WEATHERBOUND: The Art of Jay Hall Connaway In Our Time

by Ruth Greene-McNally



 

Audio tour script

 

This installation is organized in four unifying sections exploring Jay Hall Connaway's locational and thematic content. The tour begins at the introductory panel and focuses on key examples of Jay Connaway's landscapes, marines, and figurative art created at Monhegan Island, Maine, Southern Vermont, Paris, and Brittany, France. While there is no preferred order for viewing, the tour will follow crucial turning points and chronological developments in Connaway's career.

(above: Jay Hall Connaway (1893-1970), Weatherbeaten, 1952, Oil on board, 36 x 48 inches. Southern Vermont Arts Center, Permanent Collection)

The introductory panel presents an overview of Connaway's achievements, his central themes, and subject matter within a timeframe of significant changes in American culture and art from the early 20th century through mid-century. The adjacent biographical section highlights objects that signify important segues in the artist's career. To the right of the intro panel, the section "Coast and Countryside," beginning with the painting Weatherbeaten featured on the dark grey extension wall, continues the length of the west side of the gallery with paintings of coastal Maine and segues to the east-side wall featuring landscapes of Manchester, Pawlet, and Dorset, Vermont. At the rear of the gallery surrounding the freestanding wall, the section, "Heaven and Earth," garners Connaway's early and late-career figurative and religious-themed studies. Finally, because all of art history is founded on influence and comparison, a fourth section, "Connaway and His Contemporaries" is installed in the museum lobby. This section features regional and national acclaimed painters with whom Connaway was acquainted. Paintings presented in this section are from the Arts Center's Permanent Collection.

The biographical section includes an early and late-in-life image of Connaway. The black and white portrait on the left pictures Connaway, c.1929. This image by an unknown photographer marks the beginning of the painter's second tour of Paris and the Brittany Coast. Many American painters of this era commonly traveled abroad to study, particularly in Paris. As an American soldier who served during WWI, Connaway first went to France in 1917. Following active duty, he stayed on through 1922 to attend the Parisian art academies. Connaway returned to Brittany again in 1928, sponsored by his gallerist Robert Macbeth and his patron, Bartlett Arkell, President of Beech-Nut Packing Co and founder of the Canajoharie Library and Art Gallery. The image directly to the right, by portrait photographer Clara Sipprell, pictures Connaway in 1964. In both images, Connaway is pictured smoking a pipe and seated in the same pose. Also displayed, Connaway's National Academy of Design Certificate, was conferred by the academy in 1944, and alongside is an advertisement of Connaway's classes and lectures held at the Southern Vermont Arts Center. Connaway served as initiating director of the SVAC art school and as a trustee throughout his residence in the region. Near the top of this section, a watercolor image of Connaway's Monhegan Island, Maine studio is presented and beneath it a black and white image of the house, "Blue Shutters" where Connaway, his wife Louise, and their daughter Leonebel lived during their 17 year residence on the Monhegan Island.

Stepping into the main part of the gallery, the surrounding seascapes and dramatic Vermont vistas provide a sweeping panorama of Connaway's unique response to elemental nature. Amid the storm of developments transforming American culture through the first half of the century ­ an era marked by the political, economic, and social upheaval of World War I, the Great Depression, and World War II ­ Connaway achieved 85 lifetime one-man exhibitions and a reputation as "the master sea painter of his generation."

