Shared Exhibit -“Inspired: Two Centuries of Westfield Art"
The Westfield Athenaeum and Westfield on Weekends is excited to announce the opening of the art exhibit, “Inspired: Two Centuries of Westfield Art.” This exhibit, which will be shown at two sites, the Rand Art Gallery of the Athenaeum, and Westfield on Weekends’ location in the Rinnova Building at 105 Elm Street, will feature more than 30 artists who have made Westfield home. Included in the show will be a variety of landscapes, still-life compositions, interior scenes, and modern abstractions. The exhibit will open on November 6, 2023 and will run through January 13, 2024.
Westfield has long been known for its business and industry. During the course of the 19thcentury the city grew rapidly as several important industries were established here. By the later decades of the century, Westfield was known as the capital of the whip manufacturing industry, and thousands of residents worked in the business. Westfield was also known as the home of the Johnson Church Organ Company, making some of the best organs in the country at that time, and H.B.Smith, one of the largest makers of boilers in the United States.
What is less well known is that Westfield has also maintained, for at least 150 years, an active and thriving art scene. The expansion of industry, the founding of several important educational institutions, and the increase in population during the Victorian era, created a city with a significant middle class population that possessed both the leisure time and the wealth to support artistic activities. This environment fostered the development of a community of artists. As early as the 1840s, professional artists were working in Westfield.
By the early decades of the 20th century there were a number of highly original artists working in the city. The creation of the Rand Art Gallery at the Westfield Athenaeum in the 1920s further enhanced the city’s art scene by creating an excellent location for the display of local art. Town residents were now able to see art exhibits on a regular basis.
This exhibit attempts to show the range of art created by Westfield artists over the last two centuries. The earliest work of art in the exhibit dates back to 1815, and the latest paintings in the show were created this year. Guy McLain, Executive Director of the Westfield Athenaeum, commented that, “This is a rare opportunity to see just how rich the cultural life of Westfield has been from the very earliest years of the 19th century to the present day. Westfield has long been associated with industry. Hopefully, this exhibit will show that the city has also fostered a rich cultural life as well.”