The Flinn Gallery will reopen on November 21 after being closed for several months while construction was going on outside its walls. The exhibit is called "In Plain Sight, Library Art Collection". All of the works of art in this show belong to the Library's permanent collection and have been hanging in various locations, often behind closed doors. Now they will be exhibited together along with stories of each artist and information about their artwork. Visitors can come to the Flinn this fall while the project "Reimagine - Renew - Repurpose" continues throughout the rest of the Library. Barbara Richards is the curator and sleuth who has gathered and arranged this collection. The gallery reception will be held on Thursday, November 21 from 6-8.
Since Greenwich is a coastal town, it is not surprising that a number of the works have a waterfront theme, but the images are remarkably varied in style, color, and execution. The fresh wind powering the racing sailboats against a cloudy sky is almost palpable in artist, engineer, and musician Wilfred Knox’s “Rounding the Buoy”. Whereas the boat Marcel Laquay presents in the darker toned “Volendam” suggests a more ominous atmosphere . Sperry Andrews ‘ depiction of “Old Hotels, Block Island” reveals his debt to both impressionistic light and cubist shapes in his presentation of a refreshingly solitary scene.”Cape Cod Beach” by Mid century artist Herman Maril presents a more abstract seascape where the contrast of shape and color guide the viewer’s interpretation of the deserted shoreline. Eugene Harvey’s “Seacoast Village” presents the many complex components of a shoreline community caught in a quiet moment against a cloud-ridden backdrop. Martin Pajeck gives water a different dimension in his Storm in East River, Swirling brushstrokes create dark water and an ominously lighted sky suggesting the perils that arise when natures forces are unleashed. Ilse Gordon selected Tod’s Point as the subject of her painting “Winter Beach”, providing a seasonally different aspect of the coast.
Mina Ochtmman and her husband Leonard were members of the Cos Cob Art Colony that flourished at the turn of the 20th century and fostered American impressionism. Both his “Grey Ledge Laurel” and her “When Autumn Comes” feature local landscapes, rolling hills, and soft colors that reflect their affection for their surroundings. Many of the artists whose works are featured were influenced by the painters like Childe Hassam and William Twachtman who took breaks from their art studies in New York and
Caught a train to spend time painting “in plein air”in Cos Cob at the Holley Boarding House, now the Bush -Holley House, home of the Greenwich Historical Society.
People familiar with the Library’s meeting room will recognize Robert Emmett Owen’s “Autumn Trees” which reflects the artist’s dedication to painting from nature, a technique he polished after studies with Leonard Ochtman.The Library’s art collection also includes “Leopards”an early work by Senaka Senansyaka.Three of Andy Warhol’s flower drawings grace the far wall of the exhibit, adding yet another dimension to the library collection.
Greenwich’s own Revolutionary War hero General Israel Putnam makes an appearance of sorts in the show. His presence requires a bit of an explanation. The General’s fame includes fighting in the Battle of Bunker Hill, escaping immolation by a band of natives, and dodging the British by riding down a steep hill along a path of rough hewn stones in Greenwich. His feats were immortalized in a by the W.P.A. artist James Henry Daugherty in a spectacular mural measuring 9 x 22 feet. Designed for the First Selectman’s office in 1935, it was moved to Hamilton Avenue School in 1940 when the Town Hall was renovated. The painting, “The Life and Times of General Israel Putnam of Connecticut” uses 10 vibrant colors and depicts a kaleidoscopic view of the general’s often violent deeds. From a historical viewpoint the subject matter reflects a perspective accepted in the thirties but no longer favored because it glorifies torture and cruelty. However, its artistic vigor and rich imagery demand preservation and examination, but perhaps not in an elementary school. In 2006 the mural was moved to the Greenwich Library where it rests in the periodical area awaiting viewers. Included in the show are sketches and plans for the actual mural which visitors can study after leaving the gallery. Although Daugherty never signed it, his son authenticated the work years later by identifying himself as the person who posed for one foreground figure.
In Plain Sight: The Library Collection – Part 1 @ Flinn Gallery, Greenwich Library, 2nd floor, 101 W. Putnam Ave., Greenwich 203-622-7944, November 1 – January 30, 2020. Opening reception:November 21 @ 6:00-8:00. Public is warmly welcomed. The Flinn Gallery is sponsored by the Friends of the Greenwich Library.