The Register Citizen (Torrington, CT)
What’s happening: Silo Gallery at Hunt Hill to host regional show
NEW MILFORD >> Barns and Farms, The Silo Gallery at Hunt Hill Farm’s upcoming exhibition, brings together works from the region’s best known artists: Eric Sloane and Woldemar Neufeld. Also on display will be works from Kate Neufeld, Woldemar’s sister, and by Merryall resident Frank Tosto.
The artists, each in their own style, have documented buildings, vistas and the history of their era. While the Neufelds and Sloane are deceased, Tosto carries on the tradition of recording the landscapes of our time for posterity.
An opening reception to view the exhibition, meet Tosto, Laurence Neufeld, son and nephew of the Neufelds, and Art Kerber, of Millerton’s Green River Gallery who is offering a selection of Eric Sloane paintings, will be held Friday, Aug. 2, from 5 to 7:30 p.m. at The Silo Gallery, 44 Upland Road, New Milford, and will feature light bites and refreshment from The Silo Cooking School. The artwork will be available for purchase, and Tosto will also be accepting future commissions.
Hunt Hill Farm Executive Director Liba Furhman said, “This exhibit captures the essence of a lifestyle and a landscape that in many cases had already vanished, and in some cases is re-emerging.
“Barns are more than just buildings. They are a witness to centuries of change. In this era of sustainable agriculture, part our mission here at Hunt Hill Farm is our focus on teaching future generations the importance of farming and barns through active adaptive usage of our historic buildings.” She said, the Barns and Farm exhibit will be augmented in September by the addition of Barn Again, a retired Smithsonian Institution Main Street exhibit, now in the hands of Hunt Hill Farm. The exhibition will continue through Oct. 5.
The Silo Gallery and Store are open Wednesday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday from noon to 5 p.m. For more information, please call Liba Furhman at 355-0300 or visit www.hunthillfarmtrust.org.
Drawing on the creative legacy of Skitch and Ruth Henderson, the Henderson Cultural Center at Hunt Hill Farm, a Smithsonian Institution affiliate, is a vibrant and unique regional resource, offering the public opportunities to explore music, art, cuisine, and permanently protected historic open space.
Eric Sloane, who passed away in 1985 is one of the most interesting of twentieth century American painters.
Born Everard Jean Hinrichs on Feb. 27, 1905 in New York City, to a well-to-do family, he spent many boyhood hours with neighbor and noted font inventor, Fredrick Goudy (Goudy Type) and Field and Stream illustrator Herman Roundtree. From Goudy, at an early age, he learned to hand paint letters and create signs – and from Roundtree, an appreciation of nature.
At the age of fourteen, Sloane ran away from home, working his way across America painting signs and advertisements on barns, buildings and stores. One of his most notable stays was with the Taos Pueblo Indian Tribe, just north of Santa Fe, New Mexico.
Returning east, he attended the Art Students League of New York, and changed his name because George Luks and John French Sloan said young students should paint under an assumed name so early inferior works would not be attached to them. Eric was taken from the middle letters of America and Sloane from his mentor’s name, with an “e” added.
Sloane’s early clients included aviators flying out of Roosevelt Field on Long Island. After his first flight, Sloane fell in love with clouds and the sky, elements that would dominate his work. His first cloud painting was purchased by Amelia Erhardt, and his largest cloud painting fills an entire wall at the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum in Washington DC.
While restoring a Connecticut farmhouse in the early 1950’s he began to identify with the Early American settlers and began painting rustic landscapes in the tradition of the Hudson River School. He first moved to the Lake Candlewood area, then to the Merryall section in New Milford, and in 1956 he moved to Warren, where he kept a home until 1985.
Sloane also spent part of each year in Taos, New Mexico, where he painted western landscapes and particularly luminous depictions of the desert sky and in 1975 Sloane built a home Santa Fe, New Mexico. From his two residences, he spent most of his later life preserving the practical architecture and stoic lives of the first European settlers, in oil paints and in writing. He wrote and illustrated scores of Colonial era books on tools, architecture, farming techniques, folklore, and rural wisdom. In his career as a painter, he produced over 15,000 works.
On March 5, 1985 as he was on his way to meet his wife at a luncheon in his honor, Sloane died of a heart attack on the steps of New York City’s Plaza Hotel. He is buried in Kent, Connecticut.
Synonymous with New Milford and neighboring towns, Woldemar Neufeld, through his works, preserved a lifestyle and heritage that is both iconic and idyllic.
Born in southern Russia in 1909, Neufeld’s father was an engineer who designed bridges, and his grandfather produced farm machinery. He studied the use of oils and watercolors when he was a teenager. In 1924, after the revolution, he emigrated to Canada.
His formal art training began in Toronto where he studied evenings at the Ontario College of Art. In 1939, he married Peggy Conrad, graduated from the Cleveland Art Institute and was awarded the Agnes Gund Scholarship. Two years later he received his B.S. degree in Art Education from Western Reserve University.
