Dorset Vermont Historical Society Bley House Museum

Collection Notes

Summer 2009

New in the Collection: "The Artistry and Collection of Jessica H. Bond"

A native of Providence, Rhode Island, Jessica H. Bond moved from Baltimore to Dorset in 1955 with her husband, Eugene. Her interest for many years had been the study of techniques used in painted stenciled designs found in 18th and early 19th century furniture, tinware, clocks, mirrors, reverse glass painting, theorems and more. But it was not until she moved to Vermont that Jessica saw another form of decoration: the designs stenciled or painted freehand on the walls of some early New England houses. From that point on she devoted much of her time to photographing and tracing these walls, making documentary records of the designs in color on sheets or poster board and categorizing them according to the state and town in which they were found. She also restored old stenciling. Her documentation is a study in early American design and she always encouraged people to preserve and protect their walls as another link to the cultural tastes of our ancestors. "Anyone who sees a stenciled wall will get an impact that is hard to describe. I wanted to find more and more and trace where the intinerant stencilers went... ." (Jessica Bond).

Kathie Wall Evans, Jessica Bond's longtime friend and protégé, and I began working together in Janu-ary reviewing the extensive Bond materials we are fortunate to have in our collection. After several weeks of going through everything in the various decorative arts media represented, choices of objects that would be in the new exhibition, The Artistry and Collection of Jessica H. Bond, began to emerge. What fascinated me and what I wanted to learn more about was Jessica's process, both as an artist and as a collector. In both areas she always seemed to work with an eye toward the future and those who would be interested in what she had been able to do in her creative endeavors, and the techniques she had been able to record and preserve. In that sense she was always active as a teacher and clearly wanted the work to continue. Kathie and I have tried to translate these ideas into the focus of the exhibition while showing the outstanding skills this woman achieved in her work as a whole.

Jessica was a charter member of the Historical Society of Early American Decoration and among the first four people in the United States to receive a Master Craftsman Award from the Esther Stevens Brazer Guild of the Historical Society of Early American Decoration. I hope many people will see this exhibition and learn more about Jessica H. Bond and her extraordinary artistry and collection.

Arthur Jones: Bird's Nest With Eggs
Arthur Jones: Bird's Nest With Eggs

I am very pleased to announce that due to the generosity of Susan Richardson there are two new paintings by Arthur Jones in the collection: The Old School House and Bird's Nest with Flowers. Both paintings hung in the Jones Retrospec-tive exhibition at the Elizabeth de C. Wilson Museum at the Southern Vermont Arts Center during the fall of 2008. Previously DHS had only one painting by Arthur Jones of the Dwight Barnard House in Deerfield, Massachusetts. Many readers have known Arthur for several years and have followed his career but I have just begun to get to know him and his paintings.

Arthur Jones: The Old School House (1953)
Arthur Jones: The Old School House (1953)
I find his work genuinely unique and accessible to the viewer. Although he received advice and encouragement from many well-known Dorset art-ists, he is self taught and over the many years he has been putting brush to canvas he has developed a vernacu-lar language that is truly his own. I find looking at his paintings an inviting and friendly experience much like having a conversation with him. The two new works are presently on exhibition in the Venetian Red Gallery.

Also worthy of mention is the fact that this year we have had two of our important paintings cleaned and conserved by Randy Smith of Middlebury: Church Street - Dorset (circa 1925) by Edwin B. Child and Untitled Landscape by Harriet de Sanchez (a gift from Libby Sturges). There are many good reasons to visit the Bley House Museum and I hope you will do so often.

Susanne Rappaport

Dorset Historical Society
Member of Vermont Historical Society and
The New England Museum Association

PO Box 52 · Route 30 at Kent Hill Road
Dorset, VT 05251 USA · 802-867-0331

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