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You Visit Tour. Webb Lion Fountain. June 1 2017. Photo David B. Hollingsworth

Art of Trains Exhibit Explores the Railroad's Influence on the Growth of America

Old Dominion University's Baron and Ellin Gordon Art Galleries presents The Art of Trains, an exhibition of 64 works: 50 paintings, prints and photographs primarily from the collection of noted collectors Susan and David Goode, with 14 additional contributions from the collections of Christina Goode, Jay Althouse and Sally Albrecht, photographer Matthew Malkiewicz, the Dügrae Collective, and the Baron and Ellin Gordon Collection of Self-Taught Art at Old Dominion University.

The Art of Trains will be on view from Oct. 14 to July 15, 2018 with a free public reception on Friday, Oct. 20, from 7-9 p.m. David Goode, retired chairman and CEO of Norfolk Southern Corp., will make brief remarks at 7:30 p.m. Photographer Matthew Malkiewicz, whose works are featured in the exhibition, will also be present.

The exhibition explores the influence of the train, especially the steam engine, on the growth of America as a nation: connecting its coasts, linking its urban centers to small towns and small towns to each other, creating and embedding the sense of one country that has regional identities but is united by shared national experiences.

The grand metaphor of journey-taking is a major motif in the myths and literature of many cultures and is underscored by the train, which barrels across the landscape carrying cargo and passengers, each with a journey to make and a personal narrative to tell. As one photographer in the exhibition notes, "all of life" is contained on trains.

The visual narrative of The Art of Trains is told by a broad range of artists, trained and self-taught. Each is notable in their media. Man Ray, Alfred Stieglitz, Berenice Abbott, Romare Bearden, Thomas Hart Benton, O. Winston Link, Whitfield Lovell, Jimmy Lee Sudduth, Grandma Moses, and John "Jack" Savitsky are some of the artists featured in the exhibition who have contributed to the iconography spawned by their form, function, and cultural relevance. Many works were created between the world wars, but the allure of trains continues today in the work of such artists as photographer Matthew Malkiewicz, who is also an activist for preserving the historic legacy of the last extant steam trains. Exhibiting the work of trained and untrained artists together on this rich topic allows viewers to contemplate what skills and purpose make an artist and what role the artist plays in society.

The Baron and Ellin Gordon Art Galleries exhibit works by nationally and internationally recognized self-taught artists, contemporary artists working in all media, and local and regional artists connected with Old Dominion University. Free and open to the public, with parking in the 45th Street garage. Hours: Tuesday - Saturday, 11 a.m. - 5 p.m.; Sunday, 1 p.m. - 5 p.m. For more information contact senior curator Ramona Austin at (757) 683-6272 or raustin@odu.edu, and visit odu.edu/gordongalleries.