Jay Hall Connaway was born in 1893 to May L. (Brown) and Cass Connaway, a prominent Indianapolis lawyer, judge and a collector of Chinese art. Undoubtedly, Connaway observed and may have been markedly influenced by the landscape views of vast skies, weather, mountains and occasional figures in the scenes collected by his father. Between the ages of 8 and 10, Connaway began drawing and painting and at age seventeen enrolled for studies at the John Herron Art Institute in Indianapolis where he studied under the school's founder, American Impressionist painter John Forsythe. It is likely that Forsythe's paintings of the Oregon coast inspired Connaway to venture to the coast and it was not long before he had his chance. After two years of study, Connaway's father withdrew support. Determined to become an artist, Connaway worked his way cross-country by rail to the Pacific coast and then to New York where he continued his education at the Art Students League under American Impressionist William Merritt Chase and George Bridgman, a renowned figure drawing and anatomy teacher. Connaway also audited night classes at the National Academy of Design under Robert Henri, the leader of the Ashcan School of artists. Connaway was greatly influenced by Henri's exploratory work in alternative color theories and the independent spirit of the New York Realists, most of whom turned their attention to inner city life for their subject matter. As a student, Connaway would have witnessed the Armory Show of 1912, the groundbreaking introduction of European Modernism to America. Following two years study in New York, his career was taking shape with support from at least one prominent gallery director, George Milch, but with the First World War escalating in Europe, Connaway enlisted with the Allied Forces to serve in France.

Stepping over to the vitrine positioned near the back of the gallery, we'll examine one of Connaway's earliest figurative works from that period. "Paris Nude," a rare early oil study, is on public view for the first time. Created in 1917 Connaway painted this figurative study shortly after he arrived in France. It is the only extant work marking the period between Connaway's art training in New York City and his continued studies at the Parisian Art Academies following the war. The size, method, and influences are significant. Connaway characteristically worked from life and developed his compositions quickly to capture the atmosphere and color of a setting, the essential elements that evoked the mood in tacit and explicit terms. This evocative and fundamental idea of mood is relevant to both Connaway's landscape and figurative work. In this figurative work, the model is presented in a typical studio pose although Connaway's mysterious, atmospheric background includes rather elongated but hazy, indecipherable monolithic shapes. Figures muted in the background or obscured features in a fantasy landscape? We cannot say for certain, yet the central positioning of the figure in the foreground with the vantage point at close range, along with the ultra-marine hue of what appears as sky, places the sitter in an inexplicable otherworldly terrain into which the sitter's arms and legs dissolve. Shortly after completing his second stage art training, the recently deployed soldier in Paris was perhaps experimenting with techniques beyond the scope of his education, exploring the lyrical potential for natural and cultural symbols.

This "pochade" sized oil study on 4x 8 in. board reflects Connaway's training under the influential leader of the Ashhcan School movement, Robert Henri. Known for landscape painting and portraiture, Henri often worked out his initial inquiries about his subjects on small blocks of wood en plein air (out of doors). These pocket-sized boards fit into pochade boxes, transportable artist cases that, combined with folding easels and tube paints lent themselves to greater freedom of exploration for artists and eventually greater experimentation with materials. Manufactured materials, tube paints in particular, became available by the mid-19th century. Pre-mixed tube paints, unlike the ready-made varieties sold in pig's bladders, were composed of both organic and chemical pigment compounds and chemical binders. Innovation and the ability to mass-produce containers increased quality, longevity, and more balanced ratios of fluidity and viscosity in tube paints. However, prior to the advent of tube paints, hand-made artist's colors were more brilliant and natural binders made them more malleable. Alterations to the colors, notably umbers, inevitably altered the methods, subjects, and style with which artists worked. Previously, classically trained artists schooled in modeling their subjects took pains to avoid obvious evidence of brushwork. The use of tube pigments led to experiments with flattened shapes and broad brushwork like that of the Impressionists and Modern Art movements. Connaway used larger-sized pochades than Henri and small canvas board for his initial studies. He found the flatter colors and range of umbers advantageous for his study of geological formations of rock on Monhegan Island and more suitable to vigorous, flat brushwork. Connaway created larger more finished work in his studio, although later, as an instructor, he cautioned his students against over-polishing their work. "Too much finish and it isn't art," he told them. [1]

