Today, Thursday, May 24, a new exhibition of selected paintings of the Nantucket Art Colony of the 1920s and 1930s will open to the public in The Greater Light, an historic property with magical space that lovingly illustrates the era of Nantucket’s history when an art colony thrived in our sleepy island community.
A collaboration between the Nantucket Historical Association and the Artists Association of Nantucket, The Nantucket Art Colony exhibition is curated by Robert Frazier, AAN Curator of Exhibitions, and features artwork from both organizations’ collections. Mediums of watercolors, pastels, drypoint etchings, and oils, on a variety of subjects from harbor scenes, pastoral landscapes, still lifes, and portraits tell the story of the island’s transformation into a haven for artists. The work of treasured Nantucket artists such as Anne Ramsdell Congdon, Frank Swift Chase, Isabelle Tuttle, and Edgar Whitfield Jenney, among others, will be on view at the Greater Light, once an artist studio and summer residence of the Monaghan family and currently part of the NHA’s collection of historic properties.
“The NHA is pleased to partner with the Artists Association of Nantucket to present a range of works from the leading lights of the Nantucket Art Colony”, says Michael R. Harrison, Robyn and John Davis Chief Curator at NHA, “Sisters Gertrude and Hanna Monaghan came to Nantucket in part because of the island’s artistic community, and we are happy to be displaying these paintings in their house, Greater Light.“
This exhibit, which displays the artwork and illustrates the history of Nantucket’s appeal to painters and art teachers who came to Nantucket and formed the Nantucket Art Colony will be open daily all season until October 8, from 11 am to 4 pm. Greater Light is located off the beaten track in downtown Nantucket at 8 Howard Street. Admission to this exhibit is included in the NHA’s all access pass or $6 individually.
The Art Colony Exhibit is this season’s second collaborative exhibit hosted NHA properties. The first to open was Celebrating Maria Mitchell, which commemorates the bicentennial of the birth of Maria Mitchell, the first female astronomer in the United States. This exhibition includes artifacts such as personal correspondence and scrapbooks, astronomical tools and documents, paintings and photographs of Mitchell, as well treasured mementos she collected throughout her life and travels. These collections give visitors an unparalleled glimpse at the background and influences that shaped Mitchell’s passion and ambition as an astronomer and as an educator. The show also highlights the rich legacy she left through her students at Vassar College and the relevance of her work today.
This collaboration between NHA and Maria Mitchell Association features works and artifacts from the collections of both organizations, and can be viewed in the Nantucket Corner at the Whaling Museum, 13 Broad Street. Celebrating Maria Mitchell is open to visitors through December 2018 and may be viewed during regular Whaling Museum hours.
Also opening this week is Rights & Race, a new NHA exhibition in Hadwen House on upper Main Street. Nantucket has a long history of supporting socially progressive causes, thanks in large part to the island’s Quaker heritage which follows the tenets of equality, personal integrity, simplicity, community, and non-violence. During the 19th century, many Nantucketers actively worked to abolish slavery, to elevate the status of women through suffrage and equal protection under the law, and to increase educational opportunities for minorities.
This exhibition explores the most pressing ethical issues of the nineteenth century and the many ways in which Nantucket’s wealthy elite, particularly the Hadwen and Barney families, participated in these movements. The exhibition also tells the story of some of Nantucket’s notable people of color and their leadership in the fight for desegregated public education. An interactive installation, New Arrivals, New Voices presents Nantucket’s long and complicated history of cultural interaction and diversity, from the native Wampanoag population and the thriving community of New Guinea to the culturally diverse, year-round population that inhabits the island today.
The Hadwen House is located at 96 Main Street, and is open daily from 10 am to 5 pm.
In addition to these three new exhibitions, the Nantucket Historical Association is also launching a new walking tour of downtown Nantucket.
The Historic House & Garden Tour will highlight the nineteenth century Hadwen House, a Greek revival home on built during the height of the whaling industry; the Thomas Macy House, a Federal-style home built in the seventeenth century; and Greater Light, an eighteenth century livestock barn that was converted to an artist studio and summer home in the 1930s. These three homes reflect the ebb and flow of people to Nantucket, representing the island’s two key historic industries, whaling and tourism, which shaped the local economy and created Nantucket as we know it today.
In addition to the stories of these three homes and their gardens, the tour will also provide visitors with insight into Nantucket’s architecture, society, and domestic life through the centuries.
The Historic House & Garden Tour will be offered daily at 1:30 pm through October 8 and lasts approximately 90 minutes. Tickets are $10 and may be purchased at the Whaling Museum, 13 Broad Street.