The Taft School Features Newly Acquired Artwork That Celebrates Connecticut

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The Taft School is embracing its roots in a new exhibit that celebrates the artistic talent and natural beauty of Connecticut and Litchfield County. Artwork by prominent local artists, including Peter Poskas, Wendell Minor, Clare Leighton, David Merrill, and Taft alumnus and longtime teacher Mark Potter, has found a new home at Taft through a generous anonymous gift to the school. These works will be on display at Taft in the Mark W. Potter ’48 gallery from October 1 through October 28, 2010.

While Taft brings together students from across the country and around the world, we remember that we are specifically New England: a culture composed of weather, architecture, landscape, and habits of mind reflected in these works of art.

The Taft School is embracing its roots in a new exhibit that celebrates the artistic talent and natural beauty of Connecticut and Litchfield County. Artwork by prominent local artists, including Peter Poskas, Wendell Minor, Clare Leighton, David Merrill, and Taft alumnus and longtime teacher Mark Potter, has found a new home at Taft through a generous anonymous gift to the school. These works will be on display at Taft in the Mark W. Potter ’48 gallery from October 1 through October 28, 2010. There will be an opening reception on Friday, October 1, from 5 to 7 p.m. The public is cordially invited.

“While Taft brings together students from across the country and around the world, we remember that we are specifically New England: a culture composed of weather, architecture, landscape, and habits of mind reflected in these works of art,” says Art Director Loueta Chickadaunce. “Our particular history makes us the school we are today, and this generous gift to Taft strengthens a collective memory of muted colors under hard frosts and muddy, late springs.”

Taft acquired 38 works in total through this generous gift. Having lived in Litchfield County for 50 years, the donor determined that Taft would be a careful steward of the precious collection. While she does not have any official ties to Taft, she fondly remembers attending dances at the school when she was a teenager.

The remarkable collection showcases the talent of these artists and celebrates the pastoral, natural beauty of Litchfield County and Connecticut. Included is Wendell Minor’s cover illustration for the children’s book "Red Fox Running." Minor’s artwork graces the cover of many adult and children books, including the easily-recognizable cover for David McCullough’s Pulitzer Prize winning biography, "Truman."

Clare Leighton contributes three wood engravings, "Shoeing the Horse," "Field Mice," and "Shire Horse." These works reveals Leighton’s pain-staking attention to detail and the rural focus of her work. Taft’s appreciation of and ties to Leighton’s work are deep-seated. For many years, Taft has displayed prints and drawings of farm scenes by Leighton, as well as Wedgewood plates, commissioned in 1953, depicting the Taft campus.

Peter Poskas, a masterful colorist and draughtsman, is represented in the exhibit by ten pastoral scenes. Silent reflections of the souls they protect and contain, houses and fields are rendered in lavenders, ragged whites, and soft grey-greens. The Mark Potter watercolors of winter at Judson's Farm are paired with Curtis Hanson's painting of cattle under flowering trees and another of an abandoned boat at sea in a field of green.

Animal studies by Clarence Godwin and Peggy Westphal are, by turns, rigorously detailed and impressionist. Other works included in the gift are by Mary Miner, Robert Nisbet, David Merrill, Feodor Rimsky, and Jonathan Scoville.

The art will be on display from October 1 through October 28, 2010. There will be an opening reception in the Mark W. Potter ’48 gallery at The Taft School in Watertown, CT on Friday, October 1, from 5 to 7 p.m. The public is cordially invited. The gallery is open Monday through Saturday, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. For more information on the gallery, visit http://www.taftschool.org/pottergallery/ .

Taft is an independent boarding and day school for 588 boys and girls in grades nine through post graduate. Founded in 1890 by Horace Dutton Taft, younger brother of President William Howard Taft, the school moved to Watertown in 1893. More than a century later, its motto of service -- Not to be served but to serve -- remains central to the school’s mission today.

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