On Sunday, Oct. 2 at 4:45 p.m., Curator Dave Polett will present a gallery talk about a time that was not so long ago, when artistic endeavors of all kinds were a big business in Darien. Polett’s talk will also walk guests through the historical society’s current exhibit, Darien 1925-1950 ~ Golden Age of Art and Design. A reception immediately follows his talk, all at 45 Old Kings Highway North, Darien.
At 4:00 p.m. prior to Polett’s talk, the Darien Historical Society will hold its annual membership meeting where officers will present remarks on the past year and plans ahead and where members will vote to approve Board Members and will vote to approve a change to a Bylaws provision regarding term limits which can be viewed here. Current Board Members nominated for another term include Kieran Cavanna and Lynn Sheppard, and new candidates nominated for the Board include Christine Bang, Paget MacColl and Peter Thoren. In addition, Abigail Hord has agreed to fill an interim vacancy through 2017. Candidates may also be nominated from the membership. The Society will also thank two Board Members whose terms are expiring: Ruth Anne Ramsey and Angelica Oxford.
Polett will describe how Darien was a smaller town, then, only about a third of its present population. But every Darien neighborhood seemed to have its resident art director, illustrator, designer, musician, painter, writer, singer or some other follower of an artistic profession. And it sometimes seemed as though every other household had at least one amateur artist in residence, women and men in all walks of life, who painted, sang, drew, acted, wrote or even threw pots. Many of the most accomplished artists taught classes at the recently-established Darien Guild of the Seven Arts, while their neighbors went there to learn how they did it; or just to enjoy, appreciate and talk about art.
Thanks to a social media explosion and developments in other technologies, by the 1920s, New York City had become the world’s most robust market for art. High-speed color printing and an explosion of branded packaged-goods created modern magazine publishing and its advertising agency partners on Madison Avenue. The new broadcast medium of radio was just cutting its teeth, and phonographs had become a staple of home entertainment. Aluminum, Bakelite and other modern materials were helping to incorporate streamlined art deco designs into everyday household products.
It took a lot of artists to make this new world go ’round, and many — perhaps most — of them lived and worked “in the country,” in Westport, Norwalk, Wilton, North Stamford, Cos Cob and, of course, Darien. Thanks to telephones, more affordable automobiles and modern trains (technology again), those artists could satisfy New York’s appetite for art with occasional visits to a client in the city, or to an uptown gallery, or, in some cases, even a daily commute to a midtown office.
They were an interesting and colorful bunch, and their enthusiasm for the arts — and for “creativity” — was infectious. Darien’s rich heritage profiled in this exhibit includes a world famous photojournalist, a three-time America’s Cup winning yacht designer, a futurist architect/designer, a renowned muralist, designers of the Electrolux canister vacuum, of Macy’s holiday decorations, and of America’s best basic wooden boats. It also includes cartoonists, a Mt. Rushmore visionary and sculptor, a nationally known watercolorist, illustrator, portraitist, stained glass designer and Art Deco painter, one of America’s greatest pianists and composers, a Metropolitan Opera star and a Broadway writer and producer. They all are gone now, alas, but at least some of their work lives on.
Dave Polett is the Co-Curator of Darien 1925-1950 ~ Golden Age of Art and Design and serves on the Darien Historical Society Board, and he has led the restoration of the Historical Society’s fine arts collection which is presented in this exhibit. Dave is a longtime member of the Darien Monuments and Ceremonies Commission. He is a former board member of the Republican Club of Darien and the RTC. He was President of the Masonic Club of Darien for 12 years and is a Ride Captain for the Patriot Guard Riders of Connecticut, an Endowment Life Member of the National Rifle Association and local co-organizer for the Wreaths Across America program. He is a graduate of Boston College with an AB in elementary education and the University of Bridgeport with an MS in Marine Biology Research. He spent 35 years in education, including 25 years as Science Coordinator for the Blind Brook-Rye school district and was a consultant for several educational programs for Walt Disney Educational Productions, and a writer-photographer for Thunder Press, motorcycle magazine. He and his wife Karen live in Darien.
The lecture and the reception are free and open to all.