors, will also provide antique furniture as part of the Hainsworth Collection exhibit in Lipscomb’s Hutcheson Gallery. Spooner has been buying and selling European and estate antiques for nearly 20 years, and the antique furniture will be peppered throughout the gallery to go along with the theme of the exhibit. 

Located in the James D. Hughes Center at Lipscomb University, the John C. Hutcheson Gallery opened in fall of 2010. Curated by Lipscomb visual arts department faculty, the Hutcheson Gallery features a variety of exhibitions each semester. The gallery provides an opportunity to study, exhibit and stimulate appreciation for and advance knowledge of works of art that collectively represent the broadest spectrum of human achievement and artistic interests. 

The Hutcheson Gallery is free and open to the public. The exhibit will be open Monday-Friday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., however, hours may vary during scheduled events. The gallery is best accessible from the Belmont Boulevard entrances to campus.

For more information on the Hutcheson Gallery visit