This summer, the Mattatuck Museum in Waterbury Connecticut is presenting an art show called Haven and Inspiration that runs through August 24. This fascinating exhibition traces the evolution of the Kent Connecticut Art Colony.
Haven and Inspiration explores the wide range of artistic styles and subjects produced by the art colony’s founding members: Rex Brasher (1869-1960) Eliot Candee Clark (1883-1980), Carl Hirschberg (1854-1923), Francis Luis Mora (1874-1940), G. Laurence Nelson (1887-1978), Spencer Baird Nichols (1875-1950), Robert Nisbet (1879-1961), Willard Paddock (1873-1956) and Frederick Judd Waugh (1861-1940). Of all the villages in Connecticut, Kent attracted the most permanent colony of artists and developed the only artists’ organization that exists to this day. It remains, until now, however, the one least examined.
Building upon the scholarship of Robert Michael Austin, whose publication, Artists of the Litchfield Hills devotes a chapter to the Kent Art Colony, this exhibition focuses on the period 1910 to 1930. Robert Nisbet moved to Kent in 1910; shortly after, like-minded artists who started as visitors became neighbors. By the summer of 1922, there were enough artists in Kent for them to consider organizing into a group. While landscape was the primary subject, they also painted portraits, genre scenes and still lifes.
Another exhibition at the Mattatuck, The Way We Worked that runs through August 3 explores how ork became a central element in American culture by tracing the many changes that affected the workforce and work environments. The exhibition draws from the Archives’ rich photographic collections, covering more than 150 years to tell this compelling story. Why, where, and how do we work? What value does work have to individuals and communities? What does our work tell others about us?
Included in this exhibit are paintings by Anna Held Audette and Duvian Montoya. Audette is a contemporary woman artist who paints industrial ruins and abandoned machinery and Montoya’s painting’s act as a personal journal of observations made during his travels, childhood, and life experiences.
A third exhibition that runs through August 31 and is titled Steel Garden showcases the work of Sculptor Babette Bloch. Considered a is a pioneer in the use of laser-cut and water jet-cut stainless steel in creating works of art, Bloch’s sculptures explore form and the interplay between object and light, reflect their environments, and expand the ways in which stainless steel is used in contemporary art.
Bloch’s works of art embrace her eclectic tastes, her pleasure in aesthetics and her technical curiosity. Drawing on several traditions in American art, she creates works that touch on Modernist abstraction, the cut outs and collage found in Pop art, and the long-standing practice of storytelling in art. In cutting, shaping, burnishing, and grinding stainless steel, Bloch has developed the material’s natural properties of brightness and reflectivity while making the dense metal seem nearly weightless and ethereal.
A not to be missed continuing exhibition, Fancy This: The Gilded Age of Fashion displays beautiful, rarely seen costume pieces from the Mattatuck’s collection. Many of these delicate objects have not been on view for decades. Guest curator Mary Daniel is the winner of the 2013 Summer Fling “Curator for the Day” auction prize and has been working with the Museum’s curatorial department to organize this exhibition which also includes accessories such as shoes, purses, fans and gloves.
The Mattatuck Museum is located on 144 West Main Street, Waterbury CT. The museum is open Tues. – Sat. 10 a.m. – 5 p.m., Sundays from 12 noon to 5 p.m. and open late the first Thursday of the Month until 7:30 p.m. For additional information https://www.mattatuckmuseum.org.
For information about the Litchfield Hills www.litchfieldhills.com