Divine Providence and its Arts Destiny
July 14 - September 24
Gallery Night Providence: July 15, August 19
In 1776 President George Washington, in his inaugural address, confirmed independence was won with Divine Providence and so too has ”divine providence“ fueled the Rhode Island art scene in its capital city. This survey exhibit unveils the many painters and intrigues of art life in Rhode Island that have marked the state since the 19th century.
A remarkable number of artists have live and painted in Rhode Island over the years, but the 19th century brought together artists, collectors and institutions that fostered a distinct art culture recognized both nationally and internationally. This exhibit explores many of the artists beginning in the 1870’s along with their story in context of the local creative community and the larger American art historical developments.
The artist narrative is unfolded with paintings and text. Why did all of these artists congregate in Rhode Island in 1880? In 1850? Who purchased their paintings? Where did they exhibit their works? Did RISD, the Providence Art Club, Newport Art Museum and Brown University facilitate the cultural development of this artist community? What was the art gossip of the time? Why, why, why? These are the questions we have been asking here at Bert Gallery for twenty-five years and continue to ask with exhibits, lectures and publications throughout our silver anniversary year.
Many historic Rhode Island artists have become household names since the surge of interest in American painting in the mid 1980’s. Edward Bannister (1828 - 1901) is recognized as among the first wave of talented African American Artists to rise in the art community with his spiritually moving landscapes. Painters of fruit and flowers like E.C. Leavitt (1842 - 1904) and F.S. Batcheller (1837 - 1927) dominated the craft in their medium. The figurative works of Charles Walter Stetson (1859 - 1911) beguiled many a prominent Rhode Island collector and women artists such as Mabel Woodward (1877 - 1945) and Eliza Gardiner (1871 - 1955) elevated women artists to a significant professional level for their generation. Foreign lands were traveled and masterfully painted by Walter Francis Brown (1853 - 1929) and H.A. Dyer (1872 - 1943). These artists and many others from the 19th century through the 20th century are on display throughout the gallery as a special tribute to Rhode Island’s rich cultural heritage.