Wilton artists are on display
While the rest of the year Wilton Library’s gallery walls are given over to artists from the area as well as Wilton, the annual Summr Show is a strictly homegrown affair with paintings by those who live or work in town.
A number of the artists and their supporters attended the opening reception on Friday evening, July 12, and three of them had something in common — they all entered portraits of dogs.
Michael Franco recently embarked on a venture to paint each of the seven dogs he and his wife Mary Anne have owned over the years. He entered two of those paintings in the show, Beach Smile and Surveying His Kingdom. Both are done in oil.
The subject of Beach Smile is a bichon frise named Tony II. It was painted from a photo of the dog at Montauk on Long Island. “The texture of this one got to me, “ Franco said in explaining why he entered it into the show. “I also like the way the sand came out.”
The other painting is of Dino, a Yorkshire terrier the couple owned, shown in their backyard.
The impetus for doing the paintings came about when photos of all the dogs that had been hanging in their house had to be taken down. Instead of replacing the photos, he decided to create the paintings.
“I hadn’t painted for over a year,” he said. “After these, I did two pairs of dogs” and he has plans for two more. In addition to canvas, he paints dogs on Christmas ornaments, and he also paints scenes from their vacations.
Also with two dog portraits entered is Susan Kurnit, who painted Miss Daisy Mae for a client, and her own dog, Mr. Newton.
“I love painting animals, dogs and cats,” she said, although she has also done landscapes and still lifes. “My next mission is to paint endangered species,” she said, showing a picture on her phone that she had done of a wolf.
Kurnit has had a career as a fashion editor for Mademoiselle and Seventeen magazines as well as having taught history. She always loved drawing, however, and in 1981 she signed up for a class and has been painting since.
While she paints on commission, her endangered species work is more altruistic. “I see their beauty and want to do what I can to help preserve them,” she said.
Annette Ambler came to painting on winter vacations in South Carolina where she takes classes. Her entry Evensong is an oil painting of a marsh on a barrier island the locals call Paradise. When she showed it to her art teacher and asked what she should do with it, “he said, ‘sign it,’” she said. “I was over the moon.”
Then, a few years ago her son adopted a rescue dog, which she painted, and her teacher said that was her calling.
‘“You were meant to paint dogs,’ he told me,” she said. “I can see in their soul.” The second painting, also an oil, is of Chip, her nephew’s fox terrier.
A distant relative of the Ambler Farm Amblers, Annette has been painting about three years. With so much to do at home in Wilton, she paints primarily when she’s away for the winter.
While Beth Schneider spends the late winter and early spring coordinating the Focus photography show presented each year by the Wilton Arts Council, she also has a love of painting. This month she’s got a pastel painting of Pink Tulips in the Summer Show. It’s her sixth painting she’s entered.
“It’s always flowers — roses, peonies — I like the curves and the colors,” she aid.
Pastels was the first medium she learned to draw with as a child, and then she discovered she could paint with them.
“I like this medium,” she said. “I used to do watercolor and oils before that.”
Her goal? “I will do enough to do a calendar, only six years to go,” she said with a laugh.
Where the library’s reference room ends there is a large eye-catching painting of an elephant playing soccer. It’s a whimsical entry called just that, Elephant Playing Soccer, by Gini Fischer.
“He is one of a dozen paintings I have been working on of animal studies, done loosely, in acrylic,” she told The Bulletin after the show via email. “I usually do more detailed oils for my fine art, but I was inspired to try my hand at approaching a series as I do my scenic (theater sets) painting: faster, looser, (messier!) and in general, taking a more light-hearted, almost reckless approach to the work.
“I added the soccer ball for fun,” she said, “and also to show that this was a younger elephant.”
The library’s 75th annual Summer Show will run through Aug. 29. Some of the paintings are for sale and a portion of the proceeds will benefit the library. The library is closed on Sundays during the summer, but the exhibition may be seen at all other times the library is open. Information: www.wiltonlibrary.com.