An artist’s last hur­rah

Af­ter 4 decades, Wynn Bres­lin is host­ing her fi­nal open-stu­dio tour

Newark Post - - Front Page - By JOSH SHAN­NON jshan­non@ches­pub.com

To visit Wynn Bres­lin’s art stu­dio is to take a pic­to­rial trip through the his­tory of The Wedge, the unique sliver of land whose land­scape in­spired the Ne­wark artist’s life­time of work.

From the bal­cony of her Ter­rapin Lane home, Bres­lin has spent nearly six decades chron­i­cling the chang­ing scenery of the White Clay Creek Val­ley.

In Bres­lin’s home stu­dio, nearly every inch of avail­able wall space is cov­ered with paint­ings, a mix of oils, acrylics and wa­ter­col­ors. Hun­dreds more are stacked in piles against the wall or packed away in boxes.

Over the next three week­ends, Bres­lin, 84, will open her stu­dio up to the pub­lic for the fi­nal time af­ter 41 years of an­nual shows. Any­one in­ter­ested is wel­come to browse through her paint­ings, ask ques­tions about her tech­niques and hear her sto­ries about The Wedge.

She held her first open- stu­dio event to cel­e­brate the na­tion’s bi-

cen­ten­nial, and through the years, the spring­time tra­di­tion has be­come a sig­na­ture of Bres­lin’s ca­reer.

“It’s my feel­ing that it’s a bridge be­tween the pub­lic and the artist,” Bres­lin said. “That’s what I wanted it to be.”

Bres­lin be­lieves she was des­tined to be an artist.

Her fa­ther came from a fam­ily of Paris­based artists, and grow­ing up in Ruther­ford, N. J., Bres­lin was in­ter­ested in paint­ing from an early age.

“It runs in the genes,” she said. “It’s what I wanted to do my whole life.”

Bres­lin earned a schol­ar­ship to study art at Syra­cuse Univer­sity but later trans­ferred to Ohio Wes­leyan Univer­sity af­ter she got en­gaged to her late hus­band, Bill.

Bill was drafted dur­ing the Korean War, but ended up be­ing sta­tioned at Dover Air Force base rather than be­ing sent over­seas. The young cou­ple moved to Ge­orge­town, Del. – where they lived in a trailer parked in a potato patch – and Bres­lin got a job teaching art at a lo­cal school.

When Bill got out of the ser­vice, they moved to Ne­wark, where he took a job at the Univer­sity of Delaware and she ac­cepted a teaching po­si­tion at the Medill and Cen­tral schools. They lived on Kells Av­enue while search­ing for a place to build their own home.

“It took us four years to find a prop­erty with a view,” she said.

In 1961, they set­tled on the 2.5- acre prop­erty in The Wedge, the tri­an­gu­lar piece of land where Delaware, Penn­syl­va­nia and Mary­land meet and that un­til 1921 was the sub­ject of a land dis­pute be­tween Delaware and Penn­syl­va­nia. For many years, it was known as a law­less no­man’s land be­cause nei­ther state could de­ci­sively claim ju­ris­dic­tion.

The Bres­lins built their house atop a hill over­look­ing the White Clay Creek Val­ley. They de­signed the house to be long and thin in or­der to max­i­mize the amount of win­dows that over­looked the vista.

At the time, the home’s van­tage point pro­vided her a view of rolling green pas­tures, ac­cented by an old barn. In the dis­tance was Ter­rapin Hill – named that be­cause it looked like a tur­tle from the air, Bres­lin ex­plained.

Once farm­land, the area was owned by DuPont, which aimed to flood the val­ley to cre­ate a reservoir. Bow­ing to pub­lic pres­sure, the com­pany even­tu­ally aban­doned that plan and do­nated the land to the state, lead­ing to the cre­ation of White Clay Creek State Park.

In re­cent years, how­ever, trees have ob­scured much of the view from her home.

“It’s a shame, but it hap­pens,” she said. “It’s life.”

Through­out her ca­reer, Bres­lin has done a num­ber of types of art – from sculp­tures to por­traits to land­scapes of the Maine coast, where she owns a sum- mer home – but she al­ways finds her­self re­turn­ing to her fa­vorite muse: The Wedge.

“You should have seen it be­fore it all grew up,” she said wist­fully. “I just love the area.”

She’s painted the same gen­eral scene hun­dreds of times but marvels in the lit­tle de­tails that change – the ef­fect the chang­ing sea­sons have, the way the land looks in a cer­tain light, and even the way she feels as she’s paint­ing it.

“I look at it through every win­dow in my house,” she said. “Some­times, the light hits some­thing just right, and I go grab my paints.”

As she pre­pared for her fi­nal open- stu­dio week­ends, Bres­lin seemed re­mark­ably at peace with the four- decade tra­di­tion com­ing to an end, adding that she should have ended it last year, be­fore some re­cent health is­sues left her with less en­ergy than she’d like.

Still, she looks back at the last four decades with fond­ness.

“I’ve made re­ally good friends from peo­ple who come every year,” she said. “It’s been de­light­ful for me.”

Be­sides, she said with a smile as she showed off the view from her bal­cony, it’s not like she plans to put down her paint­brush any time soon.

“It doesn’t mean I’ll stop paint­ing,” she said.

NE­WARK POST PHOTO BY JOSH SHAN­NON

Artist Wynn Bres­lin is pre­par­ing to host her fi­nal open-stu­dio event, a tra­di­tion she has car­ried on for more than 40 years.

NE­WARK POST PHOTO BY JOSH SHAN­NON

Artist Wynn Bres­lin ad­mires the view of The Wedge from the bal­cony of her home.

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