Modern American Realism at Smithsonian American Art Museum Tuesday, March 11

According to 20th century painter and art collector Sara Roby, the best way to celebrate American visual art was to showcase pieces by actively working artists. So that’s what she did beginning in the mid-1950s, collecting art by realist painters like Edward Hopper, Philip Evergood, and Paul Cadmus, and displaying it at public art museums. Her namesake foundation donated 175 of those works to the Smithsonian American Art Museum in 1986 and now, nearly 30 years later, visitors have a chance to see them up close. Some, like Evergood’s “Dowager in a Wheelchair,” mix poignancy with humor, while others, like Hopper’s “Cape Cod Morning,” (shown) seem to glimmer with optimism and possibility. And since every work was created within the last hundred years, the figures appear more knowable—and therefore relatable—than in older works. Instead of seeing an ancestor in one of the paintings, you just might see yourself. The exhibition is on view daily, 11:30 a.m. to 7 p.m., to August 17, at the Smithsonian American Art Museum, 8th and F streets NW. Free. (202) 633-7970. americanart.si.edu.

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