Thursday, April 29, 2010
Fund-raiser May 8 for Kate Freeman Clark Art Gallery
By SUE WATSON
An event that is very important to the perpetuity of the Kate Freeman Clark Art Gallery is set for Saturday, May 8.
The gala is held every four years to renovate and maintain the gallery built with funds left by the New York-trained artist for the preservation of her life’s work. Clark, who spent the first 15 years of her life in Holly Springs, then her last years, left a body of work that includes about 1,200 paintings, according to Bea Green.
The art gallery was built after Clark’s death to house her life’s work and was left as a public trust to the people of the State of Mississippi.
The gala this year includes silent and live auctions with the last item of the live auction to be a painting by the artist.
Clark was born in 1875, given art lessons in Memphis, then trained under William Merritt Chase, one of the most famous American artists, teachers and painters of the Impressionistic period.
After leaving Holly Springs, Clark was educated in Washington, D.C., where she made her debut and lived with her mother and grandmother. Later Clark, her mother and grandmother moved to New York where she painted for 30 years. They spent the summers in Shinnacock Hills, now named Long Island, where she studied six years in the summer with Chase.
When she returned to Holly Springs, after the sudden deaths of Chase in 1916 and then her mother and grandmother, Clark never painted again. She was so attached to her paintings that she refused to sell them, saying they were the children she never had. She donated one painting to the Brooks Art Gallery in Memphis. The Kate Freeman Clark Art Gallery is the only gallery in the world to house only the works of a single individual.
She studied at the Art Students League in New York, then under Chase in the summers after he founded a summer school at Long Island. Clark was considered Chase’s premier student, Green said. She returned to Holly Springs in 1923.
“She devoted her whole life to painting with support of her mother and grandmother - both widows,” Green said.
Kate Freeman Clark was an only child. After moving back to Holly Springs, the artist lived in the family home, Walthall Place, and was the organist at Christ Episcopal Church and belonged to the Thursday (book) Club.
Clark became very reclusive in late life and was a cat lover. All her works were stored in New York until after her death. She provided in her will for the construction of the art gallery to house her works.
She was the great-niece of Major General Edward Carey Walthall and her father was elected to the state legislature. Edward Carey Walthall was loved and respected in Washington and his funeral is one of the largest ever held in the Capitol, Green said.
The Walthall family moved to Holly Springs from Virginia in the 1840s and constructed a three-room cabin in 1847-48. An addition to the back was made in 1858.
Proceeds from the last gala were used to install museum lighting which Green said make Clark’s paintings “dance off the walls.”
Other projects in past years included installing shelving for all Clark’s paintings and for framing and restoration of the artist’s works.
The gala begins at 6 p.m. with the auctions and dinner starting at 7 p.m. A three-course meal of beef and pork tenderloin, potatoes and fresh vegetables will be served.
The evening includes dinner, dancing, an open bar and entertainment by The Bouffants. Tickets are $80 each and include dancing, dinner and an open bar. Reservations are requested and can be obtained by calling Ann Callicutt at 662-252-1563, who is also serving as contact person. Reservations are requested by Monday, May 3.
“It’s really a fun night and tickets are only $5 more than four years ago,” Green said.
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