From a group of artists who gathered at Florence Griswold’s pension in Old Lyme around 1900, the Lyme Art Colony has grown into one of America’s most famous art centers. The colony gave birth to the Florence Griswold Museum and the Lyme Art Association. Now the two arts institutions separated by less than 500 feet are celebrating the centenary of the association’s famous gallery. The museum exhibition, Centennial of the Lyme Art Association Gallery, continues until May.
If the museum remains focused on Impressionism, the association is dedicated to figurative art. “We have different missions, but it’s really nice to have this handshake that we can work together on something like this,” says Laurie Pavlos, executive director of the Lyme Art Association. “The museum has a lot of Lyme Art Association archival material. We are not a museum, so we are not ready to interpret this type of material, display it or store it. “
Although separate institutions, the heritage of the museum and the association is inextricably linked to their history and owes much to the Griswold pension, which has attracted famous artists. The museum exhibit celebrating the association’s 100th anniversary is a reflection of both the gallery’s past and the legacy of the painters of the Lyme Art Colony. “Revisiting the origin of the LAA gallery on the occasion of its centenary allows us to examine the economy of art and tourism, local history, the consequences of the First World War, reactions to modernism, and even censorship, as artists chose what and who should be represented. in their bespoke exhibition space ”, according to the museum description.
The association’s gallery owner, Jocelyn Zallinger, notes that the artists met at “Miss Florence” by chance, but could not have found a better patron. “She was such a hospitable hostess who really cared about their works and who they were. They kept coming back and inviting their friends, ”she says. “They started to have a summer exhibition in the library and the exhibitions got so popular that they thought, ‘Well, we need our own gallery.’ ”
Member artist and architect Charles A. Platt designed the new gallery, which after being delayed by World War I, opened in August 1921. On August 14, 1921, The New York Times The book review author called it the ideal gallery. “A greater adequacy, the beauty of proportions and the refinement of taste could hardly be found… Truly an artists’ gallery, built for and by and with artists.”
Designed to be a world-class gallery, Platt designed each gallery room to have large skylights that flood in natural light. “It is a very beautiful space to exhibit art and we are incredibly lucky to have it as the seat of the artistic association,” Pavlos said.
As a group dedicated to supporting its member artists, the Lyme Art Association’s mission was to support figurative art. While Impressionism was important here in the early 1900s, other artistic styles took hold and the artists at LAA decided to bet on figurative art. “And this has been true for over a hundred years that we have existed,” adds Pavlos.
Unlike common artistic terms like Impressionism or Abstract Expressionism, figurative art is a generic non-academic term to describe art in which objects or landscapes are presented realistically. “It’s not a specific style or anything like that, and in fact, we allow small amounts of purely abstract work, but it’s only a handful,” Pavlos explains. “The vast majority of the works in our gallery are representative. “
The association is planning a centennial event for August, details to come, but Zallinger says their summer exhibition will be called Century of inspiration. “We ask our artists to refer to the work of the original artistic colony for inspiration and the type of scenes they painted: bucolic landscapes, agrarian scenes, wooded interiors, gardens, porch and night scenes. in the moonlight, but we are not looking for them. to copy them. We just want our artists to be inspired by it and to be able to come up with their own interpretations of the subject. “
The association’s desire to bring together art lovers and buyers, which pushed it to build its own gallery, continues today, ensuring the legacy of the original art colony.
Centennial of the Lyme Art Association Gallery
Florence Griswold Museum, 96 Lyme St., Old Lyme
Exhibition until May 23