The section, "Heaven and Earth" along the grey wall at the far end of the gallery emphasizes the artist's outlook on humanity and the natural world. Connaway's interpretations of iconic Christian subjects belie his agnostic views, as he openly acknowledged them, yet are in keeping with his equivocating stance between traditional Realism and Modernist schools of thought. The period, influences, and subject matter are of particular significance. Not long after Connaway's deployment, he suffered a shoulder wound and burns to his hand. While hospitalized, he was reassigned to paramedic training and a task he often referred to as the most important work of his life.[2] Connaway prepared detailed color illustrations of wounds to the faces, necks, and lungs of soldiers injured by mustard gas exposure. The illustrations were used for some of the first plastic surgeries in England and France. The precise observation and painstaking discipline required by medical illustration put into perspective the intractable consequences of advanced technology on warfare. A coalescing of factors in Connaway's personal life, his painful adult adjustment as a dismissed son and wounded soldier at the critical time of his emergent career are embedded in this phase of work and best expressed in subsequent figurative subjects and themes. Following his honorable discharge, Connaway remained in Paris where he studied at Academie Julien and Ecole des Beaux Arts for two years under the sponsorship of the army doctors with whom he had served.

The figure drawing to the far left side of the wall, Male Nude is an example of a classic drawing requirement known as an "academie" completed during Connaway's post-war studies in Paris. Traditional academic art training demanded rigorous study and technical proficiency first in the art of the "pastiche," the practice of copying prints by European masters; in addition to repetitive rendering of plaster casts of hands, feet, the torso, and head before students were allowed to draw directly from a live model. The transition from this detailed academie to the conspicuously pious painting Crucifixion at the center of the wall, in addition to other studies in this grouping, signals the segue from Connaway's terse figurative studies to abstracted interpretations of spiritual life and further clarification on the meaning of his figures. The keen observation and proficiency required to prepare a detailed studio drawing demonstrate Connaway's competence and perception in honing the gesture, mass, energy, and pathos in the more loosely handled figurative work observed in this section and elsewhere around the gallery. With few fluid brushstrokes, minimal lines, and tonality rather than full color, Connaway interprets mood, iconic characterization, and something along the lines of narrative composition. With the exception of the interpretations of the Christ figure, where the face is deliberately obscured, the characters represent the plight of peasants, farmhands, and laborers. The figurative studies do not, however, signify portraiture. Connaway relates the weight, dimensions and degrees of toil, grief, and anxiety as universally experienced, and both painfully human and heavenly in scope. In Connaway's few frontal views, such as The Iron Puddlers, Two Cane Anna and Breton Boy individual identity is non-essential to comprehending his theme of suffering. The artist seldom depicted children, for whom individuality and awareness is incomplete, as he does in his tender yet imprecise presentation of Breton Boy. Overall, Connaway's figurative work conveyed tormented bodies and postures contorted with exaggerated effort or anguish; however, the Breton child is presented as immobilized in his seated position and perhaps startled. Connaway, in an uncommon gesture faintly represents the child's features with a few dashes of paint. Connaway's personal struggles, his father's disapproval and the interruption of his fledgling career during wartime are suggested in his nuanced interpretations of this period.

Moving back toward the gallery entrance, to the reverse side of the wall displaying the painting Weatherbeaten, an early seascape titled Incoming Surf, 1924 depicts Connaway's extended visit to Head Harbor, Maine following his tour of duty and studies at Academie Julien and Ecole des Beaux Arts. A chance meeting on the homebound ship with Frederick Keppel, a print dealer and executive with Carnegie Corporation led to an introduction at Macbeth Gallery, the leading New York gallery showcasing American artists. With encouragement from Robert Macbeth, and financial backing from a few fellow artists, Connaway, seeking to paint "the lonely sea,"[3] lived on the deserted island off the coast of Jonesport, Maine between 1923 and 1925. Connaway hunted for his food and built a shack for protection from the elements. Self-exiled, a "foot soldier" in the service and study of nature's extremes, he survived for a necessary hiatus from the intruding modern industrialized world and trends in the New York and Paris art world. His engagement with the coast is evident in his distinct and virile brushwork. From this point in time, Connaway exhibited annually at Macbeth and other New York galleries to critical acclaim and increasing sales of work.

