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Art exhibit at public library showcases local artists, friendship

"Clouds" by Dwight Williams is on display at the Cazenovia Public Library through May 31, 2013. The exhibition Impressions of a Friendship: Dwight Williams and Arthur B. Davies honors Davies’ influence on Cazenovia artist Dwight Williams as well as Davies’ role in the 1913 Armory Show in New York City.

"Clouds" by Dwight Williams is on display at the Cazenovia Public Library through May 31, 2013. The exhibition Impressions of a Friendship: Dwight Williams and Arthur B. Davies honors Davies’ influence on Cazenovia artist Dwight Williams as well as Davies’ role in the 1913 Armory Show in New York City.

— The Cazenovia Public Library Art Gallery presents “Impressions of a Friendship: Dwight Williams and Arthur B. Davies,” an exhibition featuring more than 20 pastel paintings by Dwight Williams (1856-1932) a Cazenovia landscape painter, teacher and friend to renowned American painter Arthur B. Davies (1862-1928).

As a departure from Williams’ traditional landscapes, these colorful pastels celebrate Williams’ connection to Arthur B. Davies, an important American artist and organizer of the groundbreaking 1913 Armory Show. The exhibition in the library art gallery will run through May 31.

“Many of these pastels have never been exhibited before,” said Library Director Betsy Kennedy. “It is an honor to be able to offer paintings of such high caliber to the community. The library’s collection of works by Williams was donated by Richard and Prudence Hubbard in 1992. Richard’s father, Robert, was a friend and patron of Williams.”

Williams was a fledgling 20-year-old art instructor and recent Cazenovia Seminary graduate in 1876 when he was hired by the Davies family of Utica to provide private drawing instruction for their 14-year-old son, Arthur. Williams, who would describe these first sessions as “seeing lessons,” noted the boy’s genius from the outset. Although the instructions would last just two years, the friendship and love for the beauty of Central New York would last throughout both their lives. Williams, as Davies’ first instructor, places Cazenovia in the footnotes of 20th century American art history.

Davies, who would go on to become one of the most respected artists of his day, visited Williams in Cazenovia on several occasions.

Writer and museum director Duncan Phillips, of the Phillips Collection in Washington, DC, described the bond between Davies and Williams as “one of mutual admiration, affection and affinity.”

“It is these affinities for color and movement, mountains and stream, home and travel that this exhibition celebrates,” stated exhibition coordinator Patti Christakos in the show’s introduction. “Williams' imaginative paintings, with his bold use of brilliant colors and superb draftsmanship, offer a timely nod to Davies and his influence on Williams as well as Davies' role in the story of American art history.”

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