“Finding Greenough” exhibition is rich in local history

by the Gleason Art Curators

The current Art at the Gleason show is featuring “Finding Greenough”, a historical and contemporary perspective of the Greenough property and its heritage, past and present.

The Greenough history is represented by six cabinet doors covered with Henry Greenough’s nature notes written in pencil. These were found by the current owners of the Greenough house, D’Anne Bodman and Harvey Nosowitz. Also representing the family legacy, are photos donated by members of the Greenough family, granddaughters Nan Bourne and Emery Goff Carhart and greatgrandson, John Goff.

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“Nuthatch” painting by Debra Bretton Robinson. (Photo by the artist)

The Finding Greenough show is not only rich with history, it is also rich with vibrant color in the work of Tyngsborough painter, Debra Bretton Robinson. The super-saturated palette of Debra’s work gives vitality to the show’s collections. All of her graphic images have intense colors which flatten the landscapes into studies of color and pattern in a captivating way. Debra’s work is inspired by the colorful work of the Fauvists and the 1920s Canadian artist group called The Seven. She prefers to paint en plein aire, or open air, then finish her work from memory back in her studio. Her subject matter focuses on landscapes, portraits and architecture.

When the curators asked Debra to be a part of the show, she willingly agreed to share her bold New England landscapes but went above and beyond to contribute to the theme of the exhibit. She made arrangements to visit the Greenough property to sketch and paint the birds, buildings and landscape. “Greenough Barn” and “Greenough View, Carlisle, MA” are just a few titles of the paintings she created specifically for this exhibit and which adorn the walls at the Gleason.

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“Greenough Barn” painting by Debra Bretton Robinson. (Photo by the artist)

Debra Bretton Robinson has had studio space at the Western Avenue studios in Lowell for the last eight years. She went to school at The New England School of Art and Design initially for fashion illustration and graphic design. She then transferred after two years to Massachusetts College of Art and focused on painting with a double major in art education. Debra divides her time between teaching at two Lowell schools, The Franco American and the Lowell Collegiate Charter School, her studio, and her family of five.

Phil Drew and the Carlisle Historical Society have contributed wonderful artifacts from their collections to help round out the Finding Greenough show. On loan are some items associated with early farming and living in Carlisle. Although the artifacts are not Greenough specific, they capture the life before and during Henry Greenough’s life in Carlisle.

These beautiful collections, housed in various cases throughout the library, include intricately woven jewelry made of human hair, household lanterns, and an old leather and wood cranberry rake. A milking stool belonging to Guy Clark is also an amusing piece of functional sculpture. The hand-carved wooden seat, which fastens around the hips with a leather strap, is attached to a spiral coil spring.

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Painting by Debra Bretton Robinson.
(Photo by the artist)

Phil Drew, President of the Society, is a wealth of information about all the Historical Society’s artifacts and has stories to tell about each item, its history and how they might have been made. For instance, there is a unique bee catcher on display and Phil has written a complete instruction manual on “how” and “why’”with the help of bee-keeper Ernie Huber.

These items are part of larger collections maintained by the Carlisle Historical Society. The Society was founded in 1933 and its mission is to “gather historical and educational objects and information and to transmit to future generations all possible memorials of past and present times.” The library curators are happy to collaborate with the Society to bring new attention to these items on loan from their collections. Open houses at the Heald House, home of the Carlisle Historical Society, are held on the third Sunday of each month from 2 to 5 p.m. The next scheduled open house is Sunday, April 17. View the house, see the collections and learn more about the work of the Society at 698 Concord Road, Carlisle, MA.

This show is rich in legacy and history, from past to present, reflected in art, genealogy, artifacts, video, photography, words and poetry...this is about Finding Greenough.

There will be a reception at the Gleason Public Library for the show on May 13, 2016 from 7 to 10 p.m., with wine, light refreshments and music by the Marcus Pinney Trio. Tickets are $10 each. RSVP at gleasonlibrary.org/art.  ∆