Connaway returned to New York in 1925 where he shared studio space in the famed 10th St. Studio Building with his former teacher William Merritt Chase and then with portrait painter Leonebel Jacobs, who became a lifelong friend. Her pastel portrait of Connaway is displayed just outside the entry door to the gallery. Ever cognizant of the need for exhibitions and influential contacts but preferring stark surroundings, the artist intermittently painted in the Adirondack Mountains during this period.

In 1926 Connaway moved to Southern Vermont at the behest of his new patron Bartlett Arkell who owned a summer house in Manchester. On the eastside wall is a small landscape, Mabel Williams Farm, Connaway created when he boarded for one year at the Peru, Vermont farmhouse. The influence of Connaway's teacher, American Impressionist William Merritt Chase is evident in the compositional design and interpretive style. Slashing brushwork is used to draw attention to the settled farmstead and emphasize oblique angles established by the shrubs and the tree line. The grand scale of Stratton Mountain recedes in the distance as having less importance than the house and farmed land. The stone wall, emphasized by the blackest hues in the composition, separates the artist and the viewer from the established farmstead and untamed surroundings. In the manner of his Impressionist predecessors, Connaway used purple and black to emphasize light. But the abbreviated Impressionistic brush strokes and pale palette appear constrained and uncommon compositional characteristics for Connaway following his military tour of duty. While this landscape stands out as uncharacteristic, it was not out of keeping for the artist searching for an expressive and personal art during a transitional phase. His first marriage to Flora Sherman, an American woman he married in Paris had come to an end. In 1927 Connaway exhibited with the regional Dorset Artists but grew restless with the placidity of the Vermont countryside, returned to New York, and finalized his divorce. He soon met Louise Boehl, a pianist, vocalist and a nurse at 5th Avenue Hospital. They married in 1928 and departed for Brittany, France under the auspices of Bartlett Arkell and Robert Macbeth.

Connaway painted at Brittany between 1929 and 1931. He and Louise lived by the river at Pont Aven. Directly behind the sidewall of the section "Heaven and Earth," the painting, Coastal Sea, Brittany was painted in 1930. Note the silhouette figure, diminished in size and stature in the foreground. Connaway began including silhouette figures after visiting the Brittany coast following World War I. Lone or grouped figures were typically grieving figures, praying women or clerics, and men laboring at their work. The motif is directly connected to his observation of monumental crucifixes, known as Calvaries, displayed on the Bretagne beaches. You will note silhouette figures and diminutive dark gestural marks that may be construed as figures in several works throughout the gallery. More detailed descriptions of the development of Connaway's silhouette figure motif are presented in object labels for the paintings Weatherbeaten and also Sunburst on Pawlet and Thunderstorm in Hills, near the gallery entrance.

Moving to the west wall, the series of Monhegan seascapes were created after the Connaways returned to the United States in 1931 to a country impacted by the Great Depression. Virtually penniless and parents of a two-year old daughter, Lenobel Marie Francis, born in Concarneau in 1929, the Connaways moved to the isolated island of Monhegan, Maine, 12 miles off the mainland coast, again under the auspices of his patron and gallerist where they lived in a house mortgaged by Bartlett Arkell.[4] For 17 years, the Connaways lived among fisherman, innkeepers, boat builders and shopkeepers. Fewer than 75 year-round residents made their livelihoods on Mohegan. The island's unique vistas, rocky headlands, rare vegetation, and wildlife had attracted painters since the mid-19th century but at the time of Connaway's residence only two other year-round artists, Andrew Winter and Abraham Bogdanove, lived on the island. To counterbalance the strain of meager island existence and to supplement his income, Connaway opened an art school during the difficult, extended period of the Great Depression.

