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Greenville & Hockessin Life

A world of art on view at Somerville-Manning in Greenville

Jun 25, 2015 12:53PM ● By J. Chambless

The Somerville-Manning Gallery is presenting a show of works from its collection during the summer.

By John Chambless
Staff Writer
Even in the summer gallery off-season, you can be sure of finding something spectacular at the Somerville-Manning Gallery in Greenville.
While it’s between major exhibitions until September, the gallery is packed with wonderful, rare works – some of which will make your heart skip a beat. The gallery is known for its ongoing relationship with the Wyeth family, and at one end of the main space are two Andrew Wyeths, one N.C. Wyeth and one Jamie Wyeth. 
Andrew Wyeth’s “Stable Door” (1963) is a large watercolor of a room in a rundown barn that used to stand on his Chadds Ford property. His “Whale Bone” (1973) is a soft watercolor done in Cushing, Maine. Then there’s N.C. Wyeth’s 1913 oil illustration, “Prospectors and Thieves,” which has all the drama and swagger of his many classic illustrations. And next to it is Jamie Wyeth’s “Study for Sleepwalker” (2013), which has much of the drama and beauty of the finished painting.
That first wall is quite an introduction, but there’s plenty more.
You’ll be greeted by a wall of warm, summery still life paintings by contemporary artists Mary Page Evans, Christine Lafuente and Tina Ingraham, as well as the terrific “Toward Seymour Lake, Passing Clouds” (2002), an evocative landscape by Stuart Shils that’s all mist, fog and a sunny sky beyond a sprawling valley.
At the opposite end, stylistically speaking, there’s Scott Prior’s “Bonfire on the River” (2011), an oil that’s so exactingly detailed that you feel you can almost step into it. The firelight glow is magical.
“Picnic Scene,” by Donald Ricks, captures the sensation of sun-warmed peach skin, and Jamie Wyeth’s “The Pickup” (2008) has a haunting, mysterious air.  Tim Barr’s “Surf” (2014) captures every bit of rushing, foam-flecked water and a majestic sweep of clouds.
In the rear gallery are jaw-dropping things like a Pablo Picasso 1961 portrait done on a terra cotta tile, along with a rare watercolor floral still life by Georgia O’Keeffe (“No. 36 – Special”). You’ll also find a Charles Burchfield landscape (“March Day, Gowanda”) and not one, but two Hans Hofmann abstracts – “Studio Unfinished” (1936) and “Alchimy” (1946).
And you’re sure to notice Jamie Wyeth’s unique painting of a seagull, done on an oar. “Night Swimmer: A Paddle” (2004) makes full use of both meanings of “paddle.”
Among the sculptures in the gallery, there’s a room-filling bronze by Olivia Musgrave, “Turning for Home,” and more subtle but just as great bronzes by J. Clayton Bright (“Jack O’Lantern,” “Intruder”) and the masterful bronze dog sculpture, “Bella,” by Rikki Morley Saunders.
There’s an unbelievable collection of works in the rolling racks elsewhere in the gallery, where you’ll come face to face with more original works by the Wyeths, along with contemporary work by Jon Redmond and many others. There are more than two dozen small bronzes on display, two whimsical still lifes by Robert Jackson that will charm you immediately, and on and on.
The experience is like visiting a well-curated museum collection, only everything is for sale. But you don’t even need to look at the price tags to admire, and learn, and come away revitalized. Just visiting the historic mill building that sits practically in the Brandywine is a treat, even before you enter the gallery for a trip through the boundless world of art.
The gallery’s fall schedule includes: “Jon Redmond” (Sept. 18 to Oct. 10); “Scott Prior” (Oct. 16 to Nov. 14); and “Greg Mort and Jon Mort” (Nov. 20 to Dec. 19). Visit for more information.
To contact Staff Writer John Chambless, email [email protected].

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