AN IMPORTANT NOTE ON ACCESSIBILITY: The second floor of Yester House, the 1917 Colonial Revival-style house on SVAC’s campus, is only accessible via a staircase. In the event you are not able to access the second floor, admission fees will be waived for your entire group. Please let us know upon your arrival if this is the case. Please note that the newer Elizabeth de C.Wilson Museum on SVAC’s campus does have an elevator.
In Collaboration with Bennington Museum (On view July 1 – November 5, 2023)
One Exhibition, Two Venues
More than 200 works of art that capture Vermont’s unique character, people, traditions and landscape prior to the 1970’s from the collection of Lyman Orton, proprietor of the Vermont Country Store, will be unveiled to the public in an unprecedented collaboration by two of Vermont’s most celebrated museums — Southern Vermont Arts Center and Bennington Museum. The collection came together for one reason: Lyman Orton, a man on a mission who believes art is history and has curated a living time capsule of life in Vermont and the painters who painted Vermont over decades. He is now sharing his collection with Vermonters and all who love Vermont. For more details about the collection visit fortheloveofvermont.com.
The Orton Collection focuses primarily on work from 1920 to 1960 and includes many of the artists who set the stage for the Southern Vermont Art Center. Many of these artists also had solo exhibitions at Bennington Museum between 1930 and 1960. The exhibition includes works on canvas, board, paper, and mixed media, everything from oil paintings to wood engravings to originals of Saturday Evening Post magazine cover illustrations.
More than 65 artists will be represented including Rockwell Kent, John Clymer, Churchill Ettinger, Paul Sample, Mead Schaeffer, John Atherton, Marion Huse, Kyra Markham, Bernadine Custer, and others. Many applied for work with the New Deal and the Federal Arts Project during the Great Depression. A significant part of the collection, about one-fifth, is artworks by Vermont women, as well as by women who journeyed into the mountains to draw and paint.
Orton believes art should be enjoyed and accessible to all — walking into a museum or art gallery should not be an intimidating experience. Museum goers will experience a yesteryear coziness with contemporary artifacts and environments that illustrate the context of some of the paintings—all to bring additional dimension and history to the artworks with explanatory descriptions posted in everyday language.
Main Image: Rockwell Kent, Mt Equinox Summer
Along with the opening of the exhibition, a 220-page book tells the story of how Orton assembled the collection over many years while still running The Vermont Country Store. It is also packed with photographs of the paintings, as well as stories of the artists and their love of Vermont. For the Love of Vermont: The Lyman Orton Collection, authored in collaboration with Orton, by Anita Rafael, a writer living and working in Wardsboro, VT, is available The Vermont Country Store, at both SVAC and Bennington Museum, and at the link below.
We thank everyone who attended the following programs offered in conjunction with this exhibition:
The Hills of Home: Mountains and Identity in Vermont History
Southern Vermont Arts Center
Lecture by historian Jill Mudgett for the Vermont Humanities Council
The Many Meanings of Maple
Lecture by Champlain College professor Michael Lange for the Vermont Humanities Council
Future programs may be added.