(above: Jay Hall Connaway (1893-1970), Fisherman on Quay, c. 1942, Oil on canvas board, 24 x 36 inches. Courtesy of Henry Holt)

Connaway's paintings, The Fishhouse Interior, Man on Rock and Fisherman on Quay, are palpably searching scenes in which the artist accentuates his concern for islanders and all Americans at the outbreak of the Second World War. A veteran and trained Coastguardsman, Connaway understood the perils of the sea and identified with the strenuous way of life of fishermen and their tenuous dependence on bounty during this period. With taut and darkly expressive bearing, Connaway's silhouette figures appear in contemplation of the stark inscrutable sea. The influence of George Bridgman (1865-1943), Connaway's figure drawing teacher at the Art Students League is discernable in Connaway's angular presentation of the figures. Identified only by their work and locale as men of the sea, Connaway constructs their essential human identity in the way Bridgman represented the major masses of the body -- head, thorax, and pelvis -- as box-like "wedges" tied together with gestural lines to denote interconnecting structures. Painted with broad, energetic brush strokes, Connaway's figures represent emotional and psychological themes rather than the figures' individual identity.

Reflecting back to Connaway's representation of the figure in Paris Nude, efforts and influences in noting mood and tonality readily apply to mid and late career work as well. Quite logically, Connaway employed Bridgman's practice of constructing the figure in intersecting modules. Connaway also expanded upon Robert Henri's tenet -- atmosphere and color -- as a first consideration in the composition, equating mood as a precedential factor in establishing the figure as well. As ever, emotional and psychological undercurrents pervaded Connaway's private life and quite naturally found expression in his methods. His wartime experience as a soldier and medical illustrator brought the artist face-to-face with daily lessons in anatomy and death. Though none of the medical illustrations survive, we can assume that injury and death would have been starkly and surreally examined in Connaway's interpretations during this phase. There is a wide gap in the defining characteristics and handling of Male Nude as compared to the fluid interpretation of Paris Nude of the same period. The differences may be attributed to the interim between his American and Parisian studies and the advent of the war. Although Connaway did not retain studies of this period, he later gave as gifts to a student and veteran of WWII both Male Nude and Paris Nude. The gesture offers defining significance to his overall private personality as well as to his career. The two studies also mark the shift from traditional methods to semi-abstract techniques and his search for an essential art through experiment.

Outside his obsessive devotion to work and the supportive network of army doctors who sponsored his post-war studies, the overall experience in medical illustration offered few opportunities to attenuate feelings of anxiety and a likely sense of abandonment caused by the rift with his family. Directly following the war, either on the cusp of his enrollment at Academie Julien and/or during his study, Connaway visited the beaches of Brittany where he observed worshippers bent in prayer before public monuments of Christ. Calvaries are seen in Connaway's early and again in his late work of the 50s and 60s, confirming, at least in part, his deliberations on mortality and his silhouette figurative imagery as well.

Silhouetted figures convey drama and inwardness -- a range of emotions, mysteries, and gradient psychological undercurrents. Relying solely on shape, minimal lines and anonymity, Connaway's shadowy figures communicate emotions beyond, and in addition to, what is materially prominent in the setting. Qualitative aspects of the scene are more easily explored because of the dark figures' presence within it. As viewers we readily access our own histories and more obscure apprehensions, bringing personal associations to the narrative. In frank, emotional terms, Connaway exposes the disquiet associated with human consciousness.

Connaway also observed the causal effects of backlighting and the effect of moist air masses influencing the way figures appear to the naked eye on sundrenched beaches, both at Brittany and later on Monhegan. Based on his presentation of silhouette figures, we may infer the influence of German Romantic painter Casper David Friedrich (1774-1840). A century beforehand, Friedrich presented the rückenfigur, literally "black figure," in several of his landscapes. Despite its potential power to lure the attention of viewers to the immediate subject matter and extended metaphor, [5] 19th and 20th century painters explored the rückenfigur less frequently than German Expressionist photographers and film noir directors in the 1920s. The essential idea of the silhouette figure was to describe the vantage point and the encompassing scene set before the figure and viewer.

