Editor's note: The following 1994 article was published on August 19, 2004 in Resource Library with permission of Thomas Daives, New Canaan, CT. If you have questions or comments regarding the article please contact Mr. Daives by writing to the author at 58 Beacon Hill Lane, New Canaan, CT, 06480.


Sharing Your Paintings


"It's Better Than Selling Hot Dogs"

by Thomas Davies



The high school year was about a month old or so. It was a Saturday morning and I was preparing for my weekly. visit to the local art galleries in my area. It was that time to share stories, look at newly arrived pictures, and maybe meet another "artaholic" along the way. In short, do what I really enjoy. I'm a veteran collector of American Art for almost thirty years. I know how long its been because I bought my first painting with my third or fourth paycheck right out of school. I bought my first painting before I even met my wife, let alone got married and filled up the walls of whatever apartment or house we occupied. I bought many paintings before I even thought about the joys of parenthood and child-rearing. I owned many paintings long before I owned a car, a house, or that proverbial symbol of suburban civilization -- a lawnmower. I owned many paintings before my employer moved me around the world to India, Hong Kong, Australia and Germany, paying the bill for moving all those paintings with me. As I now look back, I bought my first painting it seems, before the entire American Dream of wife, children, house, mortgage, pets, cars, and don't forget the lawnmower, were all mine. It hardly seems possible that I could have been happy and fulfilled that long ago ... but I think I was.

Now that my credentials have been fully established, on with my story. At the moment being discussed I lived in a small, cozy Connecticut town with two young teenage boys attending the 10th and 11th grades in a small but flexible high school with the highly memorable name of King Low-Heywood Thomas. Like all good fathers, I was seriously interested in "the boys" and their schooling. Like all good mothers my wife was seriously interested in getting me "involved" with the school, to serve on committees, show interest, shape the destiny of American education. Stated differently; stay out of the galleries and stop chasing the next "gotta have it" painting.

I was confronted with the ultimate wife to husband challenge. "If you won't participate in school boards and meetings, why don't you sell hotdogs at the Saturday afternoon football game". I replied with cries of indignation", I'm hot the hotdog selling type of guy". The line had been drawn in the sand. I knew than my days of unbridled freedom were done. What to do?

It was time for me to get serious, or else I was headed for major trouble. I asked if KLHT had an arts council or something that would enable me to "get involved" with something I too enjoyed. One evening, after arriving home early from work, I participated with a small group of other parents gathered at the school to discuss the school's art and music courses. As is so often the case, the general discussion focused upon what the school didn't have and how difficult it was to get support for "The Arts". As I listened, a plan began to formulate in my mind. By the end of the meeting I had gathered a sense of "who to go to, who to talk to, and how to build a consensus within the school's administrative and teaching staff. These observations are critically important when trying to influence or persuade a large organization with its own bureaucracy and ways of. doing things.

To be candid, the ideas formulating in my mind were built from many previous experiences and projects over the years. I have organized and put on numerous exhibitions in places like India and Hong Kong, to New York, Boston and a number of Exhibits for the Rockport Art Association in Rockport Mass. Along the way I have written a number of brochures, small catalogues, and even a magazine article (for American Art Review). I've done slide shows and presentations on various aspects of American Art that interested me. As my idea began to evolve, I found it very exciting. I began jotting down on paper what my objectives were (besides maintaining domestic tranquility through "being involved") and how to address them. Elements started building on elements. Rapidly, one concept fed into another and so forth. I concluded that the potential for using the paintings that I owned in a creative and meaningful way within a school system, and integrated into its program, was tremendous. However, there were so many aspects to it, and so many elements to the overall project that the only way to communicate it fully and clearly was by a written proposal. I decided to approach the school through the Arts Council first to gain their support, then approach the school Administration and directly to the Head Principal, Mrs. Susan Cesare.

Let me now take you through the key parts of the proposal. It is an interesting way to see how the project unfolded. Cast yourself as a busy administrator or teacher being confronted with a fairly sweeping idea that would require a lot of effort, and a bit of disruption to the already crowded schedules that schools have.

Proposal -- Submitted to KLHT Art Council

Concept -- An educational, multi-dimensional use of fine art (paintings) for KLHT School.

