See the treasures of Chester County collectors
By J. Chambless
A table and chairs by George Nakashima, with a 1990 panel by Siron Franco, and works by Tom Bostelle and Tania Boucher.
By John Chambless
The range of styles and eras reflected
in “Chester County Collects” gives you a strong impression of how
rich a vein of artwork the Chester County Art Association has tapped
for this benefit exhibition. The show, which opened on Oct. 7 and
continues through Oct. 23 in West Chester, is a chance to snoop
through private art collections, but it's also a richly satisfying
artistic experience in its own right, spanning art and objects both
ancient and brand new.
The penny farthing bicycle is a cool antique and a striking presence in the main gallery, along with the beautifully made 1729 walnut high chest nearby. But the antiques range from a 19th-century bow painted with orange and black designs to slender, graceful furniture by George Nakashima. The 1960s tables and chairs, on loan from owner Christa Vanderbilt, display Nakashima's supreme skill in making furniture that transcends eras. Also, there's a delicately arched music stand and graceful stool on loan from the Wharton Esherick Museum that show Esherick's unmistakable style.
There are some superstar pieces in the show – the untitled 1959 lithograph by Picasso, three small paintings and a large dog portrait by George Cope, and a large Horace Pippin street scene, “The Milkman of Goshen.”
Impeccably arranged, the show blends new works with old and makes them interact. There's an attention-grabbing mural-size work by Vik Muniz, “Emerson (Aftermath Series),” from 1998, that depicts a Brazilian street boy and the intricate assemblage of dirt, trash and carnival confetti around him. “Street Kid,” a 1990 panel by Siron Franco, addresses issues of teens and crime in outsider-art style. It hangs between two Native American rattles made of horn and turtle shell, and an 1880s totem pole from the Tligit tribe. And the juxtaposition works.
There are two haunting shadow paintings by Chester County artist Tom Bostelle, “Riddle Rider” and “Woman Dressing,” along with a Chester County landscape by Bostelle's longtime associate, Tania Boucher.
The autumn river view by Walter Baum is another superstar artwork, but it gets the same democratic placement as everything else. And you can't miss the dazzling sunlight in “Rocky Coast” (1939), by Walter Schofield, that hangs near the door of the gallery.
Among the sculptures, the Olivia Musgrave bronze of a nude relaxing on horseback gets equal footing with an antique rooster weathervane, inviting viewers to make comparisons and connections.
In the Art Association's smaller gallery, there's an 1800s R.A. Fox oil of sheep watched over by a guard dog, two wonderful etchings of sprawling landscapes by Moishe Smith, several Navajo textiles, a sly portrait by West Chester artist Harry Dunn, an antique toy ice wagon, a superstar Carolyn Wyeth painting, four generations of chairs in the center of the gallery, and a carved and painted board from an antique carousel in splendidly weathered condition.
The central gallery showcases original 1960s concert posters that will stop those of a certain age in their tracks. Dazzling, psychedelic and artistically challenging, these trippy posters are a highlight of this wide-ranging exhibition of treasures. The show may be unified only by the fact that these objects are owned by Chester County residents, but the juxtapositions and contrasts it creates between the art and antiques make “Chester County Collects” a must-see.
The exhibition continues through Oct.
23 at the Chester County Art Association (250 N. Bradford Ave., West
Chester). Gallery hours are Monday to Friday from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.,
Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Sunday from noon to 5 p.m. There
are educational lectures and discussions on Oct. 11, 13, 18 and 20. A
closing reception will be held Oct. 23 from 4 to 8 p.m. Admission for
this fundraiser show is $15 for non-members, $10 for members and
partners, and $5 for students up to age 22. Call 610-696-5600 or
To contact Staff Writer John
Chambless, email email@example.com.