Friedrich's frequently anthologized painting The Wanderer Above the Sea of Fog depicts the rückenfigur in the guise of a well-turned-out gentleman standing on a rocky precipice. With his back to the viewer, the figure is holding a walking cane, his hair windblown, and his stance purposeful. The figure is presented as a halted traveller, hesitating between his dreamlike languor and a distant metaphysical imperative. Use of the rückenfigur emphasizes the link between landscape and humanity as a religious or mystical experience but through the figure's vantage. The fact that the figure is on foot, a lone bystander in a remote setting is significant. A triangulated relationship of painter-figure-audience is activated when, as a third party viewer, the audience is invited to the experience of the view. [6]With the exception of Jay Connaway, few painters prior to or after Friedrich, employed this motif quite as effectively or purposefully such that external viewers partake of the scene and, vicariously, the figure's and painter's meditation. The immediacy, intimacy and meditation comes to be owned by the external viewer. Earlier than Friedrich, Giotto and van Eyck's figures liken the rückenfigur, and later, in a similar manner, James McNeill Whistler's nocturnes offer a similar viewing experience however figures appear as small participants in a larger sphere. Friedrich sometimes and Connaway almost invariably placed their silhouette figures prominently center stage. Their intentions were clear.

A confirmed loner whose studio door displayed a warning to idle trespassers, "I am working. Go thou and do likewise,"[7] Connaway's silhouette motif demonstrates an alternate slant on the artist. His rückenfigur performs as an intimate contract with the viewer and defies the prevailing notion of Connaway as an asocial figure unable to communicate effectively with the public. While it was true the painter found empty conversation distracting, a highly regarded friend, teacher, and local folk hero in the community, Connaway actively sought to be of public service and sociable on his own terms. Through his work with the Veterans Administration, he taught painting to hundreds of returning servicemen. Through his use of the figure, Connaway ascertains and apportions for his viewers many uncomfortable yet unavoidable questions pertaining to existence, those that come to the surface when the conversations cease, when the gallery opening is over, when the blissful or fearful direct witness of nature abuts the overwhelming, unknowable questions that intrude on calm. Connaway's symbolic figures, like Friedrich's, are intended to lure the viewer vicariously to a reunion with the spiritual self and nature through art but while Friedrich's sojourners appear at peace within the elements, Connaway's figures and viewers do not. Circumstance and the hardships caused by an unfavorable economy had, on more than one occasion, subsumed Connaway's prospects at key moments throughout his career. Fortunately, a life devoted to the search for a meaningful life in art, had quite the opposite if not self-guiding effect. The act and daily practice of painting, the use of counterbalancing feminine symbols in nature (the sea, weather, foliage, female figures in outmoded clothing) represented salvation. Connaway also found redemption and balance in the support of his devoted wife Louise.

(above: Jay Hall Connaway, Rolling In, c. 1941, Oil on illustration board, 18 x 24 inches. Southern Vermont Arts Center, Permanent Collection)

Connaway's vision of elemental nature, as witnessed in the painting Rolling In (c. 1941) displayed to the left, is utterly unambiguous but there is a positive aspect. Here, he successfully forgoes the presence of an isolated witness to the brute force and guile of sea and sky. The breakers rage with certainty and are as fearsome in our imagination as they are in the reality of the setting. As viewers, we could not be more lacking in equanimity even if we have never stood on the brink of disastrous circumstances or on an isolated beach under threatening skies. Connaway places the viewer in direct confrontation of the sea; in this sense, viewers are the directly present figures lurking outside the frame. What could be more worrisome or tiresome for an artist than the hope of an admiring public and what would our experience of nature be without our wealth of American art? One does not need to stand at the edges of the world to comprehend wildness. Art takes us everywhere and to every experience if we're looking. Expanding upon the traditions of 19th century landscape and marine art in which artists presented storm scenes to portray moral or emotional themes as expressive of ideas or to set the mood, Connaway, re-envisioned his predecessors' motifs, exploring the interstices of reality and abstraction. Loose, bold, brushwork inevitably led to the abstract techniques prevalent in 20th century Modernist painting. Connaway represented storm scenes to emphasize his envelopment in the natural environment and as a poetic symbol to establish the mood or tone (his way of thinking about it) and the precarious conditions of human experience.

