Athens State Receives Gift of Western Sculpture Collection

ATHENS, Ala. - Athens State University recently received a gift of 22 bronze western-themed sculptures by artists John Solomon Sandridge and Marshall Mitchell. In addition, the collection contains eleven reproductions of works by Frederic Remington.

The donated art pieces were given by Frances Wideman of Birmingham in memory of her husband, the late Dr. Gilder Wideman. Dr. Wideman is remembered as a noted Doctor of Obstetrics and Gynecology, civic leader and veteran.

Dr. Gilder Wideman

Dr. Wideman, a graduate of Birmingham-Southern College and the Medical College of Alabama, began his medical practice in 1960, after a residency at St. Vincent’s Hospital. In addition, he received his Juris Doctor degree from the Birmingham School of Law in 1997. He served in the U.S. Army Berlin, Germany, during the Nuremberg Trials.

Active in many political organizations for the state Republican party, Dr. Wideman also served on many boards, including the Alabama Cancer Society, the March of Dimes, and the Birmingham-Jefferson Civic Center. Dr. and Mrs. Wideman were long-time residents of Birmingham and raised five children.

“Athens State President Bob Glenn and the Wideman family have a personal relationship and this gift is a result of that,” states Vice President for Advancement Rick Mould. “These will make a fine addition to the collection we are assembling for the gallery in our recently completed Alabama Center for the Arts building.”

The sculptures are on display now through February 25 in the main Gallery of the Alabama Center for the Arts, located at 133 2nd Avenue in Decatur. Gallery hours are 8:00 am to 4:30 pm Monday through Thursday, and 8:00 am to noon on Fridays. After the initial showing, the University plans to place the sculptures into its permanent collection, as well as making them available for exhibition at other venues.

“We have known Dr. Wideman for many years. Recently, because of the friendship between our daughter Katie and his granddaughter Victoria, we had reconnected. Last spring, we began to discuss with Dr. and Mrs. Wideman, borrowing the collection to display in Athens and Decatur. After Dr. Wideman’s unexpected death, Mrs. Wideman made the decision to donate the sculptures because Dr. Wideman had been enthusiastic about sharing them with our communities,” states President Bob Glenn. “The Wideman family has been gracious to allow us to be stewards of these remarkable pieces, and it is our responsibility to showcase them to the public.”

John Solomon SandridgeNotable within the collection are six pieces by John Solomon Sandridge. Sandridge is an accomplished artist, sculptor, author, herbalist and speaker. He is one of a few African-American artists who specialize in Western American art.

A reception and lecture by Sandridge is planned for Tuesday, February 12, beginning at 6:00 pm, at the Alabama Center for the Arts in Decatur. They are free and open to the public. Sandridge’s visit to the Center is sponsored by Athens State’s Livingston Concert Lecture Series and will coincide with the University’s Black History Month programs.

Buffalo Soldier II by John Solomon Sandridge
Buffalo Soldier II by John Solomon Sandridge

For more information about the exhibit, reception or lecture,
call 256-233-8296.

Guy McClure
January 24, 2013


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