Wilton Library is will present two art exhibitions in April, both of which will showcase artwork from talented women artists.
The “Nancy Moore: Women and Other Animals” exhibition will feature the colorful and fanciful paintings of Ridgefield artist Nancy Moore on display in the library’s gallery and in the Circulation and Reference Departments.
The “Peeling the Onion” exhibit, a special collaboration between painter Colleen Hains, photographer Heidi Mangels, and poet Jane Wenk, all from Norwalk, will be featured in the Reference Department Computer Room.
The opening reception for both exhibitions on Friday, April 14 from 6-7:30 p.m. is free and open to the public.
“We are excited because this is the first time the library will present two art exhibitions simultaneously, featuring the diverse work of four women,” Wilton Library Art Chairman Ed MacEwen said. “Nancy Moore’s paintings are fantastic and incredibly imaginative. And we have never hosted an exhibit like ‘Peeling the Onion’ before, a unique collaboration weaving together the three creative perspectives of Colleen Hains, Heidi Mangels, and Jane Wenk. This is actually the first time the library has showcased the creative efforts of only women artists, and we plan to follow up with a companion exhibition of paintings by men in the fall.”
The artists come from a range of backgrounds:
Moore is self-taught and proud of that, reveling in the distortion of body proportions and perspective in her work. Her goal is to create narratives from emotion and instinct, hoping to translate what bubbles up in her mind, through her hand, and onto the paper. She paints predominantly on large slices of beautiful archival paper, choosing to work with watercolor, graphite, gouache, metallic paint, colored pencil, wax crayon, and wood burner. Her themes include transformation, ethnography, design, shape-shifting, gender identity, evolution, fashion, and creation myth. In 2005, Moore was invited to exhibit her paintings of the animal world at the opening of the Environmental Sciences Center at Yale University’s Peabody Museum. What was supposed to be a three-week-long exhibition ended up running for one year. Her scope has continued to expand, with work widely exhibited in galleries, museums, and other public institutions. Her paintings also hang in many private homes, from Vermont to California. To see more of Moore’s work, visit her website.
Hains has been painting for 40 years, and her mentor was Rayma Spaulding, a Hudson River Valley painter. Hains paints to capture the true meaning and feeling of her subjects. She enjoys painting animals because “their eyes make [her] melt” and she thrives on capturing people on canvas because the different faces fascinate her. She enjoys creating landscapes because there is “so much color to play around with” and she enjoys the understanding of the places. Hains studied art at the University of Connecticut and she owns and operates Art Masters of Silvermine, which is a creative venture that focuses on teaching children and Alzheimer/dementia/seniors the joy of art. She is currently running an oil painting portrait project called “Women Over 50 in their Natural Beauty.” This show will be introduced in May 2024.
Mangels has loved photography as far back as she can remember. As a child, her love of being behind a camera was born with a Kodak Instamatic taking photos of her family and pets. Over time she transitioned to a Konica TC Autoreflex and shot scores of photos — landscapes, seascapes, still life, animals, and events. With the advent of mobile phones, the convenience of having a camera available to capture a moment in time became much easier. To Mangels, there’s something about a photograph that can transport a viewer. As with a painting, everyone who views a photograph has their own perspective, with the image conveying a different meaning or feeling to each person. All of her photos in “Peeling the Onion” are as they were shot with her Android LG G6 phone. None are retouched. Mangels holds degrees from Norwalk Community Technical College and the University of Connecticut. Some of her photos are included in the 2023 Norwalk and Darien Town Planner Calendars.
For decades, Wenk has enjoyed penning and presenting celebratory tributes to family and friends, and some strangers, on their special occasions. She is also adept at composing gift poems for others to celebrate their loved ones, and is happy to do so. In limerick style, with singsong rhymes and humor, she has celebrated and sent accolades pointing out the accomplishments, character, styles, and idiosyncrasies of the recipients. She says it is nice to have something to offer at an event and that it has been a great way to stay connected in a positive and useful way. As a lifelong outdoor enthusiast, one of her favorite parts of the “Peeling the Onion” exhibit is its focus on nature. Grace Farms Library in New Canaan was her go-to spot to write the selections for the exhibit — a “lovely place to be inspired,” she said. Wenk is presently the program manager and Meals on Wheels coordinator at the Norwalk Senior Center and has a B.A. from Hartwick College in Oneonta, NY.
The exhibitions run through Saturday, April 29. A majority of the works are available for purchase with a portion of the proceeds benefiting the library. Wilton Library hours are Monday through Thursday, 10 a.m.-8 p.m.; Friday, 10 a.m.-6 p.m.; Saturday, 10 a.m.-5 p.m.; and Sunday, 1-5 p.m. The library will be closed on Sunday, April 9 for the Easter holiday.
Wilton Library is located at 137 Old Ridgefield Road in the heart of Wilton Center. For more information, visit Wilton Library online or call 203.762.3950.