The exhibition “Compass: Folk Art in Four Directions,” organized by the American Folk Art Museum, encompasses the rich history of New York City’s harbor activities and urban environment. Through lively sampling of artworks, the collection speaks about the romanticism and gritty realism of the seaport district.
The exhibition is installed in four galleries on Schermerhorn Row, the mercantile block that was developed between 1810 and 1812 by Peter Schermerhorn, scion of a family of shipmasters and chandlers.
Throughout its history, the Row experienced and survived the major expansion of the seaport district in both architecture and significance as a major trading and commercial center. The Row housed various concerns through the 19th century, including counting houses, mercantile and fancy goods businesses, coffeehouses, restaurants and hotels for locals and travelers. The American Folk Art Museum celebrates this history through four themes that instigate a visual dialogue about moments in the life of Schermerhorn Row and the seaport.
Having sold its building on West 53rd Street to the Museum of Modern Art , the museum remains open at Lincoln Square. It celebrates the artistic accomplishments of mostly self-taught artists. The collection spans three centuries of American visual expression, from quilts to contemporary sculpture.