Art exhibit explores web of Wyeths' influence

September 09, 2011|By ANDREW SCHOTZ |
  • A reception was held in the new Atrium at Washington Co. Museum of Fine Arts for Wyeth Family Artists Exhibit.
By Ric Dugan/Staff Photographer

HAGERSTOWN, Md. — The Washington County Museum of Fine Arts in Hagerstown planned to borrow some Wyeth family art to help celebrate the museum's 80th anniversary.

Four paintings would be on loan from the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts in Philadelphia — two by Andrew Wyeth, one by his son Jamie Wyeth and one by his father, N.C. Wyeth.

Rebecca Massie Lane, the museum's director, said the idea sprouted into something grander.

"As we began to look at them and think about them, we decided that we could make a much greater impact if we should expand upon the idea of the Wyeths and their influence," she said.

The exhibit — which runs Saturday through Jan. 15, 2012 — now has, as Massie Lane described it, an inner circle, a middle circle and an outer circle.

The core Wyeth family is in the exhibit, along with an extended spread of cousins, aunts, uncles, siblings and spouses who joined the family through marriage.

The exhibit goes further, pulling in local artists influenced by the Wyeths.

In total, the art web includes dozens of people with blood, marriage or artistic ties to the Wyeth family.

"In this particular region, artists have really looked to the Wyeths as their inspiration and have become very, very accomplished in the style that was created by the Wyeth family," Massie Lane said.

Bob Wantz of Hagerstown, who helped plan the exhibit, said the local artists include some who are fairly young — all the way up to Lester Stone, who turned 100 years old this summer.

"I feel very honored to be in this show because all the good heavyweights that are around the Tri-State area are in this show," Wantz said.

Walter P. Smith and his wife, Jeannette C. Smith, were at a preview reception at the museum Friday evening.

Walter P. Smith's grandmother, Ellen Pyle, was the sister-in-law of Howard Pyle, who taught N.C. Wyeth. Ellen Pyle's daughter married N.C. Wyeth's son.

The Smiths are proud that their late daughter, Nancy C. Marshall, has two paintings in the show.

Marshall, who died of cancer this year, was "lifelong in love with N.C. Wyeth and his work," her father said.

Her admiration and bond shows up in how she signed her work — N.C. Marshall.

Walter P. Smith and A.N. (Andy) Wyeth are scheduled to share their reminiscences of the family at the museum on Oct. 16.

The museum will host a program devoted to Andrew Wyeth on Sept. 25.

Wantz said the museum will organize a field trip in the fall to Chadds Ford, Pa., to see the Brandywine River Museum's Wyeth collection.

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