The Legacy of Silvermine: Artists, Art and Community Tomorrow!

A legacy exhibition that celebrates Silvermine luminaries and an exhibit of William Kent’s large-scale slate prints will open together on Sun., February 26 with a reception from 2-4 pm for the artists and the public.

As Silvermine Arts Center moves towards its 100th anniversary, the institution is taking a moment to reflect on and celebrate some of the current Guild members who helped to shape what Silvermine is today. With The Legacy of Silvermine: Artists, Art, and Community, Silvermine introduces a new annual series honoring some of the lions of the Silvermine community.  All were born in the first half of the twentieth century.  Their work is known regionally, nationally and internationally. All of them found at Silvermine an artistic home that embraces new ideas and forms--and a community of artists from which to draw camaraderie, constructive criticism, and inspiration.

Jens Risom (1916-2016), originally from Denmark, was a pioneer of modern furniture design in the U.S.  He moved to the U.S. in 1939, and to New Canaan in 1949.  He joined the Guild in 1954.  Sculptor Jean Woodham, who was a life-long friend of Louise Nevelson, makes bold and monumental abstract works that show the influences of Nevelson, David Smith and Isamu Noguchi. Carole Eisner creates large-scale steel sculptures that appear gestural and light.  She loves color, but her primary concerns are form, line, space, and balance. Liana Moonie (1922-2016) merged the sensual and the abstract in her paintings and prints, which explore the emotional impact of the natural world. Several in this group have recently exhibited in solo shows—or are working toward large exhibits in 2018.

The 18 artists in this first Legacy Exhibition are:  Linda Adato; Suzanne Benton, Rosamond Berg, Ann Chernow, Alberta Cifolelli, Carole Eisner, Arthur Guagliumi, Constance Kiermaier, Liana Moonie, Enid Munroe, Jens Risom, Lucy Sallick, Florence Seurig, Susan Sharp, Judith Steinberg, Marjorie Tomchuk, Bonnie Woit, and Jean Woodham. 

In addition to her own work, Bonnie Woit created the Institute for Visual Artists in 1984 and ran it through the 1980s.  The IVA gained a reputation as a prestigious lecture series that was important to artists, writers, and museum curators throughout the region. After Woit, Alberta Cifolelli directed the organization, then Susan Sharp—each for five years. Artists Benton and Steinberg were among the Guild members who participated in its programs. In the tradition of the IVA, the Silvermine Galleries will host a panel discussion on Arts and Education on Sunday, March 19.

Suites of work by some of Silvermine’s most influential and accomplished artists will fill the Silvermine Galleries during The Legacy of Silvermine.  The exhibit runs through April 9.  The Anonymous Donor Advised Fund, New Canaan Community Foundation, generously provided funding for the exhibition catalog as well as local group visits and the panel discussion on March 19.  Silvermine Arts Center is grateful to the Glass House, a site of the National Trust for Historic Preservation, for contributing its oral history film on Jens Risom to the exhibition.  Co-chairs of the Legacy Exhibition are Guild artists Mindy Green and Karen Neems.

William Kent:  Up With Everything

William Kent’s large-scale slate prints on fabric and rice paper fall into the various categories of political satire and commentary, erotica, prints from gravestone etchings, and prints that appropriate the border designs of traditional greeting cards. Vibrant, original and out-of-the-box, they were first noticed by the art world in 1966 when Kent’s work appeared alongside work by Philip Guston, Jasper Johns, and Robert Motherwell at the Whitney Museum’s Annual Show.  A critic for the Herald-Tribune called them “large, highly amusing and inventive prints that look like Pop posters but really go deeper in their social significance and satiric overtones.” In the late seventies, Kent stopped making the prints and turned to carving wood sculptures as masterful and astonishing as any of his prints. The artist, who worked out of a barn studio in Durham, Connecticut, died in 2012.

“The prints are the strength of this exhibit,” says Silvermine Gallery Director Jeffrey Mueller. “They have gravity and humor, and his materials are interesting—almost inappropriate fabrics paired with poignant subject matter.  His choice of imagery and phrasing is timeless and has the power to resonate even today.” A selection of Kent’s work, curated by Mueller and James Reed, manager of Silvermine’s Gabor Peterdi International Print Collection, will be on view at Silvermine February 26 through April 9.

Submitted by Westport, CT

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