Question -- How can the use of a large number of privately owned American paintings benefit the school in a material way? A way that is significantly beyond merely "exhibiting pictures".

Answer -- Integrate the use of a selected number of paintings into the schools Art and English curriculum:



I will identify a number (suggest 40) works of art that will be the basis for the program.

The criteria for selection will be as follows:



Time periods -- The earliest American work will be about 1850 or so and move through the key periods up to and including a few contemporary artists.

Styles/Schools -- Broadly, all the work is representational (as opposed to abstract). It will track through;

In terms of schools, .early 20th Century artists began to "summer" In various locations where art communities or schools emerged. Examples from many of these acknowledged schools will be used:


MEDIA - Examples of the basic media types; oil, watercolor, pastel, pen and ink, mixed media.


SUBJECT MATTER - A very conscious effort will be made to select a wide variety of subjects, for the broadest appeal to the students; both boys and girls.


IMPORTANCE OF ARTIST - A very key part of the proposal is student research on the artist, the time period and the school/style/approach taken by the artist. This requires artists which are heavily documented; appear in numerous books, have had retrospective shows/essays/catalogues etc. written on them. I have, and will make available, a library of material the "students will use" on this project.


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About the author:

In an August 2004 transmittal letter to Traditional Fine Arts Organization, Mr. Davies provided insights into his extensive interest in representational American art, and that of his son, Kristian Davies.

Thomas Davies lived in Hong Kong with his family in 1974-77 and "participated in several Bi-Centennial celebrations, one of which was organizing an exhibition of American art from our collection." Mr. Davies pioneered the exhibition of American art in that city which at that time had "virtually no knowledge of Western art, especially American representational art." His art was presented at an exhibition titled "Art in America: 1825-1975" held at the City Hall Exhibition Center from October 24 through November 2, 1975. The show was accompanied by an illustrated 51-page catalogue. In the Volume III, Number 3 May-June 1976 issue of American Art Review, he wrote an article about the Hong Kong exhibition.

In 1994, Mr. Davies wrote an article titled Sharing Your Paintings -- or --"It's Better Than Selling Hot Dogs", describing his experience of organizing an art exhibition held at King Low-Heywood Thomas School in Stamford, CT. KLHT is an independent, college preparatory school serving students from pre-kindergarten through twelfth grade. The article published in Resource Library contains the author's original unedited text. A condensed version of the article appeared in American Art Review, Volume VI, Number 4, August-September 1994, p. 140-145. Mr. Davies wrote to Resource Libary that the KLHT exhibition "covered a unique experience I had of organizing an exhibition of paintings...integrating the whole exercise into a high school program. After I did it I thought it would make a good story and ideally encourage other to do the same."

In 1996, Mr. Davies was asked by the Rockport Art Association to write an essay in connection with the first major retrospective on Aldro Hibbard, held September 28 through October 27, 1996 at the Association's galleries. Mr. Davies says, "I tried to take a distinctively different approach, with the support and approval of his [Hibbard's] daughter." The A. T. Hibbard, N.A. article published in Resource Libary contains the author's original unedited text. A condensed version of the article appeared in American Art Review, Volume VIII, Number 4, September - October 1996, p. 142-149.

Mr. Davies' son, Kristian Davies, wrote a hardcover book in 2001 titled "Artists of Cape Ann; A 150 Year Tradition," ISBN 1-885435-18-5, published by Twin Lights Publishers, Inc.[1] Artists of Cape Ann: A 150 Year Tradition, an exhibition featuring some of the paintings in the above book, but also several not included in the book, was held in 2003 at the Lyme Art Association. Kristian Davies later wrote an article for the exhibition which was published in American Art Review, Volume XV, Number 1 January-February 2003. Art & Antiques published an essay by Kristian Davies titled "Raised on Art" in its Summer 2002 issue and another titled "Family Tradition" in the June 2003 issue.

1. Copies of the book may be obtained {as of August 2004) by forwarding $29.95 plus a $4.50 mail and handling fee to Thomas Davies, 58 Beacon Hill Lane, New Canaan, Ct 06480.

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