Wilton Historical Society thanks 10 new members with rail lithograph

The first 10 people who join the Wilton Historical Society at the $1,000 membership level will receive a special thank-you gift — an original lithograph of the historic Cannondale railroad station.

The handsome, limited-edition prints are a gift from Bridgeport artist and master printmaker James Reed.

“This is a wonderful opportunity to own a lithograph by this exceptional artist and printmaker,” Leslie Nolan, the historical society’s executive director, said. “I am personally very grateful to Jim for his generous gift and delighted to accept it on behalf of the Wilton Historical Society.”

The signed, black-and-white prints have an estimated value of $300 to $400 each, according to Ms. Nolan, who served as director of the Center for Contemporary Printmaking in Norwalk before she came to the Wilton Historical Society. The unframed prints measure 7 by 8 1/2 inches.

Mr. Reed, whose Milestone Graphics studio in Bridgeport has been serving local and regional artists for more than 30 years, said giving back goes hand in hand with being part of a community. The printmaker has been a friend of Ms. Nolan’s and the historical society for years.

A collector of HO gauge trains during his childhood, Mr. Reed said he thought of doing a railroad-themed edition of prints for the society while visiting its Great Train Holiday Exhibit this winter. He said the Cannondale railroad station was Ms. Nolan’s idea. Mr. Reed has often featured old buildings in his own drawings, and the Cannondale station, with its wide, overhanging eaves and Victorian ornamentation, had the added cachet of being on the National Register of Historic Places. It was built in 1892 and placed on the National Register in 1992.

Mr. Reed trained at the Tamarind Institute for Printmaking in Albuquerque, N.M., and is a well-regarded member of the printmaking community. He has taught and exhibited throughout the United States, and in Mexico and France. He has a bachelor’s degree from the University of Missouri, and a master’s from San Francisco State University.

“He’s incredible as an artist and printmaker,” said Nomi Silverman of Greenwich, one of the 75 or so artists who use Mr. Reed’s studio. “He really enhances what I do. It’s magic.”

Discussing the printmaker’s art, Mr. Reed is emphatic that it not be confused with the much simpler process of making a photographic reproduction. In lithography, the artist uses a grease pencil to draw on a smooth piece of limestone or metal plate, which is treated with chemicals to stabilize the images. A print is then made on a hand-operated press, and if the artist approves, it is marked “bon a tirer,” meaning “good to pull.” If not, the print is torn and another made. Mr. Reed said it’s a collaborative process involving both artist and printmaker at every step.

For information or to join the society, which maintains a number of historic buildings and a museum at 224 Danbury Road, call 203-762-7257 or visit info@wiltonhistorical.org.