The Westport Library is unveiling three new exhibitions for spring, highlighting the work of Connecticut artists Nancy Moore and Charles Douthat as well as the art of the album with a display related to the Chicago blues.
All three exhibits are currently on view and will run through August 8, with Moore’s Women Telling Stories in the Sheffer Gallery, Douthat’s Three Seasons in the South Gallery, and Chicago Blues displaying in the Jesup Gallery.
With a background as a book editor, Moore has internalized the art of storytelling to inform her passion as a painter. She paints primarily on large slices of archival paper, working mainly with watercolor and also with graphite, gouache, metallic paint, colored pencil, and wax crayon. Themes of her work include transformation, ethnography, design, shape-shifting, gender identity, fashion, and creation myth.
Moore (pictured above) is a proud, self-taught artist who revels in the distortion of body proportions and perspectives, with a goal of creating narratives from emotion and instinct that flow from the heart and hand onto the paper. The resulting work resides in many private homes, and in galleries, museums, and other public institutions.
There will be an event and reception on June 4 to celebrate the exhibit, from 2 to 4 pm, with a talk between Moore and Miggs Burroughs at 3 pm.
“How wonderful to have my work hanging here in this glorious space,” Moore said. “I grew up in my neighborhood library in New Haven internalizing the voices of countless authors who entertained me, guided me, and kept me company. I went on to become a book editor, spending 38 years in the company of people compelled to describe the world and to tell stories. Around the edges of that career, I painted — a passion I discovered in childhood and never lost. The need to tell stories, to communicate through my work, has propelled me forward in my career as an artist.”
Douthat is a poet, retired litigator, visual artist, and member of the Artists Collective of Westport. A graduate of Stanford and the University of California, Douthat is a self-taught painter who works within the traditions of abstract expressionism and lyrical abstraction. He began painting 15 years ago, toward the end of a long career as a trial lawyer in New Haven. In 2019, he received an MFA in fine arts from Warren Wilson College.
His paintings, featured individually in many curated and juried shows, were most recently the subject of the one-person exhibition, Everyone Has Feelings, at Metro Art Studios in Bridgeport, and a two-person exhibition, Moving Lines, at the Kershner Gallery in Fairfield.
Douthat will be appearing in the Library on June 14 for a reception and talk with Burroughs, from 6 to 8 pm. The talk kicks off at 7 pm.
“I grew up in Southern California, and though living here for over 40 years, I still can’t make myself like New England winters,” said Douthat. “Partly it’s the cold and the short, dark days. Partly it’s the absence of vivid colors in the world around me. The best I can say for winter is that the more it lingers, the more I long for it to end. And sometimes I’m able to paint out of that longing, as I did this year for the three new works in this exhibit, which were all started and finished during the coldest months. You’ll notice no winter painting among the three. Yet if they’re strong paintings, I suspect that winter walks behind them, that each expresses my winter longing for spring.”
Chicago Blues features albums from the collection of Ellen and Mark Naftalin, the American blues keyboardist who was inducted into the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame with the Paul Butterfield Blues Band in 2015. The exhibit features album covers of some of the original blues musicians who made their way to Chicago and changed the face and sound of American music forever.
The Chicago blues evolved from rural country blues following the Great Migration of African Americans from the southern U.S. to the industrial cities of the east, north, and west. The blues was one of the most significant influences on early rock music, with Chuck Berry crediting Muddy Waters and playing with Willie Dixon and others on his early Chess recordings.
Across the Atlantic in the 1960s, the Rolling Stones, Eric Clapton, and the Animals brought Chicago blues to a younger audience, while at the same time American artists such as the Paul Butterfield Blues Band, John P. Hammond, and Charlie Musselwhite performed in the style of Chicago blues.
Pictured above (L to R): Muddy Waters cover, courtesy Ellen and Mark Naftalin; Nimbus, by Nancy Moore; and Spring 40x40, by Charles Douthat