New Britain Museum of American Art bids summer farewell

Published on Sunday, 20 August 2017 20:45
Written by Erica Schmitt

Staff Writer

NEW BRITAIN – Art lovers bid the summer goodbye Sunday with classic rock, classic cars and outdoor painting.

The New Britain Museum of American’s Art’s Summer Sendoff saw visitors through the morning and into the afternoon, in the museum’s back parking lot.

The gathering coincided with the California Dreaming exhibit in the second floor galleries, which features 100 works by Southern California painters Ed Moses, Billy Al Bengston and Ed Ruscha. The show opened in June and runs until Oct. 15.

“Our goal today is to get families involved and make some new friends,” said Jeff Mainville, senior manager of visitor experience.

The event was free and included summery perks like Carvel ice cream served by staff from Rich’s Products Corp. and a half-dozen show cars from the Tri-Town Cruzers of Vernon. People also walked around inside cardboard pop-up cars they created on site.

“The artists in our California Dreaming exhibit were inspired by cars, so we’re painting our own out of cardboard boxes today,” Coordinator of Community & Family Programs Kate Swanson explained.

New Britain artist Jordan Jones spent the day in his own makeshift outdoor studio, painting a new piece.

“It represents a father and son, the cycle of royalty,” Jones said. “Fathers should teach their sons to be kings.”

His mother Wanda Jones stood proudly beside him, greeting visitors.

“He gets in his zone, and he just goes,” she said. “Anything you give him he can turn into art.”

Jones also created his own clothing line called Black Leon. His paintings and some of his other works were on display Sunday.

“Anytime I can come out and paint, showcase my talent, it’s a blessing,” he said. “I love getting people’s feedback on my work.”

Visitors also took the opportunity to pick up their own paintbrushes and decorate plain white benches that will adorn the museum’s newest art studios. This community-created seating area is just one more piece of the NBMAA’s continuously evolving art.

Relaxing in a patch of shade down the hill from the lineup of classic cars were their owners, enjoying the tunes between casual chit-chat.

Dana LeMay’s 1956 Pontiac, boasting the license plate, “Surfin” fit perfectly in with the day’s theme.

“It’s nice to be part of the whole surf culture,” the Manchester resident said. “I’ve been surfing since I was 18, and I’m not going to stop till I die.”

Now 65 years old, LeMay drives his car to beaches all along the Rhode Island coastline, surfboards fastened to the top.

Spanning popular culture and scenes of everyday life from 1950 to today, California Dreaming reflects a similar laid-back, bohemian lifestyle.

It is also the museum’s largest exhibition yet.

Coming up on Sept. 17 the Catherine M. Rogers Lecture Series continues with renowned art professor Thomas Crow, who will be discussing Art in Los Angeles: Beyond the Stereotypes.

Crow’s recent publication, The Long March of Pop, focuses on the legacy of pop and modern art.

The event is free with museum admission and will be held from 2 to 3 p.m. Attendees are encouraged to browse the exhibit during their visit.

Erica Schmitt can be reached at 860-801-5097, or

Posted in The Bristol Press, Arts, General News on Sunday, 20 August 2017 20:45. Updated: Sunday, 20 August 2017 20:48.