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Concord Museum opens an exhibition of works by plein air painter Loring Wilkins Coleman
Loring W. Coleman, Home, Sterling, MA, 1982, 2003. Watercolor. Anonymous Gift (2017) 13 4. Photograph permission courtesy of the Family of Loring W. Coleman.

CONCORD, MASS.- The Concord Museum debuted a new exhibition titled Home by Loring W. Coleman, a notable plein air painter of New England landscapes on Friday, November 6, 2020 through January 31, 2021.

In his 2011 autobiography, Coleman wrote about the exhibition’s title painting: “Home…the title speaks for itself, for the painting represents the old farmhouses that still remain in New England and in my thoughts.”

In 2017, the Concord Museum was honored to receive an anonymous gift of forty-seven works of art by Loring Wilkins Coleman. Curator David Wood explained, “We are pleased to present this new exhibition that celebrates the work of an accomplished artist who had a strong Concord connection and who explored a changing New England with a sense of wonder and authenticity.”

Home features twenty-six of Coleman’s works in watercolor. Loring Coleman’s painting reward close looking. Drawn from real-life subjects in and around Massachusetts primarily, they are often monumental in size and incredibly detailed. Though he trained in oil painting, Coleman primarily worked in watercolor, a technique he taught himself. Watercolors let him play with tone, texture, and abstraction; they also require precision and speed. As Loring Coleman explained, “All painting is exciting, but watercolor painting is no easy matter. It doesn’t give the painter time to contemplate, because the paint is drying before his eyes and he has to move ahead quickly.”

Why this fascination with the old farms of New England particularly the crumbling barns? Henry Adams, Ruth Coulter Heeds Professor of Art History, Case Western Reserve University, stated “I think Loring Coleman was inspired by different crosscurrents of emotion, and it’s the interweaving of these crosscurrents that makes his painting authentic rather than trite. At the root of his emotional response to these things is something that clearly goes back very early, to his happy experiences on his grandparents’ farm in Concord, a respite from the misery of his childhood in 1930’s Chicago. Skilled with a gun or a fishing rod, gifted at woodman’s skills, handy at farm chores, he found a world he could master and in which he could excel. At the same time, what’s astounding about these paintings is the sense of sorrow and loss that runs through them- a sorrow over the decay and disappearance of the rural New England he knew as a boy.”*

“Coleman’s paintings are composites of familiar subjects, including old barns, houses, or roads set with dramatically scaled, and even haunting, composition.
Dilapidated buildings, bare trees, peeling paint, and rusted vehicles are common features. Yet, there is beauty amidst the wreckage,” said Curator David Wood.

After a childhood in Chicago, Coleman lived at his grandmother’s Concord house, Tanglewood, on 200 acres overlooking the Sudbury River. He attended Middlesex School, where he was taught by Russell Kettell, whose influence on the Concord Museum is extensive. After service in War War II, Coleman taught for many years, including twenty-seven years at Middlesex School, while exhibiting his work across the country. He was an Academician of the National Academy of Design and a member of the American Watercolor Society, Concord Art Association, and Salmagundi Club.

Home: Paintings by Loring W. Coleman will be accompanied by a number of creative public programs offered this fall and winter at the Concord Museum.

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