opens February 20, 2024
From Art Colony to Connecticut Collection: Highlights from the Florence Griswold Museum
- Museum hours: Tues-Sun, 10am-4pm.
To increase access to the Museum’s wonderful artworks, the Niblack Gallery in our Robert and Nancy Krieble Gallery will be dedicated to a long-term installation of selections from the permanent collection. From Art Colony to Connecticut Collection presents highlights in three thematic clusters.
Community: the Lyme Art Colony and Beyond includes artworks by Matilda Browne, William Chadwick, Childe Hassam, Willard Metcalf, Bessie Potter Vonnoh and others that attest to the creative community centered around Florence Griswold’s riverside boardinghouse circa 1900. The persistence of that legacy in this area of Connecticut attracted later photographer Walker Evans and contemporary painters such as Nancy Friese. The art colony model, so attractive to artists at the turn of the 20th century as they sought balance between work and play, as well as between city and country inspirations, extended to artists’ communities such as in Cos Cob, Conn., whose habitués included Hassam and other artists from Old Lyme. Some artists cultivated a sense of community around rural retreats like Impressionist J. Alden Weir’s home in Windham, Conn., where he welcomed fellow painters such as Emil Carlsen. The draw of community gathering places, like the tavern in George Henry Durrie’s Seven Miles to Farmington, as well as the community artists found with nature are also themes explored in this section.
Connecticut and the Environment features paintings, sculpture, video, and material culture objects from the permanent collection that encourage us to consider how artists, their clientele, and the societies from which they sprang from the 19th century to the present, viewed and interacted with nature. Works by Hudson River School artist John Frederick Kensett, landscape painter George Inness, and Lyme Art Colony founder Henry Ward Ranger are juxtaposed with Isaac Sheffield’s portraits of a Connecticut whaling captain and his wife, as well as with Mark Dion’s New England Cabinet of Marine Debris (Lyme Art Colony) and Dana Sherwood’s Bedroom Bestiary video—two works commissioned by the Museum and created in part on these grounds. In conversation with historic art, these contemporary pieces reflect upon the human relationship to the environment, considerations also traced in the exhibition through still lifes by Fidelia Bridges and the African American artist Charles Ethan Porter.
As a museum founded by artists who first came to this place to channel inspiration into creativity over a century ago, we honor The Creative Spark in the exhibition’s third thematic grouping. Using both artworks and objects from our collection of artists’ tools, this section encourages visitors to consider how artists tap into and express creativity. By joining us for one of the Museum’s many hands-on art and craft programs, we invite you to explore that process yourself! Paintings by artists including Milton Avery, Childe Hassam, Lilian Westcott Hale, and Winfred Rembert acknowledge the intellectual, emotional, spiritual, or technical labor associated with artmaking while attesting to the drive and aesthetic innovation of Connecticut’s creators.
New works will be rotated into the exhibition later this year.