Farnsworth Art Museum Honors 13 Women of Vision

  • ROCKLAND, Maine
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  • January 31, 2020

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Marguerite Thompson Zorach, Land and Development of New England, 1935, Oil on canvas, 96 x 76 in Collection of the Farnsworth Art Museum, Rockland, Maine; Museum purchase, 1991.1

(Rockland, ME)  The Farnsworth Art Museum is pleased to announce thirteen Women of Vision as the 2020 Maine in America award recipients. The awardees are Lucy Copeland Farnsworth, Berenice Abbott, Linda Bean, Katherine Bradford, Edith R. Dixon, Cig Harvey, Edna St. Vincent Millay, Louise Nevelson, Elizabeth Noyce, Molly Neptune Parker, Maureen Rothschild, Phyllis Mills Wyeth, and Marguerite Thomas Zorach. Each of these women has made an outstanding contribution to Maine’s role in American art and will be honored at the Farnsworth’s 2020 Summer Gala on Friday, July 17. 

Throughout Maine’s history, women have played key leadership roles in the shaping of the state. From groundbreaking politicians to cultural pioneers, women in Maine have been and continue to be trailblazers in their respective fields. The Farnsworth Art Museum owes its existence to one such woman who, through her generosity and vision, helped transform the small, working-class city of Rockland, a community of just over 7,000 people, into what is now recognized as the art capital of Maine. 

Born in 1838, Lucy Copeland Farnsworth was one of the six children of William A. Farnsworth, who opened a general store in Rockland in 1844. She would outlive her five siblings by 28 years and her mother by 25. After their deaths, she continued to live in the family home, where she died in 1935 at age 97. Thanks to a generous inheritance from her father and brother James, and to her own business acumen, Lucy left a sizable estate. She directed that the bulk of it be used to establish the William A. Farnsworth Library and Art Museum (known simply as the Farnsworth Art Museum) as a memorial to her father. The museum officially opened in August, 1948.

In 2020, the Farnsworth will honor Lucy Copeland Farnsworth and 12 other Women of Vision with the Maine in America award for the profound impact they have made on Maine’s role in American art.

Born in Springfield, Ohio, in 1898, American photographer Berenice Abbott was a central figure and important bridge between the photographic circles and cultural hubs of Paris and New York. In the 1950s she undertook an ambitious project to photograph people and places along US Route 1 from Florida to New York, a major contribution to 20th century American photography. Shortly after the trip she bought a home in Maine where she remained until her death in 1991. Her work is in many major collections including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Museum of Modern Art, the Smithsonian American Art Museum, the Walker Art Center, the Cleveland Museum, and the Farnsworth Art Museum.

Throughout her career, Linda Lorraine Bean has been a major supporter of the arts and land conservation. A descendant and of Leon Leonwood Bean, founder of the Freeport, Maine-based company L.L. Bean, on whose board she serves, Linda Bean is a major collector of the work of illustrator N.C. Wyeth and is a board member of the Brandywine Conservancy and Museum of Art. In her home state of Maine, she has served as a trustee of the Maine Chapter of The Nature Conservancy, the Maine Historical Society, and the Portland Museum of Art. In 2016, she was awarded the degree of Doctor of Humane Letters by The Kings College in Manhattan. She has provided major support for the Farnsworth’s Wyeth Center as well as several museum exhibitions.

Born in New York City, Katherine Bradford began painting while living in Maine year round in the 1970s. Though she moved to New York City in the 1980s, she continues to return each summer to her home on the coast of Maine. In 2011, she received a Guggenheim Fellowship, and in 2012, a Joan Mitchell Foundation Award. Other awards include a Pollock Krasner Grant and two awards from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. In 2009, Bradford was a resident faculty member at the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture, and in 2016-2017 was senior critic at the Yale School of Art in New Haven. Her work is in the collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Brooklyn Museum, the Portland Museum (Maine and Oregon), the Dallas Museum of Art, the Farnsworth Art Museum, and the Menil Collection in Houston, Texas. 

