Greenwich’s Flinn Gallery Turns 90

Flinn Gallery, located on the 2nd floor of the Greenwich Library, is one of the town’s most beloved and impressive institutions. With its 2018-9 season, the gallery celebrates 90 years of bringing exceptional art experiences to the community. The 90th anniversary season launched on September 6th and will run through June 19, 2019, with six exhibits that take a contemporary look at traditional themes.

To commemorate this milestone year, the gallery will present an array of special programs and events over the course of the season. The schedule of 2019 lectures will take place on April 10th, featuring noted British artist and filmmaker Brian Catling, and on May 15th with Noah Kupferman, Program Director of Art, Law and Business at Christie’s Education Institute.

The pantheon of notable artists who have shown at the Flinn over the decades includes: Milton Avery, Louise Bourgeois, Alexander Calder, Roz Chast, Dale Chihuly, Jim Henson, Robert Motherwell, Robert Rauchenberg and set designer Tony Walton. In addition, the gallery has shown works from noted private collections, including the Hirshhorn, Walter Bareiss, and Alan Stone.

Since its inception, the non-profit gallery has been a completely volunteer-run enterprise. A dynamic and talented committee of approximately 60 women members drives selections, curation and installation of all exhibits, as well as design, marketing and event management. Committee member Jane Hotchkiss, who joined in 1950 and has curated numerous shows over the years, shares her perspective: “We evolved from presenting existing collections or museum curated shows to seeking out new artists, following the leads and recommendations of local collectors and visiting studios. The ‘Fresh Paint’ show was where we introduced new talent that then went on to become more established artists.”

Eclectic in its choice of art and artists both established and emerging, the Flinn Gallery has featured works ranging from wearable art, Lego sculpture, art through the eyes of a child, sound sculptures and the Muppets, to classic and contemporary paintings; and media from oil painting to encaustic, fiber, paper and glass. According to Selections Committee Chair, Kirsten Pitts, “Technology is the big factor that has expanded the Flinn’s engagement with a wider range of artists. The internet and social media have allowed us to track artists from near and far. Using the tools of technology to plan ahead, we now curate with a more specific point of view.”

Flinn Gallery is sponsored by the Friends of the Greenwich Library. All proceeds from art sales contribute to library public programs including: Children’s programs, the Oral History Project and the Peterson Concert Series. Greenwich Library Director, Barbara Ormerod-Glynn adds, “In a 2015 library patron survey, 28% of total respondents said they had visited the Flinn Gallery. We owe a debt of gratitude to the dedicated volunteers whose efforts have uplifted and enriched the lives of local residents.”

The Flinn Gallery is located on the second floor of Greenwich Library, 101 West Putnam Avenue. Gallery hours are Monday-Saturday 10-5 Thursday until 8, Sunday 1-5.

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‘Herons in the Stream’ by James Grashow – painted corrugated board. Flinn exhibit; “Corrugated World: The Art of James Grashow”

Flinn Gallery Highlights
20s: In 1928, librarian Isabel Hurlbutt secured space and funding for a group of local professional artists (Greenwich Society of Artists) to establish a gallery in the original Greenwich Library on Greenwich Avenue, the current site of Saks Fifth Avenue.
30s: Rembrandt / Earliest Known Prints to Present Time: Engravings and Etchings (1934)
40s: During WWII, exhibitions were still held, and the gallery was also used for civil defense, first aid training and as a Victory Garden information center.
50s: Greenwich Collects - an exhibition of such luminaries as: Jean Arp, Rene Magritte, Pablo Picasso, Jackson Pollack and Diego Rivera (1956).
60s: In 1960, the library moved to its present location on West Putnam Avenue, the former site of the Franklin Simon women’s apparel store and was named the Hurlbutt Gallery, in honor of its visionary founder, Isabelle Hurlbutt.
70s: 20th Century Art from the Vassar College Collection, including work by: Milton Avery, Willem de Kooning, Marsden Hartley and Mark Rothko (1972).
80s: Connecticut and American Impressionism: The Cos Cob Clapboard School – the first major exhibit to focus on the Cos Cob art colony, including works by D. Putnam Brinley, Childe Hassam, Elmer L. Macrae, Leonard Ochtman, Henry Ward Ranger, John Henry Twachtman, and Julian Alden Weir (1980).
90s: Jim Henson: The Greenwich Years – 1964-1971, which broke all attendance records up until that time (1994).
In 1999 the library was re-designed by architect Cesar Pelli. The state-of-the art gallery moved to its current location on the 2nd floor of the Peterson Wing and renamed the Flinn Gallery in honor of Stephanie and Lawrence Flinn, The inaugural exhibit was Molly and Walter Bareiss – Sixty Years of Collecting.
2000s: Nuevo Arte de Cuba, including noted Cuban artists Nelson Dominquez, Roberto Fabelo, Manuel Mendive and Pedro Pablo Oliva (2001).
2010s: Notable recent exhibits: Akinori Atsumoto: Sound Sculptures (2015), Corrugated World: The Art of James Grashow (2017), Beyond Street Art (2018) and Hazardous Beauty (2018) offered breakthrough content and generated record-breaking attendance.

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