On Saturday, June 8, 2019, the Farnsworth Art Museum in Rockland, Maine, will open two exhibitions of works by Jamie Wyeth. In the museum’s Wyeth Center, an exhibition of the artist’s recent works, entitled “Jamie Wyeth: Untoward Occurrences and Other Things,” will be on display through Sunday, October 28. Jamie Wyeth’s memorial tribute to his late wife, Phyllis, who died this past January, will open in the museum’s Hadlock Gallery. Entitled “Phyllis Mills Wyeth: A Celebration,” the exhibition will be on view through September 8.
“Untoward Occurrences and Other Things” focuses on recent paintings by Jamie Wyeth done between 2010 and 2017. Its title is taken from a series of eleven paintings he did in 2013–2017 that depict scenes on Monhegan Island, some real and some imagined. In the seven works from the series included in the exhibition, three show Rockwell Kent, the early-twentieth-century American painter whose work Jamie greatly admires. Kent summered on Monhegan for several years and even spent a winter there, and Jamie has a studio in a house Kent built there for his mother. Another work from the series is a portrait of World War II veteran Harry Odom, who lives on the island, and another depicts an awkward social moment at a church fundraiser where one of the guests imbibed a bit too much and tipped over his table.
In these paintings Wyeth combines his fascination for everyday occurrences in which there seems to be something more, even unsettling, in what is taking place. Rendered freely and expressively, they reveal Wyeth’s interest in storytelling, as well as his love of Monhegan for both its beauty as well as its sometimes strange cast of characters. The exhibition is accompanied by a catalogue with an essay by Henry Adams, a scholar of American art at Case Western Reserve University, who also contributed to the museum’s recent publication, Andrew Wyeth at 100.
“Phyllis Mills Wyeth: A Celebration” was mounted originally by the Brandywine River Museum. From the late 1960s onward, Phyllis Mills Wyeth (November 13, 1940 – January 14, 2019) was a muse to her husband, artist Jamie Wyeth. The selection of paintings assembled in this exhibition are a memorial tribute and reflect Phyllis Wyeth’s vibrant spirit and love of nature, horses, and her ever-present dogs.
Included are 29 paintings and drawings, ranging from the artist’s first portrait of her (Phyllis Mills, 1967) — depicted outdoors and covered in fallen leaves — to more recent work, such as the lushly painted “Overslept” (2018). Jamie Wyeth captured the many facets of his wife’s remarkable life, including several works that attest to her accomplishments in carriage driving, such as “Into the Gorge” (1975) and “Connemara” (1984), and to her success as a Thoroughbred horse breeder and owner, most notably in “Winner’s Circle, Belmont Stakes” (2012), celebrating the win of her champion horse Union Rags at that illustrious race in 2012. Paintings such as “Catching Pollen” (2012), “Stealing Holly from the Irénées” (2016), and “Southern Light” (1994), attest to Phyllis Wyeth’s love of nature and the distinctive landscapes surrounding her at home near Chadds Ford and in Maine. Also on view are a selection of intimate domestic scenes, painted as Christmas gifts from her husband, and depicting her beloved dogs.
Both exhibition openings will be celebrated at the June First Friday at Farnsworth, on Friday, June 7. Lead exhibition sponsors are Edith R. Dixon and Anna Mae Twigg. Contributing Sponsor is Flowers by Hoboken. The Primary Media Sponsor is Maine Home + Design. For more information please visit www.farnsworthmuseum.org.