Nineteenth-Century nostalgia inspires decades of Ridgefield artist’s work

Dreamlike images and soft shapes define Bob Crofut’s art. The Ridgefield-based artist will be sharing his art and his new book “An American Remembrance” at the Ridgebury Congregational Church in Ridgefield on Oct. 6. During the art show art lovers can stroll through the displays of prints and original works and pick up a signed copy of his book, which will be available for purchase.

“It’s a warm, sympathetic look at our American past and the emotional impact it has on me, which I express in paint and in words,” he said, describing the book.

Crofut’s works depict what he calls the “American Remembrance” from the 19th Century. “When I was young, I used to spend a lot of time looking at old photographs,” he said. “The people staring back at me from the Civil War, Crimean War, Dust Bowl farmers and homesteaders fascinated me.”

Many of his paintings depict Native Americans, frontier life, farmers, early baseball and automobiles. Crofut describes his artistic style as “soft focus realism.” The soft focus of the painting’s subjects invoke a dream or memory.

When asked why he decided to publish his book now after more than four decades of working in the art world, Crofut said he did it to make a statement and to conjure an apparition from the past.

“I wanted to make a cohesive statement of what the American Remembrance actually is and the internet is great, but it doesn’t quite have the impact of a book. The pagination of the book, one page after another has an effect on the reader.”

Crofut feels that the diverse wave of settlers and immigrants from the 19th Century had a profound impact on history, which influences his art.

“I would like people to take away how rich our American heritage is, how complicated and how fascinating the stories of the different people that came to America are [and how they] made it what it is.”

Crofut has deep roots in Ridgefield, with ancestors who rolled into town in the 1700s. After graduating from Ridgefield High School in 1970, he went on to further his education at the Boston Museum School of Fine Arts at Tufts University. He said debuting the book and having the exhibit in Ridgefield is a bit like a personal “American Remembrance” for him.

“I’m sentimental about opening the ‘American Remembrance’ book in Ridgefield and the [Ridgebury] Congregational Church because it’s where I grew up,” he said. “I feel blessed to be able to offer this community the book and the paintings.”

The Ridgebury Congregational Church is located at 605 Ridgebury Road in Ridgefield.