Art in Waterford back for its second act
Waterford — Art from two talented local families, the Whites and Brookses, will be featured this weekend at the second annual Art in Waterford juried exhibit sponsored outdoors at Jordan Green by the Waterford Historical Society.
The free event, which also includes live music and public viewings of two historic buildings, will run from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday at the corner of Routes 156 and 213.
"There will be different kinds of art in a wide variety of styles," Kristen Widham, president of the historical society, said in a Zoom conference call. "You'll see art being created."
Some artists will be painting, drawing and sculpting live on the grounds of Jordan Green, and local musicians such as Hugh Birdsall and Dan Seltzer will be performing, along with a group of Waterford High School jazz musicians. Adding to the ambience, the 1838 Beebe-Phillip House and the 1740 Jordan Schoolhouse will be open, vintage cars will be on display on the grounds, and ironwork will be created and up for sale in the forge at the nearby blacksmith shop in the Margaret W. Stacy Memorial Barn. Event-goers themselves will be encouraged to use sketchbooks to draw images of their experiences.
Artwork on display in the buildings and on the grounds will include contemporary works by Alan Anderson, Peter Halle Guerra, William Hurst, Pat Kelbaugh, Paul Lipp, John McGuire, Laura Provo-Parker, Charles Reyburn and Len Swec.
But some of the most well known artists on display are descendants of Henry Cook White (1861-1952), an original member of the Lyme Art Colony, and Burtus Anderson Brooks (1853-1935), a prolific if less well known painter from the Goshen area of town whose oil painting "The Morgan House" can still be seen at the Waterford Public Library check-out area. Nelson J. White, grandson of Henry and currently in his 80s, still lives in Waterford during the summer, and he has exhibited widely, according to a historical society pamphlet.
"Throughout history the arts have provided an illuminating, healing effect on people's lives," Widham said in an email. "Right now many of us are deeply stressed by our social isolation, illness, political unrest and personal matters. ... There are many ways in which Art in Waterford can be healing and edifying for everyone who attends this weekend."
The art and history event, originally scheduled for May, had to be moved to the summer because of the coronavirus pandemic. Widham said no one will be admitted without a mask, people will be required to maintain at least 6 feet of social distancing and crowds will be encouraged not to linger in place for very long.
This could be difficult given the riveting artwork that promises to be on display. The White family of Waterford is already well known for its three generations of what Jeff Andersen, former director of the Florence Griwsold Museum, noted in the exhibit booklet is at this point over 100 years of painting local shoreline scenes full of the "moods and spirit of New England."
But the real revelation of this exhibit may be the artistic legacy of the Brooks family. Included in the exhibit is a painting of the USS Nautilus on the Thames River done by Silas Henry Geer (1905-1982), and works examining pastoral settings by Harry Joseph Getchell (1930-2002), a former Pfizer Inc. employee, and the serenity of Harkness Memorial State Park beach by Brechin Lee Morgan, now in his 70s, whose work has been displayed at Mystic Seaport Art Museum, among other venues.
The event, subtitled "Past + Present + Future," promises not only to feature top local artists of the past and present, but also to provide a chance for young artists to shine. Students in grades 6-12 from St. Bernard School, The Williams School, Clark Lane Middle School and Waterford High School will be exhibiting at the event.
Visitors also will be able to view an acrylic painting titled “Latimer’s Reef” by Niantic artist Pat Kelbaugh, and tickets will be sold for a drawing to win the piece (cash or check only). This is the historical society's main fundraiser for the year as it tries to raise about $50,000 for a capital campaign to help upgrade society-operated buildings. It receives no direct funding from the town.
"We could use more members," added Widham, who estimates the society's current membership at about 100.
Three decades ago, she added, the group boasted many more members. The hope now, she said, is to sponsor more community events and try to find members willing to be trained as docents, which in turn would allow the society to offer more tours of the town's historic buildings.
"That's what we're getting back to now," she said.
If you go
What: "Art in Waterford: Past + Present + Future" juried exhibit
When: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday
Where: Jordan Green, Waterford
Sponsored by: Waterford Historical Society
Extras: Music, historic buildings, vintage cars, ironwork demonstration
Free Parking: Waterford Community Center, Waterford Public Library, Jordan Green
Information: (860) 389-7529