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Arkell Museum exhibition Rising from the Sea: The Art of Jay Hall Connaway

August 4, 2011

Rising from the Sea:

The Art of Jay Hall Connaway

at the Arkell Museum at Canajoharie

August 22, 2011- May 27, 2012

Rising from the Sea: The Art of Jay Hall Connaway opens at the Arkell Museum at Canajoharie, NY on August 22, 2011.A student of the sea, sky, and mountains Jay Connaway (1893-1970) painted in an era marked by the economic, political and social upheaval of World War I, the Great Depression and World War II.

Connaway earned 85 lifetime one-man shows and a reputation with critics as “the greatest sea painter since Winslow Homer.” Originating from his unique sensibility and response to nature, and evoking a bold Impressionist style, Connaway’s paintings appeared endlessly searching for something that could not be found on land or sea. Connaway was preparing to open his 86th one-man show at the time of his death. Exhibition curator Ruth Green-McNally notes that “In this, his fifth museum exhibition since 2009, Connaway’s oeuvre has been re-consigned to the public consciousness. His marines and landscapes exhibit a prolific ‘painter of poetry’ and confirm his individualistic response to the challenges and credos of an era.”

Under the patronage of Bartlett Arkell, president of Beech-Nut Corporation and founder of the Canajoharie Library and Art Gallery, Connaway painted in Brittany, France and later on the remote island of Monhegan, Maine where he resided in a house provided by Arkell. In an extraordinary act of generosity, Bartlett Arkell conferred the Monhegan property in his will to Connaway. Relocating to Vermont and invigorated by new subject matter, the painter opened an art school that attracted New York painters, novices, and servicemen under the GI Bill. Bartlett Arkell’s widow, Louise Ryall, became one of Connaway’s students and with the Arkells, Connaway became a founder and sponsor of Southern Vermont Artists, Inc. The Connaway Art School merged with Southern Vermont Arts Center in 1962.

This exhibition includes paintings by Connaway from the Arkell Museum and Arkell Foundation collections and two works from a private collection. Visitors to the exhibition will also have the opportunity to see paintings by three of Connaway’s contemporaries. Two of these artists, Gifford Beal (1879-1956) and Clarence Chatterton (1890-1973), shared Connaway’s background as students of William Merritt Chase. The third artist, Edward Christiana (1912-1992), attended summer classes at the Connaway Art School on Monhegan Island.

Connaway felt free to explore the range between Modernism and Realism. He worked toward an individualistic style without allegiance to one school of thought or manner. His search for his own style may be summed up in one of his personal journal entries: This game called art, what is it? Am not sure I know. It seems that realism, a style of saying nothing very well; and Modernism, a style of saying absolutely nothing very, very badly. There must be a middle.

Exhibition curator, Ruth Greene-McNally will present a gallery talk at the Arkell Museum on Sunday, September 25th at 2:00 pm. The gallery talk is free with regular museum admission.

Press Releaseconnawayaugust.pdf

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