Mrs. Edith R. Dixon has been a major philanthropist and art champion throughout her life. She and her late husband F. Eugene Dixon are perhaps best known for purchasing one of Robert Indiana’s famed LOVE sculptures in 1978 and donating it to the city of Philadelphia to ensure it remained in a space dedicated to it and named LOVE Park. She recently funded the restoration of Indiana’s LOVE to its original colors for the reopening of LOVE Park. Since 2009, her support has enabled the Farnsworth to display Robert Indiana’s EAT sculpture on its roof— a work that has become the symbol of Rockland’s emergence as the art capital of Maine. A former Chairman of the Board of the Society of the Four Arts in Palm Beach, for which she funded the construction of the library and education center, she is also a former trustee at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Dixon has also provided key support to many other organizations including the Schoodic Institute in Winter Harbor, Maine.

Cig Harvey is an artist whose practice seeks to find the magic in everyday life. Harvey’s work is rich in implied narrative, deeply rooted in the natural world, and devoted to the topics of belonging and familial relationships. Her work has been reviewed and featured in The New York Times, BBC, Vogue, The Wall Street Journal, Vice, The Sunday Times, The Independent, Marie Claire Italia, and New York Magazine. She is the author of three sold-out books, You Look At Me Like An Emergency, Gardening at Night, and You an Orchestra You a Bomb. Her work is in the collections of major American museums including the Farnsworth Art Museum, the Museum of Fine Arts Boston, the Museum of Fine Arts Houston, and the International Museum of Photography and Film at the George Eastman House, Rochester, New York. In 2017, Cig was awarded the prestigious Excellence in Teaching Award from CENTER. In 2018, she was named the Prix Virginia Laureate, an international photography award. In 2019, a mid-career retrospective of her work appeared at the Ogunquit Museum of Art.

Though born in Rockland, Maine on February 22, 1892, it was in Camden, Maine that American poet and playwright Edna St. Vincent Millay came to early prominence. On August 29, 1912, Millay recited her celebrated poem Renascence for the guests attending a party at Camden’s Whitehall Inn. One of the attendees was so taken with the work she sponsored Millay’s college education at Vassar. She went on to become one of America’s best-known poets. She received the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry in 1923, the third woman to win the award for poetry, and was also known for her feminist activism.

Recognized as one of the most important and innovative sculptors of the twentieth century, Louise Nevelson, born Liah Berliawsky, was born in present-day Ukraine in 1899. Her family fled persecution against the Jewish population there and eventually settled as immigrants in Rockland, Maine in 1905. She grew up there and attended Rockland High School, where she studied art and was captain of the basketball team. Nevelson moved to New York City in 1920 and had her first solo exhibition in 1941, eventually gaining national recognition in the late 1950s. She was one of the first recipients of the National Medal of the Arts, bestowed on her in 1985 by President Ronald Reagan to honor her creative genius. Her works are included in many of the most important museum collections in the world including the Tate Gallery in London, The Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Art Institute of Chicago, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art. The Farnsworth Art Museum owns the second largest public collection of her work. 

Born in 1930 in Auburn, Massachusetts, Elizabeth Noyce was a major American philanthropist whose gifts, primarily to Maine Charities, helped many of the state’s art institutions such as the Farnsworth Art Museum, the Portland Museum of Art, and the Maine Maritime Museum. Her bequest of the Elizabeth B. Noyce collection included sixty-four works to the PMA and over sixty works to the Farnsworth. These gifts included works by George Bellows, Marsden Hartley, Winslow Homer, Edward Hopper, and John Marin. In addition to creating the Libra Foundation, her philanthropy extended to Maine’s economy itself. In 1991, Noyce founded a new bank, the Maine Bank and Trust Company, to help Maine businesses that previously had to rely on out-of-state lenders. During a lull in Maine's construction industry, Noyce built or supported the construction of five homes to provide jobs for construction workers, and when Maine's leading bakery was threatened with a takeover by a company that intended to move it out of state, Noyce bought the bakery and saved its 1,200 jobs.

The matriarch of four generations of Passamaquoddy basket weavers, Molly Neptune Parker began weaving baskets at a young age, using the scraps of ash wood that fell to the floor as her mother worked. Today, Parker leads efforts to share this tradition with young people, encouraging the continuance of this art form for future generations. Born in Indian Township, Maine, Parker has served as president of the Maine Indian Basket Makers Alliance and a master teacher in Maine Art's Commission's traditional arts apprenticeship program. She is a recipient of the Maine Arts Commission Fellowship Award for Traditional Arts, New England Foundation for the Arts Native Arts Award, and First People's Fund's Community Spirit Award.

