Impressions of a Friendship: Dwight Williams and Arthur B. Davies

Two paintings, Clouds and Forest Scene, by Dwight Williams are on display at the Cazenovia Public Library through May 31. The exhibition Impressions of a Friendship: Dwight Williams and Arthur B. Davies honors Davies’ influence on Cazenovia artist Dwight Williams as well as Davies’ role in the 1913 Armory Show in New York City.

Cazenovia Public Library news

Submitted by Patti Christakos

(Cazenovia, NY -April 2013D Williams CloudsD Williams Forest Scene) The Cazenovia Public Library Art Gallery presents “Impressions of a Friendship: Dwight Williams and Arthur B. Davies,” an exhibition featuring more than 20 pastel paintings by Williams (1856-1932), a Cazenovia landscape painter, teacher and friend to renowned American painter Davies (1862-1928).

As a departure from Williams’ traditional landscapes, these colorful pastels celebrate Williams’ connection to Davies, an important American artist and organizer of the groundbreaking 1913 Armory Show. The exhibition in the library art gallery will run through May 31.

“Many of these pastels have never been exhibited before,” said Library Director Betsy Kennedy. “It is an honor to be able to offer paintings of such high caliber to the community. The library’s collection of works by Williams was donated by Richard and Prudence Hubbard in 1992. Richard’s father, Robert, was a friend and patron of the Williams.”

Williams was a fledgling 20-year-old art instructor and recent Cazenovia Seminary graduate in 1876 when he was hired by the Davies family of Utica to provide private drawing instruction for their 14-year-old son, Arthur. Williams, who would describe these first sessions as ‘seeing lessons,’ noted the boy’s genius from the outset.

Although the instructions would last just two years, the friendship and love for the beauty of Central New York would last throughout both their lives. Williams, as Davies’s first instructor, places Cazenovia in the footnotes of 20th century American art history.

Davies, who would go on to become one of the most respected artists of his day, visited Williams in Cazenovia on several occasions. Here Davies describes Cazenovia to his friend and art dealer, William Macbeth, of New York:

“Cazenovia is perfectly ideal, such people, gardens, old houses, grand hills and trees,” Davies wrote. “I have never realized except in my pictures and dreams, and I can see how much I have owed to these very conditions, through my dear friend Dwight Williams.”

Writer and museum director Duncan Phillips of the Phillips Collection in Washington, D.C., described the bond between Davies and Williams as “one of mutual admiration, affection and affinity.”

It is these affinities for color and movement, mountains and stream, home and travel that this exhibition celebrates. Williams’ imaginative paintings, with his bold use of brilliant colors and superb draftsmanship, offer a timely nod to Davies and his influence on Williams as well as Davies’ role in the story of American art history.

The Gallery’s Exhibition Guide shows examples of Davies’ works held in other museums. The similarities between Davies’ and Williams’ pastels is striking, particularly their landscape and cloud paintings. Another interesting connection is found with Williams’ early Williamsburg, Va., watercolor and Davies. At least three of Williams’ paintings were used in the restoration of colonial Williamsburg in the 1920s.

According to Ronnie Owens, daughter of Arthur B. Davies, it was her father who originally recommended Williamsburg to project benefactor John D. Rockefeller, Jr., and his wife Abby Aldrich Rockefeller; perhaps Davies helped procured the project for Williams, as well.

Three of the paintings, Vernon Fair and two paintings from Mexico, were featured in a 1931 exhibition at the Syracuse Museum of Fine Arts that paired Williams’ pastels with Davies watercolors. The exhibition was held as a memorial for Davies (he had died three years earlier in Italy) and just two years prior to Williams’ own death.

For Williams, it was a celebration of his lifelong devotion to art, as well as a celebration of his student and artistic inspiration, friend and sketching partner, Arthur B. Davies.

As the 100th anniversary of the Armory Show returns Davies’ life to the national spotlight, Impressions of a Friendship provides a fascinating glimpse of life in Cazenovia at the brink of the modern era.

Visitors to the Cazenovia Public Library will also enjoy the lobby display showcasing memorabilia, books and newspapers from Dwight Williams and the 1913 Armory Show featuring cartoons of Marcel Duchamps’ controversial, Nude Descending a Staircase, No. 2.

The Cazenovia Public Library Museum and Gallery is open during regular library hours: 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Friday and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday. There is no admission charge, and parking is free.

World Book Night U.S.

On Tuesday, April 23, 25,000 volunteers from Berkeley to Boston and Sitka to Sarasota will give away half a million free books in more than 6,000 towns and cities across the country.

To join in the fun and share in the love of reading, all are invited to the Cazenovia Public Library Community Room from 7 to 8:30 p.m., where the first 20 participants will receive a free copy of Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury.

“World Book Night U.S.” is an ambitious campaign to give thousands of free, specially printed paperbacks to light or non-readers across America on one day. Volunteer book lovers help promote reading by going out into their communities and sharing free copies of books they love.

The mission of World Book Night is to seek out those without the means or access to printed books.

Bestselling authors Ann Patchett and James Patterson are this year’s honorary chair-people. James Patterson said: “In my experience, when people like what they are doing, they do more of it. This is the genius of World Book Night – it gets people reading by connecting them with amazing, enjoyable books. I’m honored to be a part of it.”

“I’m very proud to be a part of World Book Night,” Patchett said. “As both a writer and a bookseller, I’m all in favor of getting books into the hands of people who might not otherwise have access to them.”

The books were chosen by an independent panel of booksellers and librarians through several rounds of voting. The printing of the free books was possible due to generosity of the authors, publishers and book manufacturing companies.

World Book Night in the U.S. is a non-profit organization that has 501(c)3 non-profit status and is supported by publishers Barnes & Noble, the American Booksellers Association, the American Library Association, Ingram Content Group, FedEx, printers and paper companies.

On the 23rd, everyone is encouraged to take part in “World Book Night U.S.” at the Cazenovia Public Library. Feel free to bring a favorite book to share and exchange. Light refreshments will be served.

For more information on the exhibits or other news at the Cazenovia Public Library, call 315.655.9322 or visit cazenoviapubliclibrary.org.

Coming Attractions

Slow Art Day: Saturday, April 27, 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. in the Library Gallery and Museum; reservations required. Visit slowartday.com/ for more details; lunch to follow at Circa Restaurant from 1 to 2:30 p.m.

Art Reception: Wednesday, May 1, 5 to 7 p.m. in the Library Gallery and Museum, a reception for the Impressions of a Friendship: Dwight Williams and Arthur B. Davies.

Art Discussion: Wednesday, May 1, 7 p.m. in the Library Community Room, “AKA: The Armory Show,” the 1913 art exhibition that shook America and the art world, will be presented by Mary E. Murray, Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art at the Museum of Art, Munson-Williams-Proctor Arts Institute, Utica.

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