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Tuesday, January 31, 2012

A New Art Exhibit Springs to Life at Westport Library

A New Art Exhibit Springs to Life 
at Westport Library
By Mike Lauterborn
(for Westport News)

Westport, CT – Though Winter may only have begun in the area, Spring had already sprung at Westport Library.

“Portraits in Bloom”, a collection of over 40 botanical paintings created by artist Mary Ann Neilson, had its opening reception at the 20 Jesup Road facility Friday evening. Over two dozen attendees browsed the works, listened to Neilson speak about them and enjoyed wine and cheese.

“I see plants as though they are people,” said the artist, “each with its own personality. When you paint flowers, you paint them the same way as a portrait. And when you are around them a lot, you start seeing each uniquely.”

Among the work was a botanical painting by Neilson’s great-grandfather Rudolph, created in 1897. Rudolph was a muralist who taught at Cooper-Union. His painting hung beside one by Mary Ann, titled “Medallion Rose”, of a flower-filled vase that had been owned by her grandmother, an avid gardener. Both were great influences to Neilson.

Early on in her career, the artist had trained as a theater painter in New York, then went into corporate graphic design, illustrating book covers and company annual reports. When Neilson’s husband Louis and she moved from Manhattan to Brooklyn, she started getting more involved in gardening and began studying botany.

Neilson has been painting botanicals for almost 25 years, though is more well known for her European landscape paintings.

Attendees thoroughly enjoyed the exhibit, studying many of the paintings closely. “They are beautifully detailed, like looking at flowers right outside your window,” said Weston resident Michele Seibold. “The shading on the leaves and varigation is amazing.”

Chris Timmons, the Library’s Director of Programs & Exhibitions, may have said it best, noting, “These are a glorious reminder that spring is down the road.” 

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