Maurine Rothschild was born in Youngstown, Ohio in 1920, and served as the Farnsworth's first Board President. A longtime activist for women's rights as well as an avid supporter of the visual arts, she is credited with leading the Farnsworth Art Museum from what was a small-town museum, founded in 1948, into a museum of national importance, introducing the highest professional standards and practices gained through her extensive experience on non-profit boards. Rothschild’s advocacy for women's rights also took her on many trips abroad. In southern Israel, she advised Bedouin women who were victims of domestic violence. In 1993, she visited Eritrea just after its revolution to teach women about the democratic process. In 1995, she took part in a meeting of Somali women from all clans in an attempt to promote peace and participation by women in the peace process. During the 1990s, she helped establish advice desks for abused women based in Durban, South Africa, where, in 2000, she was the only foreign recipient of two honorary awards for women who made a difference in the lives of other women.

Born in New York City in 1940, Phyllis Mills Wyeth had an extraordinary career in public service, both advocating for the arts and for the rights of the disabled. In 1999, Phyllis Wyeth founded Herring Gut Learning Center in St. George with the goal of teaching local children about aquaculture and marine conservation and to help preserve Maine’s traditional fishing communities. She worked as a teacher for the Terry Children's Psychiatric Center in Wilmington, Delaware and spent many years in Washington, DC working as a consultant for the National Endowment for the Arts; working as vice chairperson of the National Committee on Arts for the Handicapped; and assisting with the National Very Special Arts Festival. She was appointed to the National Endowment for the Arts and Handicapped Advisory Task Force to the White House Conference on Handicapped Individuals and served on the President’s Committee on the Employment of the Handicapped. Her major support of the Farnsworth has included the Andrew Wyeth Memorial Endowment, exhibitions, as well as the annual Share the Wonder Family Celebration.

Born in 1887, Marguerite Thompson Zorach, a painter, textile artist, and designer, was a major figure in the development of American modernism. During her fifty-year career Marguerite Zorach lived with her husband, sculptor William Zorach, and their two children in Greenwich Village and later in Brooklyn, and beginning in 1923, the family regularly summered in their coastal home in Georgetown, Maine. Zorach showed her work in the famed 1913 Armory Show in New York. In 1922, as vice president of the Society of Independent Artists, she helped organize exhibitions and a costumed artist’s ball that gained notice in The New York Times. Her work was featured among the “radicals” of 33 Moderns at the Grand Central Galleries. During the Great Depression Zorach was awarded commissions to execute murals in US Post Office buildings in Peterborough, New Hampshire, Monticello, Iowa, and Ripley, Tennessee. Her work can be found in major public collections throughout the US, including the Art Institute of Chicago, Museum of Fine Art, Boston, Whitney Museum of American Art, Museum, Metropolitan Museum of Art, Smithsonian American Art Museum, and Farnsworth Art Museum.  

Previous recipients of the award include John Wilmerding (2006), Andrew Wyeth (2007), Will Barnet (2008), Robert Indiana (2009), Alex Katz (2010), Paul Caponigro (2011), Dahlov Ipcar (2012), Matthew Simmons (2013), The Shakers of Sabbathday Lake (2014), Lois Dodd (2015), Joyce Tenneson (2016), Betsy Wyeth (2017), Toshiko Mori (2018), and the artists of Slab City Rendezvous (2019). 

Named by the Boston Globe as one of the finest small museums in the country, the Farnsworth Art Museum offers a nationally recognized collection of works from many of America’s greatest artists. It is open year-round as the only museum dedicated solely to American and Maine-inspired art. Through its remarkable collection of over 15,000 works, inventive exhibitions, wide-ranging intellectual resources and energetic educational programming, visitors from around the world gain a deep appreciation of the ongoing story of Maine’s role in American art.

David Troup
Farnsworth Art Museum

Farnsworth Art Museum
16 Museum Street
Rockland, Maine
About Farnsworth Art Museum

Celebrating Maine’s Role in American Art, the Farnsworth Art Museum offers a nationally recognized collection of works from many of America’s greatest artists. With 20,000 square feet of gallery space and over 10,000 works in the collection, there is always something new on view at the Farnsworth. The museum houses the nation's second-largest collection of works by premier 20th-century sculptor Louise Nevelson. Its Wyeth Center exclusively features works of Andrew, N.C. and Jamie Wyeth. The Farnsworth's library is also housed in its Rockland, ME, campus. Two historic buildings, the Farnsworth Homestead and the Olson House, complete the museum complex.

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