Painting in all manner of raging weather, Connaway equated harsh or extreme weather synonymously with the darker destructive inclinations in human nature and he relied upon the ambiguities and dimensionality of the psyche as well as the need for metaphysical explanation to create and give emphasis to the mood. The viewer becomes an essential participant to complete the scene and serves to clarify why Connaway felt strict abstraction without representational elements in painting had little value for viewers for whom the plastic elements of art were foreign. He did, however, feel the examination of abstract methods had intrinsic as well as developmental value for American art overall.[8]

Turning to Connaway's Vermont landscapes on the east wall we observe work created between 1947 and the end of the artist's life. In 1946, Bartlett Arkell died and left the Mohegan property in his will to Connaway. Anxious for new subject matter and an easier way of life, the Connaways left the island and moved to the VT countryside Connaway had once dismissed as too placid. They rented a house in Dorset and in 1953 bought a house in North Rupert where Connaway reopened his art school and welcomed novice and advanced painters and returning servicemen studying under the GI Bill. Remembering his work during WWI, Connaway attempted to establish a Veteran's rehabilitation hospital in Manchester but eventually settled on state academic accreditation for his school.[9]

Country living brought Connaway to express the harmonies and paradoxes of nature and human endeavor. In his Vermont landscapes, farmsteads and the natural environment are depicted as interrelated in a mood of solemnity. To portray the changeability of nature and fate, Connaway worked with a varied, often brightened palette and abstract methods to accentuate the contrasts in the topography and the schematics of unpredictable weather in the sky.

(above: Jay Hall Connaway (1893-1970), Pawlet Road, Winter, c. 1966, Oil on Masonite, 16 x 24 inches. Southern Vermont Arts Center, Permanent Collection)

In the landscape, Pawlet Road, near the center of the wall, the snowstorm persists with unsettling impact on trees and homes. Representational images of village houses fade to abstraction; descriptive details retreat within an opaque backdrop of sky. The road in the foreground, eerily accessible, appears to dissolve into a background of trees, houses, barn, and sky.

Unbounded by personal hardships and the elements, and despite the predominance of the Abstract Expressionist movement at mid-century, Connaway continued to explore nature and the boundaries and possibilities of representational art until the last year of his life. His late-career work, a coalescence and fluid amalgamation of representation and abstraction, of ideas and imagery, both divine and damned, summons viewers -- wanderers still -- to the spectacle of Connaway's most compelling thematic content.

Jay Connaway died in 1970 while vacationing in Tucson, Arizona. His ashes were interred in the falls of the Mettowee Creek a few feet from his studio door in North Rupert. Vermont.

1. Handwritten transcript of art class notes by Louise Connaway, 1950-51

2. Manuscript biographies and correspondence, Louise Connaway, Arkell Museum artist files

3. Correspondence/manuscript biographies by Louise Connaway, Arkell Museum artist files

4. Bartlett Arkell/Jay Connaway correspondence, 1929-1946, Arkell Museum artist files

5. Murray, Christopher John (2004), Encyclopedia of the Romantic Era, 1760-1850, London: Taylor & Francis, p. 338

6. Prettejohn, Elizabeth (2005). Beauty & Art, 1750­2000. Oxford: Oxford University Press, pp. 54-56.

7. Edward Feit, Jay Hall Connaway - American Artist, exhibition catalogue, Vose Galleries of Boston, April 1986, p.7

8. Handwritten class notes transcribed by Louise Connaway, private collection

9. Manuscript biographies/ correspondence, Louise Connaway, Arkell Museum artist files


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