Four years ago Alexandra and Malcolm MacDougall transformed a picturesque Methodist church into the Keene Arts Center, an exhibition space and theater, in Upstate New York. It is gorgeous! One of the jewels of the Adirondacks.
This weekend, their glorious Harold Weston: Beyond the Known, a retrospective of 60 paintings, drawings, etchings and watercolors, will close. Organized with the Harold Weston Foundation, the exhibition provides one of the few opportunities to view this excellent American modernist's work in a comprehensive format - enhanced by the beautiful installation.
The artist's daughter, Nina Weston Foster, and gallerist Atea Ring (who has specialized in Weston's work for the last 20 years) curated the show. The title comes from Weston' talk at Phillips Memorial Gallery in 1932, which described the artistic personality as "a seeker striving to do what has not been done before." This concept explains the Modernist movement of the late 19th and 20th century, for Modernism looks forward - toward the future, rather than backwards - toward the past, tradition, and established moral imperatives. Within the global Modernist initiative, Weston belongs to a distinctly American Modernist aesthetic, shared by Georgia O'Keeffe, Marsden Hartley and Arthur Dove, among so many others, which transformed the moralizing grand manner of the Hudson River School into an earthy vision. Weston chose a firm Expressionist direction that tames energetic gestures with warm, rustic colors.
Harold Weston was born on Valentine's Day 1894 in Merion, PA, to a comfortable family. As a teenager, he attended school in Switzerland and Germany. In 1910, he was stricken with polio that paralyzed his left leg. Unable to accept the limitations pronounced by his doctors, he worked hard to regain movement and ended up with only a limp. This fortitude characterized all his endeavors. He graduated from Harvard University magna cum laude in 1916. During World War I he created the Baghdad Art Club for soldiers stationed there. Along with an illustrious and adventurous career, Weston founded the National Council on the Arts and Government that lobbied for the formation of the National Endowment for the Arts. He died on April 10, 1972.
Keene Arts is open from Thursday through Sunday, and by appointment. 914-309-7095.
Gallery Hours: 1 - 5 pm.
Please write to me when you see the show
Beth New York
aka Beth S. Gersh-Nesic, Ph.D.
New York Arts Exchange