Captivating History exhibition on display at Keeler Tavern Museum
Captivating History is a retrospective exhibition of monoprints with Chine collé by the internationally acclaimed artist and longtime Ridgefield resident, Suzanne Benton, featuring artworks that interweave photo imagery from Keeler Tavern Museum & History Center’s (KTM&HC) collection of Joseph Hartmann photographs of 19th-century to early 20th-century Ridgefield life.
Joseph Hartmann, a German immigrant to Connecticut, took thousands of portraits of Ridgefield residents during his 50-year career in town. The Hartmann Collection, housed at KTM&HC, includes photographs of Ridgefield residents — young and old — as well as weddings, civic events, social groups, houses, street scenes, and more; it is a significant photographic representation of Ridgefield.
Benton’s artwork, including other works in the show that reference suffragists, feminists, writers, and educators from the same period, will be on display Nov. 3 to 11 at the Carriage Barn at Keeler Tavern Museum & History Center, 152 Main Street. The exhibition will open Sunday, Nov. 3, from 1-4 p.m., with an artist’s reception from 3-5 p.m. It will be open to the public during regular museum hours, 1-4 p.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 6; Saturday, Nov. 9; Sunday, Nov. 10; and Monday, Nov. 11 (Veterans Day).
Viewers also will see a selection of works donated by Benton to the permanent collections of Keeler Tavern Museum & History Center and the Ridgefield Library. All other artwork on display will be available for purchase.
“Suzanne Benton’s signature monoprints brilliantly incorporate photographic portraits of Ridgefield life from our treasured Hartmann collection,” said Rhonda Hill, president of the board of directors at Keeler Tavern Museum & History Center. “We are honored to exhibit her artwork in our Carriage Barn and enormously grateful for her very generous donation to our permanent collection to be displayed in the Visitor Center.”
As part of the exhibition, Benton also is including a selection of her Portrait Boxes which speak to her initiative as the founder and organizer of the Ridgefield Women’s Suffrage Centennial Portrait Project: From the Voting Booth to Town Hall. This project consists of 23 artists painting portraits of the 23 working women in Town Hall. The co-joined portraits will be presented as a permanent centennial gift to Town Hall in 2020.
According to Benton, the Portrait Boxes add another dimension to traditional portraiture. “These double-faced open boxes reveal an outside portrait of first impressions and an interior face that develops as the conversational modeling session proceeds and where the model goes on to express the inner self. These artworks relate to ancient frescoes and Egyptian portraits of the Roman period and remind the viewer of the artist’s proclivity to bring the past into the present.”
For more information, visit keelertavernmuseum.org or Facebook.com/KeelerTavernMuseum. Follow KTM&HC on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.