In 1945, Neufeld moved to Manhattan’s upper east side, two blocks from the East River, with a studio on 90th Street. Neufeld established himself as an East River artist, and began to develop a historical record of this neighborhood in flux.
In the late 1940’s Neufeld held a number of successful one-man shows. He taught art classes to serious students until 1979, painting and teaching privately in his New York studio three days a week and worked with children, as art director, in the East Side House Settlement project.
In 1946, and continuing for several summers, Neufeld rented studio space across the road from Alexander Calder’s studio in Roxbury, near New Milford. Then in 1949, he purchased an eight-acre property on New Preston Hill Road.
According to Paul Gerard Tiessen and Hildi Froese Tiessen, editors and publishers of Waterloo Portfolio: Woldemar Neufeld’s Paintings and Block-prints, Neufeld “was entranced by the vistas – both urban and rural – that New Milford offered: its charming New England streetscapes, its evocative historic center, the pastoral beauty of its rural surroundings, the dramatic panorama of the Housatonic River valley.”
A founding member of the Merryall Community Center and, the Washington Art Association, beginning in 1953 and continuing for almost two decades, he was Art Director at Millbrook School in Millbrook, New York. One of his most ambitious projects – painting sixty of the bridges spanning the Housatonic River in Connecticut and Massachusetts – culminated with a major fall exhibition during 1976 – celebrating America’s bicentennial year.
In 1975, Neufeld was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, and in later years, he suffered from blindness – particular ironies for an artist who relied on the functions of hands and eyes.
In 1988, when they could no longer keep up their property, he and his wife moved into a house on Whittlesey Avenue just off New Milford’s historic green. He continued to paint, but, by 1996, the combination of Parkinson’s disease and glaucoma put an end to his professional work. Finally, acknowledging his physical difficulties, he moved into the Candlewood Valley Nursing home in 2002, and was the same year presented by the Town of New Milford with the Leonardo Da Vinci award, a recognition of his talent and of his enormous contributions in life and in art. Neufeld died in on Nov. 24, 2002. He was 93 years old.
Though not as well know as her younger brother, Kate Neufeld was an accomplished artist in her own realm.
Kate Neufeld was born in southern Russia in 1905. The daughter of an affluent industrialist of German descent, she was raised in Waldheim, a Mennonite community in the Ukraine. After her father was executed by the Red Army in 1920, her mother remarried Jacob H. Janzen, a prominent Mennonite bishop. The family fled to Canada in 1924, and settled in Waterloo, Ontario.
Largely a self-taught artist, she learned color block printing from Japanese-Canadians in Vancouver, which she taught to her younger brother, Woldemar, when she followed him to study at the Cleveland Institute of Art in the 1930s. While there she worked in watercolors with the Art Society of Kitchener and mastered the art of enameling through her studies with Kenneth Bates, the so-called Dean of American Enamelists.
In the early 1940s, while exploring abstract forms, she created “After Picasso in Yarn.” The Cleveland Museum of Art was impressed enough by this work to include in the “May Show,” its prestigious annual juried exhibition.
In 1945 Kate moved with her brother and his family to New York City, and in 1949 with them to New Preston, where one of her important early commissions – a large table inlaid with enameled tiles – came from the Fredric Marches. At New Preston, too, on the rural estate where she and her brother’s family lived, Kate kept outstanding gardens of flowers and vegetables.
In the 1950s, she participated in several national juried exhibitions including the Decorative Arts and Ceramics exhibition at the Wichita Art Association in Kansas. In 1958, Kate Neufeld’s work was shown at the New Britain Art Museum in Connecticut in a two-person exhibition with her brother, Woldemar.
Over the course of her lifetime, she worked in various media: enamel, yarn, watercolour, oil, pastel, block-print, and monotype.
Kate Neufeld continued to live and work well into her old age. Predeceased by her artist/mentor younger brother, she died in New Milford, in August 2004 at the age of 99.
Neufeld’s artwork appears in the Cleveland Art Museum and her “Stormy Weather” block print is in the Library of Congress’ collection. Recently, in 2011, her prints, paintings, textiles and enamels were featured in one-person exhibition at the Gunn Memorial Library in Washington.
A resident of Merryall and New York City, Frank Tosto says that he has been making pictures all his life. Though he has no formal training, he draws abstract landscapes, personal figurative drawings and architectural renderings, all on paper.
Tosto is a serious collector of the works of Fritz G. Voigt, an itinerant German immigrant artist who worked between 1890-99 in central New York State. Tosto currently owns 73 of Voigt’s paintings and is working on his catalogue raisoneé.
After collecting his 18th Voigt drawing Tosto decided to do one himself, and never stopped. The exhibition will include a wide-ranging selection of his works including drawings of the New Milford and Bridgewater town centers, area homes and farms.
Tosto also accepts commission for drawing homes, farms, churches and store fronts or businesses in his folk-art style.